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20 Nov 2007

Week 11 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

By now we're used to DVOA giving an account of a game that's very different from conventional wisdom, and even at times very different from the final score. That was definitely the truth with two games in Week 11.

The Cleveland Browns had what seems like huge emotional win, beating the evil ex-Browns (a.k.a. the Ravens) in overtime. Despite this, the Browns actually drop a spot in the DVOA rankings. To the DVOA formula, this was effectively a tie against a bad team. We're all so used to thinking of Baltimore as good and Cleveland as bad that it is hard to see it this way, but how would you feel if the Giants had to scratch their way through overtime to beat the Texans? The difference in DVOA is roughly the same; only the perception is different.

On the other hand, you have the Broncos' 34-20 win over the Titans. That looks like a solid victory, not an overwhelming one -- but Denver gets a 96.0% DVOA, making this one of the top games of the season. Denver outscored the Titans despite running 23 fewer plays. All three Denver touchdown drives went 80 yards, and the Titans fumbled four times and only lost one. After two weeks without Albert Haynesworth, the Titans have gone from ranking as one of the top 10 defenses of the DVOA Era to not even ranking as the top defense of 2007. Even stranger, the number one pass defense is now Indianapolis. Raise your hand if you thought that the Colts defense would carry Peyton Manning through the regular season... yes, that's none of you.

Overall, the Broncos climb three spots this week, and the Titans drop five.

Of course, let's be honest -- all of this movement is dwarfed by the story of the season, which is New England's quest for the perfect season. By now everyone is probably sick and tired about talking about how dominant the Patriots are, but every week it gets more and more impressive.

* * * * *

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 11 weeks of 2007, 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 consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

To save people some time, we request that you 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>

1 NE 73.7% 1 74.2% 1 10-0 51.3% 1 -16.9% 3 5.5% 7
2 DAL 39.0% 3 38.4% 2 9-1 30.3% 2 -9.2% 7 -0.5% 16
3 IND 34.9% 2 32.5% 3 8-2 25.7% 3 -15.7% 4 -6.5% 30
4 GB 28.4% 5 28.9% 4 9-1 18.7% 4 -7.1% 9 2.5% 10
5 PIT 25.4% 4 21.3% 5 7-3 7.4% 11 -21.1% 1 -3.1% 23
6 TB 20.6% 6 20.3% 6 6-4 15.4% 5 -7.2% 8 -2.0% 18
7 SD 14.4% 7 16.3% 7 5-5 2.7% 15 -4.0% 12 7.8% 2
8 JAC 13.5% 8 14.5% 8 7-3 12.1% 9 2.7% 17 4.1% 9
9 NYG 9.9% 11 11.9% 9 7-3 7.0% 12 -5.8% 10 -2.8% 22
10 SEA 9.4% 9 8.1% 11 6-4 1.8% 16 -1.8% 14 5.8% 6
11 WAS 7.5% 14 7.8% 12 5-5 0.9% 17 -5.0% 11 1.6% 13
12 PHI 5.9% 13 2.5% 14 5-5 13.9% 6 3.6% 19 -4.4% 29
13 CLE 5.4% 12 8.3% 10 6-4 12.6% 7 15.9% 29 8.7% 1
14 MIN 4.0% 15 3.8% 13 4-6 3.8% 13 1.8% 16 2.0% 11
15 TEN 2.7% 10 0.7% 16 6-4 -11.5% 25 -18.5% 2 -4.3% 28
16 DEN 1.8% 19 1.0% 15 5-5 11.5% 10 10.9% 24 1.3% 14
17 ARI -1.1% 18 -0.4% 17 5-5 -2.2% 20 -2.6% 13 -1.5% 17
18 CIN -2.3% 16 -3.1% 19 3-7 12.3% 8 14.7% 27 0.1% 15
19 BUF -5.3% 17 -2.2% 18 5-5 -8.2% 23 3.4% 18 6.2% 4
20 KC -9.1% 24 -7.5% 20 4-6 -19.7% 29 -14.0% 5 -3.3% 25
21 HOU -9.4% 23 -12.3% 22 5-5 -0.8% 19 10.6% 23 2.0% 12
22 DET -12.2% 22 -11.2% 21 6-4 -4.1% 22 1.5% 15 -6.5% 31
23 BAL -12.6% 20 -14.4% 23 4-6 -22.4% 31 -13.8% 6 -3.9% 27
24 NO -17.8% 21 -14.5% 24 4-6 3.7% 14 17.6% 31 -3.9% 26
25 MIA -18.3% 26 -18.8% 27 0-10 -0.6% 18 15.4% 28 -2.2% 19
26 CHI -18.5% 28 -17.5% 25 4-6 -20.9% 30 3.7% 20 6.2% 5
27 NYJ -20.1% 29 -17.8% 26 2-8 -3.4% 21 23.1% 32 6.4% 3
28 ATL -23.0% 25 -22.3% 28 3-7 -14.6% 26 6.0% 22 -2.4% 20
29 CAR -24.5% 27 -24.3% 29 4-6 -11.5% 24 5.5% 21 -7.5% 32
30 STL -34.2% 30 -32.0% 30 2-8 -19.0% 28 12.0% 25 -3.2% 24
31 OAK -34.3% 31 -34.0% 31 2-8 -18.6% 27 13.2% 26 -2.5% 21
32 SF -51.6% 32 -54.0% 32 2-8 -39.9% 32 16.3% 30 4.6% 8

  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).

1 NE 73.7% 10-0 71.6% 10.0 1 4.5% 9 -2.0% 18 2.8% 32
2 DAL 39.0% 9-1 36.3% 8.1 3 3.1% 10 -3.0% 20 8.5% 22
3 IND 34.9% 8-2 29.2% 8.4 2 6.0% 6 -12.6% 25 16.0% 9
4 GB 28.4% 9-1 32.4% 7.4 4 -0.4% 17 -14.5% 28 8.2% 23
5 PIT 25.4% 7-3 34.0% 6.3 7 -6.5% 27 4.0% 13 30.3% 1
6 TB 20.6% 6-4 18.9% 6.5 6 -4.7% 23 -23.7% 32 20.5% 6
7 SD 14.4% 5-5 6.2% 5.6 13 7.7% 3 -12.7% 26 27.9% 4
8 JAC 13.5% 7-3 12.1% 6.7 5 1.6% 16 -2.6% 19 7.2% 26
9 NYG 9.9% 7-3 11.1% 5.8 9 -0.5% 18 13.4% 7 5.8% 28
10 SEA 9.4% 6-4 21.0% 5.6 12 -11.4% 32 -17.9% 29 13.8% 12
11 WAS 7.5% 5-5 -5.5% 5.3 15 10.1% 2 9.9% 9 8.9% 20
12 PHI 5.9% 5-5 3.8% 5.8 8 2.5% 13 21.8% 2 15.9% 10
13 CLE 5.4% 6-4 3.2% 5.7 10 1.8% 14 -18.0% 30 8.7% 21
14 MIN 4.0% 4-6 4.0% 5.6 11 1.7% 15 -12.6% 24 20.1% 7
15 TEN 2.7% 6-4 4.6% 5.1 17 -2.2% 21 1.7% 16 16.0% 8
16 DEN 1.8% 5-5 0.4% 5.3 16 5.3% 7 -10.6% 23 28.4% 2
17 ARI -1.1% 5-5 5.2% 4.5 20 -6.8% 28 -22.3% 31 28.1% 3
18 CIN -2.3% 3-7 -0.5% 5.4 14 4.8% 8 -14.1% 27 3.0% 31
19 BUF -5.3% 5-5 -16.2% 5.0 18 12.7% 1 4.8% 12 10.2% 17
20 KC -9.1% 4-6 -10.2% 4.4 21 3.0% 12 -9.5% 22 11.2% 15
21 HOU -9.4% 5-5 -6.4% 4.2 22 -5.6% 24 15.8% 6 13.6% 13
22 DET -12.2% 6-4 -5.2% 4.9 19 -2.1% 20 21.0% 3 21.4% 5
23 BAL -12.6% 4-6 -8.8% 3.7 25 -7.3% 30 27.9% 1 8.1% 24
24 NO -17.8% 4-6 -14.8% 4.1 23 -5.6% 25 -8.1% 21 11.1% 16
25 MIA -18.3% 0-10 -27.6% 3.3 29 6.6% 5 11.7% 8 5.0% 29
26 CHI -18.5% 4-6 -17.2% 3.8 24 3.0% 11 6.7% 11 4.9% 30
27 NYJ -20.1% 2-8 -24.3% 3.4 27 7.1% 4 18.7% 4 9.0% 19
28 ATL -23.0% 3-7 -13.8% 3.3 28 -7.0% 29 2.4% 15 7.7% 25
29 CAR -24.5% 4-6 -20.9% 3.4 26 -2.0% 19 2.6% 14 14.3% 11
30 STL -34.2% 2-8 -30.0% 2.2 30 -7.7% 31 7.4% 10 12.9% 14
31 OAK -34.3% 2-8 -27.2% 1.8 31 -3.6% 22 16.8% 5 9.9% 18
32 SF -51.6% 2-8 -42.7% 1.3 32 -6.2% 26 0.4% 17 6.9% 27

Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch

2007 NE 73.7%   2007 NE 51.3%   2005 SF -55.9%   2005 SF -41.3%
1999 STL 46.4%   2004 IND 45.0%   2000 CIN -55.0%   2007 SF -39.9%
1998 DEN 43.5%   2000 STL 38.7%   2007 SF -51.6%   2002 HOU -36.8%
2002 TB 42.1%   2000 IND 36.3%   2005 HOU -49.5%   2004 MIA -36.0%
1996 GB 40.5%   1998 DEN 34.3%   1999 CLE -48.5%   1999 ARI -35.9%
2000 TEN 40.0%   2005 SD 32.2%   2004 SF -46.4%   1997 NO -35.1%
2004 NE 40.0%   2005 IND 31.6%   1998 PHI -44.3%   2000 CIN -33.4%
2001 STL 39.4%   2004 KC 30.6%   2000 ARI -44.0%   2006 OAK -33.0%
2007 DAL 39.0%   2002 KC 30.4%   2002 HOU -42.3%   1998 PHI -32.6%
2004 PIT 38.7%   2007 DAL 30.3%   2000 CLE -39.8%   2001 CAR -31.4%

In Audibles, Ned Macey asked about the Pats and the biggest-ever gap between the top two teams in DVOA. Here is a table of the top two teams in DVOA after Week 11 each of the past dozen years. This year is the biggest gap by far, of course. And just in case you think this is a case of reduced parity in recent years, notice that the smallest gap between the top two teams after Week 11 was... last year.

2007 NE 73.7% DAL 39.0% 34.7%
1998 DEN 43.5% DAL 24.9% 18.6%
2002 TB 42.1% OAK 26.6% 15.5%
2003 KC 38.3% TEN 24.0% 14.3%
1996 GB 40.5% DEN 29.9% 10.6%
1999 STL 46.4% JAC 38.6% 7.8%
2000 TEN 40.0% MIA 34.1% 6.0%
2005 IND 36.8% DEN 33.3% 3.5%
1997 SF 34.9% DEN 32.1% 2.8%
2001 STL 39.4% PHI 37.6% 1.8%
2004 NE 40.0% PIT 38.7% 1.3%
2006 CHI 34.3% SD 33.9% 0.4%

How dominant are the Patriots compared to every other team of the DVOA Era? Only six other teams ever had a DVOA of 40% or higher after ten games. Five of those teams won the Super Bowl, with the 2000 Titans as the only exception. No team had ever been at 50% DVOA after ten games. The Patriots aren't just over 50% -- the Patriots have not had a single game with DVOA below 50%.

Remember, the Patriots are not the first team in recent memory to spur talk of a perfect season. The 1998 Broncos and 2005 Colts both started 13-0 before losing. The Pats' DVOA is almost twice as high as the DVOA ratings of those two teams after 10 games. Here's our first week-to-week chart of the 2007 season, but this time we're comparing the three teams that have gone 10-0 during the DVOA Era. These are the DVOA ratings for each individual game during those two 13-0 starts, plus the ratings for each Patriots game. I've noted the scores of some of the best and worst games. The Broncos actually won two games during their streak despite a DVOA under 0%. I didn't have space to add the scores of the worst Pats games -- their lowest ratings of the season were Week 1 against the Jets and Week 5 against the Browns.

The Patriots have played ten straight games with a DVOA rating above 55%. The 1998 Broncos and 2005 Colts, also undefeated after ten games, had only seven games over 55% combined. Wow.

As for the 49ers, well, what can you say? They make me sad. My acquaintance with people in the front office outweighs my Patriots rooting interests.

Housekeeping: Everything should be updated, including individual and team stats pages, the premium database, the playoff odds, and the Loser League.

(Playoff odds are now updated.)

For (short) comments on every team, remember to look for DVOA on AOL, every Wednesday. (This will be linked on the FO Goes Mainstream page.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 20 Nov 2007

207 comments, Last at 27 Nov 2007, 12:55pm by mrparker


by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 6:55pm

Amazing. The Patriots offense is so good, that if you gave them the worst defense in the NFL (the Jets'), and the worst special teams in the NFL (Carolina), it looks like they would still be about the sixth-best team in the league (tied with Tampa Bay).

by Todd M. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 6:56pm

Wow. If it was any other year, people might be talking about how well the Cowboys are playing. Instead, they are absolutely dwarfed by the dominance of the Pats.

by Yosi Scharf (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:01pm

I'm not getting an updated playoff odds page yet.

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:02pm

As a Steelers fan, I'm curious: what's the record for variance over the course of a season?

Also, it looks like the playoff odds are still on Week 10.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:05pm


How about if you gave the Pats a league average Defense and Special Teams, they would still be the best team in the history of DVOA.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:05pm

The Giants jumped 7 spots in special teams?

Geez... the Lions' ST really is horrendous. The Giants got their longest punt and kick return of the season in that game.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:06pm

Just out of curiousity, why was the Pats game against Buffalo so much lower (well, relatively :) than the Washington game?

by SGT Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:07pm

Amazingly enough, it looks as if New Englands worst performance of the year came against the Cleveland Browns. When's the last time anyone would have wrote that down?

by Bayou_Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:08pm

It looks like the Saints little run of 4 wins in a row is a distant memory now. They're now back to their bumbling sub-mediocrity that they've had for the last 6 years, excluding the fluke that was last year, and their sub-par (even for them) performance during the post Katrina days.

And, with that little winning streak, they've managed to shoot themselves in the foot for a shot at a top 5 draft pick. Oh well, leave it up to the Saints to screw up even being bad.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:08pm


Yes I cry about it every night. Only kidding! Maybe... ;)

by MMM (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:10pm


Putting up 50+ on the 11th ranked defense is more impressive than doing the same to the 18th ranked defense.

by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:12pm

Indeed, and it makes me sad on so many levels. If this were any other year, I'd be beaming brighter than the sun.

As it stands, every happy feeling I get from this fantastic team is dwarfed by the fact that it won't be enough in the end. *sniff*

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:13pm

Another interesting tidbit: the Steelers' DVOA went down 7.4% after losing to the bottom-dwelling Jets, but their variance actually decreased 1.3%. That ought to be a bad sign for Pittsburgh, suggesting it was their excellent games which were driving their obvious inconsistency, more than their poor ones.

by Tony C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:15pm

My Cowboys were the 2nd best team in the league after 11 weeks in 1998? I must've slept through that season or something. I remember something about a guy named Moss dressed in purple being pretty good.

by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:22pm

#14 - Not unless the cowboys played in Denver.

by Lance (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:25pm

By Division, the NFC East is pretty impressive. The whole group is in the top 12. Only the AFC South has more than one team ranked so high.

by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:26pm

Actually I read the chart wrong. Tony was right.

by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:27pm

Too bad KC and BAL aren't playing each other. Regardless of where Vegas set the Over/Under line, you'd just take the under, no matter what. A mortal lock if ever there was one.

by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:27pm

By the way, why did the Pats special teams drop so much this week. I thought they did pretty well against Parish.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:29pm

I guess they had a -4 yards punting total. Next time, they should go for it. ;-)

by SGT Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:29pm

14 - That was also the year of John Elway and some HB who's initials were TD. Denver and Dallas were pretty solid (all around) teams, whereas Minnesota had a fantastic statistical offense. But we know that DVOA doesn't care if you get 400 passing yards in a game if you fall behind 30-7 and make up the difference. I know Minnesota never fell behind like that, but they were a boom and bust offense, with a little more boom than bust (if I remember it correctly.)

by M (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:34pm

#1 & #5 - scarier still is that the Patriots have the best combined DVOA of defense and special teams; most of the other top defenses have poor special teams play. If they had an "average" offense, they would still be the fifth best team in DVOA; as it is the offensive DVOA dwarfs the contribution of defense and special teams. I think this is the first time ever that the point differential of the top pro football team might surpass the point differential of the top college team (exception might be the 1942 Bears - whose +292 differential may be broken next week).

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:37pm

And the gap between the conferences gets a little smaller.

Teams 2-8 in each conference are practically a draw. So basically all the good teams in the AFC have a comparable counterpart in the NFC with the one exception of New England of course.

I'll have a bunch more charts tomorrow.

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:38pm

#20 - Law of unintended consequences I guess.

by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:39pm

How 'bout this one: If the Patriots and the Cowboys were to play in the Super Bowl today, a Cowboys' victory would be a bigger upset by DVOA than the Patriots' victory over the Rams after the 2001 season, despite the fact that the Cowboys are the ninth best team of the DVOA era.

by admin :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:39pm

Whoops. My bad. Playoff odds are not up yet. Soon.

by ebongreen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:42pm

It's interesting to see the Packers up in the #4 slot, with OFF, DEF & ST all in the top 10. NE is the only other team with that distinction.

Naturally the ST DVOA is aided when your opponent only puts 10 men on the field for a fake-FG pooch kick and you get a 94-yard return out of it. :-,

by Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:45pm

Re: gap between the conferences

Through week 11, the NFC is 23-21 against the AFC, and that includes 2 losses to the Pats.

by bowman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:50pm

The 2nd best DVOA for QB's (Garrard) doesn't have a single WR or TE in the top 20 DVOA, but a RB who has the 3rd best DVOA for receiving (which is still 30% points below Garrard's).

When does FO start the Garrard for pro-bowl talk?

by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 7:52pm

NE wins 56-10 and only goes up .5% in DVOA?


by Thinker (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:06pm

Wanker: Like your charts. Removing NE looks like the sides are pretty balanced except that the bottom third favors the AFC slightly.

by Levente from Hungary (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:07pm

It is funny. Before the season GB was expected to have a good season by riding the force of its defense. And now offensive DVOA is #4, ST #10 while defense is "only" #9.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:09pm

All the buzz THIS week is focused justifiably on the Colts, whose top-secret "punting out of bounds" technique helps their ST ranking skyrocket from a lowly 32 to a lofty 30, in just one week! According to my own personally-developed advanced metrics (yes, NASA helped me with some of the grunt work on this), at this rate, if they punt out of bounds EVERY DOWN for the next 12 games, they'll be #1 in ST by Week 7 next year.

Then you will all feel their wrath.....

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:11pm

As mentioned in the audibles thread, the way for a team with a good offense to maximize the chances of upsetting the Patriots is by radically abandoning the punt. It'll be interesting to see if someone has the guts to try it.

The gap between the Cowboys and Packers narrows. Barring significant injury before their meeting, I'll predict a Packers upset win right now. I really think the Packers corners will be the difference.

The Packers, led by The Timeless One, upsetting the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl, would be one of the greatest storylines in NFL history. Given I won't be sending out the bottles of superior whisky that I promised in another thread a few weeks ago, this is what I may as well root for. Even though it would make Peter King unreadable for the rest of King's career.

O.K., making King unreadable isn't much of a leap, nor is it something to be regretted, but never mind......

by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:18pm

Re: 21 That was also the year of John Elway and some HB who’s initials were TD. Denver and Dallas were pretty solid (all around) teams, whereas Minnesota had a fantastic statistical offense. But we know that DVOA doesn’t care if you get 400 passing yards in a game if you fall behind 30-7 and make up the difference. I know Minnesota never fell behind like that, but they were a boom and bust offense, with a little more boom than bust (if I remember it correctly.)

I'd call them a "boom and boom" offense. The fewest number of points that the Vikings scored in any game in 1998 was 24. They often were too explosive to produce the multiple-first-down drives that push up DVOA. The Vikings didn't need to get four first downs on six plays to score a TD from the 50 yard line when all they had to do was have Cunningham chuck the ball to Moss in the end zone. DVOA is based in part on the general rule that big plays are largely a consequence of circumstance and luck, and hence a sustained scoring drive is more impressive than a scoring drive that features just one or two big gains. The 1998 Vikings were one of the few teams to violate this rule, as they were able to achieve relatively consistent explosiveness. Hence DVOA underrates their offense. I’m not criticizing DVOA; I’m simply saying that it wasn’t built to measure a uniquely awesome offense like the 1998 Vikings’. Aaron, please jump in if you believe that I've misrepresented anything here.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:19pm

I love your idea, but... what's the payoff for that big risk? Aside from bragging rights? I could see if Pitt had 1 loss and NE had none, then the huge risk gets them the #1 seed if they win, and a loss still keeps them in the hunt for #2. The way things are now, their payoff would be "we broke their streak" versus "eh, we were 3rd seeded anyway..."

I don't see coaches taking risks like that for no clear reward. Now in the playoffs... the risk/reward is more stark: either win or pack your bags.

Still though, I see this as a very conservative bunch and it would take a burning bush type moment to make a coach move himself that far away fromt he philosophical herd. Have I just mashed together every metaphor known to man? So be it; that's the kind of zany risk-taker I am.

by akachazz (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:19pm

what's WEI dvoa?

by Thinker (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:20pm

NE kickoffs were shorter on average than they have been and two runbacks were allowed out over the 35 (net).

The eyes were deceived, though because the coverage team stopped Buffalo inside the 20 three times, and the Patriots held the Bills' return yard average to about 18 per kickoff.

The return game appeared fine if unspectacular.

The only other play was that punt. I guess slo-mo has correctly identified the culprit play.

We know that DVOA excludes some plays as "garbage time". I am sure that the 2007 NE juggernaught is making for some challenges there. That punt Sunday night is an example. BB would almost never punt from there even on 4th and 10 for the exact reasons demonstrated. There are just too many possible outcomes worse than trusting their offense with another play - even if it fails.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:26pm

37: Weighted. It gives recent games more weight than earlier games.

by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:45pm

Re: 34 The gap between the Cowboys and Packers narrows. Barring significant injury before their meeting, I’ll predict a Packers upset win right now. I really think the Packers corners will be the difference.

I would take the Cowboys' superb receivers in a match-up against the Packers' corners any day. Al Harris remains good, but he's not the dominant force that he was two years ago, and I continue to be flummoxed by the hype surrounding Charles Woodson, who really looks no better to me in pass coverage than he did with the Raiders. The Packers have some of the best pass rushers in the game; yet their pass defense is only average. Their secondary simply isn't as good as advertised. The match-up that I believe favors the Packers is the Packers' defensive line against the Cowboys' offensive line. If the Packers were to pull the upset in Dallas next week and/or in the playoffs (and make no mistake; it would be an upset), that's the defensive unit that is more likely to deserve the credit.

by Biebs (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:46pm

I was looking at just how bad the Jets run defense was

32nd in run stuffing (15%)
31st in run success (81%)

2nd in 10+ yards gained!! 8%! How does a team that can't stop the run at the line rarely give up a big run? Does that imply that the Jets have good tackling secondaries/ slow linebackers.

This just seems interesting, does anyone have any insight on how this would happen?

by Tony C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:53pm

#27 - I've seen three fake-play/pooch punts attempted in pro & college in the last two weeks and the results were a pair of 9 yard punts and a return for a TD. It has to be one of the worst risk/reward decisions in sports. If you're gonna punt, just put the punt unit that practices every day out there already!

by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:58pm

I believe the charting data from last season showed very good results for Woodson. Haven't seen what it says about him this year, or watched him play, so it's possible he's reverting back to Raider-levels this year but at the very least, last year he was among the top corners in coverage, as far as the game charting data is concerned.

I would venture a guess that perhaps their scheme is so geared towards preventing the big run that it suffers otherwise. Mind you this is just speculation from someone who has not watched them more than 6 or 7 quarters.

by Michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:01pm

41: Read the discussion of the Steelers and Jets in Any Given Sunday.

20: In the aforementioned article, someone suggested that the Steelers high variance may come from poor 1st and 2nd down performance and a, prior to week 11 at least, league best 3rd down performance. If so, their variance should drop somewhat after a game where they did not perform well on 3rd down.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:16pm

20: In the aforementioned article, someone suggested that the Steelers high variance may come from poor 1st and 2nd down performance and a, prior to week 11 at least, league best 3rd down performance. If so, their variance should drop somewhat after a game where they did not perform well on 3rd down.

I thought the "variance" score reflected week-by-week total game DVOA, not play-by-play variation. If that is the case, per-down performance would not influence the final score (IOW, a team with high per down variation would have the same total variance as a team with identical, average per-down DVOA).

On the other hand, if Pittsburgh's variance was high because the outstanding games were the outliers, as opposed to the poor ones (contrary to the general perception), then another poor game will lower the variance more than another outstanding game. Or am I missing something?

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:33pm

Albert Haynesworth 2007 Defensive POY. I kept thinking that the entire game Monday Night, but if he doesn't get back soon the Titans may not win another game.

John Lynch is another guy that makes a big difference when he is playing. I always assumed that SD would win the West no matter how bad they played, but that may not be the case. Denver is a top 10 offense and moving up and their D may be good enough to 5 out of 6 remaining games.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:36pm

Regarding a strategy to beat the Patriots I think Will is on to something; why kick the ball to a team that is going to score anyway? Regarding a defensive strategy I would think a Buddy Ryan approach along the lines of you might get your 40 points but your QB isn't going to make it out of the game. I'm not talking illegal dirty football, just bring the house every play and hope the pressure brings about some mistakes and a gun shy QB.

NE does seem unbeatable, but just three weeks ago Indy almost beat them minus a bunch of key injured players. I wouldn't write off Indy yet if guys like Harrison get healthy.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:38pm

Vikings 13th in offence, 16 in defence. Who would of believed that.

Given the state of the QB and Receiver position it seems likely to me that the Vikings in 08 will be a top offence. Maybe Childress isn't quite the idiot he's mostly believed to be.

by hwc (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:39pm

Yeah. Belichick would never have punted from the 30 yard line in a normal situation. The score was 56-10. He was trying to show a little mercy...and give his punter a little game experience.

BTW, the punter sailed the ball through the end zone. I believe he was told to do that rather than pooch punt, pin the Bills on their goal line, and risk running up the score by two more points.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:43pm

To clarify my point re: Viking offence. If you're 13th with such obvious weakness at certain spots then it suggests the other areas of the offence must be very strong.

By the way - when are we going to start the TJack just wins argument - the Vikes are 4-2 when he starts.

by Jesse (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:51pm

What amazes me is not only are the Patriots this ridiculously good, but their variance is also the best in the league...so they're the most consistent team in the NFL as well as being by far the best.

by Hemlock (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:52pm

I haven't even read any comments yet, but I already know what they say. One of my favorite parts of coming to this site is seeing a bunch of non-athletic, non-competitive, pasty whiny children bitch about the Patriots. Talking about "class" and "respect for the game" and "cheating," just revealing that they probably haven't been in a competitive situation in their lives, and if they have they didn't try hard enough.

Outside of that I come for the advanced statistics. The commentary is obnoxious, pedantic, and mostly incomplete.

by Goran (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:55pm

Just wondering; how does running up the score influence DVOA?

by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:58pm

Re: #52

Try reading the comments.

They are actually highly complimentary of the Pats DVOA.

You would have been better keeping your mouth shut and thought of as a fool versus opening it and removing all doubt.

by Hemlock (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:59pm

And that, my friends, is why you should read the comments even if you decide to rhetorically say you haven't read the comments. Excuse me while I eat foot.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:00pm

Is there a correction factor you can use to account for the blowout games NE is having with regards to 4th & x? The idea that they have repeatedly gone for it in a blowout when just about every other team in history would have punted or kicked a FG must come into play somehow. Any stats on this?

I may just be another fan complaining of a loss to NE, but I would like to know if there is something to this "running up the score"...thoughts?

by ak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:03pm

To beat the Pats (or at least keep it competitive), why not go for the offensive version of the NHL trap? Assume NE is going to score a TD or at least a FG every drive. Play keep away as much as possible. No punting - play for all 4 downs. Keep the ball on the ground as much as possible. Run the clock down every snap. All you need is 2.5 yards a play to keep the drives alive. And if the run is working, some short passing routes will open up.

Phi has the #1 rushing O against NE's #11 rushing D. NE's going to eat their #21 passing D alive, so this seems like the only way to have a fighting chance.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:07pm

I just want to say that if I knew beforehand that a team would be going for it on 4th down all game against the Pats, that would make me about 300% more likely to watch the game.

by Michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:08pm

#45: I'm fairly new here, so you're probably right. I was just mentioning a comment from the other article.

I guess we won't know for sure which games are the outliers until the season is over, maybe?

by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:09pm

#52 + #55 = Comedy Gold

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:12pm

Re: #45

You're missing something. Assuming that what FO calls "variance" is at least similar to what statisticians call "variance", then what will decrease it is a DVOA close to their average DVOA. Being 10 over your average will have the same effect as being 10 under your average.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:14pm

Re: #57

Heck -- why don't teams that are out of contention do that sort of thing as a matter of course? If you're the Dolphins, why the heck not pull out all the stops to try to win. It's not like a loss is going to keep you out of the playoffs at this point.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:16pm

Re: #56

Amazingly, Peter King actually has something sensible to say about RunningUpTheScoreGate in today's MMQBTE.

by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:22pm

Boy when your the 25/32 team in the league it's hard to press hard for a return of the coaching staff. Most likely the Raven and Jets game will decide their fate. It's interesting most of the top teams have past the hardest part of their schedule while most of the chasing teams appear to be entering harder parts of their schedule. Not a good sign if you're trying to improve your playoff position.

by Yosi Scharf (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:46pm

I find the top of the past schedule rankings fascinating. It seems that NE is so good that it skews things a bit. The top 7 (and the best teams they played):
1. Buffalo (played NE twice, Dallas once)
2. Washington (played NE, GB, Dallas)
3. San Diego (played NE, GB, Indy)
4. NY Jets (played NE, Pitt)
5. Miami (played NE, Dallas)
6. Indy (played NE)
7. Denver (did not play NE)

of NE's first 10 opponents, 6 are the top 6 in past schedule difficulty. The others are 7 (CIN), 10 (DAL), and 14 (CLE).

Certainly in the case of Buffalo, being the only team to have played NE twice has given them the dubious distinction of the hardest strength of schedule so far.

by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:48pm

#46: Denver is a top 10 offense and moving up and their D may be good enough to 5 out of 6 remaining games.

Top 10 offense moving up, sure enough. Javon Walker will hopefully be back next week. And the newbies on the O-line, Chris Myers and Chris Kuper, are improving every week.

Whether the defense will be good enough is what I'm dubious about. The run defense is much better, even allowing them to do without the 8th man in the box at times. (It was almost funny, hearing the ESPN commentators parrot the line about the Broncos improving against the run by putting 8 men in the box, exactly when they stopped White on a 2 yard gain with 7 men in the box.)

It is the pass defense that worries me. The linebackers seem to have forgotten how to cover... Denver is last in the league defending passes to the TE and almost as bad against the slot receiver. The defensive DVOA page says that we're 3rd in the league against passes to the RB which made me rub my eyes a bit, because I clearly remember Tomlinson shredding us on screens even though we kept him under control on the ground. Even Chris Brown had 4 receptions for 61 yards last night. Something fishy there.

Special teams has improved tremendously... cheers for Scott O'Brien. And the D's improvement means that Bates is no dummy and there is hope. Let's see what we do against the Bears next week.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:52pm

#57 ak, you sound dangerously like TMQ with the 2.5 yard average stuff. Yes, that's true, but what if you get 5,3,1,0 and give them the ball at your own 30, then 6,1,1,1 and give them the ball on your 35. even if your next offensive play nets 15 yards (bringing your 9 play above 2.5 on average), you are 14 pts in a hole 3 minutes into it. That's scary. And the coach would be looking for a job soon (unless his GM and owner seriously hate Pioli and Kraft).

Rather than looking at it as just 2.5 yards average, it's a matchups and situational game. You need to succeed in getting 1st downs rather than dialing up a 2.5 yard play every time. And 4th downs would probably need to be played like any other down--no 1 yard plunge conservatism. Assuming you have a 50/50 shot of that succeeding on 4th and 1, might as well go for another 50/50 play, like a quick hitch to the WR, which might end up getting 8 or more, and would loosen up the DL next 4th and one if they think you're "crazy."

I agree that a team with "nothing to play for but pride" should try this, and frankly, anybody who thinks they are seriously overmatched should at least give it a whirl. Tenn tried it against Indy a few years ago with 3 onside KOs in the first half and for 30 minutes, it looks like it had potential. Then the wheels fell off.

It takes a real firm committment to the new paradigm and, of course, execution. A seriously overmatched team rarely has great execution in the first place.

While I like going for it on 4th, I also like what Indy did the past two weeks at 4th and 1 inside the 5 YL. Once they tried and failed to draw SD offside (undermined by a Vinatieri SNAFU--otherwise, that's a brilliant play) and the next time, they ran the QB plunge. Now any opponents who find themselves in this situation can't just sit on their asses to prevent an offsides penalty and they can't twitch at the slightest hint of a play--they have to play it totally honest, and that gives the offense a slender advantage. On 4th and 1, that slender advantage is pretty big. Keep them questioning, and you have an edge.

Dial up a whole game plan of 2.5 yard plays and you lead your men to slaughter. And a boring one at that.

by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:56pm

So what went wrong with the Niners this year? Smith wasn't that great last year, so I can't believe his suckitude/injury could be responsible. The offensive line appears to have gotten much worse, as it looks (subjectively) like Gore is running well when he gets breathing room.

Could Norv have made THAT big of a difference?

And how did the defense add a good linebacker, a good corner, and a competent safety and get worse?

At least they'll have a top 5 draft pick to fix things... d'oh.

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 11:38pm


I haven't seen a lot of the 49ers this year (they are the tree than falls in the woods that nobody hears), but what I have seen of them it seems the D isn't bad - it just wears down because the O is historically bad. Smith should not play the rest of this year and Dilfer is no longer a NFL QB. That leaves....oh boy. I think I rather have the 1977 Rams Namath or the 1973 Chargers Unitas over those two.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 11:43pm

To beat the Patriots, the best strategy would be to figure out what the Colts did and copy that. They at least made the Patriots offense look mortal.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 11:46pm


Play at home, have a great offense, one of the best QBs in NFL history, and a top 3 D?

by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 11:52pm

I think the /real/ key to beating the Patriots is to spike the ball after every first down. You are penalized 10 yards for the delay of game, but it is still 1st and 10! So, you get the ball first, take 30 minutes driving down the field, and get 7 points. Onside kick to start the 2nd half. If they get the ball, they get 7. You spend the remainder of the half moving 11 yards forward, 10 yards back until you score again! Final Score - 14-7


by Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2007 - 11:55pm

re: 70 The key is consistent pressure with the front 4. I don't know who else can get that (and I'm not sure the Colts minus Freeney can anymore either). The Titans with Haynesworth, perhaps?

by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:01am

I love the spike plan. To repeat the Colts strategy, you need to also take out coach to QB radios (Brady couldn't hear the sideline all game), and ensure that the bad reffing impacts the Pats more than you.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:09am

73: The Giants would be a good choice for that strategy.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:09am

Speaking of (lack of) punting, the Pats' Chris Hanson doesn't even qualify to be listed in the "league leaders" for punting because he doesn't have enough punts.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:10am

#61: You’re missing something. Assuming that what FO calls “variance� is at least similar to what statisticians call “variance�, then what will decrease it is a DVOA close to their average DVOA. Being 10 over your average will have the same effect as being 10 under your average.

Mmmm... hat was precisely my point. If a team's game that is supposedly, by general judgment, their worst performance so far reduces their variance, it means that that game is closer to the mean of the team's games than their best games. In other words, one or more of the best games were more fluky that the worst.

Either that, or the general judgment was wrong and the supposedly worst game was not the worst game after all (possible, but then they must really have stunk against ARI or DEN, since those are decent teams, unlike the Jets). Game-by-game DVOA analysis of the Steelers' season so far should answer that.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:11am

Courtesy of Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and his assessment of the Packer secondary in the most recent game:

"Testaverde completed just three of 10 passes for 14 yards to receivers covered by Charles Woodson, who instinctively undercut a crossing route to Keary Colbert for his fourth interception. Unlike some others in the secondary, Woodson is all business all the time. With Steve Smith sidelined with a shin injury, Harris tried to intimidate towering Drew Carter. However, Carter took the ball away from Harris on a 26-yard fade, then took advantage of shoddy zone coverage and tackling by Harris for a 49-yard gain."

This is not the first time that McGinn has alluded to Harris taking a casual approach to an opposing receiver. While the coaching staff gave Al a "pass" for the beginning of the season due to the injuries he was suffering Harris is now believed to be healthy but has taken more than a relaxed approach to his job. He is more than willing to mix it up at the line of scrimmage but when he allows a free release he seems to wander around at times as opposed to honoring his assignments.

Woodson has not been perfect by any stretch but he is making far more positive plays than negative.

But both guys are blatant in their use of hands. They challenge refs to throw the flag multiple times a game. And both guys also know that a good many receivers will back down after getting roughed up early. So far it has worked more often than not.

by ak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:14am

#62 - honestly, I don't know why coaches of miserable teams (I'm looking at you, Miami) don't do crazier things - you might as well have some fun out there

#67 - i'm not saying play for 2.5yds/play, only that you need to average that - sure sometimes you'll get burned deep in your own end, but against a team like NE, that saves you what, 3 minutes, before they move the ball the distance anyways?

if you're already outmatched, where's the loss in taking big risks - if you hope bb will show mercy by pulling brady at +40, who cares if that point comes in the 2nd Q or the 4th Q?

by TanGeng (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:17am

#72 That's awesome! You just need an offense that'll be able to convert 30 first downs in a row. But then it'd be as good as the New England offense.


by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:34am

80: Maybe the Pats should try that strategy. Bonus is no more accusations of running up the score.

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:49am

I may just be another fan complaining of a loss to NE, but I would like to know if there is something to this “running up the score�…thoughts?

Tom Brady gave his thoughts on that yesterday on the radio. He said that he has only played 10 games with Moss, Welker, and Stallworth, that they aren't on the same page yet, and that they need the reps to continue developing the chemistry that a QB and receivers have after playing together for a while.

So according to Brady, the Pats still have a lot of room for improvement if they want to be ready for the playoffs.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:52am

Does anyone know if you can work out what the Pats' first half DVOA is vs historical teams? I ask because they are so far ahead that there is probably some bonus to their DVOA as a result of their running up the score/ legitimate professionalism.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:56am

Re: #82

If anyone wants to hear that part of the interview, go here:
and skip ahead to the 11 minute mark.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:05am

I'd like to nominate Kyle Eckel for MVP. Every time he carries the ball, the Patriots win. He is so feared that fans consider it unsportsmanlike for him to run the ball. His mere presence on the field skews DVOA to historic levels.

He's better for winning than the awesome "kneel to win" play. He's godlike.

And served his country, too.

God bless Kyle Eckel. And God bless America.

by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:09am

78. I'd like to see them get handsy with TO. Ok, that came out wrong, but you get what I mean.

by countertorque (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:14am

RE: 74

It's good to know that no matter how good an NFL team gets, fans can still whine about how tough they have it.

Actually, I'm not sure it is good to know that.

by Jason H (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:15am


You know, if the Eagles ran every down they had the ball and blitzed every down when the Pats had the ball, I wouldn't be upset when they lost by 60 points. At least they would have tried something different.

Also, I'd probably try an on-side kick for every kickoff I had. Who cares if you give them the short field, they're going to score anyway. So might as well try to keep them from getting the ball.

So, all runs, all blitzes, and all on-side kicks.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:20am

82: "So according to Brady, the Pats still have a lot of room for improvement if they want to be ready for the playoffs."

Very scary. And probably true.

Remember that the Cowboys and the Colts both gave the Patriots a run for their money, so it's safe to assume that Brady is serious about making the Pats offense even better.


by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:25am

#83: If anything, I think any effect on the Pats' DVOA because of out-of-reach games would be negative, in the aggregate. Apart from the games when Brady was pulled early, I was at the game in Buffalo, and in the third quarter the offense was really just coasting, more like practice session rather than game intensity level - it was palpable. If the Pats had really tried hard until the end, they could have likely hung another 3 touchdowns on the Bills. I suspect the same happened in at least some of the previous games.

I suspect that previous "historic" teams did not have such a high fraction of games in which they purposefully did not take every possible chance to score.

I wonder whether in about a month against the Jets we may see NE going at it until the very end. (Honestly, I hope not.)

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:37am

Remember that the Cowboys and the Colts both gave the Patriots a run for their money, so it’s safe to assume that Brady is serious about making the Pats offense even better.

No question about the Colts and Cowboys. I would suggest, however, that the eight minute stretch in the 4th quarter against the Colts was probably the best all-around football (offense, defense, special teams) the Patriots have ever played. If you go back and chart that eight minutes -- two TDs, two defensive stops, two good kick coverages, and an excellent punt return -- it was close to perfection in all phases of the game. Belichick was very happy.

BTW, the Brady interview linked above is fascinating listening. He flat out says that the Pats are trying to demolish their opponents and establish an intimidation factor to the point where teams coming into Foxboro in January don't think they can win.

I hope somebody is writing a book about what is being said in the team meetings. There are enough little hints coming out that suggest this team is on a mission.

by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:41am

#90: I'm not a lover of the Pats or Jets, although I did live in Boston for 3 years. But I'm pretty excited for that game against the Jets, in a kind of morbid way. I want to see what happens when the greatest team I can remember keeps the pedal to the metal for 60 minutes. I am legitimately interested in watching a great offense at work.

Does this make me a bad person? They're all professionals. It's not like one of those high school games that's 72-0 after the first quarter. And I definitely wouldn't want to see this every game. But just once, against a guy that broke the code of omerta that every schoolboy knows (don't rat out your compadres to the teacher)...

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:42am

I wonder whether in about a month against the Jets we may see NE going at it until the very end. (Honestly, I hope not.)

I think they will not only go hard to the end, I think they will play no-huddle hurry up offense to give themselves the highest number of possessions and scoring opportunities. The most number of points scored by one team in a game is 72 back in 1966. I think getting that record against a Mangini team will be the goal.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:45am

Okay, Wanker, time to get into the NFC/debate. How you can switch from arguing a few weeks ago that if we ignored 6 teams then there was almost parity, to now arguing that if we only look at 14 teams there is almost parity, is almost beyond me.

To the facts: In a week with no interconference play (and I'm sure that has something to do with it), here's what happened:

* The NFC got better (from -3.8% to -3.6%) while the AFC got worse (from 3.9% to 3.8%). The Week 8 to Week 9 drop was more significant.

* Position switchups mean the average AFC team drops from being better that 8.9375 NFC teams to only being better than 8.75 NFC teams. So instead of a full place shift, it's only three-fourths of a place shift.

* In the AFC, East (7.5%) is now stronger than North (4.0%), while the NFC East solidifed its lead over the rest of the NFC, although the NFC North is now at least positive in DVOA (0.4%).

* The interesting discrepancy is in the middle of the pack. The top 8 teams in each division are positive; but in the NFC, it drops off pretty badly in negative numbers (ARI -1.1, DET -12.2, NO -17.8, CHI -18.5, and then the four teams of true suck at -23 and below). In the AFC, the progression is more gradual (CIN -2.3, BUF -5.3, KC -9.1, HOU -9.4, BAL -12.6, MIA -18.3, NYJ -20.1, and then the poor lonesome Raiders sucking at -34.3). So in the bottom of the pack, we see a gentle trailoff of bad to worse teams, instead of the giant step functions down in the NFC).

* The 2006 AFC division winners (NE, BAL, IND, SD) have an average DVOA of 27.6; the NFC division winners (PHI, CHI, NO, SEA) plop in at -5.3.

* The 2006 AFC division losers (MIA, CLE, HOU, OAK) actually improved this week to -14.2, not only putting them 5 points ahead of the NFC West, but closing the gap on the NFC South to a mere 3 points (8 points last week). The 2007 AFC division suckers (NYJ, BAL, HOU, OAK) now ring in at 19.1, keeping them .3 ahead of the NFC West.

* Only one NFC 2006 division winner has the highest DVOA in its division - Seattle, at 9.4%, the lowest current division leading score.

* Division DVOA deviation is now under 10% for 6 divisions - the two divisions over 10% contain the two outliers (AFC East and NFC West)

So no, I don't think the NFC has reached parity with the AFC; I think that parity has gotten its teeth into the NFC and is dragging it down. Let's see if Dallas pulls out a multi-year strong streak before we assert that AFC dominance is dead.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:52am

countertorque 87:

Isn't interesting how you call that a whine? Note that I didn't say, "The refs were out to get the Pats." I noted that in that game, the bad referee play - which I think we are seeing everywhere across the league - impacted the Patriots far more than the Colts. Just an assessment; having an extra 150 yards put up on your side of the board is going to help.

I also didn't assert a cause of lack of coach-QB communications. For all you know, I credit the amazing Indianopolis fans, and not the piped in noise run off of Bobman's PC. Whatever its source, taking out that channel - a legitimate tactic - seriously impacts a team. Assuming it was the RCA Dome crowd, good on them. They made the Pats use handsigns instead of verbal communications.

The Colts also played very, very well. Except for one important thing. The Colts tired out faster than the Patriots did. Which is one reason that the Patriots play 60 minutes of every game, even if they downshift to another gear.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:32am

I have absolutely not one care if Belichick is "running up the score" or not. It's meaningless. They're pros, and they should be prepared to play the game.

I do have one statement about it, though, which is I don't quite understand why - at the end of the 3rd Quarter, leading by 25 and having 4th and 1 on the 6 - Belichick goes for the TD. I don't think that's "running up the score". That's "playing the odds". The problem, as I see it, is that Belichick has to continue to coach in this league, and he's not making alot of friends by doing this sort of thing.

Assuming his next few teams are THIS good, then he's got little to worry about. But I think Cowher is on to something when he says stuff about other teams taking out key personnel. These guys are pros, and are putting themselves on the line every game. It sucks to lose so badly, and somebody with a steroid rage problem is going to go nuts, eventually.

That doesn't mean Belichick is doing anything wrong. I just think he should start thinking about the way what he's doing is being perceived.
Whether he's running up the score or not (he's not, I'm putting a hypothetical out there), if people are TALKING about "running up the score", then a perception has developed and it isn't going to go away.

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:48am


Belichick says that he doesn't like kicking a field goal in that situation because the guaranteed 3 points is running up the score. Giving the other team the opportunity to stop a 4th and 1 play is not guaranteed points and it keeps the clock running. BS? I don't know.

Brady says two things:

a) The Pats are trying to improve. They don't want to end up with a must make 4th and 1 in a tied playoff game not having faced that situation in a game.

b) The Pats are trying to intimidate teams that may be coming into Foxboro in January. They want their future playoff opponents to question whether or not they can even be competitive with the Patriots.

Take your pick. It is what it is.

by bsr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:56am

#96 - I don't think that Cowher was saying that he expected someone to get mad and hurt someone intentionally. In fact, I have a hard understanding this logic. There are plenty of things that happen throughout a game which are much worse then someone scoring an extra TD or two against you in a game. If it was so easy to snap then we would be seeing much more of it then we have. I believe Cowher's point was that you are simply exposing him more to the random chance of injury then you have to. I really believe that the "running up the score" issue is largely a media creation. I have yeat to hear any coach say anything other then "I have no problem with it."

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:09am


Don Shula has a problem with it.

Which is exactly why I'm starting to actively root for the Pats to go 19-0 (unless they face the Giants, of course)- if you actually look closely, the '72 Dolphins aren't nearly as impressive as they/the media make them out to be, and I'd like to see them taken down a notch.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:29am

A little late to this discussion, but I hope Will Allen is right regarding the Packers CBs vs the Dallas WRs, but as a Packer fan I'm not quite as optimistic about the matchup. There are currently exactly two WRs in the NFL that scare me against the Packers D: Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.

Though I can't remember too many details about the specific matchups since they were a while ago, these are the two guys I can remember seeing Al Harris not be able to cover one-on-one. Harris nearly shut out Steve Smith in his great 2005 season, and held Chad Johnson to about 60 some yards that same year. But against Philadelphia Harris couldn't stop Owens from having a big day, and Moss's TD against Harris sealed only the second home playoff loss in Franchise history.

Owens won't be catching 4 TDs against the Pack. But GB won't be able to shut him down playing man coverage all day, either. I'd almost prefer to see Woodson take on Owens, as Harris has a chance to shut down Crayton, while Woodson is better at capitalizing on QB mistakes, and might trade some moderate gains for an interception.

by jeffreyd (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:29am


Using the stats you post

an average AFC team is better than 8.75 NFC teams so then an average NFC team is better than 7.25 AFC teams. This sounds like its close to parity to me.

All the 2006 data says to me is that the top teams in the NFC changed while the AFC held pat. How does the teams that won last season determine parity. If the top teams change that points to parity.

I think on a whole the AFC is better but not dominate. Do you think that the second best team in the NFC GB is significantly worse than the Colts?

by Ch V Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:46am

I think the 72 fins team has 2 major advantages over teams that are chasing the dream for multiple season.

First, weak schedule with very few quality opponents.

Second, 14 game schedule. I seriously think that the '98 Broncos (13-0) and '05 Colts (13-0) would have gone on to challenge their opponents in game 14 if it was a 14 game schedule. The teams were still 2 weeks away from putting in max. effort in a game that has very little consequence from the post-season perspective and/or making history.

Thus, while the 72 fins can brag about the undefeated season, the 16 game schedule is the real culprit in why we might not see a perfect season unless someone performs at the magical level that NE pats are right now at.

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:52am

Remember, the Pats already have a 21 game winning streak on their resume -- from the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

BTW, somebody correct my math from the gamebook, but my count shows that the Pats ran 69 offensive plays Sunday night before Buffalo prevented them from converting a first down and/or scoring a TD. They punted on the 69th play, after a 10 play 41 yard drive by the backups.

Basically, you had an entire NFL game where the Buffalo never stopped a Patriots drive. I've never seen anything like it.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:02am

#95 Not my PC; it's a really, really powerful ipod with a hefty connection from Seattle to Indianapolis. Which explains why sometimes the crowd in the RCA Dome sometimes seems to be humming the overture to Carmen. Don't tell my wife why our electric bills are so high.

#98. The first coach to complain will be lambasted by 90% of the country (and all real he-men) as a skirt-wearing, poodle-walking, surrender-monkey, to paraphrase that great Scottish philosopher from the Simpsons. Based on some minor insight into human nature, none of them can admit they have a problem because it shows perceived weakness in a world where ANY weakness is looked on with a very harsh eye. Also, they're rightfully pissed at themselves and their team for allowing it to happen. It's a complicated emotion, but I am quite sure they all have a problem with it.

The only people free to give an honest opinion are the ones who never have to coach or play in the NFL, or interview BB or the Pats--and their opinions are fairly worthless anyway. And from them we've heard a mixed chorus, about 60-70% saying "no problem" by my unofficial estimate.

The thing that bugs me the most is the lame excuses ala "I'm not fat, I have big bones!" What was said above--Brady and his receivers are just practicing out there? What a load of crap! What is better practice, facing your #3 ranked D in a thing we like to actually call "practice" or racking up a 6th TD over a 20th ranked D in an actual game situation? Puh-leeeze. (random numbers used to make a point--I have no idea who is #3 or #20, or by what measure it matters.) I'd have more respect for them or at least be able to understand it a little better if they said "yeah, we're running it up, trying to hit 100. And if we do that, the next goal will be 200. Because this rare combination of health and talent doesn't come together every day and we owe it to the very game of football to try to create perfection. In 50 years, we want kids in schoolyards to dream of being us."

That sits a lot better with me than, "the 14 hours of on-field practice last week wasn't enough, so we're gonna score as much as we can in the 30 minutes we have against these inanimate carbon rods." Look at the time discrepancy between the hours of weekly practice these guys put in against a top-flight D versus the minutes of offensive possession they have on a Sunday against dubious-quality opponents, and tell me you buy the "we're practicing to get better" excuse.

It is a moot point. They are the best. Possibly of all time. I'd just like a litle honesty, which we won't see until the memoirs get published in 15 years or so. I'm hoping for a "Scott McClellan moment" since he's in the news today--the first insider book that comes out and trumpets the "of course we were running up the score!" angle will sell like hotcakes, much better than the one that offers up the standard cliches. Then of course we'll have to take that with a grain of salt too, because he's washed up and just trying to sell books.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:05am

#103 Colts-KC playoff game divisional round 2003. Neither team punted. A classic "last team with the ball wins" game. It happens every once in a while. I wonder about a CIN/CLE game recently that went into the 50s... for those of you who remember it, were there any punts?

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:39am


Well I play baseball at a JC and in a couple years I'll hopefully be at a 4-year school, so I'd say thats competitive. But the Pats are amazing, no complaining here.

Also, on the Dal-GB game, I am just worried about the Boys pass D. I know we can score on them, but it seems like it will be tough when they spread out the WR's. The secondary wasn't good vs. Washington. Here's to hoping McCarthy stays with the run for awhile.

by Brian J. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:54am

Here's an amusing contest idea: Guess the point spread for Miami @ New England in Week 16. Whatever the record is, that game will probably blow it away.

Bobman, I'm linking to the game you referred to- Cincy 58, Cleveland 48 in 2004- and there were 6 punts in that game.

by AlexH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:32am

#105 It's not just the lack of punting. I've seen that before. It's that the offense was not stopped until they reached the end zone. For 60+ plays, there were no turnovers, punts or even field goal attempts. Not even a single sack. There was nothing that the defense could hang its hat on.

Hell, the drives even kept getting longer. 2 plays, 6 plays, 8 plays, 10 plays, 12 play, 12 plays. It got worse and worse. Every defender had a chance to make a momentum changing play, and it never happened. That's not big plays, or trick plays. That's in your face over and over and over again. (The last two drives were shorter, 10 plays and 1 play.)

I have never seen anything like it, such an utter humiliation of a defense.

The KC-Ind playoff game (2003) lacked any punts, but each team kicked a field goal. Ind had a recovered fumble and KC had a sack. They had 6 and 5 scoring drives, neither running as many total offensive plays at the Pats did during their seven drives. Simply an amazing game for each offense, and incredible for the fact that both offenses did it in the same game. But neither was as impressive as what the Pats starters did. Hell, I might even argue that the competition pushed them to do it; they had to do it. But the Pats weren't driven to it. They were able to it do without needing to do it.


by Scott (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 6:20am

NFC has a head-to-head 23-21 lead over the AFC so far this season after being dominated in recent years.

But always the important thing is to take a look at the quality match-ups (games between teams that actually have winning records right now)

Steelers shut out Seattle 21-0
Indy beat up Tampa Bay 33-14
Patriots took care of Dallas 48-27
Bucs beat the Titans by a FG, 13-10
Jaguars beat the Bucs, 24-23
Browns beat the Seahawks, 33-30 in OT

So it's a 5-1 record for the AFC in the quality match-ups at this point.

by Fergasun (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:08am

Re: Dallas vs. Green Bay
It's not the Packers CBs who will be the problem in coverage, but the safties. I don't know who plays FS for GB but he will be key.

The only reason the Redskins gave up 4 TDs to TO was the lack of Sean Taylor. In fact in his 6 previous games against Washington I don't think TO did much of anything. I'll mirror the calls of Haynesworth DPOY with a call of Sean Taylor DPOY.

It even looked like at some point Sean Springs was trying to play a bit of safety?

Anyway, lost in all of the TO 4 TD hype, the Redskins had ample, more than ample, and AMPLY chances to win that game. Between the missed FG (why would you kick that?), Campbell coughing up the ball again, and the real final drive interception... the Redskins offense left too many points on the field.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:11am

HWC #103:

"Basically, you had an entire NFL game where the Buffalo never stopped a Patriots drive. I’ve never seen anything like it."

Pretty much anytime a team puts up 42+ points on its opponent, its going to be a game pretty close to that, even if there is perhaps a single punt or turnover mixed in. Some recent comparables of just total offensive domination - 07 Eagles vs. Lions, 06 Chargers vs. 49ers, 05 Eagles and Redskins vs. 49ers, 05 Packers vs. Saints, 04 Eagles vs. Packers, 04 Chiefs vs. Falcons, 04 Colts vs. Texans and Titans and Broncos (playoffs), 02 Raiders vs. Titans, 01 Rams vs. Panthers, 00 Raiders vs. Panthers, 00 Rams vs. Chargers, 99 Redskins vs. Giants, 99 Jaguars vs. Dolphins (playoffs), 98 Vikings vs. Bears and Jaguars, 95 Eagles vs. Lions (playoffs). Yes the recent Patriots vs. Bills game was more impressive than almost all of those (excepting only perhaps the demolition of the Dan Marino Dolphins by the Jaguars in 99 by the score of 62-7), but not by much.

by Michael (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:40am

99: "Which is exactly why I’m starting to actively root for the Pats to go 19-0 (unless they face the Giants, of course)"

I think if you check your Giants' 2007 schedule, you will see the New England Patriots coming to Giants' Stadium in week 17 in a game that could easily have playoff implications for your boys in blue. ;)

by bsr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 9:04am

104 - Bobman, I suggest you listen to the interview with Brady that is linked in #84. He comes out and says that they are actively trying to kill teams and blow them out. They want to go into games in January with the opposing teams thinking they don't have a shot. There is an intimidation factor there, of course.

The statement about having time with his recievers was regarding the interviewers grilling him about when he should come out. He was stating that he would rather play the whole game and cited that as one of the reasons why. And as for wheather he would rather practice against the Bills in live action or his own team in simulated action? I think the live action is better 100% of the time.

As for the coaches that fears the backlash of looking like a surrender-monkey well there are plenty of pretty vocal ex-coaches out there and I haven't heard a peep out of them either. And it isn't like coaches won't come after one another if they feel like they've been disrespected. Noll and Glanville come to mind.

by Lyford (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 9:15am

"I’d have more respect for them or at least be able to understand it a little better if they said 'yeah, we’re running it up, trying to hit 100.'"

But they aren't. Their first string offense scored 5 times in the first half Sunday night, twice in the second half. And not because of anything Buffalo did. In two of their last three games, Brady has not started a drive in the fourth quarter. There's no way a rational observer could look at that Buffalo game and come away saying that the Patriots were trying to "run it up." The first string QB's last play was a hand-off to a fourth-string running back on the first play of the fourth quarter.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 9:29am

104 Bobman:

So that explains the occasional Milli Vanilli I hear from the RCA Dome!

Seriously though, you have to look at a few things when analyzing a Patriots end of game strategy:

* Field personnel. In this day of 45 active players, there isn't any such thing as a "second string" that can be swapped in wholesale. Instead, look at who the Pats rotate through onto the field. In the Bills game, 13 offensive skill players took 10 or more snaps, and 3 took one snap (Seau, Vrabel, Washington) (The Pats only have 17 offensive skill players on their roster, including a 3rd QB). That doesn't count the 6-8 offensive linemen (anyone know if O'Callaghan or Britt saw reps?); effectively, the Patriots played everyone.

* Injury risk. Everyone keeps talking about this, but looking at the injuries to the Pats this year, they are focused on RBs, with the occasional tight end. Morris, Maroney, Faulk, and Watson have all taken brutalizing shots. Not the WRs - on many dives, Brady throws a bullet at the WR's knees, forcing them to get down and under the love taps that everyone drools over. The pass play *is* the low risk option. (As for Brady, anyone who looks at that pocket and thinks that playing QB against the Bills is a high risk option is ... silly).

* As for practice, there was an anecdote that this week in practice, the Pats played first string against first string, full pads practice. The result? Three and out. Three and out. This is a team that needs more practice.

* Drive length. The Patriots were trying to run out the clock, starting in the second quarter. Once they were up by 21-7, every possession (except the short one before the half) went 6+ minutes. Rather than running the field, they sauntered, meandered, moseyed up the field. If I was going to be embarrassed as an opponent, that is far more embarrassing - the Pats spend three quarters playing keepaway with the ball, and only score because they run out field.

* Game testing. You can't seriously be expecting me to buy that there is no value in testing your mettle against the #14 defense? Even if it was pretty clear that Jauron said to them, "Don't go out there and get hurt. Play it safe."

* 2006 AFCCG. This is a team haunted by its meltdown last year. They are playing 60 minutes of football every game, to ensure that they are in shape to play to the wire. And for that, there is no better way to maintain that consistency than in game situations.

Honesty, as a fan, I would love to actually see them run the 3 minute offense for an entire game, just *once*. WE would have seen 80 to 90 points this week.

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 10:31am

Everyone talks about the Pats not playing for anything Week 17, but won't the Giants be locked into the highest wildcard seed by then? I don't see the Lions winning more than 8 games.

by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:07am

About conferences parity. The league needs parity within the conferences, not between all clubs. There is no problem at all if the AFC is better then the NFC, or vice-versa, if the teams inside the same conference are almost equal. The only interconference match that matters is the SuperBowl. On the other 20-plus weeks, it's the conference title that clubs want to get.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:26am

Re: #116

I wonder if this "Sixty Minutes!" thing (cue clip of Belichick screaming it on the sideline just after the Patriots pulled ahead of the Colts in the late 4th quarter) thing is something Belichick has always believed but never before had the (motivational) means to get a team to buy into to this degree for the whole season, or if its a new obsession after blowing the AFCCG last year.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:28am

You know, if the Eagles ran every down they had the ball and blitzed every down when the Pats had the ball, I wouldn’t be upset when they lost by 60 points. At least they would have tried something different.

Also, I’d probably try an on-side kick for every kickoff I had. Who cares if you give them the short field, they’re going to score anyway. So might as well try to keep them from getting the ball.

So, all runs, all blitzes, and all on-side kicks.

There are two problems with that. First you're tiring out your defense to the point where by the second quarter, they're going to be wheezing, especially if the Patriots decide to run the no-huddle. Secondly, there's a non-zero chance you're only going to kick off once, so planning on increasing your possessions with on-side kicks isn't a viable strategy.

I really don't know what the answer is to beating the Patriots, other than rely on generic statements like "control the clock". "disguise your coverages", and "win the turnover battle". Right now we're witnessing a team with a significant talent advantage over almost every other team, as well as a game-day coaching advantage. Maybe the Dolphins will give them trouble.

I, for one, don't buy that the Patriots are going to run the score up on the Jets. Belichick is going to do the best thing for his team's long-term success, so I don't expect that game to play out differently than any other one. Who cares about settling a score? Mangini will be coaching in C-USA soon enough.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:29am

Err -- previous post should have been "Re: #115".

And speaking of #115 again, I noticed the same thing (and have all year). During the "we're allowed to compete" portion of games, the drive length seems to be about 3-4 minutes. But once the second half starts with a big lead, the drives start taking 6-8 minutes. And as for wanting to see the "3-minute offense" all game, circle December 16 on your calendar. I think you're gonna see it then.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:33am

Bobman, I’m linking to the game you referred to- Cincy 58, Cleveland 48 in 2004- and there were 6 punts in that game.

They also played a 51-45 game earlier this season.

by Hart Lee Dykes (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:01pm

A couple of points in response to a few things posted recently:

1. On the issue of whether trying things in a game is preferable than trying them in practice, I am a little shocked that someone would think that practicing in practice is preferable. How many times have you heard a guy or a coach say that practice speed is different from game speed, and there is no substitute from the experience of playing in an actual NFL game.

Regardless, though, one of the plays in the Redskins game which was the subject of the "they are running it up" cries was more or less the same play (Brady to Welker on a little 5 yard out) that they used to score the 2nd to last TD against the Colts on a key third down, and also to convert the final first down at the end of the game. Did the experience in the Redskins game allow them to execute that play better than if they had just run it a thousand times in practice? Who knows. But, as a Pats fan, I'm fine dealing with the chorus of "they are classless" if there is even a 1% chance that the plays they are running in those situations help them down the road in a close game when they need them.

2. I do not buy into the talk that the Jet game is going to be some kind of epic ass kicking. I mean, the Pats will probably crush the Jets, but I don't think it'll be any different from the other dominant performances we've seen from them this year, and if the score is lopsided, you'll see the reserves for most of the fourth quarter, just like you did against the other "running it up" games (Washington, Buffalo, Miami).

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:06pm

#104: The thing that bugs me the most is the lame excuses ala “I’m not fat, I have big bones!� What was said above–Brady and his receivers are just practicing out there? What a load of crap! What is better practice, facing your #3 ranked D in a thing we like to actually call “practice� or racking up a 6th TD over a 20th ranked D in an actual game situation? Puh-leeeze.

Other people have addressed the difference between practice and game-time experience. In Buffalo, it was obvious from body language, timing and schemes that the Pats were taking it easy in the third. Still working at it, but with their foot off the gas. For instance, they ran few really deep routes compared to the first half, and Brady was barely even looking at his deep receivers when they did. (OK, admittedly it could have also been that they had found their short routes were most effective, but that was simply not the impression from the stands. In the first 2 quarters, Brady had 7 passes for 15+ yards, and 12 10+, in the 3rd quarter he had 2 15+ - including a 24 on a short pass to Welker with lots of yac - and 3 10+.)

And finally, I so do have big bones.

Meanwhile, in other news it looks like the NFL office has another mess to clean up: the Packers apparently have admitted that some of their players have offered/accepted "bounties" for performance. According to PFT (and for what it's worth, coming from that site), other teams, such as the Giants, are most likely doing it. This is a violation of official, written rules, and a potential unfair advantage over teams that don't do it.

Now Goodell will be in the uncomfortable position to have to show consistency to the letter of the law and his previous judgment against the Pats, or look like a flip-flopper. Tough.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:15pm

23: (and others debating the AFC/NFC parity)

It's easy to be fooled by the strength at the top of each conference. If you consider the 4-9 teams of each conference (that is, if you ran the playoffs with the competition that the top 3 teams have to deal with to get into and win in the playoffs), the NFC is stronger.

How did I arrive at this conclusion?


That's the largest group that I can compare and have the NFC look better. I could also have said "a conference is only as good as its weakest team to get into the playoffs" or "compare the strongest 2 teams that aren't in the top 6 in DVOA - these are the playoff gatekeepers"

Of all the ways to compare groups of similarly ranked teams in each conference, only 11% of them favor the NFC.

Like it or not, the AFC is ahead by about 7% in DVOA. Only 4 teams in the NFC have a better DVOA than their AFC counterpart. This is not historic domination, but don't kid yourself. The AFC is better.

by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:29pm

123. I never thought it was illegal for a player to give another player money for doing well, I thought the organization just couldn't do it. Weird story, lets see how it works out!

by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:43pm

"As for practice, there was an anecdote that this week in practice, the Pats played first string against first string, full pads practice. The result? Three and out. Three and out. This is a team that needs more practice."

Obviously, Brady's not chucking up enough jump balls to Moss in practice.

by fester (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:46pm

I want to respond to #119 and #122 concerning the probability of the Patriots demolishing the Jets by historical margins, as #92 suggested about a 72 point spread.

I think there is a preponderance of evidence that the Patriots believe that they are on a mission to erase any doubt of their current and past legitimacy caused by Spy-Gate by complete domination of opposing teams. The team that started this problem and which is their pre-existing decade long bad blood is the Jets.

Additionally, as noted either earlier in this thread, or elsewhere, Tom Brady in his interview on WEEI admitted the obvious; the Patriots are playing a multi-level game of short term and long term psychological intimidation against the rest of the league. Throwing up 60 to 70 points is a possibility with the current Patriots offense playing at full speed for three quarters of the game against mediocre defenses, and 80 points is a non-zero probability against a bad defense and the Patriots playing full speed 3 or 4 minute drives for the entire game.

So yes, a combination of revenge and psychological field setting could prompt the Patriots to play all out for most of the Jets game, especially since it is at home. Throw in the simple fact that the Pats have the #1 DVOA and the Jets are #27 and given what the Pats have done to better but still mediocre teams, and a 60 to 70 point win is within the bounds of non-drunk plausibility.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:59pm

Erm is it just me or is there a 500lb gorilla in the room that everyone is ignoring?

Miami haven't won a game in ten goes, they are 0-10 and plain awful. They haven't got an offense, a defense and I don't really know about their special teams. Despite all this they are ranked 25th. To me that indicates one of two things;

(a) There are seven teams worse than Miami and a few more that aren't a lot better.

(b) There is something wrong wtih the way DVOA is working this year, I would guess that it is to do with opponent adjustments.

To me (a) doesn't make a lot of sense, Miami are awful, I wouldn't be too shocked to see them hit the magic 0-16, furthermore a few of the teams who are below Miami are clearly better teams.

If it is caused by (b) I don't know exactly how all the data works, but bad teams seem to be getting too much benfit from getting beaten by good teams, which seems to then reinforce the rating of the good team. I have wondered before whether DVOA has a positive feedback loop effect built into it. The nature of NFL scheduling would ensure that this will cause some divisions to be boosted and others penalised. Now if you look at every team that has played the Pats every team seems to have a large modifier on its opponent adjustment, this may be appropriate as most of these teams wouldn't get hammered by every other team they play. However are the Pats perfomances analysed in the light of this adjustment or without it? If they are what effect would any 'ruthless play' toward the end of a blown out win have on the VOA of the Pats, causing an adjustment of the opponents rating. Would this then affect the Pats rating as an opponent adjustment?

To reiterate, it is the Miami rating which causes me to ask the question, 0-10 and #25? I know DVOA can throw up funny answers but that looks all wrong.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:04pm

#127, Sure it's plausible. My point was that the Patriots will probably treat it like any other game. It's certainly possible they can score 70 in that context, although doubtful. To score that many, you'd likely have to run no-huddle for most of the game, get four defensive turnovers, keep trying to score until the final gun, including running out of bounds, calling timeouts, using fake spikes, etc.

The prevalent thought among NE fandom is that Belichick wants to play full throttle for 60 minutes and bury Mangini for tarnishing his legacy. My thinking is that Belichick is going to do what is best for his football team, and going out of his way to embarrass the Jets really isn't accomplishing anything towards that end.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:08pm

I think there are three issues. First, it could become a way for teams to by-pass the salary cap with under-the-table incentives. Second, in certain circumstances it might turn out to be a real "bounty" to take out key players in the opposing team. And lastly, it adds a further layer of potentially hidden unevenness between teams.

I also think there are important nuances, but of course they are supposed to be irrelevant: it is a rule, and breaking it can provide a game-day advantage. (Not that I expect the media to get their panties in a bunch about it. It's Favre's team, after all: they do it to have fun, because they loooove the game.)

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:18pm

I think the league is overreacting to the Green Bay thing. I mean if Green Bay gives money to player X, and player X gives that money to Player Y, it's still the same money which was part of the cap when player X got it, so it's not like they're bypassing the salary cap somehow.
As for the Jets/Patriots game, am I the only one who thinks the Jets aren't a JV squad anymore. I mean the reason the Jets had no chance in week 1 was they had zero pass rush, but clearly the Steelers game proved they can at least generate some pressure. Also with Clemens under center, the Patriots can't stack 11 people in the box, so a 72-0 score seems unreasonable.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:39pm

I’m not a lover of the Pats or Jets, although I did live in Boston for 3 years. But I’m pretty excited for that game against the Jets, in a kind of morbid way. I want to see what happens when the greatest team I can remember keeps the pedal to the metal for 60 minutes. I am legitimately interested in watching a great offense at work.

If Belichick truly wants to gain a Jedi-mind-trick advantage, he sends a videotape of the Patriots defensive signals to the Jets the Wednesday before the game. Then unleashes the ass-kicking.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:46pm


Please tell me which of the teams ranked below Miami are "clearly better". If it makes you feel better, Miami is ranked 27th in Weighted DVOA, so that moves the Bears and Jets ahead of them.

The offense/defense numbers say that of the teams ranked 27-32, everyone's defense stinks and everyone's offense stinks with the lone exception of Miami. I think the part you're forgetting is that before Ronnie Brown's injury, Miami actually had a pretty decent running game. A look at the run/pass numbers shows that Miami's pass offense is pretty lousy but their run offense is really good (or at least it used to be really good).

DVOA doesn't take injuries into account, so you can't just ignore those game Ronnie Brown played.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:51pm

"Here’s an amusing contest idea: Guess the point spread for Miami @ New England in Week 16. Whatever the record is, that game will probably blow it away."

They had the Oddsmaker from the MGM-Mirage on WEEI. His guess was 24.5. He said the Jets game would be 27.5 most likely.

The lowest spread he said the Patriots would have in the rest of the season, would be against the Giants, week 17, at -13.5. He said Pitt would most likely be -17

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:27pm

Going back to #98 (mine) and the posts that followed:
1. With this Pats team, and knowing that Belichick works off a diagram put together by several professors on the relative payouts of "going for it" in 4th down situations, when he goes for it on 4th and 1 near the goal line, he KNOWS the odds are in his favor. So the comment that kicking the FG is "running up the score" is pure BS. I've seen the chart, which lists down (3rd or 4th), yds to go, and field position, and bases the judgement call on the relative payout of an FG versus a TD. In most of these situations, a team is heavily favored to get the TD if they go for it. Belichick KNOWS what he is doing, and KNOWS he's got incredibly good odds to get the TD. So, the question really is "running up the score" (I know, I know...I don't think it's relevant, but it's being discussed and I'm adding context).

2. I think the idea that Cowher was putting forth WAS that someone is going to intentionally take out some Patriots players. It's been done before, and when you piss people off, it will happen again. I don't think every single one of these players are true pros - that is, I think some do believe that taking out a player is a legitimate part of the game. Otherwise, alot of the illegal plays and fouls that occur wouldn't, because doing something like spearing a QB with your helmet wouldn't even cross your mind.

3. No coach will EVER complain about Belichick "running up the score" because it will make them look bad EVEN IF everyone else agrees. What they WILL do is pick their spots and, given the opportunity, take their pound of flesh when the time comes. How will they do it? I don't know, perhaps running up the score against a future Belichick squad, or pulling a stunt such as that predicted by Cowher (yes, it DOES happen, as much as we choose to ignore it because it is infrequent).

4. I don't get the whole "practice" argument. That makes no sense and it's just outlandish.

In the end, they're pros, and have to deal with it silently and professionally. But I can understand WHY the average joe, sitting in Buffalo, or Philly next week, is going to moan about how Belichick is "running up the score". These people have never done a high level competitive thing in their life, and now they suddenly want to complain because a whole new level and standard of excellence has appeared (and I'm a Philly fan, but can appreciate what I'm seeing in NE).

I do worry about some of the loose cannons that exist in the NFL and what they could do to hurt NE or some of these players. But it's a chicken/egg equation - because they can lay the blame at the feet of a team that is embarrassing them, ignoring that their JOB is to improve themselves so they AREN'T embarrassed.

Societal rant: We live in a society that very rarely can appreciate high quality when it is available. We prefer to drag the high quality down a notch or two to make it more "accessible" - which to me means more mediocre. It's the basis on which the NFL has been designed, making teams compete on a more even level year in and year out. Seeing a team overachieve that predesigned concept (the Niners, Cowboys, Bills, Broncos of the past and NE today) runs counter to our view of how things should operate.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:30pm

#132 Awesome.

On another note,

I don't like the Pats. I am a Dolphin fan, and I have always been Manning over Brady. This led to me being highly annoyed over the ridiculous season that the Pats are having this year.

However, last week I decided that being frustrated and annoyed by those horrible Patriots wasn't worth it. I decided to just stand amazed at how ridiculous they are this year. I write this to let people know that they can enjoy this season even if they don't like the Pats. Just try to change your perception.

For the record I am hoping for 18-0 Pats vs Green Bay in the Super Bowl. The Pack would probably lose, but I sure as hell would enjoy rooting for them.

by jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:32pm

I may be wrong but I haven't seen anyone stepping up and saying that Mangini has to go. I think he is the biggest problem the Jets have.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:33pm

Actually, one way you could compete with NE is to design a variety of blitzes that utilize different players, and shuffle the lineup liberally throughout the game. It means going one on one with a vastly superior WR corps, but if the assumption is the blitz will even things out, then it could pay off by putting Brady on his back more, even on plays that work for NE.
The kickoff idea is stupid for a variety of reasons, not least is the odds that a team may only kick off once against NE.
Running the ball is the best bet, though. Control the clock (Philly sucks at that, so don't expect to see it Sunday), keep your defense on the sidelines as long as you can resting, and then let them go in and bang NE's O line hard.

It's the best bet any team has. I can only think of a handful of teams that may be able to pull it off. Green Bay, for example, if they start having a more powerful run game.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:34pm

"I think the league is overreacting to the Green Bay thing. I mean if Green Bay gives money to player X, and player X gives that money to Player Y, it’s still the same money which was part of the cap when player X got it, so it’s not like they’re bypassing the salary cap somehow."

Thats exactly what its allowing them to do. Say you've got player X, who got a big contract with a big bonus, but is older, and declining in skills. His cap hit is 8M a year, but hes only worth 4M. If hes giving bonus's out to other guys on the team, they're more likely to stay, and the Packers aren't being made to pay for their mistakes on taking older players past their prime.

From what I heard about the story, it was like $100 to the line if they stopped Peterson from getting 100 yds, so I dont think this is a big deal, but it IS bypassing the salary cap. If the Pats lose a 1st and 3rd for having a camera in the wrong place, the Packers should lose atleast a 3rd for this, maybe more.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:36pm

With this Pats team, and knowing that Belichick works off a diagram put together by several professors on the relative payouts of “going for it� in 4th down situations, when he goes for it on 4th and 1 near the goal line, he KNOWS the odds are in his favor. So the comment that kicking the FG is “running up the score� is pure BS. I’ve seen the chart, which lists down (3rd or 4th), yds to go, and field position, and bases the judgement call on the relative payout of an FG versus a TD. In most of these situations, a team is heavily favored to get the TD if they go for it. Belichick KNOWS what he is doing, and KNOWS he’s got incredibly good odds to get the TD.

The media doesn't get it, and apparently most fans don't get it, but kicking field goals up forty points is extremely unsportsmanlike.

I fail to see how anybody can argue that running a fourth string RB up the middle on fourth and 1 is less sporting in that situations. Yet I've seen it numerous times in the last several weeks.

Kicking field goals up by 40 is the NFL equivalent of shooting 3-pointers in the NBA up by 40.

by Corkstir (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:42pm

When a team has a worse expected record than DVOA would indicate, could that be equated to poor coaching, much like the pathagorean win expectancy in baseball?

Also, I doubt the Patriots will take week 17 off - They will undoubtably have a first-round bye, and playing one quarter in three weeks leading up to a playoff game has proven disadvantageous in the past.

by Corkstir (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:42pm

When a team has a worse expected record than DVOA would indicate, could that be equated to poor coaching, much like the pathagorean win expectancy in baseball?

Also, I doubt the Patriots will take week 17 off - They will undoubtably have a first-round bye, and playing one quarter in three weeks leading up to a playoff game has proven disadvantageous in the past.

by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:57pm

Will, did you just say you are hoping the Packers beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl? That's blasphemous for a Vikings fan to say, if that were the Super Bowl match up I want the Patriots to deliver the biggest beat down in Super Bowl history, with Randy Moss winning the SB MVP by having the best game by a WR in SB history.

by jd (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:00pm


Ahmad Bradshaw is nice returning kicks for the giants. He had that really long return called back last week too. I don't know why they waited until last week to use him on kickoffs, maybe because he's the fourth running back and they needed the spot for someone else? The special teams really are better with him in. Now they just need a kicker and punt returner and they're good.

by lyford (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:04pm

We discussed, earlier in the thread, what you've got to do to beat the Patriots, including going for it on 4th down all the time.

John Madden agrees, though he's not quite as aggressive about it (onside kicks, no punts) as some of the suggestions in here.

“Offensively you have to go for points,� Madden said. “You’re not going to play one of those games where you do ball control, you play good defense, use your special teams and play for good field position and all of those things. The decisions you’re going to make during the game have to help you score 40 points.

“I think that means a lot of throwing. I think that means a lot of throwing on first and second down because you have to get yardage in big chunks. That means getting first downs. That means when you get down there in the red zone — and I’m not a big guy for going for it on fourth down — but I think you have to go for it on fourth down because you have to get touchdowns instead of field goals. It has to be a very, very aggressive approach because offensively, they’re going to take a very, very aggressive approach to you.

“And,� Madden continued, “I don’t think it’s something you can wait until the fourth quarter to do. I think you have to start off right off the bat.�

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:07pm

RE: 137

Several teams, especially early in the season, tried a heavy blitz philosophy against the Pats and had some success in the first half. If I recall, one opponent blitzed over 60% of the defensive snaps.

The problem is that the Pats have the ability to adjust to that and have done so in two ways:

a) A brutal screen game. Blitz a lot and Welker has a big day. If I recall, one of the heavy blitz games, the Pats finally responded in the second quarter with multiple screen passes in a row for signficant yardage and forced the defense out of the blitz.

b) The Pats have a two-tight end package which they use in max protect situations, including a formation with only one WR -- Randy Moss. At least one of the long TD bombs to Moss this year came from this formation against an all out blitz. Moss beat triple coverage at the goal line and caught the pass and walked into the endzone untouched.

The key to getting to Brady is the same as it is against any quick timing passing offense -- a combination of blitz and physical man coverage disrupting the receivers' ability to get off the line. The man coverage makes Brady hold the ball a split second longer. The problem? If your CBs miss the jam at the line...anywhere across the field...you are in big trouble because you've let the play get behind you from the start.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:15pm

With this Pats team, and knowing that Belichick works off a diagram put together by several professors on the relative payouts of “going for it� in 4th down situations, when he goes for it on 4th and 1 near the goal line, he KNOWS the odds are in his favor.
You are missing the point, pace the "professors". It is a simple statistical fact that a field goal inside the 10 is a virtual certainty, while a 4th and short in the same position is not (regardless of the relative pay-off of routinely choosing one over the other in multiple games and situations).

So, BB is giving the other team a choice: get 3 more, practically certain points scored against you, or step up, stop us and regain some dignity. The first choice is, in my opinion, more unsportsmanlike than the second. I am also quite sure that, given a choice at the receiving end of an ass-whupping, BB himself would take the latter.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:25pm

When a team has a big lead, time is more important than points, so going for it on 4th and 1 gives the Pats 3 more chances to run time off the clock, and kicking the field goal does not. Note, this is not the case on 4th and goal, but they were never in that position last week.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:15pm

"Several teams, especially early in the season, tried a heavy blitz philosophy against the Pats and had some success in the first half. If I recall, one opponent blitzed over 60% of the defensive snaps"

The jets, IIRC, blitzed a TON.

The question is, how much of the limited success was because the strategy (blitzing often) worked, and how much was because the general way you beat blitzes is with hot routes, and Brady had absolutely no familiarity/confidence in his receivers abilities to run hot routes.

I guess my point is this: the fact that it kind of worked doesn't mean it still will. Moss seems to be getting a lot of quick 7 yard slants now, and they weren't doing that at the beginning of the season.

by Digit (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:23pm

re: How to defend the Patriots.

How about, instead of just constantly blitzing, get a whole DL that's all 6'9 or taller and make them rush then throw their arms up and high as often as they can? :P

Line up a DL full of quick tall guys! Hire Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer, whatever, and tell them their job is to rush and knock down passes! Put Shaq up the middle!

God knows, it can't be any worse, because Brady handles blitzes well, so one might as well concentrate on trying to knock passes down.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:50pm

Thanks all for reading my too-long rant from last night and responding with thoughtful, cogent, and un fan-boy/man-crush insights. You all make posters at Fox physically sick.

FTR, I do agree that game-speed work is more valuable than practice. But I also think the Pats best opponent (i.e. most equal and most likely to challenge them) is their own D. As evidenced by the three-and-outs noted above.

#135 Rick, have you read much Ayn Rand? in Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged she shared your societal rant opinion of "takers" dragging down the accomplishments of "creators." She has her problems, but I generally concur.

Finally, 121, Dryheat, can you imagine the score if there were not six punts in that CIN/CLE game!!??

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:50pm

And then I figured as long as I was in my time machine, I'd take a look at how each team has been trending over the past 5 years.

That 5 year cutoff is basically just arbitrary. I didn't want to put up all 10 years because I didn't think showing how today's Colts compare to the 1998 version that went 3-13 led by a rookie Manning or how today's Falcons compare with the 1998 "Dirty Bird" Falcons that went 14-2.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:52pm

Crap, I submitted the wrong post. That should have been posted after my next three.

Ok everyone, prepare yourselves to be buried in charts. You've been warned.

Here are the Conference and Divisional comparisons.

As I started to say earlier, with Indy and Pittsburgh falling back in line, spots 2-9 are basically dead-even, but the bottom 7 pairings all favor the AFC. If you start with the assumption that common wisdom says that from top to bottom the NFC is complete crap compared to the AFC (which I think is a fair assumption), common wisdom is patently wrong.

The AFC's best team is miles ahead of everyone else, but the NFC's best team is still the second best team in the league. And for every other good AFC team there is a comparable NFC team.

Overall, the AFC is the better conference since New England is ridiculous and the AFC's poor teams are better than the NFC's poor teams. But I've never once argued that the NFC was a better overall conference. My only argument has been that the two conferences are much closer than most people (including some people here) would care to admit.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:52pm

Here are some intra-team differentials. None of these charts speaks to the quality of any particular unit, they only show which unit fairs relatively better against the rest of the league.

The first one shows the difference in each team's offensive and defensive DVOA ranks. So teams all the way to the left are much better on defense than on offense, and vise verse.

The next one shows the difference in each team's offensive pass and run DVOA ranks. So teams all the way to the left have an offense that's being carried by their running game relative to their passing game.

The final one shows the difference in each team's defensive pass and run DVOA ranks. Teams all the way to the left have a defense that is being carried by their run defense relative to their pass defense.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:53pm

I decided to put together Conference Comparison charts for every year back to 1998. It really puts some perspective on things. I scaled everything to the same min/max which correspond with this year’s min/max (NE and SF really are ridiculous).

Back in 1998, the two conferences were pretty much dead-even from top to bottom.

In 1999, the top half of the leagues was basically a wash, and the bottom half was pretty heavily in the AFC’s favor.

In 2000 the AFC had a pretty decent advantage in the top 7 pairings and the rest of the league was basically overlapping with the exception of a couple outliers in the AFC’s favor at the 11th and 12th spots.

You have to go all the way back to 2001 before you could make an argument for the NFC’s superiority. The top pairing gives a pretty heavy edge to the NFC, and the next 5 pairings show a slight, to borderline decent, advantage for the NFC. The 7 spot is a wash, and then the rest of the pairings favor the AFC by about the same gap the 2-6 (only in the opposite direction obviously).

2002 was a year without any significant outliers. The AFC looks to have a slight advantage pretty much across the board with the top 6 pairings being basically dead-even.

2003 wasn’t much different from the previous year, except the AFC’s top teams pulled away a tiny bit more from their NFC counterparts than in 2002.

2004 was ridiculous. Philly wasn’t too far behind the AFC, but the NFC’s next best team would have been 12th in the AFC. Yikes. The bottom half was a little closer, that is until you come to San Francisco's black-hole of suckiness.

In 2005, the top 3 pairings were slightly in the AFC’s favor, there was a pretty big gap in the AFC’s favor from 4-7, and then it was almost overlapping until you come to the bottom pair where San Francisco's black-hole of suckiness strikes again.

Last year, there really weren’t any outliers. The AFC was just a little better than the NFC across the board.

Then you come to this year, which I just wrote about. New England is a monster, the next half of the league is basically dead-even, and then the AFC's poor teams are better than the NFC's poor teams with yet another one of San Francisco's black-holes of suckiness pulling up the rear...again.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:53pm

There's not much point in optimizing the Patriots offense to beat the Patriots defense. They never play each other.

It's better to scheme to beat a variety of styles/schemes/strengths. And there's no better place to get experience in that than in a game.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:20pm

152: I love the graphs but disagree with the analysis. By setting the range of teams to 2-9, you're cherrypicking. See post 124 for even better cherries, although similar to yours.

Best graphs: historical. Really puts this season into perspective.

Weakest graphs: offense/defense, pass/run - why use rank instead of DVOA?

Keep up the interesting analysis.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:43pm

Re: 156

I won't argue with you that it's cherry picking, but I still think is a valid for the purpose I'm using it for.

Using the fact that all the AFC teams with a positive DVOA have a counterpart in the NFC that is basically equivalent (with NE being the lone exception) to make the case that the two conferences are more evenly matched than commonly accepted doesn't seem like that much of a stretch.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:54pm

And the only reason I used rank instead of the actual numbers for off/def and run/pass charts is because when you're trying to compare how one team's apples to their oranges relative to the rest of the league's apples and oranges, the math get a little difficult (and by difficult I mean not completely obvious at first glance).

If anyone wants to help me out, I'd be glad to change those graphs.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 8:04pm

#147 (and another earlier):
I'm not debating that a FG is a virtual certainty. That's obvious. But what both of you are missing is, according to the odds, going for a TD on 4th and 1, within the 10, may not be a virtual certainty, but if you make it 45% of the time (which you likely will), you will put up MORE points than if you kick a FG. Why?
Odds. A FG, at 95% completion rate, yields 2.85 points. Going for it at a 45% success rate, yields 3.15 points. The success rate on 4th down has to be below 40% to be less valuable than a FG.

It is THIS fact that Belichick has on his charts, and he uses in every game. I believe I first read about the odds chart here on Football Outsiders several years ago, but it may have been somewhere else.

Point is, going for it SEEMS to be the sporting option, but realistically (and with this team in particular) it is very likely this NE team will get a TD 65% of the time....thus FAR MORE points than kicking a FG.

THAT is what people who support Belichick's decision making miss out on, and that is the main reason why alot of people are accusing him of running up the score.

PLEASE don't accuse me of saying I am saying he's doing it. I'm just trying to explain the logic behind WHY they're saying it. And it is completely logical.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 8:12pm

159: Yes, but going for the TD has a higher chance of zero points, plus it runs more time off the clock. And at that point in the game, time is more important than points.

by Slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 10:16pm

I am well aware of that, that's precisely why I said that my argument holds "regardless of the relative pay-off of routinely choosing one over the other in multiple games and situations".

Going on 4th and goal statistically pays off in terms of points if you do it consistently over a large number of opportunities, but every single attempt has a larger chance of failure (i.e. success for the defense) than kicking a field goal.

Thinking that BB goes for it on 4th and goal when up by 20+ because each opportunity results on average over a large number of tries, in, say, an extra point and change compared to kicking the figgie, and that means he's ruthlessly running up the score, is just nutty, in my opinion.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:50pm

I have a couple of questions which I wouldn't mind putting to Pats fans, and as this thread seems to have run most of its course and a few Pats clan members may still be checking back in.

My questions revolve around next season and some cap decisions the Pats may need to make. All this is based upon the belief that the Pats are likely to win the Superbowl this year and I am starting to wonder if they are likely to put a similarly omnipotent squad together next season. Anyhoo, my questions;

1- Will the Pats be able to keep Moss?

2- Are they planning on re-signing Bruschi (as far as I can tell his contract runs out after this season, I suspect he will retire)?

3- Will they make any attempt to keep Samuel?

The Pats look to have just under $105m on their cap next year, but can cut $5.5m by releasing Stallworth. This leaves them with $99.25m with 40 players signed, or approximately $16.75m of cap room. From that point they would still have to fill out at least 10 roster spaces and sign their rookies (bearing in mind extra picks from last year and a probable top five pick). No one knows right now what Goodell plans to do with rookie salaries, or when any changes would take effect, so I am going to work off numbers from last year (Tampa had pick four and took ten players, they were allocated a rookie pool of $6.6m, add a little inflation so I will use $7m). Now $7m in rookie cap and maybe another $4m to fill out the roster and you would be looking at $5m left. Clearly not enough to retain Samuel and Moss, but is it enough to retain Moss (and it looks like Bruschi is gone).

Now there are a few places they could look to free up some money; cut Kevin Faulk ($2.5m), cut Roosevelt Colvin (save $5.5m), cut Rodney Harrison (save $3m) and re-work Brady's contract (I am unsure how effective this would be as there is already $6.6m of pro-rated money against his contract in '08, as a result they might struggle to extend his deal to free up more than a few million). Obviously they could re-work Colvin but that would free up less money than releasing him.

I would guess that they don't want to release Colvin (and if I were his agent I would counsel strongly against signing anything other than a big money extension), so that leaves cutting Faulk and Harrison which would free up about $4.5m (after filling the two roster spots). That would leave theoretical $9.5m, sign Moss or sign Samuel. For my mind you have to try to keep Moss and Samuel walks, the question then becomes does $9.5m keep Moss after the season he has had?

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 12:21am

On the Pats cap:
Harrison is gone. Bruschi and Faulk will be cut and possibly resigned for less. Colvin isn't getting cut, and they'll try to keep Moss and maybe Samuels, depending on how much he wants.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 12:57am

162, re: Salary cap:

I think Samuel walks, given the contract situation from last year. It's not the end of the world, with Randall Gay and Ellis Hobbs, although it will hurt. Moss gets resigned; I think Moss wants to have a long and amazing career, and only a few teams can do that for him; they'll make something work.

Harrison is a challenge, with Wilson's perpetual injuries, and Meriweather's still learning to play with the big guys, but James Sanders is a "beast" (Harrison's description) who will fill those shoes as needed.

Bruschi's performance is definitely off his peak years; I think he voluntarily retires if the Pats go 19-0.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:07am

You know, we've spent a ton of time discussing how the AFC might be better than the NFC, without defining terms. What is dominance? What is superiority?

I don't have great answers, but let's opine:

* Dominance is when you know which conference is going to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season, and are right. This means you must have at least three teams in one conference that you'd favor in the Super Bowl.

* Dominance is when multiple teams in one conference that aren't going to the playoffs have outperformed multiple playoff teams in the other conference, including at least one division winner.

* Dominance is when teams with abysmal conference records are 4-0 in interconference play.

Just a few random qualitative thoughts for TurkeyDay.

by Gonzo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:11am


No need to worry about that. . .because if the Packers and Patriots meet in this year's Super Bowl, that's exactly what will happen.

Hell, the last time the Packers saw Randy Moss, they couldn't cover him, and the guy only had one healthy leg. Who in the hell thinks they're going to cover him if he's got two healthy legs?

by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:12am

I wonder how much the DVOA for the Pats is helped by their unwillingness to "just take the W" once they're up by 20 or 30 points in the 4th?

It's probably been mentioned before, but if not, it's worth noting.

by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:22am

Okay, I follow you. I guess what I mean by cherrypicking in this case is there is no reason why you couldn't have excluded the top two, or the bottom three, or the odd-numbered ranks. Your reason for excluding the top team was precisely because the AFC had its largest advantage there.

Or, to put it another way, If you ignore the places where the NFC and AFC are different, then the two conferences are more or less the same. It would be hard for that not to be true.

I guess your point is that the AFC is stronger, with that strength most concentrated in its top team and its bottom half. You define ranks 2-9 as basically equal. I see it as ranks 2-5 being an advantage for the AFC, 6-9 advantage NFC. At that point, we're just reading off each rank, and quibbling over whether a 5% advantage, or 3% or 1% constitutes equality.

We're not disagreeing by much here, are we? I'll try to give your position its best statement:

The top half of the conference that the Patriots play (mostly) against is roughly as strong as the top half of the conference that the Cowboys play against. If they meet in the Superbowl, we shouldn't say that one or the other's nearest competition was stronger. (Unless you mean just the top 5 competitors...quibble, quibble, quibble. Also, if the Colts get to the Superbowl, they play in a much stronger conference.)

I can agree with all that. I think it signifies less than you do. When they meet, we will be talking about matchups, and specific teams they faced in the playoffs, and probably biased/blind referees and whether scoring an unneeded safety in the Divisional round is running up the score.

by otbricki (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:24am

I don't think Moss will be more than $6 million. He has been very vocal about how happy he is in NE. He'll probably drink some of that Patriot's Kool-Aid.

The SF draft pick is #2 right now. I think NE will trade down with somebody looking for a QB; there are many teams that could use some help there - this will have a number of positive effects for NE.

by bsr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:26am

167 - Great poiint Noah, just think how much better their DVOA would be if they didn't have to pull Brady almost every 4th quarter.

by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:27am

167 continued:
Browsing through the comments, i can see it's been brought up, but the phrasing leads perception down the wrong avenue: It's not whether the Pats are running up the score or not that matters. This is a questionable statement, in any case. But it seems obvious, on the other hand, the Pats are playing hard regardless of the score, and that is both less questionable and more pertinent. I'm pretty sure it helps their DVOA, but not so sure it helps their chance of going unbeaten. All it takes is one bad game.
Then again, other great teams might have had bad games as a result of not feeling like playing hard once they're pretty much assured of the #1 seed. Not these Pats, though. They might be the first team ever to have 19-0 as their goal as much as just winning the SB.

by otbricki (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:32am

Noah - your question about the Patriot's DVOA being helped by blowout scores has been answered many times here. The answer is no.

If you want more information on how this works, read the technical background pages.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 3:36am

Re Pats cap, the sense is that Moss would be willing to sign on for reasonable money, and that Brady may get a new extended contract (he already restructured the current one last spring, but his cap hit for next year is huge, if I am not mistaken). As mentioned above, there's a few more major players clearly due for restructuring/new contracts (Colvin, Harrison), and if this turns out to be the historic year that it seems now, Bruschi will retire for sure, and rumors are maybe Vrabel will too. On the other hand, Wilfork is about to end his rookie contract (2009 I think) and will ask for big money, and Gay is also a free agent after this year (complicating the Samuel deal situation - the Pats may lose both). Tricky indeed, but not desperate.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 9:25am


I am with you on this one, whether the Pats are running up the score isn't really an issue but the Pats are less willing to modify their offense to take time off the clock when blowing an opponent out. Some argue that this helps them reduce the amount of time in the game, but I feel they are missing the point. Some of the other historically great teams (Packers in '98, 49ers and Cowboys in the nineties) would take half their starters off and then just run the ball when up by miles in the second half. Guys like Rice would be stood on the sideline, the Pats are happy to throw deep to Moss if you stack the box against the run. Whether you think the approach is justified or not doesn't change the fact that it is happening. If DVOA rates every play by every team, then it all adds to DVOA.

People say it has been answered, well I never saw a decent answer.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 10:03am


I wouldn't expect Moss to give up too much on his contract, he took a big discount this year mainly to ensure that the next contract he signed would be at the level of his previous one. He is playing for £3m this year, his previous contracts were in the $10m/year range. He is going to want to return to that level, remember he was happy in Minnesota and wanted a huge deal, and announced that he was very happy when he arrived in Oakland and then wanted a huge deal. If he wins a ring this year he will probably want paying like the best receiver in football (which is what he is), if he offers a discount it will only be small. The Pats may be able to ameliorate his cap hit by handing him a huge signing bonus, but I am not sure whether or not they want to bend their cap structure out of shape for him. If it were me I would try to ensure that Brady and Moss played together for as long as possible.

Thinking a bit more about Samuel his contract has ensured that the Pats can't use the tag again, so he will definitely hit the market. Once that happens it is difficult to imagine him returning to NE. Maybe use the top pick on a CB, if one is available.

The situation after '09 (while still a fair way away) may force the Pats hand in how they behave this offseason. It isn't just Wilfork who is a free agent then, but Seymour, Watson, Vrabel, Neal, Mankins and some good back-up guys like Green and Dave Thomas. That is ignoring after '08 when Colvin, Kyle Brady, Harrison and James Sanders are free agents. The Pats might have a bit more cap room by then, but if guys like Dockery are getting $7m a year it might be tough to keep all those players.

Also are we assuming Eugene Wilson walks and Meriweather is moved into the lineup?

by mrparker (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 10:59am

My gameplan against the Pats would be so simple.

1. Let them run the ball...play that college 3-3-5. This gives you an extra safety. Have him spy Welker. Try and keep their drives under 8 plays per drive. You dont want your d on the field for more than 25 plays in the first half

2. That of course means your offense has to stay on the field. Play pitch and catch just like what the pats do. throw it to slots,fbs and t.end methodically down the field. Go on 1 every play. Any lineman holds is sentenced to death. Goal would be 30 plays in the first half.

Second half would be a completely different game plan. Now you want to run the ball and run draws on this ridiculously tired defense.

And just for kicks how about one team be creative enough to get pressure up the middle. We all know the dend is never touching brady because he is somehow magic at stepping up to just 1 step ahead of any dends aimig point. As far as the nose goes..he better have the game of his life

by AndyE (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:30pm

Jimmy 172:

You're clearly not watching the same games as the rest of us. Go to nfl.com, and look at the drive charts for each and every game. What you'll see is that once the Pats are up by 21, unless the half is approaching, they stretch out their drives and chew up at least 6, but often 7 to 10 minutes on each drive. Conventional wisdom says you kill time by running up the middle, because incomplete passes stop the clock. That's a ludicrous statement when you look at the Pats, with 3 out of 4 passes going for completions, and often down to 2 running backs healthy in a game.

You'll note in the Bills game, that Moss only had touchdowns in the first half. Second half TDs were Ben Watson, Kyle Eckel, and Ellis Hobbs (defensive TD). The only reason people outside New England know who Kyle Eckel is is that it's funny that the guy who started the season as the number 5 running back (Maroney, Morris, Faulk, Evans, Eckel) has more TDs (2) than the number one RB (1). In the second half, Brady threw one pass noted by the play-by-play as a deep pass, 20 yards to Stallworth.

As for "taking half their starters off", what do you call a game plan that has the fourth quarter offensive skill players touching the ball Cassel, Evans, and Eckel? And in the third quarter, one incomplete to Moss, and everything else to Stallworth, Gaffney, Evans, Eckel, and Watson?

Yes, the Patriots are slaughtering teams left and right. But the myth that they aren't giving playing time to their whole depth chart, and that they aren't burning off the clock, is just foolishness propagated by people that aren't watching the games, apparently.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 2:42pm

AndyE (I am assuming your little diatribe was aimed solely at myself, by the way I was #175, you clearly aren't reading the same message board as the rest of us)

I have watched plenty of Pats games, I don't often watch the second half of Monday night games as they are on in the middle of the night where I live. I am not just talking about the Bills game, but their general habits all season long. Every week posters on this board bend over backwards twisting logic to its breaking point in thier attempts to justify the Pats classless antics. It has progressed from; 'teams can score twice from their thre yard line with 45 seconds and no time outs' to 'well stop them then' to 'they threw the faked spike play to their second tight end' to 'the Pats are helping the opponents by scoring more points, kicking for goal would be rude'. All of it completely no-sensical and most of it coming from rabid Pats fans, foaming at the mouth that someone might have the audacity to question their team.

As I say I was unable to watch the Bills/Pats second half, but I have read a few places that Jauron seemed to have told his players to simply avoid injury. Does that have no effect on their DVOA?

In the past dominant teams have simply run the ball once their lead was insurmountable, that is pretty much fact, are you disputing this? They ran the ball because it kept the ball safe even when the opposition were stacking the box. Belichick has calculated that he is just as well throwing it, and does, he doesn't care about how other people think about it he just does what he thinks is best for his team and if he thinks keeping the foot firmly on the pedal until the score is humiliating then so be it. I can see Belichick's logic (not that I agree with it) but that doesn't mean that the way this Pats team behaves is the same as teams in a similar position in the past. This change in approach will inevitably have repercussions on their DVOA, it is impossible that it doesn't.

Now if you are a Pats fan you probably think that is wonderful, but is it beyond you to understand that to some other people feel differently? Every time someone has questioned the Pats on this board they are drowned in a morass of invective (often pointed and rude), at no point has anyone said that they weren't the best team in the league or even inferred that they aren't a great team, but for the trouble of putting their head above the parapet they get roundly abused and their sanity questioned.

by hwc (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 4:10pm

RE: #179


Being declared "The Great Satan" by the NFL, its pundits, and its fans in Week 1 has been a liberating experience for the New England Patriots. They are the new Oakland Raiders. The team in black. The official bad boys of the NFL. And, they don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks.

by GBS too (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 4:30pm

Dear Jimmy,

perhaps someone who alleges that a certain group of people "bend over backwards twisting logic to its breaking point," that some of them are "rabid" and "non-sensical," and that they tend to drown out others "in a morass of invective (often pointed and rude)" should examine his or her own behaviour before launching into this kind of attack on others. It just seems pretty hypocritical is all.


by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 5:03pm


Do you have anything to say or are you simply being snarky?

When I implied that some posters who support the Patriots on these boards take their homer-ism a bit too far I don't think I am alone in holding these views. Some threads become simply unreadable.

On this thread I asked if anyone knew whether the Pats strategy late in games was affecting their DVOA. The Pats have admitted that they deliberately avoid slowing down late in games. Teams of past times did. Nothing I have said is particularly in dispute and I was querying its effects on DVOA in any case. My reward was a series of posters basically placing their agendas onto my posts. I suspect you think your post is pretty clever, but all it really does is prove my point which is that there a quite a few Pats fans (not all) on this message board who are incapable of rational discussion of this Patriots team. I suspect that your decision to insert yourself into the conversation at this point reveals your own agenda.

For what it is worth on post would be incapable of drowning anything in a morass.

by Digit (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 6:10pm

re: 181

If you don't watch the second half, how can you say with any sincerity that the Patriots do not take the throttle off?

It seems to me what you're really asking for is a breakdown of DVOA by quarters, at least, to see how much effect the Patriots' 4th quarters have on their overall DVOA as compared to other teams in a similar situation. My guess is, relatively little. I'll explain why in a bit.

Since 173 says blowouts generally don't have much effect on DVOA, it's probably a good idea to explain why (at least, as I understand it):

1) Most of the DVOA damage are done in the early part of games- points are generally given to successful plays.

2) Other teams 'run the ball' to control the clock, but this generally means they -make- first downs, which by DVOA means 'successful play', which means getting points. In order to 'run' and grind the clock down, they'd need to make first downs. They're not trying to score at that point, they're trying to grind the clock out, and the best way to do so is to get first downs.

Similarly, the Patriots get first downs. They just do it by a mix of whatever gets the job done, but if you -had- watched the second half, you'd probably have noticed the Patriots took -much- longer to run their drives. Instead of 3-4 minutes like the first half on average, they've gone 6-7 minutes on average. This is because at -this- time, this is their best way to grind the clock out.

In short: DVOA rewards points for first downs. Good teams that run in the fourth quarter generally -get- points for first downs, anyway, so how the Patriots gain points in fourth quarters generally means fairly little. I suppose you could argue they get -more- first downs by going for it on fourth downs, but those are a relatively small amount (something like an extra couple points a game on average) out of the large body of work.

by GBS too (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 6:34pm

Dear Jimmy,

my agenda was simply to suggest to you that many people, both those who root for the Patriots and those who criticize them, do so in ways that aren't particularly polite or productive. To suggest that it is only Patriots fans who err on the side of rudeness is not accurate. Some people's behaviour is exemplary. Other people's behaviour is not. Instead of sinking to the level of those you criticize, why not leave what many people might interpret as *your* snarky behaviour aside and try to take the high road?

I think that if you look back at this thread, some people have tentatively suggested that this issue has been discussed here and elsewhere. The general conclusion that I have seen has been that, considering, for example, that the Patriots removed their starting quarterback after one play of the fourth quarter, that they played considerably slower in the third quarter, running the ball more often and throwing shorter passes, and that DVOA has a mechanism for considering garbage time as garbage time, that it does not have much of an effect, even if opponents are playing less vigorously than they would otherwise. Much of the rushing yardage that the Patriots give up has consisted of garbage time runs against a five man or six man secondary. See the Miami game, for example. Would they be ranked higher against the run if they weren't playing ahead so often late in games?

So, actually, much of what you say is in dispute. Whatever they may say, it is pretty clear that the Patriots do slow down when far ahead late in the game. They did not, for example, attempt to score five touchdowns in the second half of the game in Buffalo, when they clearly did attempt to score as many touchdowns as possible in the first quarter.

Now, those things being said, DVOA is proprietary, and Aaron has never exactly published his formulae, so none of us can be entirely certain exactly how this stuff plays out. My sense, for what it is worth, is that it would tend to under-represent what would happen if the Patriots actually did leave in all of their starters until the end of the game, which of course they have not done, as has been demonstrated in this thread and elsewhere.

So, please lighten up, and don't claim that you know what my agenda is - to me, that's what less capable first-year undergraduates often try to do, and my job is to correct their inexperience and presumption and to try to teach them more productive methods of discussion and argumentation. So, forgive an old teacher for trying to pass on a lesson, even if it would be a benficial one for you to learn ....

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 8:05pm


There are many good reasons to avoid responding in kind to people who are disrespectful to me. However most of these would assume that I am a patient man, I am not. I am willing to admit it as a failing (one of many). Your lesson may have gotten through more smoothly if it hadn't arrived at the end of a long day at work.

I am still not sure why my post was singled out for your critiscism though.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 8:20pm


I said I didn't see the second half of the Buffalo game, I have seen the end of plenty of other games. I have mentioned in various posts that my query regarding the Pats DVOA is with regard to their play over the whole season. For what it is worth I don't think the Pats have been as 'bad' since the Indy game.

Didn't Aaron say last year that blowouts did have a large effect on DVOA as they made the system more predictive.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 9:06pm


The problem, as I see it, is that you, among many other commenters, observe that many teams, when ahead, shift to a "run" out the clock strategy, as it is the strategy expected to consume the most time on the clock, and is therefore the definition of "sporting." The Patriots, on the other hand, have had 8 fumbles and 5 interceptions, and complete 75% of their passes (for a 6.75 yards per attempt), and have a quarterback who can put passes where his receivers are safer than his running backs.

Another problem is that most teams have a clear first string, and "everyone else". Picking on the Colts, look at their wide receiver corps. Craphonso Thorpe was recently starting, when two weeks prior he hadn't even been in the rotation. Every player on the official offensive depth chart has taken snaps. Two of them (Kelley Washington and Matt Gutierrez> are the exception, taking almost no snaps. Rather than "sitting" a half dozen players at once (something which almost no one can do, given the constraints of a 45-man gameday roster), the Patriots begin rotating players more frequently, getting them more playing time.

You just stated that the Pats have been better "since the Indy game" - note that there has been only one game since then for New England. I question your assertion; I've done drive chart analysis, and the Patriots, once ahead by 21+ points, shift into a clock-killing drive model, where they take huge chunks of time off the clock. They go on fourth down not because it is sporting, but because going for it consumes even more time. They've been doing that since game one (10:28 drive against the Jets, 8:17 against the Chargers, 5:08 and 5:06 against Bills, 6:48, 6:07, 5:46 against the Bengals, 6:51, 6:04 against the Cowboys, etc). The only team they speed back up is whenever the opposing team scores; the Pats kick the speed up a notch, quickly score again to halt momentum, and then downshift again.

by Digit (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 9:18pm

re: 185

I tend to agree with GBS too --- Jimmy came in with a certain perception, someone pointed out that the perception didn't match up with the observations of the actual games. Since he didn't particularly go in details other than a general 'CLASSLESS PATRIOTS ANTICS', this tells me nothing about -what- he observed. Just that he's being antagonistic, especially since I've no clue if he's commenting on the entire second halves, or the fourth quarters (since the Patriots tend to keep the throttle to the metal in the third quarters, but not in the fourth)...

So yeah, I can see why GBS too called out Jimmy.

Having said that, I think I'll try and venture an explanation based on DVOA comments I've seen before.

Blowouts making the DVOA system more predictive... I'd think it was plainly obvious - the good teams that keep the games a blowout instead of letting the bad teams get close again are keeping their DVOA up, and thusly, it's more accurate to how dominant they've played.

If Jimmy's trying to say that the Patriots are -gaining- more points by keeping the throttle to the metal, he need to realize that the -other- team is continuing to try to score too. So the Patriots' fourth quarter drives (which by and by, are designed to chew up the clock and avoid handing the ball back over) simply -keep- the other team from racking up DVOA points. Each successful play rewards the Patriots with points, and keeping the ball away from the defense doesn't give the opponent the chance to rack up their own DVOA points.

A team that just runs the ball a lot is doing the same thing, chewing up the clock and avoiding letting the other team rack up DVOA points. Each successful play rewards the team with points, and doesn't give the opponent the chance to rack up their own DVOA points.

So... I don't really think there's much difference between how the Patriots are handling things in the -fourth- quarter as opposed to the teams that runs the ball. Maybe the Patriots' got a higher passing DVOA and a lower rushing DVOA, but the other team's got a higher rushing DVOA and a lower passsing DVOA, but overall, the offensive DVOA shouldn't really change much.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 11:49pm


Referring to my post as the one you are answering and then referring to me in the third person is a bit discomfiting (as though I am dead and haven't realised it yet).

Did a post get deleted or did that happen on purpose?

I really don't understand why you think asking questions is antagonistic, unless you mean to use the word in the sense of an opposing point of view, until I was called ludicrous, foolish and accused of delusion (by AndyE who won't be getting any replies from me in the future) I wouldn't have said I was being aggressive or rude. On this thread I have deliberately tried to avoid castigating the Patriots tactics, I was been attempting to discuss the subject in a dispassionate manner. If you do mean that I was positing an opposing point of view, again I have to question your conclusion about my motives and posts. I don't agree that the way the Pats approach the end of a game is similar to the way that teams in the past have done, no one has presented any evidence that I am wrong, I don't agree with what appears to be prevailing opinion about this subject. That doesn't neccesarily make me wrong.

You have also complained that I haven't provided enough detail about my comments. Without taking up a great deal of screen space on every thread there isn't enough space to provide detailed analysis of every point people chose to make. To monopolise it would be selfish and annoying to other site users, I feel this critiscism is at best unhelpful or at worst unfair.

On the other hand I appreciate your comments related to DVOA, it was the initial point which caused me to post. In reply to what you wrote here I would say that in the past a winning team would run first, second and third and short only stopping the running procession to try to make the third down to get more goes at running the ball. Throwing more often might have been a better strategy, but it wasn't the one teams used. FO have often commented that the pasing game is a more effective weapon than the running game, if a team when up by 20+ points uses one more than the other wouldn't this influence their DVOA?

Also the initial point I made was about a possible positive feeback loop on opponent adjustments. This was the main reason I bothered to comment.

by otbricki (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 12:10am

It appears that NE's defensive DVOA is improving, and Tennessee's is falling back. Given that the Steeler's defensive DVOA will probably take a hit when they play in Foxboro, it is conceivable that NE will finish #1 in both offense and defense.

Has this happened previously?

by TanGeng (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 2:42am


It seems like while running the football is better for running time off. There is no chance of incompletions stopping the clock. But for injuries and the health of running backs and the offensive line, running the ball is far more dangerous. 8 people on the offense and 8 people on the defense colliding into one another is bound to produce some injuries.

Otherwise, the entire argument about running up DVOA or the score is completely inane.


I don't think the Patriots are going to finish up with #1 defensive DVOA. Also the Patriots offense is so good, when playing against them, the Steeler's defense would score well on DVOA just by slowing down the Patriots. The Patriots would have to blow by Steelers defense to lower that DVOA.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 12:13pm

#179: As I say I was unable to watch the Bills/Pats second half, but I have read a few places that Jauron seemed to have told his players to simply avoid injury.
Wherever you have read that, they were mistaken (or maybe the players did not listen to Jauron). The Bills were playing hard until the very end, even with the game hopelessly out of reach (I haven't heard anyone complaining that they shouldn't have played so hard, by the way). Their two series in the 4th quarter were: pass-pass-run-run-pass-pass-pass-punt and run-pass-pass-run-pass-scramble (broken pass play)-run-pass. Indeed, Jarvis Green was hurt on the very last play of the game.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 1:04pm

Just a few thoughts that I will likely add to next week's thread:

* What I have never seen anyone mention is the fact that NE has blowouts every game! Of course NE would pull things back if they were blowing every third team out or if their games *became* blowouts in the 4th. But that isn't what has been happening. The games that people have the biggest issues with were over by halftime, as were several others. How in God's name is it in the best interest of your team to only play 35-40 minutes in 6 of your 10 games?

Another issue that is never raised is that NE's defense isn't all that deep. What they have is a bunch of guys who are flexible, but their CBs only go 3 deep (with a 4th they just activated from PUP who had never played for the team before). With WIlson hurt, they have two good starting sfeties and then they have some young guys with potential but nothing proven. We all know how old their LB corps is. Why is it expected that NE shelve the best part of their offense and run the defense back out on the field for the entire second half? All those teams that showed class by running also happened to run the ball better than NE does this year. And even besides that, if you check out the PBP of these games, you will find more than enough Heath Evans runs and Kyle Eckel runs to prove that NE does, in fact, pull their offense back significantly with a big lead.

NE preaches situational awareness. Just because they happen to take big leads early should not prohibit them from working on specific situations like 4th and short. Practicing against your own defense doesn't give you the ability to see how you match up against other defenses with differing strengths/weaknesses.

With regard to DVOA, the above mentioned Evans/Eckel runs along with the fact that Brady has played the least 4th quarter minutes of any starting QB *and* the obvious fact that NE reigns in their passing offense means that NE's DVOA is lowered by their approach in the 4th quarter, if anything.

This whole "running up the score" conversation is both silly and uninformed.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 1:15pm

With regard to the Patriots cap:

Stallworth's full cap hit is in those numbers. If he stays the bonuses will be converted to signing from roster which would lower the cap about $5mm. If he goes it would open up about $9mm

Washington is on the books right now for $5.7mm. Moss' contract could be fit in by just releasing Kelley.

An extension for Brady could free up another ~$3mm, and the same could be done for Colvin as well.

NE has 4 big ticket items for next season: Moss, Stallworth, Samuel and the high #1 pick. I don't expect NE to keep that pick, so that one is a non-issue. I have the feeling that Asante is going to follow the money, so I'm not sure how much control NE has on that one. With regard to Stallworth, I don't believe that he has earned that big of a payday yet, but he has improved nearly every week.

Faulk will absolutely not be cut. Never happen in a million years. Vrabel is 100% certain to come back as well. I fully expect Tedy to retire, but I wouldn't mind seeing Seau back again. I would bet that Harrison returns as well.

by GBS too (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 2:48pm

Re; #185


sorry if you felt as if I was singling you out. I did so because your first post seemed reasonable and the second seemed as if you were some cheesed off. I thought it might help us all to dial things back. Although I know you felt my first attempt was snarky, I didn't intend it that way.

For the record, I find that there are certain Pats fans (sometimes referred to caustically as Pats-fellators here, to give you an idea of the level of debate) who are antagonistic, belligerent, and who swamp threads. The same goes for some Pats critics (sometimes referred to as Pats-haters). In my view, it's the dynamic *between them* that makes anything to do with the Patriots go over the edge. It's not solely the fault of one side or the other.


GBS too

by AndyE (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 3:23pm

Os - good #193 post.

I'll make my last "Pats-fellater" post (on this thread). A lot of folks attacking the Pats are comparing their style of play to teams of yore. It's worthing noting that we have to look no further back than last night, when the 9th best DVOA team ever was involved in a full-game blowout. All we have to do is compare the last drive of the Cowboys against the Pats normal last drives to compare and see, right?

(For those of you not playing along at home, the Cowboys final score was a TD pass from Romo to Owens. Good on them for not artificially reducing Owens' stats by not letting him catch a TD).

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 6:09pm


Which site are you using to get your numbers from?

I have different figures to you (mine come from www.ianwhetstone.com/football/cap), although I think the difference is whether some bonuses are pro-rated or simply allocated to that year. Ian whetstone has treated Stallworth and Washington's payments as though they have been pro-rated already.

That means they could free up $2m by releasing Washington (which I missed, and will probably happen), keeping in line with the cap room numbers I posted earlier. The $5.5m they could recoup from Stallworth's cap figure was based upon his cap number after his bonuses are pro-rated, minus money already pro-rated from his $1m signing bonus in '07. If you want to treat both players roster bonuses as though they are allocated to '08 only then the Pats would begin the process with $7.5m less cap room than I initially stated (if anyone is still watching).

The Washington wiggle room could be enough to keep Moss, but pretty much all the other players I initially mentioned would end up walking.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 6:56pm


you are correct. I don't know why, but I was using Washington's entire $5.7mm contract value as his cap hit next year. Mt bad.

Without that extra $4mm, I now find it hard to see Stallworth coming back nor do I see NE picking anyone in the top 10, but I do see most others (Faulk, Moss, Vrabel, Seau if he wants to) returning.

Harrison, Light, Brady and Colvin can all be adjusted with relative ease. Vrabel could get anpother year or two tacked on to bring his down as well. Also, I'm sure that NE has some UTBE bonuses yet to be paid, but they will almost certainly have some cap room to push forward from this year to next.

There wil be some changes, but nothing major, IMHO.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:18am

In my opinion, Moss will become one of the highest paid players in history. I was attacked by several people on this site for suggesting that Freeney could receive a bonus of $30 million. Moss will get more, mainly because he's an unrestricted free agent. I predict Moss' deal will average $11-12 million and will net him a signing bonus of $33-$36 million. He won't leave any money on the table for New England, he's already done that (and he might want to hold out to be paid in Euros as the dollar is only going to depreciate further). Someone will offer Moss silly money. . . and he might be worth it, he could well be the second best receiver in history.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:01pm


You may be right about the UTBE incentives, without trying to dig throught all of the contracts NE signed last year it is impossible to say what effect they will have. If I were to estimate how big they could be I would have guesstimate at up to $5m as a maximum. Teams in the middle of a championship run tend to be less enthusiastic with them compared to teams like Minnesota who routinely pile $12-15m of cap room into the next year using them.

If I were a Pats fan I would be concerned by the Pats getting too cute with the cap in '08 as it could really bite them in '09 where they already look to be fairly tight as it is. Any money from (for example) Brady or Colvin that gets pushed into the future has to be swallowed somewhere. It would give me a headache trying to work out exactly how bad these hits would be (and I can't be bothered/am not capable of making Excel do it for me), so all I can sya is they are troubling, but I don't know how troubling.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 4:27pm

But people already understand that they need a top-tier QB and an excellent team for Moss to perform at the level he is performing this year. I don't think many teams are ready to give Moss a silly money contract with a 30+mil signing bonus and then look like idiots with Raiders-Moss instead of Pats-Moss on their hands.

Who can Moss play for and perform? Other than the Pats, Indy has even worse cap problems, Dallas has little cap space too, plus TO already. GB has lost their chance, and it's doubtful Favre will be there next year. Cincy has a great offense and a good QB, but overall a weak team, and Ocho Cinco is signed until the next decade. Pittsburgh maybe - I don't know what their cap status is, plus they just gave Ward a 5-year contract last year. Who else?

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 5:26pm


Moss performed at an all pro level without Brady, with some fairly ropey QBs and on teams with crappy defenses in Minnesota. He still would help all those teams sell season tickets and merchandise.

Good teams with young QBs who could afford Moss;

Chargers, Giants, Saints, Eagles (McNabb+Kolb), Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and the Titans. That is excuding teams who haven't played all that well this year. It would be presumtious to assume that Moss would place playing for a contender ahead of financial renumeration if he wins the Superbowl this year. He has shown a certain amount of unpredictability over the years and will be 31 (I think) when his next deal rolls around. This is his last opportunity to get paid big money, there will be a huge market for him and I expect him to at the very least dip his toe into it if the Pats don't open up their chequebook for him.

by JoshuaPerry (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 9:54am

lol at 201.
Farve already said he's playing next year, and Yes GB has lots of cap space, the only problem is they have to be run pretty cheap, despite their revenue.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 5:23pm

Farve already said he’s playing next year [...]
Has he, really? All I know is that he's been hinting he may, contrary to previous hints, but that conventional wisdom is that much will depend on what the rest of the Packers season and postseason will look like. Certainly, the commentators during the Detroit game didn't say the issue is settled by any means.

by Xevion (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 7:54pm

Jimmy: here's a note for you to consider:

Everything during the course of a game affects DVOA, yes. DVOA loves clock killing drives while preserving a big lead. The Pats have more 12 play drives than any other team in the league, and many of these were in the 2nd half running scaled back (but still trying to score) offenses meant to run the clock down faster (we see a faster drive pace in the 1st half and when the game is close).

The other thing to note is that DVOA is not cumulative, and is not going to be artificially brought upwards by these drives.

Now, if you were to make the argument that other good teams held their offense back in blowouts; my "counter" is that no other team has had anything resembling the margin of victory the Pats have had this year.

DVOA is so high for the Pats offense because it is absolutely scary. In quick strike mode, they can easily score in

I conclude that the Pats offensive DVOA is so high, not because of them "running up the score",but, because of their ridiculous, ruthless efficency at maintaining long drives that get numerous first downs, scoring when they have opportunites, and running the clock down just as effectively when needed.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 4:10pm

I remain unconvinced (either way to be honest). The Pats keep throwing, DVOA has demonstrated that throwing is more productive than running. Teams used to run, if the Pats keep throwing won't this lead to a stronger DVOA than if they started to run the ball? Irrespective of the amount of time on the clock.

As far as I am aware DVOA takes no account of time of possession, and looks at each play individually.

It may also be that at the start of the year teams who were many points down would have been expecting the run and adjusting their defense accordingly, only to see passing plays they weren't prepared for. (not meaning to rehash any value judgement, just looking at what has happened as objectively as I am possible)

by mrparker (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:55pm

I'm unconvinced as well. The pats have played hard through alot of garbage time.
For me garage time = 60mins-(score differential/8)(4 minutes)+ (1 minute/timeout). So ahead 4 scores going into the fourth quarter you are clearly into garbage time.

I choose 4 minutes because it takes about 2 minutes off the clock to run 3 plays and then punt. And it takes an average of about 2 minutes to score from 70 plus yards away.

Clearly their ability to kill the clock needs to be analyzed. However I don't know how fair it is to compare the way the Patriots are playing with past performances of other teams.

This data is probably impossible to put together but I would love to see just their 1st half DVOA compared to these past teams. My suspision is that they wouldn't be that far ahead any longer. I even suspect that we might find a team or 2 ahead of them.

They have been down 3 times now in the second half and I can't see how that equals historically great performance.

The cowboys on the other hand have also trailed 3 times in the second half.