DVOA Analysis
Football Outsiders' revolutionary metrics that break down every single play of the NFL season

Postseason DVOA II

by Aaron Schatz

Hey kids, time for postseason DVOA ratings. Last year, we ranked just the 12 playoff teams. This year, based on reader requests, we've ranked all 32 teams, whether they are in the playoffs or not. Any week where a team did not play in the postseason is treated as a bye week. All numbers are weighted DVOA. That means that Weeks 1-5 are not included, while Weeks 6-11 are somewhat discounted.

Let's be perfectly straight here: by this point, this is resulting in some goofy rankings. The weighted DVOA formula is not designed to be used like this. Teams that played a couple strong games at the end of the year show up very high, because they have two empty weeks at the end of the season. Green Bay and Buffalo in the top ten? Not if they had actually played games the last two weeks.

If you want to see the regular total season ratings, you can just use the Just the Stats menu above.

Commentary now up on FOXSports.com as of Wednesday morning. It includes just the 8 playoff teams, and the order has been changed so that teams still alive are listed above teams that were eliminated this weekend.

* * * * *

To save people some time, we remind everyone to put their angry troll hatred into the official zlionsfan angry troll hatred Mad Libs form:

<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>

I'm not going to bother to run the whole DVOA explanation; if you are new to the website, you can read about it here. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

1 BAL 39.5% 1 13-4 6.1% 12 -29.1% 1 4.3% 6
2 IND 32.4% 3 14-4 32.8% 1 0.3% 12 -0.2% 19
3 SD 32.1% 4 14-3 24.6% 2 -3.2% 11 4.2% 7
4 JAC 23.7% 5 8-8 11.8% 8 -11.8% 6 0.1% 17
5 NE 22.1% 2 14-4 6.2% 11 -11.9% 5 4.0% 8
6 NO 16.6% 8 11-6 18.0% 5 1.2% 13 -0.2% 18
7 PHI 14.1% 6 11-7 18.2% 4 2.6% 17 -1.5% 24
8 CIN 10.0% 9 8-8 19.3% 3 10.7% 29 1.3% 16
9 GB 9.0% 10 8-8 -7.1% 21 -19.8% 2 -3.7% 29
10 BUF 7.0% 16 7-9 -6.8% 20 -5.8% 10 8.0% 1
11 CHI 6.6% 7 14-3 -11.2% 26 -12.5% 4 5.2% 3
12 DAL 5.8% 13 9-8 11.8% 7 9.4% 26 3.4% 10
13 CAR 4.8% 11 8-8 -7.4% 22 -14.7% 3 -2.5% 26
14 PIT 4.6% 12 8-8 7.8% 10 1.3% 14 -1.8% 25
15 MIA 3.1% 17 6-10 -10.0% 25 -11.4% 7 1.6% 14
16 TEN 2.1% 14 8-8 1.1% 17 3.8% 19 4.7% 5
17 NYG 1.6% 15 8-9 5.6% 14 3.4% 18 -0.6% 20
18 NYJ 0.2% 18 10-7 3.4% 15 8.0% 20 4.8% 4
19 KC -3.7% 19 9-7 5.9% 13 8.8% 23 -0.9% 22
20 ARI -4.7% 20 5-11 8.5% 9 12.4% 30 -0.8% 21
21 SEA -6.6% 27 10-8 -8.3% 24 1.9% 15 3.6% 9
22 ATL -10.7% 24 7-9 0.1% 18 8.2% 22 -2.6% 27
23 STL -11.2% 21 8-8 15.2% 6 19.6% 32 -6.8% 32
24 DEN -12.1% 22 9-7 -12.4% 28 1.9% 16 2.2% 11
25 MIN -14.8% 23 6-10 -19.1% 30 -9.2% 9 -4.9% 31
26 DET -15.6% 29 3-13 -11.8% 27 9.9% 28 6.1% 2
27 WAS -15.7% 28 5-11 1.5% 16 19.4% 31 2.1% 12
28 SF -16.0% 26 7-9 -7.9% 23 9.4% 27 1.3% 15
29 HOU -16.4% 25 6-10 -3.6% 19 9.0% 25 -3.7% 30
30 TB -25.6% 30 4-12 -18.4% 29 9.0% 24 1.8% 13
31 OAK -26.0% 31 2-14 -34.3% 32 -11.3% 8 -3.1% 28
32 CLE -28.7% 32 4-12 -19.3% 31 8.0% 21 -1.4% 23

Here are the one-game DVOA ratings for the first round of the playoffs. Remember that these include opponent adjustments. Yes, those really are the ratings for San Diego and New England, even though the Patriots won the game. That's why the Patriots drop from second to fifth in the table above.

IND 67% 6% -50% 11%
BAL 10% -56% -53% 13%
NO 33% 35% 5% 4%
PHI -2% 16% 16% -2%
CHI -30% -19% 9% -2%
SEA 37% 17% -11% 9%
NE -25% -45% -13% 6%
SD 71% 15% -59% -2%

The Colts had a defensive DVOA of -76% against Kansas City and -50% against Baltimore, which has moved their weighted DVOA on defense all the way up from 26th to 12th over the last two weeks. Is there any precedent for this? Actually, it turns out there is.

I went looking for every team with a below-average defense that had two straight very good defensive games in the playoffs, as far back as the DVOA ratings go, which is 1997. There are a few of them, but none of them turned things around quite like the Colts.

Year Team Season Change 18 19 20 21
2006 IND 11.3% -74.6% -76.2% -50.4% ? ?
2005 NE 10.5% -40.3% -47.9% -11.6%    
1998 DEN 0.4% -40.0%   -31.5% -47.8% -27.8%
1999 WAS 2.5% -31.6% -20.8% -37.4%    
2006 SEA 4.5% -17.4% -24.1% -10.7%    

"Change" represents the difference between the team's defensive DVOA during the season and the average of its first two games in the playoffs. The 2005 Patriots actually come the closest, but unlike the Colts, the Patriots' defense had been improving during the second half of the season -- the change didn't show up suddenly in the playoffs. This list also doesn't help us figure out if the Colts can keep this going. Only one of these teams survived to play three games in the postseason, and the 1998 Broncos defense was far better during the regular season than the 2006 Colts defense was.

What about on offense? There isn't even one team with an offensive "change" above 30%. Here are the three mildly similar teams:

Year Team Season Change 18 19 20 21
2005 CAR -3.2% +26.1% 28.5% 23.8% -62.0%  
2001 PHI -3.4% +24.3% 21.9% 26.7% 7.4%  
2003 CAR -7.2% +12.6% 4.8% 20.4% 19.0% 39.8%

The 2005 Panthers did play a third game -- and their postseason offensive improvement completely disappeared. The 2001 Eagles weren't that spectacular in their third game either. The 2003 Panthers did keep their offensive improvement going all the way through the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, their defense -- which had been good all year -- had a bad game in the Super Bowl and they lost to... wait for it... the New England Patriots.


421 comments, Last at 25 Jan 2007, 8:02pm

1 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Wouldn't a solution to the weighted DVOA goofiness be to just count every team's last game of the season as being part of their "most recent week"? So, for example, teams that missed the playoffs would count as if Week 17 was last week.

2 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Is the difference of 91% DVOA for the losing team the most backwards a game has been in DVOA history?

3 Re: Postseason DVOA II

wow! that DVOA for Pats-chargers game was mind boggling ...

no wonder LT was upset!

4 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Color me unsurprised about the Pats-Chargers DVOA.
Is there any hope of getting unweighted DVOA including playoff games in the future?

5 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Detroit is clearly ranked too low because Matt Millen told me I had to say it or else he'd hurt my momma! Trend Analysis is way better than this. Please Mr. Millen, please let my momma go!

6 Re: Postseason DVOA II

More in support of what I've thought all year: The patriots offense isnt nearly as good as DVOA seems to think it is. Last year, everyone expected the Patriots D to not be able to hold Denver, and the offense to play well. Exact opposite. D played great, offense blew it. Same thing this year, D played great, offense blew it, but they got lucky and won. Looks like ANOTHER year of the Pats drafting offensively.

7 Re: Postseason DVOA II

4: I don't know how to get DVOA from the future (If I did, I'd be rich), but here is the total unweighted DV
OA including playoffs from the:

8 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I believe the Colts season opening win over the Giants had them losing the VOA battle by more than 91%, but there are no opponent adjustments in week 1.

9 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The 67% difference in DVOA between the Bears and Seahawks really sticks out to me. Watching the game I thought the two teams were pretty close and I wouldn't have been surprised if DVOA said Seattle slightly outplayed the Bears, but wow. I would never have guessed that Seattle may have outplayed the Bears by that much.

10 Re: Postseason DVOA II

6 - So who should they take to fix things? This year's WR crop is very deep, so they don't really need to spend a first rounder there. Line prospects usually go later in the draft, outside of left tackle; the only elite tackle in the draft is going in the top five, so the Pats are out of luck.

I would imagine they'd take a linebacker in the first round. The offense should be able to be addressed later.

11 Re: Postseason DVOA II

At the top of the page it says Regular Season DVOA Postseason Not Included, and revised as of 1/2/07, so i don't think that's it.

12 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Aaron, offhand (in other words, don't expend energy finding an answer) has any team played three straight playoff games without having faced an opponent with a defense that did not finish in the top 12 in either regular season DVOA, or regular season weighted DVOA?

13 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Sorry, I should have pointed this out: the Seattle-Chicago thing is in large part, although not entirely, opponent adjustments, since Chicago has been a much higher-rated team.

14 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I'm a Bears fan. Somebody, please, talk me off the ledge.

15 Re: Postseason DVOA II

AAron, how are the Patriots coming up with such great special teams numbers? Its been now atleast 3 straight weeks where they've gotten absolutely gashed by kick/punt returners. Are thier return teams really that good that theyre outweighing the coverage teams?

10. They dont need a linebacker really. Theres some good free agent talent out there... including one San Diego middle linebacker, and one baltimore OLB, allthough they need a MLB more, Banta-Cain seems to be playing pretty well.

Aaron, I think single game VOA would be better than DVOA. I think in the case of single games, DVOA just kind of muddies the waters.

16 Re: Postseason DVOA II

10: They should take the best player available at any position (but QB) that is available when they draft.

17 Re: Postseason DVOA II

14 - I think Aaron just did.

As a Seahawks fan, I'll cheer against the Bears, but best of luck anyways. Just think about this: the Seahawks basically dared Rex Grossman to win that game. And he did! That's something, right?

18 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re: 9
I thought so as well, is there an easy explanation as to why the Bears DVOA was so low? I know they were inconsistant, but they did move the ball and its not like the defense gave up a lot of yards to the 'hawks. The bears are trending - like a rock.

19 Re: Postseason DVOA II

By the way, the reason I ask is that if Chicago and Indy win, the Bears will end up having playoff opponents which were ranked, in final regular season DVOAs, 20,19, and then 27, defensively. This strikes me as being extraordinary good fortune for a team with the Bears' personnel, but pehaps my perception is inaccurate.

20 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re: 13 Aaron responds before I can even ask the question . . .

21 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re 15

I think DVOA needs to be tweaked if seattle outplayed chicago by 67%. watching the game...simply not an accurate number. Tweaking is definetly needed.

22 Re: Postseason DVOA II

21. Its the opponent adjustments playing havock. Bears defense is rated well, seattle's is rated poorly. If they put up the same VOA, it makes it look like the Bears had a poor game, and seattle had a great one.

23 Re: Postseason DVOA II

15: When did they get gashed for a kick/punt return against SD. The only bad one I remember is the KO out of bounds. Saurbee's punting was very good including a muff and they went 3/3 on FGs and one was a 51 yarder. They didn't return any punts but KOs got good fp. I would say the ST helped keep them in the game.

24 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Statistical forumla designed by Pats fan shows Pats extraordinarily lucky to beat Chargers.

What else can you say?

25 Re: Postseason DVOA II

23 Punts were great, forgot about that.

Now, they didnt get gashed by SD, but they did get comparitively gashed, and maybe thats what I'm remembering. The Patriots average kickoff return that game was 17.5 yards. The chargers was about 23 yards. (if you discount the Mkinnie squib recovery)

They certainly got gashed by Tennessee, and got hit pretty bad by NYJ.

26 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Stupid question, but for a single game, shouldn't the VOA of one team's offense be exactly equal to that of the opponent's defense? I.e. if my offensive plays "succeed" 15% more often than average, doesn't that mean that the other guy made me fail 15% less than average?

In which case, is the difference between, say, the Pats offensive DVOA and the |Chargers' defensive DVOA| entirely due to the fact that NE gets a better adjustment for facing the Chargers defense than the Chargers get for facing the NE offense? Or am I missing something?

27 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#22: Well, not exactly 'havoc'. It depends on whether or not Seattle really wasn't that good (hard to tell, they were playing better the past four games), and whether or not the Bears aren't tanking horribly (again, hard to tell).

If New Orleans just pounds the crap out of the Bears next week, then the DVOA of that game will pull closer together as the Bears adjustments get more minor.

28 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Bill, there was a good deal of luck, and a good deal of Marty's usual issue: Allowing a clearly inferior team to keep the game close.

29 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re 22
Exactly right on the adjustment explanation. That's why we can't use difference in DVOA to show how much one team outplayed another in a single game. You'd have to used difference in VOA for that.

For SD-NE, since the teams are close together the two should be close. This is not true for SEA-CHI.

30 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The Bears at this point have a merely above-average defense. It really is a shame they couldn't pull off the opening-round win last year.

I'd love to see the raw single game VOA, given the up-thread hand-wringing.

31 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I'm really surprise by the difference between NO's & Philly's defensive DVOA considering their offenses are relatively even (so it shouldn't be opponent adjustment), and subjectively it didn't seem like NO had any better chance of stopping Philly's offense than there was of Philly's defense stopping NO's offense.

I'm even more surprised by the difference in total DVOA between Philly and NO. By comparison, it was the closest of the 4 games, but that still feels like an awfully big differential between the two teams. But that's just a completely subjective feeling.

32 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Consider me among those who think that the one-game ratings would be more useful as VOA. DVOA is great for analyzing the relative strength of the teams, but that's not really important anymore. What is important is who-is-outplaying-who, and for that VOA or (I believe?)PAR would be a better indicator.

33 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#7: Future DVOA is easy to calculate. I explained how in post #174 on this thread.

(sorry, I just couldn't resist)

34 Re: Postseason DVOA II

So is there such a thing as an embarrassing victory?

35 Re: Postseason DVOA II

RE 32 and others
I disagree that VOA would be better than DVOA even at this point in the light of single game results showing the Bears play poorly. The most important aspect of DVOA is the predictability aspect, it doesnt necessarily always say who is the best team/player (like standard rankings based on wins/losses) but who will do the best in the future. You are kidding yourself if you didnt watch the bears game and realize they would have gotten beat soundly by anyone other than SEA this week. Hence the low ranking for this game shows they would have lost to a playoff caliber team but got lucky in the fact that they were playing a below average team. This means a lot more to me than a rating that says these two teams were about equal, because how good is it if they are the same? We need to know how good the game was compared to other teams throughout the year.

36 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 15
Banta-Cain is playing the pass well, but he disappears on running plays. An mid-game graphic on Sunday showed LDT running to the right side (Colvin's side) 4 times for about 15 yards, up the middle 5 times for about 20 yards, and to the left 8 times for about 70 yards. The announcers were gushing over Marcus for handling Seymour, but Banta-Cain was doing nothing to provide containment.

37 Re: Postseason DVOA II

34: How about your team up 21 points and the QB kneels for the last play of the game. All the defenders come rushing in and then pull down the pants of offensive players like in the old Meatballs movie when the camp councelors pulled down the shorts of the opposing camp's basketball team. Your center then trips backwards knocking down your QB and then falls down on him squatting over his head and giving him a proper tea-bagging.

38 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 26. There are some situations which affect one team's VOA but not the other, so two team's VOA's don't necessarily add to zero. Opposing FG % and Kickoff Distance, for example, and maybe Fumble Recovery % as well. They affect the outcome of the game, but there is nothing a team can do (presumably) to affect them.

You can see the value of special teams related ones by looking at the special teams stat, which has a column called "VOA w/ Hidden".

39 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Trying to figure out this Bears-Seahawks thing... The Bears clearly outplayed them, outgaining the Seahawks by 65 yards as well as, you know, winning the game. The one clear advantage Seattle had was, surprisingly, on special teams.

Does DVOA account for where on the field turnovers occur? The one thing that sent this game into OT (rather than an outright Bears win) was the fact that both Seattle takeaways occurred near the ends of the field (one at either end), where turnovers are more significant, while the Bears' one takeway was right near midfield.

And of course, DVOA doesn't know this, but Grossman's interception was a fluky deflection to the loan officer, while Hasselbeck's INT was a truly bad throw. (Grossman's fumble, on the other hand, resulted from an incredible play by Julian Peterson.)

41 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I've got a question on how you account for turnovers on 4th down.

Brady threw his infamous interception on fourth down. Depending on what the expected outcome of a pick is, shouldn't it be roughly the same as an incompletion? I'm not sure what the percentages of picks returned for TDs and picks eventually fumbled back are.

Also, NE recovered one of the fumbles on San Diego's 4th and 11 attempt. Shouldn't that count about the same as a sack on 4th down. Does New England get "lucky" points for recovering that fumble even though if San Diego had recovered it then New England would have gotten the ball in 99.9% of those scenarios.

I checked the FAQ again but saw no mention of turnovers on 4th down.

42 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 30 The Bears at this point have a merely above-average defense.

Well, if you go by weighted DVOA they're still #4 and significantly above average. If you go by last week's game, they are below average (9% below [or above, or whatever]).

It really struck me when watching the Bears game that their D wasn't that great. It was such a sharp contrast to the Raven's D. I guess losing Harris was a big deal. Although I didn't see much of Chicago before, they had to have been getting a better pass rush or their DVOA that low would make no sense to me.

43 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re 37: No, I think the Pats were worse.

44 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 35

That may all be true, but since there are only a maximum of 8 teams playing in a given playoff weekend, I don't see how it's all that difficult to list the VOA's of (for example) Chicago & Seattle and then apply the context of the overall quality of the two teams.

In other words, at this point in the season I'd much rather have data that tells me exactly who played better in a particular game and then have to mentally adjust that data for the regular season DVOA ratings.

45 Re: Postseason DVOA II

If I recall, the Bears also lost one or more DB's, right? I think that makes Harris' loss more in the "last straw" category, rather than the "one guy" category.

46 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 39

I'm pretty sure the turnover field position is taken into consideration, but don't quote me on that.

If I had to guess, I would think that the VOA for Seattle and Chicago was pretty close. The reason Seattle looks so good in DVOA and Chicago looks so bad is (as Aaron mentioned in #13) because of the opponent adjustments. They both played pretty equal, but Seattle hasn't been very good (to put it politely), and Chicago has been one of the best teams in the league. So if Seattle's performance against one of the best is about equal to Chicago's performance against one of the worst, Seattle gets a whole crap-ton of credit in DVOA while Chicago's rating just gets craped on.

47 Re: Postseason DVOA II

RE: 41

Not exactly sure about the 4th down thing (although, I'd have to imagine that the comparison to league average makes some sort of difference).

Does New England get “lucky� points for recovering that fumble No one gets points for recovering fumbles. They get some points for causing the fumble, although I can't remember the adjustment made for fumbles on sacks. They're either significantly more likely to be recovered by the O or D (I think D, but I'm not sure).

I did note at the time of the fumble that in real life the fumble hurt the Pats with a few yards of field position rather than Rivers just going down.

48 Re: Postseason DVOA II

JJcruiser #16:

They should take the best player available at any position (but QB) that is available when they draft.

So if there is Tight End who is theoretically the BPA, they should take him? Despite being overstocked on Tight Ends already?

49 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#39: Yes. Search for "how many points is a turnover worth."

Believe it or not, turnovers are, to first order, worth basically the same wherever they occur on the field. It's only a minor correction that turnovers near the edges are worth more.

It makes sense, once you think about it - when the Bears turned the ball over at the 5 yard line, it cost them a chance to score. But it also put the Seahawks in poor field position (with the return, average starting field position). Those two factors basically cancel each other out (a little).

50 Re: Postseason DVOA II


Rich -- you have seen far more of the Pats this year than I (and I know you and I are the only people on the planet who seem to have noticed that Brady missing wide open receivers is not all that unusual). However, even though the season-long DVOA has plenty of bad passes by Brady factored in, the SD game was bad even by his standards. The Pats offense had two open TDs that he missed. He had people open all day. Once NE adjusted the pass pro, he had a lot of time on most pass plays. NE could have put up 40+ points easily if he'd just made the routine passes.

It wasn't like the line was getting abused and the receivers couldn't get open. Ten people on the offense were executing really well.

51 Re: Postseason DVOA II

No. The gap in the Bears "only against the Cardinals" victory in week 6 was 108.8%.

52 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re 44
Good point. But if you are looking forward to next weeks game vs NO and only had VOA to look at and it showed that CHI played pretty decently, wouldnt you have to make the same adjustment showing that they played decent but against a bad team in order to figure out how they will match up with NO? Either way you are going to have to do some math either to get to how "close" of a game it was or how "well" a team played.

53 Re: Postseason DVOA II

51: That game had major opponent adjustments to separate the DVOA's even more. This game was between two pretty evenly matched teams, so I'd imagine the VOA would be pretty similar to the DVOA.

54 Re: Postseason DVOA II

"It wasn’t like the line was getting abused and the receivers couldn’t get open. Ten people on the offense were executing really well."

I completely agree. I was ranting in the open discussion about how Matt light was just utterly dominating Merriman, and then they moved Merriman over to the other side, and Kazcur pretty much shut him down. IIRC, the sack/fumble was an OLB on Kevin Faulk, which isnt a matchupI like. Brady had a good amount of time, and he threw a LOT of passes out of bounds when he had recievers open on the sideline (not throwing them away, just missed the guy by 3 feet, and the ball hit a coach or something.) Hes just not playing all that well, and hasnt been for weeks.

I think that Jabar Gaffney play where Gaffney came across and broke open in the flat, and had to dive back for the ball, for a loss of 2 was pretty telling. He was open, but by the time he managed to corall the misthrown ball, there were two linebackers on him. If that ball is thrown to him, thats a 10 yard gain, instead, its a 2 yard loss.

55 Re: Postseason DVOA II

53: See post 13 by Aaron himself. DVOA was largely affected by opponent adjustment.

56 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 31

DVOA relates to the situation. The Saints D stopping the Eagles on the goal line early in the 4th Q after the Eagles having 2nd & 1 near the goal line helps their rating, and (IMO) the Eagles inability to stop Deuce in the Saints last two drives of the 4th hurts the Eagles rating. IMO, that prob accounts for most of the difference.

57 Re: Postseason DVOA II


The problem is, DVOA makes a close game (in the case of bears/seattle) look like a blowout. The issue is that the opponent adjustment for the bears is no longer accurate, because theyre no longer really an elite team.

In the Case of Philly/NO, Philly is a 25% team, and NO is a 10% team. Them playing each other straight up, should result in a DVOA spread of 30%, which is exactly what happened. If they played even, NO outplayed it's prediction by 15% keeping up with the Eagles, and the Eagles underplayed their prediction by falling to the Saints level.

It looks like a blowout because the opponent adjustments make it about not who played better, but about who played better as compared to the dvoa perception of the team.

58 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I would imagine they’d take a linebacker in the first round.

Don't forget, the Patriots have two first-round picks this year.

59 Re: Postseason DVOA II


Yeah, the Bears lost starting SS Mike Brown for the season (again). He's instrumental in lining the secondary up properly. His loss left them starting a rookie and a 2d year player at safety. They've been caught out of position on several big plays.

60 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#57: Well, you presume they aren't an elite team anymore. If next week they blow the crap out of the Saints, then maybe this week they were just "shaking the rust off" or something, and Seattle was starting to actually live up to their potential, and the DVOA for those games would be accurate.

It really is tough to say.

61 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The reason I ask for VOA is because I want to see how each team played relative to each other, ie. I want to see if the Seattle-Chicago game was pretty even. It's hard to tell with DVOA when two teams are not matched evenly.

Yes, DVOA will show how the Bears played in context to the rest of the year, but I want to know that in addition to knowing about how they played relative to the Seahawks in just that one playoff game.

62 Re: Postseason DVOA II

In the Case of Philly/NO, Philly is a 25% team, and NO is a 10% team.

I'm not really sure where those numbers are coming from. According to last week's DVOA numbers, NO was a 12.7% team and Philly was a 15.2% team. The offenses were only 1.0% different, the defenses were only 2.6% different, and the special teams were only 1.2% different. That's why the difference in the game DVOA has me so confused. By any measure, these two teams are almost dead-even, subjectively the game was pretty damn close, but DVOA (while still saying that it was the closest game of the weekend) gives a fairly decent advantage to NO.

63 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#55:"See post 13 by Aaron himself. DVOA was largely affected by opponent adjustment."

That was the Chicago-Seattle game, not the San Diego-New England game that we're discussing. The Chargers and Patriots are fairly close according to regular season DVOA, so the VOA should be fairly similar.

64 Re: Postseason DVOA II

It's all very circular. Rich Conley presumes the Bears aren't an elite team based on their final three games of the season -- before that, they were definitely an elite team. Now, beating the Seahawks reinforces that, since based on their DVOA the Seahawks were a bad team -- except that based on their last three regular-season games plus their earlier playoff game, they are a decent team, better than the Bears by that criteria.

So the Bears are a bad team (based on their late-season swan dive) who beat a bad team (based on Seattle's DVOA) and thus get negative credit for it. But nobody ever says the Bears are a very good team (based on their yearlong performance) who beat a pretty good team (based on Seattle's performance in its last four games), so they must be outstanding by now.

65 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Wanker, you're looking at the weighted ones, I was looking at the Season DVOA.

66 Re: Postseason DVOA II

58 - Good point. I was curious and checked out the mock draft over at nfldraftcountdown.com, and Scott has the Pats taking a CB and WR in the first round.

I still think a WR in round one would be a waste, since it's not necessary. The Pats seem to be a "system" team when it comes to wideouts, they can probably draft a receiver late that fits their system instead of drafting on talent early. Maybe a Jeff Samardzija flyer at the end of day one.

Corner makes sense, especially if Asante Samuel bolts in free agency. Are the other Pats DBs ok? I suppose they could consider drafting an apprentice for Mr Rodney Harrison, esq. Definately not a replacement, I would never suggest such a thing.

67 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I won't be surprised if we hear about Brady getting shoulder surgery again in the offseason...

68 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Randy, they've drafted about 5 safeties in the last 2 years, and moved a guy who was a pretty good corner (Eugene Wilson) to free safety. If they resign Samuel, theyre in great shape, assuming Hobbs finally gets healthy (hes been playing hurt all season... people forget, he was better than asante last year). Hawkins actually does a good job when hes not facing Jericho Cotchery. I assume they'll take a LB, but I can't see them taking one in the first, more of a developement prospect (of which they've got a few right now).

I dont really see them drafting a WR, as they've got Jackson, who hopefully will be healthy, and has maybe learned the system, and Reche and Jabar Gaffney seem to have stepped up quite a bit to fill in the void. They also aren't doing so well drafting WRs high as of late.

I'd guess they'd look at a premier tackle, or o-line guy, but they just locked up the entire oline till like 2009. Thomas is supposed to replace Graham, so I can't see them drafting another TE high.

They've got Defensive Ends and Defensive tackles coming out their ears, so not there.

So really, I have no idea...maybe a MLB prospect in the first? Maybe a WR...maybe an elite SS prospect if one is out there...

69 Re: Postseason DVOA II


I dont think I'd even blink if I heard that. I'd honestly be more surprised if he isnt.

70 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I'd like to see VOA tables of the games. That would tell us more about who outplayed whom.

71 Re: Postseason DVOA II

63: My mistake, I must have got the lines crossed.

72 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Here's how I see it. Single game DVOA is useful when you want to see if a win might carry over to the next week, or if you want to compare two teams that did not play each other. So when looking at the conference championship matchups, the single game DVOA from the last week or two might help. However, VOA is more appropriate when looking back at a game to determine if the team that "played better" won.

73 Re: Postseason DVOA II

"Single game DVOA is useful when you want to see if a win might carry over to the next week, "

Mike, I disagree. If you look at the season DVOA graphs, the variance for most teams is way too high to take much from the single game DVOA score for a team.

74 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Aaron, since you said that weighted DVOA corresponds worse to playoff performance than unweighted full year, why not give the full year DVOA? And I agree that when weighting you should just count the most recent games and forget about byes for non-playoff teams.

75 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Also, as long as we're showing one-game results, how about VOA too. --Eric

76 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The Bears D was hurt both by losing Harris (Tommie) and having to play Harris (Chris) in place of Mike Brown. I noticed two Alexander runs where missed tackles by C. Harris at the line allowed him to break through for 10+ yards, and those are just the cases where the drop-off in safety play was most obvious.

And add me to the chorus of people who would like to see VOA for individual games rather than (or in addition to) DVOA.

77 Re: Postseason DVOA II

DVOA is a great tool during the year, and I think it really does a good job measuring a team's overall performance and ranking; however, it's not useful at this point in the playoffs. It just doesn't do a good job of measuring playoff intangibles.

The Bears were #1 or #2 in DVOA most of the season, but, by squeaking-out a victory at home (where they bore the burden of thier well-documented run of playoff futility) against a well-coached, defending NFC Champion Seahawks team facing them a second time after being blown-out during the season (over 40% of the time in the NFL, the blown-out team wins the rematch), their rating drops like a rock and it looks like they won't have a chance against anybody left in the playoffs. That just simply isn't the case.

With the monkey off the Bear's back going into this week's game, I expect a looser, more aggressive Bear's team against the Saints. It will be a helluva game, but I'm more inclined to side with the Vegas oddsmakers on this one (whose job it is to measure intangibles), rather than DVOA. Bears win by 3, 27-24.

78 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I'm actually curious how DVOA handles the interception on 4th down that was fumbled to the Patriots. First there is an interception, and with DVOA 5.0 interceptions are treated as if they had a return that was average for the line of scrimmage and position of interception. But the ball is fumbled on the return, and most fumbles close to the line of scrimmage that aren't fumbled at the snap or on a sack have a 50% chance of being recovered by either team. But does the location the fumble happened at matter for DVOA? I'm a little confused because two non-predictive events occur in sequence, an interception return and a fumble recovery.

Related, is it possible that DVOA underrates interceptions on 4th down that are not expected to be returned to the line of scrimmage, because there is a possibility that it will result in better field position than a turnover on downs would give? To put the whole thing in terms of predictive value, does a defense intercepting a pass on 4th down well upfield from the line of scrimmage show that a defense is more likely to intercept long passes on 4th down if not any other down, and if so, does frequently intercepting it in those situations result in the team eventually having a return gain enough field position relative to the field position from a turnover on downs that would offset the field position lost from previous interceptions in that situation? My hypothesis is that interceptions on 4th down are like blocks on special teams, too rare to make predictions from.

Of course, the practical value of this sort of gambled field position resulting from defense on drive stops is inversely proportional to how well the offense can move the ball, with bad offenses needing more help from the defense and special teams to put up points (the Raiders) and good offenses needing less help (the Colts). For the Colts often getting bad field position due to an interception of the other team on 4th down and occasionally getting scoring-drive field position will be less help than consistently getting average field position from drives stopped on 4th down, while the Raiders offense's only hope of scoring may be to start with the ball in field goal range.

79 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I don't mean to be the anti-DVOA guy but the difference between the Patriot's actual results and the DVOA suggests a problem with the metric.

They allowed the 2nd least amount of points and got the 2nd most INTs - yet were 8th in DVOA (without a schedule that would justify that kind of difference). The same essential aberration occurred in 01 and 04 (and to a lesser extent in 03, when DVOA has them 2 when they had an infamously difficult schedule and won the opponent ppg going away) regarding their defense.

Similarly, if a DVOA has a rating has the team that won down by 100% does not that suggest a flaw in the methodology?

I'm not doing this to be a jerk, but merely to point out that an adjustment is probably called for.

80 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Rich, I agree with what you're saying about variance, and I'll try to convey what I was thinking better. I guess a better way to say it would be, to paraphrase what Buzz wrote in #35, that DVOA is more likely to indicate if a team played down to it's opponent, and maybe give a better indication of whether or not they could have beaten a better opponent. If the Bears play the way they did last week when they play the Saints they are in trouble. Of course, who knows which Bears will show up because of the team's variance.

81 Re: Postseason DVOA II


I've said this elsewhere, and I'll repeat it here: check out the DVOA splits. New England has the 3rd highest red zone DVOA defense in the league, and by far the highest red zone DVOA passing defense in the league.

You can't rank defenses purely by points allowed. Points allowed completely ignores any field position surrendered/saved by defense that contributes to offensive points. And that's just the simple version of it.

If you think that preventing points is the end all, be all of a defense, feel free, but it certainly doesn't appear to be true.

82 Re: Postseason DVOA II

No. 80: Like I said before, this is all circular. You can't know if the Bears played down to their opponent's level until you know what that level is. And it's awfully hard to estimate that level for a single game.

Seattle was obviously not very good considering the season as a whole, but they were just as obviously better very late in the year. They looked fairly good to me against the Bears, for whatever that's worth.

Maybe if the Bears play against the Saints the way they did last week, they will lose. Then again, the Eagles' DVOA for last week was much worse than the Seahawks, yet the Saints only beat them by three points. Does that mean the Seahawks were significantly better than the Eagles? If so, maybe the Bears will end up slapping around the Saints.

83 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#39. I've had to correct this several times: The Rex inteception was by the Border Patrolman, not the Loan Officer, even though the story being told sounds better than the truth.

Does this make Grossman's VOA better?

84 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Actually, the Border Patrolman and the Loan Officer are the same person. He is a loan officer who is training to be a border patrolman. He is not, however, a hunter, although his name is Pete Hunter.

85 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: 77

The Bears are down about 10% in DVOA to the Saints, but it's been suggested that homefield is worth about 17%. So your prediction of the Bears squeaking past the Saints is roughly what DVOA would predict.

86 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Hey, anyone else think John Clayton had really weird analysis of the Pats-Chargers game? He claims over and over that the Bolts played not to lose, like he's taking a page right out of the complaints about Martyball playbook without actually having watched the game. Seems like they'd have given LT the ball more if they were playing Martyball. I don't know how he could possibly have been watching the same game I was watching.

87 Re: Postseason DVOA II

86: Indeed. Marty ball=Running the ball early and often, and never attempting 4th down conversions. Marty's game plan this weekend was to try on 4th and 11, and to throw the ball early and often. It was as though he purposefully went against type, pulling a Constanza, as they say. As TMQ might say, dance with what brung ya.

88 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#85: Well, let's be fair - DVOA wouldn't predict anything. It would say "are you freaking nuts? With HFA, these two teams are dead-on equal. Flip a freaking coin."

"Predicting" a single-score victory is just silly.

89 Re: Postseason DVOA II

"(I)f a DVOA has a rating has the team that won down by 100% does not that suggest a flaw in the methodology?"

No, it just means Marty Schottenheimer happened. HTH.

90 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Bears fan - and I'm considering getting my mail delivered to the ledge.

If I was Vegas - and I'm not - I'd favor the Saints by a touchdown. The Bears just aren't very good anymore. It's damn depressing.

And if Aaron prints VOA and DVOA people can stop kvetching.

91 Re: Postseason DVOA II

68: I think the Patriots top needs are an elite SS and LBs. But they have lots of cap space next year, so I'm hoping they will make a big splash in free agency, filling other needs through the draft.

92 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#86- I agree totally. My first thought was that Clayton woke up, realized he hadn't written his piece, had 10 minutes to get something in to his editor... Not only doesn't his analysis fit the game as it was played, but he seems to forget at times the point he was trying to make. Very strange unfocused writing.

93 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I love FO. I really do. Visit here most every day. Love to hear from the peanut galleries from Denver and Indy and Pitt pissing and moaning about how FO is all about the Pats and the Pats are all about luck and the NFL is all abut making the Pats happy. Love to see Rich Conley, classic NE sports fan, running around like Chicken Little--Brady's arm's hanging, it's swollen, it's in a sling (I'm betting if we could get a Webcam in Rich's bedroom we'd see an autographed Drew Bledsoe poster). I love it when the ultimate mensch Aaron goes all Rodney King on us and begs us all to get along. But I got to admit the numbers, the whole DVOA thing makes my head numb. I admit I'm not a numbers guy. But if I saw a system that actually, accurately predicted games from week to week, I'd eat pi for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But DVOA can't even tell us who won last week.. I mean just look at that NE/SD break. Do numbers lie? Numbers crap their pants, my friends. And here's why. You have no way...and will never have a way of measuring the intangibles. And for all the Pats Haters out there, this one's for you: The Pats always lose to teams with better players, but they never lose to better teams, because they are always the better team. And what makes them better is BB preaching situational football and guys like Brown & Brady playing situational football. McRee didn't fumble that ball; Brown stripped him. Brady wasn't on all damn game, he was just on when he absolutely, positively had to be--at the end of the half and with 6 minutes to go in the game. How do you measure that? The loonies can howl all they want about luck and conspiracies and, oooh (a new one) immoral, godless heathenism. The Pats win because of professionalism. I thought for sure they were going to lose on Sunday (and there you go, the numbers bear me out). They SHOULD have lost on Sunday, but every time the camera went to the sideline, they looked like a bunch of firemen fighting a raging 60-story blaze, calmly studying the building blueprints...trying to locate the exits and the gas-lines. Crunching numbers can't account for that level of cool and (uh-oh) calculation, and it's hopeless to think that fans who've been raised on Martyball or the greatest surf on turf or whatever for most of their lives will ever get it (aside to Jets fans, your coach gets it, and you guys are officially dangerous).

94 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Consider the Pats crowned. I congratulate you Dan on having 3-4 hours of free time this Sunday, and you can even avoid the hype of the Super Bowl. You don't need to watch the game to know the Patriots will win.... better team, more professional, screw the numbers, blue-collar, coached by Jesus incarnate.

Thanks for the insight... you're going to make a lot of money the next two weeks, I assume you're willing to bet the house on the Pats right now.

95 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Can we make a new troll template out of that? No? YOU ARE USELESS TO ME, DAN RILEY.

Also, I hope you show up if your pats get beat on Sunday and take your lumps like a man. I know I'll be here crying in my iBeer if the Bears lay an egg.

96 Re: Postseason DVOA II

93(Dan): I'm sorry to go ad hominem but I don't know if there is another way to school an irrational Pats fan (that's you). Your comments would make an epsilon amount of sense if you knew how names are written. Moreover, you are not worth listening until you sound at least halfway intelligent. At present, you, sir, do not.

97 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I think that the colts are going to win the superbowl. and in this post i will not mention "you know who" or "he who should not be named".

the colts defense is playing great. while baltimore does not have a particularly potent offense, kansas city sure does. the reason why the colt's defense is playing so well is

a. they are fed up with everyone talking about how they cant tackle.
b. they have gotten much better at tackling
c. the cover 2 defense that they use, keeps everything in front of them. which means that while they dont give up the big play, they give the opponent's offense short completions and some good runs.

in a cover 2, the players who are covering someone or playing zone, always have their eyes on the quarterbacks eyes, so that they can react quickly when the ball is thrown, if they can do this successfuly, then that means that they may give up 3 yards on a completion, but they YAC after the completion will be close to ZERO.

however, since the colts use a cover 2, it is utterly important that their defensive line plays well and that their linebackers can plug holes and tackle the running back, otherwise, they will be run all over.

apart from the colts defense, their special teams is excellent because they signed vinatieri. they can rely on him to kick the winning field goal, as long as its in his range.

as far as the colts offense goes, they are playing phenomenal. every year, the colts offense is one of the best. and this year, it has struggled a bit more than in other years because of its inability to maintain a solid and consistent running game.

however what people dont realize, is that the colts have been so excellent on offense in the past couple of years, that because they are not doing as excellent is last year, or the year before, that people do not look at the colts offense as their way to win.

they look at the colts defense as the way to lose. but if the colts defense plays against the patriots like they did against the ravens and the chiefs


the colts have an outstanding offense, led by "you know who" they should be able to put up more points than their defense allows to the kind of struggling patriots offense led by "he who should not be named", who threw 3 interceptions on sunday.

so if the colts prevail at INDY, which they will, they most likely will be battling the saints. and i know "you know who" will not let his chance at a superbowl slip by. i know he will throw for 300 yards and 3 tds in a 31-17 rout of new orleans.

98 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Didn't someone say the Pats recovered 4 of 4 fumbles this week? So the Pats got lucky (which DVOA accounts for), and may have gotten lucky in other areas of the game as well.

As to the Saints/Eagles game, I'd expect the VOA to indicate it wasn't as close as the score indicated. Every so often on FO they'll talk about how a steady offense is much better than a 'boom and bust' offense. (ie, an offense that gets 4 yards every play is preferrable to an offense that gets 0 yards 2 straight plays then gets 12 yards on the third play).

The Eagles offense was a boom/bust offense...much of their output came on 2 plays. Lots of Eagles runs seemed to go for little or no gain. Meanwhile the one pass Devery Henderson caught was the only 'big' gainer the Saints had, and it wasn't as long as the 2 Eagles plays. And Deuce's carries were about as bust-free as you can get (check out this weeks Quick Reads).

99 Re: Postseason DVOA II

93:"The Pats always lose to teams with better players, but they never lose to better teams, because they are always the better team. And what makes them better is BB preaching situational football and guys like Brown & Brady playing situational football."


Propositional logic time:

(1) Patriots ALWAYS LOSE TO teams with better players.
(2) Patriots NEVER LOSE TO better teams.
(3) Patriots ARE ALWAYS the better team.
(4) Proposition 3 is true BECAUSE Belichick preaches situational football and players like Brown & Brady play situational football.


If (1), given (2): (5)Teams with better players ARE NEVER better teams.
If (3) given (5): (6)Patriots ARE NEVER the team with better players.
If (1), given (6): (7)Patriots ALWAYS LOSE.
If (7) is true because of (6) and (1), and (6) is true because of (5) and (3), given (4) : (8)Patriots ALWAYS LOSE BECAUSE Belichick preaches situational football and players like Brown & Brady play situational football.

Admit it Dan, you have an unconscious hatred for all things Belichick, Brady, and Brown.

100 Re: Postseason DVOA II

98: Patriots never lose in the playoffs, except when they do.
Colts, on the other hand, only lose in the playoffs to the Superbowl Champs.

101 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I’ve said this elsewhere, and I’ll repeat it here: check out the DVOA splits....
You can’t rank defenses purely by points allowed. Points allowed completely ignores any field position surrendered/saved by defense that contributes to offensive points. And that’s just the simple version of it.
Points allowed is the be all of actual results. Only two statistics are allowed in the final measurement of who won or lost a game - the points each team scored. All other statistics are only worthwhile in that they either a) approximately predict how many points each team will score in a future game, b) measure how those points were scored/what led to points being scored c) quantify how many points should have been scored if luck was eliminated. If a statistic does not contribute to this it is useless.

DVOA has undervalued the Patriots actual results - the amount of points scored by opponents and the number of turnovers (which are noteworthy because they often lead to extra offensive points) - this season and in each of the last three Championship level Patriot teams. This suggests a failure in reflecting actual performance because the degree of error is too great to dismiss as statistical variance.

The Offensive DVOA ranking of the Patriots has not been too high compared to their offensive points scored. Field position is only valuable so far as it helps obtain or prevent points from being scored. Football has a memory but its still a discrete system that doesn't have play by play granularity.

If we look at the DVOA, the Chargers destroyed the Patriots. Yet, the biggest lead in the game was 11 and the Patriots outscored the Chargers over the 2nd half, 3 out of 4 quarters and - in the end the only thing that matters - the course of the game. One can say the Patriots got "lucky" but combined with an undervaluing of actual results in past Patriot years....

102 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Data points, people, data points. One data point (or three) does not DVOA make or DVOA break.

103 Re: Postseason DVOA II

101: "DVOA has undervalued the Patriots actual results"
Huh? They were 5th in DVOA this year with the 8th defense. In 2004 they were the #1 team, with the #6 defense. In 2003 they were the #3 team, with the #2 defense. How much higher do you really think they need to be?

104 Re: Postseason DVOA II

103: sqrt(-1)? I can't imagine a ranking better than that! *rimshot*

Thanks, I'll be here all week!

105 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Dan Riley: Nice post!

And the proof is in the responses you received.

People don't understand what they don't understand.

You speak the truth.

107 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#93: What, nothing about swagger?

108 Re: Postseason DVOA II

For a good points based ranking system, the Sagarin rankings in USA Today are pretty good. See link at my sig.

Sagarin is a synthesis of two rankings: PURE POINTS is a ranking based on points totals and opponent strength. ELO CHESS is a ranking based on wins/losses and opponent strength.

It's flaky early in the season, but starts to look pretty good later in the year.

I try to look at Sagarin's rankings and Aarron's DVOA rankings each week. Both add a piece to the puzzle.

110 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Will #93 trigger the FOMBC or are the Pats still exempt?

111 Re: Postseason DVOA II


The NE-SD game is truly weird. I know that the fumble recoveries account for a lot of the discrepency between the score and the DVOA, but it's hard to believe that the play "success" was as lopsided as the numbers say.

I was curious about how the Pats pulled it off. So I counted the "successful" plays (using 4 yrds for 1st down, half way for second down, and all the way for 3rd and 4th down) for each team. I also counted the field goals and extra points. The number of successes was within 1 or 2, and I think it favored the Pats.

Then I thought that play success leads to first downs, yards, and thus scores. SD had more first downs (by 3). NE had more scores (by 2). And SD's average play outgained NE's average play by 5.2 to 4.4 yards. But NE had more plays (74 to 68, give or take penalties) and the total yards with penalties included favored SD by about 10 yards.

So here's the question: HOW did the Chargers rack up such an incredible DVOA without it showing up in first downs, scores, or yards? Is it all about NE going 5 for 5 on fumbles? Did SD get a lot of worthless yards (12 yrds on 3rd-and-15, 17 yrds on 3rd-and-1?) that look way better than average, but in reality aren't way more useful? Were the NE unsuccessful plays that much more awful? (If so, why didn't that translate into first downs or scores?)

Was SD somehow optimized for getting a high VOA in the least productive way?

Weird. Weird. Weird.

112 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Using a simple pass/fail score like in post 111, you can easily have a high pass/fail be less successful than a lower one, based on when they occur.

Theoretically, a team that goes from 1st and 10 to 2nd and 5 to 3rd and 2 to 4th and 1 (and punting), succeeded on 2/3 of their plays.

That seems like what I saw of SD early when they were squandering good field position.
If the other team then goes 1st and 10, 2nd and 8, 3rd and 5, 1st down, they only succeeded on 1/3 of their plays, but are more successful overall.

113 Re: Postseason DVOA II

I think the guy who posted 93 is really Peter King. That bit about the Jets gave it away.

114 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Brady had 50 more yards on 19 more attempts. The Chargers rushed for 80 more yards.

I think it was the fact that San Diego was successful on a greater percentage of plays.

Special teams is essentially a wash due to Scifres dropping 5 inside the 20.

DVOA doesn't account for positive field position of recovering a fumble, not sure about interceptions. There are some hidden yards there... and also I'm not sure how they account for a kickoff from the 15.

115 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Points allowed is the be all of actual results.

No, it's not! Unless you want to be the one going to tell a team that loses the Super Bowl 7-0 "Congratulations, you held the other team to just 7 points! That's way below the average!"

the points each team scored.

Yes. But "points scored = offense" and "points allowed = defense" is far, far too simple a model of football. (For one thing, what do special teams do? Twiddle their thumbs?)

New England's been one of the top 5 teams in the NFL for the past 3 out of 4 years. They've had a fantastic offense for 2 out of those 3 years. A fantastic offense coupled with a great red zone defense makes a good defense look fantastic.

116 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The problem with the DVOA system is that individual football games are usually determined by a few critical plays at critical times in a game.

For example, a key play in this game was that idiot Charger headbutting the Patriot and giving the Pats a free first down when they had been stopped.

Those things tend to even out over time, so season long DVOA rankings start to approximate the results we see on the field. Even then, there's still a shortage of data compared to "moneyball" in baseball where the whole sport is a statistical excercise played out over 162 days.

All systems in football statistics have real problems with strength of schedule adjustments. Every season is different so using prior season data to identify strong and weak teams is useless. It isn't until you get 12 games into the season that you have enough games to even know what is a strong team and a weak team. We've all seen teams get on a flukey win streak early and then prove to be frauds down the stretch.

The statistical systems really get test in the postseason tournment. I don't believe there is a datapoint for pressure or choking in the DVOA formula. Or a datapoint for teams that take the field in the postseason sky high on adreneline, only to burn themselves out and fade in the fourth quarter (see the Eagles QB Donovan McPuke, the Chargers on Sunday, etc.).

Franky, after watching the Ravens/Colts game, I've decided that football prognostication is a fool's errand. There can't be a single person on the face of the earth who expected that game to unfold in that manner.

117 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Shaun Phillips will have (at least) two shots against the hated (for what they have done now; besides, Colts are my second team) Patriots. Just look at the schedule. NE comes to SD in 2008 and if both win their division, which is an almost certainty for NE considering how weak AFCE has been, NE will play at SD in 2009 as well.

Tom, meet grass; Grass, meet Tom. Well, not really. In 07, Tom, meet field turf; field turf, meet Tom.

118 Re: Postseason DVOA II

They allowed the 2nd least amount of points and got the 2nd most INTs - yet were 8th in DVOA (without a schedule that would justify that kind of difference).

They played one of the easiest schedules in the league, so yes, it does justify the difference. Anyway, they were 2nd in WDVOA until this weekend.

119 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Wouldn't VOA be more appropriate for single games?

120 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#114 Good point. NE had as many successful plays, but more failures. VOA is a per-play statistic, so that gives SD an edge per-play. Somehow (bounce, bounce) that didn't translate into more plays. It's just hard to believe that six extra NE plays can overcome a 71% to -25% DVOA drubbing.

I did not count punts and kickoffs, because I have no idea what counts as a successful result. I did include the penalty yardage - including the 15 yards before the kickoff.

Still, this was not one of those games where the winning team gains half as many yards but wins on interception and fumble returns. Despite the lopsided VOA, they produced about the same number of "successful series of downs".

#112 Timing of the successes is probably a big part of it. 28 out of 33 of the Pats' successful offensive plays contributed to scoring drives. 16 out of 31 of the Charger's successful plays did not lead to scores.

121 Re: Postseason DVOA II

which is an almost certainty for NE considering how weak AFCE has been

That's a misperception. The Sagarin rankings had the AFC East as the toughest division in football this year, followed by the AFC South. All four AFC divisions were ahead of the toughest NFC division.

Remember, the AFC East finished the year with a 12-4 team and a 10-6 team. Buffalo finished a repectable 7-9 against the toughest schedule of any team in the NFL according to Sagarin (Pats twice, Jets twice, Colts, Jags, Bears, Chargers, Ravens). The Bills going 7-9 was actually a very strong season.

123 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Timing of the successes is probably a big part of it. 28 out of 33 of the Pats’ successful offensive plays contributed to scoring drives. 16 out of 31 of the Charger’s successful plays did not lead to scores.

That's reflective of the game plan the Pats ended up with on Sunday. Belichick said that, by the end of the first half, they had already concluded that they were not going to get the Chargers into nickle or dime packages, no matter what. And, as a result, running the ball or dink and dunk passing wasn't going to work.

At the same time, they saw that they could handle the blitz packages and decided to go spread the field and go exclusively to a downfield passing game. By it's very nature, that kind of offensive attack will produce a lot of nothing, interspersed with the occasional successful scoring drive.

In a way, the Chargers were very successful. They forced the Pats to try to beat them with their worst stuff (and abandon their best stuff...the ball control run and sort pass game). Unfortunately for the Chargers, the Pats were able to beat them with their worst stuff. What are ya gonna do?

124 Re: Postseason DVOA II

123: Unfortunately for the Chargers, the Pats were able to beat them with their worst stuff.

Recovering 100% of fumbles is "their worst stuff?"

125 Re: Postseason DVOA II

RE: #124

The Pats were only +1 in the turnover category on Sunday. I don't think that was the determining factor. Don't forget that the Chargers picked Brady 3 times.

Don't get me wrong. I'd rather be +1 in turnovers than -1. But, we aren't talking about -3 or -4 where it is simply impossible to win.

126 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re 77, 101

Yes, DVOA has been rather punishing to the Pats' defense all season. After an early season game against the Jets that the Pats dominated for three quarters, only to give up a few meaningless TDs toward the end of the game, DVOA dropped the Pats D to the bottom 3rd in the NFL. The Pats defensive game plan is less geared to stopping yardage than it is to minimizing the number of points scored. Part of this is based on their weaknesses in the secondary. The biggest threat to the Pats is the possibility of a long TD run by a WR matched against non-Assante Samuel (e.g. Cotchery in the Jets' game). Thus, the Pats' D tends to give up yards to prevent the longer passes.

Having said all of that, I think the DVOA of the Pats/Chargers game shows the limitations of the system. DVOA measures what most of us who were watching the game thought: that the Chargers were dominating the game. The problem is that DVOA doesn't measure the gap between the play-to-play domination and the final result. For example, the now-infamous 4th-and-11 call. The Chargers had driven to the 30 yard line and got zero points from it. I suspect that DVOA is assuming that the Chargers on-field production would actually lead to points on the scoreboard.

Should DVOA be tweaked to reflect the actual results? Nah - if we want to know what the actual results are we can simply look at the scoreboard.

re: 125
The bizarre 4th down play would count as a net zero in the turnover category, but it felt like a turnover in the Pats' column. The interception really would not have made a possession difference as opposed to simply hitting the ball to the ground. OTOH, the fumble recovery really did change the possession. 4th down turnovers (and very long 3rd down interceptions) often do not feel like turnovers.

127 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Since there is no separate thread for this, I thought I'd ask here.

What's been the reaction to there being a game in London next season?

Naturally we're delighted over here.

128 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The NFL's reaction is fans love giving up regular season home games. As a season ticket holder, even assuming the price of the tickets decreased by one game, I'm betting the per game ticket prices would just go up, I'd be pretty pissed. But since it's not my team... (yet) I'm neutral on it. Sounds like you're getting Giants at Dolphins. Seeing the Giants implode in person is a lot of fun, well worth the price of admission.

129 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re: 127
I'm guessing that if there were a regular season game in London, it would involve the Patriots, since they are the closest team (in addition to being quite successful and having lots of fans in London). In addition to their AFC East rivals, their opponent could be the Colts, Chargers, any AFC North team or any NFC East team. Which team would lose a home game? Would said team be compensated?

From the current perspective, the obvious matchup to pick would be Pats/Colts, esp. if Sunday's game is good (I expect it to be) and the winner wins the Super Bowl (which I also expect to happen).

130 Re: Postseason DVOA II

You're right. I saw them doing exactly that against the Chargers in San Diego last year. Priceless...

Losing a home game is a huge deal for both the fans and the team's prospects (though I guess the Fins have pretty much zero prospects next year anyway).

Look at the outcry when the Saints had to play at Meadowlands last year.

That said, whoever comes over here will make plenty of cash.

131 Re: Postseason DVOA II


Apparently it's going to be be Giants @ Dolphins in late September or early October. Both are pretty well supported over here, especially the Dolphins.

132 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Commentary now up:


Just to make sure people understand, we've given up entirely on policing the comment threads this week. Pats-Colts makes otherwise intelligent, reasonable people into blithering idiots -- no matter which team they root for -- and the irrational nonsense has taken over. We're trusting that normal sanity will return next week and hope that longtime readers will bear with us until then.

That also means that if you've made a suggestion or a request in any comment thread related to the Pats or Colts, I'm not going to read it. Sorry about that. Send an e-mail.

133 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Whoa, whoa....there's a New England now?

134 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re 121: Sagarin rankings just dont work for the NFL. Here is a simple question...who do you think a team would rather play... the Jets or the Bengals...the Dolphins or the Steelers...

The AFC East was very weak this year. The Pats and Jets played against a TOTAL of 9 winning teams between them (only 5 if you take away the games they played against each other), and they lost 6 of those games.

That doesnt sound like an exceptionally strong division to me.

135 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#126: Yeah, those sure were meaningless touchdowns. I mean, the Jets couldn't possibly have come back, right? I mean, it wasn't like they made it a one-score game with two-thirds of the fourth quarter left, or got the ball back with a minute left or anything.

The Pats defensive game plan is less geared to stopping yardage than it is to minimizing the number of points scored. Part of this is based on their weaknesses in the secondary.

That's not a gameplan. That's a weakness in the defense. I guarantee that Bill Belichick in the offseason didn't say "You know what we need? A bad secondary. That way, we can build a gameplan around stopping points more than stopping yardage. I think that's really the way to win in the NFL."

It's not insulting, punishing, or whatever else to say that a defense has a weakness. If that weakness doesn't ever cause them to lose a game, that's good coaching, but it doesn't actually fix the problem on defense.

Why do some people have some bizarre desire to see their teams ranked at the top in defense/offense? Last time I checked, it is actually a team game, right?

Incidentally, if you want a list of teams that defensive DVOA has "shorted" over the years, I can give you a long list. And every single one of those teams have similar features - they all have a 'meh' normal DVOA, and a fantastic red zone DVOA, and they all have a unit (defensive line, linebackers, secondary) that's markedly worse than the rest. That unit gets hidden as the field shrinks.

And usually, those teams have underperforming offenses as well, unless the team has great special teams also. This is because they're losing field position on each drive, and they need a way to get it back.

Remember Denver, beginning of the year? How everyone was fawning over the fact that they had allowed so few touchdowns? No one noticed that their offense was starting with the worst starting field position in the league.

I suspect that DVOA is assuming that the Chargers on-field production would actually lead to points on the scoreboard.

It was a 49-yard field goal. That would have led to points on the scoreboard about half the time. The Patriots defense has no control over either the Chargers playcalling nor the Chargers field goal percentage.

Note that I'm not criticizing the Patriots at all (God forbid). But fans are putting way, way too much bizarre man-love on the defense, and ignoring the significant contributions the offense and special teams are having. End result is still the same - Patriots are a top 5 team in the league - but the credit is going to the wrong unit on the team.

136 Re: Postseason DVOA II

#67: I've been saying there is something wrong with Brady's arm ever since they were shut out by Miami earlier this season. He's struggling to get zip on the ball and he has to do a full windup for little 10 yard passes. I'm looking forward to shoulder/arm/Tommy John surgery this offseason, followed by the decline into Tom "Chad Pennington" Brady.

137 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Steelberger (#134 )--

The AFC East was very weak this year.

Combined DVOA for the divisions in 2006:

AFC East: +12.3%
AFC North: +27.5
AFC South: +8.7
AFC West: -1.0

NFC East: +33.7
NFC North: -5.6
NFC South: -17.4
NFC West: -57.1

If, by "Very weak," you mean "Second strongest in the AFC and third overall," then DVOA agrees with you.

138 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re: 93

Numbers lie when they are intentionally misused by people with agendas (agendae?). The good people here at FO are trying for a predictive system. If one team beats another by 100% in DVOA, that means that the higher team will win something like 9/10 times. Just because the 1/10 time happened, it doesn't mean the system is wrong. Last week's win-loss results are unimportant when it comes to predicting who will win next week. I give FO credit for sticking their necks out and saying the Pats played a much worse game than the Chargers DESPITE the result. Remember earlier this year, when the Eagles were ranked in the top 5 despite their 6-5 record? Even a McNabb-less Eagle team proved to be the 3rd best in the NFC. It's easy to be swayed by winning percentages and results, but those do not predict outcomes.
As they caution every week, DVOA is a tool. If you think the Pats' situational savvy is worth 3 extra points per game, then use DVOA and then tack on 3 points to the Pats.

139 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re 93:
I'll remember this. When I'm a coach I will spike the gatorade with Prozac. My players will be the most calm, cool and collected individuals ever which means they will surely win the game.

140 Re: Postseason DVOA II

"That’s not a gameplan. That’s a weakness in the defense. I guarantee that Bill Belichick in the offseason didn’t say You know what we need? A bad secondary. That way, we can build a gameplan around stopping points more than stopping yardage. I think that’s really the way to win in the NFL."

Pat, I would agree with you, if the Red Zone defensive DVOA wasnt so much higher. Its pretty damn obvious at this point that bellichek really doesnt care what happens in the middle of the field.

141 Re: Postseason DVOA II

"Incidentally, if you want a list of teams that defensive DVOA has shorted over the years, I can give you a long list. And every single one of those teams have similar features - they all have a ‘meh’ normal DVOA, and a fantastic red zone DVOA, and they all have a unit (defensive line, linebackers, secondary) that’s markedly worse than the rest. That unit gets hidden as the field shrinks."

Right, but theres an assumption here, that DVOA makes, that the rest of the field is as important as the red zone, and I frankly disagree. To make that point, you have to prove that DVOA between the 20s correlates to wins better than red zone DVOA

142 Re: Postseason DVOA II

"Remember Denver, beginning of the year? How everyone was fawning over the fact that they had allowed so few touchdowns? No one noticed that their offense was starting with the worst starting field position in the league."
Yeah, adn DVOA (at the time) said their Defence was better than their Offense, so this goes counter to your argument.

143 Re: Postseason DVOA II

The Ravens are clearly ranked too high because they are no longer playing. Post 93 is way better than this. Teh Patriots are so clutchy that it's uncanny. Tom Brady is the messiah, Bill Belichick is a saint, Asante Samuel is Allah incarnate, and Vince Wilfork is Buddha.

Having just read this entire thread, I want to thank Peter King for making a personal appearance under the name Dan Riley (echoing earlier sentiments). As always Peter, I would ask you to shut up. You give us Pats fans a bad name.

144 Re: Postseason DVOA II

137: The AFC East, regardless of what numbers you want to use, was just not very good this year.

Sure Sagarin and DVOA say they were good, but the fact is that they have accumulated all of those wins because they were scheduled to play against the NFC North (crap) and the AFC South (not much better than crap).

Lets look at it this way...against teams with winning records at the end of the season, OUTSIDE of the AFC East....

The Pats were 1-2

The Jets were 0-2

The Fins were 2-2 (the class of the division, by the way)

The Bills were 0-4

That is a combined 3-10....wow....

Which brings up another point...the AFC East played a total of 40 games against teams in other divisions...which means that 75% (30) of those games were against teams that were 8-8 or worse. That brings up another...wow.

So basically, the AFC East beat up on bad teams this year...but couldnt cut it against the good teams....does that pretty much sum it up?

145 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Sorry, my math was off...it is 68% (27 games). That changes everything.

146 Re: Postseason DVOA II

re: #143 Okay, using your advanced metrics, please rank the divisions 1-8. Tell us which divisions were clearly better than the AFC East and why. Bonus points for using the zlions template.

147 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Yeah, adn DVOA (at the time) said their Defence was better than their Offense, so this goes counter to your argument.

No, it doesn't. Their defense was better than their offense. Their offense was bad. It wasn't "worst in the league" bad, though, which is what they looked like by points scored, or at least close to it.

To make that point, you have to prove that DVOA between the 20s correlates to wins better than red zone DVOA

No, you don't. If that were true, then you wouldn't use red zone DVOA at all. What you meant to say was "to make that point, you have to prove that DVOA between the 20s correlates to wins at all." But, uh, that's what Aaron did. What you would need to show is that performance between the 20s doesn't correlate to wins at all. Good luck with that one.

Keep in mind red zone plays are already boosted by 20% (it's in 'Our Stats Explained'). So red zone performance already counts more. Boosting it more just makes it correlate with points less.

Of course, you could try to enhance DVOA by boosting red zone offense/defense even more, and correlate it with wins, right? Oh wait. That's already done, here, with "estimated wins" (again, it's in 'Our Stats Explained'. Really, just read through it and read through all the links.)

And red zone offense/defense does improve a correlation with wins. Minorly. About a factor of 6 less than offense/defense in general.

One of the things that Aaron's said many times here is that if there's something that people have thought would improve DVOA, it's probably already been done. This is one of them. It's been done.

148 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Pat, I would agree with you, if the Red Zone defensive DVOA wasnt so much higher. Its pretty damn obvious at this point that bellichek really doesnt care what happens in the middle of the field.

No, it's not. He just doesn't have a choice right now.

Their red zone defensive DVOA isn't that much higher. You're making it sound as if New England is thunderously better, and no other team is like that. Minnesota's the same way. Hey, guess what? Minnesota has exactly the same problem New England has! Denver's pretty similar too, although Denver's problem is the defensive line.

Oh, and hey, look there, Philly's up there as well. They're even #1 in Goal-to-Go defense. And I know a little about that team. Philly, also, has had a strong red zone DVOA defense for the past few years. And Philly also has a striking weakness that gets hidden in the red zone as well (Philly's red zone rushing defense: -10.6%. Philly's rush defense elsewhere - not so good).

So what happens to Philly's defense when a team closes in on the red zone, and especially when they get in goal-to-go situations? The field shrinks. The safeties move closer to the line. And suddenly, those safeties - like Brian Dawkins and Mikell are able to keep teams from gaining a yard with one yard to go. Even with multiple attempts.

Philly has crappy linebackers. New England has a weak secondary. Denver has a weak defensive line. Minnesota has a weak secondary.

This isn't me being biased against New England or something. Philly fans have been talking about a "bend but don't break" defense for a while now. They call it a 'philosophy'. I call it "Jim Johnson can't find decent linebackers."

Now, maybe JJ and Bill Belichick aren't looking to have great linebackers/a great secondary. That's fine. And they probably aren't, because they believe they can compensate for them (and they can). But if they got them, they'd be a much, much better defense.

149 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Here is a simple question…who do you think a team would rather play… the Jets or the Bengals…the Dolphins or the Steelers…

I can tell you without a doubt that the Patriots would rather play the Bengals than the Jets and the Steelers than the Dolphins.

Pats and Jets played against a TOTAL of 9 winning teams

Can you get any more convoluted that that?

As far as Sagarin's ratings "not working", I have not noticed that they are any worse than DVOA at predicting future games. One could argue that the Sagarin ratings are more valid.

At least Sagarin's rating don't move the Patriots DOWN in the rankings after beating the winningest team in the NFL on the road in a divisional playoff game like DVOA does! Common sense tells us that when your #2 ranked team (DVOA) beats your #4 ranked team on the road, the losing team doesn't actually move ahead of the winning team the following week! But, that's exactly what happened with the DVOA rankings. I think that legitimately earn the moniker "doesn't work".

150 Re: Postseason DVOA II

Re: #120, #123: about the timing of the successful plays

That reminds me of the scoring system in bowling, where getting multiple strikes in a row is worth a lot more than the same number spread out over the game.

Does VOA account for which play number it is in a drive? Should gaining a first down on 3rd and 4 at mid-field be worth more if it's the third first down than if it's the first first down of that drive?