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29 Nov 2006

Scramble for the Ball: Dirty Money

by Bill Barnwell & Ian Dembsky

Ian: Welcome once again, Rotoheads, to another edition of Scramble for the Ball. Jersey Watch is officially over, as the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens have officially hit the Over on wins for the season. Thanks Bill, can't wait for my Ed Reed jersey to arrive!

Bill: God, I hate football. The worst part was that the Ravens were my only bet to cover last week. Anyway, yes, Ian won, and he can rejoice. As for an Ed Reed jersey? We'll see what I can find.

Ian: We've talked enough about the Ravens hitting the Over. What better time, though, to look back on our Over/Under predictions before the season and see how teams are doing, and why? Let's start with the lower-half of the AFC. The original article with our predictions can be found here.

Houston Texans (o/u 5.5)

Bill: Under, Ian: Under. Current Record: 3-8

Really not much to talk about here. We predicted a poor season, as did most everybody else. They're performing as expected. Eric Moulds has provided a reliable Loser League receiver, but doesn't add much else to the offense. Domanick Davis' loss has certainly hurt. Andre Johnson's terrific season is really the one reason they're making a run at six wins, but it's not likely to happen. Mario Williams is getting better, but the defense is still 31st in DVOA. Looks like the predicted Unders will hold.

Tennessee Titans (o/u 5.5)

Bill: Over, Ian: Under. Current Record: 4-7

I predicted an early record of 2-4 headed into the bye week, followed by Vince Young time, and then a clear Under. I got two out of three right. Who knew how much of an impact Vince Young would have right away? I mean, we all had high expectations, but it's rare for a player to get comfortable with the league this quickly. While the ridiculous comeback win against the Giants can certainly be attributed to plenty of big Giants mistakes, Young's performance was equally impressive.

Bill, meanwhile, was high on the Titans this season, but apparently for the wrong reasons. The Billy Volek-to-David Givens connection hasn't exactly lit the league on fire. The defense is improving, however, and the offensive line has helped Travis Henry resurrect his career. Will the Titans make the Over? It's going to be close. They should put up a good fight at home against Indianapolis this week, but a win there or versus New England in Week 17 remains unlikely. That means winning two out of these three: at Houston, vs. Jacksonville, at Buffalo. It'll be close.

Buffalo Bills (o/u 6.5)

Bill: Under, Ian: Over. Current Record: 5-6

Things were going pretty poorly for the Bills until the last few weeks, when Lee Evans had a breakout game and then they managed to defeat a tough Jaguars team at home. We were thinking Kelly Holcomb would be the starter, but he was demoted before the season started. J.P. Losman has filled in and not embarrassed himself, but he's nowhere close to the Pro Bowl. Willis McGahee was a disappointment early on, scoring only one touchdown before fracturing a rib in Week 9 and missing some time. Is his two-touchdown performance against Jacksonville a sign of things to come? The answer to that question is probably also the answer to whether or not they can make the Over.

Cleveland Browns (o/u 6.5)

Bill: Under, Ian: Under. Current Record: 3-8

Here's a team that's taken a long time to get their act together. And when they finally seem to be on the right track, they get embarrassed at home in a 30-0 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. The defense is indeed improving under Crennel; it's ranked 15th in DVOA right now. But the offense, despite the solid performances of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, is still floundering, ranked 31st. This team still has a ways to go.

New York Jets (o/u 6.5)

Bill: Under, Ian: Under. Current Record: 6-5

While no one expected the Jets to win a lot of games this season, I was quite convinced that they'd be contending for the first overall pick in next season's NFL Draft. Boy, was I wrong. Chad Pennington performed admirably in his return from shoulder surgery. The Jets even managed to win in New England and pull within one game of first place, before losing the next week and falling two games back. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles have paired to form one of the more agile wideout duos in the league, and picking up Kevan Barlow has at least helped fill the void left by Curtis Martin in the running game. The Over seems almost certain. About that defense, though...

Oakland Raiders (o/u 6.5)

Bill: Under, Ian: Over. Current Record: 2-9

Well, technically they could still hit the Over. Of course, technically Tampa Bay is still in playoff contention. This is a team that has fallen a long ways from their Super Bowl appearance with Rich Gannon at the helm. I was hoping Aaron Brooks would help lead this team to respectability, but who was I kidding? A shoulder problem turned this team into the Andrew Walter show, which has failed miserably, but it doesn't seem like Brooks would have made much of a difference. Maybe Randy Moss wouldn't be mailing it in if he'd had Brooks launching bombs to him instead of Walter at the bottom of a pile of defensive linemen. That preseason DVOA projection that had Oakland as one of the league's best defenses wasn't so ridiculous after all -- the Raiders are currently ranked ninth in DVOA. It's that pathetic offense that ensures this team is hitting the Under.

Baltimore Ravens (o/u 8.0)

Bill: Under, Ian: Over. Current Record: 9-2

The Ravens are who we thought they were! Or, at least who I thought they were. A division leader, and an improbable winning Over bet in only week 12. A win Thursday night in Cincinnati would actually lock up a division title already. A loss would probably just mean it will take a few more weeks to lock things up. An impressive season so far, indeed.

Cincinnati Bengals (o/u 9.0)

Bill: Under, Ian: Under. Current Record: 6-5

Anyone who traded with a disgruntled Chad Johnson owner about three weeks back is certainly smiling about it. It did take some time for Carson Palmer to regain his confidence in the pocket, but now he's stepping into throws and finding the open man all over the field. Already at six wins, the Bengals are extremely likely to hit at least eight wins with home games against Oakland and Pittsburgh to come. It's the other games that will make things tough: vs. Baltimore, at Indianapolis, at Denver. A push seems likely; the Over is certainly a possibility. A wild card push should have this team firing on all cylinders for the duration of the season.

Now, onto the teams predicted to finish higher in the AFC. The original article can be found here.

Jacksonville Jaguars (o/u 9.0)

Bill: Over, Ian: Over. Current Record: 6-5

Who can figure out Jacksonville? Receivers that look great one week, then drop most everything the next. A dominating defense at home, a porous defense on the road. About the only consistent bright spot has been the running game, with Maurice Jones-Drew providing a great source of energy off the bench, while Fred Taylor is healthy and playing well. Due to the only remaining home games for the Jaguars being against Indianapolis and the Patriots, it looks like they're headed for the Under.

Miami Dolphins (o/u 9.0)

Bill: Over, Ian: Over. Current Record: 5-6

Here's a team that failed to meet expectations. Daunte Culpepper was a complete and utter bust, and who knows if he'll be back starting next season. The offensive line hasn't been much better than last season, when they were horrible. Then again, there is reason for optimism. Following the bye week, when they were 1-6, the team is 4-0 including impressive wins over Chicago and Kansas City. The team also won their last six games last season, so the typical December swoon for the Dolphins is a thing of the past. Will they win four or more games the rest of the way? It seems unlikely with New England and Indianapolis still on the schedule. Who knows though; not many people expected them to have a chance at this point after their awful beginning.

San Diego Chargers (o/u 9.0)

Bill: Over, Ian: Over. Current Record: 9-2

Bill's "mortal lock" has turned out to be pretty much a mortal lock. LaDainian Tomlinson is also pretty much a mortal lock for MVP if he can perform at even a reasonable pace the rest of the way. The defense is much improved, and Philip Rivers has assimilated himself to the game well. The question isn't whether they'll hit the Over, but by how much. This is a team that is a serious Super Bowl contender.

Kansas City (o/u 9.5)

Bill: Under, Ian: Under. Current Record: 7-4

What a luxury it is to have a capable backup quarterback. Not that people expected it, but Damon Huard filled in extremely well for the injured Trent Green and has this team thinking playoffs. While we were expecting age to catch up with most of the roster, they've performed rather well, with Larry Johnson, of course, leading the way. 10 wins is looking well within reach. Playing at Cleveland and at Oakland are certainly winnable games, which means they'd have to pull off one win out of games at San Diego, vs. Baltimore, and vs. Jacksonville. The raucous Kansas City home crowd should help them beat either Baltimore or the Jaguars at home. It didn't seem likely when the season began, but this team is probably headed for the Over.

Denver Broncos (o/u 10.0)

Bill: Over, Ian: Under. Current Record: 7-4

Denver was cruising along, just like the teams of old, probably headed for another season of 10 wins. Then Mike Shanahan realized something the rest of us had noticed much earlier in the season -- Jake Plummer has not been playing well. The team's been winning, thanks to a stifling defense, and what is still the best home field advantage in football. They just haven't been winning big, and the defense alone isn't good enough to carry them to a Super Bowl. Enter Jay Cutler. Who knows where this is headed. This is what I said in the preview, though: "Mike Shanahan won't hesitate to mess with things and throw Jay Cutler in there, and then Denver can kiss an 11-win season goodbye. I'm taking the Under." Nothing's changed to make me think otherwise.

Pittsburgh Steelers (o/u 10.0)

Bill: Over, Ian: Under. Current Record: 4-7

Hey, look -- a team's already hit the Under! But who would've predicted it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers? Well, here's what I had to say about them before the season: "It seems that every season, one of the two Super Bowl teams from the previous year pretty much falls apart and fails to make the playoffs. This season, this is your team." Of course, I predicted it would be due to the lack of a running game, not the lack of a passing game. Then again, the preview article was written before Roethlisberger's appendectomy and 50 more concussions. He's using his feet to make plays, but often he just ends up getting himself killed. Their defeat this week at the hands of the Ravens was just abysmal; it made the Texans offensive line look like a fortified wall. No need to have Jerome Bettis to help run out the clock when you're already down by 20.

New England Patriots (o/u 11.0)

Bill: Over, Ian: Under. Current Record: 8-3

The Patriots were on cruise control until a wake-up call came in the form of back-to-back home losses (which never happens in New England) to the Colts and Jets. Next thing you knew, the Patriots were fighting for the division title, instead of home field advantage in the playoffs. All is right again in Brady's kingdom, however, after a shellacking of the Packers and an impressive home defeat of the Chicago Bears. We've all come to expect big things from Tom Brady, but who knew this New England defense could be this good? Fortunately, the Patriots avoided turning kicking duties to Martin Gramatica, and Stephen Gostkowski has been fairly good, highlighted by his huge 52-yard field goal against the Bears. Laurence Maroney leading the league in kickoff return average is a pleasant surprise, and yet another example of how well-coached this team is. Will they get three wins out of home games versus Detroit and Houston and road games against Miami, Jacksonville, and Tennessee? Almost certainly. Will they get four? Probably. Looks like the Over is in store.

Indianapolis Colts (o/u 12.0)

Bill: Under, Ian: Over. Current Record: 10-1

Edgerrin who? It certainly looks like the Colts are headed for the Over. It hasn't been because of their talent on defense, however; they rank only 26th in team defense DVOA. It's that Manning-led offense that's got them once again thinking Super Bowl. Joseph Addai has proven to be the real deal, and thanks to a timeshare with Dominic Rhodes so far looks to avoid the "rookie wall" and be fresh throughout the season. (For those of you wondering why Rhodes still gets carries, that's why.) Reggie Wayne may be catching more touchdowns, but Marvin Harrison still has more total catches, and both remain an important part of the offense. Meanwhile, fresh off my mentioning his prowess in the 1991 edition of Madden football, it's a Ricky Proehl sighting! He's been signed to help fill the void in the slot left by the injured Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark. Don't be surprised when he catches a key touchdown in the playoffs for the Colts this season. Where was I? Oh yeah, Over/Unders. This team is hitting the Over.

Next week, we'll recap the NFC, where the Bears and Saints are pretty much the only certain Overs on the board.

Loser Leaguers of the Week

QB: I hope everyone likes the Cleveland Browns, because you're about to see a lot of them. How could anyone say we don't cover the Cleveland Browns? They get all kinds of play in Scramble. Charlie Frye leads the team to slaughter this week, with four interceptions, five rushing yards, and a near-whupping from Braylon Edwards. Who would've bet on Edwards attacking Frye and not Kellen Winslow? Your runner-up? Bruce Gradkowski. I'll never understand why people think that the Buccaneers should let Chris Simms walk away so they can start Gradkowski. It's like the weird cloud that came over Tampa when Shaun King was a starter was blown back overhead; it's some sort of bizarre crummy quarterback El Nino.

RB: I know Ian talked about Kevan Barlow resuscitating the Jets rushing attack above, but he sure didn't do it this week. Eight carries, five yards, zero points. It's as if he was really going for Loser League gold. Sadly, he didn't have the low score of the week. Tied for second were the three-headed hydra of Corey Dillon, Mike Bell, and Travis Henry, who mustered a combined 95 rushing yards on 33 carries, fumbling twice. That looks like an Edgerrin James line.

WR: Remember when Donte' Stallworth was going to be the greatest wide receiver in the history of wide receivers (that means you, everyone from the Week 2 Scramble discussion thread)? Turns out he isn't. He's been a reasonably competent receiver according to DVOA and DPAR, but he's caught 48 percent of the passes thrown to him. This week, he had two catches for nine yards. That's a 0. His teammate Hank Baskett? 20 receiving yards! A solid day! Only problem? He threw an interception to go along with them. Oops. Also a zero. Michael Jenkins? Should be opening up a chain of restaurants with Reggie Williams, Charles Rogers, R. Jay Soward, and Yatil Green in a couple of years; that is, if Green doesn't blow out his knee cutting the ribbon at the opening photo op. Also a zero.

K: No zero, though, could compare with Phil Dawson. Last week, I offered some simple advice: "If your team isn't going to score any touchdowns, you're really behooven to kick a field goal when you get the opportunity." Phil Dawson was not concerned with such frivolities, and when he made his way onto the field in the second quarter, his missed 48-yard attempt earned him Losingest Loser of the Week for Week 12. Hooray, Phil Dawson.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Rarely does it seem appropriate to give the award to three people at the same time, but who else could I possibly give the award to other than the trio of Mathias Kiwanuka, Frank Walker, and Eli Manning? Kiwanuka simply let go of Vince Young and let him run for a first down on fourth-and-10. The game should have been over there. Frank Walker hit Young late out of bounds after a scramble that had come up short on fourth-and-8. The game should have been over there. And Eli Manning threw an interception in his own territory with less than a minute left, allowing the Titans to kick the game-winning field goal in regulation. The Giants had a collapse of epic proportions, and while the coaches and the rest of the players certainly played a part, these three did what it takes to earn them this week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award.


Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Best Bets

Bill: (1-2 last week, 23-12-1 overall)

Do not even talk about last week. Forget about the Jaguars gifting the Bills a victory -- if I had actually been around to see the entirety of the Giants' collapse, I may have just quit betting altogether. I've sent CMG away for a while. Let's see what we can do on our own.

DENVER (-3.5) over Seattle

Let's get started early. Jay Cutler? In his first start? This doesn't worry me. Jake Plummer's DVOA is all the way down to -4.3%. Not like Cutler can be too miserable. If it were a good defense, I'd be concerned, but Seattle's defense has regressed into mediocrity this season. I predict Cutler looks more comfortable than Matt Hasselbeck and Denver covers.

San Diego (-5) over BUFFALO

It's supposed to snow on Saturday in Buffalo. Not really sure how hard yet, but it's Buffalo. A foot is nothing. Is this a system game? For Buffalo, yes. Why San Diego? Because I believe LT will make the tiny Bills defensive line weep.

Indianapolis (-7) over TENNESSEE

This is just a bet filled with utter bitter vitriol. The Colts defense may not be very good, but at least they will try and tackle Vince Young as opposed to just watching him run by. If Will Demps was playing the Oregon Trail, he never would've shot a single boar.

Worst Bets

Ian: (1-2 last week, 12-20-3 overall)

CHICAGO (-9.5) over Minnesota

The Bears are most certainly thinking, "Ah, back to the good old, crappy NFC." A home game against the Vikings is just what the doctor ordered to get Grossman back on track -- Matt Leinart went for over 400 yards against them last week. Minnesota's excellent run defense makes for shaky fantasy plays from Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, but expect Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, and the whole passing game to have a big day en route to a thrashing of the Vikings at home.

NEW YORK GIANTS (+3.5) over Dallas

I'll be honest. Like most people, I expect Dallas to go into New York and kill the Giants. Talk about two teams headed in opposite directions. But if there's anything we've learned to expect this season, it's to expect the unexpected. When trends point strongly for both teams in one direction, I like to go the other way, and this seems like the perfect time.

OAKLAND (-3.0) over Houston

Time to give some love to the Raiders, whose defense is getting better and better. And the offense is getting better as well. It's addition by subtraction for the offense, that being the subtraction of Andrew Walter. The defense has done a solid job against the Seahawks, Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers the past four weeks. It's nice to see they finally get an opponent at home they can truly dominate.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell & Ian Dembsky on 29 Nov 2006

126 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2006, 6:43pm by Pat

Comments

1
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:29pm

"We’ve all come to expect big things from Tom Brady, but who knew this New England defense could be this good? "

Ummm... Everyone but this site did.

You guys had them ranked #27, and everyone knew that was ludicrous. They were bad last year because of injuries, and were trending WAY up at the end of the season. It was pretty obvious they were going to be in the top half.

2
by ZS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:08pm

I don't understand why people are comparing Jay Cutler to Tony Romo (don't think they aren't there, I've heard some). Romo had 3.5 years to learn, Cutler has had since last April. Romo was undrafted, Cutler was #11 overall. Why don't people expect Cutler to play like the rookie he is? What makes him any different then any other rookie in their first game?

3
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:41pm

I'd like to once again bask in trading Ronnie Brown away 2 weeks ago for Joseph Addai.

Aaaaah....

Rivers (@BUF) or Green (@CLE)?
Wilford (@MIA) or Smith (SEA)?

4
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:45pm

ZS,

Who is comparing Cutler to Romo?

Personally, I think Cutler will have a good start because he's on a team that has a solid running game, good pass protection, a very good wide receiver, and will be playing against a poor defense.

5
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:45pm

You guys had them ranked #27, and everyone knew that was ludicrous.

Amen.

6
by gmc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:49pm

Tony Romo wakes up this week.

180-1-3 is my guess, although I think the 'boys win anyway...

7
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:02pm

"If Will Demps was playing the Oregon Trail, he never would’ve shot a single boar."

An Oregon Trail reference? Incredible!!! You need to work an Operation Neptune reference into the next column.

Although, it was bears you shot. Those or the bison. I pity the fools who went after the rabbits.

8
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:05pm

Just thought I'd point out that there were no boars in Oregon Trail ;o) Buffalo, bears, deer, squirrels, and rabbits, but no boar.

9
by RecoveringPackerFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:06pm

I just hope that Jamal Lewis goes back to sleep.

10
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:09pm

Cowboys-Giants, in a nutshell:

DAL No Injuries Reported

NYG
OUT T Luke Petitgout (Fibula)
DOUBTFUL DE Michael Strahan (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE OLB Carlos Emmons (Groin)
CB Sam Madison (Hamstring)
WR Sinorice Moss (Quadricep)
OLB Brandon Short (Quadricep)
DE Osi Umenyiora (Hip Flexor)
CB Corey Webster (Toe)
SS Gibril Wilson (Shoulder)
PROBABLE MLB Antonio Pierce (Knee)

11
by Show (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:10pm

Oakland is -3 this week, not +3.

12
by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:21pm

Yes, indeed Oakland is -3. Knew that when I made the pick; just a typo. Thanks.

13
by hooper (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:29pm

Catholic Match Girl on the bench? Isn't that her hanging off the leg of the gangster?

14
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:46pm

I'm in a flex league, and am in the playoff with a win.

I am unsure which two of these to start: Eddie Kennison @ Cleveland, Devery Henderson @ San Francisco, or Maurice Jones-Drew @ Miami. Ignoring the matchups, based on the production in the last three weeks, it would seem to be clear to bench Kennison, who has had 112 yards and no TDs in that span.

15
by Jesus Christ (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:00am

Romo vs NYFG or Rex vs Minny???

16
by Josh (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:21am

I'll tell you who else wouldn't shoot a single boar, Jets rookie LB Anthony Schlegel. That's because, as anyone who has read a single article about him has learned, he hunts boars with a knife!

17
by J.R. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:43am

Two questions for the same team, quarterback and running back...

P. Rivers @ Buf or M. Bulger vs Ari
A. Green vs NYJ or M. Jones-Drew @ Mia

18
by JMK (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:51am

Yeah, but the worst part about shooting the bears and the bison was that you can only bring 100lbs back to your wagon.

Did anyone else ever name their family after a classmate when starting out, leave with no food or supplies, and die very quickly. Then you would be able to leave an insult about your classmate on their headstone on the schools computers, for everyone else to see? Um, no? Uh, me either.

19
by andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:54am

Sigh, loser league penalty for Edgerrin James despite having what, 2/3 of his teams rushes because the entire Cardinals team didn't get 8 carries...

20
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:02am

Need a win desperately to slip into the playoffs:

At RB,
Jamal Lewis
Deshaun Foster
Deangelo Williams
Travis Henry

I can only choose one. I have Shaun Alexander and LT as the other two.

Defense:

Oakland
Kansas City
Minnesota

Will Marvin Harrison catch anything this week? I see Tennessee has the lowest DVOA against #1 receivers.

21
by DaveP (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:18am

I need to start 3WR and a WR/RB flex from
Chester Taylor
Antonia Bryant
Eddie Kennison
Erik Parker
Nate Washington
Marty Booker (grabbed and played last week!)
Rod Smith
Terrance Copper

I hate to run against Chicago, but I'm leaning towards Taylor anyway on the hope he'll punch one in on short yards. I'm also leaning towards Washington with Ward out and Copper just because he's been consistent. Not sure at all for the last slot. Any thoughts welcome!

1pt 10yds running, 1pt 12 yds rec, 1 pt/catch, 6/td

Dave

22
by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:34am

#2 - People are excited about Cutler because he only has to be average to be a major upgrade over Plummer. Like Romo, Cutler has a good chance to succeed because he won't be asked to do much, and is surrounded by a great running game, receiving talent (J Walker), good line, and a strong D.

#3 - Rivers. WR is ugly... waiver wire would probably be better (Devery Henderson? Mark Clayton? Santonio Holmes (PIT #1 now)? Furrey? Cotchery? Antonio Bryant? random NE receiver vs DET?). But if I must pick, Rod Smith.

#14 - Devery Henderson

#17 - Rivers, unless there's heavy snow in Buffalo. Ahman Green for sure... NYJ are weakest run defense in football.

I have a dilemma myself... my QBs are Bulger and Eli. I've given up on Eli (vs CAR), and Bulger faces the Bears week 14 in my playoff game. I want to pick up a one week replacement from: Big Ben (vs CLE), Jay Cutler (@ SD), Jeff Garcia (@WAS), Joey Harrington (vs NE), Charlie Frye (@ PIT), McNair (@ KC), Vince Young (@ HOU). I'm willing to drop Eli and Wali Lundy to pick up two QBs so I have a choice... I'm leaning to Big Ben and Cutler. Interested in feedback.

23
by compucrazy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:06am

Who is more likely to run wild. Willie Parker at Tampa or Frank Gore at New Orleans?

24
by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:08am

#21 - definitely Chester. I think the Vikes D could get some turnovers, since they stop the run well, and that means Rex will be passing all day. Plus Chester gets some receptions.
I'd go with Bryant, Copper, and Rod Smith.

#20 - MIN D... for same reason as above. I like Jamal Lewis vs. Cincy's suspect run D. Jamal is consistent at least... you shouldn't have trouble with Alexander and LT anyway.

25
by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:12am

#23 - Tampa is actually OK against the run, the Saints are worse. Gore's a better back, and that game will be high scoring, I'd go with Gore.

26
by Mnatr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 6:09am

Betting terms question:

I know that if a favorite beats a spread by the required number of points, they beat the spread, but what is the term for when a dog comes within the spread or wins outright?

27
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 10:05am

Re #19,

Andrew, I'm feeling the same pain, made worse by Reggie Bush not getting 8 carries either. A 'good' week from either of those two and I'd have been top 10.

28
by Jeff (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 10:16am

#19: I would have had an awesome Loser League week, if Edge had not gotten a penalty. There shouldn't be a penalty on a player if the player's team rushes fewer than 10 times in the entire game.

Can't really complain that much, my overall season is pretty good, er . . . bad.

29
by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:22am

Wali Lundy or Laurence Maroney?
10 yards/pt, 4pts per TD.

30
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:27am

9.5 is a big line for Bears-Vikes. These aren't the old high-powered-offense Vikes that could be counted on to lay a stinker at Soldier Field; they seem to have specifically built the team to play better outdoors (which is good and all, but of course they haven't looked nearly as good at home as in previous years).

I don't know if the Vikes can win, but I think it would take several Minnesota turnovers to make the game more than a touchdown. Of course, that could happen.

31
by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:32am

#19 & 28

Same here. My LL team is doing well in spite of my RBs (Edge, Droughns, and Henry).

32
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:01pm

Seems like a good time to rehash one of my posts from the original AFC O/U thread

Miami is the quintassential example of a team that had a few breaks to give it a better record than you would expect, and then people using that improper baseline for the following year’s projections.

(Previous examples of this include 04 Bills, 04 Falcons, 03 Dallas and 01 Pats)

That was a 6-10 team last year that caught a few lucky breaks. Just a cursary glance at their “remarkable� run to end the season shows the following:

* Against SD, even though they had the advantage of knowing every line call (SD’s coaches decided not to change them for this game even though Miami had the ex-OL coach) they barely pulled it out.

* Buffalo blew a 23-3 3rd quarter lead because they started coasting too early.

* Brooks Bollinger had this line at Miami!

C/ATT YDS TD INT
28/42 327 2 0

The Jets had a 1st and 5 on the 14 with just over a minute to go in a game decided by 4 points. Another skate against a bad team.

* And the Pats nearly won playing scond and third stringers for 3 quarters. This included a QB that hadn’t played 3 full quarters since high school, a practice squad WR playing CB, etc.

I see Miami being an improved team, but taking a step backwards recordwise. I will be shocked if they win more than 8 games.

The Jets, on the other hand, are going to win at least 7 games. They were just the opposite in that their record was pushed down due to outside circumstances. Oddly enough, the recent team that they are most similar to is Miami in 2004. And, just as I was surprised at how many people didn’t realize that Miami would certainly win at least 6-7 games just by having a normal camp in 05, the same holds true for the NYJ. As long as they don’t lose Pennington again, they are definitely not a 4-5 win team.

Oh, and even though NE has many more questions than usual, it would take a series of injuries even worse than last year for them to win less than 11 games with their schedule. Take the over.

In fairness, I would have said that the Bills were a pretty good under bet, and that obviously isn't the case. But Miami, NY and NE were the ones that I was most certain about.

And I will third the comment in #1. It was absurd that anyone thought NE would have a bottom 1/3 defense, let alone a solid analytical website.

33
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:06pm

BTW, oddly enough NY is a terrific candidate for next year's "up and comer and never materializes." While I was sure that they would be near .500, they could very easily win 10 games this year, and they aren't anywhere near that good of a team.

If the press jumps on them as the AFCE successor next year they won't win more than 7 games.

34
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:07pm

The Oakland Miasma of Suck cracked the top20 for last week and top 35 overall (I think they're both season highs for me). And between Randy Moss (2), Alvis Whitted (2), and Ronald Curry (1), my WRs may have had one of the worst combined scores all year.

35
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:28pm

Can I nominate Bill Ritter for an honorary "Keep Chopping Wood" award? If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the Gil Thorpe blog.

36
by b-man (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:33pm

Oswelek: Let's see what NE does against the run with Seau out for the rest of the season. Chicago put all their yards up when he was out. Hopefully it was just the fact that they had to adjust in-game and they will be better prepared after a week of practice. Although, it does help to get a tune-up against Detriot before they go to Miami.

37
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:45pm

Simple one here, but time is of the essence:

Ravens D @ Cincy or Dolphins D at home against Jax?

Did anyone else see the story on TJ Houshmandzadeh on NFL net Monday night? Kinda hard to call him Who's-Yer-Daddy anymore, and I half-invented that name for him.

38
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:59pm

b-man,

I will admit that I am concerned about Chicago's success running the ball post-Seau. I am hopeful that much of that will be corrected with time to prepare for his absence. Also, if you look at the Chicago's offensive stats, it seems as if NE may have altered the scheme a little to take away the passing game. This may have been a contributing reason why the run game was more successful.

They need to improve, because poor play was a good part of it, but I am pretty confident that it will still be good, if not great.

39
by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:16pm

So long as we're patting ourselves on the back, here's what I had to say last year:

I’m not making any grand statements for now (and by grand statements, I mean 7-9)- it would be silly to do so without at least seeing how the team looks in the preseason. But a lot of the negative press on the Jets centers around the four quarterback derby and the assumption that it’s the result of the team not having any quality quarterback options. No one is really expecting Pennington to come back, or if they are, they expect a performance similar to last year’s. All I’m saying is that if it turns out that Pennington is healthy and ready to play at a 2002-2004 clip, that should make a big difference in the team’s prospects.

I was expecting a 7-9/8-8 season heading into the year, but at this point I think a 10-6 record and a wild card spot are likely considering the combination of schedule and the defense's elevated play over the last month.

As for next year, while I would be surprised to see them be highly regarded , I would point out that the press' expectations won't have any bearing on how the team actually plays. And there are reasons to think that the team might be somewhat different from Miami. They have a better quarterback situation, they have a young and talented offensive line that figures to improve rather than regress, and they have some high draft picks and cap room to work with come the offseason.

40
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:24pm

Sean,

I know that saying stuff like this is against the rules of an analytical site like this, but you would be surprised how often the "surprise non-surprise" team was the team most agreed upon as the best up-and-comer.

I realize that their is no causation involved, but there is an odd connection there. As a Jet fan, just hope that they go into next year under the radar. Trust me.

41
by admin :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:32pm

Not sure where else to mention this, but if anyone is interested in some game charting notes on the first Ravens-Bengals game, before watching the second Ravens-Bengals game, click on my name.

We say this over and over and people still have a hard time understanding it, so I will say it again: Numerical projections do not represent our opinions. Numerical projections represent numerical projections. If you disagree with some of the numerical projections on this site, you are no different than every single Football Outsiders staff member. The way to tell when we disagree with the projections is to read the words we write.

As a famous man once said, "Remember, of course, that any statistical formula is not a replacement for your own judgment, just a tool to use in analyzing performance."

As far as "rules for an analytical site like this," there really are only four of them:

1) Try to keep fantasy questions to Scramble for the Ball.
2) Don't talk politics.
3) Don't argue about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning.
4) Don't be a dick.

42
by Eli (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:35pm

for all you fantasy guru's out there, need 3 receivers from the following:
Donald Driver vs. Jets
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Rams
Marvin Harrison vs. Titans
Mushin Muhammed vs. Vikings

muhammed scares me, but is going up against the inept minny seocndary, so who should of the first three should i bench? need major help, because my running backs are gore, k. jones, and wali lundy...

thanks!

43
by What (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:39pm

Braylon Edwards has way too many drops to be considered a success as the #3 pick.

44
by Adam B. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:42pm

Answers:
29: Maroney.
37: Cannot. Bench. Ravens.
42: Mush is still the one to bench, given the options.

Question: With add/drops being frozen in many leagues around now, who are some players who might be free agents in many leagues who might be valuable keepers for next season? (I just grabbed Culpepper in one league, Norwood in another.)

45
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:46pm

41: The statement you make should be directed not at people who disagree with DVOA or similar FO mentality, but those who lambast people who disagree with it.

It's not usually FO writers who make unwritten "rules" (not laws so much as "if you say these things you'll get made fun of") or lambast people who disagree with the numbers. I don't think you've got anything to defend yourself about--I think the FO writers have a pretty reasonable attitude about the numbers.

For myself, at least, when I've argued, I've usually been arguing with other commenters, not with FO writers, who like I said, seem pretty grounded in interpreting the numbers.

46
by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:50pm

The dog beats the spread. The favorite covers.

47
by Smithee Elder (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:53pm

I need a win to make the playoffs. Standard Yahoo league, 6 pts/TD, -2/interception, 1 pt/20 rush yards, 1 pt/50 pass yards. I have until tonight to make my choices.

Palmer (vs. BAL) or Vick (vs. WAS)? Is the Baltimore defense a fantasy QB killer?

Rudi Johnson (vs. BAL) or Maroney (vs. DET)? Same question for RB.

48
by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 1:56pm

I've gotta agree with Pacifist Viking (even if he is a Viking fan :-) ). After the troll incidents last season, I noticed an increase in people defending FO stats at all costs. The implication was that Aaron and the team did a lot of work to create the methodology and it was wrong to question it.

I know from coming around since '03 (maybe'04, that the FO team has always been recptive to criticism and questions as long as they had some thought behind them.

49
by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:07pm

Bill, you should buy him one of the lavender womens Ed Reed jerseys.

50
by asg (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:12pm

Fantasy question: Terry Glenn @NYG or Fitzgerald @STL? I am definitely starting Romo.

51
by asg (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:23pm

37: Go with the Ravens.

47: I'd go with Palmer, despite my advice to #37, because Vick may not do a lot on the road in DC. Start your QB stud. I would, however, go with Maroney vs DET, not just because of matchup but because odds are the Bengals will not put up a huge amount of points, and that means only one of Palmer/Rudi is likely to rack 'em up.

52
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:44pm

With all due respect, I've seen mostly the opposite. In a lot of threads, I see people (often who should know better) spout off about something they think should be accounted for, mostly not because of some logical reason, but because things don't conform to what they think. Often these are discussions that had taken place and pretty much resolved many, many times before. Then someone pops up and corrects the person, or makes a point about their argument, and the thing devolves into a flamewar.

I think the "DVOA Zealot" is a bit of a straw man. Everyone has their problems with it (I personally think that fumbles "forced" are more reliant upon the offence than the defence, and are incredibly random even in that case). Very few people will blindly defend it. I think it is mostly a straw man that people use to fight back when they have nothing more than intuition to argue with.

In conclusion, people will be irrational and get in stupid arguments no matter what side they are on. Water wet, sun hot, Roethlisberger getting sacked Sunday.

53
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:51pm

Defence!

DAL (@NYG) or KC (@CLE)?

54
by OMO (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 3:10pm

Re: #1

I think it's official at this point.

Rich Conley has assumed the position of CPS (Chief Patriots Slappy) taking over from Starshatter who is now solely focused on idolizing Sir Tom Brady.

55
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 3:28pm

Re: 53

I'd go with KC. Cleveland's offense can be Raider bad.

Another defensive question.

Pats (vs. Lions) or Miami (vs. Jags)?

56
by Nick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 3:35pm

Leinart v. Stl. or
Bulger v. Arz.?

57
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 4:05pm

#55 As someone who grabbed the KC defense to use vs. the Raiders, that really isn't a compelling argument. Personally, I'm sticking with the Cowboys. (But I'm a bitter Giants fan, so take it for what it's worth.)

Since I'm posting, for my flex spot: Devery Henderson or Maurice Jones-Drew? (Other possibilities: C. Williams, R. Bush, T. Henry, M. Muhammad.)

58
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 4:24pm

#56: Bulger, StL has some semblance of a pass defence

#57: MJD

#50: Fitzgerald. Diversify.

#47: Vick, Maroney. People against weak Ds over guys going against a strong D.

59
by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 4:25pm

I would go with KC in the one instance and Leinart over Bulger in the other.

60
by asg (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 5:27pm

53: Go for KC. You might get a special teams bump too.

55: Pats and it's not close.

56: Bulger. At the very least he'll be on the field longer.

57: Jones-Drew. Go for the greater number of touches.

61
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 5:37pm

Re: 52

Exactly. I've tried to make that point multiple time while in such discussions, but [sarcasm]surprisingly[/sarcasm] it usually gets ignored.

62
by bsr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 5:44pm

In all fairness to Rich, he was questioning an opinion of the staff writers and not the statistics. He responded to the following quote from Bill and Ian:

"We’ve all come to expect big things from Tom Brady, but who knew this New England defense could be this good?"

That being said, I don't think any of them really need to be lambasted because they made one bad prediction, no matter how obvious some people (count me as #4)thought it to be. Its really not a big issue.

63
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 6:44pm

So will Minnesota have a decent fantasy day against Chicago?

64
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 7:45pm

54

FO said 27

Theyre what, 10 now, and still climbing.

My issue wasnt with the prediction. The prediction was caused by injuries, and was clearly an abberation. My issue is with the "who thought they'd be this good?", when pretty much everyone thought the defense would be good.

It would be akin to them predicting that Philly's offense will be bad next year. We'll all say, "Um, yeah, right"

48 MCS, I completely agree. Its gotten real nasty around here, and its almost not worth discussing anything, because it always turns into "if you question DVOA, the baby jesus cries"

This site was about questioning the established stats. Now that FO is established, they should be questioned, and people seem to get real offended when you do that.

65
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 8:34pm

Re 64:
You're still not quite getting it. DVOA has been questioned since it was started, how many easy questions about the methodology are left? The obvious questions have all been asked and it grates on a lot of people's nerves that every piece of DVOA has to be explained and defended every single week. It's a really good tool and it's irritating to read a bunch of reponses that boil down to, "DVOA doesn't match what I think, therefore some random event in football is not being accounted for correctly."

66
by RichConley (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 8:50pm

mactbone

Yeah, I get that. THe problem is that you people dont get the fact that not EVERY question has been asked. People blast things immediately, before they even think about it. I've been here since the beginning, I know. I've seen it all.

The problem now is that when DVOA/whatever is making huge glaring errors, like predicting the Pats to be the 27th ranked Defence, people immediately say things like "It’s a really good tool and it’s irritating to read a bunch of reponses that boil down to, “DVOA doesn’t match what I think, therefore some random event in football is not being accounted for correctly.�" rather than looking at the obvious issue.

People just say "you're perception must be wrong" rather than using their head and saying "you know what, maybe DVOA is missing something here" like the preseason prediction numbers obviously did.

67
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 8:53pm

The prediction was caused by injuries, and was clearly an abberation.

I dunno - the Patriots have been pretty hard hit by injuries on defense again this year as well. Personally, I think if anyone thought the Patriots would be playing this well on defense at this point in the year, you'd be a Patriots fan.

I mean, Seau's 37, hadn't played a full season in 4 years, and had retired. Who would've predicted he would've played so well for 11 games?

In some sense, I think it's a little insulting to the players (and the coaches) on the Patriots defense to say "well, we all expected you to play this well!" If your expectations had been reasonable, I don't think you could've.

68
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 8:57pm

“if you question DVOA, the baby jesus cries�

Hilarious.

I agree totally with you. And if the site is to remain what it wants to be then it needs to be constantly reasessing itself and the questions it already thinks have been answered. They have an extremely imperfect model but some do seem to think it is a near perfect model. That is not a problem exclusive to this site, it is one of the main shortcomings of statistics; they fall in love with their models and start givng them more credence than they deserve. Multiple regression is the poster child of voodoo statistics.

Having said that, I do love the sometimes heated conversations which occur here. It is much better than arguing over sports without any real analysis to back it up. Here there is analysis and a good attempt made at isolating what is truly good from what is hype. But this would all be boring statistical posturing worthy of a faculty meeting if we didn't have the hotheads, homers and generally insane fans to stir things up. I like this site. I like the fact that people constantly question the model, mock it, criticize it, yet still rely on it for their fantasy football team.

Disagreeing with the model is the scientific method in practice.

69
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 8:57pm

It would be akin to them predicting that Philly’s offense will be bad next year. We’ll all say, “Um, yeah, right�

Uh, I'll take that bet. Mobile QB in a year after an ACL injury? That's easy money right there.

70
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:00pm

#65,

I am closer to Rich's side on this one. You're last sentence would lead one to think that it is only people who don't think analytically that question DVOA or some of their predicitons and conclusions, but this isn't anywhere near the truth. In fact, NE's prediction of having the #27 defense showed a total *lack* of inspection.

Now, I realize that injuries happen in various degrees to all teams and there is no way to manipulate the projections while maintaining the integrity of them. That said, when I posted my objections and my reasoning for those ojections I was met with almost unaminimous contemptuousness. Aside from other NE fans who understood exactly how serious the injury issues were last year, most fans acted the same way you are now. Reality has proven, though, that it wasn't Rich and I that were trying to make the system fit our perceptions, it was the system unable to undersatnd why our perceptions were right.

I appreciate all the work that the contributors to this website do, writers and posters alike. I have probably learned more reading this site than I did in 10 years watching football on my own. Nonetheless, DVOA is not infallible, and it would do all of us some good to listen to fans of teams if they have a legitimate reason as to why they have a different opinion.

71
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:06pm

Pat,

I dunno - the Patriots have been pretty hard hit by injuries on defense again this year as well. Personally, I think if anyone thought the Patriots would be playing this well on defense at this point in the year, you’d be a Patriots fan.

This is just my point. NE fans *did* think this because they saw just how much damage the injuries and terrible backups did. It wasn't us being homers, it was us having a different persepctive.

That said, I will admit that if someone had told me that NE would once again lose all 4 of their starting secondary at various times and Harrison for a good chunk of the season, I might have backed down a little. I am pleasantly surprised that they have maintained decent play through it all.

72
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:19pm

How exactly are the Patriots injury problems significantly better this year? They lost Seymour for 4 games last year, Bruschi for 7, Harrison for 13, and a variety of CBs for handfuls at a time. This year, they lose Eugene Wilson for 7 weeks, Seau for 5, Harrison for at least 4, and a slew of others for single weeks at a time.

Is it really that much better? Looks similar to me, and has the potential to be worse by the end of the season.

73
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:22pm

it would do all of us some good to listen to fans of teams if they have a legitimate reason as to why they have a different opinion.

Questions of DVOA aside, a team's fans is just about the last place I want to go for rational discussion. Myself included (notice I talk about the Bears much more than the Steelers?).

74
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:23pm

That said, I will admit that if someone had told me that NE would once again lose all 4 of their starting secondary at various times and Harrison for a good chunk of the season, I might have backed down a little. I am pleasantly surprised that they have maintained decent play through it all.

Exactly! That's my point - everyone's saying "ha ha, we all knew they'd be better, we saw all the injuries they had..." but... they still have injuries this year. That isn't the reason.

I don't think it was unreasonable to predict that they'd continue to decline this year. I think it's amazing that they've played this well (and improved as much as they had over the season).

75
by RichConley (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:29pm

Pat, most of the Patriots poor DVOA performance last year came during a 4-7 week period where both Bruschi and Seymour were out.

The injuries in the secondary prove something: Their secondary doesnt make a damn difference. Its the injuries in the D-Line and Linebackers that seem to cause huge performance drops. Thats why I'm worried about the Seau thing, but then again, vrabel was playing pretty decent MLB by the end of last season, just not in the beginning.

Look back at last year's patriots numbers: They were one of the best defences in the league in weeks 1-3, and then in weeks 10-16. It was during the middle when Seymour, and Brushci were hurt.

76
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 10:01pm

Questions of DVOA aside, a team’s fans is just about the last place I want to go for rational discussion. Myself included (notice I talk about the Bears much more than the Steelers?).

But you're missing something then, I think. Since most of us readers here have to work for a living and only have the time to follow one team in depth, it's actually really useful to hear comments from those that follow other teams most closely. As long as it's not a bunch of wisecracks and insults, I prefer to hear the comments from fans about their teams, because they'll often have info I don't have time to dig up. For example, I learned a lot I didn't know about the Eagles from the fans here before the 2004 SB.

77
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:02pm

Pat,

The injury problems are not all that close. It wasn't just the starters that were hurt in the secondary, it was everyone but Wilson, Hobbs and Samuel. This year, the starters have been hit bad, but the depth has been pretty healthy. This is the biggest issue because NE had no backup plan for Harrison's absence. They were signing on Tuesday people and starting them Sunday until they finally happened upon Hawkins. With Hawkins still on the team and an improved Sanders, NE is in far better shape to deal with the losses to Harrison and WIlson.

Once you go beyond the secondary, though, the similarities cease. NE went into last year with 2 new ILBs. Even when Bruschi returned he was just returning from a stroke and Vrabel was starting inside for the first time in his career. You can't just glance over the loss of Seymour either. While he was dinged up a little this year and missed parts of some games, his injury was much worse last year, and he played with a knee brace all season. With improved replacements for Beisel and Brown, NE had a much better backup plan here too. Seau's absence may be a hinderance here, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as bad as the nadir of last year.

Lastly, most people kept pointing out how NE's defensive "improvement" was caused by weaker offensive opponents. Nothing could be further from the truth. NE's defense was downright dominant over the final few weeks of last year and I'm sure that if the last 6 weeks were the only ones used, the projection would have looked much different.

When I said that I am pleasantly surprised, I don't the same thing you mean. Even if you told me that NE would lose all of the people they have lost this year and a few more, I still would never have believed that their defense was going to be anywhere near as bad as last year. NE's season last year was the perfect storm of ridiculous amounts of injuries and poorly laid out reinforcement plans.

78
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:07pm

The injuries in the secondary prove something: Their secondary doesnt make a damn difference.

I'll have to fall in the "beg to disagree" category there. It does make a difference. It makes them more vulnerable to a decline in the front seven.

I also think you're really dismissing the fact that some of the DBs the Patriots have been starting are actually turning out to be pretty good. Hell, Troy Brown's one pass deflection vs Chicago was really a damn impressive play, and against anyone not named "Peyton Manning", Samuel's actually been half-decent (not great, granted, but hey, those three interceptions last week certainly helped).

Thats why I’m worried about the Seau thing

Again why I say - I have no idea how a rational Pats fan could've expected the defense to play this well with Seau as a starting linebacker. I mean, yeah, the guy's a likely Hall of Famer, but, that's just unreasonable. Add in all of the other linebackers continuing to age, and predicting a Patriots decline isn't that surprising.

I think you're being a little too cavalier in just saying "well, this is what we would've expected." Honestly, Seau coming into the Patriots and playing as well as he had at his age is a pretty amazing story.

79
by Ralph (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:15pm

Tiki Barber, Joseph Addai, Plaxico Burress, Willis McGahee, and Willie Parker. Who for my RB and flex position this week? I need 2 of those 5.

80
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:19pm

I still would never have believed that their defense was going to be anywhere near as bad as last year.

As I've pointed out before, neither did the DVOA predictions. NE's defense was predicted to be +6.0%. Last year, they were +10.5%. DVOA didn't predict a decline from 2005. It predicted an improvement. A modest improvement, sure, but probably more in line with where your expectations would've been.

When I talk about expecting a decline, I meant a decline from 2003-2004. I think it's flat amazing that they're playing as well as they were in 2004.

81
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:19pm

Again why I say - I have no idea how a rational Pats fan could’ve expected the defense to play this well with Seau as a starting linebacker

Because most "rational" Pats fans realized that last year's team was a complete and total aberation and the best frame of reference would have been a mild decline from the 2004 performance after a little time to build into it, which is just about what has happened.

82
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:22pm

As I’ve pointed out before, neither did the DVOA predictions. NE’s defense was predicted to be +6.0%. Last year, they were +10.5%. DVOA didn’t predict a decline from 2005. It predicted an improvement. A modest improvement, sure, but probably more in line with where your expectations would’ve been.

No. I never would have predicted a positive defensive DVOA even with the injuries. If that is the impression that I gave, I apologize. I would have expected around 8-12th best since week 3 rather than 3rd.

83
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:30pm

New England, defensive DVOA 2004: -11.3%
New England, weighted defensive DVOA 2006: -11.7%

Actually, they haven't declined at all. That, to me, is the amazing thing.

A "mild" decline from 2004 would put them at around, say, 0% to -5%. Which really isn't that far from +6%, and certainly within the fuzz of the prediction.

I actually would've expected a little more than a mild decline from 2004 (basically, two 'mild declines'), and so while I thought that the prediction looked a little too low, it certainly didn't seem unreasonable.

The rank seemed crazy, of course, but that's just because teams fall apart every year, and you can't predict which ones do.

84
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:34pm

I would have expected around 8-12th best since week 3 rather than 3rd.

12th best would be closer to +6% than it would be to the 3rd best defensive DVOA.

Hence my statement.

85
by RichConley (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 12:11am

Pat, I'm worried because, while nobody could have predicted SEAU was going to play so well, he has. He leads the team in tackles, and has been a beast against the run, and that lets Tedi Bruschi do what he does best.

The big question isnt "Can Vrabel replace Seau?", its can "Tully Banta-Cain replace Vrabel"

86
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 12:59am

San Francisco will hit the Uver.

Looks like Minnesota and Tampa Bay are sure bets for the Under.

87
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 1:17am

Rich:

Part of what I'm trying to say isn't "the Pats really should've sucked this year" - it's "by all rights and expectations, the Patriots should not be nearly as good as they were in 2004 right now." I think Seau is a large part of that, and for a 37 year old with a constant string of injuries, that's amazing.

Do I think the prediction for the Patriots was a bit low? Sure, and I said so then. But Bill's statement was "but who knew the Patriots defense would be this good?" and personally, I think it's almost insulting to Seau to suggest that it was obvious that the defense would be as good as it was in 2004.

San Francisco will hit the Uver.

Which I never doubted. I said in the preseason they were a stone-cold lock for the over. They played way too good versus the Bears in the preseason for a 4-win season or less. Yeah, it was only one game - and God, did they stink it up in the game after that - but it doesn't take much to have more than 4 wins, especially in the NFC West.

My exact statement from that thread was that they'd either end up 6-10 or 7-9. That looks pretty good right now.

88
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 1:36am

Pat,

You keep bringing up statements as if they agree with my position when they don't in any way. Unless there is a missing (-), 6% defensive DVOA would land NE in 23rd place, which is a far cry from 8-12. Even the -5% to 0% would be between 13th and 17th place.

I said it before and I'll say it again, the year 2005 should just be completely discarded when analyzing NE's defensive trends.

89
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 1:42am

That's because you're using the ordinal numbers rather than the actual values. Third place is, and always has been, about -20% DVOA, rounded to the nearest 5%. 12th place has always been about -5%. -5% is closer to +6% than it is to -20%.

90
by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 1:48am

OK - just to comment on what I've been reading.

Quick note before I get started - Pat - that was actually Ian's comment about "who knew the Patriots defense would be this good?"

I think it's a little strange

For those people who say, "How could anyone reasonable think the Patriots' defense could be 26th in the league?!?!?", well, no one thought the Chargers defense was going to be so good in 2004 - so much so that I remember Aaron physically adjusting the offensive projections and ignoring what DVOA said. Of course, they ended up being pretty accurate. Furthermore, the Steelers' chapter in not-Pro Football Prospectus 2004 had to be rewritten because it was too positive about the Steelers. You know, who only went on to win 15 games.

I think that's why, at this point, it's okay to trust DVOA. It's NOT OK for Aaron, or any of the other writers, or any of our readers to just believe in it without any level of skepticism -- especially when that's what this whole site is built on.

I really disagree with morganja's post since he (or she, I guess) is attributing qualities to "statistics" that don't exist. Statistics don't have a voice, they don't argue against anyone or anything. It's how they're used by people, who then distort, stretch, or otherwise ignore those numbers if they like.

I would describe DVOA as neither extremely imperfect nor nearly perfect. It's somewhere inbetween. It's STILL a definite work in progress. That excites me, personally. I love being able to have an idea or a research question and go do research that no one, as far as I can tell, has ever done before. I love not knowing the answer and I love, even more, being wrong. I enjoy arguing with oslwek when he tells me he has a hunch on a team. I love getting e-mails from high-falootin Bengals fans when they're 3-0 about how I'm an idiot for saying they'd hit their under and then watching them go 2-5.

If everyone believed in DVOA 5.0 without a shadow of a doubt, they'd be wrong too often. If everyone believed in DVOA 25.0, they'd be wrong less, but they'd still be wrong too often. The whole idea of Football Outsiders, to me at least, is to think for yourself about football. That's what it's taught me so far, at least.

91
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 2:59am

this is a first, but I like Ian's picks this week.

92
by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:14am

Re 90:

I think you are actually agreeing with me. I stated that statisticians fall in love with their models and use them to argue beyond their statistical significance. The word 'they', perhaps not as clear as it could have been, refers to statisticians, not statistics. It is used consistently throughout the first couple sentences of the paragraph.

In economics there is a very clear tendency to the same weakness that exists in statistics, to extrapolate a model beyond the defined parameters. It is natural to assign characteristics to one's research baby that it does not possess. Milton Friedman wrote an excellent book on this subject. I suspect the main problem is that staticians are not necesarily good mathematicians. They understand what their formulas are suppose to produce, but don't really follow the logic all the way through and end up with the voodooo effect, put numbers in, and through black magic, conclusions come out the other side. You really have to follow the logic every step of the way and keep asking yourself not only what the statistics are implying, but also what are the definitional boundaries of the model.
I think that statistics programs are the main culprit in this breakdown. It is not necesary go through the intermediate steps.

I'm not laying this on footballoutsiders doorstep only. But don't get too arrogant about your statistical model until you can predict with 99% certainty the score of every game.

93
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:45am

RE: 86

That should say "San Francisco will hit the Over."

94
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 11:33am

Pat #89.

No, that is not what I am saying. The fact that +6 is closer to -5 than -20 has no relevence whatsoever. Would you use the same logic if the three numbers were -30/-5/+18? The spread between the numbers is too large for it to be meaningful that one happens to be mildly closer to expectations that the other.

Again, I recognize that manipulating the system to create what you *think* it should be goes against its own purpose, but that, and your flawed logic, does not mean that it wasn't wrong.

Bill,

I agree with what you are saying. I have no problem with letting DVOA tell you what it tells you. My problem is with those that completely disregarded the (proven to be) sound reasoning why DVOA would be unable to accurately predict this one thing.

95
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 11:58am

No, that is not what I am saying.

Uh, I never said it was.

The fact that +6 is closer to -5 than -20 has no relevence whatsoever.

All I'm saying is that a 12th ranked defense is closer to a 25th ranked defense than it is a 3rd ranked defense. It doesn't take much for a slightly good defense to fall to mediocre-bad. It takes a lot more for a slightly good defense to become one of the best in the league.

but that, and your flawed logic,

What's with the random ad hominem comments?

96
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 12:21pm

Pat,

I can see that neither of us is going to move from our stances.

The 12th ranked D was a worst case, IMO, scenerio in the even that NE had the injuries that they have had in 2006. It seems to me that you are using that number as the baseline for what I deemed an acceptable *healthy* projection. If that is not the case, than I am missing something.

I'm not sure how what I said is an ad hominem comment. You seem like a stand up guy from everything I have read. You certainly give most everything you right a great deal of thought. I was just pointing out that I think that saying that "6 is closer to -5 than -20" is flawed logic.

I am not saying that the 2006 projection wasn't reasonable based on the process that it came by, I am saying that the process wasn't sophisticated enough to understand *why* the 2005 numbers were the way they were. Again, without subjective manipulation, I don't know how that could ever be resolved and subjective manipulation goes against the DVOA projections in the first place.

We are not that far off from each other. But the 2006 defensive projections never had any chance of being accurate.

97
by BobbyFingers (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 1:41pm

RE: 79

In your case I would rank them:
1/1A Paker and Addai, I like them both this week.
2 Tiki

I'm in sort of the same situation. Although, I need to pick one out of Addai and Parker... I'm leaning Addai. Any help would be appreciated.

98
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 2:48pm

The 12th ranked D was a worst case, IMO, scenerio in the even that NE had the injuries that they have had in 2006. It seems to me that you are using that number as the baseline for what I deemed an acceptable *healthy* projection.

Yup. That's my standard "how to deal with rose-colored glasses" issue. Treat the most pessimistic assumption as the mean. (Might need to be inverted for fans of bad teams).

I am saying that the process wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand *why* the 2005 numbers were the way they were.

Was it missing something about the 2005 numbers? Sure - that's exactly what I said above, when I said I thought it was too low. But that's contained within the error in the prediction - for the Patriots defense, it likely would've been about 4-5% or so. Subjectively, you could assume that the Patriots would fall on the higher side of that distribution, and given that few teams have ever faced that many injuries, say, 1-2 sigma is about right.

Which means that a reasonable guess for the Patriots defense, taking into account the extreme nature of the injuries, would've been something like a defensive DVOA of 1% to -4%. That's exactly where I figured the Patriots would end up. And, like I said, when you add in the "rose-colored glasses" effect, it's pretty in-line with your expectations as well.

And that's still a huge departure from their actual weighted defensive DVOA of -11%.

Again, without subjective manipulation, I don’t know how that could ever be resolved

You don't have to subjectively manipulate the actual numbers. You just have to guess as to where a team falls in the distribution. The DVOA projections are basically the mean of all teams in the NFL under similar situation - you just need to figure out how far from the mean the team in question was, using more information than DVOA has.

99
by Scot K (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 3:19pm

"Laurence Maroney leading the league in kickoff return average is a pleasant surprise, and yet another example of how well-coached this team is."

Typical FO Belichick/NE Man-Love. What a complete non-sequitur. It's really disgraceful sometimes.

100
by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 3:44pm

#99 -

Ian wrote that statement. He's a Buccaneers fan. I'm a Giants fan.

I really hope you're being sarcastic.

101
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 3:53pm

Pat #98,

I think the "rose colored glasses" issue was offset by the "fans of other teams just didn't understand how dramatic the injury issues NE dealt with" issue.

As I have said all along, the best point of reference for the 2006 defense was the 2004 defense. I apologize that I was incorrect with my assumption that 2004 was mildy better, but I still stand by the statement that 2005 was a terrible foundation to base a projection on.

102
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:23pm

Re 101:
You have to go with what you know though. Just like when the Chargers offense was predicted to explode even though they just drafted their QB of the future and Drew Brees was beat out by Flutie the previous year. Subjectively, you'd figure those numbers were crazy - LDT was good, but the line sucked and they didn't have a reciever - but if you decide to grab the 2003 numbers or do whatever else to change the predictions, then you're not doing any real analysis.

I'm trying to say that you have to use the Patriots for 2005 because every team has injuries, and some of them have injury issues just as bad as the Pats last year, and yet most of the predictions have been reasonable. Just because this one instance it looks like the predictions were off, doesn't mean that it was ludicrous to trust them.

103
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:26pm

Wait, I just realized I'm veering from the topic.

I don't see why it's unreasonable to think that many people thought the Pats defense wouldn't regain the 2004 form. It seems perfectly reasonable to assume at the start of the season that they wouldn't be one of the top 5 defenses in the league.

104
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:31pm

Mactbone,

I agree with you. Although it seems as if I may be challenging the system, I'm really not. As I have said a few times in this thread, my larger issues are not with the system, but the reaction I got when I explained why it was wrong in this case.

Here is a paragraph from my post #70

Now, I realize that injuries happen in various degrees to all teams and there is no way to manipulate the projections while maintaining the integrity of them. That said, when I posted my objections and my reasoning for those ojections I was met with almost unaminimous contemptuousness. Aside from other NE fans who understood exactly how serious the injury issues were last year, most fans acted the same way you are now. Reality has proven, though, that it wasn’t Rich and I that were trying to make the system fit our perceptions, it was the system unable to undersatnd why our perceptions were right.

I don't think that the NE problem in any way invalidates what the DVOA do well, I just wish people would be a little more open minded when someone has a valid reason to challenge them.

105
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:34pm

#103,

"Not top 5" and "bottom 6" are entirely different points entriely.

106
by bsr (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 4:52pm

My impressions have always been that DVOA is not meant to predict what will happen but rather show more clearly what has happened. And the Patriot's defense expample highlights this. It has it's limitations as a prediction tool as do all statistics. I still think it is highly valuable but it is just one piece of an assesment I make of an upcoming game.

107
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 5:39pm

“fans of other teams just didn’t understand how dramatic the injury issues NE dealt with� issue.

Oh, I'd heavily disagree there. That's mitigated by the fact that fans tend to think their own team's injuries are worse than any others.

As I have said all along, the best point of reference for the 2006 defense was the 2004 defense. I apologize that I was incorrect with my assumption that 2004 was mildy better, but I still stand by the statement that 2005 was a terrible foundation to base a projection on.

Except that the DVOA projections for 2005 predicted NE's defense declining from 2004 to about 0% DVOA (from -11%, mind you). The projections for 2006 showed it improving from 2005 (and decreasing from 2005's projections). Note that the ranking ends up being 11th, but 9-16 are separated by less than the distance between 8-9 and 16-17 - they're all the same.

Even if you magically pretend 2006 is 2005 for the Patriots defense, DVOA still said they should decline. Noticeably.

And they haven't. Like I said, I think it's seriously selling a few people short in the Patriots defense by pretending that their defensive performance so far was predictable.

108
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 6:09pm

Re: 99, 100

Laurence Maroney leading the league in kickoff return average is a pleasant surprise, and yet another example of how well-coached this team is.

Actually, Maroney trails Justin Miller of the Jets by one-tenth of a yard per return. Picky, I know.

109
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 6:17pm

"Even if you magically pretend 2006 is 2005 for the Patriots defense, DVOA still said they should decline. Noticeably.

And they haven’t. Like I said, I think it’s seriously selling a few people short in the Patriots defense by pretending that their defensive performance so far was predictable. "

Either that, or these projections just did a shitty job.

Its not predictable that they'd be top 10. It is predictable that they'd be absolutely nowhere near 27.

As to injuries not being any more severe than most teams, thats bullshit. The patriots had 8 defensive starters on IR. They set the NFL record for most starters in a season in week 10. They ended up utterly anhilating that record

110
by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 7:06pm

I want to emhasize how much I appreciate this site and respect the fact that the creators are willing to put their work out under the glare of public criticism. I think this is the only method by which any research can avoid the pitfalls of academia. Most of what comes out of university faculty research is pure crap because it is motivated by trite personal ambition and university politics.

In the news today was the fact that Duke University gets $1.1 billion in federal money every year. Think about how much better our federally funded research would be if everyone was required to follow the model of footballoutsiders; put their work in the public sphere and defend it on forums.

I'm not going to back off my criticism of DVOA, but I do appreciate the fact that they are willing to put themselves and their work out there. So keep up the good work.

111
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 7:19pm

morganja,

just want to second that. In any sort of scientific/analytic undertaking, scrutiny is always helpful.

Aaron, et al, You guys are doing a great job. We just want to make sure you're not allowed to grow complacent.

112
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 7:37pm

Pat #107,

I don't know what else I can say. No matter what, you have some figure to prove why I should be surprised that NE is playing well on D. There is just one thing, though; I'm not surprised, and neither are most of the Pats fans that frequent this site. We can't all be victims of rose colored glasses and exaggeration of our team's problems can we?

113
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 8:45pm

and neither are most of the Pats fans that frequent this site. We can’t all be victims of rose colored glasses and exaggeration of our team’s problems can we?

Um. I think that's the short definition of a fan. Especially when said team has 3 Super Bowl rings in the past 5 years. Philly fans had similar issues entering 2004.

114
by RichConley (not verified) :: Fri, 12/01/2006 - 9:24pm

Pat, is it possible that this is a case of Okham's Razor?

Either we're all seeing it through rose colored glasses, the patriot's record setting injuries didnt affect the team that much, and they coincidentaly returned to almost exactly the same level they were two years ago when those players came back, OR, the prediction ignored important data, and was wrong?

115
by Not saying (not verified) :: Sat, 12/02/2006 - 6:11am

Re: 112 "you have some figure to prove why I should be surprised that NE is playing well on D. There is just one thing, though; I’m not surprised, and neither are most of the Pats fans that frequent this site."

I don't think you should be surprised that they are doing better than 27th, and I don't think that's what Pat is saying. It does seem surprising that they are a top 3 defense. Top 12 would not be surprising, even with the projection.

Also, as a Pats fan, I am surprised that they are doing this well. Especially with Harrison hurt seriously again and Seymour fighting injuries. And now Seau out.

Re: 114 "OR, the prediction ignored important data, and was wrong?"

Wait, what data was it ignoring?

116
by chris clark (not verified) :: Sat, 12/02/2006 - 4:51pm

Pat's right.

Fan's definitely see through rose colored glasses, so it is expected that a Pat's fan might not be surprised to see the D playing this well. The fan often sees "important data" that the objective observer misses, because the fan believes that certain attributes as skill which others might chalk-up to luck. That's not to say that the fan is not sometimes right. Sometimes there are underlying causes that the objective observer misses.

In NE's case something they do allows them to play better defense than would be expected objectively. This goes to the heart of using judgment along side DVOA. DVOA allows you to know certain objectively observable and measurable facts. Sometimes those facts don't capture everything. Other times the facts tell you something that as a fan one is missing due to rose colored perceptions.

Most often one has a wide variety of facts and impressions and one has to juggle and balance and in the end guess. Earlier in the season the DVOA for both DEN and IND were lower than I would have expected and didn't match the W/L records. Well, in IND case, the
DVOA improved to better match the W/L record and in the DEN case, the reverse happened. My guess is that trend will continue, but I hope I'm wrong (as a DEN fan).

And, this comes to my final point. There is a lot of randomness and unpredictability in the NFL. The better team doesn't always win. In fact, the team that played better in that given game doesn't always win. Detailed statistics like DVOA can help one better predict which is the better team, but they are still subject to the same factors, and the statistics can easily get skewed by the "random" factors that aren't accountable. One can use that as a source of hope with the indicators for your team look bleak. One can even use that as an "I told you so" when your team starts to do better than objective observers expect. Just don't be surprised when a fan of some other teams does the same to you when their team outperforms your "objective" analysis.

If PHI beats TEN in this years SB, just remember someone won't be surprised.

117
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 12/02/2006 - 9:16pm

In NE’s case something they do allows them to play better defense than would be expected objectively. This goes to the heart of using judgment along side DVOA.

Exactly. And in some sense, as I've said, I think it's insulting to just say "well, this is what we would've expected." No, not really. It's an amazing credit to the coaching staff, and to the players on defense, like Samuel, Seau, and others (I think Colvin is having a damn impressive year, for instance). No one expected Seau to be able to come out and play like that, for instance.

I think there's definite serious credit to the coaching and scouting staff to be able to put a top-ranked defense together constantly. DVOA won't predict that. How could it? It predicts the average behavior of teams, not the behavior of probably the best front office in the league.

Like I said, Philly went through this as well: in 2004, someone said "oh, well, I don't think they know how to lose outside of the championship round" - kindof as a joke, but that's what I mean. You never should expect constant excellence from teams - in some ways, it diminishes the impressiveness of what they are able to do.

Wait, what data was it ignoring?

I think that Rich would try to say it was ignoring the injuries, except, it wasn't - injuries result in inaccuracy in the prediction, except that inaccuracy can be quantified as well. Like I said, in New England's case, that error would be about 5% in DVOA, most likely. Which means they're way, way outside of their projection at this point.

118
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Sat, 12/02/2006 - 10:43pm

So just to sum up a few points made

1) The people who watch 90+% of a teams games are the least qualified to make an accurate assessment of the projections validity. Good to know. I will never again listen to the fan speak about their favorite team.

2) Even though many fans used sound reasoning that has proven to be correct, it was really DVOA that was right and we were wrong. We should just accept the fact that we were wrong and then turn around and be surprised that NE has succeeded anyway.

In NE’s case something they do allows them to play better defense than would be expected objectively.

This may in fact be an accurate statement, but it is actually works in my point's favor. Whatever that something is, it was likely to manifest itself again in a scenerio where catastrophic injuries did not present themselves.

This whole argument is delving into the absurd. I apologize for being so sarcastic and curt, but the points are just getting more and more circular rather than just accepting reality.

119
by Gil (not verified) :: Sun, 12/03/2006 - 11:10am

Tatum Bell v SEA or Justin Fargas v Houston or Cedric Houston v GB?

(I've been scrambling since Portis got hurt!)

120
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/03/2006 - 2:09pm

I'd say Justin Fargas.

121
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/03/2006 - 3:01pm

The people who watch 90+% of a teams games are the least qualified to make an accurate assessment of the projections validity.

Yup. Lack of objectivity sucks. I wouldn't listen to a politician's opinion about the strength of his own campaign, either, even though he's the one with the most information.

2) Even though many fans used sound reasoning that has proven to be correct,

The reasoning wasn't proven to be correct. The result was.

Broken clocks, right twice a day, and all that.

it was likely to manifest itself again

Again, I'll say, that's just insulting to New England staff, and the players. This is what I've been saying the entire freaking time. It is demeaning to a team to consider constant excellence likely, thus being 'not surprised' when they again do a fantastic job.

I don't get it. As far as I can tell, your argument is essentially "New England built a defense two years ago that's so unstoppable, that regardless of the fact that all the evidence about the way that team performed indicated that they should've declined, they won't. Last year's decline was a clear aberration - had they not had the injuries last year, they would've been nigh-unstoppable last year as well" whereas mine is "Damn. New England's coaching and scouting staff is really impressive. Even though by all rights, the defense should've declined over the past two years, they've managed to keep pace by continuing to find veteran players with great life left in them, and develop great young players as well."

122
by RichConley (not verified) :: Sun, 12/03/2006 - 3:13pm

"Again, I’ll say, that’s just insulting to New England staff, and the players. This is what I’ve been saying the entire freaking time. It is demeaning to a team to consider constant excellence likely, thus being ‘not surprised’ when they again do a fantastic job."

Why is it insulting to assume that guys like SEAU will be better than some guy who was signed in week 9 because everyone on the team was hurt? Almost everyone on the defence last year was below replacement level. To NOT expect a huge rebound is insulting.

It was an ignorant projection. If you can't accept that, then its not worth talking to you.

123
by chris clark (not verified) :: Sun, 12/03/2006 - 6:30pm

if you substitute "favorably impressed" for "surprised", does the argument read better? In any case, it was an ignorant projection, one that accounted for only some of the facts.

That's the nature of DVOA. As Pat says, it accounts for average team behavior. NE is not an average team; Belichek &co are not an average coaching staff, and that's after losing Charlie Weiss and a few other key members of the staff; Seau is not your avarage player coming out of retirement.

All of that is the "special" information that a fan might have that isn't in the lay-by-play numbers on which DVOA is based. You might be able to get some of that information by looking at team's long term DVOA averages (as the article on cyckles attempted to do), i.e. the defensive average of NE in recent years has been higher than would be expected for an average team.

To me that's the perfect basis for the RPS analogy. NE has a great defense year after year. IND has a great passing offense. DEN has been competitive with both teams, closer in style to NE to my mind.

Taking that point one step further, can you honestly tell me, as a non-IND fan, that you expected IND to have a great passing attack and a pretty mediocre defense with Dungy as the coach? It wasn't what I expected. However, at this point, it is what I expect next year again.

And, I don't get that expectation from DVOA, because I expect the Colts passing attack next year to be better than DVOA would predict for an average team. An average team might have a great passing attack one year due to luck, but next year it would fall off substantially.

In evidence, I present CIN, which I believe has an above average passing attack this year, but not as good as last year's. Most of that above averageness this year, I would attribute to special things about CIN that DVOA doesn't capture also.

No, let me put that a different way. DVOA doesn't make year-to-year comparisons. It is just a metric for measuring teams performance in games. Instead, we have average trends for extrapolating how last years team performance (DVOA) is likely to correlate with this years. The general trend is "regression to the mean", that is teams tend to become more average. However, the FO staff has found certain exceptions to that rule. They use that in making predictions in their PFP. They also use their judgment.

If your judgment differs, perhaps it is due to something that you know that they don't. However, as I tried to say before, I'm not sure (as an outsider) how to distinguish your special knowledge from that of PHI and TEN fans. That doesn't make your knowledge wrong. In fact, that's why there are these discussion boards, so that you can share your knowledge and we can weight it by our own judgment.

So, if you say Seau is a major component of why NE is doing well this year, I will listen and decide if I think that accounts for what I have observed of NE's favorably impressive defensive performance this year.

However, if you tell me that DVOA should have a Seau variable, I will ask you how to quantify that and how one knows whether I should have one for Bailey or Merriman? I know there already is one for McNabb! How about Manning or Brady or Rivers or Romo or Grossman or Cutler?

124
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 12:38pm

RE: 91

Ian went 2-1. :)

125
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 12:39pm

Bill: 23-15-1
Ian: 14-21-3

126
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 6:43pm

Why is it insulting to assume that guys like SEAU will be better than some guy who was signed in week 9 because everyone on the team was hurt? Almost everyone on the defence last year was below replacement level. To NOT expect a huge rebound is insulting.

A huge rebound would be them going to a DVOA of between 0 and -5%. Going to a DVOA of -11% is basically an unprecedented rebound.

Projections aren't ignorant. They're just average. I don't believe New England's injuries last year were unprecedented in the past, say, 7 years. I do believe their rebound this year is outside of that, which implies that there's more going on than just their injury rebound.