Week 7 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
We have a new No. 1 team in DVOA this week, and it's probably not the team that you expect. Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-2, tied with four other teams for the second-best record in the NFL right now. But for much of the season, the conventional wisdom has been that the Steelers are sputtering and overrated. After the Steelers lost to Chicago in Week 3, it was like the sky had fallen on Steelers Twitter. Ben Roethlisberger's pathetic Schaub-a-thon against Jacksonville two weeks later just made them feel worse.
And yet, here we are after seven weeks of the NFL season and at least one advanced metric (ours) has the Steelers on top of the league. And not just by a small amount; the Steelers opened up a healthy lead this week over the No. 2 Rams and No. 3 Chiefs. (Yes, you read that correctly, but we'll get to the Rams in a minute.)
I've written about the Steelers a lot this year, but let's do it again. As a reminder, the Chicago Bears loss was filled with a lot of weird random plays including Chicago recovering six of the game's seven fumbles. Ben Roethlisberger was just as bad in the Jaguars loss as you think he was, but the Jaguars also happen to be the No. 1 pass defense in the league this season. However, those are the only two losses for Pittsburgh, and the Steelers have three sizeable wins this year, over Minnesota, Baltimore, and now Cincinnati.
Part of the reason the Steelers are 3-1 in their last four games is that they've rediscovered Le'Veon Bell. In Weeks 1-3, Bell averaged 7.7 first-half carries per game. In Weeks 4-7, Bell has averaged 14 first-half carries per game. However, the whole Pittsburgh offense is generally better than most fans think because conventional stats have been depressed by their difficult schedule. Based on average DVOA of opponent, only Cincinnati and Baltimore have played a tougher set of defenses so far this year.
Meanwhile, the Steelers defense has been outstanding. It's actually a little overrated by conventional stats, because Pittsburgh's defensive schedule ranks just 27th. But even after adjustments, the Steelers defense now ranked No. 2 behind only Jacksonville. The Steelers are much more balanced than the Jaguars: No. 2 against the pass and No. 12 against the run.
Even with everything we know about DVOA and Pittsburgh, it's still a bit shocking to see them leap so much higher this week. Let me break down the stats from the game against Cincinnati to explain why:
Yes, 88.7%, which makes it one of the best single games of the season. A 29-14 win is substantial, but it's not usually this substantial. However, that 14 points understates just how hopeless the Bengals offense was for most of the game. Cincinnati gained 37, 53, and 70 yards on its first three drives, with touchdowns on the second and third drives... then didn't have another drive all day with over 20 yards. The rest of Cincinnati's drives ended three-and-out, three-and-out, interception, interception, three-and-out, three-and-out, and four-and-out. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh kept moving the ball down the field. Yes, they had problems at the end of drives, with five field goals, but it took a lot of successful plays to get to those field goals. Three of them came inside the 10-yard line. Overall, the Bengals gained 3.5 yards per play with two interceptions (and a fumble they recovered themselves) while the Steelers gained 6.2 yards per play with no turnovers at all.
As I said before, the Los Angeles Rams are our surprise No. 2 team after they clobbered the Cardinals 33-0. The Rams are one of only two teams that come out above-average in all three phases of the game. The 6-1 Philadelphia Eagles are the other, putting them at No. 4 overall in DVOA.
The Rams are part of a big trend this year. With all the parity of 2017 comes a big opportunity for teams to end very long playoff droughts. There are some very surprising teams listed near the top of the DVOA ratings: not only the Rams at No. 2, but Jacksonville at No. 8, and Buffalo at No. 11. Since each of these teams is also 4-2 or better, we're giving each one a strong chance to end its long playoff drought. Right now the Rams make the playoffs in 84 percent of our simulations, the Jaguars in 79 percent of our simulations, and the Bills in 64 percent of our simulations. In 54 percent of our simulations, both the Rams and Bills make the playoffs, which would end the longest playoff droughts in both the NFC and AFC. All three of these teams make the playoffs in a shocking 42 percent of simulations.
We've been through this before with the Bills, the hot start wtih a strong chance to make the playoffs, only to see it all go wrong. At least this time our system isn't picking them to win the division over the Patriots. We still have New England as our division favorite, but you are probably shocked to find them ranked below Buffalo in DVOA. Didn't they just have a dominant win over the Atlanta Falcons?
Yes, but the Patriots' performance on Sunday ends up the opposite of the Steelers' performance. DVOA didn't like it anywhere near as much as the scoreboard.
Or perhaps it depends what stat you are looking at on the scoreboard. Believe it or not, the Falcons actually averaged more yards per play in this game than the Patriots did, but the slim margin of 6.1 to 6.0. Yes, most of that offense showed up in the second half, but it isn't like it only showed up in garbage time. The Falcons had two drives that were mostly in the third quarter. One was 55 yards and ended with a missed field goal. The other was 70 yards and ended with the failed Taylor Gabriel jet sweep on fourth-and-goal from the 1. That play took place with 14:36 left in the game. A 20-0 game with 14:36 left is not in garbage time. Teams can come back from that, especially given how high offensive levels are in the NFL right now. I'm not sure if you've heard about this, but a few months ago there was even a team that was down 25 points near the end of the third quarter and came back to win the game.
The fourth-down stop is a positive indicator for the Patriots. The 70 yards they allowed before that is not. The blocked field goal in the first quarter was a good play for Patriots special teams, but not one that's predictive for the future. The missed field goal in the third quarter was not in any way New England's doing. The drives of 52 and 55 yards before those missed field goals still happened and they matter for judging the Patriots defense going forward. The Patriots had one of their better defensive games of the year, enough to get them out of last place in defensive DVOA. (Tampa Bay is there now.) But it wasn't really a great defensive game. It was a slightly below-average defensive game with a few really great defensive plays in the most important situations.
Plus, the Falcons are now 21st in DVOA. Despite the hype of a Super Bowl rematch, the Patriots aren't getting boosted in DVOA for playing Atlanta.
Now, this is where we advise everyone not to take our ratings as if they are the tablets brought down from Sinai. Does DVOA think the Patriots have not been one of the dozen best teams in the NFL this year? Yes, that's correct. Do I personally think the Patriots are actually one of the dozen best teams in the NFL this year? Hell yes, I do. We're all expecting the Patriots to right the ship the way they have in past years. I'm expecting it too. It feels like the Patriots should be higher than 13th after that win on Sunday night. Perhaps further research will show that we need to increase the amount that past performance matters in our DAVE ratings, and continue that later into the season instead of filtering it out after Week 8. That would put the Patriots higher, and it would put the Jaguars and Rams lower. ESPN's FPI does it that way, and they have the Patriots much higher than DVOA with the Rams much lower. Is that more accurate? We'll have to see what happens as the rest of the season goes along, and we'll have to see by looking at a dozen years worth of teams rather than just the 2017 New England Patriots. I have a feeling that the Patriots are an asterisk -- a special case of a team that tends to resist regression trends because of a great head coach and great quarterback, not a team you should design your system to predict. As my father always told me, "hard cases make bad law."
While we're giving strong playoff odds to the Patriots and Bills, the same can't be said for the other two teams in the AFC East. The Jets and Dolphins are both part of what I'm now calling the Awful Eight: the eight teams that are way, way behind the rest of the league in DVOA. The gap between No. 24 Tampa Bay and No. 25 New York Jets is colossal: over 12 percentage points. The distance from 17th to 24th is smaller than the distance from 24th to 25th. None of the teams in the awful eight are better than 20th on offense, and the only one that is above average on defense is Chicago at No. 13.
The Awful Eight consists of the New York Jets and Giants, Chicago, Miami, Arizona, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. That's the correct order. With their overtime loss to Tennssee, the Browns climbed out of the bottom spot in DVOA this week. The Colts have two close wins over two other members of the Awful Eight, but they've been destroyed in most of their other games and have faced an easier schedule than Cleveland. It's sort of remarkable how easy the schedules faced so far by the Awful Eight have been. Every one of these teams has a remaining schedule ranked in the top dozen, and Chicago is the only one where the schedule gets easier from here on out. Either Cleveland or San Francisco goes 0-16 in 14 percent of this week's simulations. Both Cleveland and San Francisco go 0-16 in 0.4 percent of this week's simulations.
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Perhaps the most surprising team in the Awful Eight is Miami. After all, the Dolphins are 4-2. What the hell are they doing down with the winless San Francisco 49ers? The answer is that Miami has not been good. Their four wins all have come by less than a touchdown, against an easy schedule. (Scott Kacsmar talks about their unsustainable record of fourth-quarter comebacks in Clutch Encounters this week.) They also got shutout 20-0 by New Orleans and lost to the Jets 20-6. They've gotten lucky from opposing field goal kickers missing 5 of 12 kicks, although one of those was a 59-yarder from Atlanta's Matt Bryant and those usually don't connect.
The Dolphins are not quite the worst 4-2 team in DVOA history. The 2007 Detroit Lions were even worse. Here's the list for your perusal. Usually I do these lists to 10 or 12 teams, but once you get to teams with DVOA around -12% there's really no similarity to the current Dolphins. It is interesting to note that the other teams on this list all improved in the second half of the season except for the 2007 Lions. The 2015 Vikings and 2010 Buccaneers improved significantly, to the point where their final DVOA ratings were a much closer match for their win-loss records. And honestly, given the way this season seems to be going, a 5-5 record the rest of the way probably still has the Dolphins in the wild-card race.
|Worst 4-2 Teams by DVOA, 1989-2017|
|2016||HOU||-23.2%||30||5-5||-21.9%||29||Win vs. OAK 27-14, Lost at NE 34-16|
|2015||MIN||-20.4%||28||7-3||5.7%||11||Lost vs. SEA 10-9|
|1990||CIN||-14.9%||20||5-5||-12.3%||21||Win vs. HOIL 41-14, Lost at LARD 20-10|
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Once again this season, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 18. This year, our content for Madden Ultimate Team on consoles comes monthly, while our content for Madden Mobile comes weekly. Come back to each Tuesday's DVOA commentary article for a list of players who stood out during the previous weekend's games. Those players will get special Madden Mobile items branded as "Powerline, powered by Football Outsiders," beginning at 11am Eastern on Friday.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 7 are:
- S Kevin Byard, TEN (HERO): 3 interceptions
- P Drew Kaser, LACH: averaged 51.6 gross yards per punt on 8 punts with two downed inside 10.
- CB Marshon Lattimore, NO: Held Davante Adams to 2 catches, 12 yards on 5 targets.
- OT Ryan Ramczyk, NO: Helped Saints RB to 12 carries for 71 yards, 67 percent success rate on runs to the right.
- DT Jarran Reed, SEA: 3 TFL including sack and forced fumble.
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All stats pages should now be updated through Week 7, including snap counts, playoff odds, and the FO Premium DVOA database.
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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through seven weeks of 2017, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)
OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. Opponent adjustments are currently at 70 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 19 percent of DAVE for teams that have played six games and 9 percent of DAVE for teams that have played seven games.
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).
104 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2017, 9:58am
#3 by skibrett15 // Oct 24, 2017 - 7:36pm
Baltimore and Denver... look about the same until you look at special teams.
Hard to believe that a 16% DVOA difference exists within the realm of special teams. And JAC becomes a top 2 team if they could have that magical Harbaugh ST play?
That's a lot of Jason Myers missed kicks.
#10 by Raiderfan // Oct 24, 2017 - 8:06pm
It measures what it measures. That it has Phil with a league average defense, marginally worse than NO's, looks very wrong to me, as well.
But that is what their per play efficiency calculation generates. Their calculation shows that Pitt dominated CIN much more than NWE did Atl regardless of the score.
Of course, Oak D is better than 29, and the O should be higher than 9.
#6 by Will Allen // Oct 24, 2017 - 7:55pm
Lots of teams closely bunched but I see, all injury caveats aside Pittsburgh, the Eagles, and, yes, the Rams, as the real contenders at this point. Next, the Patriots. Who have the advantage of an undead qb, but whose defense I still don't trust, because the Falcons were so awful on Sunday.
#7 by Will Allen // Oct 24, 2017 - 8:02pm
K.C.'s defense can't play without the lead, which can't be counted on in the playoffs. The Vikings only have a chance if one of their injured qbs makes a full recovery. The Jaguars will eventually be Bortled. Don't trust the Saints defense, don't trust Seattle's offense. Houston's too injured, and the D.C. team is owned by Snyder.
#9 by theslothook // Oct 24, 2017 - 8:06pm
To me - NE is still the prohibitive favorite. Pittsburgh hasn't proven it can win against NE period. The rest of the nfl looks severely flawed. I know NE does too, but they manage to smoke and mirror their way on defense in perpetuity. Its why I never believed in the ghastly numbers lasting to the end of the year.
Its unfortunate for Pittsburgh(or fortunate I guess) that their offense has started its decline just as the defense has finally pushed itself into the upper echelon.
#21 by PaddyPat // Oct 24, 2017 - 10:52pm
In the AFC, seems like it's probably about NE, KC, and Pitt. I doubt any of the other teams is capable of winning the conference. There's a bit of a rock-paper-scissors there, though not as severe in the old days of Indy, NE, and Denver. I'd take Pitt over KC on either field, NE over Pitt on either field, and KC vs. NE is very unclear either way.
In the NFC, things are, as usual, much murkier. Philly, LA, possibly NO or Min... It would be really interesting if New Orleans could reach another Super Bowl.
#68 by mehllageman56 // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:23pm
Sorry, I don't like their chances. Their defense 'improving' due to an overturned touchdown and a fog bowl in consecutive weeks seems like a fluke to me. They'll need the New England fog to cover Pittsburgh or KC to make it past the divisional round. So, they're contenders but not anything close to prohibitive favorites.
I realize Pats fans will disagree with me, but I think the real problem with the Patriots secondary is that McCourty has lost a step or two. The play where he hit Robbie Anderson with his helmet bears this out; in past seasons, he would have been challenging for the ball, but now he was reduced to hitting Anderson after he dropped the pass. Another play earlier in the Jets game shows the effect this has on the entire secondary; Anderson drove on Butler, and then broke toward the sideline for an out pattern. Butler just kept going deep. Butler did have a pick on a similar play, but my point is the corners are worried about getting beat deep, and leaving mid range patterns wide open. I'm sure miscommunication has played a part in the secondary's troubles, but I think that some of the problem is not having a deep safety capable of stopping explosive plays downfield the way McCourty has most of his career.
#70 by theslothook // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:34pm
The fog didn't seem to bother the NE offense that much. Plus, a lot of this was Matt Ryan throwing inaccurately or not maintaining composure in the pocket. I agree, the 7pts in garbage time is a bit deceiving, per something Nat wrote below. But it was still a good defensive performance overall.
Maybe McCourty has lost a step, but teams have been able to get around poor safety play in the past. And its all about magnitudes here. I doubt even the most ardent NE fans believe this defense is going to ascend to the top of the league, but they don't need to.
Much of their woes seemed to be blown assignments and dumb coverage mistakes. I think, by years end, NE will probably be closer to average, something more representative of their talent than the 31st ranking they find themselves now.
#74 by mehllageman56 // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:57pm
We'll just have to agree to disagree on this. Perhaps I'm reading into the Pats situation, looking for flaws because I'm hoping the Jets with one of the 2018 quarterbacks will contend for the division, but I was not impressed with the Pats except for Brady and Gronk in their game against the Jets (who are the best of the Ugly Eight). The defense looked bad even though they only gave up 17 points, partially due to bone headed plays by the Jets and partially due to calls. They did succeed running the ball a little, but the Jets run defense has been horrid against everyone but Miami. The offensive line did seem to protect Brady, but honestly the Jets haven't been pressuring the passer much this year either. I think the game in Pittsburgh will tell us a lot; Steelers flop in that one, then I'm probably wrong.
#22 by PaddyPat // Oct 24, 2017 - 10:53pm
Their odds of splitting are probably far preferable than the chances of NE losing the traditional game in Miami this year. Even if they do split though, Buffalo is unlikely to take the division, and it's hard to envision that offense going much of anywhere come January.
#12 by theslothook // Oct 24, 2017 - 8:08pm
Colts dvoa jives with my subjective judgement - they are the worst team in the nfl. Put them on a neutral field against a weak opponent, and they probably lose a close game. Put them against an average opponent and the colts are down a few scores by the 4th quarter. Put them up against anyone of quality, they are out of it by halftime.
#36 by BobbyDazzler // Oct 25, 2017 - 8:35am
I appreciate the work you put into these rankings, but the Saints were 32nd in defense two weeks ago and now they're 4th, so while they've played well I don't think that would merit jumping up 28 spots. I thought you had them too low in wk 5 and now they're too high, but either way it's nice to see someone giving them some recognition.
#86 by DezBailey // Oct 25, 2017 - 6:31pm
Good points and observations Bobby and thank you for reading The BES Report!
Yes...they jumped from 32nd to 18th to 4th. Understand that just like the BES Overall score....the BES Offense and BES Defense rankings can be considered measurements of heat. Over the last three or four weeks, few defenses have played as well as the Saints in terms of the areas the BES measures. Recent games count more than earlier contests.
Bare in mind, while the Saints defense has been heating up...trending up, others have been cooling....trending down, i.e the Chiefs. So their defensive ranking isn't to say their defense is definitively better than 28 other teams....just that their defense is playing better ball than those teams right now as far the BES is concerned.
#103 by DezBailey // Oct 30, 2017 - 12:28am
Hell of an effort by the Saints defense today...held off a critical turnover towards the end of the game to seal the win. Granted it was the Bears but the outcome could have easily gone differently were it not for the Saints defense in a clutch situation.
#29 by Vincent Verhei // Oct 25, 2017 - 4:00am
When you see an annoying ad, for any reason, please take a screencap and send to email@example.com. We need to know the specific ad that is causing the issue if we're going to do anything about it. For the record, I've seen the one you're talking about, but A) I didn't have time to do anything about it then and B) thought it was just my computer.
And then, just as I posted this comment. I saw one. Hyper annoying. I got a screencap and will submit to the tech crew.
#73 by Aaron Schatz // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:56pm
We are really sorry. We've been trying to deal with our ad networks about these problematic ads but it's difficult. We complain, they pull that ad, and then another ad shows up, even if we tell them we don't want any auto-video ads.
At a certain point, we are subject to the whim of the ad networks. If we had to spend time selling all our ads ourselves instead of having the ad networks, the website couldn't afford to exist. We are as frustrated about this as the readers are.
#30 by big10freak // Oct 25, 2017 - 5:20am
Well, I wont'be nearly as rude in my response. The 3rd and 1 was a running play that Hundley passed on the Packers run/pass option only Adams was caught off guard. That's per Hundley and McCarthy.
And in the headline the guy is credited for shutting down Adams but the long video you show is a pass to Nelson where again if Hundley releases the ball sooner it's at least completed if not a TD.
So sure. If you want to credit the guy that's fine but I still think it's giving credit against a very soft standard
#34 by BobbyDazzler // Oct 25, 2017 - 8:31am
Lattimore didn't cover Nelson though - he was locked on Adams every play. He shifted on to Nelson on that play when he saw him breaking deep.
And as Saints fans you have no idea how good it is to finally have a rookie CB worth a crap.
People are still going to write the Saints defense off, and after the last few seasons I can't blame them, but don't act surprised if they keep playing at this level regardless of opposition, cos over these last 4 games the signs are there that this is a completely new team on that side of the ball.
#58 by big10freak // Oct 25, 2017 - 12:16pm
Everyone keeps assuming things. I did not respond to criticize or take anything away from Lattimore.
Just responded to clear up some misconceptions.
Great Saints win, Saints lines whipped their Packer counterparts pretty handily and good luck on the rest of the season
#19 by Cythammer // Oct 24, 2017 - 10:44pm
Steelers being on the top of DVOA would only be a surprise to someone who hasn't looked at the rankings from previous weeks. They were already very high up even after the loss to the Jags, so with the Chiefs slipping up the past couple weeks, Pittsburg's ascension isn't much of a surprise.
#39 by NYChem // Oct 25, 2017 - 9:26am
agreed, no surprise, after the Chiefs loss and the Steelers win, i was waiting for DVOA to see just how much they were up. The extent to which they are in first is somewhat a surprise, I wasn't expecting to see SUCH strong scores against cincy. But the explanation makes it clear, while they never dominated to the extent of putting it away (which needs more than 2 possessions, since a big play and an onside recovery are always possibilities), so in my perspective as a Steelers fan they weren't dominating enough, they were dominating in all ways on the stat sheet and the field after the first three cincy drives, with the exception of putting up touchdowns.
#25 by galerus // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:23am
"Based on average DVOA of opponent, only Cincinnati and Baltimore have played a tougher set of defenses so far this year."
Aaron, can you then add strength of schedule separate for off and def to the tables? Would be awesome. )
#32 by andrew // Oct 25, 2017 - 7:22am
The Vikings are finally #1 in something: variance. So whatever they are, they've been consistent at it, which seems pretty amazing given the quarterback and running back situations.
I wonder, though... is there such a thing as schedule variance? I know we have strength of schedule, but how much variance does that have? and how does that relate to their overall variance? I know that dvoa ia already opponent adjusted, but was wondering if there might be some correlation apart from that.
#35 by Will Allen // Oct 25, 2017 - 8:32am
The more I think about it, the more I think the AFC race is likely to be dependent on who gets HFA. I could see Pittsburgh winning in KC, but other than that I think it pretty unlikely that the road team in the AFCCG is going to win. So like a couple years ago in Miami, some late December game featuring a team that misses the playoffs may play an outsized role with regard to what happens at the end of January.
#94 by Alternator // Oct 26, 2017 - 1:11am
I somewhat agree with the idea, but not with the conclusion: I don't think Pittsburgh is likely to win in KC in the playoffs, but I do think the Patriots will eat the Steelers lunch regardless of locale. I simply do not credit Pittsburgh with the ability to take out New England; they've shown great skill in being crushed by the Patriots.
This means that, for me, the most relevant matchup is Chiefs versus Patriots. The Steelers should be fervently hoping that the Patriots have to head to Arrowhead before they need to play the Steelers themselves, since that's their only path to the Super Bowl. Neither Steelers matchup is all that important to the third team.
#37 by Sophandros // Oct 25, 2017 - 9:25am
Regarding the playoff odds page, how about another special Super Bowl? The Black and Gold Bowl is currently at a 4.8% chance of happening.
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.
#78 by Aaron Schatz // Oct 25, 2017 - 2:03pm
Black and gold bowl? Would that be Steelers and Saints? I don't think we've ever done a special Super Bowl based on team colors, or else we would have to add a ton for any time a red team plays another red team. Maybe when we get into the playoffs.
#38 by nat // Oct 25, 2017 - 9:25am
I think you guys are "protesting too much" about the DVOA in the Patriots-Falcons game.
Anyone with any sense knows that the Falcons failure on two field goal attempts and their decision to go for a fourth down conversion rather than take an easy three points has little to do with the Patriots defense on those plays. The Patriots' DVOA grades out like a 23-16 game, or at best a 23-13 game. That makes sense.
I do think you need to take the "garbage time" issue a little more seriously, though. You acknowledge that most of the Atlanta offense came while down three scores. Great. The game stats bear that out. Therefore...
...follow that up with some data: actual splits by quarter or at least by half. That way your readers can decide for themselves how to judge Atlanta's second half DVOA-only comeback.
Was it a sign of the teams' relative skill in the second half? Was it Atlanta being graded on an easier scale because its plays get compared to teams playing bad enough to fall three scores down? Was it the Patriots going into a somewhat inept prevent defense? Does Belichick know more about preserving a victory than we do? Was it the Patriots offense taking more than 4 minutes to go thirty yards or forcing Atlanta to burn 5 minutes to cut the margin to 16 points with four minutes left?
The object here shouldn't be to defend DVOA's final numbers at all costs. It should be to use DVOA's strengths to understand the game better.
#60 by nat // Oct 25, 2017 - 12:17pm
Looking at the play-by-play, I think VOA splits by quarter is what we need to understand this game. Better yet, VOA by drive.
The first two second half drives for each team were quite similar in degree of success. Both drove the length of the field to set up one short and one medium length FG - although Atlanta opted to go for a fourth down conversion on one drive instead.
The Patriots had one more first down and 20 more yards. Atlanta got a first down on 7 of 19 plays, while New England did so on 8 of 21. In all, a slight statistical advantage to New England, even if we ignore the fourth downs (FGs, missed FG and failed conversion).
If that's a VOA advantage for Atlanta, it's got to be mostly due to the "grading curve" effect of being down three scores, and not better actual results per play. (Plus, I suppose, the VOA for penalties, which should not amount to very much.)
It all comes down to Atlanta's final drive versus New England's. From a VOA perspective, the Atlanta drive was a monster. 11 plays, 7 first downs. Only 1 unsuccessful play. Wow.
But it burned five minutes off the clock and, with the failed onside kick, essentially ended any realistic chance of a comeback.
After that, New England took 5 plays to go 30+ yards and then knelt to win. VOA probably likes that, but not a lot. In real life it was the ideal result, better than scoring.
#43 by Will Allen // Oct 25, 2017 - 10:51am
If the Pats were to travel to Los Angeles right now, I think the Rams would beat them soundly. There. I said it. I also think the Rams are going to improve significantly between now and January, because they have been well coached since May, on both sides of the ball, for the first time in many years.
#46 by Will Allen // Oct 25, 2017 - 11:10am
Who knows? Bad defensive teams will turn in a nonrepresentative good defensive performance at home sometimes. I think a monster in the middle of the defensive line is a very, very, valuable weapon to have when facing Brady, so I do think the Rams match up well.
#53 by nat // Oct 25, 2017 - 11:28am
I'll take that as a toss up, although you tried mightily to say the Rams would "match up well" without committing to saying that they would be favored to win in your eyes.
Seems reasonable to me.
If they do meet this year, it will be on neutral ground. We'll have a ton more information about how they're playing and who has been injured if that happens. It probably won't happen, but it would be fun if it did.
#88 by Richie // Oct 25, 2017 - 7:30pm
Perhaps a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl (with the Rams winning) is what we need to finally put the Patriots to rest. Since the 2001 Rams-Patriots Super Bowl is what started this nightmare.
(Well, there always seems to be a nightmare for me. Before the Patriots, it was the Cowboys. Before that, the 49ers.)
#95 by Alternator // Oct 26, 2017 - 1:19am
Then, in the distance, one of the figures suddenly sprouts bat wings as the ground tears asunder, flames and sulfurous clouds billing out, soon followed by a chorus of the damned, as the Dark Prince descends once more to his throne, to plan for another year.
Then Belichick hops into his car and heads home.
#47 by theslothook // Oct 25, 2017 - 11:11am
The Seahawks came in and beat the Rams. They are at least as flawed as Ne. I'd be curious how Vegas would see it, but I doubt it's a spread larger than 5 or 6, certainly less than soundly. And I would pick Ne honestly. I still don't trust Goff. I'd probably favor Seattle and KC at home vs Ne, but probably no one else.
#49 by Will Allen // Oct 25, 2017 - 11:18am
Yes, but the Seahawks are flawed in the completely opposite manner than the Patriots. It's really hard to beat the Rams if you are bad defensively, because they are now good enough on offense to reliably punish bad defense, and they are really good on defense, and really, really, well coached on defense. They are the profile of a team that continually improves from week one, through week 17.
#62 by RickD // Oct 25, 2017 - 12:46pm
The Seahawks are weak in the area where the Rams are strong - weak OL facing a great defensive front. I would think that makes for a much bigger problem than having a subpar defense facing an offense without a great QB.
Given the Rams' success in recent years vs. Seattle, I was quite surprised that Seattle could beat them this year, when the Rams are clearly trending upwards and Seattle seems to be eroding.
#69 by mehllageman56 // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:31pm
The Seahawks won due to turnovers, some of which were flukes (Gurley's fumble at the pylon especially). It would not surprise to see the Rams take the game in Seattle, especially since Wilson is taking a beating and Goff isn't.
#72 by Will Allen // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:53pm
You still have to score points to win, and unless you have a great offense, losing a low scoring close game to the Seahawks is not an surprising outcome, especially when you turn it over 5 times. 6 of the Sehawks points came on field goals longer than 40 yards, and three more came on after a 4 yard drive after a Rams fumble. The Seahawks had one really good drive of 75 yards, resulting in a td.
Basically, I'm saying the Rams defense matches well with the Pats offense in Los Angeles, and the Pats defense would be unlikely to hold down the Rams offense like Seattle did.
#75 by theslothook // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:58pm
Over the years, I've thought the most effective way to defend New England has been through strong coverage than say outright pass rush.
I know there are some teams that overwhelm Ne's protection - like the Giants, but the teams that seem to traditionally corral Ne's offense(here, I'm thinking of the Ravens or Jets under Ryan), have done so by clouding the middle of the field and sitting on most of the short routes. Pass rush typically doesn't work quite as well because Ne's entire offense is about getting the ball out quickly using option routes, varied snap counts, bunch and stack formations and the like, along with Brady's own gifts.
I haven't followed the Rams defense closely, but I'm curious how good their linebackers and corners are in coverage.
#79 by Will Allen // Oct 25, 2017 - 2:06pm
Brady is getting hit more this year, and when it comes to old qbs vs. Violence, the smart wager is always on Violence eventually winning out. Now, maybe they clean that up, and Brady's season is largely peaceful from here on out. If not, I expect to see degradation in his performance at the end of the year.
#54 by LyleNM // Oct 25, 2017 - 11:37am
Yes, but the Rams couldn't really score against the Seahawks defense. That's probably not true against the Patriots. In fact, Brady would probably have to pull off a Peyton special at the Rams by winning a game with a 40-20 disadvantage in time of possession.
#90 by Richie // Oct 25, 2017 - 7:40pm
The Rams couldn't score, but they were able to move the ball (there was no garbage time). Only Tennessee had more total yards against Seattle this year. It was about average yardage for the Rams this year. The big difference was the 5 turnovers (-3 differential). For the Rams to commit 5 turnovers, and still have a chance to win on the final drive is impressive to me.
#64 by theslothook // Oct 25, 2017 - 12:55pm
49ers would and should be favored. This week was the first time the 49ers were soundly beaten. All other games have been tightly contested. Cleveland has been blown out in half the games they've played.
I would favor both over the colts.
#84 by Nahoj // Oct 25, 2017 - 3:35pm
I would favor the Niners too, but I don't think it's quite as clear cut as you do.
San Fran's points for/against avg. for the season is 17.6/26.6 with five losses of 3 or less and two of 14 or more.
The Browns are 14.7/24.1 with four losses of 3 or less and three of 14 or more.
Their strengths of schedule so far are 17th (SF) and 18th so not much difference there. I think it might be an entertaining train wreck.
#85 by bravehoptoad // Oct 25, 2017 - 4:27pm
The 49ers were also drubbed in week 1 against the Panthers.
Dallas was a really bad matchup for them, with a great O-line and running back coming in just when the 49ers were trying out Eric Reid, former SS, at linebacker. Since 3 of our best players are safeties, they were trying to get them all on the field. Maybe it's not a bad idea, but they picked to wrong team to do it with.
But yes, most other weeks the 49ers have at least looked like a competent football team.
#48 by nat // Oct 25, 2017 - 11:14am
Yes. Yes, he did.
There has always been a place for "Here's why my personal feeling is different from DVOA's assessment", even from Aaron. And one thing DVOA does NOT do is predict how a team's DVOA will evolve for the rest of the season. Aaron seems to believe that the Patriots (and Belichick) excel at using the first half of the season to set them up for better play (and thus DVOA) in the second half.
I think that's a leap of faith on his part. It might be well placed faith. Or not.
#66 by theslothook // Oct 25, 2017 - 1:02pm
Jaguars defense is playing like an all time great pass D paired with the 32nd ranked run defense. I'm not sure that's ever happened before. Well, the Colts won a sb with the 32nd ranked run D in a time when running the ball was far more prominent.
#80 by Perfundle // Oct 25, 2017 - 2:36pm
For some reason, teams are throwing far too often against Jacksonville (and Seattle), even when the score is relatively close. In the first three quarters, with a margin between -14 and 14, Jacksonville opponents have the 8th-lowest run-pass ratio, and Seattle opponents have the 3rd-lowest. Meanwhile, opponents of the other top-7 pass defenses have the highest, 2nd-highest, 6th-highest, 7th-highest and 8th-highest ratios.
Breaking it down further, the average run for Jacksonville opponents in those conditions netted them 1.61 more yards than the average pass; the league average is 2.05 fewer yards, and no other team has given up a positive differential. And that's with one of the passes being a 31-yard fake punt too.
#81 by DavidL // Oct 25, 2017 - 2:48pm
The Eagles is clearly ranked too low because math can't predict the performance of a QB who appears at times to be a literal wizard. Ranking players based on how intangibly good they are, just, like, in general is way better than this. DALLAS SUXORZ
#98 by Led // Oct 26, 2017 - 12:23pm
One thing that's really cool is the top 16 QB in DVOA right now include 7 guys who are 26 or younger (Wentz, Winston, Watson, Prescott, Goff, Carr, Mariota) and I think they're all for real. The future looks bright. (Assuming the league gets the whole terrifying systematic brain damage thing figured out.)
#99 by Raiderjoe // Oct 26, 2017 - 12:44pm
agree tihw you on the good younger QBs, but on another foorball forum where I mostly lurk, read post of guy saying QB play is bad and he sees little future and whole sport will be ruined due to not enough food quartrebacks. he wrorte tjhings like mariota and WInston have plateaued.
Think that guy is mistaken and might possibly wear tin foil hat a lot and go inot woods every Satuirday night to make contact