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06 Jan 2009

2009 Postseason DVOA I

by Aaron Schatz

Once again, it is time for postseason DVOA ratings. We're ranking all 32 teams, whether they are in the playoffs or not. Teams which did not play in the wild card round are treated as if they had a bye week. (That includes both the 20 non-playoff teams and the four teams with byes.)

All numbers are weighted DVOA. That means that Weeks 1-4 are not included, while Weeks 5-10 are somewhat discounted. If you want to see the actual regular season final ratings, click here.

The playoff odds report is updated through the wild card games. Showing how even things are, four teams have at least a 15 percent chance to win the Super Bowl, and six teams are at 10 percent or higher. We'll have playoff matchup pages up on DVOA Premium shortly.

Before we get to the DVOA ratings, let's answer the question: "Did Mike Scifres have the best day of any punter in playoff history?" Unfortunately, we can't compare Scifres to punters before our play-by-play database starts in 1995. However, looking only at playoff games since 1995, the answer is "probably."

We have two measures for punting. The one we use in computing total team special teams DVOA is based on net punting value, both the punt and the return. Based on that measure, San Diego had the fifth-best punting game since 1995; other teams finish higher because they forced fumbles by the punt returners. The best game in terms of net punting was 4.53 points worth of field position by the 2005 Redskins in the Divisional round against Seattle. Derrick Frost had seven punts, averaging 42.4 gross yards. However, because he was punting from lousy field position all day, not one of those punts came down any farther than the Seattle 19-yard line. Four of the punts were returned: a one-yard gain, a zero-yard gain, a two-yard loss with a fumble recovered by the Seahawks, and a muff that the Redskins recovered on the Seattle 39-yard line. So it was a good day for the Washington punt coverage team. It was a bad day for the rest of the Redskins, and they lost 20-10.

This is probably not the best way to judge Scifres because he can't control his coverage team, so instead we'll use our other punt measure, which only measures gross distance by assuming that every punt that is returnable will have a league-average return. Based on this measure, Scifres was worth 3.82 points over average. That's the second highest total since 1995. Narrowly edging out Scifres is Matt Turk of the 1999 Washington Redskins, in the Divisional round against Tampa Bay. Turk had eight punts that were worth a total of 3.83 points over averag once we adjust for the cold weather. Turk landed two punts at the Tampa Bay 7 and one at the Tampa Bay 5. He didn't have as many punts inside the 20 as Scifres did because Turk was mostly punting from deep in Washington territory. Overall, each of his punts went at least 35 yards and only one was returned.

Since Turk had two more opportunities, Scifres does have the best figure on a per-punt basis. I'm comfortable saying he had the best day of any punter since at least 1995. No punter other than Turk and Scifres had a playoff game worth more than three points over average.

* * * * *

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

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

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

1 BAL 34.2% 3 12-5 6.8% 15 -24.7% 2 2.7% 13
2 PHI 32.8% 2 10-6-1 6.7% 16 -23.2% 3 2.9% 12
3 PIT 30.7% 1 12-4 4.9% 17 -28.1% 1 -2.3% 23
4 TEN 24.5% 4 13-3 11.3% 11 -10.1% 5 3.1% 11
5 NYG 24.0% 5 12-4 20.0% 6 -2.1% 8 1.9% 15
6 CAR 22.3% 7 12-4 23.1% 3 4.5% 13 3.7% 8
7 IND 21.9% 6 12-5 25.1% 2 0.5% 11 -2.7% 26
8 NE 17.7% 8 11-5 21.7% 4 6.1% 16 2.1% 14
9 NO 16.4% 9 8-8 28.2% 1 9.6% 20 -2.2% 22
10 SD 15.1% 10 9-8 21.5% 5 9.9% 22 3.5% 9
11 DAL 8.6% 12 9-7 3.5% 20 -7.8% 6 -2.7% 27
12 ATL 6.9% 11 11-6 13.5% 10 11.3% 23 4.7% 6
13 MIA 4.1% 13 11-6 14.8% 9 7.5% 18 -3.2% 28
14 MIN 3.8% 14 10-7 -6.5% 23 -14.8% 4 -4.4% 30
15 GB 3.5% 15 6-10 10.5% 12 5.0% 14 -2.0% 21
16 NYJ 2.9% 16 9-7 4.7% 18 6.0% 15 4.2% 7
17 TB 2.4% 17 9-7 2.3% 21 -0.1% 10 -0.1% 18
18 CHI -0.1% 18 9-7 -8.4% 25 -2.5% 7 5.7% 4
19 HOU -2.5% 19 8-8 15.1% 8 17.7% 29 0.1% 17
20 ARI -3.4% 21 10-7 8.6% 13 7.9% 19 -4.1% 29
21 WAS -4.4% 20 8-8 0.1% 22 4.2% 12 -0.4% 20
22 JAC -10.6% 22 5-11 7.4% 14 15.5% 25 -2.5% 25
23 CIN -14.6% 23 4-11-1 -12.9% 27 -0.6% 9 -2.3% 24
24 BUF -18.0% 24 7-9 -9.4% 26 16.6% 27 8.0% 1
25 SEA -18.3% 25 4-12 -8.0% 24 15.6% 26 5.3% 5
26 KC -19.7% 27 2-14 4.6% 19 17.9% 30 -6.4% 31
27 DEN -20.0% 26 8-8 18.7% 7 30.5% 32 -8.2% 32
28 OAK -20.1% 28 5-11 -16.7% 30 9.7% 21 6.3% 2
29 SF -22.5% 29 7-9 -14.1% 28 14.5% 24 6.0% 3
30 CLE -24.7% 30 4-12 -20.8% 32 7.3% 17 3.4% 10
31 STL -35.0% 31 2-14 -17.3% 31 17.3% 28 -0.4% 19
32 DET -42.0% 32 0-16 -14.4% 29 28.8% 31 1.2% 16

Here are the one-game DVOA ratings for the first round of the playoffs. Remember that these include opponent adjustments.

ARI 44% 13% -36% -4%
ATL -23% -23% 13% 13%
SD 18% 4% 3% 17%
IND 15% 17% -9% -10%
BAL 80% 21% -49% 9%
MIA -27% -9% 15% -4%
PHI 59% 29% -12% 19%
MIN -9% 0% -3% -11%

Here is the same table, often requested in years past, with VOAf instead of DVOA. This still has adjustments for fumble luck and special teams weather, but does not include opponent adjustments.

ARI 31% 17% -18% -4%
ATL -22% -18% 17% 13%
SD 2% 6% 21% 17%
IND 5% 21% 6% -10%
BAL 62% 18% -34% 9%
MIA -56% -34% 18% -4%
PHI 45% 6% -20% 19%
MIN -37% -20% 6% -11%

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Jan 2009

60 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2009, 3:42pm by Big Johnson


by Kubi (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 1:37pm

Narrowly edging out Scifres is Matt Turk of the 1999 Washington Redskins, in the Divisional round against Tampa Bay. Turk had eight punts that were worth a total of 3.83 points over average once we adjust for the cold weather.

That game was played IN Tampa; why does Turk get a cold weather adjustment and Scifres does not? Is it based on the actual kickoff temperature as opposed to assuming "game played in location X must be warm/cold weather"? And, if so, just how cold was it that day in Tampa?

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 1:58pm

Whoops, yes, that's my mistake. I'll go edit.

by dmb :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:38pm

Actually, the editing may or may not be necessary. I couldn't find any data for what the temperature and wind actually was, but the one weather-related thing I found stated that a cold front was coming through Tampa that weekend, bringing unseasonably cold weather and winds to the area. Since it was the late game, a decent portion of the game was likely played near or after dark, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to suspect that the temperatures were down in the 40s, with wind chills lower than that.

The game time temperature
for the San Diego game was 53, so I suspect that Turk may have been playing in slightly colder weather, but not by much.

Of course, this certainly wouldn't make either game a "cold weather game" by Green Bay standards, but I don't know what the break point(s) is (are) for your adjustments. Or are they simply blanket adjustments done by geographic area and stadium type?

by BucNasty :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:36pm

Sometimes it even gets down into the 30's. Sometimes. It's 79° right now, though.

by dmb :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:45pm

Yeah, I know (I've been going to college in Sarasota for the past 3 1/2 years) ... but considering what the forecast was, I'm guessing it didn't get quite that low on that particular evening.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 4:42pm

Bastiches. Temperature at my house has been more than 40 degrees below freezing for over a week now.

by dmb :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:19pm

Well, I went back to my hometown of Bozeman, MT for winter break a few weeks ago, and when I arrived, it was -10 (F) ... and it stayed below 0 (F) for about three and a half days before the high finally got up to 10 or so. So I feel ya. (It might sound crazy, but one of the things I hate about going to school in Florida is how much I miss the snow.)

by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:28pm

Having recently moved away from Bozeman after 12 years, I miss a lot of things about it. But I don't miss snow in April. Or May. Or even June for that matter.

For Christmas, I got to Helena at the tail end of the cold snap you're talking about. Brrr.

by math_geek (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 1:40pm

I have absolutely no idea how the Ravens managed 21% offensive DVOA in that game. I read the bit on ESPN that said that Joe Flacco was about average due to a poor passing day and strong running day, Le'Ron McClain had the worst DYAR of any running back in the playoffs, and I simply can't believe that Willis McGahee made up the difference.

by B :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 1:46pm

I've a question. This year we switched from DPAR to DYAR, which uses yards instead of points as the baseline. Shouldn't the special teams ratings be based on yards instead of points, too?

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 1:49pm

Better on offense, better on defense, destroyed by special teams. It's nice to see the Colts have stayed true to themselves.

by Bobman :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:46pm

To thine own self be true... yes, how Shakespearian of them.

The gap between Indy and SD grew in Indy's favor, but somehow the ST rankings weren't that huge for either team. Indy's must have decreased due to return coverage? (hard to fault them for "allowing" a 67 yard punt to the 1).

I *thought* the assumption in Audibles (I forget whose) about SD having a commanding DVOA lead was way off.

by doktarr :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:26pm

All the more remarkable is that, according to VOAf, the Colts were actually the better team on the field, that day. It's only when opponent adjustments are taken into account that San Diego looks slightly better. This is consistent with my impression of the game.

I'm also somewhat gratified that the Colts' defense does end up looking good in this game, which was DEFINITELY consistent with my impression. Again, blaming that loss on a defense that held the #3 DVOA offense to 17 points, despite constantly defending a short field, is just wrong.

by Key19 :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:07pm

Baltimore really looks like the team to beat. Tennessee will have their hands full this week.

I think PHI/NYG will decide who represents the NFC.

I'll be pulling hard for San Diego this weekend. Would love to see them host the Championship Game if Baltimore can knock off Tennessee.

Should be a very interesting weekend.

by TomC :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:42pm

I have a nightmare scenario in which Philly plays out of their mind to beat the Giants then has a letdown/meltdown the next week, leaving us with a Baltimore/Tennessee vs. Carolina Super Bowl.

Or maybe that's NBC's nightmare.

by Harris :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 11:59am

The Eagles either have to lose this week or win the Super Bowl. Going down the Giants would suck mightily, but they are ostensibly the better team. Losing a fourth NFC championship game or second Super Bowl in 10 years might cause Andy Reid to, I don't know, emote.

Hail Hydra!

by Bobman :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:35pm

That AFC scenario just might happen. When your best play is the punt, it's pretty good strategy against either Balt or Pitt. Tenn too, for that matter, but a solid ground game is the sort of thing that can be counted on to dig a team out of 1st and 95 to go.

We've all seen the position-based MVP voting bias.... so who thinks if Scifres keeps it up and SD wins it all in similar fashion, that the punter gets the SB MVP. And where's my bookie's number, I got a call to make.

by White Rose Duelist :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:31pm

Can FO start printing powder blue shirts/jerseys with #5 and ROBO-PUNTER on the back?

by Richard :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 7:34pm

I will definitely buy one of those.

by joenamath :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:32pm

your premium picks pick baltimore to win saturday but your playoff odds give tennessee abetter chance of advancing

by Joe :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:40pm

Does the premium pick include a point spread?

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:13pm

There are both straight-up and spread picks. However, both seem to favor Baltimore (I say seem because the content isn't quite right).

My guess would be that the playoff odds and premium picks use different algorithms.

by Keith (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:05pm

This may or may not be true, but I would imagine it is based on the matchups AFTER this weekend. Baltimore might match up better with Tennessee, worse with the other two other teams and Tennessee opposite that. But yeah, that was too difficult to come up with, right?

by joenamath :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:33pm

your premium picks pick baltimore to win saturday but your playoff odds give tennessee abetter chance of advancing

by Love is like a bottle of gin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:58pm

my guess is that they use different algorithms, simple enough.

by Eric J :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:05pm

My impression is that the Playoff Odds just pick the games based on straight weighted DVOA, while the premium picks are based on various splits and matchups.

by Eddo :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:42pm

I think you're correct. The Playoff Odds report uses a log5-ish algorithm, no? In that case, it would need just some number representing the strength of a given team, so it uses WDVOA. The Premium Picks actually look at specific matchups for that game, and should therefore be more accurate.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:00pm

Suzie also likes Baltimore - and she sends her regards.

by TomC :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 3:02pm

"I'd sure like to kiss you."

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:05pm

Why does the niners' DVOA keep falling when the first eight weeks (when their record was 2-6) is being discounted? I assume that it is as a result of opponent adjustments but is there anything else that I might be missing?

by Thok :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 3:37pm

There are schedule strength issues. While the niners keep shredding losses, the losses they lose are somewhat close losses to elite teams (New England, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys). Those get replaced by close wins over mediocre/truly awful teams.

There may be other issues besides that, but that's at least the first order explanation for what's going on.

by navin :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:30pm

Also, SF recovered a lot of fumbles in their late season wins. Those get counted by DVOA even if they didn't hurt SF in those games. Plus, the almost loss to the Rams certainly does not help.

by Ryan D (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 4:16pm

So, the Panthers have the #3 overall offense (which is the highest remaining in the playoffs) according to weighted DVOA? Wow, I never thought I would see this day.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 4:49pm

Why not? It's not as if Delhomme has never before shown the capacity to get the ball to Mighty Mite. He's healthy, and the line is providing some solid blocking for the pass and the run.

The Giants, on the other hand, do appear to be on the offensive decline. I strongly recommend that they try to hire Brad Childress during the offseason as an offensive coordinator.

by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:33pm

That was the first thing I noticed too. Hopefully they used the two-week break to put in this new-fangled screen pass thingy, so they can at least knock out some field goals in the third and early fourth quarter...

by Billy-Boy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:24pm

On the Playoff Odds page, what makes a Flacco Bowl (Ravens-Eagles) "special"?

by B :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:42pm

Mike Tanier, FO Writer, is an Eagles fan and a teacher at Joe Flacco's high school.

by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:44pm

Joe is from Audubon, NJ, which is Eagles Territory, as is, I think, the part of Delaware where he played College Ball. Perhaps more importantly, though, Mike Tanier is an Eagles fan and taught Flacco in High School. He wrote about it in His column.


by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:40pm

I love how NYG only has a 56.4% chance of beating the Eagles, but are STILL DVOA's favorite to win it all. I guess that's what happens when the highest DVOA team is the sixth seed.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:44pm

Let's see if I can go through answering a few questions.

The Flacco Bowl is special to us here at Football Outsiders because Joe Flacco is from southern Jersey right outside Philadelphia and went to Audubon High School, where his teachers included Mike Tanier. Look for Walkthrough a few weeks ago to read more about the split loyalties of the town.

Yes, the DVOA playoff odds and picks vs. spread use different formulas. Also, the picks vs. spread and picks straight up use slightly different formulas.

We're going to re-do some of the shirts in the next few weeks. We found we had a lot of requests for them the first time we sold them, but very few sales. We want to figure out a way to make shirts people actually want to buy.

Weather/altitude adjustments right now are based solely on the stadium and week of season. Special teams are the first thing in line to get an upgrade come February and I'm hoping to make the weather adjustments more specific.

I just noticed a mailbag e-mail asking for VOA along with DVOA for playoff games, and I remember that being something people requested in past years. I'll go put that up now.

by D Jones :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 6:58pm

Re: Shirts, Can't you use CafePress or something like that so that you don't have to create an inventory? Just open an account, upload shirt designs, they are manufactured as people buy them and you get some money. More shirt designs for people to buy, less money out of your pocket up front, everybody wins, except that you probably don't make as much per shirt....

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 6:51pm

Comforting to see that, despite getting slightly better towards the end of the season, my Vikes still managed to produce the worst special teams display of the weekend (according to your VOA table).

by doktarr :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:28pm

I know I've mentioned this before, but I would love to have all the VOAf results for every regular season game in the premium database.

by Richard :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:52pm

The problem with league average returns based on gross punting distance is that it fails to account for the fact that nobody in the league has the kind of hang time that Scifres does.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 2:51am

Since hang time is a factor of trajectory and altitude, can we measure those? I wonder what the odds of hang time measurements being standard fare someday? I'd take it over distance... but when you combine them along with the backspin thingee... I'll say it again: High school punters nationwide are thanking Mike Scifres for getting them laid last weekend. I predict an uptick in the number of babies born in 9 months named Mike.

by Scott C :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 6:40am

Game charters should use a stopwatch and time the punts.

Then we'd have some stats on that at least.

Scifres and others often sacrifice distance for hang time in order to prevent a return.
So the discussion at the top that tries to not factor in returns in order to 'isolate' the punter from the coverage is flawed.
When it isn't returned, or returned short, it is hard to disentangle the coverage from the punter.
Likewise, when its returned long, its sometimes the punter's fault for out-kicking the coverage without enough hang time.

by D Jones :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 6:57pm

Defense wins championships, at least this year. It's interesting, this year Defensive DVOA is a pretty good predictor for overall DVOA ranking, with the top four teams all in the top five in Defensive DVOA. In 2007, it was Offensive DVOA which was a better indicator. 2006 was kinda mixed.

Everyone was talking about the huge spike in offense this year, does this mean that good defenses are that much more valuable in a year like this, with many decent offenses but only a few solid Ds?

by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 10:24pm

I hope that the Panthers can find theirs again.

by Bronco Jeff :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 2:22am

...and Denver slips into last place in both defensive and special teams DVOA! Worst. Defense. Ever.

How did we win 8 games?

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 2:46am

...and why on Earth couldn't your a-holes win just one more...? hmmm? For me? Is that too much to ask from this disgruntled Colts fan?

by tuluse :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 2:48am

Future hall of fame QB, a great receiver, a very good offensive line, and Mike Shanahan running the offense.

by Scott C :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 6:42am

With a simple look at the points for versus points against, I'd say that they won 8 games for much the same reason the Chargers won 8: luck. Just went the other way.
Pythagorean wins isn't all that off from DVOA for either team. Its just the W-L that is.

by Travis H (not verified) :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 9:12am

Could we see some DVOA numbers for the NYG for the periods before and after Plax shot himself? They seem to be completely different teams, with the more recent version not quite playoff-worthy.

by AndyE :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 11:18am

The New England Patriots are clearly ranked too high because everyone keeps telling me the 11 wins is just a fluke based on easy schedule. Alphabetically ranking the teams by distance from the center of the alphabet is way better than this. I hope Brett Favre keeps losing games for the Jets, because he couldn't be bothered to win that last one, and keep noodle-armed Pennington out of the postseason.

by Dave Brude (not verified) :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 12:24pm

I would like to see individual and team DVOA's without fumble penalties. They can be a big hit sometimes and usually don't have much to do with the players true ability.

by Jiashey Schneider (not verified) :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 1:33pm

Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself and you. My name is Jiashey "Joshua" Schneider, yet there are those who will yet to be found each who know me as "Jiashey." I am a Human-Oriented Activist from the Inner Core region, although I have relocated several times, and I now reside there, as well as elsewhere, as well. It is widely recognized that my personal weaknesses are completely and absolutely negligible.
As you can see, therefore, my movement is almost entirely movement-oriented as well. In most every respect, it concerns the conditions present on each and every layer of the Planet Earth. I devote myself every tirelessly to my offical duties, and will continue to do so, now and forever, and until the End of Time, whichever comes first in the natural sequence of Time.

If there is anything that my enterprise or I can do to aid your important movement, please do not hesitate to contact me at my contact unit. Thank you.

by TomC :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 3:06pm

Raiderjoe's back! Hooray!

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 2:49pm

That is an absolutely mind-boggling ST difference in the Colts-Chargers game given that there were no turnovers on ST. Matches what I saw on the field though...Colts were better on offense and defense and somehow managed to lose...special teams really do matter! This year the coverage team got much better, but all the other parts of special teams got worse, argh.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/08/2009 - 12:34pm

Its too bad the Jets couldn't knock off Miami two weeks ago. It looks like NE would have been much more competitive in the playoffs than Miami: Better Offense, Better Defense, Better ST.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Thu, 01/08/2009 - 3:42pm

SD 18% 4% 3% 17%
IND 15% 17% -9% -10%

i am new to this website and stumbled across it because of the 2009 PFP. if im not mistaken for dvoa, offense accounts for 3/7ths defense 3/7ths and ST 1/7th. im no math magician but if indy had 13 points higher on offense and 12 points higher on defense and 27 less on ST these numbers dont add up. even if ST weighed in the same as offense and defense indy still would have only been 2% lower than the chargers, not the three stated.