Packers, Colts Among Teams with Surprising DVOA Ratings

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 8 - The Buffalo Bills remain No. 1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after this week's win over the Miami Dolphins. In fact, the top eight teams remain the same with only one change, Tampa Bay hopping the Los Angeles Rams to rank third overall behind Buffalo and Arizona. Under that top eight, however, there's some surprising movement and teams that aren't quite where you expect them to be in our rankings.

You may remember back at the start of the season, I introduced a formula called Post-Game Win Expectancy (PGWE). This formula asks the question, "Given how each team played in this game, based on VOA splits without opponent adjustments, how often should we expect each team to win the game?" Some games are pretty easy. The Philadelphia Eagles had 99.97% PGWE after beating the Lions 44-6. Not a surprise. But a couple of games each week have a PGWE that does not agree with the actual winner of the game. These "unexpected results" help explain movement in the DVOA ratings because usually it means the winning team had a lower DVOA rating than the losing team. There were three games this week with "reverse PGWE," and let's go through those three games to see how they help explain some of the unexpected movement in the DVOA rankings this week.

Tampa Bay: 79% to Beat New Orleans, Lost 36-27

Tampa Bay outgained New Orleans in this game, 7.3 net yards per play to 5.0 net yards. They did lose the turnover battle, 3-1, but an even bigger issue was penalties. Most penalties are not included in DVOA, because they aren't very predictive. The Buccaneers were penalized 11 times for 99 yards. The Saints were only penalized twice for 10 yards. As a result, the Buccaneers lost despite coming out with the higher DVOA for this game, 27.4% to 17.4% for the Saints.

This helps explain how Tampa Bay passed the Rams for third place in DVOA even though the Rams dominated the Houston Texans. The other issue is that the Rams' DVOA for their win over Houston isn't anywhere near as high as you probably expect. After heavy opponent adjustments for playing the Texans, the Rams only end up with 18.8% DVOA for the game, which is lower than their DVOA on the season. Of course, the issue here is the fourth quarter. The Rams destroyed the Texans in the first three quarters of this game. Then they sat a bunch of their starters, and the Texans came back with 22 fourth-quarter points. Most of these plays in the fourth quarter are down-weighted in DVOA because the game was so out of reach, but even at half weight, they end up lowering the Rams' rating for the game (and thus for the season in general). Here's a look at offensive DVOA for each team in the game:

Offensive DVOA, LAR-HOU Week 8
Offense Q1-3 Q4
LAR 43.2% -143.5%
HOU -106.4% 34.6%

It's tough to know what to do about a team giving up on the game like the Rams did, because it is so rare. Most teams, even when they pull starters in a blowout, don't give up three touchdowns in a quarter. So we're comparing the Rams to the average performance for other teams with big leads, and they are found wanting. Should this be downweighted more based on the idea that this won't have much impact on how the Rams play for the rest of the year? Perhaps, but we're always doing new resesarch in the offseason to figure out where to draw the line on such things. Past research has found that keeping some of the results of blowouts in DVOA (at half weight) still leads to a more predictive rating.

Arizona: 75% to Beat Green Bay, Lost 24-21

Here's another game where you have yardage on one hand and turnovers on the other. The Cardinals outgained the Packers, 6.1 net yards per play to 4.7. The Packers won the turnover battle, 3-0. However, there were four fumbles in this game and the Packers recovered three of them, a little regression of the superb fumble luck the Cardinals had early in the season. Overall, the Cardinals ended up with the better DVOA in this game despite the loss. The Cardinals were at 21.1% and the Packers at 9.4%.

And yet, even after reading that the Packers had the lower DVOA in this one win, you probably are not expecting to see them drop from 11th to 14th in DVOA this week. Why did the Packers drop this week despite having a positive DVOA against the Cardinals and why is a 7-1 Packers team so low in the first place?

The answer to the first question is "schedule strength." A lot of the teams that the Packers played earlier in the season had terrible games in Week 8. The three worst single-game DVOA ratings of Week 8 belonged to the Lions, Bears, and Bengals, all teams that have been on the Packers' schedule. (We'll talk about the Bengals and their horrible performance against the Jets before we're done today.)

There are a couple of answers to the second question. The biggest issue here is Week 1, as we covered last week when we ran ratings that ignored the first week of the season. The Packers were horrible in a 38-3 loss to New Orleans to open the season. They have a positive DVOA for all seven of their wins since that opening game, but none of their wins are even half as strong as that one loss. Let's bring out a week-to-week graph; this one shows the difference between Green Bay's DVOA and VOA for each game for those who are curious.

Packers

Take out Week 1, and the Packers would be sixth in DVOA so far. That's a lot closer to public perception. Are we giving too much weight to one game early in the season? Well, we're not giving that game any more weight than any other game. Sometimes one blowout has a major impact on the DVOA ratings, although that tends to become less of an issue the more of a sample we have. It's part of the reason we have the DAVE ratings, to prevent weird early-season results from having too much influence on how we perceive teams. And Green Bay is seventh right now in DAVE. Again, that's closer to public perception.

Week 1 isn't the only issue, however. The Packers don't have any really dominating wins on their resume, with no games over 40% in DVOA. The Detroit, Chicago and Washington wins are knocked down by opponent adjustments. The Bengals win in Week 5 is a strange one. You expect overtime wins to have DVOA close to zero, but the Packers outgained the Bengals by the average of 7.4 yards to 5.6 yards. They also won the turnover battle, 2-1. However, the Bengals were the much more consistent offense in that game, with a 49% success rate compared to 41% for the Packers. The Packers also had terrible special teams in that game, with Mason Crosby missing three different field goals and an extra point plus Cincinnati's Brandon Wilson averaging 30 yards per kick return. So the Packers are just barely over 0% for that win.

The Packers rank third among the lowest-rated 7-1 teams in DVOA history.

Worst 7-1 Teams by DVOA, 1983-2021
Year Team DVOA Rank Final
W-L
Final
DVOA
Final
Rank
2000 MIN -3.2% 19 11-5 -1.3% 20
2014 ARI 5.1% 14 11-5 -2.5% 20
2021 GB 6.2% 14 -- -- --
1987 MIN* 8.0% 10 8-4 5.2% 11
2000 OAK 8.9% 14 12-4 21.0% 5
1984 DEN 10.5% 10 13-3 13.1% 8
1988 BUF 10.6% 11 12-4 13.1% 6
1988 NO 12.0% 10 10-6 8.3% 11
1983 DAL 12.0% 7 12-4 15.4% 5
2007 GB 14.2% 7 13-3 20.5% 5
1985 LARM 14.2% 7 11-5 19.3% 5
2015 DEN 15.2% 8 12-4 17.4% 8
*Does not include strikebreaker games

Most of the teams on this list went 4-4 or 5-3 over the remainder of the season. All of these teams made the playoffs except the 1988 New Orleans Saints back when there were only five playoff teams per conference. The 2015 Broncos, of course, went on to win the Super Bowl, but they do not really resemble the 2021 Packers in any way.

Indianapolis: 68% to Beat Tennessee, Lost 34-31 (OT)

Here's another weird one. How did Indianapolis end up with a better DVOA rating than Tennessee when the Titans actually outgained the Colts, 5.0 to 4.3 average yards per play? Some of the issue is consistency from play to play, as the Colts had 47% success rate and the Titans were at only 38%. There's also the issue of the interception Ryan Tannehill threw which the Colts fumbled back to the Titans. That was effectively a "free possession" for the Titans in terms of DVOA, because we don't give them any credit for causing a fumble on an interception return. That's one of those "non-predictive" plays. It takes skill, but it doesn't really tell us anything about the teams going forward.

With that big gap in success rate, DVOA for this game ends up at 30.2% for the Colts despite the loss, and -2.5% for the Titans despite the win. So the Colts actually move up in the DVOA rankings, from 15th to 10th, while hte Titans stay the same at 20th.

I know, I know. I say "Indianapolis Colts" and the first thing you picture is Carson Wentz throwing a tremendously stupid interception. How on earth is this team 10th overall in DVOA after eight weeks? Well, let's look at the individual components of their DVOA rating.

The Colts are 19th in offense. They don't have a terrible offense. They have a slightly below-average offense. That sounds about right, doesn't it? Take out kneels and spikes, and the Colts are 18th in yards per play so far this season. They are 23rd in success rate. Wentz actually has only four interceptions, which is lower than the NFL average of 5.9 per team. Those stats add up to 19th in DVOA. Makes sense.

The Colts are fifth in defense. This is probably the surprise, although you knew the Colts had some good defensive players such as Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner. The run defense stands out, currently No. 1 in the league in DVOA. The pass defense is mediocre, currently 20th. This is the side of the ball where the parts don't properly add up to the whole. The Colts rank 22nd in yards allowed per play and 18th in success rate allowed. They rank second in the league in turnovers per drive, but still, that doesn't seem like it should combine to rank the Colts fifth in DVOA. The Colts are particularly strong on third downs (fourth in DVOA) although they are particularly weak in the red zone (28th in DVOA). Third downs and turnovers are likely to regress a bit, but that red zone performance should regress positively. Overall, the Colts are probably not as good as DVOA thinks they are on defense -- they would drop to 13th in the league if we looked at defense without turnovers included -- but DVOA is probably recognizing something in their situational play that makes them better than their raw yardage allowed.

The Colts' schedule is weird. The started with three games below zero, all losses. However, the Colts have positive DVOA in each of their last five games even though two of those were overtime losses. Here's the week-to-week graph:

Colts

As for the Titans, I covered them in depth last week. It will be interesting to see where they go from here with Derrick Henry injured, a fascinating test case about the value of a running back. The Titans are ninth in run offense DVOA so far this year, which doesn't seem strong enough to make an adjustment for the loss of Henry in our playoff odds simulation. Like the Packers and 7-1 teams, the Titans come out on a list of the worst 6-2 teams in the history of DVOA.

Worst 6-2 Teams by DVOA, 1983-2021
Year Team DVOA Rank Final
W-L
Final
DVOA
Final
Rank
2015 MIN -16.1% 26 11-5 5.8% 11
2007 DET -13.2% 21 7-9 -24.3% 29
2019 BUF -11.8% 24 10-6 1.6% 13
1993 DET -9.4% 19 10-6 -2.3% 19
1998 OAK -6.1% 20 8-8 -19.8% 27
1998 ATL -5.7% 19 14-2 22.9% 6
1991 DET -5.0% 19 12-4 1.8% 15
2021 TEN -1.0% 20 -- -- --
2001 MIA -0.9% 17 11-5 8.4% 10
2015 ATL -0.2% 16 8-8 -12.3% 22
2003 CAR 0.3% 17 11-5 -0.2% 16
2000 NYG 0.9% 17 12-4 8.4% 11
2007 NYG 0.9% 14 10-6 1.4% 15

The 2007 Lions are the real cautionary tale for a team that builds an early winning record out of close wins, but the Titans aren't anything close to that. Three of these teams missed the playoffs, the three listed as finishing 7-9 of 8-8. On the other hand, the 2007 Giants won the Super Bowl and three other teams on this list made it to the Super Bowl and lost, so there's nothing that says that a low DVOA means the Titans don't have any chance to make noise in the playoffs. Of course, it helps if you dramatically improve in the second half of the season the way the 1998 Atlanta Falcons did.

Let's cover one more game, even though it didn't have reverse PGWE:

New York Jets: 98% to Beat Cincinnati, Won 34-31

This is the opposite of reverse PGWE, actually. This is when DVOA suggests a win is much stronger than the final score indicates. We cover this game further in Any Given Sunday this week, but what's important for DVOA purposes is the big gap in success rate between the two teams. The Jets' short-passing offense and strong running game ended up with a 59% success rate, the best for any offense in Week 8. The Bengals were at just 45%. Combine that with very strong opponent adjustments for playing the Jets and the Bengals end up with -59.9% DVOA for this game.

As a result, the Bengals' overall DVOA for the season plummeted this week. They dropped from 11.6% DVOA (ninth) all the way to -1.1% DVOA (21st). This week's game isn't the only issue. Like we noted above about Green Bay, the Bengals fall a little bit because past opponents now look weaker, particularly Chicago and Detroit. Cincinnati ranks 31st in past schedule and the opponent adjustments are getting a little stronger in the DVOA system every week until we hit Week 10. Also, there is a very tight pack of teams between 16th (Chargers, 1.2% DVOA) and 21st (Bengals, -1.1% DVOA) and the Bengals just happen to be at the bottom of that pack. There's really not much difference between those six teams. 

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through eight weeks of 2021, 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 opponent and performance indoors and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. Opponent adjustments are currently at 80% strength and will increase 10% each week until Week 10. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason forecast with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 50% preseason forecast and 50% actual performance for teams with seven games played, and 45% preseason forecast and 55% actual performance for teams with eight games played. It is not currently adjusted for any backup quarterbacks.

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>

RK TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFF.
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEF.
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 BUF 37.2% 1 25.0% 2 5-2 7.5% 11 -27.7% 1 2.0% 8
2 ARI 32.6% 2 17.1% 4 7-1 8.1% 10 -21.3% 2 3.2% 2
3 TB 32.0% 4 26.7% 1 6-2 25.9% 2 -7.4% 7 -1.3% 22
4 LAR 30.9% 3 21.2% 3 7-1 27.5% 1 -7.1% 9 -3.6% 28
5 DAL 26.5% 5 16.1% 5 6-1 19.2% 3 -8.9% 6 -1.6% 24
6 CLE 15.4% 6 9.5% 8 4-4 13.5% 5 1.1% 19 3.1% 4
7 NO 15.4% 7 9.0% 11 5-2 -0.8% 20 -15.0% 3 1.3% 11
8 BAL 11.9% 8 13.7% 6 5-2 9.1% 9 5.2% 24 8.0% 1
9 SF 10.9% 14 9.2% 10 3-4 10.7% 7 0.5% 17 0.7% 14
10 IND 9.2% 15 4.3% 15 3-5 -0.1% 19 -9.1% 5 0.2% 16
11 MIN 8.4% 12 6.7% 13 3-4 2.1% 14 -10.0% 4 -3.7% 30
12 SEA 7.8% 10 8.0% 12 3-5 9.9% 8 3.3% 21 1.2% 12
13 NE 7.6% 13 6.3% 14 4-4 0.5% 17 -4.4% 11 2.7% 6
14 GB 6.2% 11 11.7% 7 7-1 13.5% 4 4.0% 22 -3.3% 27
15 PIT 2.2% 16 3.2% 16 4-3 -3.0% 21 -5.2% 10 -0.1% 18
16 LAC 1.2% 17 -1.1% 18 4-3 6.7% 12 -1.4% 12 -6.9% 32

Click here for the full table.

Comments

50 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2021, 8:38am

#1 by dank067 // Nov 02, 2021 - 4:56pm

The case to be bullish on the Packers:

-They've been hit pretty hard by injuries, including to some of their best players, and they had to play a game where Covid + injuries nearly wiped out one of the most important position groups. Fortunately, nearly everyone who has been out is expected back.

-Rodgers is playing well - this isn't like 2018 or 2019 where he was 12th/13th in DVOA. He's like 3rd-8th in each of DVOA, DYAR, EPA, QBR, etc.

-The future schedule outlook is easing a little bit - sounds like Wilson thinks he can play in the Seattle game and they've still got the Rams, but both of those games are at home. The Chiefs, Ravens and Browns games look less daunting than they did a few weeks ago.

The case to be bearish on the Packers:

-Like Aaron mentions, their past strength of schedule (except Arizona) is looking worse. Even setting Week 1 aside, they have a pretty mediocre point differential against a pretty mediocre slate of opponents.

-Are they gonna be able to just plug in guys like Bakhtiari, Alexander and Z. Smith and have them playing at a high level right away? I'm not sure. They could really use MVS's speed in the passing game, but hamstring injury makes me wary of what he'll be like when he comes back. (Hopefully that's why they've taken that one slowly.)

-Rodgers is playing well, but he hasn't been playing as well as last season where he was a true difference-maker in getting them to that number 1 seed.

 

Points: 0

#35 by DIVISION // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:04pm

TO's are game changing plays.  Arizona had 3 and Green Bay had 0.

Arizona's defense stopped the Packers on the 1 yard line and drove the length of the field in less than a minute with a near 99% probability of winning if AJ Green is simply turned around in the endzone instead of blocking.

Yes, Arizona is better, by quite a bit.

It's a great win for Green Bay, but looking at their schedule and with Rodgers now in COVID protocol, they won't be in position for  #1 seed by season's send.

For me, this looks more like Arizona simply blew a game they should have won going away.

 

Points: 0

#2 by oaktoon // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:00pm

for explaining that luck and yards per play were why ARIZ was rated so much better than GB despite the final score, their three turnovers, and GB's domination of time of possession; and how yards per play the other way did somehow not cause GB to be rated higher than CIN, another road game they won. Love the consistency of the metric!!! Somehow the "consistency" of the Bengals play mattered more than the 38 minutes of  possession the Packers had vs Arizona-- and designed a game plan for given how shorthanded they were v Murray.. 7-1 featuring 4 road games (yeah-- they play another one Sunday-- that will b3 6 road games to 3 home games for this "3rd worst" DVOA 7-1 team in history. Maybe LaFleur will design a "DVOA game plan" v Mahomes-- lose but seem like you won.

Of course the metric can't account for 11 starters being out, including perhaps the best OL in the game, the best WR in the game, and one of the best cover corners in the game.

And since it was 75% likely for Ariz to win the game-- without all those injuries (and probably 90% or higher with them) it seems to me that DVOA did the right thing here-- and awarded the win to the better team. Good for it.

33-7 Matt LaFleur could care less what all of you think or determine. Play the games on the field-- and we'll see.

Points: 0

#8 by theTDC // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:45pm

Is this LaFleur's wife?

Points: 0

#19 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 02, 2021 - 7:25pm

Alright I tried in the Quick Reads thread. I will state that you seem to be being willfully ignorant. You've been on the site for years you have had things explained multiple times you still don't understand. It seems in your world everything is binary. A win means you are 100% and a loss means you are 0%. There is not subtle distinction. Which of course has always made me wonder why you bother reading anything here since it's trying to put a number to those subtle differences. Willful ignorance is one of my major pet peeves.

Again DVOA measures what happened. OF COURSE it doesn't care about injuries. Playoff odds do that's why they make adjustments to those, but to explain what happened on the field no it doesn't care because Adams didn't play so why the hell should it try to describe how he played? The METHOD of how DVOA describes what happens does a fairly good job of predicting the quality of a team and comparing those values does a pretty good job of predicting who will win. It NEVER HAS CLAIMED to be the be all end of football team ratings. In fact they claim some of the most interesting results are when it doesn't agree with results.

You also seem to be misunderstanding the PGWE. Based on the DVOA of that one game Zona looked like it should have won 75% of the time. Not based on the DVOA of the teams. So if GB didnt' have all the injuries they likely would have had a better DVOA and it doesn't matter.

1. On the Cincy game, do you understand the consistency that DVOA is measuring? It's not some nebulous thing, it's success rate.
As mentioned right in the article 41% vs 49%. It's not huge, but then again a 3 point overtime victory isn't huge either! But a play that gains 45% of the yards needed on first down is successful, 60% on 2nd down and 100% on 3rd down. For that Cincy game that means Cincy had 6 more successful plays than GB did. Can you see how in general in a game that went to OT and was decided by a field goal that a model might think the team that had 32 successful plays vs the team with 26 might be more likely (again not guaranteed) to win? Also it doesn't say they played bad just that if you look at the yards per play and turn overs you would expect GB would have won like 34 - 17, not 25 - 22. So why is that? Well Cincy was successful on more plays, they didn't have as poor of special team results, etc. It starts to make sense that a game that by some measures should have been a blowout was not and why the Packers didn't rate as highly as you might think by those metrics. So what the Packers did on the field that day was barely better than average. That is certainly what the game felt like watching it.

2. Do you understand what the phrase "Any given Sunday" means?
It means that the best team doesn't always win. The why that happened is what is interesting. You understand that right? You get that the best team doesn't always win? I mean the Packers lost to Minnesota last year. GB was clearly a better team than MN last year. I mean why the hell was GB higher in DVOA than Minnesota?

What is actually interesting about the Packers-Cardinals and Packers-Bengals and DVOA.
What DVOA basically said about the GB @ AZ game is "Green Bay won because they got more plays". Arizona did a little bit better (21.1% vs 9.4%) with the plays it had but GB got more of them and that is why they won. A couple of different things here or there and Arizona could have won. In fact in a game where a team does 21.1% better per play, adjusted for defense, than the average NFL play and another team only does 9.4% better the 21.1% team wins 3 times out of 4.

GB recovered more fumbles. DVOA only cares about the type of fumble. Maybe the recovery rates on those types isn't updated. One of GB's "recoveries" was a ball that went out of bounds. Maybe DVOA shouldn't penalize them as much for that, or maybe it should. But those are the discussions that are interesting in making the model better. Another GB fumble was because the Cardinals returner didn't move his hand an additional quarter inch. Maybe DVOA should rate that play even lower. Maybe muffed punt returns or fumbled punt returns are really bad and why not something that is super predictive but perhaps they are more descriptive and that descriptive value still is predictive. It wouldn't help GB DVOA, but maybe it lowers Arizona's.

This was not mentioned but the great play by Hopkins that made Stokes look like a rookie and got them 55 yards was 1.0 of the teams yards per play average. Take that play out and it 4.7 to 5.1 still in favor of Arizona. Outside that play Arizona had 48 other yards in the first half. Maybe working in drive success rate into the formula would help it's predictive value. Two 3 and outs and a 4 and out, then a 7 play 63 yard (55 on one play) TD drive in the first half is a crappy success rate for Arizona. So maybe if there is a way to use drive success to help weight DVOA could give a value that help explains this game better. Or maybe it was a game as mentioned that GB got more plays in for various reasons and everything else was pretty close so they won a close game.

Is it possible that success rate is set wrong? Sure it could be. I'm not sure how often that is reviewed and what the formula was. I seem to recall they did something like what percentage of yardage on first down lead to getting another first down or a touchdown 75% of the time and the answer was 45% of the needed yardage. So 4 yards on first down may have only lead to converting that set of plays 70% of the time. DVOA still captures that. It might not even be a negative DVOA play it might be a very small positive even if it's a binary failure. But again maybe that rate of converting for another first or a TD wasn't set right. Do those success rate indicators really explain what happened as well as we thing or do we value them wrong? Do you only need a 60% rate of getting another first down or TD to really explain who is more likely to win? Does it need to be 80? With changes to rules and offenses is 35% of the needed yards on first down enough to be considered a success?

 

I mean there is actual interesting stuff to talk about with this game and DVOA and you bang on about some perceived persecution of LaFleur. Every single game his record is mentioned, I've seen so many pictures of him next to Siefert that if I didn't watch the Packers so much I might get them confused. You whine that they aren't rated based off their wins and losses. If you want that then go here and be happy At the time of this posting they will be listed first in the NFL followed by Arizona, LA, and Chicago because ESPN actually uses playoff tie breakers to sort teams that tied in win percentage. So yeah if you want to use DVOA to back up your little crusade then do it. Say that "Well GB has beaten multiple teams that on average do more with a play than GB does. That's because LaFleur designed an offense to use a lot of clock and minimize the number of possessions in a game. They also minimize the amount of times they give the ball away so that every turn over by another team is even more costly because they are likely to get fewer drives in the game than normal and/or have less time on their final drive of a half if they have the ball. So he tries to maximizes the number of plays his team has and minimizes the plays the other team gets so that even if they do more with each play they still lose. It also keeps his best unit on the field as long as possible. He's also had to change the offensive game plan multiple times this season. Sometimes it's because of having to keep players in to help with blocking or make more short area passes to get the ball out quick because of offensive line injuries. Sometimes it's been having to run more because they don't have healthy receivers. So even when historically a team with his DVOA vs the opponents they have played would have been 10-6 or 11-5 he's gone 13-3 because he tries to get the team in the best position he can. It has allowed him to beat 'better' teams and almost never lose to a worse team. With the quarterback he has being able to beat anyone this seems like a pretty solid strategy for trying to win regular season and post season games."

 

Again what DVOA is telling us
It's not saying GB didn't win 7 games. It's saying this team has played well but not so well that the outcomes of those games are never in doubt. It's saying that the team hasn't played super great pass defense, though that is getting continually better. It's saying that it has one of the best passing offenses in the league but they aren't as good if the weapons (Rodgers and the receivers) aren't there. It's saying that based on an efficiency per play  that there are some things that could be better and that other teams are better per play than they are. I think scoreboards reflect that because GB has basically settled into a "We are going to score 4 times a game" offense and we'll let you score 2 or 3 times a game defense. That is generally a win (unless your 4 scores are mostly FG) but other teams score more or allow fewer. DVOA is giving us more nuance into WHY that is the case.

 

Points: 0

#21 by anthonytwotimes // Nov 02, 2021 - 8:25pm

That's what he does. Mr. 0-2 in big games. 

Points: 0

#23 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:04am

Don't just disentangle LaFleur from Rodgers like that!

Rodgers is 1-4 in NFCCG. So Rodgers was perfectly capable of losing big games before LaFleur went 0-2 in NFCCG in his first 2 seasons. The great LaFleur can only elevate the choker Rodgers so much!

 

(I actually quite liked your troll response hence my cheeky reply)

 

Just some clarifications on my positions
I'm clearly on the record as saying I quite like LaFleur, feel he is an upgrade or sidegrade in all important aspects of being a head coach from McCarthy. He's time management and creative play calling that cost them games is different from McCarthy so those are sidegrades. But he seems to be an upgrade in player management, game planning, team prep, dealing with coaches who are under performing, etc, etc.

Just some silly W-L stats about the Packers and the playoffs
I'm also on the record as thinking Rodgers is a better QB than Favre was, even though I may have enjoyed watching Favre more. I also have a post on here from back during a great 18 game streak during or just after Rodgers first MVP season that shows Favre had an 18 game streak that was just as good if not better, so I try to at least understand the Kool-Aid I'm drinking.

So while I'm not happy about 1-4 for Rodgers and 0-2 for LaFleur. I cling to them being 0-6 vs the NFC Super Bowl rep in Rodgers 11-9 playoff record. Only 09 and 15 Arizona and 13 SF have beaten the Packers in the playoffs and not made the Super Bowl, beat Rodgers and GB in the playoffs and you have a 66% chance of being in the Super Bowl. Favre was 12-10 post season (though 1 loss was to DEN in the SB) as a Packer and only 0-4 vs the NFC rep (so 0-5 vs non SB rep). So they both have 9 losses to NFC teams in the playoffs and beating the Favre Packers only gave you a 44% of making the SB.

Of course in the 1993 to 2019 range with 6 teams and 5 same conference games and 2020 having 7 teams and 6 games those aren't major outliers. Pre 2020 you had a 40% or 60% chance of your lose being to your conferences SB rep; 60% if it was a 3rd-6th seed, 40% chance if it was a 1 or 2 seed. 2020 until the next change it's 50% if it's a 2nd-6th seed and 33% if it's the #1 seed that makes it.

So yeah Rodger's Packers are a bit of a small sample size outlier for losing to the team that eventually makes the super bowl. Is that him and the coaching dragging lesser talent farther than it should have gone or is that him and the coaching screwing up and squandering superior talent that should have gone farther? Do we trust DVOA?

Of Rodgers 9 losses only 2 of those teams had worse DVOA than the Packers. His first 2 losses in fact.

  • Rodgers first playoff game vs the 09 Cardinals GB had a 28.8 DVOA, Arizona had a 14.2. Lost 51-45 in OT.
  • As a note the 2010 season super bowl GB had 23.5% DVOA Pittsburg had 34.7% so that was a SB win over the better team.
  • After the 2011 season GB had a 26.2% DVOA and New York had a 7.3% DVOA. Lost 37-20. New York went on to win the Super Bowl over 21.5% DVOA New England. That was the 2nd crappy Eli Manning NYG playoff run.
  • From 2012 onward the Packers have only lost to a team with better DVOA in the playoffs. GB has been on average 14.1% points lower in DVOA than the team that beat them.

Interestingly Favre followed the opposite pattern. His last 3 playoff losses were to teams with worse DVOA. His first 6 losses were to a better DVOA team (including the Super Bowl loss).

But if you trust DVOA, early career Rodgers choked (even though the scores indicate the defense did him no favors). Late career they are a team that isn't as good and being in the game is them over performing.

So yeah I guess unless this years team starts to get some blow out wins and brings their DVOA up they are likely to lose in the playoffs again.

 

I wonder if you could set a DVOA difference between teams and use that to define choking in the playoffs. If it's a loss because of bad performance on the players side of the ball then they are chokers. So if you are the DVOA favorite by say at least 15 percentage points and you lose because your offense performed worse than season DVOA then the offense are chokers. If it's because the defense was worse than season DVOA then the defense is chokers. Let's get some definitions around this stuff!

 

Edit: OK so I grabbed the DVOA of all the playoff opponents for Favre and Rodgers. Rodgers is 8-2 as the DVOA favorite and 3-7 as the DVOA underdog.  Favre was 9-3 as the favorite and 3-7 as the underdog. The results for those 2 is stupidly similar. Though again Favre had underdog wins early career in 95 (Atlanta and San Fran) and 2001 (San Fran). His favorite losses were late career (03 PHI, 04 MIN, 07 NYG).  Rodgers has mostly flipped it. Underdog wins 2010 (SB vs Pitt), 2016 (DAL), 2019 (SEA). His favorite losses I already covered 09 (ARI), 11 (NYG). Everything else was "expected" if you trust DVOA.

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#24 by jheidelberg // Nov 03, 2021 - 8:02am

I think Rodgers is the 3rd best QB of all time behind Brady and Manning.  It seems to be mostly fans of the Packers writing this week, I was wondering if the fans of the team and others share my opinion. 
 

Rodgers throws deeper passes than any QB I can think of and rarely gets intercepted.  ALEX is an FO stat since 2006, in which Rodgers was number 5, in all other years he is top 4, and has some years at number 1.  He has finished with the lowest INT rate in the NFC 3 of the past 4 years, his career INT rate is 1.3 percent so that he throws high reward passes and has mostly eliminated the risk.  

His regular season record is tremendous and is 11-9 in the playoffs.  As the contributor above has shown, he was DVOA underdog in half of those games.  Without Rodgers, how many of those 20 games would the Packers have ever played?

It appears that Rodgers may get to play all playoff games as DVOA underdog this year, although weighted DVOA may have a different take by the end of the season, due to game 1 and future performance of the teams this year.

The amount of league leading bold on the attached is impressive as is the entire body of work.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RodgAa00.htm

So concluding where I started, he is better than all but Brady and Manning in my opinion.

 

Points: 0

#37 by DIVISION // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:11pm

I would put him behind Brady and Manning.

Rodgers has masked the Packers often talent deficient teams in the same way that Brady did toward the end of his career in NE.  Much of the blame for the Packers underachieving in the playoffs is on the FO and lack of quality FA signings.

Many of those Packers teams went as far as they did mostly due to Rodgers' magic.  Of course, we can argue that his magic may have run out against the Giants and Cardinals in playoffs yesteryear.  

It's not that Rodgers is blowing NFCCG's, though that's the narrative.  The Bucs were a better team last year and their defense was definitely better than Green Bay's.  Brady even gave them a few second half INT to play with and they still couldn't win.  It's not all on Rodgers.  

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#38 by Wifan6562 // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:13pm

I’m with you on that.

Manning had both crazy talent and an impeccable ability to change plays to allow them to be successful - better than anyone I’ve seen. He was good enough that he should have several more SB rings if it weren’t for terrible surrounding talent. They went from 10-6 to 2-14 when he got hurt - that’s crazy. He’s done the 2nd most with the 2nd most out of these 3. 

Brady was relatively limited compared to the all-time greats in terms of arm ability, but weirdly seemed to get better as he aged. He was patient before quarterbacks knew that being patient could get you in the HOF. He relied on being very good, picking the right few moments to be great, and just absolutely never being bad. He’s also a Michael Jordan on the intangible side. No one has ever matched that. His biggest drawback in my opinion is that it’s hard to evaluate him apart from Belichick. The other greats won despite their defenses. Brady won with a consistently great surrounding system on all 3 phases. The 11-5 record of the Matt Cassel team is quite the statement - and maybe equally meaningful that they were 10-6 when Brady returned the following year. And for anyone claiming that this Bucs stint refutes that statement, no it’s not meaningful to win on a loaded team with 20 guys taking pay cuts just to win a ring with you. He did the most with the most. 

Rodgers is probably the greatest arm talent and learned from Brady’s patience. He’s also been plagued by a terrible defense and frankly, McCarthy quit several years before he got fired. Coaching was a mess and Ted Thompson literally lost his mind years before he quit (via dementia), resulting in a really dire talent situation. He’s similar  to Manning in that he’s somewhat of a 1-man wrecking crew. His greatest weakness is that he’s vindictive. In the business world, he would be having to talk with HR too much. He’s had more bad years than the other greats, which says something - but I’m unsure of exactly what it means given the earlier comment on overall talent. He’s done the least with the least. 

Putting this all together, I’m #1 Manning, #2 Brady, #3 Rodgers. And I’m just not a fan of comparing between different eras with different rules, so I’ll simply leave it that I don’t believe there’s another QB worth discussing in the ~90s through today. But I think all 3 have legitimate arguments for and against. 

Points: 0

#3 by richRod // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:07pm

What’s the bullish case for the Browns? 

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#32 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 03, 2021 - 11:40am

Some of what's going on with the Browns is that the Week 3 game against Chicago is the second-best single game of the year, so that influences DVOA more than you might think if you think of it as just one of eight games.

On offense, they combine good success rate and yards per play with harder than average schedule. Defense is very low in yards per play (third without considering kneels/spikes) but has very few turnovers, so they end up with an average defensive DVOA. Good special teams.

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#4 by Ben // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:13pm

I’m surprised by the Colts ranking certainly. In my mind, they seem to be the perfect case study for the realities of the NFL today. They are pretty good at running the ball and stopping the run. They are 3-5 and likely to miss the playoffs in a garbage division (that’s in a mediocre conference). 

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#5 by jheidelberg // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:19pm

Your contributors seem to dislike that DVOA counts garbage time even though you just mentioned it is at half weight and has shown to have some predictive value.

My feeling is that garbage time must have some predictive value because:

1.  The Rams used substitute players that are fighting to stay in the NFL so clearly they are trying

2.  These players will become predictive as to the Rams success or lack thereof as soon as the Rams have some injuries and some of these guys play meaningful snaps.

3.  The fact that it is possible to put a group of 11 guys on a field in an NFL uniform that can be utterly dominated by Houston means that this group should be placed in the witness protection program and never be seen again.  But as I point out in item 2 above, some of these guys are likely to show up again in a more meaningful situation.

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#10 by theTDC // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:53pm

I agree with most of this, at least qualitatively. Also, Davis Mills made at least one fantastic play late, spinning away from the rush and throwing a strike to Cooks. That was a high quality play, and shouldn't be completely ignored.

However, the Rams also started calling extremely conservative plays on both offense and defense. And beyond that, even as a rams fan I had no idea who some of the guys on defense for the Rams were by the end. So half weighted seems a bit much, but I understand that McVay really sits more players than most coaches, at least far earlier, so it could throw off predictions with other teams in the league.

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#39 by DIVISION // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:34pm

The Cardinals have blown out many teams this year and have been literally chewing clock in the second half of games.

They STILL haven't given up as many garbage time points as the Rams.

The reason DVOA punishes the Rams is because they're giving up chunk plays, (mostly runs) at the end of games.

Of course you're going to get dinged when you are leading 38-0 and give up 22 points in a matter of minutes at the end.

Maybe the Rams need better 2nd and 3rd string players?

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#28 by coremill // Nov 03, 2021 - 10:13am

There's also a selection bias issue.  Since DVOA compares the Rams' performance to other teams' performance in similar game states, it's comparing the Rams to other teams that had big leads late in games.  That's not a random sample of team quality: teams with big leads late in games tend to be better-than-average teams.  There is very little data showing how below-average teams play with big leads late in games, because bad teams are almost never in that situation.  Thus, the "average" performance for that game state in the data is not how an "average" team would perform in that game state.

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#6 by oaktoon // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:19pm

Has been the number of times DVOA has rated the Packers below teams that a) they have already beaten-- usually on the road; and b) which they have a better record than.

Cases in point this week:  ARIZ (I understand the better record is just the tie breaker) and SF-- a 4-4 team which the Packers defeated in Santa Clara.

they are currently rated lower than 6 of their future opponents, so here we might go again, though 4 of those games are at Lambeau (MINN, SEA, LAR, CLEV) with two on the road (MINN and BALT)  KC is rated lower but I'm sure that will change after they "defeat" the Packers in DVOA Sunday.

Of course I am being sarcastic, but at some point it might be useful to think "what if LaFleur is better than just lucky"? And what if late career Rodgers wins games, however ungaudy the stats are?

Points: 0

#7 by Scott P. // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:27pm

Needs more zlionsfan juice.

I have no idea what you're complaining about. Green Bay was ranked 3rd last season by DVOA and ended up losing the NFCCG to the #2 Buccaneers, so it seems like DVOA had them pegged. In 2019, they were 9th, ended up narrowly beating the 8th-ranked Seahawks, and lost to the 5th-ranked 49ers, also within the range of reasonable expectations. I think DVOA has had the Packers' number pretty dead-on in the Lafleur era.

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#9 by dank067 // Nov 02, 2021 - 5:47pm

It's not like DVOA stands alone, either. Their SRS (point differential adjusted for opponent strength) is also just 11th in the league. If they had just played a normal bad game against the Saints and lost 31-17 or something, they probably would be quite a bit higher in the ordinal rankings (the teams at 8-14 in DVOA are all bunched together pretty closely), but that game is what it is.

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#12 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 02, 2021 - 6:09pm

This is interesting and probably true. Their PD would then be +39 instead of +25. And on the other hand the Saints would fall from +48 to + 34. And probably flips them on the overall DVOA charts and would sound much better with GB at 7 and NO at 14.

Power rank the teams and no one has NO over GB and wouldn't expect the same result next time they meet (especially now). 

Blowouts really skew things. Hence why Buffalo is *still* pretty far and away the top team here (DVOA seems almost perfectly correlated to PD, helping split the difference between the Bucs and Rams +77)

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#20 by tjb // Nov 02, 2021 - 7:47pm

Buffalo had a higher DVOA in their 26-11 win over Miami this week than they did in their 35-0 blowout over Miami in week 2 (though that week 2 game was weird for 35-0).

The thing about blowouts and DVOA is that usually the team getting blown out is pretty awful so there is a lot of downward adjustment on the winner's DVOA.  When a good team gets blown out *cough*Packers*cough* that can lead to some very screwy effects

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#11 by andrew // Nov 02, 2021 - 6:07pm

I'm surprised the Vikings rank 4th overall in defense, and 11th overall after what they did Sunday night.   

I know projections will ding a team for time their starting QB is out....   do opponent adjustments for Cowboys do the same?

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#31 by ammek // Nov 03, 2021 - 10:23am

I am surprised too. That D looks solid but not especially intimidating.

Then again, the DVOA rankings are unusually distant from W-L records this year. The top-ranked team has the same record as #19; the bottom-ranked team as #9. Bunching is responsible for some of that: the Vikings' 4th ranked defense is closer to #10 than it is to #3.

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#33 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 03, 2021 - 11:41am

Opponent adjustments are not changed based on who the quarterback is, so Minnesota is getting an artificial bump from playing the Cowboys. It's admittedly an issue with the system that we do have to recognize when discussing a team's rating.

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#13 by jheidelberg // Nov 02, 2021 - 6:26pm

Weighted DVOA will take away many of the Packers fans concerns about their DVOA as the season progresses as the first game will be weighted less and less as time goes on.  If the Packers continue at their current trajectory they will be fine, a first place division finish, a strong playoff seeding, players returning, but yes, some tremendous NFC competitors. 

Many an injury does not equal a Rodgers injury, as we see not only from GB but from Baltimore where a QB is still standing while much around him is falling. On the other side we see Russell Wilson this year and Dak Prescott last year creating injury doom for their respective teams.

 

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#14 by matu_72 // Nov 02, 2021 - 6:35pm

Aaron - do you plan to include PGWE from every week in the statistics section of the website?

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#15 by Q // Nov 02, 2021 - 6:38pm

Under Lafleur the games almost always play out 1 of 2 ways:

Option 1: GB slowly builds a lead throughout the game and is usually up by around 7-10 or so by mid 3rd quarter. Anytime they get ahead by more than 10ish or so the opponent immediately drives and gets a TD to cut it back to like a 3-7 point deficit. GB constantly looks like they are on the verge of blowing the game but rhe hold on and somehow despite the win you almost feel worse about how they played.

Option 2: They lose by like 24+ and you wonder if they could even win once if they played that team 10x, that is how ugly it looked (usually against teams with dominant run defenses that neutralizes the GB running game and force them to have to throw all the time but the mediocre wrs outside of Adams can't get open.

Points: 0

#16 by ahzroc // Nov 02, 2021 - 6:51pm

RELAX!

You will NEVER MAKE IT to January like this!

so nervous!

so insecure!

What type of personality is defensive?

They have difficulty with constructive criticism and may mistakenly take it as a perceived threat. Anyone can be triggered by a personal issue that causes them to have a defensive reaction.

Psychological defensiveness is an evolved self-protective response, and in some mild forms may have some benefits such as helping us to bounce back after failures and helping us to maintain optimism and self-esteem- but defensiveness also has costs. "Defensiveness creates blind spots in decision-making...A defensive person has trouble accepting responsibility for their speech and actions."

 

 

Points: 0

#22 by ChrisLong // Nov 02, 2021 - 10:07pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

+1, for real dying laughing over here

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#48 by LionInAZ // Nov 04, 2021 - 12:35am

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

A defensive person having trouble taking responsibility over his speech and actions shouldn't ask what.

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#50 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 05, 2021 - 8:38am

IDK what I said to you to make you this salty or if the fumes from Detroit just last where ever you move to because all you do is respond to me butthurt

Points: 0

#51 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 05, 2021 - 8:38am

IDK what I said to you to make you this salty or if the fumes from Detroit just last where ever you move to because all you do is respond to me butthurt

Points: 0

#17 by Bobman // Nov 02, 2021 - 7:14pm

Boo, they're 4 games behind the division leader! (incl tie-breaker)

I suspect that like the Colts Defense, DVOA discounts "garbage time," which the Indy D considers everything after the team gets a 10-14 pt lead, even if it's in the first quarter, like the Ravens and Titans OT losses.

If Indy had won those games and was now 5-2, people would not consider #10 so outlandish (though Colts fans would be pretty skeptical of it). One could argue for a higher ranking, but that would be pushing it. And honestly, both of those two OT losses came down to a single SMALL injury-affected play (we'll exclude AJ Brown's 57 yard TD reception, or Jonathan Taylor's 76-yard screen pass, or Lamarr Jackson doing Lamarr Jackson things in the 4th quarter and all those completions to mark Andrews....).  In the Ravens game, a kicker injured during pregame missed an XP and a FG.  Either of which could have spelled victory in regulation time.  And Sunday, Tyquan Lewis intercepted Tannehill, only to have his knee explode on the return and he fell to the turf and lost the ball (which led to the aforementioned AJ Brown TD).  I suspect an RB or WR in the same situation, after a decade or more of carrying the ball, would have instinctively cradled the ball as they fell in agony, but it's only a theory.  Had his knee held together and the Colts gotten the4 ball at the Titans 43, then gone to halftime 14-7, or 17-7, or even 21-7, would the game have ended in a tie forcing OT (long before the ugly INTs by Wentz)?  

I don't think they "deserve" #10 and I don't think they will make the playoffs, but I do think that they are a top-16 team with a puncher's chance of winning a playoff game or two.

The Colts run-D also unfairly gets a boost from Henry being injured early, but toughing the game out--it looks to DVOA as if Indy really bottled Derrick Henry up, but in reality, they bottled up a RB who was 60% of Derrick Henry. Maybe that small statistical difference would be enough to drop them a couple spots.

Man, I hate this damn season so much.

Points: 0

#27 by RickD // Nov 03, 2021 - 9:56am

The problem is that Carson Wentz is an incredibly dumb QB.  When DVOA sees him do a half-assed pass from his own 3 yard line for a pick-6, it just says "That couldn't possibly have happened!" and deletes it from further consideration.  

I don't think the play log can adequately explain how dumb that pass was.  

Anyhow, after the Henry injury I heard some guys on the radio try to convince listeners that this put the AFC South back in play.  The Colts have two easy* games coming up vs. Jets and Jaguars, while the Titans have the Rams and Saints: two teams they're unlikely to beat without Henry.

But it just doesn't matter!  It just doesn't matter!  (Shout out to Bill Murray.)

First, the Jets are a dangerous team right now (just ask Cincy).  Their journeyman QB is better than their stud rookie. And even if the Colts do close to 1+ tiebreaker games in two weeks, it just won't matter.  The Titans finish with an easy schedule, might get Henry back for it, and the Colts still have Wentz at QB.

 

Points: 0

#25 by AFCNFCBowl // Nov 03, 2021 - 8:09am

The KC-NYG game is listed as a DVOA of 0% for both teams.

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#34 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 03, 2021 - 11:43am

A lot of strange things happened this week and I'm not sure why. I will make sure that is fixed next week.

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#40 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:39pm

That kinda seems about right for that game.  

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#26 by YoHoChecko // Nov 03, 2021 - 9:19am

One of the things I have always liked about DVOA was it's focus on per-play efficiency. This isn't going to be a complaint but I'm curious.

But (yes, as a Packers fan) I have noticed this year that my team is intentionally limiting the plays in the game; it's clearly part of a strategy, and it's been a winning strategy.

The Packers are efficient on offense, so they aren't harmed by limiting their own plays--hence doing better in offensive DVOA than in conventional volume stats. The Packers are less efficient on defense, so they do significantly worse in DVOA than they do in conventional volume stats.

All of this makes perfect sense. But given that it's been a continued strategy and one that has equated to wins, I wonder how it has gone in the past when FO has looked into play counts and how predictive it is/isn't. In other words, is there any merit to considering the number of plays teams run in addition to their per-play efficiency. Like a team version of DYAR as opposed to DVOA, where volume at least gets some consideration. 

Points: 0

#29 by lauers // Nov 03, 2021 - 10:14am

As a Pats fan, my working theory for 2020 was that Bill Belichick was running out the season from the start. By DVOA, they had the 23rd ranked offense and the 26th ranked defense, but they had the 7th longest average drive time (due to having the 3rd most running plays) and had the fewest number of drives in the NFL. This led to them finishing 7-9 despite having a team that should have been (talentwise) a cellar-dweller.

Statistically, this is a pretty good strategy. If good teams score 3 points per possession (with some variability around that) and bad teams score 1.5 points per possession, then having 12 drives each will lead to a 36-18 blowout, but only having 6 drives would lead to a 18-9 average score, which is a couple plays away from a win.

Back to the Pack, they had the most points per possession last year, but the third fewest possessions (they also had the #1 DVOA offense and #17 DVOA defense). Despite having so few possessions, they still had one of the largest point differentials in the league. As favorites, I'd assume they'd want to maximize possessions to minimize the impact of variance. Their point differential is a bit down this season though. I guess the question is whether there is something in their strategy that isn't picked up by DVOA or is their strategy is sub-optimal despite their victories?

Also since DYAR is something like DVOA times volume, a team DYAR would actually punish the Pack further.

Points: 0

#36 by Eddo // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:08pm

"As favorites, I'd assume they'd want to maximize possessions to minimize the impact of variance."

Just kind of thinking out loud (so to speak) here... maybe it's the opposite?  Maybe the LaFleur and company agree with DVOA that they aren't one of the best few teams, but they have a QB who is great a high-leverage plays, so they take on an underdog strategy to maximize wins?

Based on my limited viewing of the Packers recently and the commentary by some of the Packer fans here (ammek, DisplacedPackersFan, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few more), one of their flaws seems to be consistent execution, but one of their strengths seems to be Rodgers making a play when they need him to (and avoiding turnovers at all times).  So being in a short, high variance game, favors them - especially when compared to other teams in that second tier of quality, who almost certainly lack a QB of Rodgers's quality.

Points: 0

#44 by lauers // Nov 03, 2021 - 4:26pm

Last year they did have a very high variance for their very good offense. If their high efficiency was due to a small number (relatively to other teams) of big plays and a large number of inefficient plays, then you might want to slow everything down after the big plays...

Or maybe all of the causation is going the wrong way: the Pack run a highly efficient offense when losing/tied/close then ran a slow bad offense otherwise? That might be the case this year. In FO's DVOA by scoring gap table, GB's offense is negative when they are far ahead or behind, but strongly positive when the game is contested. By comparison the three teams ahead of them in offensive DVOA are positive regardless of score.

Last possibility (though there could be infinite others), maybe Rodgers just doesn't trust his D at all and wants to minimize their time on the field and opportunities to give up points.

Points: 0

#46 by Eddo // Nov 03, 2021 - 4:56pm

Everything you say is interesting, and thanks for the reply.

The ahead/behind stats might not be great to use this year.  I think the only time the Packers were behind by a lot was against New Orleans in week one, and it seemed like they pretty much threw in the towel in a hopeless situation there.

Points: 0

#30 by ammek // Nov 03, 2021 - 10:15am

But (yes, as a Packers fan) I have noticed this year that my team is intentionally limiting the plays in the game; it's clearly part of a strategy, and it's been a winning strategy.

This is definitely true and a sign of smart coaching, especially when the offense is short-handed as it was vs Arizona. It's a strategy that has given the Packers a better chance of winning. It is not, though, enough to cover up the weaknesses forever – and DVOA is one metric that helps us to see the unextraordinary above-averageness that may lie beneath the team's deserved but faintly fortunate 7-1 record.

FWIW the tedious and statistically illiterate fanboy stuff on here discourages me, a Packer fan and long-time FO reader, from contributing to the discussion. I rarely even skim read what is written, and when, like this week, I quickly run my eyes over it, I simply regret doing so.

Points: 0

#41 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 03, 2021 - 12:47pm

Don't let it get to you!  Please chime in whenever you have a thought or comment.  The more posts like yours there are on the site, the better the overall conversation is.

Points: 0

#42 by YoHoChecko // Nov 03, 2021 - 3:06pm

I appreciate the replies; thoughtful stuff.

I guess to simplify my ask, and remove from the context of the Packers specifically, since that just happens to be the team I watch closely... 

I think it makes sense not to think too much about a *one-week* gameplan to limit plays and possessions in order to maximize your advantages that week, which shouldn't have an impact on DVOA... But if a team CONSISTENTLY applies that, as a long-term part of their strategy, does it have any predictive value for team success. It might not. I'm not contending that it does, but I'd be interested to hear to what degree play volume or drive volume is consistent for teams from week to week and what, if anything, that has told us about predicting their performances accordingly. 

Points: 0

#43 by ammek // Nov 03, 2021 - 4:14pm

It's an interesting question that deserved the thoughtful replies it got, but not the others.

My hunch is that it can be made to work with the right players. Many of the teams with fewest drives this season are the ones with coaches and QBs you'd associate with canny strategizing: NE, TB, GB, KC, Rams, Saints...

As for the Packers, they clearly have been slowing down the game and minimizing drives. But how much of this is strategy and how much necessity is hard to tell. They were pretty awful on first down against the Cardinals, for instance, which limited their options for going deep on second and, frequently, third down. They did a good job of getting just enough yardage to keep the chains moving, and their first-down playcalling was certainly conservative by LaFleur standards, but I still find it hard to believe that getting into 2nd-and-8 was part of a masterplan to keep the Packers' mediocre defense off the field against Kyler Murray.

Points: 0

#45 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 03, 2021 - 4:31pm

Theres also a conflict between the two reasons you want to limit drives. 

 

1. You're the worse team in a game, and you want to amplify variance .

 

2. You're winning by multiple scores and you want to limit variance.  

 

 

So I think you'd need to classify the data better to do real analysis. 

 

Points: 0

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