Week 11 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
After 11 weeks, we're starting to see a little bit of separation in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. Last week, Philadelphia was a definitive number one, with a lot of other good teams packed behind them. This week, the Steelers jump up to join the Eagles in a Pennsylvania twosome, thanks to their big win over Oakland. The Steelers had 116.0% DVOA for the game, not only the top single game of the 2010 season but the only game currently listed with a DVOA over 100%.
Although the two Pennsylvania teams are currently on top of our ratings, the all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl is far from guaranteed. This week's playoff odds report gives the Keystone State Bowl a slightly lower chance than the Super Bowl XXXIX rematch because, with only six games left, that one-win lead that New England and New York have over Pittsburgh and Baltimore is very important. Even if the Steelers have the highest DVOA in the AFC, the Jets and Patriots have a better chance of getting home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots are currently listed with a nearly 50 percent chance of the top seed; although the Jets have the current tiebreaker advantage, the Patriots have a higher DVOA and home-field advantage in the Week 13 rematch. The Jets get the top seed in one of four simulations, which is still more often than Pittsburgh, and the two AFC East teams are currently the two most likely teams to make it to the postseason.
Despite Pittsburgh's big week, we're still seeing more parity in the DVOA ratings than we have since the early years of the decade. However, this parity is only strange if we compare it to the recent past. The current standard deviation of DVOA is 19.9%. If we compare that to the standard deviation of DVOA after Week 11 in every season going back to 1993, that ranks only eighth out of 18 seasons. Here's a graph showing the standard deviation of DVOA in each year:
Parity usually brings us lots of teams that overperform or underperform their total DVOA, and this year is no exception. We've got three 5-5 teams in the top dozen.
First comes Tennessee, which dropped from second to fifth this week. Vince Verhei really gets into the Titans in today's Any Given Sunday, which you can read if you are an ESPN subscriber. If you aren't, I'll summarize: Tennessee still has excellent defense and special teams despite the mediocre offense. The Titans have also faced a tough schedule this year. Still, they aren't the fifth-best team in the league as currently constituted, not with Rusty Venture at quarterback.
Next comes San Diego, which actually dropped a spot to eighth despite beating Denver. Everybody knows why the Chargers are just 5-5: awful luck and the worst special teams in the last two decades, perhaps ever. The Chargers look pretty hot right now and are probably going to end up with a winning record.
Finally, we've got Miami. I got a tweet from @mike_toback last night, and he wanted to know why the Dolphins still rank highly in DVOA despite their 5-5 record. This week, they dropped one spot from 11th to 12th, but they still rank ahead of three different 7-3 teams, including a New Orleans team that many people feel has a good chance to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Miami's high rating heavily tied to its schedule, which has been the second-hardest in the league by average DVOA of opponent. (Cleveland is the team with the toughest schedule so far, and the Browns rank right behind Miami even though they're 3-7.) Miami's schedule has been particularly tough since Week 3. In their last eight games, the Dolphins have played seven teams in the DVOA top 10, plus Cincinnati (18th) and Chicago (19th). Overall, they come out as average or slightly above average in pretty much everything. The Dolphins are 13th in defense, 17th in special teams. They rank ninth overall in offense, even though they rank lower than that in both passing (11th) and running (a very surprising 18th). That's thanks to the other elements added into offensive DVOA a couple years ago; the Dolphins have only 11 combined false starts and delay of game penalties, tied for 26th in the NFL. The other element that makes them look worse than they really are: terrible luck with opposing kickers. Their opponents have been above-average on field goals, kickoff distance, and punt distance, which puts Miami 29th in the "hidden" special teams value.
The other part of parity has been the horrifying stench emanating from the NFC West. Every time one of those four teams looks like it might be climbing its way to respectability, it goes out and gets spanked. The latest victim was San Francisco, which drops from 17th to 21st this week. The 49ers are still the top team in the division by DVOA, with St. Louis, Seattle, and Arizona all sitting at 28th or worse. So starting this week, we're going to use the playoff odds simulation to figure out the odds that we're going to get the first-ever losing playoff team in NFL history. After Week 11, here are your odds:
- Odds that the NFC West champion is 8-8 or worse: 70.8 percent
- Odds that the NFC West champion is 7-8-1 or worse: 27.4 percent
One thing that's interesting about this year's parity is that it only exists in terms of total team performance. There are extremes at the top and bottom of the ratings for offense, defense, and special teams. (Well, the bottom of the ratings for defense, anyway. Not the top.) Let's go back to the Patriots for a moment. Do you wonder how the Patriots have gotten to 8-2 despite a young, undisciplined and outright poor defense? Well, no matter how good you think the Patriots offense has been, they've been better. Based on our numbers, this is the second-most efficient offense the Patriots have put on the field, trailing only the record-breaking 2007 team. In fact, this could be the best offense we've ever measured other than that team. Yes, the Patriots are only seventh in the league with 5.6 net yards per play, but they've been outstanding at extending drives and extremely good at avoiding turnovers. The Patriots are first in DVOA on third and fourth downs, and their 78.8% rating is far ahead of any other team. (Atlanta is second at 50.6%.) Meanwhile, only Kansas City (seven) has fewer turnovers than New England's nine, and one of those Patriots turnovers was a Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation before their overtime victory over Baltimore. The Patriots aren't keeping the turnovers down through fumble recovery luck -- they have only one fumble that they themselves have recovered to go with the three that their opponent have recovered. As a result, the Patriots are tied with the 2004 Colts as the second-best offense we've ever tracked through Week 11.
On the other side, you've got teams like Houston and Carolina. The Texans, of course, have a great offense and a defense that couldn't cover a fly with a circus tent. The Texans' defensive DVOA improves since they kept the Jets somewhat in check for 58 minutes, but they still end up as the worst defense we've ever tracked through 11 weeks. (I'm sorry I didn't notice before this week and write about this earlier.) The Panthers are actually worse off overall, as their impotent offense is only balanced by average defense and special teams. That makes the Panthers the worst team in the NFL this year -- and it means the time has come to bring back those tables you've seen in the DVOA commentary in past years, checking out how current teams compare to the best and worst teams of the DVOA Era (back to 1993). We'll toss in the San Diego special teams in there while we are at it.
Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch
|BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 11
|WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 11
|WORST DEFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 11
|WORST SPECIAL TEAMS
AFTER WEEK 11
By the way, to answer a common question: No, right now the Mike Scifres fake punt does not count in the San Diego special teams rating. I count fakes as runs or passes. This is probably an error -- Jim Schwartz, of all people, has specifically mentioned that I should change this -- and when I upgrade the special teams formulas in the offseason I'm going to look into doing that. But for now, the Chargers special teams don't get the credit for last night's excellent fake punt. Even with that credit, they would be the worst special teams we've ever measured by a very healthy margin
* * * * *
These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 11 weeks of 2010, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)
OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:
<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>
- NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
- ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
- PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
- FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
- VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).
150 comments, Last at 28 Nov 2010, 2:21pm
#1 by B // Nov 23, 2010 - 4:53pm
I like how 3 of the 4 worst Special Teams rankings are on teams in the top half of the league. Oh, and San Deigo, I'm really pulling for you to wind up with the worst ST ever.
#37 by Bobman // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:58pm
And the Colts ST finally assert themselves back where they belong.
#2 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 4:55pm
Yay! The Pats' D is back up to 27th, where it belongs! That one week at 28th was discouraging!!
#38 by Bobman // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:59pm
Three picks of Manning = one defensive ranking position.
#81 by Gus (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:55pm
Yeah...though the last one struck me as the type of play that would happen about once in twenty in that situation. Pats kinda lucked out.
#105 by BSR // Nov 24, 2010 - 6:47am
Did you watch the superbowl?
#3 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 4:58pm
I am curious about how you guys deal with injuries. I would think neither the Titans nor the Dolphins can be considered as dangerous with their QB injuries.
#6 by chemical burn // Nov 23, 2010 - 4:59pm
Ask Cowboys fans about DVOA and the Brad Johnson era. I think the answer will not thrill you.
#45 by Jerry // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:14pm
The short answer is that DVOA doesn't consider injuries.
The slightly longer answers are that (1) while it's easy to separate which QB was in for each play, it's harder/impossible at other positions, and many of those injuries have a major effect as well. (2) The DVOA number reflects every play the team has run in the season, regardless of who the quarterback, fourth receiver, middle linebacker, or nickel back is.
Going forward, it's entirely reasonable to say that we don't expect the Titans to be as good with Rusty Smith as they were with Young or even Collins, but their DVOA is still going to include what Young and Collins did.
#52 by PatsFan // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:50pm
Plus weighted DVOA, as it increasingly discounts past (i.e. pre-injury) games, will eventually reflect more of the post-injury reality.
#56 by Kal // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:04pm
That all being said, I suspect there are ways that DVOA could be improved simply by noting who started the season and deducting value based on the position removed. While it's hard to separate out the value of certain players in a system, even reducing it by 1/11th to replacement value for each injury would likely result in a more accurate predictive quality.
#71 by Alternator // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:49pm
DVOA is, fundamentally, intended to be descriptive, not predictive. Any descriptive system worth its salt will also be somewhat predictive, but tweaking the first to improve the second goes against what DVOA is measuring.
#77 by Kal // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:19pm
Then what's the use of having cumulative values for DVOA? Heck, what's the use of having it rate your performance based on the value of other teams? If another team loses their star QB and your defense plays excellently against...Jim Sorgi, how is that a descriptive value? According to DVOA, that performance would be rated way too high; we all know Sorgi isn't great compared to whoever he replaced, but DVOA looks at it as 'the team that's been awesome for 8 weeks getting crushed, therefore'.
Even as a descriptive value DVOA needs some value of prediction or even descriptive adjustments. One of the most common comments we see is "we know that team X is bad but DVOA hasn't caught up to that yet' because of injury. Factoring injury would be much more useful from a descriptive and predictive value.
#79 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:41pm
This is very difficult to do objectively.
I mean in 2001 didn't we *know* that a sophomore 6th round pick QB would be worst than Drew Bledsoe? And in 2006 didn't we *know* that a journeyman QB on his 4th team would be worse than McNabb?
#84 by Alternator // Nov 23, 2010 - 9:41pm
Just this season: Kolb gets hurt, Vick comes in. The team overall plays better offensively, and production from the QB position improves, and the Vick Special with RB performance appears.
Why would Philly be considered weaker when the team begins playing better?
#94 by Kal // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:18am
Just because there are outliers to the rule doesn't mean the rule isn't otherwise reasonable. That's what, two examples in 10 years? And both are easily correctable after you see that QB play.
Mostly, I'm talking about opponent adjustments not based on the historical data of the opponent but when you played that opponent. In a very few cases this would result in being incorrect (adjusting downwards for injury) but most of the time this would be entirely correct. DVOA as far as the value of how that team played wouldn't change - or rather, VOA wouldn't change. DVOA might based on the other team.
But this allows for some descriptive value that is more than 'they're boosted by beating team X which at the time sucked but got players A and B back' or 'they played team Y closely but since then Y has sucked, so their rating has gone down because of it'.
Like I said, this is the sort of thing that you can adjust on the fly as well. If the negative position X doesn't work because the backup is legitimately better, just ignore that adjustment. Problem solved.
#107 by gratif1 (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 7:14am
"And both are easily correctable after you see that QB play."
These are subjective elements. You're advocating number fudging. DVOA is an objective statistical metric. If the gambler in you is looking to get predictive using DVOA I suggest treating TEN and MIA as stay-aways: we probably do not have enough information to make an accurate assessment.
#118 by Kal // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:04pm
No, I'm really not.
DVOA is objective to a point; while it treats the numbers as objective once they've been computed it certainly subjectively views them beforehand (as they're done by Aaron et al). What I'm suggesting is to add another conversion here which can be modified by hand (as, for example, many of the interceptions as hail-marys are) depending on what the actual results are. This really is not different.
If I were programming it, I would take the modification to the team as follows:
If a new player is replacing an old player and we have not seen them play before, assume they are at replacement level and reduce the team's rating (for purposes of other teams) by that position's value. (which for the first attempt would be equivalent).
If after that game DVOA indicates that that player played at the same level of play as the prior player, make no adjustments to that team's DVOA against opponents.
Otherwise continue with the negation of the overall value of DVOA for purposes of giving other teams value.
Again, the descriptive nature of the system fails for injuries because it cannot distinguish between a team getting their starter back and a team not getting their starter back. As an example, how much worse would Pittsburgh's opponents look if DVOA knew that they had played against Ben's backups and lost in weeks 1-4? How much better does it look when NE plays against Pitt now and the weight of weeks 1-4 aren't dragging down Pitt's offensive value? We view NE beating Pitt as a huge win for the NE defense, but DVOA didn't care as much because Pitt doesn't look that strong offensively - and part of the reason is because of weeks 1-4.
This really has nothing to do with betting and everything to do with giving teams the descriptive value they should have right now.
#122 by chemical burn // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:18pm
OK - fine, but how do you account for something like Kolb/Vick? Kolb played above replacement level (15.7% DVOA) and, until Vick came back from injury and opponent adjustments were at full strength, DVOA saw them as having performed at a similar level. Now Vick is playing at much, much higher level (according to DVOA) than Kolb ever did and some of Kolb's opponents have declined, so his opponent adjustments are weaker.
What should Aaron have done in the week leading up to the Indy game? How about the next week? Before the Indy game, Kolb looked essentially the same as Vick as far as DVOA was concerned. After the Indy game, Vick had surpassed him significantly, but only on the strength of one game (and remember that even at that point, many people, including FO writers weren't sold on Vick as "actually" being an upgrade over Kolb.) What should Aaron have done about it, in your estimation? Because I don't want him starting to get his opinions all over what the Qb changes mean for the Eagles.
And don't give me a "well, that's a tough rare case" because you have similar situations in Cleveland with Delhomme, Wallace (who DVOA likes) and McCoy (who DVOA is not crazy about) and Carolina. That's 3 teams this year, at least, that have totally muddled QB situations where the "good QB" and the "replacement level" QB are not clear and it took weeks for the situation to even begin to sort itself out.
#137 by Kal // Nov 24, 2010 - 8:19pm
With Kolb/Vick and Delhomme/whoever, you do what I mentioned - you play them at the DVOA at the time, no modifications. That still isn't perfectly accurate, but it's likely closer to accurate than not. Retroactively changing opponent adjustments isn't hard based on future information, and is done already to some nth degree (which Aaron hasn't mentioned).
Specifically in the case of the Cleveland situation, chances are all three QBs are around the same level anyway and are all close to 'replacement level', so regressing to replacement level isn't going to be much of a change.
It would, however, require a bit more tweaking to do all 22 starting players. I'd probably start with doing a couple easy ones like QB and RB and go from there. Maybe not even RB; something like LT. Then see if it makes the valuations more or less predictive or accurate and proceed accordingly. I may be wrong and it might be the case that this makes things less predictive, but anecdotally there should be a difference in performance that is detectable when a starting player comes in over a backup and vice versa.
#138 by chemical burn // Nov 24, 2010 - 8:32pm
The 3 QB's in Cleveland have wildly different DVOA's and the one you probably think has the worst has the best and the one you think has the best (maybe) has the worst - that's actually why I mentioned: DVOA think Seneca Wallace played well (17% DVOA) and Delhomme stinks. It thinks McCoy is significantly worse than Wallace, but significantly better than Delhomme. Now, I forget: who gets the baseline "replacement level" designation and for what reason and to what end? That's what makes it such a potent example: it means Cleveland's DVOA would have jumped around really randomly throughout the season.
Same thing for Vick/Kolb: the Eagles' DVOA would have randomly jumped around based on some completely artificial "replacement level" until the numbers settled down enough to be accurate. And then add in that their opponents DVOA will be randomly flung around based on a completely fantasy-based notion of "replacement level" and the whole creates a mess for almost no reason. I think made up numbers are far more worthless than just having DVOA describe what happened on the field and let the chips fall where they may: there's no satisfying way to speculate on what the Eagles' DVOA should be working from the assumption that Vick would have been better than Kolb in 4 games in which Vick did not play. It's even harder to make those speculations earlier in the season when the sample size is tiny (back when DVOA thought they were playing at the same level) - like say, after 4 games when the Steelers QB hasn't played yet.
I;m all for FO coming up with a better way to deal with injuries, but giving completely made up numerical designations to compensate is a terrible idea.
#140 by Kal // Nov 24, 2010 - 9:03pm
Sorry, you're still not understanding what I'm suggesting.
I'm not saying that you lower the DVOA of the actual team. I'm suggesting that when you factor in opponent adjustments, consider changing the opponent adjustments down/up depending on injury to reflect what the actual state is.
This is already being done in an arbitrary way via weighted DVOA. It doesn't do it precisely, but it still does the same thing. If you have a problem with made up numerical designations, you should have a similar problem with weighted DVOA.
Again, the problem is that DVOA doesn't know about injuries or people being suspended. So in one example, Pittsburgh's offense for the first 4 weeks looks worse than it does for the rest of the season. Their DVOA is lower than it would be if (presumably) Ben had played the first four weeks. Thus, if a team does well against that offense they don't get as much credit as they would if Ben had played. If a team does poorly against that offense they look worse.
Similarly with injuries; if a team obliterates Seattle (say, the Giants) they look great against the mediocre Seattle offense. If DVOA knew that the starting QB went out with an injury, that makes the Giant D not look quite as earthshattering.
As to what the 'jumps' would entail - you're making this out to be far greater than I'm suggesting. I mentioned at the beginning that in lieu of actually figuring out the precise values for each position you value each the same (1/11th of the total DVOA of the team) and then replace the value for replacement player. If you like, you can have two orders; one is a 0 DVOA (which actually might be an improvement for some teams) and then a replacement value (which I think is like -15%).
So let's say a QB is lost from a 20% offense DVOA team - a pretty good offense. Using this system, they'd go to a 0% QB + 10 20% other guys, making their effective DVOA for opponent adjustments valued at 18.18%. This isn't a huge drop, and it wouldn't make DVOA jump around insanely. If instead we found out that they were actually pretty awesome as a QB, you could rate them back to that 20%. If you find out they sucked a lot, you could rate them a lot lower.
Right now DVOA does this anyway; if it turns out that you lost to a team and looked bad doing so but that team rocks hard for the next 10 weeks the value of that first game gets retroactively changed and jumps around anyway. This is just another jumping around point. Future knowledge changes the value of past results in DVOA all the time. This isn't anything new.
#143 by chemical burn // Nov 25, 2010 - 11:23am
Ok - I understand slightly better, but I still don't see the advantage of making up a number to represent the change, even if the made-up number only matters for a week or two. DVOA is going to take into accunt strength changes if they persist long enough anyway.
You're still working from a demonstratably false premise: it is easy to tell the value of a player that goes out with an injury. Go back to Cleveland: you have to arbitrarily assigne a DVOA to the QB changes and the actual value of Delhomme, Wallace and McCoy is extremely unclear, especially early on... And in your Giants/Seattle example, Whitehurst played terribly, but you can't say for certain that he looked bad because of the Giants or the Giants looked good because of him - the sample size is tiny. And I don't think it makes sense to penalize the Giants defensive rating one way or the based on the ASSUMPTION that Whitehurst stinks. Why not? Because the assumptions about Delhomme, Wallace and McCoy proved to be wrong. The assumptions about Vick vs. Kolb proved to be wrong (for weeks, many FO writers doubted Vick), in past seasons Collins vs. Young and Johnson vs. Flutie proved to be wildly wrong. There's no advantage to making immediate assumptions.
#144 by chemical burn // Nov 25, 2010 - 11:30am
One more reason this is not a good idea: what do you propose DVOA does about Kolb's numbers in the Atlanta game? Kolb has proven to be overall far inferior to Vick (15.7% DVOA vs. 35.2% DVOA)... but he absolutely annihilated Atlanta: 23 of 29, 326 yards and 3 td's. In your scenario, Atlanta should somehow be penalized because they didn't face Vick (and the Eagles rewarded.) But that assumption seems crazy because it is all but impossible to play than Kolb did that day. I think you have to let the DVOA stand as is. Anything else is artificial and speculative. And keep in mind, back in week 7, the idea that Vick was decisively better than Kolb was far from settled - so making something up is an even faultier idea...
#145 by Kal // Nov 25, 2010 - 2:19pm
But you're still assuming that these things don't get changed in the future. I'm saying change it at the time, and then go back and change things as needed depending on future information. This is the basis on the D in DVOA, afterall - defense-adjusted, and not just for the week in time they played them.
So yes, Atlanta should be penalized some because they didn't face Vick. Why is that surprising given what we know about Vick? And again, that's one small example that is exceptional; very rarely do teams have a backup QB play significantly better than the starting QB.
DVOA is artificial and speculative. Weighted DVOA is the culmination of that. If you hhave a problem with being artificial, you have a problem with the concept of DVOA.
#146 by Kal // Nov 25, 2010 - 2:26pm
It's easier to assume the value of an injury as negative in certain positions. And while you might not be able to quantify a specific position's value, you can certainly assume (like much of DVOA does) that a backup will perform worse than a starter.
If Whitehurst had demonstrated that he could play as well as Hass that would be one thing, but it's been demonstrated that he doesn't. So instead, the Seahawks look slightly worse on offense than they normally do, teams that play them look slightly worse when they play Hass because of the Whitehurst effect, and then teams that play those teams get affected too.
Right now the Giants get the assumption that they're playiing against a Hass-led Seahawks. As far as DVOA is concerned, Hass played onne of the worst performances in the whole season by a QB, making the Giants look amazing. Is that more accurate than making an adjustment?
Again, penalize the Giants based on the notion that the Seahawks with Whitehurst are worse than they are with Hass. If it's not true based on other data, remove the penalty aand things are exactly the same. If he turns out to be actually better, improve the Giants. This isn't hard, and the demonstrably false issue works itself out through the season with new information - just like all the rest of DVOA works. These adjustments happen all the time - that's the basis of DVOA, FEI and S&P+. You're assuming that they don't and that you can't go back and change things; I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm suggesting making discrete changes to week-by-week adjustments to make that week more accurate.
Actually, that would likely be a better way to put it. Instead of applying the value of the opponent based on the current information only, base the value of the opponent not only on their current value but also their injury status at the time they played.
#4 by chemical burn // Nov 23, 2010 - 4:58pm
I just had a quick question: when a player fumbles on an interception return (like Asante Sameul vs. NYG this week) does that get counted against the defensive DVOA? How does DVOA deal with that?
#7 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:01pm
In the non-adjusted numbers, recovering a fumble right after you've turned the ball over means that you no longer get penalized for the turnover. In the adjusted numbers, I don't even count it for either the offense or defense. Sort of just a random play.
#15 by chemical burn // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:05pm
But it counts towards the overall DVOA somehow, right? Or is the randomness of it so totally non-predictive as to be irrelevant?
#5 by ScottG (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 4:58pm
Tennessee is ranked really high in DVOA. Hard to believe that they remain so much higher than teams like the Falcons or Jets. I'll be the first to admit that the Falcons and Jets have gotten a little lucky and aren't the best teams (even with the best records). But regardless, when the cards are down, those teams seem to be able to rise to the occasion and persevere. I guess they just have to learn to apply that intensity and focus to the rest of the game and not let themselves get into do or die situations quite as much.
#41 by Bobman // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:01pm
I think what you meant to say was "Is computer drnuk?"
The answer is, maybe tipsy. It certainly cannot tell what the QB position will produce in the coming weeks. I certainly don't look at them and think "elite team."
#98 by Kevin from Philly // Nov 24, 2010 - 3:59am
Shouldn't that be "tispy"?
#134 by Bobman // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:32pm
I slump corretcted.
#87 by dbostedo // Nov 23, 2010 - 11:17pm
"...when the cards are down, those teams seem to be able to rise to the occasion and persevere."
The problem with that is that a team that doesn't let the cards get down in the first place is much better than one who has to battle back. The concept of "comebacks" usually seems to make people (especially sportscasters) think a team is better than it is.
This is especially true when applied specifically to QBs. Not that there's no value in the experience/cool/poise/moxie/etc to come back, just that it's better not to have to. Yet, sometimes you see more credit given to the team or QB that's able to come back from a deficit, than you do to one who doesn't have to.
The same thing applies to teams that "know how to win close games".
#119 by JonFrum (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:09pm
You mean John Elway wasn't the bestest ever? But he had all those comebacks?
I never understood why a failure to score in the first half should be rewarded.
#133 by Bobman // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:31pm
Not necessarily a failure to score early.
Could also be your D and/or ST sucks unimaginably. When the other team never has to punt, or when they return two punts for TDs in a single game, well, hard to blame the QB.
#8 by socctty // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:01pm
What I find interesting here is the diversity of teams on the "Best/Worst DVOA" lists with the exception of the worst defense list. I'm familiar with the Football Outsiders truism that offense is more consistent, year to year, than defense. That seems to fly in the face of what we're looking at on this list.
Maybe at the extremes, defenses are more likely to be consistently bad than offenses are? That is, maybe it's easier to scout offensive players, or to scheme around bad offensive players?
#9 by Alex (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:01pm
Are the DVOA Ratings a good guide to use when betting on games? Specifically the POINT SPREAD and MONEYLINE? Talk to me people...
#34 by IB (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:48pm
Short answer: no
Long answer: see short answer
#40 by Jetspete // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:00pm
sorry, this is meant as a reply to the below betting comment
it all depends on what model you use, and certainly over short periods of time you will find anomalies. this was a discussion in the dvoa comments a few weeks ago. Some have used it to varying degrees of success. I have used it in the past, and certain years have been positive and others, negative.
Overall, these projections have been most beneficial in the early season when FO properly pegs teams that are rising and or/fading. I'm a little more conservative than the average bettor, so i'm looking specifically for value against the spread. Does DVOA like a team siginificantly more or less than the general public. Over the last two weeks, DVOA has properly analyzed Philly according to my betting model, although their higher than Vegas rating on Tennessee has not worked.
#10 by maestro876 // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:01pm
The Chargers are the only team with a top 5 offense and defense. If their special teams units can only be "bad" instead of "historically awful" the rest of the way, you gotta think they have a chance to be the best team going into the playoffs.
#13 by chemical burn // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:04pm
yeah, that's been pointed out a lot and I think this game last night was a perfect example of how they should really just consider going for it on every 4th down. Even if that fake punt had fizzled, would that have mattered? It probably just would have been blocked, anyway...
#48 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:20pm
Well they would be Green Bay then.
San Diego Off: 19.3% (4th) Def: -11.2% (3rd) ST: -14.7% (32nd)
Green Bay Off: 18.3% (6th) Def: -10.9% (4th) ST: -3.4% (28th)
SD is all of 1.3% better than GB on Offense and Defense. GB has bad special teams play but not horrendous. Not a lot of difference there. So yeah, I do think both SD and GB have a chance to be the best teams going into the playoffs. :) I'll point out that GB has been improving in all 3 phases of the game the last few weeks as well.
Week 11: 18.3 (6th), -10.9 (4th), -3.4 (28th)
Week 10: 16.2 (7th), -10.9 (5th), -4.3 (30th)
Week 09: 14.5 (8th), -10.8 (4th), -4.3 (28th)
Week 08: 12.7 (8th), -7.0 (6th), -5.6 (30th)
That's a nice trend and one that if it continues could actually get this team up to great as opposed to just very good.
I've talked about the special teams before because well they have sucked for years for the Packers and yes I'm excited that if Masthay keeps punting the way he has the last 4 weeks that he'll actually end up around the 12th best punter in the league. Having a just above average punter is quite exciting for the Packers. They may also see a small improvement in kick returns since Sam Shields continually proves that he can correct his mistakes and just keep getting better so him on kick off returns could pay off, if nothing else it might get Jordy Nelson to stop being so hesitant like he has been since the Detroit game. But just getting the punting up to league average is a big help.
But really Philly, Pitt, GB, and SD are the teams that I currently like in the playoffs and it's for the same reason, they are the 4 teams with a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense. I really haven't looked to see if that predicts success in the playoffs, but it just feels like it gives you the best chance or at least in a year where we aren't looking at any historically great defenses and only NE and Philly seem to have great offenses (NE historically so)
#149 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 27, 2010 - 10:23pm
I've talked about the special teams before ...
So I want to start tracking some of the various special teams so I'm replying to myself. Besides I have to feed the narcissism. :-)
Packers Special Teams Breakdown
FG/XP........: 0.5 (12th) [ -12.4 to 8.8 ] -0.25
Kick...........: -1.7 (21st) [ -14.9 to 13.4 ] 1.8
Kick Return: -8.5 (27th) [-10.9 to 14.8 ] -1.2
Punt...........: -2.1 (21st) [-33.7 to 8.9 ] -1.2
Punt Return: -0.5 (23rd) [ -7.0 to 20.3 ] 1.05
So that category, Packers value (Packers Rank) [ League Range ] League Median.
I used Median (which in this case is actually doing the average of the 15th and 16th ordinal rankings) over average here as it was quick and dirty and did seem to represent where the middle of the pack was. I just wanted an bit of info for how much worse, or in one case better, than "average" they were.
If the punting continues on the pace it has been it's got a chance to just not be a worry and climb to mediocrity. The FG kicking is already at mediocrity. I thought the punt returns were closer to my gold standard of, yes mediocrity than they were but I can live with it, as long as the returners catch the ball.
So it's that wild card of kick returns. Shields didn't really have too many chances and that is good, the fewer kick off we return the better, but I'm not sold on him yet. But I'm excited that we might get 2 of the 5 phases of special teams up to mediocre. The life of a Packers fan. :)
#51 by Raiderjoe // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:46pm
First have Raiders stadninhg n way in afc West. Raiders going to beat chagers again for the sweep. Raiders will be 11-5 or 10-6. Only question is game vs Cotls.
When Chargers lose to Raiders that will eb at least 6th chargers loss. Chargers not winning divisoon if 10-6 and Raiders 10-6 or 11-5.
Then have to dela with wild cards. Jets or Pates getting oen. Good channce Ravens or steelers get other one. So when relally look at things it looking like Charegsr on outside of playoff door
#59 by Get_Educated (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:15pm
Why do you continue to post and embarrass yourself? Learn to read and write, and then come back. Thanks.
#66 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:30pm
How many Oorang Indians players can you name? There's no-one on this site as football-educated as Raiderjoe. He just has a couple of blind spots: the Raiders, and typographical inconsistency. Learn to forgive them: you'll be rewarded if you do.
#68 by DGL // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:37pm
Don't forgive them. Embrace them.
#83 by ABW (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 9:22pm
I don't know if there is an FOMBC-type curse for insulting Raiderjoe, but there should be.
#89 by Bobman // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:04am
There is. Haven't you heard? The next Sierra Nevada Pale Ale you crack open will have a dead mouse in it. Swear to God. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine. Well, not his first, I think it was like his 20th. All in the same night. And he's not sure if it was a mouse or if he was drunk off his ass.
Still, it's a curse and I wouldn't mess with it. Better safe than sorry.
oops, I mena better saef than srooy.
#100 by Kevin from Philly // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:05am
You know, I'm pretty sure there was a cartouche of a pirate with crossed swords on the door of King Tut's tomb. Curses are a bitch, man.
#86 by Jerry // Nov 23, 2010 - 11:03pm
Don't forget Travis, who also dredges up some great stuff, albeit without the interesting typing.
#101 by Kevin from Philly // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:07am
I always thought of RaiderJoe's prose as free-range spelling.
#96 by Alex51 // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:34am
He just has a couple of blind spots: the Raiders, and typographical inconsistency.
Actually, I don't think typographical inconsistency really counts as a blind spot. It's just an example of Raiderjoe's use of poetic license. His posts are in his own unique style of free verse.
Although the Raiders are definitely a blind spot of his. I'll give you that one. But then, I've always found his irrational optimism and perennial exuberance towards such a moribund franchise to be inspirational, in a wierd sort of way. It's as if, no matter how bad things get in my life, if Raiderjoe can still believe in the Raiders, then I can still believe in myself.
Or, failing that, I can drink a bunch of Sierra Nevada Pale Ales, and feel better for a while.
#110 by Dean // Nov 24, 2010 - 10:16am
"There's no-one on this site as football-educated as Raiderjoe."
I wouldn't go that far. There are plenty of people here who know their stuff. Don't misunderstand - he knows what he's talking about. But he does get put on a pedistal due to his unique command of language.
RJ is like a drunken Dr. Z. We appreciate both because they have grasp of the games history and hteir enthusiasm for the game comes through in the writing.
#112 by John (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 11:22am
Virtually every time someone asks whether something unusual has happened before, or mentions a specific play from 10 years ago but can't remember who the players were...RaiderJoe is the person who posts the relevant information.
When it comes to historical information about football, NFL or college, there's no one here I'd bet over RJ. If he were to go on "Football Jeopardy", I'd put money on him every time.
I don't disagree that his spelling helps make him an institution around here, but he really does have either a jaw-dropping memory for obscure facts, or a remarkable ability to search for those facts.
#113 by Dean // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:20pm
I'm not disputing his knowledge, especially within the realm of history. Just suggesting he's far from the only one. There are a lot of smart people around here. I think it's why most of us keep coming back. It's not intended to be a slight against Joe at all. He just is probably the highest profile poster we have - and the fact that is purely accidental makes it all the more entertaining.
#114 by chemical burn // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:29pm
I think there's also something to be said for Joe's naturally good-natured temperament: after you get over the homerism, he's guy with a cruel or defensive bone in his body. He takes a ton of heat and always comes back with charmingly pleasant responses...
#72 by Raiderjoe // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:52pm
Re: Get_ Educated- Is poster drunk?
Do not need to leanr to read or write. Have business management degree from 4-year private college.
Just dont care about typign. Have typign skills of 7-eyar old boy with borken hand.
Porbelm is when typign in these strings am psoting fast. Just want to gett mesage out there.
Only relally proofread when typing statistics. Do not cook the books. Numbers in my posts always correct. If not, then means made careless eerror and someone shoudl please poitn it out. Will corretc if error is pointed out.
#88 by the cat in the… (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 12:48am
Raiderjoe, national treasure.
#90 by Bobman // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:05am
Crap, was THAT him in that Nicholas Cage movie?
#78 by CuseFanInSoCal // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:36pm
How many times do the Chargers have to stumble through the first half of the season and win the division anyway before even Raiderjoe will understand that it's even more inevitable than Virginia Tech winning the ACC. The only oddity this year is that the Raiders and Chiefs were pretending to be good instead of the Broncos.
#80 by Whatev // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:48pm
See, the problem is that this so-called "inevitable" trend is essentially 5 years old.
#97 by Dave0 // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:25am
There's just no way San Diego loses to the Raiders again this year.
#11 by Alex (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:02pm
Is the DVOA Ratings a good guide to use when betting? Specifically using it to choose the MONEY LINE and POINT SPREADS? Talk to me guys...
#26 by loneweasel (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:27pm
If you are smart enough to read footballoutsiders, you should be smart enough not to bet on professional football.
#31 by Rich Arpin (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:44pm
I haven't bet on pro sports yet, but I was going to start this year. I didn't because throughout the whole season there have been few sure things, where a friend of mine won money 11 weeks in a row last year because teams were so obviously destined for certain results. This year he hasn't bet because of the fact that the games results have been weird in a sense of being unpredictable. The bills D is falling apart, the bears are tied for NFC N lead while vikes are in shambles. The Rams are not terrible while the lions are actually in their games. These were easy games to call a few years ago while today they aren't. Let alone the browns also doing okay and the NFC West playing the AFC West in a battle of who can commit the most mistakes.
Really the only sure thing has been DVOA loving the Eagles.
I think DVOA could be used to help bettors, but not this year.
On a related note, did anyone read wired magazine (I think it was a boobs cover a few months ago) where there was an article discussing a new betting system in casinos that created new bets every single possession. I didn't finish the article but I'd like to hear what you guys think about that system, especially if you could compare it to DVOA
#12 by Alex (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:02pm
Is the DVOA Ratings a good guide to use when betting? Specifically using it to choose the MONEY LINE and POINT SPREADS? Talk to me guys...
#19 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:12pm
Three times with the same comment? Really??
#32 by Alex (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:44pm
IT WAS A MISTAKE AND I CANT DELETE THEM FOOL!
#47 by drobviousso // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:16pm
You're the one with the mistake, but he is the FOOL?
#61 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:21pm
Double-posting I can understand. But after you didn't see the post after the second time, did it occur to you that maybe you should just wait a few minutes?
But go ahead, go into a CAPSLOCK frenzy. That'll make you friends.
#14 by Ken (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:05pm
a couple weeks ago you wrote about how the Pats offense had taken a huge hit after Moss left. is that no longer true?
#16 by chemical burn // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:06pm
Apparently not. According to FO's numbers, Brady's game against Pittsburgh was one of the best games of his entire career...
#35 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:49pm
Yes, the Pittsburgh game was far and away the best offensive game they've had this year. It's only been two games since that Browns disaster, but in two games they seem to have figured things out. (That Browns "disaster," by the way, was 1.5% DVOA, very slightly above average -- the Patriots offense has not had a bad game this year.)
#42 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:01pm
In addition, remember that our analysis two weeks ago showed that the Patriots were struggling to get the ball to Welker and the tight ends. That has improved... but more important are the things that *didn't* change after Moss left: lack of turnovers and a quality running game.
#121 by JonFrum (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:16pm
While Moss was with the Patriots, he caught nine of twenty-two passes thrown to him - 41%. And no, his presence, did not result in a lot of completions to Welker this season. So why be surprised when the Patriots thrive without him?
#18 by BSR // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:10pm
The Moss effect has been replaced by the Woodhead effect. And I'm only mostly kidding about that.
#17 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:09pm
Has a team ever had 2.6 fewer real wins than estimated wins? The Browns are on their way. Holy schedule adjustments!
Next year, if there's a season at all, Cleveland gets to vent its frustration on the AFC South (hmm) and the NFC West (aiiieeee). As well as the Bengals.
#20 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:16pm
The AFC South is the deepest division in the AFC, and has two teams rated higher than the Browns.
OTOH, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the AFC North go 16-0 against the NFC West next year. Well, at least 12-4.
But the Browns really need to start beating Pittsburgh and Baltimore consistently if they want to make the playoffs.
#22 by TomC // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:20pm
Looking for those missing wins? Give the Bears a pat-down (3.1 more real wins than estimated wins).
#29 by Adam (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:42pm
On the flip side of that coin, check out the Bears. Overachieving by 3.1 wins! Enjoy the rest of that schedule Chicago fans!
#44 by Tom Gower // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:13pm
Outliers, from a quick and dirty scan of most years of DVOA:
4.0 fewer: 2001 Chargers (9.0, 5-11)
3.9 fewer: 2008 Jaguars (8.9, 5-11); 2007 Dolphins (4.9, 1-15)
3.4 more: 2004 Falcons (7.6, 11-5)
3.3 more: 2001 Bears (9.7, 13-3)
I expected the 1995 Colts and 1998 Cardinals to show up on the "more" listing.
#64 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:25pm
And I was expecting to see the 2004 Bills who missed the playoffs although DVOA loved them.
Thanks for the numbers!
#21 by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:19pm
Tampa is 16th with a weighted DVOA of 0.0%.
Fear the average!
#116 by coboney // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:47pm
As a 49ers fan... I do. Deeply.
Thankfully our division is devoid of anything resembling an average or competent team so we don't look out of place. Instead we manage to somehow occasionally look good because of the NFC West effect. Which basically says when the rest of your division is somehow in the bottom 4 of the league even when you suck, you don't look nearly as bad.
#23 by bigfatdrunk // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:21pm
/The Texans defense/ is clearly ranked /too high/ because /you are not taking Frank Bush seriously enough/. #KubiakBelievesInYou is way better than this. U R A POOPY HEAD!!!~!~!~BBQ~!
How was that?
Using DVOA, I've been breaking the Texans' disaster for a couple of weeks now, here and here, for example.
Thanks for your fantastic work on this as it helps me quantify the Texans' extreme suck.
Shouldn't you be at work, socctty? :-)
#99 by socctty // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:05am
Nah, I'm off til Thanksgiving night!
#24 by TomC // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:24pm
Building the HOF case for Kurt Warner: Arizona passing offense in 2008: 8th (29.7%); 2009: 14th (22.5%); 2010 (through 11 weeks): 31st (-34.9%).
#27 by Will Allen // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:34pm
I certainly think he did enough in the last act of his career to warrant induction, although I wouldn't say he is the slam-dunk some other deserving guys are.
#58 by Kal // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:06pm
Between the superbowls (with different teams, no less), the gaudy statistics and the awesome feel-good story Warner makes it in first ballot, no question. The HoF voters love QBs anyway, and there aren't many that are more lovable than Warner.
#63 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:24pm
But he should get in for the Super Bowls. Not because he brought two completely different teams to the Super Bowl, but because his performances include the top two passing games by QBs in the Super Bowl, ever.
#70 by Kurt // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:49pm
Top three, actually, if you're talking about passing yards.
#141 by Mr Shush // Nov 25, 2010 - 7:55am
And it's not like those were garbage yards, either - all three games went down to the wire, and one of them was against a historically great defense. The three together also add up to the most career Superbowl passing yards in history - more than Elway could manage in five games, or Montana, Kelly or Brady in four each.
#25 by BSR // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:25pm
The Patriots D has been so pathetically bad in the fourth quarter which may have a lot to do with the prevent D they switch to with leads. I wonder where they would place defensively in just the first three quarters of games. I would have to believe they are at least average. Conversely I wonder how bad their fourth quarter defense is in historical context.
#33 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:45pm
Actually, it's the third quarter that's their biggest problem:
First quarter: -5.3% (13th)
Second quarter: 3.8% (17th)
Third quarter: 47.7% (32nd -- 31st is Buffalo at 45.8%, then 30th is Dallas, way up at 33.4%)
Fourth quarter: 19.1% (27th)
This is all available to FO Premium subscribers, by the way.
#50 by Paddypat (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:45pm
Interesting numbers. Scoring defense has been worse in the 4th than the 3rd; is the terrible 3d more about yardage? Are these splits common for lousy defenses? I have been discussing this in the DVOA threads for the last several weeks. I have the instinct that bad defenses tend to start out bad right out of the gate, whereas the Pats just have these terrible second halves. How relatively common is it for teams to demonstrate widely divergent efficiency in the first and second halves of games on defense? I almost wonder if the split verges on something historic; it certainly feels that way as a spectator...
#62 by Scott C // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:23pm
Note that scoring defense/offense biases towards later quarters. If a drive starts with 6 minutes left in the third quarter, and a TD is scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, scoring defense counts that in the fourth quarter, but DVOA will place that mostly in the third.
#82 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 23, 2010 - 9:09pm
Here's what a few quarterbacks have done against New England in the third quarter:
Carson Palmer, Week 1: 12-of-16, 117 yards, two touchdowns
Chad Henne, Week 3: 11-of-13, 127 yards
Joe Flacco, Week 6: 6-of-6, 90 yards, 1 touchdown
Philip Rivers, Week 7: 8-of-8, 70 yards (plus one sack and one fumbled snap)
Colt McCoy, Week 9: 4-of-4, 61 yards
That's a combined 87 percent completion rate and 9.9 yards per attempt, with no interceptions. They're not all that bad, obviously, but there have been plenty of horrible performances.
#115 by newjamarcus (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:43pm
Mark Sanchez, 6-of-9, 82 yards, 1 touchdown. Bringing you the stats that Vince can't bear to...
#132 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:23pm
I swear that was not intentional. I just opened the spreadsheet, set the Pivot Table to third quarter passing against the Patriots, and sorted by DYAR. The top four on that list are Henne, Palmer, Flacco, and McCoy, so I looked up their numbers. I also included Rivers because I noticed that when he actually got the ball off, he excelled.
Just for the record, here's the full list:
PLAYER, Sum of DYAR
So Sanchez' third-quarter performance against the Patriots was, in context, fairly average (he was also sacked once). But the real impression is, man, what a weird list. It looks completely upside-down, with the best quarterbacks on the bottom (2010 version of Favre excepted, obviously).
#28 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:42pm
Although DVOA variance is down in 2010, it doesn't appear to be affecting the schedule adjustments. This is significant because they are the D in DVOA. If the projections are correct, the hardest schedule will be about 12% and the easiest around -9%: a difference of 21 percentage points. Last year it was 19 percentage points, and in 2003 — the low point of the graph above — it was roughly 17 percentage points. In 1994, non-divisional conference games were still based on the previous year's standings, so we'd expect to see a greater divergence in schedule strength; instead, from top to bottom the difference was barely 7 percentage points.
It's strange that 1993 should have such a high deviation rate. No team managed more than 12 wins in that season, and only one (Bengals: 13) had more than 12 defeats. Seven of the top ten teams by DVOA in 1993 had fewer actual wins than estimated wins; in recent years that hasn't happened so much (3 in 2007 and 2008, 5 in 2006 and 2009 including #s 9 & 10 both years). One way of looking at that is to say: in recent years, more teams have been lucky and good in the same season. Another possibility is that Estimated Wins is underestimating something that good teams have recently learned to do in close games. More likely, it's all linked up with the rise in variance in schedule adjustments — which is, in turn, linked to the expansion of 1995-2002, and to the perennial suckitude of the NFC West which throws all the data out of kilter.
#57 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:06pm
Looking more closely at the top of the rankings, I'm starting to wonder if Estimated Wins is estimating as well as it should be. The table below shows how many teams have had 11+ real wins (RW), and how many have had 11+ estimated wins (EW); then it shows how many teams with at least 11 EW have had more RW than EW; and finally the percentage point difference (PPD) between RW and EW among these teams:
Yr… 11+RW… 11+EW… RW>EW… PPD
2009 … 7 … 6 … 1 … +1.2
2008 … 9 … 5 … 3 … -0.3
2007 … 6 … 3 … 2 … +2.0
2006 … 5 … 4 … 3 … +1.6
2005 … 10 … 6 … 3 … -0.7
2004 … 6 … 6 … 4 … +1.6
2003 … 7 … 1 … 1 … +2.5
2002 … 5 … 2 … 0 … -0.5
2001 … 8 … 2 … 1 … +1.6
2000 … 8 … 3 … 1 … -1.8
1999 … 6 … 3 … 3 … +5.5
1998 … 7 … 5 … 3 … +6.6
1997 … 6 … 5 … 4 … +3.0
1996 … 5 … 5 … 2 … +1.4
1995 … 5 … 3 … 1 … -0.5
1994 … 5 … 3 … 1 … +0.8
1993 … 5 … 3 … 1 … -0.3
Tot … 110 … 59 … 36 … +23.6
The first conclusion is that, according to the current formula, barely half as many teams get 11+ EW as 11+ RW. Either EW is too conservative, or 'good' teams get lucky more often than bad ones.
Secondly, of the 59 teams that did end up with 11+ EW, fully 36 had more RW than EW. Only 19 had more EW than RW, and the remaining 14 were spot on. This confirms that even the teams DVOA recognizes as being 'good' are winning more games than the formula says they should. Although the net total of surplus wins is only 23.6 in 17 years, there have only been five seasons with (minor) net minuses. It seems that EW was particularly likely to underestimate good teams in the late 1990s.
The 2010 data are heading in the same direction. If we take 7+ wins as the threshold for a good team, there are ten teams with 7+ real wins, but only four with 7+ estimated wins. Of those four teams, one has more RW than EW (Patriots), two are about right, and our old friends the Eagles have 1.2 fewer RW than EW. Philadelphia famously had 1.9 fewer RW than EW in 2006, and 2.2 fewer in 2008.
I don't know if a review of the Forest Index is planned for the offseason, but in crunching these numbers I think it ought to be. EW is consistently underestimating the win totals of the top teams in the NFL (Eagles excepted), and it will be interesting and enlightening to look at why that should be.
#73 by AudacityOfHoops // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:54pm
Secondly, of the 59 teams that did end up with 11+ EW, fully 36 had more RW than EW. Only 19 had more EW than RW, and the remaining 14 were spot on.
FYI Your numbers don't add up here.
I think Estimated Wins is based on a hypothetical world where the teams face an average schedule. Without knowing the specific schedules faced here, hard to say if that is an issue. There might be some selection bias here, where good teams on average should face an easier-than-average schedule (because they don't ever have to play themselves).
Also, I would think the teams with the most real wins every year SHOULD outperform their EW. To take it to the extreme, we would never see a 16.0 EW team, right? I'd be curious to see you do the same analysis for 11+ LOSSES, to see if teams with 5 or less EW tend to win fewer than 5. If that one shows a similar pattern, it might be reasonable. I don't know, I lost my train of thought here...
#74 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:59pm
'14' should read '4'. Thanks.
#75 by AudacityOfHoops // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:07pm
Just thought of this: If EW are based on fitting a linear regression model to past win totals, then you would expect more 11+EW teams to surpass their EW than to fall short, right? Because wins are capped, the Over11 errors can only range from 1 to 5, while the Under11 errors can range from -1 to -11. So on average, the Over11 errors will be smaller than the Under11. When the model is fit, it tries to reduce the AVERAGE error, not median. So it needs to have MORE Over11 errors than Under11 errors, to counteract the larger magnitude of the Under11 errors.
Not sure if I am thinking about this correctly, but seems logical to my tired brain.
#139 by leviramsey (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 8:33pm
And if it's least-squares regression, then it's even more pronounced than one might think:
The square of the Over11 errors can range from 0.25 (assuming that EW-vs.-RW considers ties as a half-win) to 25 while the square of Under11 errors can range from 0.25 to 121. It takes five teams going 16-0 from a 11-win expectation to cancel out a single 11-win expectation going 0-11, for instance.
#76 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 23, 2010 - 8:11pm
Estimated Wins uses a league average schedule as the baseline. Most teams that win 11+ games have easy schedules.
#106 by jedmarshall // Nov 24, 2010 - 7:04am
This really makes sense. Very rarely is a team a "true" 13 win team. There's usually not that much variance in the NFL. I'd imagine most of the time we see 13+ wins (or conversely 3 or less wins) it's a matter of a good team also getting lucky and/or having an easy schedule.
Every year there is usually a mediocre team that goes 10-6. We just seem to notice a bit more when an already good team gets a bit of luck and an extreme win total.
#136 by leviramsey (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 7:47pm
That's not that surprising. Consider the NFL regular season win totals (I didn't pay much attention this year, but these are a representative distribution in my experience). There's only 2 11 win lines, a 10.5 win one, and a couple of 10s. Note that this is despite a bias towards inflated totals (those numbers add up to 258 wins, and the rules stipulate that any tied games count as zero wins for both teams; if you're betting those the approach to take is to look for overvalued teams). Some of this conservatism is because most places take these down when the games start and who knows what happens with injuries, but even then I'd suspect that if any places put up win totals in-season you'd see a similar phenomenon.
Alternatively, look at this week's moneylines. The average favorite is implied to be about 2.12 times more likely than the underdog to win (I know that this method, even after compensating for the vig is not rigorous, but I'm too lazy to do it better) which over a 16-game season implies that even teams that are favorites 16 times should win about 68% of their games (just a hair under that 11 win number) and that perpetual underdogs should win 32% (or more than 5).
#30 by Led // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:44pm
I'd argue that extreme turnover results have a lot to do with luck. Obviously, Brady is good at avoiding interceptions and the Pats have good fundamentals so they minimize fumbles, but they are currently on pace for under 5 fumbles for the year. Not 5 lost fumbles, 5 total fumbles. The Pats haven't fumbled since week 4. Six straight games without a fumble? That's crazy. Eventually, the Pats are going to fumble a few times.
#36 by Rich Arpin (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 5:51pm
It always makes me chuckle when they commentators are "OMG, have you shaken Wes Welkers hand? He's so strong". I think they've said that 3 or 4 times this year. And it's weird because he seems to have the biggest butter fingers once he's already caught the ball.
On this topic, what about Edelmann not squeezing that ball from Brady. Ball thrown too fast or Edelmann being a sissy, or somewhere between?
Edelmann, if you read this I think you're awesome and deserve more playing time.
#53 by PatsFan // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:52pm
Sure looked to me like Edelman had a case of alligator arms as that rocket from Brady came in.
#49 by BSR // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:28pm
Gronk fumbled against the Browns.
#67 by RickD // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:35pm
The FO dogma is that recovering fumbles is a function of luck, but causing fumbles/not fumbling are functions of skill. And it's pretty easy to document that some players fumble a lot more than others.
#69 by Led // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:43pm
Note that I said "extreme" turnover results. Even things that are indisputably skill-based have outlier results. And causing/preventing fumbles is a "skill" in the sense that there is a rough correlation from year to year, but the existence of a correlation doesn't preclude a significant variance based on luck.
#39 by Boots Day (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:00pm
"In their last eight games, the Dolphins have played seven teams in the DVOA top 10, plus Cincinnati (18th)."
I read this and I thought, wow, the Bears must have really shot up in the rankings this week! They're Top Ten now!
#43 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:02pm
Whoops. I'll go fix that.
#54 by Ray Smuckles (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:56pm
"In their last eight games, the Dolphins have played seven teams in the DVOA top 10, plus Cincinnati (18th) and Chicago (19th)."
tough schedule indeed. 9 teams in 8 games!
#55 by Boots Day (not verified) // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:56pm
I guess it's better now, although you still have the Dolphins facing nine opponents (seven Top Tens, plus Bengals and Bears) over the course of their last eight games. No wonder they've been losing.
#85 by B // Nov 23, 2010 - 10:01pm
That explains all the injuries.
#46 by Bobman // Nov 23, 2010 - 6:15pm
I'm looking at the Colts past and future skeds and can't quite figure out how they are almost equal. 60% away games including NE and PHI on the road already played, versus 67% home games with the toughest opponents--SD and TN--at home remaining. (plus TN on the road) Their lowest-rated opponent is their other road game, suggesting a high likelihood of winning. Because of TN's QB issues (and I think they're somewhat of a paper tiger), plus the Colts' home/away dichotomy this season, it looks to this biased fan like they have a considerably easier final six than first ten. I am also banking a bit on injured players returning--hard to start two rookie LBs and a practice squad S, plus Gijon Robinson at TE and actually win. DVOA can't really include those assumptions.
But lumping them in the same cluster as NYJ and ATL seems about right to me. Not MIA, though to make it a cluster of four similar DVOA teams... how'd that happen?
#65 by Scott C // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:29pm
DVOA does not take Home/Away into account for schedule strength.
#92 by Bobman // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:16am
Really? Thanks, that's pretty interesting. I wonder why--there is a clear--if not significant edge, is there not? I read something about this a few years ago (forget what, forget where), and the edge was not huge but like an election, when you throw thousands of past games into the hopper, 53 to 47 percent (or whatever it is) is nothing to sneeze at.
That makes me as a Colts fan (and I imagine Ravens fans too) feel better since our teams are both 4-0 at home and have four home games left. I suspect both teams can pencil in four home wins and at worst a split on the road (or if using pen, three home wins to be safe).
So it seems that whatever SOS remains is *probably* a little easier for teams with 4 homers left (IND, BAL, SD, et al) and *probably* a little tougher for teams with just two homers left (like the Jags).
Or so my rose-colored glasses tell me....
#60 by ammek // Nov 23, 2010 - 7:16pm
2008: Denver and Carolina are #1 and #2 in rushing offense with a combined DVOA of 47.2%.
2010: Denver and Carolina are #31 and #32 in rushing offense with a combined DVOA of -62.1%.
#91 by Temo // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:05am
For Carolina from 2008-2010, offensive line: Jeff Otah is missing the entire year (replaced by Garry Williams-- who has himself missed 5 games), Geoff Hangartner started 16 games in '08 and signed with Buffalo (replaced by similarly named Geoff Schwartz) , and Travelle Wharton has missed some time as well (thought not much).
For Denver, from 2008-2010, offensive line: Casey Wiegmann is gone at C (replaced by JD Walton), and Ben Hamilton signed with the Seahawks (replaced by Zane Beadles). Ryan Harris has missed time with a foot injury.
So I dunno, where those really good O-lineman who contributed to the decline? Jeff Otah most certainly is a good lineman, as is Casey Wiegmann. Can't say for sure about the others, however.
#93 by Bobman // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:17am
Dude, for a Cowboys fan, you are spending WAY too much time focused on other teams OL.
#95 by Temo // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:21am
I'd love to take the credit for knowing this stuff off the top of my head, but I just used NFL.com depth charts and PFR's 2008 roster/lineup page. Took about 3 minutes, then a couple more to type it up.
Now, if you want to know the 1994 Montreal Expos lineup and rotation, I could probably nail 7 out of 13 in a couple minutes. Baseball's more up my alley that way.
#102 by Kevin from Philly // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:12am
Eagles remaining strength of schedule is gonna kill them in the BCS standings.
#103 by Theo // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:24am
What about the penalties the Steelers were handed?
I felt like it should've been 50-3 at half time already... the Steelers - Raiders game was way more lobsided than the score indicated.
#129 by Joshua Northey (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 3:08pm
That is partially why DVOA likes the game so much, bad penalties give you more of an opportunity to have good plays because they aren't counted.
#148 by EasyLikeSunday… (not verified) // Nov 25, 2010 - 8:19pm
More like 50-0. Almost all of the Raiders yards on the FG drive was only due to ridiculous penalties.
#104 by Danish Denver-Fan // Nov 24, 2010 - 4:56am
The 2008 Denver Broncos would squeek into the worst defenses ever top 10 at 24.7%, thus keeping the 2010 Broncos out of the top 10.
Probably the saddest post I've ever written.
EDIT: I emidiattly remembered the "through week 11" qualifier. Sorry.
#108 by ChaosOnion // Nov 24, 2010 - 8:18am
Thank you for the Venture Brothers reference.
#128 by Joshua Northey (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 3:06pm
It is a high stakes game of cat and also cat.
#109 by Sid // Nov 24, 2010 - 10:11am
"As a result, the Patriots are tied with the 2004 Colts as the second-best offense we've ever tracked through Week 11."
and 2007 NE is #1 there too, of course. Not surprising considering the way they decimated teams in the first half.
Also, the awfulness of the NFC West is reflected in the worst tables. Look how many times the NFC West is represented in those.
#111 by DeltaWhiskey // Nov 24, 2010 - 11:20am
"The current standard deviation of DVOA is 19.9%"
My version of Excel calculated this weeks SD as 19.7%.
Nice to see some discussion of SD and variation. I would like to have seen a little more discussion on DVOA's SD over the years at this point. Specifically, what is the average SD and what is the SD of the SD. By eyeballing the graph, I came up with the following:
Seven years fall more than one SD away from the mean, and none fall more than 2 SD. This suggests the variance is fairly stable from year to year.
Here's how things break out based on SD from the mean this week (-2 SD = HORRID, > - 1 SD < -2 SD = BAD, BETWEEN -1 SD AND +1 SD = AVERAGE, > +1 SD < +2 SD = GOOD, > +2 SD = ELITE
GOOD: PHI PIT NE GB TEN
AVERAGE: NYG BAL SD ATL NYJ IND MIA CLE NO KC TB HOU CIN CHI DET SF JAC WAS DEN DAL MIN OAK STL BUF
BAD: SEA ARI
GOOD: PHI HOU
AVERAGE: HOU SD IND GB ATL PIT MIA BAL DEN NYG KC NO TB TEN NYJ CLE JAC DAL BUF WAS CIN DET SF MIN STL
GOOD: PIT NYG SD GB TEN CHI
AVERAGE: PHI NYJ BAL CLE NO SF MIA IND OAK DET CAR CIN ATL STL KC MIN TB WAS ARI
BAD: SEA NE DAL JAC BUF DEN
GOOD: SEA TEN CHI JAC
AVERAGE: NYJ ARI BAL CLE NE PIT BUF DAL ATL DET CAR SF MIA KC OAK HOU WAS TB STL MIN PHI NO CIN GB DEN
BAD: IND NYG
STDVOA (W/ SD REMOVED):
GOOD: SEA TEN CHI JAC NYJ
AVERAGE: ARI BAL CLE NE PIT BUF DAL ATL DET CAR SF MIA KC OAK HOU WAS TB STL MIN PHI NO
BAD: CIN GB DEN IND NYG
#117 by chemical burn // Nov 24, 2010 - 1:57pm
Please keep posting these, I find them really interesting - and I know tone is hard to control on the internet, but I am completely serious, I think this is always fascinating when you post it...
#123 by DeltaWhiskey // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:29pm
This week I also took a look at historical DVOA (1994-2008 - I should update my database).
BUF gets added into the BAD pile (i.e. against historical standards, they're BAD) and BUF remains historically HORRID.
NE remains ELITE and PHI and HOU are ELITE as well, and SD IND GB ATL get added into the GOOD pile; SF MIN STL are historically BAD.
SD GB TEN CHI are historically AVERAGE defenses, WAS and ARI are historically BAD defenses, while BUF and DEN have historically HORRID defenses.
NYJ ST are historically good and CIN is historically bad.
Comments: As Aaron mentioned, variance of TOTDVOA appears pretty close to normal. OFFDVOA variance is a little high this year, while DEFDVOA appears pretty close to normal as well. Addtionally, looks like we should be careful not to ignore PHI and HOU's offensive performances as being special.
#120 by nat // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:11pm
One suggestion: The -1 to + 1 SD "average" band is two SDs wide, which exaggerates the bell curve effect, and hides useful distinctions. Either split it into "high avergage" and "low average", or run your AVERAGE band from -0.5 to +0.5 SD, and use one SD widths on either side of it. You'll still have more teams in the central bands, but the width of the GOOD, AVERAGE, and BAD bands will be the same.
A team at the high end of your AVERAGE range is two SDs better than a team at the low end. That's too great a difference (in my opinion) to lump them into the same bucket.
#125 by DeltaWhiskey // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:37pm
Under the Bell Curve, the average range contains a lot more than people think. Regarding utility, people are welcome to divide the pie however they feel is best. I think statistically this is the most valid; although using the one SD cut is somewhat dubious.
Within the TOTDVOA there is a full 2 SD dif from top to bottom of the AVERAGE range; however in OFF DVOA it's less than SD, DEFDVOA it's less than 2, and STDVOA it's less, but close to 2.
#131 by nat // Nov 24, 2010 - 3:59pm
My point was that your AVERAGE range for total DVOA is a whopping 37.4% wide, ranging from NYG at 19.0% to BUF at -18.4%. Those are not teams that are similar in strength in the usual meaning of the words or in our understanding of DVOA or standard deviations. They as far apart as an ELITE team and a dead-center average team.
Any bucketing is going to be arbitrary. I like it that you use SD - at least no one can accuse you of setting the ranges to favor your home team or something like that. But for my taste, having one range twice as wide as the other ranges distorts the picture. It's not just the distribution of team strengths that makes your AVERAGE group seem big. It's also that you've lumped a much wider set of DVOAs into that one special bucket.
Still, it's your analysis. Carry on.
#135 by Semigruntled E… (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 7:39pm
Unless there's something wrong with my browser, for the OFFDVOA, I see Houston listed under both "Good" and "Average," and none of the "Bad" and "Horrid" teams are listed (SEA OAK CHI ARI CAR). Anyways, I'd also like to thank you for posting these on a weekly basis.
#124 by Rick B. (not verified) // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:33pm
Would it be safe to say that the NFC representative in the Super Bowl will, in all likelihood, be one of the following three teams: Green Bay, Philadelphia, or New York?
And that the AFC representative will be one of the following three teams: Pittsburgh, San Diego, or New England?
Right now I would wager that the NFC Championship game will feature the Packers and the Eagles, and that the AFC Championship game will feature the Steelers and the Chargers.
#126 by Dean // Nov 24, 2010 - 2:58pm
It would not be safe to say that at all.
Personally, I think Atlanta has the best shot in the NFC (who I predicted in the preseason if I can pat myself on the back for a moment) and I'm still not ready to write off the Colts just yet.
There are about 15 teams that still have a legit shot. Most of them will fall back to the pack. Someone will emerge. They always do. They just haven't yet this year.
#147 by Jim Z. (not verified) // Nov 25, 2010 - 3:42pm
Atlanta is a mediocre team with an slightly above-average offense and average defense.
If you take away their "home field" mystique I don't see them winning any games in the playoffs against superior teams such as the Packers, the Eagles, or even the Giants.
Even if they secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs, will they be able to beat a team like the Eagles, who they were dominated by earlier in the season (albeit on the road)?
If the Falcons are beaten soundly by the Packers this week, which I think they will, then I will be tempted to write them off as contenders in the playoffs.
#127 by Arkaein // Nov 24, 2010 - 3:04pm
I think you have to consider current record and upcoming schedule for predicting playoff outcomes.
Atlanta is the only 8-2 team in the NFC. If they beat GB this weekend they will have the inside track to the #1 seed. The Giants are a bit better by DVOA but will likely face a tougher slate of playoff opponents.
San Diego is a bit of the opposite of Atlanta. They may be extremely dangerous if they make the playoffs, but that is far from certain with their record, and even if they do make it they won't be a top seed.
The playoff odds report does not think highly of either the Giants' or Chargers' chances at winning the title (less than 5% each) or even reaching the Superbowl (less than 10% each), presumably for similar reasons.
#130 by DGL // Nov 24, 2010 - 3:38pm
Though as a Steelers fan I can't out and out root for it, I would find a NYJ vs NYG Super Bowl in the new Cowboys' stadium to be highly amusing.
#142 by BJR // Nov 25, 2010 - 9:09am
If Atlanta beats Green Bay this weekend they are very likely to get a top two seeding given that they still have TWO games against the league's worst Panthers on their remaining schedule. Look at their home record in the last 2/3 seasons and its clear that with homefield advantage they have a serious chance of playing in the Superbowl. I'd be far less postive if they had to play a playoff game in Philadelphia/Green Bay/New York/Chicago in January, however.
#150 by Sid // Nov 28, 2010 - 2:21pm
The Giants are winless against teams in the top half of the NFL in DVOA.