Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Week 3 DVOA Ratings
Week 3 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Baltimore takes over the top spot in this week's Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, followed closely by New Orleans. Baltimore also leads in DAVE, our rating that combines performance so far with the FO preseason projection.

Denver, which FO projected to be the worst team in the league, is a surprising third in DVOA so far this season. While there's no doubt that Denver has played much better than expected, their performance is also the product of a pretty easy early schedule. Once the opponent adjustments kick in, starting next week, their rating is probably going to drop a bit. We'll see how real they are after they take on Dallas, New England, and San Diego in the next three weeks. We're especially going to see how real that number-one defensive rating is for a team that had a historically poor defense in 2008.

This week we debut the secondary table of DVOA stats featuring estimated wins, schedule strength, and variance. (One thing you can't say about Jim Zorn is that he's coaching an inconsistent football team.) However, the usual schedule strength ratings are based solely on this year's numbers. Curious about Denver, I ran a second set of future schedule ratings, based on the average DAVE ratings of future opponents rather than the average current VOA ratings of future opponents. Here's a look at both sets of ratings. Based on current ratings, the hardest remaining schedule belongs to Dallas, but DAVE suggests that the Broncos have the hardest remaining schedule. The Saints have the easiest remaining schedule by both measures.

DAL 17.9% 1 7.9% 2 xx STL -1.1% 17 0.2% 17
OAK 10.5% 2 5.6% 3 xx CHI -1.1% 18 -2.3% 26
NYG 10.1% 3 3.7% 6 xx MIN -1.8% 19 1.7% 12
DEN 9.8% 4 11.6% 1 xx PIT -1.8% 20 -1.2% 24
TB 9.8% 5 2.2% 8 xx CLE -1.9% 21 2.2% 9
WAS 9.4% 6 3.9% 5 xx TEN -3.8% 22 1.6% 13
CAR 9.1% 7 0.5% 16 xx HOU -4.6% 23 -0.6% 22
ATL 6.0% 8 -0.2% 20 xx SF -5.5% 24 -0.7% 23
PHI 5.2% 9 1.9% 11 xx SEA -6.1% 25 -3.2% 28
NE 3.6% 10 -0.4% 21 xx CIN -6.3% 26 -0.2% 19
IND 3.6% 11 1.5% 14 xx NYJ -6.3% 27 -5.6% 31
SD 3.6% 12 0.6% 15 xx GB -6.5% 28 -1.7% 25
KC 2.5% 13 2.0% 10 xx BUF -10.0% 29 -5.0% 30
BAL 2.1% 14 4.1% 4 xx ARI -10.6% 30 -2.9% 27
DET 1.9% 15 2.5% 7 xx JAC -10.7% 31 -4.9% 29
MIA 0.4% 16 0.0% 18 xx NO -13.2% 32 -8.5% 32

Other than Denver, I think the DVOA ratings (technically, just "VOA ratings" right now) do a pretty good job of noting which teams may be better or worse than their early win-loss records. Tennessee, for example, is the highest-ranking 0-3 team after losing their first three games by just 13 combined points. Their rating for these first three games will look even better once the opponent adjustments kick in, assuming the Jets are for real (and I think they are). Seattle and Pittsburgh, who we projected to be division champions, are the highest rated among the 1-2 teams. It is a little strange to see that while San Francisco has a negative DVOA at 2-1, so do San Diego and Chicago.

Perhaps the strangest early rating, other than Denver's defense, belongs to the Minnesota special teams. You may remember that last year's Vikings nearly set a record for the worst punt coverage of the DVOA Era, with their net punts worth -24.6 points of field position compared to average. Overall, they were dead last in special teams. So far this year, the Vikings special teams rank second in the NFL -- yet they still suck at covering punts. The Vikings are top five in kick returns, punt returns, and kickoffs, which is enough to give them a very high overall special teams rating -- but they are still just 31st in net punt value.

Individual stats are updated through Week 3. So are team stats, playoff odds, and Premium database. Playoff odds add a new "special Super Bowl" matchup to our list of possibilities, the Super Bowl XXX rematch (Pittsburgh-Dallas).

A final note: The KUBIAK fantasy projection midseason update should be ready by Thursday afternoon.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through three weeks of 2009, 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 VOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS VOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why it is VOA right now rather than DVOA. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current VOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 55 percent of DAVE. The preseason projections used in DAVE are adjusted for changes in circumstance during the first three weeks of the season. (For example, the "preseason projections" used for the offenses in Miami and St. Louis drop this week due to injuries.)

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints: <team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

1 BAL 67.0% 5 38.7% 1 3-0 40.0% 3 -31.5% 2 -4.5% 28
2 NO 65.4% 1 25.5% 4 3-0 45.4% 1 -25.8% 5 -5.8% 30
3 DEN 47.6% 7 8.2% 13 3-0 20.3% 9 -32.8% 1 -5.5% 29
4 PHI 45.5% 3 23.4% 5 2-1 13.4% 12 -29.0% 3 3.1% 7
5 MIN 41.8% 2 28.9% 3 3-0 5.6% 16 -27.3% 4 8.9% 2
6 GB 41.5% 6 15.5% 9 2-1 26.7% 5 -19.1% 7 -4.3% 26
7 IND 37.5% 10 35.6% 2 3-0 36.4% 4 -3.3% 13 -2.2% 21
8 NYG 32.7% 14 22.5% 6 3-0 23.8% 7 -12.8% 8 -4.0% 25
9 NYJ 27.2% 4 2.8% 17 3-0 -2.9% 21 -20.2% 6 9.8% 1
10 DAL 25.9% 11 11.6% 11 2-1 41.6% 2 17.5% 23 1.9% 10
11 NE 14.3% 17 21.0% 7 2-1 24.6% 6 8.6% 18 -1.7% 19
12 ATL 8.9% 9 -4.9% 20 2-1 20.8% 8 12.7% 21 0.8% 14
13 SEA 6.8% 13 9.7% 12 1-2 -3.0% 22 -9.8% 9 0.1% 16
14 PIT 6.1% 15 14.7% 10 1-2 15.4% 10 8.1% 17 -1.2% 17
15 WAS 2.6% 16 -2.4% 19 1-2 2.5% 17 3.6% 15 3.7% 5
16 CIN 1.6% 19 -1.9% 18 2-1 9.6% 15 8.9% 19 0.9% 13
17 JAC -4.3% 24 8.2% 14 1-2 13.7% 11 18.4% 24 0.3% 15
18 BUF -6.6% 12 -18.2% 24 1-2 11.4% 13 14.4% 22 -3.6% 24
19 TEN -10.9% 21 5.5% 15 0-3 -3.5% 23 -4.9% 11 -12.3% 32
20 SD -11.1% 22 15.8% 8 2-1 -2.1% 20 10.6% 20 1.6% 11
21 HOU -11.8% 25 -10.4% 21 1-2 11.0% 14 26.3% 28 3.5% 6
22 SF -13.2% 18 -17.8% 23 2-1 -20.2% 27 -9.0% 10 -2.0% 20
23 CHI -15.8% 26 5.0% 16 2-1 -22.2% 28 -4.0% 12 2.5% 9
24 ARI -20.0% 8 -19.6% 26 1-2 -14.4% 25 1.4% 14 -4.3% 27
25 KC -26.9% 23 -13.0% 22 0-3 -6.7% 24 21.8% 25 1.6% 12
26 MIA -27.4% 28 -23.2% 27 0-3 1.2% 18 27.0% 29 -1.6% 18
27 OAK -28.2% 20 -19.0% 25 1-2 -25.3% 29 5.9% 16 3.0% 8
28 TB -42.8% 27 -25.3% 29 0-3 -0.7% 19 39.6% 32 -2.5% 22
29 STL -46.5% 29 -23.5% 28 0-3 -19.3% 26 24.2% 27 -3.0% 23
30 DET -56.2% 32 -30.2% 31 1-2 -27.9% 30 33.9% 30 5.6% 3
31 CAR -66.1% 31 -29.5% 30 0-3 -34.6% 31 23.6% 26 -7.9% 31
32 CLE -70.2% 30 -37.0% 32 0-3 -39.2% 32 34.9% 31 3.8% 4

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

1 BAL 67.0% 3-0 64.2% 3.0 2 -36.1% 31 2.1% 14 24.3% 28
2 NO 65.4% 3-0 65.4% 3.0 1 -5.7% 21 -13.2% 32 1.7% 5
3 DEN 47.6% 3-0 48.1% 2.4 4 -32.3% 30 9.8% 4 20.7% 26
4 PHI 45.5% 2-1 50.6% 1.7 12 -9.2% 23 5.2% 9 58.3% 32
5 MIN 41.8% 3-0 41.8% 2.4 3 -46.5% 32 -1.8% 19 0.8% 3
6 GB 41.5% 2-1 44.1% 2.2 6 -20.2% 25 -6.5% 28 12.3% 17
7 IND 37.5% 3-0 37.6% 2.3 5 -17.2% 24 3.6% 11 20.7% 25
8 NYG 32.7% 3-0 32.9% 2.0 9 -4.7% 20 10.1% 3 14.9% 19
9 NYJ 27.2% 3-0 33.7% 2.1 8 -2.8% 19 -6.3% 27 7.9% 14
10 DAL 25.9% 2-1 28.0% 2.2 7 -25.4% 28 17.9% 1 14.3% 18
11 NE 14.3% 2-1 16.5% 1.7 13 9.8% 11 3.6% 10 5.4% 10
12 ATL 8.9% 2-1 10.5% 1.8 10 -26.4% 29 6.0% 8 4.8% 9
13 SEA 6.8% 1-2 2.4% 1.5 17 -25.1% 27 -6.1% 25 7.0% 12
14 PIT 6.1% 1-2 4.9% 1.7 11 -8.4% 22 -1.8% 20 2.4% 6
15 WAS 2.6% 1-2 5.4% 1.6 14 -23.3% 26 9.4% 6 0.1% 1
16 CIN 1.6% 2-1 5.9% 1.6 15 31.8% 3 -6.3% 26 0.6% 2
17 JAC -4.3% 1-2 -3.6% 1.6 16 1.9% 18 -10.7% 31 17.2% 23
18 BUF -6.6% 1-2 -6.3% 1.3 20 12.3% 9 -10.0% 29 25.5% 29
19 TEN -10.9% 0-3 -16.3% 1.3 21 7.2% 13 -3.8% 22 1.0% 4
20 SD -11.1% 2-1 -9.9% 1.4 18 3.8% 16 3.6% 12 8.6% 15
21 HOU -11.8% 1-2 -8.3% 1.3 19 4.0% 15 -4.6% 23 12.1% 16
22 SF -13.2% 2-1 -8.7% 1.2 22 9.5% 12 -5.5% 24 7.1% 13
23 CHI -15.8% 2-1 -9.1% 1.1 23 18.2% 6 -1.1% 18 4.6% 8
24 ARI -20.0% 1-2 -10.5% 1.0 24 6.7% 14 -10.6% 30 54.6% 31
25 KC -26.9% 0-3 -28.1% 0.8 27 28.1% 4 2.5% 13 14.9% 20
26 MIA -27.4% 0-3 -28.8% 0.8 26 11.8% 10 0.4% 16 3.9% 7
27 OAK -28.2% 1-2 -23.3% 0.9 25 3.2% 17 10.5% 2 19.0% 24
28 TB -42.8% 0-3 -37.6% 0.4 30 17.3% 7 9.8% 5 15.6% 21
29 STL -46.5% 0-3 -46.8% 0.5 29 17.0% 8 -1.1% 17 6.9% 11
30 DET -56.2% 1-2 -53.6% 0.5 28 36.6% 2 1.9% 15 22.3% 27
31 CAR -66.1% 0-3 -63.1% 0.0 32 26.8% 5 9.1% 7 26.7% 30
32 CLE -70.2% 0-3 -70.7% 0.0 31 52.1% 1 -1.9% 21 16.2% 22


159 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2013, 6:43pm

#1 by Moridin // Sep 29, 2009 - 4:57pm

SF, Chicago, & SD are 2-1 (which it says in the table), not 1-2 as in the article text.

Points: 0

#2 by Danish Denver-Fan // Sep 29, 2009 - 4:59pm

Nitpickery: In your header for the DVOA-ratings, it should say 2009. :)

Points: 0

#3 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:10pm

I know that a td after a blocked field goal isn't predictable, but it looks like bizzaroworld to see the Vikings ranked 2nd in special teams, espcially after giving up two touchdowns in three games. Yeah, I know Harvin is the reason, but gosh, this feels very strange.

Points: 0

#27 by fakeninjitsu // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:43pm

Will you are letting last year's terrible special teams and emotional responses (Josh Cribbs Punt Ret TD oh no here we go again) cloud you from seeing that the special teams are totally different from last year.

The big reason our special teams were historically bad wasn't really because of all the TDs, it was more because the opposition constantly got good returns, they were always starting at the 30-40 on kick returns and getting good returns on punt returns while getting TDs occasionally. And our return guys (Hicks and Wade) got nothing on their returns, Ryan Longwell's FG kicking was the only saving grace.

This year our kick coverage is great, guys usually are stopped around the 20 and our Punt coverage is better but still not really good. The biggest change is in our returners, both Reynaud and Harvin are great returners (esp. Reynaud, guy is fantastic).

So in summary, you are just expecting bad sp teams form the Vikings and whenever something bad happens you immediately go: "Oh no they are still terrible" and forget all the good things they are doing, you have your mind made up in a way and just pick the stuff that re-enforces your position (although I can't blame you, our SP teams were more horrible than the Ghost Rider movie).

Points: 0

#49 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 8:00pm

No, I'm simply saying that having your special teams give up 14 points in three weeks is a really, really, bad thing, which doesn't square with a number two ranking, if one doesn't take the time to reflect on how good their returns have been.

Points: 0

#4 by ammek // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:22pm

Other than Denver, I think the DVOA ratings (technically, just "VOA ratings" right now) do a pretty good job of noting which teams may be better or worse than their early win-loss records.

I'd probably add Green Bay to your list of exceptions. Does anyone think they're a better than a 2-1 team, let alone superior to 3-0 Indy and the New York teams? Obviously strength of schedule has something to do with it, as do turnovers. But I'd certainly mark them alongside Denver as a question mark in terms of what VOA is telling us.

Points: 0

#11 by D.Michaud (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:54pm

Well, the books think GB = MIN (GB -3.5 this week).

Points: 0

#24 by Arkaein // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:35pm

Minnesota's rankings may be even more uncertain that Green Bay's. While they've looked impressive at times, it's been against awful competition (32nd past schedule by VOA), and they've let each opponent hang around until the second half.

SF should have been a real test, but that was largely offset by Gore missing nearly the entire game, home field advantage, and needing a miracle play to pull out the victory.

Neither Minny or GB have really proven themselves. Both teams have beaten fairly solid opponents at home with late game heroics. Both have relatively dominated an inferior opponent on the road. Neither team has shown that they can play at a consistently high level against quality opposition.

Points: 0

#98 by Rick "32_Foots… (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:49am

Maybe, but the books aren't based on what Vegas thinks will happen. The books are based on what Vegas thinks will get them the most money.

Points: 0

#120 by Darrel Michaud // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:59pm

Yes, but the presence of sharps with a lot of money means that most of the time what makes them the money is making the line as close as possible to reality.

Points: 0

#149 by Dave2008 (not verified) // Oct 02, 2009 - 10:08am

The bookies primary goal when setting a line is to even out the bets. If it is evenly bet on both sides the bookies can never lose. That can be why you sometimes see lines get changed despite no news happening, their trying to encourage betting on the other team.

Points: 0

#5 by Jim Kimber (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:27pm

I'm a Packers fan and I can't see why Green Bay is way up above Cincy. The Bengals thoroughly deserved that win, plus they beat Pittsburgh and were unlucky to lose to Denver. The Packers were a bit unconvincing against the Rams but I suppose looked pretty decent against Chicago. Anyway, just seems a bit odd. Anyone else agree or disagree?

Points: 0

#61 by Flounder // Sep 29, 2009 - 10:43pm

I'm a GB fan and I certainly don't disagree. I don't see GB winning more than 8 games.

Points: 0

#70 by Aussie Bengal (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 3:53am

I agree with you DESPITE the fact that I'm a Bengals fan...20 years of cheering for Cincy has made me very wary of getting my hopes up :P

But yeah, it's strange for me to see Denver, GB and Pittsburgh all ranked significantly ahead of the Bengals. Sure, my boys played inconsistently against the Steelers, but they were solid against Denver and GB. I guess time will tell.

Points: 0

#72 by ammek // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:36am

DVOA for both the Packers and Bengals barely budged from week one to week two, suggesting that the game between the two was judged more or less a tie. I suspect Cincinnati was penalized for the two interceptions Carson Palmer threw, and while Cedric Benson's big game looked impressive, it didn't make the Quick Reads top six.

Points: 0

#95 by Anonymous7777 (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:30am

I disagree that they looked pretty decent against Chicago. Neither team looked good that game, but GB was lucky to win. I think Chicago lost that game more than GB won it. Chicago outplayed them significantly on offense, but couldn't stop shooting itself in the foot (I'd say 3 of the picks weren't a result of GB's defense and were ones the Bears gave away; the game sealing pick was a good play by Harris). Add in the weird fake punt and GB should be happy they escaped.

I think seeing the Bears that low feels right - they don't seem like a 2-1 team that could easily be 3-0. They could have just as easily lost the last two games just like the GB game and are really just a few lucky bounces from being 0-3.

Points: 0

#6 by Matt Groves (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:30pm

Just a note. Denver's next three games: Dallas, New England and San Diego: no one has touted that they have had an especially hard schedule. They are all beatable by Denver.
Of course, I stand by that Denver is the least predicable team in the NFL.

Points: 0

#60 by loneweasel (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 10:43pm

Denver can beat them if a weird accident involving tri-plane mid-air collision happens.

Denver's run defense is the biggest mirage of the season so far. Wait til the three teams run through their no-talent DLine in the next three weeks.

PS. Captcha is telling me "Jacobs poring". I think it's very appropriate.

Points: 0

#132 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:18pm

Your tone is compelling, your certainty almost comes across as fact! Well done, sir!

Points: 0

#7 by Adam (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:39pm

How is it that Baltimore isn't on the exception list considering they have played an easier schedule than Denver by records?

They both stomped Cleveland.

Baltimore got KC, Denver got Oakland. Oakland BEAT KC so therefore Denver played a tougher team.

Baltimore did play San Diego on the road, and Denver played Cincy on the road. Cincy went on to beat GB on the road and Pittsburgh, meanwhile San Diego has beaten Oakland barely and Miami.

Maybe I am confused on what DAVE is. Is DAVE the subject "projections" of Football Outsiders that skew things?

The numbers suggest Denver has played an equally difficult schedule as Baltimore yet Baltimore isn't in your exceptions and Denver is.

Points: 0

#13 by cjfarls // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:00pm

Indeed, DAVE is the preseason projection of DVOA.

DAVE doesn't like Denver, because typically replacing your coach, coordinators and QB are not a good indicator of future success.

What DAVE doesn't know (or account for) is just how bad Denver's DEF was last year, that that frickin Bob Slowik was replaced by Nolan, or that the the Denver DEF has 8 out of 11 new starters.... Basically, it penalizes Denver for the DEF being really bad last year, penalizes the mediocre offense for losing its QB, and then penalizes them again on DEF for changing everything around.

What worries me more than the DAVE rating (which is understandably bad) is the VOA rating for future schedule strength... which is still the 4th hardest ignoring any projections from last year.

Denver just has a brutal upcoming schedule, by any measure. The team to me, from sight, looks much improved from last year... but with this schedule, I think it may be tough to see much improvement in the overall W-L record.

The only good thing for me as a fan is we still have 4 games vs. KC, OAK and the 'skins (so I'm not discounting sneaking in as a division champ or wildcard at 9-7).

Points: 0

#39 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:06pm

DAVE doesn't like Denver, because typically replacing your coach, coordinators and QB are not a good indicator of future success.

That sounds odd to me. Don't they tend to be replaced because the powers that be want the team to improve? It's usually a necessary step on the way to getting better, no?

Points: 0

#47 by Fizzman // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:56pm

Of course you're right that the goal of the coaching change is to improve the team. However, since FO stats are based on correlation, a coaching change must correlate with a decrease in performance, at least in the first year of the change. Takes time to get the system installed and get the right players for the system, and all that...

Points: 0

#48 by HostileGospel // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:59pm

Perhaps "not a good indicator of immediate success" would be more accurate? Generally, if all those people are replaced, it's because the team sucked last year, and usually it takes a little time to turn a team around.

Overall, I'd be kind of embarrassed to critique something when I didn't know what the hell I was talking about, but then, oh yeah, my NAME is on what I write, isn't it?

-Les Bowen

Points: 0

#29 by Steve (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:45pm

"Baltimore got KC, Denver got Oakland. Oakland BEAT KC so therefore Denver played a tougher team"

Come on now. Both Oakland and KC are truly awful. That Oakland won their so called "NFL game" is hardly a ringing endorsement of the Raiders as a better team. Even if it was, KC was leading that game until a slew of penalties killed them on the final Oakland drive. I'd say they are both equally terrible.

Points: 0

#42 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:07pm

Except, that Oakland won.

Man, the pretzels people tie themselves in to convince themselves Denver is a lousy team.

Points: 0

#45 by Eddo // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:12pm

I know Beatpaths is predicated on that notion (and I love the site), but Oakland simply beating Kansas City, when they were outgained by almost 300 yards, does not prove they're the better team.

Points: 0

#52 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 8:32pm

Well, thank you. :-)

But it hardly proves that they're the worse team, or even the equal team! I mean, how bad does Kansas City have to suck to outgain Oakland by 300 yards and still lose?

Besides, yards aren't points. You could also say that Indianapolis simply beating Miami, when they were out-time-of-performanced by an ungodly amount, does not prove that they're the better team.

Points: 0

#56 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 9:34pm

"when they were out-time-of-performanced by an ungodly amount,"

I don't see the logic here. The correlation between time of possession and points (which is nonexistent) isn't in the same universe as that between yards and points (which is crazy significant).

In any one game, yards aren't points, but over a season, yards tend to be proportional to points.

"I mean, how bad does Kansas City have to suck to outgain Oakland by 300 yards and still lose?"

I don't see the logic here, either. Why do you have to suck to gain lots of yards but not generate points? If you go by the "points are all that matter", then Kansas City is "about as bad" as Oakland. That's a fair assessment - Kansas City and Oakland would've tied, except Kansas City's coach is a moron and screwed up the clock at the end of the first half. Oakland's coach didn't have a chance to be that stupid, so it's tough to tell if he would've done the same.

Points: 0

#133 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:20pm

People with better time of possession have won 75% of the games so far this season. That may not match the yards/points stat, but it's hardly in a different universe. Maybe if it were closer to 50%.

Points: 0

#137 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:59pm

"People with better time of possession have won 75% of the games so far this season."

That's binary. You were asserting that because the Colts lost time-of-possession by a *lot*, that meant something. In order to justify that argument, increased time of possession would have to lead to increased likelihood of winning a game. Otherwise it's almost certainly correlative rather than causative.

You can essentially apply the "kneel to win" idea to it. Teams who kneel in the fourth quarter win virtually 100% of their games. This doesn't mean it's causative, and you can partly tell because more kneels does not increase the likelihood of winning.

Points: 0

#75 by bengt (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 7:18am

The Steelers lost to the Raiders in 2006 while outgaining them by something like 400 yards. The events leading to this (two pick 6s, special teams screw ups AFAIR) were indicative that the Steelers were not in a shape to repeat as SB champs, but they came in such an abnormal abundance that one could not say that the Steelers were clearly inferior to the Raiders.

Points: 0

#50 by Thanos (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 8:05pm

I'm not saying, nor do I care if Denver is a 'good' or 'bad' team, but transitory theory does not apply to the statistics/metric that are used here.

Oakland winning is only applicable to that specific game (KC v. OAK) not to their respective opponents in other games.

Points: 0

#53 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 8:35pm

Fair enough. We're deep into the thicket here anyway, talking about relative performance of opponents between two teams that are going to play each other later this season, anyway!

Points: 0

#74 by Lomax (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 6:28am

I agree. Also, it makes no sense to say that Denver (or any team) is some sort of "exception" because they hammered a team that's ranked low. They're ranked low in LARGE part BECAUSE Denver hammered them so badly. We're talking about THREE games of data. One massively lopsided loss can drop you into the cellar. I would bet that Denver's defense did better in VOA vs. Oakland, Cleveland, or Cinci than any other team except Baltimore (including the likes of San Diego, Green Bay, and Minnesota, who are supposed to be contenders).

The question is, if Cleveland drops any lower will it break the formula for defensive adjustments. If my memory serves me, in the recent past, a team was so bad that everybody who played them dropped in the rankings no matter how they did.

Points: 0

#8 by Red Hedgehog // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:42pm

With two routs, and one time being routed, Philly is the most variant team in the NFL!

I'm happy to see that DVOA still loves them! (And happy to see their special team rank slowly sink down - I imagine they'll be at best slightly above average by the end of the season).

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#9 by Dave B (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:44pm

I'm surprised to see Green Bay's offense ranked fifth, given their woes in that phase of the game. Am I correct to assume that those offensive values will likely take a hit next week, when the schedule comes into play?

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#22 by Arkaein // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:30pm

I think a lot of it is the fact that they have only one turnover. They've come by this honestly, with one fumble lost on two total fumbles, so fumble luck (for the offense) has not been an issue.

Considering how much DVOA punishes turnover, I think this makes up for a lot of sacks given up.

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#51 by Thanos (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 8:16pm

Agreed, just compare the conventional stats of Cutler and Rodgers. They are very similar, except for ints and fumbles. Yet, Rodgers hold a great lead in DVOA.

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#71 by ammek // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:32am

Yes, the offense will take a small hit, as the Pack's three opponents so far have a cumulative defensive VOA of about +29.

The ranking that astonishes me is rush offense: the Packers are sixth! And yet in my memory bank, the only runs I can picture are those Ryan Grant one-yard plods into Daryn Colledge's butt on first down. So what's the explanation? Grant's rushing VOA: 2.7%. Rodgers': 71.4%. Ah ha! This ranking is set to fall.

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#10 by kevinM (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:46pm

I can't believe I'm asking this considering I'm a charter member of the "How the hell are the Eagles ranked so high" club, but why is the Eagles estimated wins number BELOW 2? Was the drop-off in the Saints game that bad? Or was there some problem in the Carolina and KC games I'm not aware of?

It's pretty odd seeing the Giants with the number one ranked pass defense and the number 2 ranked pass offense.

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#38 by Quincy // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:04pm

Odd doesn't even begin to describe it. Black is white, up is down, etc.

The surprising thing on defense, as I posted in another thread, is that it hasn't just been the pass rush responsible for the Giants' top-ranked pass defense, but it really looks like the secondary has come around. As for the offense, I suspect the passing numbers have a lot to do with Washington and Dallas selling out to stop the run. And I would guess that the next two games against Oakland and Kansas City should bring the rushing totals up and passing numbers down.

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#46 by JasonK // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:27pm

I agree about the defenses dictating the relative success of the Giants' passing offense (and struggles of their rushing offenses). WAS and DAL dared the Giants inexperienced WRs to win one-on-one battles, and they did, with authority. Within a few weeks, the offense will look more balanced.

Opponent adjustments will probably even out the pass defense thing, as TB and WAS are not exactly dangerous in that area. Losing Kenny Phillips is going to hurt down the road, but, on the other hand, they should be getting Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery healthy within the next few weeks.

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#81 by C (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 9:08am

Quincy nailed it.

Dallas from the very first play of the game had 8 in the box, and the Giants ran a play action deep ball.

If you put 8 in the box they will throw, if you put 7 in the Box Brandon Jacobs will be giving out piggy back rides. The Giants offense is allowed to change plays before the snap, based on what the defense is doing.

The Giants ran for over 200 yards against Tampa ( guess what their defensive strategy was?)

The Giants threw for over 300 yards ( plus DPI's) against Dallas ( guess what their defensive strategy was?)

Oakland ( at least in the SD & KC games) was playing a ton of man coverage and their D-Line was actually playing better with Seymour rotating around between DE and DT and Kelly ...

The Kenny Phillips loss hurts as CC Brown isn't very good, but I do like Kevin Dockery in the slot, and Aaron Ross is an upgrade at this point over Terrell Thomas.

I think Michael Boley has come in and played well also.

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#57 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 9:39pm

"I can't believe I'm asking this considering I'm a charter member of the "How the hell are the Eagles ranked so high" club, but why is the Eagles estimated wins number BELOW 2?"

Variance. Right now, there's no adjustment for strength-of-opponent. So VOA just sees a team go from awesome to crap to awesome.

Variance is a bad thing for good teams (it's actually a good thing for mind-blowingly awful teams) because if you're the best team in the league, playing beneath yourself is the only way you're going to play beneath another team. So the more you fluctuate, the more losses you're going to pick up.

Said another way: considering they routed Kansas City and Carolina, the only way they would likely lose those games is if they had a propensity for just up and laying a total and complete *egg* in games. And that's what their high variance says they have.

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#87 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:33am

"Variance is a bad thing for good teams."

Well, in theory yes. In reality, good teams often have high variance because they are sometimes good and sometimes really good. Variance doesn't distinguish between that and a good team occasionally playing poorly. The converse is true for bad teams with high variance.

By the way, I don't think expected wins takes variance into account.

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#97 by Eddo // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:46am

"Variance doesn't distinguish between that and a good team occasionally playing poorly."

That is true, but we're not ranking teams by variance. In your example, the team that varies between "good" and "really good" will have the same variance as the team that varies between "good" and "poor", but a higher overall DVOA.

It might be easier to make my point using (made-up and arbitrary) numbers. The former team varies between +20% and +60%; their DVOA would be +40% and their variance would be 20% (or whatever, I'm not sure if it's a standard deviation or what). The latter team varies between -20% and +20%; their DVOA would be 0% and their variance would be 20%.

The point is that, if the +40% team just played consistently at +40%, with no variance, they would never lose due to their own variance, as +40% is better than every other team (most years). If the 0% team were to have no variance, they would only finish with a .500 record.

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#124 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:33pm

Yeah, that's basically the idea, but I think it's a little more subtle in football. I think it's almost certainly easier to *lose* by playing badly than it is to *win* by playing well. So variance is probably going to just be inherently bad until you get *really* terrible.

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#103 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 1:13pm

"By the way, I don't think expected wins takes variance into account."

Yeah, it does. I think it's in the glossary, otherwise you can search for Forest Index and find the original article.

As for the "but variance means you're sometimes really good" - that doesn't matter for the best teams. Being "really good" as opposed to "good" isn't going to win you more games against a bad team. You'll still win "1". Being "bad" as opposed to "good," however, will *lose* games. It's a fairly common statistical effect where normal fluctuations induce a bias at the ends of distributions.

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#12 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 5:59pm

The Vikings schedule over the next five weeks, prior to their bye, is Packers, Rams, Ravens, Steelers, Packers. After their bye, winning five of the remaining eight against Lions, Seahawks, Bears, Cardinals, Bengals, Panthers, Bears, and Giants, with five games at home, is not even close to a stretch, assuming good health.

Three wins in the next five, with one against the Packers, puts them in great shape. Four wins in the next five gives them opportunity to start thinking about home field advantage. Two wins in the next five, with one against the Packers, likely still puts them in position to have a decent chance to win the division.

Favre's and Lewis' heroics really helped.

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#14 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:13pm

It seems like 'heroics' should be singular, in this case. "Favre's and Lewis' heroic really helped."

And that was my 'Heidi' moment for the year, by the by. As I had left the place where I was watching, when the Vikes turned it over on downs with 1:46 or so remaining, needing 4 points to tie.

Oops. I suppose My New Purple Quarterback can now be listed as having saved 1 game that the Vikes would have otherwise lost (I wonder what his individual DVOA is on the San Fran game).

As for San Fran - they look to be the team to beat in the NFC West. Singletary has really turned them around - hell, he's even gotten Vernon Davis to correct his craniorectal entrapment.

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#16 by Eddo // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:17pm

If we're going to nitpick, it should be "Favre's and Lewis's"; the wide receiver isn't a plural noun, now is he? :P

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#18 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:22pm

By all means, let's nitpick (in keeping with previous discussions on the meaning of 'decimate', for example): I was taught that, for nouns ending in an 's', one need not add a second 's' to the end to show the possessive form.

Thus, it would be "Brees' rating", "Atigun Pass' elevation", etc.

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#23 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:33pm

In keeping with the quotes thread, motherf**ers' attitudes regarding the use of apostrophes is annoying. They should be decimated!

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#28 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:44pm

You left a letter out of 'motherf**ers'. I think it was the 'k', might've been the 'c'.

I see the Vikes splitting with Green Bay (surprise!), and beating the Rams and probably the Steelers. I originally chalked the Steelers game as a loss, but watching the Pittsburgh O-line the last few weeks, I think the Vikes should be able to pressure Roethlisberger with only the front 4, or maybe 5. And the Steelers are already 1-dimensional against lesser run fronts.

So...yeah, 3 of the next 5 sounds realistic.

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#43 by Eddo // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:08pm

Yes, I actually think both are acceptable, though I've been taught that adding an "'s" (even for words with a double S, like "Tess" or "Pass") is "more correct".

Personally, I like doing it for consistency, and clarity, so that the reader never has to pause and consider context (am I writing about a plural noun?) before continuing on with the rest of the sentence.

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#79 by crack (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 8:44am

Strunk and White say using ' instead 's for peoples name should only be done for historical and biblical figures. Heracles' trials, Jesus' cross and the like.

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#121 by Darrel Michaud // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:10pm

Nobody should listen to Strunk and White.

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#126 by Hurt Bones // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:51pm

I remember reading it, but listening no. Is it available as an audio book?

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#92 by bravehoptoad // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:01am

I was taught that you add the 's if you would pronounce it. So you'd say "Greg Lewis's catch" but "John Davies' run."

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#141 by Mr Shush // Oct 01, 2009 - 9:50am

I was taught almost exactly the same thing: if you would pronounce it, you may (but are not obiged to) add the "s".

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#106 by peterplaysbass (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 2:36pm

I seem to recall something about not needing and extra "s" when the name ends with an "s" unless the name is biblical. I don't know if that's right or not, but a copywriter at my last employer told me so.

James' running game vs. James's apostle friends.

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#107 by peterplaysbass (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 2:38pm

Whoops, just read the other comment about historical/biblical figures. I had that turned around.

Glad someone else has heard the same thing, though.

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#15 by MJK // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:15pm

Unfortunately, I agree that the Jets are probably for real. The team that soundly beat New England beat them not because of flukes, lucky breaks, and broken plays (as characterize New England losses to the Jets the last couple of years), but because of excellent scheming on the part of the coaches, extremely sound fundamentals, especially on defense (gap control, maintaining responsibility, and sound tackling), and efficient, if not amazing, offensive play.

It finally seems like the Jets have a coaching staff that is scheming to take advantage of all the talent that the Jets have instead of trying to hammer round pegs through square holes and destroying both the pegs and the holes, as the previous Jets coaching staff seemed wont to do.

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#17 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:19pm

You mean, the same staff that is working furiously to make the round pegs named 'O'QUinn' and 'Anderson' fit into the square hole labeled 'NFL-caliber quarterback'?

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#62 by loneweasel (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 10:50pm

Plus an excellent, excellent special teams.

The Jets schedule really is shaping up to be rather soft the rest of the year, both by metric and the eyeball test. The bottom two AFCE teams will not have competent quarterbacks. There are some other awful teams like CAR on it too.

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#19 by Jerry // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:22pm

"Playoff odds add a new "special Super Bowl" matchup to our list of possibilities, the Super Bowl XXX rematch (Pittsburgh-Dallas)."

Not that it looks likely at the moment, but some of us prefer to think of it as a rematch of Super Bowls X and XIII.

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#20 by rengewnad (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:24pm

FO - the link to DVOA explanation is dead. I want to know more about what goes into the Special Teams DVOA.

Also, How much does the altitude affect Denver (i.e. what would their DVOA be if the altitude variable was removed)? They always seem to be near last in ST DVOA, yet when I watch them play they are getting touchbacks on kickoffs and pinning opponents deep when punting.

Is it a lack of big-play returns? I admit I haven't seen a big special teams return from the broncos in what feels like a long time.

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#21 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:29pm

I don't recall all of the numbers for Special Teams, but one of the more important inputs is this:

Special Teams DVOA is inversely proportional to the punter's World of Warcraft character level.

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#67 by DGL // Sep 30, 2009 - 12:19am

I thought it was the long snapper?

(Still trying to figure out fantasy football scoring for LSs...)

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#26 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:42pm

Click here!

"Kickoffs, punts, and field goals are then adjusted based on weather and altitude. It will surprise no one to learn that it is easier to kick the ball in Denver or a dome than it is to kick the ball in Buffalo in December. Because we do not yet have enough data to tailor our adjustments specifically to each stadium, each one is assigned to one of four categories: Cold, Warm, Dome, and Denver/Mexico. An additional adjustment drops the value of field goals in Florida and raises the value of punts in San Francisco."

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#44 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:11pm

Denver's special teams appear vastly improved this season, but there isn't a lot to go on yet this season - Denver didn't even punt until the 4th quarter of the Oakland game. And Hillis did fumble the opening kickoff of one of these recent games. But their punt and kickoff coverage is vastly improved, and Prater's kickoffs are otherwise almost always deep touchbacks.

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#77 by jebmak // Sep 30, 2009 - 7:55am

Man, why did you have to change it?

It was a lot funnier when the four catagories were cold, warm, dome, and Denver. That was like north, south, up, and Dennis.

Denver/Mexico just doesn't have the same ring.

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#150 by JS (not verified) // Oct 02, 2009 - 11:18am


Wind should be in there. Wilson stadium is just a tornado generator. I don't know that cold/warm change things as much as wind. Last year Lindell tried a field goal that started straight, went wide left, anded up wide right going sideways more than forwards. I'm a fan, but even I thought it was funny.

Wet/dry. Remember the punt in PA a while ago that stuck and stood up in the mud?

Well, good luck. I'm glad I don't have to listen to my suggestions.

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#30 by Dan // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:46pm

Just go to the Special Teams page (under the "Statistics" menu). DVOA rates them good at kickoffs & bad at everything else, and it is altitude-adjusted.

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#131 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:16pm

Prater was named Special Teams Player of the Month in the AFC:

Prater helped the Broncos to a 3-0 record and a first-place standing in the AFC West in September by converting 7-of-9 field-goal attempts, including all three tries from beyond 40 yards. He posted AFC bests in touchbacks (7), touchback percentage (46.7) and kickoffs reaching the end zone (13) to help Denver lead the conference in lowest opponent average starting position after kickoffs (20.6-yd. line) for the month.

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#25 by jimm (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:40pm

Tundrapaddy - I suppose My New Purple Quarterback can now be listed as having saved 1 game that the Vikes would have otherwise lost....

lets not forget that Favre did not play particularly well up until the last drive. Some better play by him and the receivers in the first half would have put that game away early on.

Granted that last pass was great - but the truth is either one of Rosenfels or Jackson could have very likely beat SF in that game.

Having said that - I wouldn't take either one over Favre. I just don't think people should get carried away. I honestly thought that was his worse game of the three.

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#32 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:56pm

That's why I wanted to see his game DVOA. He had a lot of incompletes early on - partially due (I would guess) to an ongoing lack of cohesion with his new wideouts, partly due to the fact that he throws almost every pass at full velocity.

Funny thing is, Shawn Hill is exactly the kind of QB that we needed this year, a 'Trent Dilfer' type. Manage the game, complete short passes and get the ball off, don't turn it over.

The fact that MNPQ has resembled Dilfer in the first few games lifted my spirits, and I relented on my criticism of their signing of the model.

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#35 by sfckoski // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:01pm

Don't disparage Shaun Hill by comparing him to Trent Dilfer. Although unspectacular, Hill is a better QB than Dilfer.

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#117 by The Guy You Do… (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:14pm

And Dilfer actually, contrary to his reputation (which he seems to have gained out of thin air by having been the QB for the 2000 Ravens), was a big-time interception-thrower. To put it in some perspective--Derek Anderson and Vinny Testaverde have lower career interception rates than Dilfer.

Shaun Hill is more like Brad Johnson or Rich Gannon. Or, if you want to be (probaby overly) charitable, Joe Montana or Steve Young.

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#31 by jimm (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 6:49pm

I hope Reynaud isn't injured very seriously - I just read he hopes to play Monday. He seems to have a real knack in the punt return role. The combination of him and Harvin makes the Vikings incredibly dangerous in the return game.

Also - with Kluwe kicking for hang time instead of distance since week 2 - the punt return coverage is just fine...10 punts in two games - 4 returned for 13 yards.

I think Longwell is a real liability on kick offs. I don't know if it's been covered here - but it strikes me that adding a second kicker who can get it in the end zone is more valuable than the 45th guy active on Sunday.

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#40 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:07pm

Or just putting in the effort to find 1 guy, during the offseason, who can kick for both distance and accuracy. It shouldn't be that hard, I would think. Lots of other teams have such a player, there are probably ~50 kickers who leave Division 1-A schools every year (plus the hundreds of D-2 and such)...

I honestly haven't looked at how Longwell is placing his kickoffs with respect to touchbacks, directional kicking away from 'dangerous' returners, that sort of thing. I'll watch for it on Monday.

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#33 by sfckoski // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:00pm

The Brett Favre-Greg Lewis combo kept the 49ers from being 3-0 with a negative DVOA, but it shouldn't be surprising because the 49ers didn't convert a single third down and the defense was worse on third down against the vikings than the previous two games.

As a Niners fan, I'm disappointed in the low DVOA ranking, but excited that they're almost to double digit negative defensive DVOA.

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#101 by bravehoptoad // Sep 30, 2009 - 12:47pm

I don't think their low VOA is surprising. On offense they've been craptacular.

The thing that gives me hope is that a lot of their problems are in the playcalling, or so it seems to me. I can't recall seeing an offense that improves more the minute the O.C. starts varying his play selection. This is something a team can actually learn to do as the season goes on -- vast improvement seems possible.

That's my hope.

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#34 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:01pm

I think it's odd that Denver's success is seen as so strange. Teams turn things around all the time. One very reasonable explanation on Denver's defense is that part of their problem last year was personnel, but part of it was also coaching. Denver has better defensive coaching now, that knows how to work better with existing personnel. It's true that Denver's personnel is better this year, but so much of last year was also system failure. Not to mention personnel being used badly - Dumervil wasn't on the field near as much last season. How do you not put Dumervil on the field?

Anyway, as much as good coaching can improve a team's stats, bad coaching can also negatively impact the stats, that's my point. So I don't think it should be seen as so strange that Denver's defense appears massively improved. Soft schedule aside.

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#58 by richardbrianwa… // Sep 29, 2009 - 10:22pm

It's seen as strange because Denver isn't a good football team.

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#66 by Piglet (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 11:55pm

And your proof for this is? You've got one of the best young offensive lines in football, solid receivers, reasonable RBs, very good corners, competent if slowing safeties, and a QB that played pretty ok in Chicago until he got hurt last year. D-line is a question, of course. Are they the third-best team in the NFL? No. Are they a good football team? I say yes, and predict that DVOA will bear this out by the end of the year. We shall see.

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#100 by cjfarls // Sep 30, 2009 - 12:43pm


For a site that prides itself on logic, some of the Denver opinions here on FO by both staff and commentators is hugely divorced from reality.

Denver's horrible projection is completely understandable... but a modeled projection with a R-squared value of ~.4 does not equal reality.... it may be better than pretty much anything else available, but thats why we have to combine the stats with actually scouting the team and other obersvations.

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#105 by Thanos (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 1:27pm

The surprise isn't so much that Denver is good, it is that Denver is playing so far above expectations.

I would expect that as time goes on, the comments made about Denver will reflect the reality more than the expectation of their season.

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#36 by C (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:02pm

I had a nice chat with an odds maker in Vegas a few months ago. I was sitting in there looking at the odds speaking about what jumped out at me...

Dallas was -2.5 @ Tampa... Tampa? You mean the Cowboys are playing a new coach and Byron Leftwich and laying less than a field goal? What gives man?

Philly was +2.5 @ Carolina... Philly was getting points? Really, what gives man? Is that based on the Andy Reid slow start argument? I don't see why not to take the points or even tease Philly above 7?

Why were the odds for the Bears to win the super bowl so low? Cutler was a good pick up but lead his team to the promise land in year 1 ??? He thought it was the homers of a big market team betting on their team and the excitement of a new player...

but what he did say, was watch out for those black birds. He actually liked Joe Flacco ( I still don't), and I agreed the team had talent etc. but the AFC is tough but the odds maker loved Baltimore. This guy was sharp money and he loved Baltimore so I've taken notice of that. They certainly look like the best team in the NFC so far and their final scores haven't even always reflected how they have dominated their games. I'm not shocked at all that DVOA likes them best.

I was telling him Green Bay was my sleeper team even before Aaron Rodgers lit it up in the preseason and I'm sticking by it.

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#37 by C (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:03pm

*AFC* thus far.

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#41 by Key19 // Sep 29, 2009 - 7:07pm

Man, Dallas' schedule is pretty tough. Only three teams in the bottom half of the league (by the ratings) and San Diego is one of those (which is bound to get up in the top half pretty soon).

That said, I think Washington is definitely on the verge of being below average. I think we could sweep them this year.

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#134 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:24pm

San Diego is always bound to start playing better pretty soon. Real soon now. Same with Philadelphia.

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#157 by anotherpatsfan // Oct 04, 2009 - 10:40pm

Don't know if FO is still buying San Diego futures (and boy they look bad against Pittsburgh). Despite FOA prediction of incredible SD potential, FO seems to have soured on SD in a big way. Latest KUBIAK update had some significant drops in SD skill position predicted performance (as measured by fantasy points over baseline rank in a standard scoring system; Rivers went from 18 to 55 overall (4th to 7th in QB rank, Tomlinson 5 to 17, Gates 17 to 22 -- Sproles up from 81 to 49, Jackson up to 36 from 39) -- all of which makes me sorry I drafted Rivers twice so far. This seems to indicate that FO now thinks the Chargers will underperform the glowing predictions (which were probably reflected in original Kubiak ratings).

FO guys, how about some analysis of SD and the Curse of Norv or whatever else may be causing this poor performance/apparent FO reassessment.

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#54 by Rick A. (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 9:26pm

You are exactly right about the Jets MJK. And on another topic,the entire debate
going back and forth about the seeming improbabilities of this or that team being ranked high in this DVOA system is like every other debate at this time of year--a waste of time. As a lifelong observer of pro football, and as an observer of this DVOA invention since it's inception (best analytical tool I've ever seen) , it seems strongly to me that DVOA really doesn't start being that meaningful until after week 6 or so--just like every other factor regarding the on field results. At this point trying to speculate whether or not Denver is over achieving, or how high should the Minny special teams be ranked, or "how bout dem Ravens" and all that, is just so much spittin in the wind. Baltimore has a QB now, Minny has speed and talent, Denver is continuing their traditional running system even though they have a new coach, the Giants are the top road team in the game, the Rams stink, Brees is peaking in his career and has some talent around him, Pitt is probably going to have a tough go since Cincy is apparently improved--and that's about all you can say whether you try to quantify it or not. There are plenty of other early observations but what's the point until there are about ten games left in the regular season ? Then, as we've seen every year, DVOA will show alot that plenty of pundits will miss.

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#55 by mm (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 9:28pm

I think the DAVE ratings are still better than the VOA numbers, with a few notable exceptions (Atlanta & NY Jets jump out at me). Eagerly awaiting the opponent adjustments to start kicking in. Carolina, lousy in both ratings, will rise up to merely bad or mediocre once they get distance from that Eagles game.

A few comments on the always entertaining playoff odds (based on those DAVE ratings):

Buffalo & Miami, despite not really looking bad yet, are almost eliminated from playoff contention (yes, I know DAVE has factored in losing Pennington, but still...)

If anyone wants to complain about Denver not being 'respected' by the formulas, the playoff odds page give them a nearly 50% chance of winning the division.

Despite winning last week, Chicago's playoff odds fell 20%.

Right now, the highest projected mean wins in the NFC West is 8.6. San Francisco isn't getting much respect there.

New Orleans has a 93.6% chance of winning the division, which I think is partly because Atlanta is underrated. More surprisingly, the Saints are listed at a 40.5%(!!) chance of winning the #1 seed in the NFC. I know the Saints have a favorable remaining schedule (it's even better when you examine which games are at home and which games are away), but this is a bit high!

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#59 by Rick A. (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 10:41pm

My point exactly MM. Of course it's ridiculous to project after week 3 that the Saints have a "40.5% chance of winning the #1 Seed". They have yet to play a division game. All of the readers of this DVOA thing are truly NFL junkies. I am too, I admit, but I look in at this time of year just to see how certain things we've seen in actual reality become quantified by this system. I certainly, however, do not think that, at this point, it brings anything whatsoever to light.

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#89 by Joseph // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:51am

Rick & mm,
I think that the playoff odds reflect this thought of most media people, stat junkies or otherwise: If the Ravens ever had a decent offense, and if the (Drew Brees/Sean Payton) Saints ever had a decent defense, they would be awesome, SB contender teams. As a Saints fan, it pains me to say that the defense's true tests will come AFTER the bye. Jets fans, that's nothing against Sanchez, but getting to play 2 rookie QB's, a first-time starter (Kolb), and a lower-tier QB (Edwards) makes life easier for your defense, and the secondary in particular. As for the Ravens O, I say that we are seeing the continuted maturation of Flacco. Will he ever be top-5? Maybe, but probably not. However, last year they got to the AFC CG in spite of Flacco--this year they may get there BECAUSE OF his play.

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#63 by RickD // Sep 29, 2009 - 11:02pm

Washington is clearly ranked too high because they lost to the freakin' Lions!. The drunken ramblings of former NFL brodcasters is way better than this. The Jets suk! LOL!

Seriously? What's up with the Redskins being listed in the top half? They've looked godawful. The surprise was not that they lost to the Lions, but that two of my friends who are Redskins fans correctly picked that loss! Are their special teams that good? Is that really important?

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#86 by Jeremy Billones // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:23am

Washington's special teams are 5th, but the ST ranges are narrow.

They're listed as average overall because:

(1) DAVE says they were average last year, and that's still half the rating,

(2) VOA doesn't know they played STL and DET, and

(3) Washington has generated respectable offense from a yardage standpoint. While VOA weights red zone plays higher than 20-to-20 plays, it presumes that an inability to punch it in from the 1 is more due to chance than to inability. And Washington has done OK 20-to-20 in all three games.

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#90 by dmb // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:59am

As a fellow Redskins fan named Jeremy, I concur, with the exception that DAVE is supposed to be predictive, not backwards-looking. Last year's middle-of-the-pack performance is part of that rating, but it also takes offseason changes into account. But I would definitely agree that the biggest factors are a lack of opponent adjustments, and an ability to move the ball reasonably well outside of the red zone.

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#99 by The Other Ben … (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 12:01pm

And look at that variance rating. They led the league last year, too. They follow Zorn's advice and "stay medium." Meaning "mediocre."

Based on what I've seen from following them this season, the special teams rating is no fluke. Hunter Smith was on fire against the Lions this week (Lions starting field positions after punts: own 6, own 6, own 28--after a 58 yarder, own 15, own 15). Smith also leads the team in rushing touchdowns (oof). It's hard to feel good when your team's most effective player is its punter, but Redskins fans are looking for a silver lining wherever we can get one. Their punting was awful last year, and Hunter the Punter has been putting on a clinic so far this season. We could be headed for a repeat of 1998, when the only pro bowl Redskin was punter Matt Turk. If this is the case, I will gladly buy myself a Hunter Smith Pro Bowl Jersey.

Also: Rock Cartwright is not a flashy return guy, but he runs up the gut and averages more per return than most flashy return guys do. You will hardly ever see the Redskins start a drive after a kickoff at less than the 20 yard line.

It's hard to root for special teams to be good when you're a fan of the team, because if everything's going according to plan, special teams should only be used for extra points, kickoffs, and punt returns (and if the offense is really humming, fair catches would be sufficient). But the Redskins are not going to be in that ideal situation this season. It's not much, but it's about all we've got. That and Chris Cooley.

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#64 by ChiTown11111 (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 11:30pm

The Bears low VOA is probably due to playing all teams who are Positive VOA (Packers, Steelers, Seahawks), their rank would be higher in DVOA.

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#65 by Elric (not verified) // Sep 29, 2009 - 11:37pm

After opponent adjustments start kicking in I can see the Detroit Lions climbing in the standings. Losing to the #2 and #5 rated teams should mean their results are better then they appear (similar to Denver's results that are worse then they appear).

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#68 by B-Rick (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 12:24am

Minnesota is as much of a question mark as Denver. They have played a similar schedule to Denver in that they have played two awful teams (DEN: CLE, OAK) vs (MIN: CLE, DET) and an average team where they were lucky to win (DEN V CIN & MIN V SF). Minnesota is as inflated as Denver.

Denver is probably playing over their heads, but IMO they are ate least a .500 team. Their pass rush and run defense appear better than expected.

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#69 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 2:55am

One thing in the Vikings favor is that there may be significant upside in their future offense, as their highest paid jean model gets as familiar with Berrian, Harvin, Shiancoe, etc., as he is with the other jean models he normally frolics with in his backyard.

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#80 by Gruntled (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 9:02am

The same, to a slightly lesser extent, is true of the Bears, and both of them have easier schedules than Green Bay in the 2nd half of the season. GB has 3 doormats surrounding its two matchups with the Vikings; they really need to be leading the division at the halfway point or they may be in trouble.

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#111 by peterplaysbass (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 3:50pm

The Vikings dominated the 49ers in several aspects, especially in the first half. Looking at rushing and receiving yards, 3rd down conversions, etc. The blocked fieldgoal return for TD (rookie RT's mental mistake) was a 10 point swing in the last play before the half. Should have been 16-7 MIN, instead 14-13 SF.

Did Denver dominate Cincy?

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#112 by bravehoptoad // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:02pm

Somehow, I doubt Minnesota was congratulating itself on a "dominating" performance afterwards.

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#128 by merlinofchaos // Sep 30, 2009 - 6:36pm

No, Denver did not dominate Cincy. But in that game, both teams were beating themselves, not the other way around.

One thing that's interesting to watch is the play of the quarterback and the O-Line, going all the way back to the first preseason game.

In order, it's: Putrid, Putrid, Stinky, Stinky, Bad, Ok, Ok.

That's actually a pretty good progression, when you consider that you've got an entirely new coaching staff (except for 2 offensive coaches), a new QB, new RBs, massive offseason controversy over the QB and the star WR, and a generally different philosophy. It's very clear that it's taken awhile for Orton and his teammates to start to communicate, and Orton himself was pretty shaky and made some awful decisions early and yet hasn't made those in the last two games.

I'm not ready to drink the Broncos kool-aid and annoint them an awesome team; I was firmly in the camp that McDaniels sucks. But I also said early on that winning cures everything in football, and 3 wins in I'm convinced that Denver is not a bad football team, at this point. I'm not convinced they're anything better than average yet, but I am convinced that it's now possible. DAVE predictions actually strike me as fairly accurate as to where things will play out. In any case, given Denver's upcoming schedule, we'll know in 2-3 weeks.

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#73 by ammek // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:09am

I don't wish to pile on, but is that really an 8 percent catch rate for Darius Heyward-Bey? One pass in 12?

By the same token, is Bill Barnwell planning to retract his mea culpa over Chris Chambers? Two catches in 14 targets?

Lopsided stat of the season so far: the Rams have run 52% to the right side, 9% to the left. I take it that Steven Jackson and Alex Barron don't room together.

Pedantic note: on the special teams page, the shaded columns are titled 'Weighted DVOA'; shouldn't it read 'DAVE'?

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#82 by Independent George // Sep 30, 2009 - 9:18am

Well, to be fair, JaMarcus Russell is only completing 41% of his passes, so it's really the equivalent of having a catch rate of twelve percent.

That actually reminds me - I can't see the week 2 Loser League results - the page only shows the full season results, and the week 1 results.

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#84 by Tom Gower // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:05am

Yeah, the LL results page goes to Week 1. If you change the list number in the address from 1 to 2, you can access the Week 2 results. Alternatively, follow this link.

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#135 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:27pm

Well, to be fair, JaMarcus Russell is only completing 41% of his passes, so it's really the equivalent of having a catch rate of twelve percent.

Five stars!

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#76 by Rain (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 7:49am

I find it interesting that FO finds it neccessary to "uncover" the reasons why the Data about Denver is "faulty". I guess even statistical geniuses are prone to bias and the need to be right. Since FO "predicted" Denver to be the worst, the Denver data is an anomaly and a curiosity to be wondered about.

There might be another explanation though too. Farfetched as it may seem, the data might actually be doing its job perfectly and over three games Denver actually merits third. Our biases say thats impossible, we all know the story of the offseason. So it's in our nature to excuse the data if it refutes popular opinion. The reality is, thats the beauty of the DVOA system FO is developing, it doesn't have any subjective bias. We as people do. Comments like (I think the Jets are for real) are also subjective. We try to use the data to validate our "gut" feelings. The need to be right is so strong we often ignore the data.

I, for one, try to take the data at face value. And it says Bal is number one, NO number two and Den number 3. I'll take all three teams to win this week. (I have a strong need to be right too)

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#78 by ammek // Sep 30, 2009 - 8:29am

Wow, we have an anti-zlionsfan template:

team is clearly ranked perfectly because defensive adjustments/small sample size/other mitigating factors do not apply. subjective interpretation is way worse than this, so keep it to yourselves. evangelism for infallibility of systems over the the humans that invent them, with decent spelling but provocative use of 'data' as singular noun

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#83 by crack (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 9:25am

But he's right. Based on performance Denver is ranked where they should be. What is DVOA supposed to show again? Is it predictive or descriptive? I think it works best as descriptive, less well at predictive.

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#85 by Eddo // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:10am

Well, kind of. The thing is, Denver's DVOA is unknown at this point in time. VOA is definitely showing that, assuming every teams opponents have been of equal quality, Denver has played like the third-best team in the league. However, ranking teams without taking schedule strength into account is dangerous.

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#114 by peterplaysbass (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:05pm

It takes a nerd of special breed to point out that the term 'data' is plural. I used to refer to it as such (these data indicate...) and even use the obscure 'datum' when justifiable (this datum exceeds the standard deviation) until I was politely told by all of my coworkers to shut the h*ll up.

Anyhow, I appreciated your comment. Good stuff.

Debating 'decimate' and the use of apostrophe-s after names ending in 's' with crazy football/math nerds is a big part of what makes this site so much fun for me.

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#88 by super7 (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:50am

If Denver's 3-0 start is "the product of a pretty easy early schedule", then isn't Baltimore's as well?

They've both played Cleveland and either Kansas City (BAL) or Oakland (Denver). Their toughest games were San Diego (Baltimore) and Cincinatti (Denver), who looks like a much stronger team than expected. Denver shut the Bengals down but for one late game drive. The Ravens won 31-26 versus San Diego and they didn't dominate.

This whole DAVE thing is silly and something ESPN or Yahoo would do. People come here for the objective and non-biased stats and you keep pushing DAVE on your readers. It's a shame.

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#93 by dmb // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:17am

This whole DAVE thing is silly and something ESPN or Yahoo would do. People come here for the objective and non-biased stats and you keep pushing DAVE on your readers. It's a shame.

(1) I know some here will probably disagree, but all numbers can be (and generally are) subjective. The formula is determined by what Aaron and company deem to be important, and although their criteria are empirically-based, human judgment still enters at some point. (When trying new tweaks, how much improvement in R^2 is considered sufficient to merit inclusion? For that matter, where to the potential tweaks come from in the first place?) What separates FO from more mainstream coverage isn't that it's completely objective, just that the analysis pays far more attention to empirical results than do most other outlets. Of course, it could be argued that FO does this to a fault at times, where the results drive the theory a bit too much, which is the overarching theme for most critiques of the Lewin quarterbacking projections and the Curse of 370.

(2) DAVE is empirically grounded, as is DVOA. In fact, when the season is still nascent, DAVE is a better predictor of total-season perforamnce than DVOA (or VOA, as it is right now); that's why it's on the page in the first place. It's true that the results of DAVE are shaped by subjective judgments, but I'd argue that's just a little more transparent with DAVE than it is with DVOA (see above).

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#94 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:24am

DAVE is objective and non-biased. It's based entirely on statistics. The thing that's different about it is that it (objectively) incorporates (statistically based) preseason predictions rather than just current performance on the field.

EDIT: While DMB is technically right that all ratings are "subjective" even numbers-based ones, I think he is missing the point. DVOA, DAVE, the preseason predictions etc. are all "objective" to the extent that Aaron created a formula, input the numbers, and published the results without alteration (though he may have tinkered with the formula to try and improve its accuracy). This is in contrast to typical power rankings which are usually based on the rater's subjective opinions rather than a strict formula. The question of whether the formula itself is objective is a separate issue.

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#104 by dmb // Sep 30, 2009 - 1:22pm

I agree that using DVOA to rank teams provides a much more systematic treatment of the league, and that its biases are unlikely to be geared toward specific teams because of any sort of observation bias. But I think it's very relevant that the formula is subjective, because ranking teams using a subjective formula yields subjective results. In short, the subjectivity comes from judgments about what's important to the game itself, not from judgments about individual players or teams ... but it's worth noting that that doesn't make the rankings objective.

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#110 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Sep 30, 2009 - 3:18pm

Yeah I know what you're saying. But usually when people complain that a ranking system is "biased" they mean for or against specific teams based on observation. It's only a small minority of complaints which argue that the system is unjustifiably biased for or against certain strategic styles due to incorrect weighting of certain inputs. I don't think that's what the original poster had in mind.

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#130 by dmb // Sep 30, 2009 - 9:05pm

Yeah, I know ... I just think that calling DVOA "objective" is slightly misleading, is all. I agree that that's not what the original poster was complaining about, but I thought it was reasonable to point out that even the most systematic approaches are still subjective in some way.

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#122 by MTR (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:23pm

By your definition isn't every system subjective?

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#129 by dmb // Sep 30, 2009 - 9:02pm

Sure, and I think that's probably accurate; human judgment is going to enter into things at some point no matter what. That's not necessarily a horrible thing; I just think it's good when that judgment is acknowledged -- or at the very least, it's a little silly to ignore it.

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#136 by tunesmith (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:51pm

Does anyone see where DAVE is defined? I can't find it. Anyway, if DAVE is based off of preseason statistics, it's no wonder Denver was ranked so low. Does DAVE adjust for teams that are busy implementing brand new systems for offense, defense, and special teams, and suck in the preseason because they're supposed to suck in the preseason? It shouldn't be a surprise that teams improve dramatically as they learn a new system that they had never played a game in before during the first preseason game. Maybe good coaches know how to introduce a system that will get them to a level of competence in time for the first game of the regular season.

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#138 by cjfarls // Oct 01, 2009 - 12:02am

I think DAVE is defined in the pre-season/week 1 DVOA post, or perhaps it is straight out of FOA.

If I understand it correctly, DAVE is based on last years stats (including end of year trends), with modifiers for age/aging of starters, and other statistically relevant events that occurred in the offseason. For example, losing coordinators is a negative, drafting a high-pick tackle is positive, etc. etc. FO typically has a big post, and often FOA articles, when they find new statistically relevant events that I assume are then incorporated into DAVE.

I don't think pre-season stats are counted at all.

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#91 by fireorlime2 (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 10:59am

Re: Baltimore love above -

The only really convincing win Baltimore has earned came against Cleveland. Kansas City (!) hung in with Baltimore until just over five minutes left in the game, and, if not for Ray Ray stopping Sproles on 4th and 2 at the end of the San Diego game, Baltimore could pretty easily have lost that one as well.

Is a team that has won two close games (one against a really bad team) and an easy win over a bad team the best in the league? Maybe. The game against the Patriots should reveal a great deal about how good this team really is.

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#119 by PatsFan // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:39pm

The game against the Patriots should reveal a great deal about how good this team really is.

You really think so? The Pats aren't exactly playing very well and I don't see Brady having anything other than a terrible day against the Baltimore defense, especially if Welker is a scratch again.

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#96 by metro (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 11:46am

I agree that, because of schedule, we’ve learned little about Minnesota thus far. I tend to agree they are as inflated as Denver, and having seen them twice this year, I think it’s extremely premature to be speculating about home field advantage (Will). With that said I think Green Bay is similarly (possibly even moreso) overrated thus far in the DVOA rankings.

One thing I would counter to Will’s argument about Wrangler Jeans Model’s level of comfort with receivers is that over the past 5 years his play has typically dropped off fairly steeply towards the end of the year. So I would tend to temper enthusiasm for offensive upside as the year goes on, especially as he already has a decent level of comfort within the offence, if not the personnel. Even in 2007 when he played really well, there was some slippage late in the year. Clearly playing in a dome and the Vikes only having @ Chicago as an outdoors cold weather game may help, but it has to be a concern.

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#102 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 1:08pm

Yeah, the fact that the Vikings are likely to only have one cold weather game plays a large role in my speculation. That and the fellow who wears number 28. It can't be emphasized enough; this is the first time in many, many, many, years that Favre is not going to be asked to be the main target of the opposing defensive coordinator's schemeing. Yes, there will be games, when they give up a lot of points early, or when playing a very sound run defense, like the Niners', where Favre will be asked to shoulder a much larger load. Even in those ciorcumstances, however, Favre will be a far more protected than in years past. Peterson's unique ability to take any touch the distance means he really isn't out of the offense even if the Vikings are trailing big early. Even very sound run defenses have to give Peterson extra attention; Favre's extremely easy first td pass came right after the Ninenrs had been gashed on a 35 yard Peterson special. They overloaded to stop him, and Favre easily manipulated the dbs who were left back (something a Vikings qb hasn't been good at since Warren Noon's short stint), and the result was a wide open Sidney Rice.

Of course, I still think the old guy is going to get hurt, so this really is wildly optomistic speculation.

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#108 by ammek // Sep 30, 2009 - 2:39pm

To temper your optimism a little, you might want to remind yourself of the 2003 season, when Ahman Green ran for nearly 2000 yards behind a Packer line which was superior to the current unit in Minnesota. Favre had one of his poorest years, with an interception rate of over 4% and a very modest DVOA of +6%.

Perhaps it has changed with age, but I have long agreed with John Madden that Favre plays worse when he throws less. This was one of the fatal flaws in Mike Sherman's plan to reconstruct the late-90s Broncos in Green Bay. (Hiring Bob Slowik and expecting Billy Schroeder to play the Ed McCaffrey role were some others.)

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#109 by Eddo // Sep 30, 2009 - 2:54pm

"It can't be emphasized enough; this is the first time in many, many, many, years that Favre is not going to be asked to be the main target of the opposing defensive coordinator's schemeing."

Are you sure about that, Will? It sure seemed like (smart) defensive coaches were more concentrated on stopping the Jets' ground game last year, especially towards the end of the year. And as ammek points out, Favre has had some very good (granted, not Peterson-level good) running backs play behind him over the course of his career.

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#113 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:02pm

Guys, Ahman Green ran for a lot of yards against defenses which were not even close to being schemed with stopping Green as the primary goal, in the manner that defenses are schemed with stopping Peterson as the primary goal. Believe me, the Vikings did not go into Packer weeks that year with the notion that the first goal was to stop Ahman Green. Ahman Green was a very good back. Adrian Peterson might, if he stays healthy, end up being the most dominant back since Jim Brown.

As to last year, especially at the end, if Ron Jaworski's film study revealed to him that Favre was hurt, and couldn't throw it like, say, he did against the Niners last Sunday, then I guarantee you that opposing coordinators knew it also. If your point is that he is going to get hurt again, I, sadly, agree with you, when I'm not indulging my fandom.

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#115 by zerlesen (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:11pm

I'd say it's too soon to be talking about a Denver defensive renaissance. IIRC, didn't the Broncos do something similar a couple of years ago? I seem to remember them surrendering a freakishly small number of touchdowns over the first few weeks of the season, leading to great rejoicing over the D's newfound "toughness" and tendency to "not break". Then everything promptly went to hell again. (I want to say that this was just before Shanahan's epic fail of an Almost All D-Line draft, but I might be wrong.)

So, much as I'd like to believe in Mike Nolan Magic Beans, they only constitute one possible explanation for the ranking. Others include "Cleveland is bad" and "JaMarcus Russell is really bad". We'll see - and in the meantime, there's nothing wrong with calling the results anomalous. The anomalies are the interesting part.

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#125 by cjfarls // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:41pm

In reply to by zerlesen (not verified)

Big differences between this year and 2007(?) when Denver didn't give up a touchdown in the first 3 or 4 games before imploding down the stretch.

1) Denver's Defensive VOA in 2007 was average/below average in those early games... FO was calling the "bend but not break" completely unsustainable from the start, because teams were moving the ball at will but just unable to punch it in. This year, the VOA is really good and the teams are moving at all... its not just a lack of points... it just very good defensive play overall.

2) Denver's offensive VOA that year was awful as well. Plummer looked awful, to the extent that he got benched for the rookie hot-shot even though the team had a winning record. While Denver's offense doesn't look like the best in the NFL this year, it has looked decidely improved each game...

Denver's VOA after 4 games that year was ~20th in league, even though I think they were 3-1.... Denver's VOA after 3 games this year is #3... big difference.

Now, you very well may be right to some extent. Playing Cleveland and Oakland can have decidedly good effects on the opposing teams Defensive VOA...

But the current performance hints that the Denver DEF could be average or above average (even if the current complete dominance is likely a bit of a mirage)... That IS a huge improvement over the collasal suckiness of last year's squad that made Russell look like a good NFL QB last year.

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#116 by peterplaysbass (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:13pm

I'll also agree that we know little of the Vikings so far. As an avid fan, I'll be skeptical if they're 5-0 when they host the Ravens. Depending on how Baltimore fares against New England, 6-0 might not even tell us much.

What we do know, however, is that being undefeated early gives a boost to the chances of making the post-season. If Minnesota's 6-0 and Pittsburgh is faltering, I'll start to not care that the Vikings haven't faced a true test. Just win 4 out of the last 10 and let the playoffs themselves be the test.

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#118 by Will Allen (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 4:25pm

Hell, my standard for years now has been that I'm happy if they haven't been mathematically eliminated at the time of kickoff in their 16th game. This year, my standard for happiness has been upgraded to having a playoff spot clinched when that kickoff takes place. Which means I am also thrilled with each win, no matter who gets beat. 3-0 means that it is likely that 7 more guarantees a playoff spot, and 8 more almost certainly does. Hopefully, they'll get to 4-0 before having to face the fearsome Rams.

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#123 by Rick A. (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:27pm

Optimism surrounding the Vikes chances is very well founded in this observer's view. For those who have played the game, you know how much early momentum means to a team in this sport that it hurts to play, and takes immense amounts of energy. I'm sorry but the mind and body just will not respond the same, as a season goes on, when a team does not have "Mo" in the lineup. There is just no overstating how big that winning play was Sunday for the Viking organization. That play alone was worth the money they paid no.4 and it looks like he's already on the same page with a couple of those receivers not withstanding the jean commercial analogy.

For those who want to point out the very valid point that we don't know yet about all of these teams--true, obviously. I'm one of those who has pointed this out in this thread--however, some teams we know more about than others, of course. The Vikes are one of them. We've seen this coach in operation for a few years now. We've seen the talent and tremendous speed of this team, and how they handle the grind of the season. We knew what they were missing. We knew what their biggest flaws of all were which was that they couldn't win on the road to save their souls and they had a sub novice QB. Guess what ? They've made big inroads into that road game problem because of a new attitude, no. 28, and now no.4--I wouldn't be so quick to talk about his supposed late season problems, two years ago he took a team not as talented as this team, in my opinion, to the Chmp.Gm. Yes, he had problems in that game--it was 3 degrees and windy !! That was tough. But, guess what ? They'll be nice and warm indoors if the Vikes can get to that same spot. None of us have a crystal ball, and certainly DVOA is not one, but which team in the NFC would you rather be on right now ? To me, the only team, of those we do know something about, that is at the place where Minny is right now are the G Men. If I were a futures bettor I would take out those two tickets on the NFC SB entrant. It's New Orleans that I have trouble believing in, even with their 3-0 start. But Minny, these guys on that team are players--and now they've got a QB. Don't you boys bet against that guy, that would be alot more reckless than alot of his throws, admittedly, are...

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#127 by Anonymous1 (not verified) // Sep 30, 2009 - 5:59pm

How do you guys determine who the #1 wr is for a particular game? I ask because I noticed Oakland is ranked last in dvoa against #1 WRs and second against #2 wr, w/the latter only catching 1.5 passes per game. Asomugha has been known to shadow the opposing #1, unlike most #1 cbs, so is this just a mix up?

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#154 by billsfan // Oct 02, 2009 - 6:34pm

I was wondering this as well, given the bizarre WR splits, and also as an owner of Andre Johnson or Kevin Walter in a variety of fantasy leagues

(I also like the Eagles)

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#139 by B-Rick (not verified) // Oct 01, 2009 - 1:10am

Someone above made a great point about Denver's defense. They are probably going to be at least average this year which is a huge improvement.

I remember a game recently against Jacksonville where Shanahan ended up going for 4th and 10 on his own 12 yard line with 6 minutes left because he knew the defense couldn't stop them.

Orton is not great, but he has protected the ball, which is something Cutler didn't do in Denver, even when he had a running game. I'll take Orton with Bukhalter/Moreno over Cutler with Guy off the Street any-day. This years team has the ability to run more consistently which makes the offense better than last year's version. Being able to run the ball improves the defense (time of possesion, fewer turnovers) and the opens up the passing game.

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#140 by Anonymous1 (not verified) // Oct 01, 2009 - 4:48am

you said running opens up the passing game, but the opposite was true for the broncos last year. dvoa overrates denver's run 2008 game by a fair amount. the broncos had a very low ratio of runs:passes and their rushing attack was so efficient b/c teams had an extra db on the field to deal with cutler. perhaps if the broncos had not had a million injuries at rb then they would have been able to utilize a more balanced offensive attack, which would have put less of an onus on cutler to make so many plays for them to score. don't you think there was a reason that shanahan of all passed so much despite having an "awesome" run game?

when the broncos start playing better teams and the points become more difficult to come by, you may reconsider your stance on taking orton/moreno over cutler and whoever else. look what it took for them to beat the benglas. run game was not good and the passing game only looked good on paper b/c of the final fluke play and even w/all of that the broncos were 21st in offensive voa for week 1. but they are better off w/orton and co rather than cutler and whoever b/c they beat the chiefs and raiders really badly? i'm skeptical

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#142 by Eddo // Oct 01, 2009 - 11:21am

"I'll take Orton with Bukhalter/Moreno over Cutler with Guy off the Street any-day."

That wasn't the choice; the Broncos took Moreno with their original pick, not one they got in the Cutler trade. The actual choice is Orton and Ayers vs. Cutler. I haven't seen enough of the Broncos to comment on Ayers, however.

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#143 by merlinofchaos // Oct 01, 2009 - 1:09pm

Ayers is still having problems adjusting as a rookie and has not seen the field very much. Word from the local media is that he'll get there but is likely to take most of the season.

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#148 by Adam (not verified) // Oct 02, 2009 - 1:33am

"Ayers is still having problems adjusting as a rookie and has not seen the field very much. Word from the local media is that he'll get there but is likely to take most of the season."

Where you hearing that? His coaches say different and Ayers is a starter.


“He’s doing a lot of good things in our team defensive scheme that people don’t see and recognize,” Martindale said.

Martindale offered an example: Against the Browns, Ayers’ responsibility on certain plays was to “set the edge,” or keep the quarterback contained in the pocket. Ayers held his ground against Cleveland Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. Dumervil benefited with a four-sack day.

“That was able to free up Elvis Dumervil, along with everybody else,” Martindale said. “If he doesn’t play his role in that pass rush, in that situation, Brady Quinn is able to get out of the pocket. There’s things like that, times that we ask him to do a lot of different things other than just rush the passer or setting the edge of the defense. I’m really excited about him.”

Points: 0

#151 by merlinofchaos // Oct 02, 2009 - 1:00pm

Yes, and that article says he's playing situationally and when he's in he's doing more than rushing the passer. The article also goes on to say:

But linebackers coach Don Martindale explained that Ayers, who has played in the Broncos’ nickel defense on passing downs,

Playing in the nickel defense on passing downs is not a starter. It's a situational player. Note: there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The Broncos admit Ayers isn’t a finished product. He’s still learning the nuances of the defense and of playing outside linebacker after being primarily a defensive end in college. Martindale said Ayers is working in a positive direction toward becoming a full-time starter, but all of Denver’s starting linebackers ahead of him are playing well.

This doesn't seem to be substantively different from what I said above, just that the spin is different. Both say he's not seeing the field a lot and that he is improving. The point is, he wasn't a walk-on starter which is what people often expect from a first rounder, and that expectation isn't accurate in this case. And there's nothing wrong with it.

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#146 by Jimmy // Oct 01, 2009 - 4:46pm

Denver received Orton, the pick they used to select Ayers, one of the two picks they used to trade up to grab Richard Quinn and the Bears first round pick next year.

The Bears received Cutler and a fifth round pick from Denver which they used to select Johnny Knox.

The player the Broncos get next year better be pretty good.

Points: 0

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