Final 2013 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
The Seattle Seahawks finished up the regular season with one more strong win over division rival St. Louis, cementing their spot on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. You may remember that the Seahawks, despite failing to win their division, ended up 2012 as the No. 1 team in DVOA as well. That makes Seattle the first team since the 1996-1997 Green Bay Packers to finish first in DVOA two years in a row. Even more remarkably, Seattle and Denver finished 1-2 in DVOA for the second straight season. This is the first time since 1999 (St. Louis and Jacksonville) that the top two teams in DVOA are also the No. 1 seeds in each conference, and it is the first time in the history of DVOA (going back to 1989) that the same two teams have finished the season 1-2 in two straight years.
Continuing the theme of year-to-year consistency, last year's teams that finished third and fourth, New England and San Francisco, ended 2013 finishing fifth and sixth. In between them were the climbing teams of the NFC South, Carolina and New Orleans, who benefit in the DVOA ratings from tough schedules. The four NFC South teams end the year ranked first, second, fourth, and sixth in schedule strength.
The team nobody wants to play in the postseason is probably Philadelphia, which ranks eighth in total DVOA but ends the year third in weighted DVOA trailing only the Seahawks and Broncos. The Colts, on the other hand, end up 13th in total DVOA but 21st in weighted DVOA.
This week's win over St. Louis put the Seahawks back over the 40% mark, making them only the sixth team to finish the season with total DVOA over 40%. (Let's assume for the moment that retroactive stat corrections won't drop Seattle below that mark.) The Seahawks also go into the playoffs with 43.7% weighted DVOA, the fourth highest figure since 1989. The 2010 Patriots and 1991 Redskins are the only teams to ever enter the postseason with a weighted DVOA over 50%. The third team that entered the playoffs with a higher weighted DVOA than this year's Seahawks was... last year's Seahawks, at 47.1%. So such a high weighted DVOA is certainly not a guarantee that the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl, especially given the way that lower-rated teams have gotten hot and gone on surprising Super Bowl runs in recent years.
(Of course, it could be that there is nothing special about this recent history, just a case of being fooled by randomness; I wrote about this last year after Baltimore won the Super Bowl.)
Seattle is the first team since 2000 to lead the league in defensive DVOA and win a No. 1 playoff seed. (Thanks for reader Kenneth Arthur for pointing this out on Twitter.) The other teams that did so: 1994 Pittsburgh, 1996 Green Bay, 1997 San Francisco, and 2000 Tennessee. On Twitter, I also listed the 2002 Buccanneers, but that team actually lost the tiebreaker to Philadelphia and was a No. 2 seed. It is much more common for the team that leads the league in offensive DVOA to win a No. 1 playoff seed. Teams that have done this in just the last few years include the 2011 Packers, the 2010 Patriots, the 2007 Patriots, and the 2005 Seahawks.
The Seahawks defense surged a bit in the final three games of the season, and the Broncos offense did the same in its final two games, so both units end up among the DVOA all-time top ten.
|BEST TOTAL DVOA, 1989-2013||x||BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA, 1989-2013||x||BEST DEFENSIVE DVOA, 1989-2013|
Most top offenses and defenses are based on passing and stopping the pass, so Denver and Seattle's rankings among the all-time best pass offenses and pass defenses, respectively, are about the same as their rankings in best total offense and total defense.
One last remarkable Seattle fact: The Seahawks are the first team since the 2004-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers to rank in the top ten for all three units in consecutive seasons. Only two other teams have accomplished this feat: the 1990-1991 Kansas City Chiefs and the 1996-1997 Green Bay Packers.
Now let's turn things around and look at the worst DVOA ratings ever. As I've noted in recent weeks, Jacksonville's late-season improvement kept the Jaguars from ranking among the all-time worst teams by total DVOA or offensive DVOA. San Diego, this year's worst defense, doesn't end up in the all-time worst ten either, although there's a little bit of an asterisk because the DVOA opponent adjustments don't know the Chargers were playing the Kansas City backups yesterday.
As for the Washington special teams, they ended the season with a couple of mediocre special teams games, and thus ended up nowhere close to breaking the 2000 Buffalo Bills' record for the worst special teams DVOA ever. Given the gap between the Bills and every other special teams since 1989, their record seems nigh-insurmountable. Still, Washington did end up as the second worst special teams unit we've ever tracked. This is going to be a really easy way for the new head coach, whoever it is, to quickly improve Washington's overall performance next season.
|WORST SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA, 1989-2013|
The other place where we saw historic impotence in 2013 was in the ground game. Although they can't quite reach the depths of the 1991 Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars and Ravens both rank among the five worst running games since 1989 according to DVOA. The Ravens gained just 3.1 yards per carry, while the Jaguars matched the 1991 Colts at 3.3 yards per carry, but the Jaguars and Ravens come out a little bit higher because they were better situationally and played slightly harder schedules. By the way, the Jaguars and Ravens are really, really tied here, separated in run offense by 0.065% DVOA.
|WORST RUN OFFENSE DVOA, 1989-2013|
The Ravens also finish with 3.01 Adjusted Line Yards per carry, the second-lowest figure since our line stats begin in 1995. Only the 2012 Cardinals were lower (2.93 ALY). The Jaguars, at 3.13 ALY, are fourth worst all-time.
There's one team that's suspiciously missing from an accounting of the worst DVOA ratings in history, and that's the Chicago Bears. The Bears allowed 5.35 yards per carry this season, the worst figure since the AFL-NFL merger. In reality, things were actually worse; if you take out kneeldowns and aborted snaps, the Bears allowed 5.51 yards per carry. So assuredly they must be one of the worst run defenses in history according to DVOA, right? Actually, the Bears are nowhere close. Although Chicago scores as the worst run defense of 2013, they wouldn't even rank in the bottom 40 of all-time in run defense DVOA. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Long Runs: Although the Chicago defensive line was a problem against the run, the linebackers and secondary were an even bigger problem. Chicago finished dead last in both Second-Level Yards allowed per carry and Open-Field Yards allowed per carry, but ranked a reasonable 14th when it came to stuffing opposing running backs at the line for a loss or no gain.
- Goal Line: Chicago improved to 17th in run defense DVOA within five yards of the end zone.
- Fumbles: Chicago forced ten fumbles on running plays. Only Philadelphia (11) forced more.
- Context: The league averaged 4.16 yards per carry in 2013. Although that's down from the past five seasons, it's still higher than most of NFL history, when the leaguewide rushing average generally hovered around 4.00 yards per carry.
- Schedule: The Bears played an average schedule of opposing runners, not a hard one, but many of the teams with the worst run offense DVOA ratings in history played easy schedules and have strong opponent adjustments.
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The Football Outsiders playoff odds report is updated with Super Bowl odds for all 12 playoff teams. Two notes about the odds for the 2013 postseason:
- When we ran the simulation, we accounted for the return of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay's DVOA rating. Instead of using weighted offensive DVOA, we used offensive DVOA only for the games where Aaron Rodgers played the majority of snaps. (We're not sure if it fully accounts for the aftereffects of Rodgers' injury, but that includes Week 17, when the Packers only had -6.6% offensive DVOA.) Adding 24.2% offensive DVOA to Green Bay's weighted defense and special teams moves the overall rating we used in the simulation from -13.6% to 10.0%. Rodgers is really important, although that still makes Green Bay the lowest-rated team of the six NFC contenders. The odds don't account for other injuries, such as Von Miller or Rob Gronkowski; quarterback is the easiest position to quantify, and Rodgers is clearly one of the two or three most valuable players in the game.
- Up until last week, the playoff odds gave home teams an additional 15 percent chance of winning in the Divisional Round because of the historical importance of the bye week. As you may know, home teams have not been as successful since we first created the equations for the playoff odds simulation. For now, we've lowered this "bye week bonus" to 10 percent, and in the offseason we'll research whether it should be lower or perhaps disappear entirely.
I'll save the discussion of which players had the best and worst seasons -- including where Peyton Manning's record-setting season sits among all quarterback seasons in both DVOA and DYAR -- for Vince Verhei in tomorrow's Quick Reads Year in Review.
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During the 2013 season, we'll be partnering with EA Sports to bring special Football Outsiders-branded items to Madden 25 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in standard stats. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats, including DYAR, Defeats, and our game charting coverage stats for cornerbacks. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend, beginning Friday night.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 17 are:
- Sheldon Richardson, FB, NYJ (Limited Edition): That's right, a special fullback edition of Sheldon Richardson! He's the new Fridge!
- Montee Ball, RB, DEN: Third among Week 17 RB with 47 DYAR (10 carries, 72 yards; three receptions, 22 receiving yards)
- Adrian Clayborn, DE, TB: Sack, QB hit, and 4 run TFL
- Jerrel Jernigan, WR, NYG: Top Week 17 WR with 82 DYAR (6-of-7 receptions, 90 yards and a touchdown; two carries for 57 yards and a touchdown)
- Sealver Siliga, DT, NE: 9 tackles or assists, all Stops
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All 2013 individual and team stat pages are now updated or will be updated in the next few minutes, including the FO Premium database. The exception are drive stats and snap counts, which should be updated by tomorrow.
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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through the entire 2013 regular season, 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.)
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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. LAST WEEK represents rank after Week 16, while LAST YEAR represents rank in 2012.
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.
- 2013 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
- PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent a projection of the team's expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed.
- 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).
227 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2014, 11:21am
#30 by Bobman // Dec 30, 2013 - 5:36pm
I wonder about the Colts being "actually" ranked 21 by DVOA. Yes, two of their last three wins were convincing wins over WDVOA teams #30 and 32 (with Luck pulled for the final quarter Sunday, not that it would have made much DVOA difference) and as the Audibles indicate, Pep Hamilton has some congenital allergic reaction to being up by two scores that causes him to call Trent Richardson up-the-gut runs relentlessly in those situations. But the meat in that sandwich of disarray was the #9 WDVOA team, trounced pretty soundly on the road.
My guess is that the DVOA is more accurate in this instance because of the Reggie Wayne injury. WDVOA counts, basically, the last half of the season (10 games, right?), but for the first four of those games they were figuring out what the hell to do without #87 on the field (and stumbling). I suspect that the last 4-5-6 games are a much more accurate representation of the team as it stands today--smaller sample size, but I bet it captures an important trend better. Including the Bengal (#8 WDVOA) and Cardinal (#11 WDVOA) games to avoid just cherry-picking wins at the end.
A little like emphasizing Rodgers's return to GB rather than putting much weight on the games without him. It's a different team, really. About 5 weeks ago the Colts shelved DHB and TRich put Whalen and Rogers on the active list and, voila! things looks quite a bit better.
#32 by Purds // Dec 30, 2013 - 5:47pm
I agree that the Colts have not been great, but ranking them #21 in weighted DVOA is almost an inevitability given their end of the year schedule: Houston (-27%), KC (17%), Jax (-39%). They won all three handily, but with opponent adjustments, you'd need to score 50+ a game to not look below average! I would guess. I'm not saying the Colts are going anywhere in the post season, but I'd love a more nuanced set of observations from FO than just the quick numbers, as they don't seem to teach too much given that schedule.
#38 by Bobman // Dec 30, 2013 - 6:01pm
I think you'll get your wish when the game by game previews come out later this week. I love the weekly DVOA charts and I suspect they will show an up-trend for Indy the past month and a down-trend for KC. Will those continue? Who knows?
And beyond next week's game (should the Colts advance), I fall back on my 1995 postseason fandom view and say "we have a chance. It'll take a miracle, but we have a chance...." Frankly, I was none too optimistic heading into the 2006 postseason, either! Neither was DVOA/WDVOA.
#99 by turbohappy // Dec 31, 2013 - 12:03am
You always have a chance if you're in it. I have no idea what to expect. Their variance is really high and if you look at a "who beat who" chart for them it just makes no sense.
By year-end DVOA:
Beat 1/2/6/7 (and 7 low-ranked opponents)
They've gotten back to letting TY Hilton do TY things (instead of asking him to do Reggie Wayne things) and put DHB on special teams only (where he unfortunately belongs) and their offense looks way better even though they have unknown players running the "#1" routes.
I have no idea what to expect. They could totally flop next week against Kansas City or they could go all the way to the Super Bowl, neither would totally shock me!
#39 by Jake (not verified) // Dec 30, 2013 - 6:01pm
I understand these metrics are objective, but can someone explain how the Seahawks weighted DVOA is higher than their season DVOA despite losing 2 of their last 4. They lost to two top teams, but isn't beating those kind of teams what the #1 team in football should do? I understand they've beaten great teams, but I'm talking about as of late, which is the point of weighted DVOA, no?
Also, as someone who's watched every 49ers game, I find it baffling that their offense is ranked ahead of their defense, and I think anyone else who's watched the majority of their games would agree with me.
Would appreciate it if someone could explain these things to me.
#44 by td (not verified) // Dec 30, 2013 - 6:29pm
They lost 'coin flip' games to San Francisco on the road and Arizona. I'd have been surprised if they had been dinged for that. It's probably true that public perception of the team has shifted from 'clearly the best, most well roundeded team' to 'their defense is great, but their offense is a question mark', but they're still the favorite in the NFC (with Carolina and the 9ers on the next tier, and Philly and Green Bay as wild cards) Recent history is enough to suggest that just being the best team ensures nothing (note pfr's research indicating that the best team wins the Super Bowl about 1/4 of the time)
#47 by Vincent Verhei // Dec 30, 2013 - 6:34pm
I understand these metrics are objective, but can someone explain how the Seahawks weighted DVOA is higher than their season DVOA despite losing 2 of their last 4. They lost to two top teams, but isn't beating those kind of teams what the #1 team in football should do? I understand they've beaten great teams, but I'm talking about as of late, which is the point of weighted DVOA, no?
In their past seven games, the Seahawks have two losses. Their DVOAs for those two losses were 28.9% (against SF) and 12.6% (against ARI). In their five wins in that timeframe, their DVOA has ranged from a low of 59.7% to a high of 78.7%.
Denver is a distant second in weighted DVOA. In that same timespan, they have only one game over 35%, and that game was only 58.3%. Seattle has topped that number five times. Meanwhile, Denver also as a 1.9% against New England and a -1.3% in the loss to San Dieo.
#60 by The Hypno-Toad // Dec 30, 2013 - 7:15pm
I find it surprising that the Broncos performance against the chargers was only good for -1.3%. It sure felt and looked a lot further below average, even leaving aside that the chargers had the worst defense in the league by dvoa at the time, if memory serves me.
#97 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Dec 30, 2013 - 11:46pm
There's an easy explanation to this.
The 49ers are a good team. The Seahawks lost to the 49ers, but played significantly better against them than an average team would.
I don't understand why some people can't get that a team can play well and still lose.
#50 by td (not verified) // Dec 30, 2013 - 6:47pm
My take on what's different about the postseason the last half decade is that none of the outcomes look nearly as surprising without the single season limits (you could argue against the Giants, but even they have a case to have been the best team when healthy in 2008) It isn't surprising that the latter-year Ray Lewis Ravens won a title, because they'd been contenders for years, it wasn't a surprise that the Packers won sometime in 2010-11, or that the Manning Colts won a title. The surprising part was when they won, which easily could be a function of health and luck between closely matched teams
#77 by Red // Dec 30, 2013 - 9:23pm
Totally agree. The Ravens made the playoffs every year from 2008-2012. The Packers have been consistently good during the McCarthy/Rodgers era. The Steelers have been good almost every year for over a decade. The Manning Colts won 12 games almost every year for a decade. The Saints have been a threat since Brees/Payton arrived. Even the Bucs were a playoff team every year from 1999-2002. And of course the Patriots have been the best team in football during the Brady/Belichick era.
Who sticks out like a sore thumb? The Giants. Personally, I find it very aggravating that the Giants somehow won two Super Bowls, when they've only put together one great season (2008) during that stretch. 2008 excepted, the G-Men have been mediocre to slightly above average throughout the Eli/Coughlin era, before falling off a cliff in 2013. Their two lucky SB runs have grossly inflated the legacy of Eli Manning, who has been basically an average QB over the course of his career (with extreme highs and lows, of course). That Eli will probably make the HoF, while a guy like Ken Anderson is still on the outside, makes me sick.
#84 by Will Allen // Dec 30, 2013 - 9:44pm
I'll say it again; if, in 2020, with more than 25 consecutive years of having a HOF-worthy qb starting for them, in an era where the rules place so much emphasis on qb play, the Packers have only won two championships, their management in that time period will have underperformed.
#101 by dank067 // Dec 31, 2013 - 12:17am
Ron Wolf certainly agrees with you about his tenure. "Just a fart in the wind."
Of course, Wolf not only had to re-build the roster but really the entire organization from the ground up (and Holmgren and Bob Harlan, the CEO, get their fair share of credit as well). He also retired a few years before the really pronounced offensive shift began, so he didn't stand to benefit as much from having Favre as much as Thompson has from having Favre and Rodgers. If the Packers can't get it done again in the next few years I think there's going to be quite a bit of blowback against Thompson, if it hasn't already begun.
#106 by Paul M (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 1:30am
Easy flippant comment to make... If any of Kaepernick/Luck/Wilson/Newton/RGIII/Teddy Bridgewater haven't won one SB by 2020, what do we conclude about their team's management? Truth is since Favre became the Packer starter in 1992, here are the SB victory totals:
New England: 3 (HOF QB)
Dallas: 3 (HOF QB)
Patriots haven't won one in 9 years-- is their managementnow failing? Cowboys haven't won one in 18 years and have been a .500 team in that stretch, so their management is clearly failing.
Green Bay: 2 (HOF QB/Probably Another)
New York Giants: 2
Denver: 2 (HOF QB/And now Another)
San Francisco: 1
St. Louis: 1
Tampa Bay: 1
New Orleans: 1 (HOF QB)
Indianapolis: 1 (HOF QB/Possibly Another)
New England has the best claim to management performance in this time period-- winning 3 SBs and losing 3 others-- and either they or GB have the best regular season record from 1992-2013. And GB and Pittsburgh have been the other consistent winners, with the Steelers pipping the Packers with 4 SB appearances to GB's 3. I'm hard pressed to make a speculative claim of underperformance at thus juncture... If they were to have one of the 3-4 best collective records from 2014-20-- Rodgers' career 2nd half-- and, say, went to one more SB and lost, is that truly an underperformance??
#107 by Will Allen // Dec 31, 2013 - 2:13am
Er, the Patriots have not had a HOF caliber qb prior to 2000, and they are very unlikely to have one from 2016-2020. The Cowboys were bad at qb for several years after Aikman left. If Cowboys management isn't a failure, then the term is meaningless.
The point was that it is a stunning bit of luck (along with some skill, to be sure) to have a HOF caliber qb starting for your team for 25-plus straight years, as the Packers are likely to have. Nobody else has had that good fortune; hell, the Montana/ Young Niners didn't get to 20. If you get two championships in 25 straight years of terrific quarterbacking, it's not unreasonable to say that the management of the rest of the roster was not terrific.
Obviously, if the Packers win another one before Rodgers becomes less than terrific, or if his decline begins unexpectedly soon, the point is moot.
#110 by Sifter // Dec 31, 2013 - 5:49am
Well lets address this with some data shall we? What we need is to establish a baseline performance for teams with HOF QBs. I went to PFR and saw there are 26 QBs in the HOF. For the sake of ease, familiarity and relevance I've only looked at the 13 who played from 1960 onwards. Note this isn't perfect. Playoffs rules were different throughout history, and in some of these seasons the QB is injured, or not starting...the criteria was simply that a HOF QB was on the roster (so Young and Montana both get credit for late 80s SB wins for example):
Fran Tarkenton - 18 seasons, 3 SB loss, 1 championship loss, 2 division loss, 12 missed playoffs
Joe Namath - 13 seasons, 1 SB win, 2 div loss, 10 missed playoffs
Bob Griese - 14 seasons, 2 SB win, 1 SB loss, 3 div loss, 1 WC loss, 7 missed playoffs
Roger Staubach - 11 seasons, 2 SB win, 3 SB loss, 2 champ loss, 3 div loss, 1 missed playoffs
Terry Bradshaw - 14 seasons, 4 SB win, 2 champ loss, 3 div loss, 1 WC loss, 4 missed playoffs
Dan Fouts - 15 seasons, 2 champ loss, 2 div loss, 11 missed playoffs
Joe Montana - 15 seasons, 4 SB win, 4 champ loss, 2 div loss, 2 WC loss, 3 missed playoffs
John Elway - 16 seasons, 2 SB win, 3 SB loss, 1 champ loss, 2 div loss, 2 WC loss, 6 missed playoffs
Dan Marino - 17 seasons, 1 SB loss, 2 champ loss, 5 div loss, 2 WC loss, 7 missed playoffs
Warren Moon - 17 seasons, 4 div loss, 5 WC loss, 8 missed playoffs
Steve Young - 15 seasons, 3 SB wins, 4 champ loss, 4 div loss, 4 missed playoffs
Jim Kelly - 11 seasons, 4 SB loss, 1 champ loss, 2 div loss, 1 WC loss, 3 missed playoffs
Troy Aikman - 12 seasons, 3 SB win, 1 champ loss, 2 div loss, 2 WC loss, 4 missed playoffs
Total - 188 seasons, 21 SB win, 15 SB loss, 20 championship loss, 36 division loss, 16 wildcard loss, 80 missed playoffs
Applying these figures to Green Bay...In the 21 completed seasons starting from 1992, GB have: 2 SB wins, 1 SB loss, 2 championship loss, 6 division loss, 4 wildcard loss, 6 missed playoffs
Going by the numbers above they should have expected: 2.35 SB wins, 1.68 SB losses, 2.23 championship losses, 4.02 division losses, 1.79 wildcard losses, and 8.94 seasons where they miss the playoffs.
Not a massive difference between expectations and results. They've bombed out in divisional and wildcard rounds more often than a typcial HOFers team would, but they've qualified for the playoffs a bit more often.
I think most people inflate the value of HOF QBs and assume they can put their foot on the cash register and just inhale championships. It's not quite that easy...they are still VERY valuable players of course, just not THAT valuable.
#116 by Will Allen // Dec 31, 2013 - 8:37am
The value of a HOF qb is substantially higher today than it has been for most of the period you put forth. QBs have always been important, but there is no comparison between the value of a great qb in 2013 and in 1973, when Bob Griese could win a championship while throwing 17 times a game. 2nd, a guy like Steve Young didn't become a high caliber performer until he had been in the league about 6 or 7 years, and a guy like Namath was no longer high caliber after about 7 or 8. In contrast, Favre was great by 1994, and was still great by the time he left the Packers after 2007.
I didn't say a great qb meant you could inhale championships. I said if a team had a great qb for 25-plus straight years, in the modern passing era, especially if 15 years plus occurred in the very modern passing era, it is reasonable to think that the management of that team should be able to manage the rest of the roster well enough to produce more than two championships.
#122 by Paul M (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 9:18am
Isn't this just the Billy Beane "My sh_t doesn't work in the playoffs" with a slightly different context? A's since Beane became GM in 1998 have something like 3rd best regular season record in that sport, despite having a payroll in the bottom 5. Easily the best management performance in MLB, and worthy of the Moneyball hype. And of course they have failed miserably in the postseason.
Packers were, as of the instant Rodgers went down vs. Bears, possessors of best regular season record for any NFL franchise from 1992-on-- since Favre became the starter-- and now, I think, they may trail only New England-- and their playoff record, while not as deficient as Oakland's, is OK, but not at the same level. Do we judge by the 16 games each season-- or the 1 to 4 in the postseason?? Thompson is now getting a much bigger target (and McCarthy too for keeping Capers) on his back for the continued failure of a defense he has spent multiple recent drafts trying to fix. The inconvenient truth for his philosophy is both the GB SB winners in this era were products-- in part-- of massive free agent signings on defense (White and Woodson the most prominent). His legacy could be at risk-- but it's still pretty damn strong.
#126 by Will Allen // Dec 31, 2013 - 9:49am
As you note, Billy Beane has accomplished what he has while spending hundreds of millions of dollars less on personnel. If Green Bay management had done that, I would not have written what I did. I also probably would not have written it if the Packers had a couple more Super Bowl defeats on the record since 1994.
(edit) Let me be more clear. Mike Sherman was clearly a disaster, squandering what Wolf left for him. The hire of Ray Rhodes was also a very poor one, so while Wolf did tremendous work in the first 7-8 years of his tenure, he did have some whiffs while going out the door. Nobody's perfect. The evaluation of Thompson will have to wait another 6 or 7 years, assuming Rodgers remains Rodgers.
#213 by Jimmy Cephalopathy (not verified) // Jan 02, 2014 - 3:24am
I disagree with this on many levels and in many respects, namely:
1. The overwhelming majority of teams in this or any other era that win championships do so without HOF QBs. In spite of how "the rules" have inflated the value of QB play, it remains a team game of speed, strength, blocking, and tackling.
2. Prolonged success actually handicaps a team's ability to build on that success, in that it's hard to stay on top while consistently picking at the bottom of the draft. The Packers have even less margin for error in the draft because Green Bay is not an attractive destination for free agents. Even excellent drafting teams like the Patriots and Ravens supplement with judicious free agent signings.
3. Brett Favre's a Hall of Famer, all right, but he wet the bed in more big games than any player in history. Let's be fair and admit that the Packers were not good enough to win most, if any, of those games - but it wasn't Mike Sherman or Ted Thompson who threw all those interceptions.
4. If it's true that having a HOF QB puts a special onus on a franchise to deliver championships, then what's the corollary? How many years of futility and stockpiling high draft picks did it take for teams like the 49ers and Chiefs to finally put together contending teams? Would it not be just as fair to say that after ten-plus years of picking near the top of the draft, anything less than multiple championships will be a failure?
#215 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2014 - 10:28am
Well, let's start with the Super Bowl era. There have been 47 champs. Here are the HOF qbs, or near certain eventual HOF qbs...
Starr (2), Namath, Dawson, Unitas, Griese (2), Bradshaw (4), Staubach (2), Montana (4), Aikman (2), Young, Favre, Elway (2), Brady (3), P. Manning, Brees
That's 28 of 47.
Here's some guys who are going to get substantial support for the HOF, and, for some, depending on how their careers finish up, could end up being pretty certain....
Warner, Roethlisberger (2), E. Manning (2), Rodgers
Which would bring it to 34 of 47. I don't know how your 1st statement squares with the record.
Now, let us look at all 94 Super Bowl participants. In addition to the 28 certain or near certain HOFers, and the additional 6 who've got a reasonable chance, we have, on the losing teams....
Dawson, Tarkenton (3), Griese, Staubach (2), Marino, Elway (3), Kelly (4), Favre, Brady (2), P. Manning
.....which brings us to 47 of 94 among qbs in Super Bowls, or if we count Roethlisberger and Warner, 50 of 94. I didn't bother to go back and check to see if Sonny Jurgensen took most of the snaps in '72. Again, your first assertion just doesn't add up.
Now, if just look at the past 8 years, where the rules against contact with receivers and the qb has been strictly enforced, we necessarily have to do more speculation as to how many guys eventually get into the HOF. I think P. Manning and Brees are a certainties, Rodgers a near certainty, and Roethlisberger and E. Manning still have a good chance, with a few more really good seasons. That's 3 of 8 certainties or near certainties, and if one of the two with a good chance make it, it is 5 of 8. If we look at the 16 participants, it comes to, with Brady and P. Manning, 6 of 16 certainties or near certainties, and with Warner and Roethlisberger in the mix, maybe 8 of 16.
More important than the draft, in making it harder to stay on top, I think, is the salary cap. We may find out, paradoxically, that while having a HOF qb is a great aid, it also hurts the chase to have so much cap space tied up in a qb. We'll see. As to Green Bay and free agents, they did pretty well with Reggie White and Charles Woodson, and the Steelers have done very well while not availing themselves of free agents very much.
If you don't think that Favre's coaching played a significant role in Favre's performance, and that management was responsible for either having Favre coached by a Holmgren or a McCarthy, as opposed to a Rhodes or a Sherman, we will have to differ.
I would agree that a team's management sucks if the team loses year after year. This is especially true now, when the cost of a bad top of the 1st round draft pick isn't nearly as harmful to the salary cap, as it once was.
#216 by BaronFoobarstein // Jan 02, 2014 - 12:17pm
I'll stipulate up front, you have the facts on your side.
Now there's a bit of a chicken and the egg problem. The Hall of Fame isn't about being the best. Being the best or near the best matters, but just as important as talent is accomplishment. And winning or playing in the Super Bowl is just about the biggest accomplishment you can put on your resume. So are these QBs winning the Super Bowl because they are great (HOF-calibur), or are they voted into the HOF because they won Super Bowls?
It's really hard to separate these things. But as a Steeler fan I'll just say that all the talk about Bradshaw (I'm too young to have seen him at the time) is that he was very good, but not among the very best. And Roethlisberger, who is pretty much a lock, has been great for a long time, but never really overwhelmingly so. Without those Super Bowls he might get a mention in the conversation, but he'd be a really long shot candidate.
#217 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2014 - 1:16pm
A reverse way of looking at it is to ask how frequently a team has either won or lost a Super Bowl without a qb playing extremely well in the regular season, and/or the playoffs. Off the top of my head, I'd say Eli Manning was just so-so in both the regular season and playoffs in '07. Brad Johnson was average in '02. Delhomme in '04. Dilfer in '00. Chris Chandler in '98. O'Donnell in '95. Humphries in '94. Eason in '85. David Woodley in '82. Vince Ferragamo in '80. Craig Morton in '77. Most of those guys lost, of course.
I'd say trying to win a championship with mediocre qb play is a pretty tall order.
#86 by Anonymoushgfjjgfc (not verified) // Dec 30, 2013 - 9:59pm
Why do people rarely bring up Brees' stark home/road splits when being so quick to put him up there with Rodgers, Brady, and Manning. I think those three are in a tier above Rivers and Brees. In fact, Rivers and Brees have nearly identical AYPA and EPA/P numbers despite Brees having the better supporting cast including o-line, done advantage, and offensive scheme continuity. Furthermore, I'd argue Brees is pretty limited as a short passer - just look at his career deep pass% - and Rivers has proven himself to be more versatile, throwing deep as well as short, quick throws.
#88 by theslothook // Dec 30, 2013 - 10:06pm
Honestly, there are two things that really hurt rivers. First, he hasn't had any postseason success to speak of. Not my criteria at all, but its one major reason he hasn't cracked the top 4. Second, his last two years were really strange, especially since they occurred in the prime of his career seemingly out of nowhere without any injury as the cause.
Overall though, Brees is still the superior player to me. I just fear his offenses much more than the Charger offenses. Of course that's probably a big function of talent around each, but just subjectively, brees feels better.
#156 by Anonymousdeqdfew (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 2:31pm
This can be attributed to their usage. Brees throws shorter passes throughout his career, on average, so it would stand to reason he throws more of them. The fact that his passes don't go as far neutralizes that he throws more of them. I'm ignoring the quantity of passes just as much as the majority of people ignore his home/away splits. He's been much worse outside of the dome. People conveniently ignore/forget that. It's not a small detail.
#94 by AB in DC (not verified) // Dec 30, 2013 - 11:14pm
Denver and Seattle repeated their #1 and #2 DVOA ranking this year. Guess who else repeated their DVOA rankings? Dallas, at #16, and Detroit, at #17. The two most average teams in the league for two years in a row.
Not sure if that means anything -- there's probably a Jerry Jones joke in there somewhere -- but I thought it was interesting.
#104 by Last Far Striter (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 1:22am
Just saying Jerry Jones is often the only punch line you need. As a Cowboys fan, I can say that with complete confidence. Seems to me that the first person that sits down and gets JJ to understand that his "actions" as General Manager are lowering the long-term overall value of his total franchise will be the Most Valuable Employee in the organization.
#124 by dryheat // Dec 31, 2013 - 9:30am
Can't blame him. I always wanted to take the Star Wars figure out of the package and play with it rather than stare at it with wide eyes knowing that I could re-sell it for a profit some day.
It's not going to make the fans feel any better though. My advice, and it's the same advice I give to R-words fans, is find another, preferably AFC or expansion team that you have no real animosity towards, to support during this ownership. I think the Panthers or Texans would be good alternatives.
Hell, at least Al Davis at one point of his life was chock-full of football knowledge and roster-building strategy.
#103 by Paul R // Dec 31, 2013 - 1:20am
DVOA data from last ten seasons reveals that, in week 17, the eventual Super Bowl winner will have an average ranking of 7.2 among the 32 teams.
The eventual Super Bowl loser will have an average rank of 6.8.
Rounding off to the nearest whole number, we can predict that this year's Super Bowl will be won and lost by the Kansas City Chiefs.
#108 by ammek // Dec 31, 2013 - 3:51am
Some other oddities from the 2013 season:
— Seven teams finished with four or fewer wins. I think that's a record in a 16-game season. Yet DVOA doesn't seem to think this was an exceptional year for futility. I get the impression that close games have tended, in recent years, to be won more often than usual by the better team and lost by the desperate team. It would be interesting in the offseason for Scott Kacsmar to take another look at historical trends in close game outcomes to explain what is happening here.
— Perhaps as a result of close-game trends, season-to-season fluctuation continues to be historically large. Three teams had 10+ wins last year but four or fewer in 2013. Meanwhile, the Chiefs, Eagles and Cardinals all had four or fewer wins in 2012, but 10+ wins this year. That rarely used to happen at all prior to about 1999. Now it happens multiple times a year.
— AFC stability/predictability reached new heights: all four of the division winners were in the playoffs last year, and Baltimore nearly joined them. Over the past five years (2009-2013), fully six AFC teams have not made the postseason even once (Bills, Browns, Dolphins, Jaguars, Raiders, Titans). I don't think that has happened since the league went to a 12-team postseason in 1990. Meanwhile, all 10 of the other AFC teams have made the playoffs more than once during that five-season stretch (Patriots 5 times, Colts and Ravens 4, Bengals, Broncos and Steelers 3, Chargers, Chiefs, Jets and Texans 2 each).
— Look at those teams with between 10.0 and 11.0 estimated wins! All eight of them! I hope we get the Seahawks-Broncos Superbowl we deserve.
#111 by Joe M (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 6:36am
I did some of my own "statistical analysis" and came up with this seemingly IMPORTANT stat.
Of all the teams in the playoffs vs. all other playoff teams there is ONE team that is undefeated at 4-0 and that is the Cincinnati Bengals.
01) Cincinnati 4-0 W(NE, GB, Ind, @SD) L()
02) San Diego 5-2 W(@Phi, Ind, KC, @KC, @Den) L(Den, Cin)
03) Indianapolis 4-2 W(@SF, Sea, Den @KC) L(@SD, @Cin)
04) Seattle 3-2 W(@Car, SF, NO) L(@Ind, @SF)
Carolina 3-2 W(@SF, NE, NO) L(Sea, @NO)
06) Denver 4-3 W(Phi, @SD, KC, @KC) L(@Ind, SD, @NE)
07) New England 2-2 W(NO, Den) L(@Cin, @Car)
08) New Orleans 2-3 W(SF, Car) L(@NE, @Sea, @Car)
09) San Francisco 2-4 W(GB, Sea) L(@Sea, Ind, Car, @NO)
10) Philadelphia 1-3 W(@GB) L(KC, SD, Den)
11) Kansas City 1-5 W(@Phi) L(Ind, SD, @SD, Den, @Den)
12) Green Bay 0-3 W() L(Phi, @SF, @Cin)
According to this then we should have 3)Cin @ 2)NE and 4)Ind @ 1)Den
and 5)SF @ 2)Car and 6)NO @ 1)Sea
Then quite possibly AFC 4)Ind @ 3)Cin and NFC 2)Car @ 1)Sea
Then SB48 might be Cin and Sea with the winner being Cin
Interesting possibility based on in season record vs. playoff teams for 2013.
I believe the two best defenses in the playoffs are the Bengals and Seahawks.
Seattle has been up there all year, but the Bengals RAISED their defense ranking to where it is from a lot lower early in the season. The Bengals path to the SB would be a rematch of games they already won also EXCEPT for having to win at NE or if Denver wins then also at Denver.
A nice snowstorm for SB48 has to favor the Bengals over the Seahawks also...
#197 by Joe M (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 9:40pm
Believe me... as a Bengals fan... I know better than to rely on it.
It just struck me as I thought back on the season that we beat all the really great teams and then lost to playoff outsiders: @Cle, @Mia, @Chi, @Bal and @Pit.
Although FOUR of those 5 teams were in the Wild Card hunt until the last day.
And we beat Cle, Bal, and Pit at home of course...
It is just that I see that the Bengals supposedly have a 4.7% chance to win the SB and Seattle has a 24.9% chance, when in fact everyone has a 1 in 12 chance statistically speaking... which is a 100 / 12 = 8.3% chance.
#198 by Perfundle // Dec 31, 2013 - 10:32pm
"It is just that I see that the Bengals supposedly have a 4.7% chance to win the SB and Seattle has a 24.9% chance, when in fact everyone has a 1 in 12 chance statistically speaking... which is a 100 / 12 = 8.3% chance."
That kind of analysis doesn't really add any value. Cincinnati has such a low probability because they weren't a top-2 seed, and therefore have to play four games, with most likely two of them on the road.
#219 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Jan 02, 2014 - 1:47pm
Exactly, even if you assume all the games are 50/50, which they're not, Cin has to win 4 games:
.5*.5*.5*.5= 6.25% chance.
The teams with a bye have a 12.5% chance if all the games are 50/50.
CIN being 4.7% instead of 6.25% means that they're probably a major underdog in one of the games.
#199 by jebmak // Dec 31, 2013 - 10:37pm
That isn't quite the case. Even if you completely discounted any team being better than another and home field advantage, and give each team a 50% chance to win any game, the eight teams playing this week have a 1/16 chance and the four with the bye have a 1/8 chance.
That said, I'm pulling for Cincy in the AFC.
#153 by Joe M (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 1:21pm
Actually, the Bengals split Home/Away with division rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh... lost to Miami on the Road after a very short week... and beat San Diego on the road. And BOTH the Baltimore and Miami ROAD losses went to OT... where they would have received credit if they were an NHL team (lol).
The Bengals were 8-0 at home in 2013 with an average score of 34 - 17 over those 8 games. They are not so great on the road, but can they beat NE on the road in the playoffs? Yes, probably as good a chance as anyone else in the AFC.
Also, if it is true that defense wins championships, then the final DVOA clearly shows the two SB48 teams should be Cincinnati and Seattle.
It is not a question of whether Dalton wins the SB for the Bengals as much as whether or not he can simply stop throwing INTs. Flacco "won" SB47 for Baltimore the exact same way. He threw 11 TDs (or more?) and had ZERO INTs in 3 playoff games.
#139 by PhilM (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 11:03am
I was surprised to not see Navarro Bowman on the Football Outsiders stars this week, after having an interception, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Maybe he's made it in the past that I missed? Accounting for two turnovers of different types as a defensive player is pretty impressive, and then he piled on 9 tackles as well according to Pro Football Reference.
#159 by Fade the Rally (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 2:55pm
"It is much more common for the team that leads the league in offensive DVOA to win a No. 1 playoff seed."
Interesting. Is this a function of the particular way defensive DVOA is calculated?
If offensive DVOA is more strongly correlated with winning games, then one would have to assume it is a larger component of overall team strength. If this is the case, a weighted overall DVOA which underweights defensive DVOA would be more predictive and reflect the true strength of each team.
#165 by Perfundle // Dec 31, 2013 - 3:24pm
i would argue that teams that are #1 in defensive DVOA generally got that ranking because their offense is underperforming. If the offense is great, defenses slack off a bit in the second half of blowouts. Elite offenses are more willing to pile it on in blowouts because there are records to be broken, whereas there are almost none for defenses given all the rules favoring offense nowadays.
#218 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Jan 02, 2014 - 1:19pm
Defenses with good offenses play with different goals than defenses attached to bad offenses.
For instance, towards the end of the game, with a lead, a 15 yard gain on first down where the receiver is tackled in the middle of the field is probably a better result (for the defense) than a 6 yard gain where the receiver gets out of bounds.
DVOA doesn't handle this sort of thing well.
#222 by FadetheRally // Jan 03, 2014 - 12:54pm
I thought that is precisely the sort thing DVOA was designed to handle, i.e. game-specific situations that aren’t properly accounted for in traditional stats. If a play that optimizes the probability of winning isn’t more favorable in DVOA terms, that’s an obvious deficiency in how defensive DVOA is calculated and a clear argument why it should be underweighted in overall DVOA (which apparently it is unbeknownst to me).
#186 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Dec 31, 2013 - 5:04pm
Couldn't it also be that it's much easier to build a historically great offense in the post dead ball era?(all you need is a great QB and few other good or better players) than a great defense? (you need several great players, and then remainder of the starting 11 have to be at least above-average, and they all have to stay healthy).
#223 by FadetheRally // Jan 03, 2014 - 12:59pm
If it is easier then more teams would have great offenses, the averages would go up, and DVOA would get rebaselined to take that into account.
Even if it is true that it is easier to build a great offense, it still doesn’t quite explain why a great offense would be more correlated with winning than an equivalently great defense in DVOA terms.
#200 by td (not verified) // Jan 01, 2014 - 12:02am
offensive dvoas tend to be more extreme, which is to say spread out, whereas typically defenses are bunched together. dvoa already weighs 4 parts offense to 3 parts defense to 1 part special teams
#221 by FadetheRally // Jan 03, 2014 - 12:47pm
I didn’t realize that – I thought offense and defense were evenly weighted. It sounds plausible that skewing the weightings even further towards offense could be even more predictive / indicative of true team strength.
#168 by Rick & Roll (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 3:37pm
Of the Top 12 Best DVOAs Ever, only four teams won the Super Bowl. (91 Wash, 96 GB, 89 SF, 92 DAL), and three others made it (10 Pit, 07 NE, 10 NE).
Of the Top 12 Best Offenses Ever, only one team won the Super Bowl. (98 DEN).
Of the Top 12 Best Defenses Ever, only one team won the SuperBowl. (02 TB).
DVOA is a great evaluation tool, but it is much more about explaining past results than predicting the future. Just over half of the top 12 teams (7) ever even made the Super Bowl. In 2012 two of the top 12 DVOA teams ever didn't even make it to the conference finals, much less the SuperBowl. Enjoy the playoffs and don't be surprised to see the unexpected.
#171 by Will Allen // Dec 31, 2013 - 3:47pm
I can't wait to see DVOA extended back to '78, to see if it might have been more predictive when passing was not nearly as reliably more effective than running, in terms of winning enough games to get into the playoffs. I think it is pretty clear that the salary cap made dominant teams less so.
#174 by Cuenca Guy // Dec 31, 2013 - 3:59pm
DVOA tells us that the chances that one of the best teams (by DVOA) of the last 25 years will win the Super Bowl is only about 25%. That's due to the fact that the disparity in teams isn't as great as some other sports and in any one game, just about anything can happen.
It's due to the nature of the NFL that the best teams don't always win. As NFL stats go, DVOA does a good job of showing us who the best team is. The best teams have the best chance to win the Super Bowl, so DVOA is about as predictive as any stat can be.
#192 by Rick & Roll (not verified) // Dec 31, 2013 - 6:46pm
DVOA numerical advantages appear much bigger than they actually are because the numbers are bigger than point differential.
I read somewhere that every 5% difference between teams in DVOA correlates to approximately 1 point towards the point-spread if the game was at a neutral field. Applying this to Seattle against the #2 team, Denver yields a neutral spread that would be about 2, which is close to where I would guess a Den-Sea SB line would fall (probably 3). Looking at Seattle vs the #32 team, JAX, the line around 15 which seems about right.
These are approximations, and for certain there are outliers, but it's an interesting theory. Has anyone studied how DVOA differential correlates with the point spread?
#194 by Cuenca Guy // Dec 31, 2013 - 7:06pm
5% DVOA is theoretically equivalent to about 1 point. The stated home field advantage is 17% which is generally considered to be about 3 points. I don't know of anything more precise than the 17% spread though.
#220 by mitch (not verified) // Jan 02, 2014 - 4:52pm
I've compared DVOA differences between teams to the opening Vegas Line and after throwing out the outlier games and averaging the middle games comes out to 4%.
In other words, to find a spread, divide the difference by 4 and add points for the home team.
Remember, the outlier games are ones where DVOA may be more accurate then the line.
I tracked this a good part of the season, If I can find the results I'll post them.
#224 by Rick & Roll (not verified) // Jan 03, 2014 - 2:06pm
I'd love to see the results....
I applied each 4% of DVOA percentage as one pointspread point, and home field as a 12 point DVOA advantage.
When comparing the point spread with DVOA to calculate point spread value it looks as if there is value on KC, which according to DVOA should be a pickem, but is KC +2.5.
There is slight value with SD, who should only be +5.5 instead of +6.5.
The NFC lines look to correlate closely with the DVOA calculations so no 'point-spread value' on either game.
#225 by mitch (not verified) // Jan 06, 2014 - 11:18am
Last weeks lines, dividing by 4 and add 3 pts to home team.
Chiefs - .5
One had some value on Chiefs early in the week with +2.5
And Bengals with +7
Seems DVOA likes Panthers quite a bit , with them being a dog, the lines is rising and if the line reaches +3 that'd seem like a very strong play
I'll try and get back with the results with a 5 point difference or better in the regular season.