Week 9 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
Denver remains the No. 1 team in DVOA this week despite their big loss to New England on Sunday, but we can probably table all that "best teams in DVOA history" talk for a while. The Broncos saw their total DVOA drop by over 10 percentage points after falling to the Patriots, but then again their lead was over 20 percentage points a week ago, so they are still comfortably in the top spot. Most of the drop comes in the ratings for offense and special teams. Surprisingly, thanks in part to the opponent adjustments, the Broncos recorded their eighth straight game with a negative (i.e. better than average) defensive DVOA and remain the most consistent defense in the NFL this year. The Broncos put up defensive DVOA between -10% and -20% in seven of their eight games this season.
Baltimore remains at No. 2, although the Ravens' overall rating drops a bit. Shockingly, the Ravens end up with a single-game 0.9% DVOA despite losing by 20 points. This surprising result wasn't about offense or defense, or even opponent adjustments. The Ravens had a phenomenal game on special teams; the offense just couldn't turn that into enough points and the defense couldn't keep Ben Roethlisberger out of the end zone. Sam Koch had six punts with no returns, including five that landed inside the 20 and two inside the 10. Justin Tucker hit touchbacks on three of four kickoffs in the near-freezing temperatures. Jacoby Jones had four kickoff returns for 188 yards and a touchdown. Even when the Steelers tried squibbing it, Kyle Juszczyk took it back 16 yards to start the next drive at the Baltimore 37. We scored the Baltimore special teams as being worth an estimated 11.7 points over average in this game, the best single-game special teams performance by any team this year.
Speaking of best performances of the year, how about those Miami Dolphins? I will fully admit that I did not believe in this team at all before the season. They just seemed like an easily ignorable monument to mediocrity, much like their division rivals in Buffalo -- and if one of those teams was going to get its act together, we wrote that it was more likely to be Buffalo. Well, the Bills did get their act together a little bit, but not as much as the Dolphins. Miami was already No. 10 in DVOA before this week but a 37-0 win over San Diego vaults them all the way up to No. 3. The Dolphins also pass Denver and now rank second in defense, the only team behind Detroit. Opponent adjustments are still going to change over the next eight weeks but for now, the Dolphins have the best single game of the year, with 117.8% DVOA for this win. With current opponent adjustments, it is the only single game over 100% all season. (Remember Atlanta's huge win over Tampa Bay? The single-game DVOA is now down to 75.8% because Tampa Bay is just so god awful.)
The Dolphins would be even higher in DVOA if their special teams weren't terrible. Miami ranks 31st in our special teams numbers, ahead of only Detroit, and of course the Lions are only in last place because their field-goal kicking has been so atrocious. Miami is actually fourth in kick return value this year, but 28th or worse in field goals, kickoffs, and net punting.
You may have noticed that we have not gotten to any NFC teams yet. The next three teams in DVOA are all NFC teams (Seattle, Green Bay, Philadelphia) but then the four teams after that are AFC teams again, so we now have AFC teams in seven of the top ten spots in DVOA. Actually, there's a big smush of teams with similar ratings after the top three, especially if we look at the non-adjusted ratings, i.e. those ratings that do not account for either a) opponent strength; b) weather and altitude on special teams; and c) equalizing fumble recoveries. Right now there are nine different teams with non-adjusted VOA somewhere between 12.7% and 15.8%. Seven of those nine teams currently comprise the rest of our top ten; the other two teams are No. 11 New Orleans and No. 12 Detroit, which take a big hit in adjustments because of very easy schedules (and a smaller hit because their raw special teams numbers are inflated by home games indoors). Ratings are so tight that the Chiefs dropped from No. 4 to No. 10 in DVOA this week even though they beat the Jets and saw their non-adjusted rating go up.
Anyway, this is just the beginning of a series of issues this year that lead to advanced metrics rating teams far differently than either conventional wisdom or win-loss records. The imbalance between the conferences is part of that. The tight grouping of teams with ratings all close together is part of that. So is the fact that we've had a lot of huge blowout victories this year, so you'll get a team blowing out another good team one week and then getting routed themselves in a different week. On top of that, we have the weird case of the Arizona Cardinals, whose oddly mediocre DVOA rating was covered in last week's commentary. I will note that the Cardinals' win over Dallas came out as their best single game of the year, so at least they have a positive DVOA rating now. We'll have to see in the next few weeks whether DVOA sees something about the Cardinals that the general public does not, but I don't think a game against Brandon Weeden was the right time to find that out.
For a good hint of just how huge the gap is right now between DVOA and conventional wisdom, check out the ESPN power rankings. Baltimore and Miami, two of our top three teams, aren't even in ESPN's top ten, and of course ESPN has Arizona No. 2 while DVOA puts the Cardinals at No. 16.
The difference between win-loss records and DVOA gives us some topsy-turvy playoff odds as well. Indianapolis may be only eighth in DVOA, with Arizona just 16th, but they are the two teams most likely to make the postseason and they rank third and fourth in our current odds to win the Super Bowl. Baltimore and Miami don't even have a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs despite their impressive DVOA ratings. The Ravens are technically in last place in their division despite such a high DVOA rating, because the entire AFC North has winning records. On that note, here are a couple of interesting outputs from the current playoff odds simulation:
- The entire AFC North finishes with winning records in 16.5 percent of simulations.
- The entire NFC South finishes with losing records in 10.6 percent of simulations.
- Oakland finishes 0-16 in 3.7 percent of simulations.
Finally, let me note that Week 9 is the first time that any game has a strength of less than 95 percent in the weighted DVOA formula, so we'll start to see some differences between regular and weighted DVOA. Seattle, for example, drops three spots if we look at weighted DVOA, while Kansas City moves up four spots.
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Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 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 DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. 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. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 9 are:
- RG Mike Pouncey, MIA (24-HOUR HERO): No blown blocks in 37-0 rout of San Diego.
- MLB Chris Borland, SF: Led all NFL defenders in Week 9 with 18 total tackles, 11 Stops, and 5 Defeats.
- ROLB James Harrison, PIT: 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, 5 run tackles for a combined 5 yards.
- WR Allen Hurns, JAC: Second among Week 9 WR with 67 DYAR; 7 receptions for 112 yards and 2 TD against the No. 4 pass defense in DVOA (Cincinnati).
- LG Matt Tobin, PHI: No sacks allowed; helped Eagles go 5-for-5 converting short-yardage runs.
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All stats pages are now updated with Week 9 information -- or will be in the next few minutes -- including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds.
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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through nine weeks of 2014, 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 for strength of schedule and 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. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 90 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. 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).
109 comments, Last at 08 Nov 2014, 1:38pm
#1 by herewegobrowni… // Nov 04, 2014 - 8:00pm
Interesting that it's predicting CLE to come out with slightly more wins over the rest of the season (from 5 to 8.4, vs. from 5.5 to 8.8) than CIN despite the Browns having a slightly harder schedule and lower DVOA. (Both have 3 home games and 5 road games left so that's not a factor.)
#5 by jamie_k74 // Nov 04, 2014 - 8:55pm
The other interesting thing (to me) about Cleveland is that at 5-3 they're rated a 17.1% playoff chance, while 4-4 New Orleans is an 83.0% chance. The curse of being in a strong division.
Edit; the *strongest* division; average WEI DVOA 9.35% (second strongest AFCW, 7.40%), cf. NFCS, average WEI DVOA -10.83%.
#7 by herewegobrowni… // Nov 04, 2014 - 9:14pm
There are so many 3-loss teams in the AFC playoff picture, and they generally seem to be a tier below the two 2-loss teams (with the "2.5-loss" team sort of in between,) but they are hitting their strides at different rates now, and have much different remaining schedules.
#2 by Cythammer // Nov 04, 2014 - 8:14pm
I was wondering if Miami would be able to stay ahead of the Patriots this week. Apparently they did that and more…
And a team in last place in their division is the second best team in football! That's got to be the only time that's ever happened. Quite amazing. In fact, only one of the top five teams is in first place in their division. That's also got to be very rare.
#4 by jonnyblazin // Nov 04, 2014 - 8:19pm
Seems like the Ravens have mastered the art of putting up respectable DVOA numbers while losing, while stomping teams in victory. It looks like they're reshuffling their secondary, I wonder if that' make a difference the rest of the way. That unit certainly is their biggest weakness.
#39 by Pat // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:02pm
And a team in last place in their division is the second best team in football! That's got to be the only time that's ever happened.
2008 Eagles, week 8. Last place in division (others were 6-2, 6-1, 5-3, and PHI was 4-3), and the best DVOA in football. (OK, so technically I don't know if a team has been the second best, but you get the point.)
And of course the Eagles were only a few minutes away from the Super Bowl that year. So, good company for Baltimore at least.
#50 by johonny // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:48pm
The amazing thing about the Pats is their ability to win the AFC east every year. Even when they don't exactly have the clear cut better team. This team has a great in season presence. The Jets went to those back to back AFC championship games, but NE won the division those years. Miami took that one division title but the Pats got them to a tie and lost the odd NFL tie breakers with bad luck. Miami barely outscored their weak opponents that year. New England with Matt Cassel actually was the better team! Miami is going to be hard pressed to win out to stay one game back of the Pats. I am in awe of the Pats ability to constantly press their division opponents year in and out. Even when they had Matt Cassel they took the division took the division to the end of the season. The franchise is simply better organize and executes a season long plan better than anyone else in that division... probably the whole NFL.
#95 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 06, 2014 - 6:52am
This season has shown what the organisaton (or is it Belichick specifically) does so well - play the long game.
Many were criticising trading Logan Mankins at the end of preseason and by the time the Kansas City game was over that criticism was beginning to look valid and that finally the Patriots dynasty was coming to an end. I think there's a lot of teams that would either have panicked, hit the trade button or just given up for this year.
But the plan was for the longterm. They knew if they could stumble through those opening games they'd find the right mix on the offensive line and a gameplan to fit the personnel they have.
#3 by bubqr // Nov 04, 2014 - 8:17pm
Philly's defensive rating will drop with Demeco Ryans out, but it will be interesting to see what happens on offense. My best guess is that the return of Evan Mathis and Kelce will help the running game significantly(even with Herremans out), allowing for the entire offense to be more efficient, and of course an average Mark Sanchez will get all the credit for the improvement, leading to a Sanchize-mania 2/3 weeks from now.
Kelce by the way, might be the best "in space" OLineman I have ever seen. Mr Muth, if you could one day have a look at the Philly OL that would be great.
#8 by chemical burn // Nov 04, 2014 - 9:42pm
I disagree about losing Ryans being damaging - he's a huge liability in coverage (as is the guy lining up next to him, Trent Cole) and both of the back-ups who will split time filling in for him (Matthews and Acho) have been very good filling in for Kendricks. Ryans strikes me as one of those guys who is so beloved in the locker room that there's no way to consider benching him without a total meltdown, but he's routinely ten yards out of position in coverage and even more useless going after the QB. I also think the strength of their pretty good run defense is the d-line and that basically anybody could do the clean-up work that folks are making out to be his signature. So... I actually think the defense will be better with him and Nate Allen out. Their pass defense (a deceptive 14th in DVOA at mediocre 4.6% sustained by sacks and turnovers) needs to improve desperately if they actually want to be real contenders, so I'll happy take some drop-off in the running defense to achieve that.
But I totally agree Kelce and Mathis improving the o-line considerably - Kelce is just unreal at the second level. There were a few plays this week where McCoy almost seemed to fall down in shock when Kelce got out in front of him 12 yards past the LOS. With Peters having a down year, I think Kelce's presence has the biggest impact on the o-line. If the run game becomes not-terrible (and I'm not sure people realize how putrid McCoy has been so far this year and how much Kelly has fed him the ball despite that) then the offense will open up and make everything easier for Sanchez than Foles has had it at any point in 2014. (And as under-rated as he's been though out his career, Herremans isn't much more than a journeyman at this point, Gardner and Tobin have both looked fine. It was the Molk/Gardner/Herremans-out-of-position combo that really hurt.)
Plus, they have a stretch of bad defenses coming up with Green Bay's 16th ranked squad being the best one they face for a month. They even face 3 of the 5 worst run defenses by DVOA, so I suspect they might be able to run the ball. That's right: Green Bay's defense will be Sanchez's toughest test - GB's 18th ranked pass defense being the highest ranked aspect of defense they'll face with Carolina, Dallas and Tennessee being well below average in both pass and run defense.Sanchez-mania is coming!
#15 by bubqr // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:46am
While I agree about the clear physical limitations of Demeco Ryans, I want to see someone being able to make the same pre-snap calls he does before I'll believe his loss won't impact the defense much. To my surprise, Casey Matthews looked like a NFL player this year, Acho did not look too bad either on passing downs, but I am really not that confident. Especially if both of them have to start.
#66 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 3:12pm
I've heard everybody say Kendricks has just been a beast this off-season and is ready to become the leader of the defense - this week Kelly has been talking about how they're totally confident in Kendricks to make the calls. I mean, the way he's been while healthy, I can believe. I suspect as far as "starting" is concerned, they do with Matthews and Acho what they did to fill in for Kendricks - mix the two of them up in their most basic 3-4 formation but frequently have Cole play with his hand on the ground down for a 4-3 alignment with Brandon Graham at the WILL on passing downs and Barwin and Kendricks at SAM and MIKE respectively. They also switch Barwin into the pseudo-DE position a lot, which is fine in passing down with Cole blitzing from the WILL and Acho or Matthews in at SAM. I just think their front 7 is their strength, especially the d-line and Barwin that having a mediocre player at MIKE (which is what Ryans was to begin with) isn't going to hurt them. Especially if having Acho or Matthews helps them with their weak pass defense (which I don't see how it could hurt.)
Also, just a place to vent: but their first rounder a Vernon Gholston-esque bust or what? All the injuries, subs and multiple-formations at LB and he can't even get on the field? Or at least not without immediately giving up a big play? The goal for him so far seems to be "hopefully, with some coaching and development, he can someday challenge Casey Matthews for a back-up LB job."
#82 by bubqr // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:22pm
Yeah, Marcus Smith has been a major disappointment, he really did not show much at all when he was on the field other than being able to run quite fast in a straight line. He looked quite "weak", lost, could not get off blocks (even TE ones), and did not show anything in terms of pass rush. I know pass rushers are usually slow to develop, but I did not expect him to look that bad...Even Jerome McDougle showed some things in his rookie year.
So far, he reminds me of Bryan Smith, that 3rd round pick 230 pounds DE that was undersized "just because he could not afford proper nutrition in college" and would "dominate with his explosive first step after adding a few pounds". He was cut I think a year later.
#88 by ElJefe // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:40pm
Well ... not to actually defend Marcus Smith, but ...
I think the lack of impact could have been anticipated. College 4-3 DE to Pro 3-4 OLB is probably the most difficult transition for a player to make, and the Eagles' roster didn't allow for the usual crutch of "just rush the passer" because Trent Cole and Brandon Graham exist, do the job better than Smith can as a rookie, and neither has been injured this season. Hell, the Eagles even have another undersized 4-3 DE to rush the passer in Vinny Curry so they can't sneak Smith onto the field that way either. I can't decide whether it is more damning to Smith that he can't beat out any of these guys for playing time, or it is a credit to the coaching staff that they won't just throw him out there to justify the pick.
All of this is really an argument for not using a 1st-round pick on this particular position, this particular year. So, no Gholston-esque bust yet, but check back next year at this time when Graham and Cole are both gone ...
#89 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:50pm
Yeah, I'm know I'm being too hard on him probably, but just watch that big Roy Helu pass in the Redskins game where he's the linebacker in coverage and just... oof. That is rough. It's also a shame because they'd clearly love to reduce Cole and Graham's roles in addition to having injuries at the position and he just is disaster every time he steps on the field. I didn't expect him to be Khalil Mack but he's a first round pick, for Pete's sake...
#6 by Vandal // Nov 04, 2014 - 8:57pm
Denvers defense gives up 36 points, and is scored -10% dvoa, and 1%voa. That's laughable: Either it's a coding error, or time for soul searching, or just link to 538 for the elo ratings, because dvoa is worthless.
#9 by Rick_and_Roll // Nov 04, 2014 - 10:11pm
I don't think their defense was great against the Patriots, especially on 3rd downs, but it's been very good this season overall and DVOA rates for the season, and doesn't over-react to one game.
Turnovers led to 14 points on the two INTs that were returned inside or or near the red zone
Special teams led to 10 points, 7 on the punt return and 3 on the PR interference call that allowed NE to start in Den territory and easily get into FG range.
#16 by Otis Taylor89 // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:05am
"I don't think their defense was great against the Patriots, especially on 3rd downs, but it's been very good this season overall and DVOA rates for the season, and doesn't over-react to one game."
See MIA-SD to disprove this theory.
#20 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 8:51am
Well yeah, Miami had a single game DVOA of 117.8%. To put that in context, that's almost twice as high as New England (64.1%). And based on those ratings, Miami's increase in DVOA this week (+11.0%) relative to New England's (+7.0%) also makes sense. DVOA isn't overreacting; it's just accounting for the fact that Miami played what it judges to be by far the best game of this season.
#22 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:06am
Yeah, I'm sure there's a limit to the amount of VOA the Patriots offense can get from those short scoring drives—a three-and-out field goal is actually probably worth negative VOA. Likewise, the Broncos defense can only be punished so much for those scores. I am somewhat surprised though that the Patriots defense didn't get more credit from VOA (they obviously get a ton from DVOA) given the turnovers as well as the fact that Denver's offense had a -10.0% VOA.
#65 by Pat // Nov 05, 2014 - 3:10pm
You discount the punt return TD, but not the 17 other points that New England scored on extremely short fields? Not at all? Huh?
Denver's defense was fine - New England's starting field position was the 37 yard line. That's almost 10 yards more than NFL average. Times 13 drives, that's the equivalent of something like 10.4 points.
So with average starting field position, you're talking about more like 26 points. The interception was worth 4 points to the offense. So now the defense basically scored 4 points, and gave up 26 points, or a differential of 22 points. Guess what? That's about league average - which would be 0% DVOA.
Just looking at points allowed is a really, really limited way to look at a defense.
#10 by chemical burn // Nov 04, 2014 - 10:12pm
Philly and NE both at 14% DVOA - is anybody in the world picking Philly straight-up in that match-up? (Although it would be delightful to see Sanchez lead the Eagles to a Superbowl win over them. Then you could finally say what we all know to be true: Sanchez owns Brady in the playoffs.)
#11 by dmstorm22 // Nov 04, 2014 - 10:17pm
Probably not, but it might be closer than we think, especially if the game was in Philadelphia.
The more interesting one was IND being 0.2% behind, and pretty close in all three areas. That game in two weeks should be good.
Then again IND gives up all the yards to TEs and Gronk is on fire. Still, that team has been great at home against good teams in the Luck/Pagano era ('12 - beat GB & HOU; '13 - beat SEA & DEN; '14 - beat BAL, killed CIN to a pulp).
Could very well decide the #2 (if the Colts win - schedule after that is really easy) seed. Sunday Night, will be an old-school crowd. See if the Colts can carry the torch of the rivalry that ended when Peyton left. First two meetings between those teams were not close - both in Foxboro.
BTW, for Baltimore - you don't have to go too far back to find a similar team: Baltimore in 2009. THat team finished 9-7, lost to basically every good team they played in close games, but beat down some sad shlub teams, and finished #1 in DVOA. That Ravens team was better, but having the 5-4 Ravens at #2 isn't that strange. Their big wins were giant wins.
#12 by chemical burn // Nov 04, 2014 - 10:36pm
No home field advantage - I was thinking literally this year where the only place they could meet is the Superbowl. But Philly's pass defense is horrible and relies on the blitz to generate pressure and confusion. That's a horrible recipe for trying to beat Brady and Belicheck. I also have my doubts about how their offense matches up against the Pat's defense. I think it would be a real blowout, something like the 51-20 loss the Eagles suffered to the Broncos last year.
I agree the Colts/Pats game should be fun because the Colts have the pace and passing game to keep up. I also think the Steelers are emerging as another threat to the Pats in that sense - both the Colts and Steelers are quick-strike teams that swallow huge chunks of yards very quickly on a variety of deep routes, which I think actually sets them apart slightly from the Broncos who have been relying on cranking out consistent yardage from shallow-crosses, bubble screens and pick plays mixed in with deep shots. Colts and Steelers go deep with great success all game long...
#17 by Otis Taylor89 // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:30am
Not sold on IND defense. Vonte Davis has been playing as well or better than any CB in the league, but if Sergio Brown has to cover anyone then there is trouble in River City. If they play a team that is deep with receivers they may need to score 45 points to get a shot at winning.
#26 by Bernie // Nov 05, 2014 - 10:40am
I actually think the IND-NE game is going to be a bloodbath (although I am Costanza, so take that with a grain of salt). The Colts cannot cover Tight ends, or Backs coming out of the backfield, so Gronkowski and Vereen are going to tear them to pieces. As much praise as Vontae Davis has received, he really only defends the sideline well. Any receivers who run crisp routes have success against him.
The Colts only hope is to play flawlessly on offense, and that requires the O-Line to get it's shit together and give Luck time. If they can keep the pocket clean, Luck will be able to find his guys all over the field, but I just can't imagine Belichick not having the perfect scheme to disrupt the pass.
#13 by RickD // Nov 04, 2014 - 10:52pm
When you see numbers like that, remember that it's averaged over the whole season. NE has been much stronger in the most recent five games than in the first four. If you were to match the Eagles against a team that was 44% likely to be the September Pats, you might well favor the Eagles.
Also, DVOA thinks Nick Foles is still the Eagles' QB. It may be in for a rude awakening.
#14 by chemical burn // Nov 04, 2014 - 10:59pm
Ha - I guarantee their offensive DVOA shoots way up over the next month. Their o-line will have its four best players on the field for the first time together all season, they play a host of bad defenses, their running game will finally exist because their best run blockers are back, Kendricks is back at LB, Matthews gets better every game and will push Cooper out of the #2 spot, Polk is back from the IR and already extremely useful, and Nick Foles has been disappointing so far especially in terms of avoidable turnovers.
(I guess I also think the Eagles are getting ready to improve wildly, so they might be in the same boat of the "September team" being notably worse.)
#36 by gomer_rs // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:37am
I think what people are missing about Chip Kelly is his attempt at Quarterback proofing his offense. Obviously when he was running out Matt Barkley that wasn't the case but I think he'll get WRs open by scheme and make Sanchize look gooood.
Also, introducing Chip Kelly like concepts in Miami has made Tannehill look gooood.
I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.
#64 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 3:02pm
I'm not missing anything: the extremely popular idea that Kelly is "quarterback-proofing" his offense is thus far total bullshit. Of the 3 QB's to start for him in Philadelphia, 2 have been awful (last year, Vick was 24th in the league with -6.9% DVOA, just about the same of Kellen Clemens; Barkley, as you mention, was even worse at -34.9% or just about the same as Brandon Weeden.) So two out of the three QB's in this supposedly QB-proof system have been terrible. Aaaaand that's only if you are willing to blame Foles for somehow breaking this supposedly QB-proof system in 2014 and coming in at an ugly 19th in DVOA.
So, you can either separate Foles 2013 and 2014 into two separate players and say 3 out of 4 QB's have been bad in the QB-proof system or say that the QB-proof system has produced two awful QB's and one (on average) mediocre QB. Either way, what seems like a fluke in Kelly's system is the lack of turnover with Foles as a starter in 2013. Every other QB playing for him has produced turnovers at an alarming rate, including the latest QB to step into this miraculous system on Sunday, Mark Sanchez.
That all said, I still think Sanchez will look good for the reasons I stated above (and that he was poorly served as a player by the staff and scheme in NY.) Also: I called the offensive decline for the Eagles this year repeatedly and it has played out how I predicted: more injuries, a lack of WR depth and an increased turnover rate. The awful run-game and Kelly's stupid insistence at "running to win" were a surprise and, quite frankly, should have cost them one or two of those closer games. Kelly has been a pretty good coach and they've weathered the injury/suspension storm amazingly, but don't treat it like any guy can step into his Amazing QB-Proof System and play like Foles 2013 because they don't.
* One more thing to consider: Foles caused a minor controversy when he circuitously seemed to credit his lack of turnovers in 2013 his coaching under Andy Reid... which fits perfectly with Reid's career and coaching.
#71 by gomer_rs // Nov 05, 2014 - 4:40pm
When you "quarterback proof" your offense it doesn't mean that it makes bad QBs good, it means that it works with bad or average QB play. If you go back to the Oregon system they had two elite QBs, Dennis Dixon and Marcus Mariota, and two passable to terrible QBs, Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas. All four of those QBs led incredibly explosive offenses.
When Chip Kelly got to the NFL he had an incredibly productive offense with the 3 headed QB combination of Nick Foles, Michael Vick, and Matt Barkley. He had Foles go down and the Sanchize, who I think everyone can agree is average at best, performs at a high level.
The greatest ineffiancy in football is the relative value of the QB to every other player on the team. If you can have an offense with average to bad QB, by how they are playing, and produce a top 10 offense than you can play moneyball in the NFL. You'll never have to pay 15-20 mil a year for a QB and be the deepest team in the league. That would be the QB proof offense.
Kelly's offense is about spreading the field to run. It works in college and last year it worked in the NFL. He's even keeping his head above water with the walking wounded offensive line that would make my Seahawks proud so I wouldn't knock it too hard.
I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.
#72 by gomer_rs // Nov 05, 2014 - 4:59pm
The Eagles finished 2013 2nd in the NFL with an offensive DVOA of 22.9% even though their QBs were -6.9%, -34.9%, and Nick Foles. That seems pretty QB proof to me.
I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.
#74 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 5:48pm
But Nick Foles played otherworldly last year - his numbers were literally comparable to the best numbers Peyton Manning ever has put up in his entire career. I think Nick Foles, DJax, LeSean McCoy and that o-line are an excellent offense, not an excellent QB-proof "system." If Vick had remained the QB, they wouldn't have made the playoffs (they were 3-5 when his injuries started to be insurmountable) and their offense was mediocre, nowhere near #2 in DVOA. Foles had a great year, that's why they had a great DVOA - I'm trying to disprove a tautology here. You're saying the offense is good no matter the level of QB play - as proof, looks how good they were with some bad QB play mixed with amazing, otherworldly, seriously all-time great QB play (whether or not Foles ever repeats it does not diminish it) and ignore how bad they've been this year (and last year) with bad QB play.
If you take out the games started by Foles in 2013, Kelly's offense in the NFL has been well below average. And he's barely gotten a slightly better level of production from Foles in 2014 than Reid did from the guy as a rookie in 2012 (30th ranked -30% DVOA.) Without Foles, Kelly has never gotten anomalously good production from his offense. Their running attack under Vick was strong, but EVERY running attack with Vick at the helm has been strong - look at the Atlanta rush DVOA from his years there. Most rushing attacks with scrambling threats at QB have top-notch running games (RGIII's teams, Wilson's Seahawks, Kap's 9ers, McNabb's Eagles, etc.) I'm extremely hesitant to credit that success to Kelly, especially since the Eagles already had similar success with the same RB, QB, WR's and o-line under Reid. This year, with Foles and not Vick as QB, suddenly the rushing game is awful - which at very least doesn't seem very QB-proof. (Seriously - McCoy it has been understated this season how awful McCoy has been. Most rushes for a loss and stuffs in the league by a comfortable margin.)
I guess your argument is that bad QB play won't hurt the offense, but so far it has. In 2013 under Vick & Barkley (with a losing record for both as starters) and in 2014 Kelly's offenses have been bad-to-mediocre. I don't know what else to say. The majority of QB play under Kelly has been bad-to-mediocre and the rushing game has been clearly influenced by the QB play. If the argument is that for Kelly's offense doesn't need a passer as good as Peyton Manning to be #2 in DVOA, history doesn't prove that because the only time his NFL teams have had a #2 offensive DVOA is when their QB was literally putting up numbers commensurate with Peyton Manning.
Now again, I think Sanchez is going to look good coming up, not just for the reasons listed above but also (and brace yourself for this) I think Sanchez might be the best passer Kelly has worked with. (Also suggesting what Sanchez did this Sunday is "performing at a high level" is not borne out by DVOA or watching what actually happened on the field - he was mediocre. The Kelly standard.) Certainly, the crop of Vick, Foles, Barkley and Sanchez contains only flawed passers and there are legit reasons Sanchez went where he did in the draft. What I don't think it is, is some Kelly offensive genius because I haven't seen any on the field, mainly mediocrity under Kelly and in 2014 a team relying on defense and special teams for wins.
(If want to see genius, watch a guy now in red & white turn a team with a perennial spot in the Top 5 of the draft into a consistent playoff contender in one of toughest divisions in football...)
#103 by mehllageman56 // Nov 06, 2014 - 1:36pm
Nick Foles career completion percentage: 61.6
Michael Vick career completion percentage: 56.2
Mark Sanchez career completion percentage: 55.2
Hell, even Geno Smith has a better career completion percentage than Sanchez: 55.9. No one can miss a dump off to the running back as well as Mark Sanchez.
#105 by Will Allen // Nov 06, 2014 - 3:28pm
Yeah, throwing in a Jets offense with Rex Ryan as a head coach is a lot like throwing in a Eagles offense with Chip Kelly as a head coach.
I really don't have an opinion on the relative accuracy of the three, but I am pretty dubious about the notion of completion percentage as a perfect proxy for throwing accuracy, to the exclusion of other factors which correlate with completion percentage, and I just think it isn't crazy to suppose that Sanchez, if all variables were controlled, could be more accurate than Vick or Foles.
#107 by chemical burn // Nov 06, 2014 - 5:05pm
That was purely opinion on my part. He's got better footwork and a quicker release than foles and has more zip on his intermediate routes where foles, especially this year has tried to loft them in. Vick was washed up by the time Kelly got to town, always had horrible footwork and major accuracy issues. He also had some of the worst pocket presence. All though qualities I'm throwing under the vague umbrella of "passing skills."
(Whereas it always seemed like sanchez's problem was horrible decision-making and bone-heade brain-fart type mistakes. )
#75 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 6:01pm
If you break it down, under Kelly, this is how the offense has performed:
Vick as a starter:
Bad passing game
Amazing running game
Awful passing game
Bad running game
Amazing passing game
Good (but NOT amazing) running game
Bad passing game
Awful running game
I just don't see how any of that adds up to QB proof. What I personally take from it is that Foles CAN be great with a healthy o-line, a functional running game and a great WR to work with. But I think a lot of QB's can be successful in those circumstances, so I'm not sure what it means.
It's just the idea like "you can plug anyone in there and they'll be fine" - well with Vick and Barkley they weren't, they were bad. And this year with Foles they've been bad (but with the very reasonable excuse of injuries and losing their #1 WR.) I just don't understand why folks are so quick to credit Kelly's system and "genius" for the second half of 2013 when they had what's on paper a loaded offense with McCoy, Djax (better advanced stats in Washington this year, btw) and that o-line with 3 All-Pro caliber players and the 4th overall pick in the draft. That Vick and Barkley couldn't be productive with those guys says something worse about Kelly than folks seem willing to acknowledge.
#76 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 05, 2014 - 6:50pm
On the other hand, if he can plug in Sanchez level QBs and get 18th best offense, it would mean he could devote many more resources to defense.
If the Bears got the 18th best offense consistently from Grossman/Orton, they really could have gone places.
(just looking at current DVOA and projecting Sanchez to equal Foles)
#77 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:32pm
I don't know - even with an excellent defense, the 18th best offense just isn't going to win a Superbowl and the Eagles aren't going to be happy with first round playoffs loses and championship game failures. Plus, the defense isn't great, it's pretty dubious: very good against the run and below average against the pass buoyed by blitzing and turnovers. I just don't think you can win in the NFL with that. Guys like Rodgers and Brees are going to destroy them in the playoffs. Like last year, when they committed to ameliorating the pass against the Saints and got the ball run down their throats. That Bears defense is almost the exact opposite of this Eagles team: no blitzing, amazing coverage LB's, an extremely competent secondary that minimized big plays. This team has to blitz to get pressure, their LB's can't cover shit and their CB's and SS are almost hilariously prone to giving up big plays.
As far as devoting resources to fix that defense, the big problem coming up is that Foles is still a question mark (I personally think he did well in 2013 all things considered) and he and Maclin both have their contracts up soon. If Maclin's season keeps going this way he's going to want top dollar and I imagine the fact that they low-balled him with an awful one-year contract this past off-season means he won't be in the mood for hometown discounts. Three of the o-line starters are getting old and two of them (Herremans and Peters) have really been showing their age. They're going to have to make some big, expensive decisions on offense this off-season. Sanchez playing at the same levels as Foles (which I think will happen but be deceptive because of the run-game and o-line health Sanchez will benefit from) is sort of a disaster because there will be real temptation to let Foles walk to address all the other concerns.
That's why the QB-proofing idea bothers me: they're potentially going to let a good QB walk because he struggled behind massive o-line injuries/suspensions, a bad wry corps and a horrible running game. Kelly clearly doesn't like Foles (partly I think because he believes his own hype) and along with letting Jackson go for NOTHING (can you imagine this year's Maclin playing across from this year's Jackson?!) I worry that he's going to dismantle a well-built team and replace them all with "his guys" like Sanchez and Huff and Maehl whatever new first round draft busts he brings in. I think he's going to QB-proof his team right out of contention: I'm just dreading 2015 when he drafts some raw QB at #20 in the draft (he seemed determined that all his picks be notably raw and in need of development, for some reason: Johnson, Smith, Matthews, Ertz, Huff, Logan, Wolfe) to develop on the bench after deciding to let Maclin and Foles walk to go with Sanchez at QB...
#78 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:33pm
The Bears were the 2nd seed with the 28th ranked offense, went to the Superbowl with the 20th ranked offense (which got worse throughout the year 26th weighted), and played the Superbowl champion Packers to a 1 score game with the 28th ranked offense missing it's starting QB.
18th would have been the best offense any of the Lovie Smith teams ever had.
#79 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:41pm
True - their 2006 Superbowl team had a 20th ranked offense, but with more or less the same DVOA as this Eagles team. And a much better defense. Incomparably better - #1 overall, but more importantly #1 against the pass versus 14th for this Eagles team. I think Eagles defense needs to get much, much, much better to be in the discussion with those excellent Bears defenses. What's more, by his own account, Kelly pays no attention to the defense. He doesn't even sit in on their meetings during the week - that's the guy I should trust to build a defense/special teams first juggernaut like the 2006 Bears?
(Also, I just looked and in addition to Maclin, Kelce and Peters have their contracts up at the end of the year. There's no way they keep a single one of them on the cheap. There's a good chance they struggle to be even ranked 18 next year.)
#85 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:45pm
My point was, if Kelly can coax the 18th best offense out of subpar quality QBs. Then theoretically, they could invest more heavily than other teams in defense and possibly produce very good defenses.
#86 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 10:18pm
But my point is that there's not a clear picture of what Kelly can get from quarterbacks and whether Foles qualifies as subpar. He;s gotten worse than 18th ranked passing performances out of Vick and Barkley (Barkley is definitely subpar; Vick was very good in 2010 & ok in 2011, so not sure if that qualifies as subpar. Also the greatest rushing QB of all time and a #1 overall pick, so a QB with readily obvious major talents. Obviously, also probably washed up by 2013.)
I personally think there is a real chance their 18th ranking this year is a testament to Foles handling massive o-line issues, a bad wr corps and an awful running game, not evidence of his "subpar"-ness. And that when the offense is healthy with Foles at the helm, they are likely to be much better than an 18th ranked team. Like last year. When he was as good as Peyton Manning. I think putting a subpar QB at the helm of this year's team would not result in the 18th ranked unit in the league. I think if you had Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton leading this team through the first 8 games, they would be among the worst in the league. But all of that is fairly unclear.
Also, they HAVE invested heavily in their defense with their line anchored by high 1st and 3rd rounders, the LB corps filled out by 2 expensive free agents and their secondary consisting of a 2nd round pick and 3 expensive free agents. It's hard to see how they could invest more on their defense - the problem is that they haven't had great talent evaluation like this year's 1st rounder pick being a disaster and not being able to even get on the field despite significant injuries to the LB corps (and the coordinators enthusiasm for multiple fronts and situational substitutions.) The CB's they've brought in have, one has been awful the other only mediocre in comparison to the awful one. I'm not sure what else they can do to invest in their defense. It's not a bunch of journeymen and low round developmental picks in there.
#91 by ElJefe // Nov 06, 2014 - 12:03am
Just to fill in correct contractual information:
Nick Foles is signed through 2015; had he continued his excellent play he very likely would have cashed in this off-season, but now I would guess he doesn't get extended until during the 2015 season.
Jason Peters is signed through 2018.
Jason Kelce is signed through 2020.
Jeremy Maclin was low-balled on a multi-year contract offer (justifiably) and chose to take a market-value 1-year contract. The Eagles currently have $20MM in cap room for 2014 to use in offering extensions to current players.
#92 by chemical burn // Nov 06, 2014 - 12:29am
Shit - the stuff on the Eagles own site is all wrong! I assumed that source would be correct! That's all a relief (and also proof how little attention I pay to contracts, allow me to never speak on the subject again!)
#93 by chemical burn // Nov 06, 2014 - 12:48am
Looking at it again, I'm clearly reading it wrong, but I can't figure it out because it really seems like Peters is only signed through the end of this year. Foles is signed through 2015, right? How long/expensive was Cooper's new contract? Also, it's unclear to me how long Williams and Fletcher are signed for... Anyway, this proves I'm certainly no cap-ologist.
(Also, I think the Maclin lowball was 100% justified, just that it was clearly going to bite them in the ass if he had a career year, which seems all but inevitable at this point...)
It's funny, in the Reid era, I just never worried about contracts because they always managed them so consistently, extended players early to long deals and then always got rid of them a year too early (at least) and never a year too late. With Kelly, I'm now trying to parse this stuff because I second guess so many of their decisions... Worrying about bad contract management is a Washington Redskins fan's problem.
#97 by ElJefe // Nov 06, 2014 - 9:33am
The information you seek is here: www.overthecap.com/salary-cap/philadelphia-eagles
Cooper's contract was 5 yrs/$22.5 MM. A relative bargain if he were a legitimate #2, and not much of a burden so long as he continues to play like #2. He won't be cut until 2016 due to the structure of the contract.
Fletcher expires this season, Williams will be cut this off-season ahead of his $6.5MM base salary in 2015.
Trent Cole will be released ahead of a $10MM base in 2015.
Somehow, the Eagles only have 11 free agents after this season (for context, the Cowboys have 22). Jeremy Maclin is the only true starter among them; Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen are also free agents but I figure the team would be looking to upgrade at their positions. I fully expect Maclin to sign an extension very soon, with a structure that takes advantage of the ~$16MM of cap space the Eagles have remaining this season.
#106 by chemical burn // Nov 06, 2014 - 4:56pm
I've been dreaming of the day nate Allen is finally gone. That said, having a to do a do-over on 3 of the 4 starters in the secondary isn't exactly thrilling. I'm really sad to see coles go, one of the few players it seems crazy not to see retire in an eagles uniform...
#80 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:45pm
I agree Philly's defense isn't good enough, but the 2007 Giants won a championship with the 18th best (by DVOA) offense. The 2008 Steelers had the 21st best offense. The 2011 Ravens were 13th best, but that was a weird group, with sudden improvement in their offensive line in December. Of course, if we go back to a less passer friendly era, we have the 2002 Bucs and 2000 Ravens, winning championships with lower echelon offenses. It can still be done, even if it won't be by the Eagles.
#83 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:28pm
Yes, if the Eagles get a defense as good as the 2008 Steelers, 2000 Ravens and 2002 Bucs, I will indeed feel very good about their championship chances. Again, in addition to all of those teams having the #1 overall defense in DVOA, they also all had had world-class pass defenses in particular and the Eagles this year are ranked 14th. So even if the Eagles improve to one of the best overall defenses in the league (not impossible) there's no way their pass defense will ever be good enough.
If you want to argue that teams should emulate the 2007 Giants and (and I'm assuming you mean) 2012 Ravens as a way of winning Superbowls, you are welcome to it. I think both those team have in common amazing defensive lines and great deep balls.
Anyway, I think the Eagles offense will end up in the Top 12, maybe even higher depending on how much Kelce and Mathis boost the running game. Which could be a huge amount. And obviously depending on if Sanchez is competent, which I am very confident he will be, but is hardly a given considering his history of fumbling into butts.
#87 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:33pm
I think teams should take whatever path best suits their existing roster, which sometimes will entail blowing up that existing roster. I agree with you that the Eagles' defense is not so good that they can be confident of making the playoffs, and then winning 3 or 4 playoff games, given the quality of their offense. I also agree that Sanchez has a good chance of being a whole lot better than what he was with the Jets.
#90 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:59pm
I don't know how confident to be in Sanchez, I'm surprised by how good I'm feeling about him though. He was so poorly served in NY and I watch a lot of Jets games, so I saw the highs and the lows. I mean just this Sunday he was calling out audibles and making pre-snap adjustments and was doing a good job and in NY he literally wasn't allowed to call audibles. That was most notoriously highlighted in Steelers Championship game where he was playing out of his mind in the second half and then by everyone involved's account he couldn't audible out of the obviously doomed play-calls during the goal-line stand.
But the Eagles' roster on offense is not in need of blowing up. Or if you're going to blow it up, guys like Riley Cooper and Josh Huff had better not be key pieces of the reconstruction. Jackson was an incredibly productive player with an entire year left on his contract - they got nothing by jettisoning him. Their secondary is in need of being blown up (and please, let me press the button to trigger that explosion.) And that secondary, the part of the roster most in need of reconstruction, is only position group populated entirely with Kelly's players.
#81 by gomer_rs // Nov 05, 2014 - 7:58pm
Well considering the rate of defensive improvement from Kelly year 1 to Kelly year 2 I would actually not be to down on what he's doing on D. More importantly if Foles looks for a Andy Dalton sized contract based on his performance the Eagles really should consider letting him walk. Especially since there are a raft of marginal NFL arms with accuracy and some mobility that would be a better athletic fit for Kelly's system.
I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.
#84 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:30pm
Except defense is unstable from year to year. I have no idea what kind of contract Foles will look for, nor do I personally have a solid idea of what he's worth. I do know that Kelly has utterly whiffed on some of his biggest personnel decisions so far like signing Riley Cooper to a big contract this off-season and drafting Smith in the first round. He's got low mark for how far under his draft position Johnson has performed and letting DeSean Jackson walk while getting nothing in return for him. Again Jackson's production is huge and shrugging off a Maclin/Jackson #1/#2 is just insane, especially when the plan clearly was a Maclin/Cooper #1/#2 which has already failed. Jackson was still under contract and they had plenty of cap space!
His free agent signings have been a mixed bag of expensive big names with some truly awful misses (like Cary Williams drawing one of the biggest paychecks on the team) and definite successes (Jenkins, Sproles and Barwin.) All of his high draft picks have been slow to develop and guys like Logan, Johnson & Matthews seem like they could have awfully low ceilings on their talent. Smith is a bust. In the context of Foles, I just don't trust Kelly to evaluate personal and make the right decisions. His best players on both sides of the ball are, to a man, Reid guys - and some of their very best players are guys I saw make huge stride as they were developed by Reid: McCoy, Kelce and Maclin all became the players they are under a different coach.
I don't know the value of Foles because his 2013 is so insanely good. If that's his ceiling, I think it's in their best interest to try to recreate that success a couple more times before moving on to this supposed raft of talent NFL QB's with superior accuracy, mobility and arm strength. I think Sanchez coming in and performing well is likely going to be a disaster for the team long-term because I don't believe in the Kelly regime's talent evaluation and development. They're going to believe they made Sanchez that much better and not care that the o-line stabilization (getting back 2 All Pro caliber lineman) leads to less pressure on the QB from both fewer sacks and an improved running game. And then throw in the development of Matthews and Ertz and Sanchez will go 25 of 40 for 300 yards 2 TD's and 2 picks a game and his raw stats will look just as good as Foles. Yay, we're geniuses, bring on that raft of QB's with a higher ceiling than Foles!
(Which again, Foles has a ceiling of at least Peyton Manning. Think about that. I don't believe he'll accomplish that with any consistency but 99.9% of NFL QB's will never, ever, in their entire career have a 10 game stretch that good. And Kelly has never had another QB perform even one quarter as well.)
#101 by gomer_rs // Nov 06, 2014 - 10:52am
Don't knock their talent eval yet. Most so called "great talent evaluators" like Jimmy Johnson, Pete Carrol, or Bill Belichick, do so by ensuring they have a lot of opportunities to be right. The Seahawks made more roster moves to start the Pete Carrol era than most the rest of the NFL combined. Jimmy Johnson got, after subsequent trades, 53 draft picks for one player. Bill Belichick basically invented the we'll always trade down for more picks mentality.
Great talent evaluation in the NFL is about giving yourself enough pulls at the slot machine.
I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.
#18 by cstoos // Nov 05, 2014 - 8:17am
I am curious how KC Defense DVOA can go from a -5.2% to a -0.2% (+5% Delta) after holding the Jets to just 10 points, which was their second lowest output of the season.
I assume it is almost solely an effect of SD's performance in Miami, but outliers like that shouldn't have THAT much impact this late in the season.
The SD thing may be wrong though, since at the same time Denver's Defensive DVOA only went from -17.5% to -15.6% (+1.9% Delta) after giving up 43 points and 400 yards.
#46 by Pat // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:36pm
Looking at points allowed isn't a great metric for the defense. There can be lots of reasons why a good performance by an offense doesn't translate into points.
In this game, specifically, Kansas City's best defense was in fact their offense and special teams, which put them up 21-7 at the half and forced the Jets to start pressing in the 4th quarter, abandoning at least 9 relatively safe points from field goals, and a fair amount of field position as well.
The Chiefs weren't *so* far ahead that they could really allow all of that yardage freely, especially because the Jets were moving the ball quickly. Really only the last drive from the Jets could be considered pointless.
#21 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:05am
The Vikings are quite credible on defense and special teams. Their offense has been hideous, for a variety of reasons. They may get a HOFer back for the last 7 games, a guy who can make somebody like Patterson very dangerous, and can give their rookie QB much easier reads. It might be a worthwhile team to pay attention to for the last two months after all. Is this a season where 9 wins gets a wild card spot?
#23 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:19am
On the playoff odds page it looks like there are currently three NFC teams in wild card position with 10.2 (GB), 9.8 (SEA) and 9.5 (DAL) mean projected wins, with a dropoff after that to 7.6 (SF), 7.0 (CHI) and 6.9 (MIN). There's no reason to rule any of those latter three out, especially given the injuries to Foles and Romo and possible regression from Arizona, but they're going to have to win the games head-to-head with those teams they're competing with (i.e. SF vs. SEA & ARI, CHI & MIN vs. GB) to close that gap.
#24 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 9:32am
The Vikings aren't going to win in Miami in week 16, it seems to me, unless Miami somehow gets a wild card spot wrapped up by then. Winning in Detroit is a huge task, unless Detroit's defense regresses. If Peterson gets back, beating the Packers in Minneapolis is doable, as is winning their other games. They have a chance, something I would not have predicted after they lost on the last play in Buffalo. Once again, the future is hard to see in the NFL, which is why I watch.
#25 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 10:10am
For sure, especially with this many games left those mean win projections have plenty of room to move. If the Bears beat the Packers this week the non-Detroit NFC North teams are all in a cluster at 5-4/4-5, and Detroit has what looks like a tough game vs. Miami. And I left them out before, but the Giants still probably have a shot too given that they have the 29th easiest remaining schedule by DVOA (easiest by SRS) and the QB uncertainty in Philly and Dallas.
#32 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:22am
Detroit's next three games are absolutely brutal (Mia, @Ari, @NE). I wouldn't be shocked if they lose all three. If they don't win at least one of those, I think the Packers end up taking the division easily, and 10-6 is very iffy to get a wildcard spot in the NFC.
#38 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:44am
That is a pretty rough stretch in the immediate future, but over the course of the entire rest of the season GB and DET have pretty similar SOSs. One thing the Packers do have going for them is that their three toughest remaining games (PHI, NE, DET) are all at home. But they are sitting a game back to start.
#30 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:07am
Ha! I live in Illinois so I've seen my fair share, although not either of the last two. They've had some big losses, but most of them at least appear to have been to good teams and I don't think they're quite as bad as they've looked recently. Falling to 3-6 would probably just about end it, but I do think they still have a decent chance against the Packers this weekend.
#33 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:24am
I may just be overly pessimistic about the Packers defense, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bears offense finally break out and have a huge day. They moved the ball almost at will in Week 4 before getting an unlucky break before halftime and then just making a couple of mistakes in the second half. Cutler won't have any margin to make mistakes again, especially if Rodgers comes out hot, but I don't think it's too far-fetched.
#41 by Steve in WI // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:25pm
The offense is definitely due for a breakout game, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. Look for the Bears to have great success running the ball early against the Packers defense, at which point Trestman will start calling 90% pass plays because that's what he does.
Honestly, I see it going much like the first game: the Packers move the ball at will, while the Bears don't play terribly on offense but can't keep up. Also, Cutler will throw one interception on 4th down when the team is losing by 21 points, and then the sports talk narrative all week will be "Cutler turns the ball over too much! It's all his fault!!!"
It is interesting, though. As pessimistic as I am about the Bears' chances of turning this thing around, with five divisional games left they really do control their own destiny. Winning all five of those games (somehow) would put them in great position against Green Bay and Detroit. The problem is that I don't see any scenario where they don't need at least 10 wins to make the playoffs, and that means they have to go 7-1.
#49 by dank067 // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:43pm
One thing worth noting is that if the Bears do beat Green Bay and take at least one from Detroit it will probably have the effect of dragging the record needed to make the playoffs down closer to 9. They also get a shot at Dallas. (This same logic applies to San Francisco vs. Arizona and Seattle; they also still have H2H tiebreakers w/ Philly and Dallas.) But yeah, for the most part I think you're on point.
#56 by Steve in WI // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:46pm
Barring an injury to Rodgers or an inexplicable collapse, I don't see the Packers ending up with fewer than 10 wins. Even if the Bears manage to beat them, the Vikings/Bills/Falcons/Bucs games look like easy wins for the Pack. Eagles/Lions/Patriots could go either way (although I'd favor the Patriots, if they keep playing the way they've played for the last few weeks), but I really don't see them dropping all three of those. That said, in my hypothetical where the Bears go 5-1 in the division, if both teams ended up with 9 wins the Bears would have the tiebreaker.
The Lions are more interesting. The only really easy-looking games they have left are the Bucs and maybe the Vikings. The rest could really go either way. I could see the Lions finishing anywhere from 7-9 if they collapse in epic fashion to maybe 12-4 if they finish strong. I do think the Lions are very likely to finish with a poorer record than the Packers, and if the Bears can beat them twice they won't have to worry about tiebreakers.
Oh well, this whole thought experiment is going to seem pretty silly when the Bears lose 45-24 on Sunday night...
#63 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 3:01pm
Detriot really does seem primed to have one of those Detroit-esque ends to the season where at the mid-way they're tentatively entertaining thoughts of a first-round bye but when the dust settled they end up missing the playoffs altogether. I think a 10-6 team is going to miss the playoffs in the NFC this year, I really think that whoever doesn't win the division amongst Dallas, the Eagles, GB, Detroit, Seattle and SF could all end up with the same 10-6 record. And that's even assuming the Cardinals don't come crashing back to earth, which DVOA seems unwilling to rule out (or Minnesota, Carolina or Chicago finding their footing, which isn't impossible...)
#34 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:26am
The PR hit from not competing for a playoff spot in December is worse. For better or worse, the State of Texas has deemed the matter a misdemeanor. If Goodell allows him to be activated, the Vikings will do so, and it actually would help in the PR department if Goodell fines him 6 game checks, which works out to about 5 million dollars. It would be the most severe penalty ever handed down, for a misdemeanor off the field incident, in the history of professional sports. The team can work with that, from a PR standpoint.
#48 by Eddo // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:39pm
I'm not sure about that. There will be at least a dozen teams not competing for a playoff spot in December, but only one playing Adrian Peterson (and all the baggage that entails).
I mean, the Panthers would be a lot better off with Hardy playing, but they've chosen to sit him. I guess I just don't see it as a given that a legally-reinstated Peterson is inserted back into the Vikings lineup.
#51 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:07pm
There really is no comparison between behavior which has been fully adjudicated and deemed a misdemeanor, and behavior which a judge has found to be feloniously violent, and which awaits a jury's judgement. Being a team which is out of the playoff race in December is worse for public relations, than being a team in the playoff hunt, which is playing a guy who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor, and sat out 8 games and paid a 5 million dollar fine. The Vikings pretty obviously agree, since, if they thought otherwise, they would have cut Peterson, and saved themselves several million bucks, since his cap number next year probably will mean the contract is voided anyways next February. He wouldn't be a Viking right now, if the team wasn't willing to reinstate him immediately if Goodell allows it.
#27 by Noahrk // Nov 05, 2014 - 10:55am
The Miami story is a curious one. Last year the Dolphins barely missed on a playoff spot and seeing how Tannehill was holding up relatively well with a historical mess for an offensive line, there was general optimism the QB and team could take the next step. As the offseason wore on, however, people started cooling off on them. The same thing happened to me when I realized there were no guarantees the line was going to be any better this year with a bunch of new starters.
Then came preseason and it was pretty clear the line was indeed much better than before (the moral of this story is it's much better to suck at guard than to suck at tackle). Still, general opinion remained cool on them and grew decidedly frosty after a bad start to the season for Tannehill. In retrospect, it wasn't unusual for a young QB only in his second offensive system ever to need a bit of time to get comfortable (kudos to Trent Dilfer for calling it back then).
As to the defense, the knock on them was the linebacking, but the linebacking was terrible even last year, when they were decent overall. However, to see them play this well is surprising. And the key has been... the linebacking. Misi's move to MLB was very fortunate and Jenkins came out of the blue to play very well. Losing Carroll and Clemons in the secondary was probably not as big of a deal as people made of it, especially Clemons, who I think is unemployed at the moment. The DL was always a strength.
Last but not least, the team has been surprisingly healthy. Losing Moreno hurt, but the other season-ending injury turned out well for the team, as Jenkins got an opportunity thanks to Ellerbe going down. The only other significant injury was to Pouncey, but Satele came out of nowhere to perform really well in his place and, in fact, remains the starting center even now. Pouncey is playing at RG, the biggest weakness in the line at the time (now it's LG).
#35 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:26am
As a Lions fan, I'm very worried about this upcoming game. Getting Johnson back will help, but they've had trouble pass protecting against every competent pass rush they've face. Cameron Wake is going to have a field day. Grimes seems good enough to at least slow down Johnson with some help. Golden Tate is going to have to make some hay against Finnegan for the offense to do anything (do the Dolphins CBs switch sides in man to man?).
#37 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 11:38am
In Miami, I'd easily favor the Dolphins; northern, defensively-oriented teams in southern Florida come November are at a distinct disadvantage. However, a good defense at home in a domed stadium is also a distinct advantage. I think 17-19 points for the Lions will be enough.
#40 by James-London // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:14pm
This is essentially one team playing itself. Both have really good D lines, Offenses with Questions & brutal Special Teams. I'd say Miami has better QB play and a functional running game, while Detroit has Megatron & Tate. If both O-lines can avoid being obliterated then we might be 'treated' to a Special Teams FUBAR deciding the outcome.
If Miami can hold up against the Detroit D then I'll feel much better about the game with Buffalo
Phil Simms is a Cretin.
#44 by Noahrk // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:35pm
I think the special teams issues have been overstated. Or rather, that it was more of an early season issue -for both teams. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm under the impression both the Lions and Dolphins were below 10% only a week ago -around minus 11-12%, I think- and only about minus 7% now. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the Dolphin coverage teams been solid in punt returns for the last several weeks? Yet they still rank near the bottom of the league. Ditto for kickoffs.
Will, I count the dome as an advantage for Miami, it's the cold they really struggle with. However, that Lion defense could easily win the game for them, no question. And the impact of CJ cannot be exaggerated, although it might be somewhat canceled out by Miami's defense.
#54 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:34pm
The Lions special teams have a miserable ratings because, and only because, of their inability to find a competent NFL kicker. Their punting and kickoffs (Sam Martin does both) have been above average, and return/coverage teams have been about average. Their ratings have increased because Prater has made 4 kicks in a row (although he iced himself into a mulligan on one of them, and banged a 22 yarder in off the upright on another, so I'm still less than confident in him).
Having a shaky kicker going into what will likely be a close, low scoring game is the worst.
#43 by ChrisS // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:30pm
Without Johnson somehow causing the Dolphins rush to slow down I don't see the Lions scoring more than 10 points on offense. The line can't pass protect, they can't run block but they can commit penalties. The defense will need to keep Miami from scoring 9or score themselves) to have the Lions win.
#53 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:28pm
If you substitute "Dolphins" for "Lions", this is verbatim what I've often said to myself over the past 25 seasons. A late-season collapse is the worst kind of fan experience. At least during the 0-16 season in 2008, I knew early on to have no expectations on Sunday afternoons. You can actually watch the NFL stress-free when your team is hopelessly out of the playoff race.
#55 by Cythammer // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:43pm
As a Jets fan I'm sometimes halfway looking forward to the point where I can give up on the team and stop worrying about their games. Last season it didn't happen until quite late in the year. This season the loss to the Patriots officially sealed their fate in my mind.
#58 by mehllageman56 // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:54pm
Since I'm not rooting for them while Vick is starting, I've already jumped on the bandwagon of hoping they lose every week. Once Vick ends up on the bench again, I'll still root for them to lose, only to not embarrass themselves. Unfortunately, I'm not sold on Mariota, and man, I don't want to root for Winston. Amari Cooper or Andrus Peat would be nice, but it feels like they haven't drafted a franchise quarterback since Namath. I realize that isn't really true; it's just that they break the guy (Pennington, O'Brien), after two or three seasons.
Under Ryan, they've been in the playoff race until December every year but this one. So it's a strange feeling for me.
#62 by chemical burn // Nov 05, 2014 - 2:54pm
They're going to end up with Winston, you can just see it coming and it's going to be a nightmare. There will be all this talk about cleaning house and kicking the circus out of town and they'll hire some humorless authoritarian like Greg Schiano to coach the team and then... they'll take Winston with the third pick in the draft and it will be a nightmare. Just a media implosion. And he'll stink. Or worse, they'll pass on him specifically to "avoid distractions" and he'll lead Buccaneers (picking from the #5 spot) to a Superbowl in 2017 and all you'll hear about is "how could the Jets have passed on him at #3 when they knew they needed a QB?!" for the next two decades.
#99 by mehllageman56 // Nov 06, 2014 - 10:44am
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Someone like Greg Schiano would never draft Winston. They need a authoritarian, just a competent one, not like Schiano. The real problem for them right now is the insanity of the fan base. What coach is going to want to deal with fans renting out billboards or hiring planes to ask the team to fire the GM? I don't see Harbaugh or Malzahn wanting to deal with that. Craziness like that is part of the reason the Browns have such a hard time. If they do draft Winston, I could see him leading them to a Super Bowl, and then getting life in prison two or three years later. Maybe he'll wait ten or fifteen years to get busted like Lawrence Taylor did.
#57 by James-London // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:51pm
I hear that. Best comparison is the 2002 Dolphins. Taylor, Bowens, Chester & Ogunleye upfront, Thomas at MLB, Surtain & Madison in the secondary, an 1800yd RB, and a competent QB in Feilder. They smoked the Raiders on MNF amd had the #1 seed at 9-5. Somehow they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs on tie-breakers.
So, yeah I need to be convinced..
Phil Simms is a Cretin.
#94 by Noahrk // Nov 06, 2014 - 1:18am
Oh, I didn't mean to imply the Dolphins would make the playoffs. It's a tough road ahead and the competition is unusually strong. Even FO, who has them as #3 in DVOA, only gives them a 55% chance of making the playoffs (and no one believes they are really the #3 team... or if they are, it's only by a marginal amount). But I do believe the team has played very well lately and is headed in the right direction. At this time, I am satisfied. What will happen later, no one knows.
#45 by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 05, 2014 - 12:36pm
Only one team in the NFL has had a punt and a FG blocked in the same game, and, this past Sunday, it happened to Tampa for the SECOND time this year. I'm pretty shocked Tampa's as high as #28 in ST DVOA. Is it that blocked FGs are rare enough they don't factor in, as they're not predictive of future behavior? I guess that would explain it.
#52 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 1:26pm
Back in the late '70s, Bud Grant pulled his special teams shenannigans, and I think the Vikings blocked 5 (!) kicks in one game against the Bucs. I thought one of them was a punt, but it was a long time ago .
#67 by Will Allen // Nov 05, 2014 - 3:13pm
Yeah, that was it. It really was amazing that Grant was able to exploit inefficiency in the kicking game for as long as he did, even against good teams. They blocked a lot of kicks in playoff games as well.
#69 by intel_chris // Nov 05, 2014 - 3:56pm
Anyway, this is just the beginning of a series of issues this year that lead to advanced metrics rating teams far differently than either conventional wisdom or win-loss records. The imbalance between the conferences is part of that. The tight grouping of teams with ratings all close together is part of that. So is the fact that we've had a lot of huge blowout victories this year, so you'll get a team blowing out another good team one week and then getting routed themselves in a different week.
I was wondering about that. My intuition noticed that a lot of teams started this year with players on suspension (or injured early in the year). Being a Broncos fan, I particularly noted that the early opponents of the Broncos seemed to be missing key players right the week they would play the Broncos.
Also there seems to be a slight difference in the officiating this year, calling what seemed like more PI/holding type penalties. Or other cases, where normally good teams were finding drives interrupted by penalties.
While I don't expect DVOA to give me an answer on that, perhaps the other fans here could tell me that it is just "confirmation bias" (I saw what I was looking for) or it there is some evidence for this year being abnormal in some sort of measurable way.
#96 by mitch // Nov 06, 2014 - 7:41am
As I mentioned, looking back Denver will have played it's best run of games that made them seem 6th best in history because with so few games played a great run of games inflates the team ratings.
Denver is not as good as Seattle last year.
And Ravens are not 2cd best team, teams don't win Super Bowls and make championship games without having good offenses and defenses, special teams alone won't put a team there and Ravens are not that good in the more important areas.
Miami is hardly the 3rd best team. Last week both Denver and Ravens , 2 teams I called out in previous weeks lost.
This week it'll be Miami going down the drain. Just like Denver, looking back past few games will be Miami best run of season, inflated ratings.
#102 by Cythammer // Nov 06, 2014 - 11:49am
I don't know what's inflated about annihilating a Chargers team that had been looking like a playoff team. That win would've been good if it came against the Raiders, much less a good team like the Chargers. They also beat up the Patriots pretty well. While we may discount that to some extent since the Patriots have looked like a different team the past few weeks, there's no way for DVOA to incorporate such information.
#104 by intel_chris // Nov 06, 2014 - 3:24pm
Unfortunately, to me, this (#96) reads like it should be in the zlionsfan template.
Donefor, Valdemort, and My-am-ee are rated 2 *high* because dey jus had theyre best runs of de season, listening 2 people whom call out themes as overrated is better dan dis IMHO ROFL TTYL....
Seriously, maybe you are right and this is a phenomena that highlights the small number of games problem. However, the season just seems odd to me, in a way that makes me happy I'm not inclined to gamble.
#109 by The Hypno-Toad // Nov 08, 2014 - 1:38pm
Sorry if this has already been pointed out, but I was just looking at the playoff odds report, and I noticed that at 4-4, the Saints have a veritable hammer lock on the NFC South. Only the Colts are more likely to win their division at this point than the Saints.
This year's NFC South is surprising to me. I didn't really expect anyone from that division to put in a serious Super Bowl caliber season, but I certainly didn't think they'd just be wallowing around in their own crapulence like this.