Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Week 8 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

While they were home, sitting on their hands, the New England Patriots slipped ahead of unbeaten New Orleans and Indianapolis to take over the top spot in Football Outsiders' advanced DVOA ratings, which judge every single play of the season adjusted for situation and opponent.

Of course, this is the kind of thing that sometimes leads to massive overreaction by people who are too concerned with rankings as opposed to ratings. The Patriots, Eagles, and Saints are in a very tight bunch at the top of our ratings, and Indianapolis and Baltimore are only slightly behind them. What's interesting here isn't any particular great team, but the number of great teams as the 2009 season nears its halfway point. No team from 2009 ranks among the all-time top ten in DVOA through Week 8, but all five of the teams I just mentioned rank among the all-time top 25 in DVOA through Week 8. Here's the whole group, every team with a DVOA of at least 35% through Week 8 of the given season. You'll notice that no other season has more than two teams on this list.

Best Total DVOA as of Week 8, 1994-2009
1 2007 NE 8-0 72.3% 6 2003 KC 8-0 43.9% 11 2009 NE 5-2 40.9% 16 2009 NO 7-0 39.0% 21 1999 JAC 6-1 36.5%
2 1996 GB 6-1 54.1% 7 1999 STL 6-1 43.5% 12 2002 TB 6-2 40.3% 17 2006 PHI 4-4 38.5% 22 2009 IND 7-0 36.4%
3 2007 IND 7-0 50.0% 8 2006 CHI 7-0 42.3% 13 2009 PHI 5-2 39.9% 18 2008 PHI 4-3 38.0% 23 1995 DAL 6-1 36.4%
4 1994 DAL 6-1 47.3% 9 1998 DEN 7-0 41.4% 14 2005 IND 7-0 39.8% 19 1997 SF 6-1 37.6% 24 1997 DEN 6-1 36.4%
5 1995 SF 5-2 44.8% 10 2001 PHI 4-3 41.1% 15 2005 PIT 5-2 39.1% 20 2004 PHI 7-0 37.3% 25 2009 BAL 4-3 35.2%

Just in case it's not clear, those ratings are based on the same opponent adjustments as this week's ratings -- in other words, opponent adjustments are 80 percent strength and only include games through Week 8 of the season in question.

Things are similar on the other side, with five teams in the all-time worst bottom 25 though Week 8. However, while no one team stands out in greatness, there is one team that is standing out in weakness. It pains me to have to write this, but the Detroit Lions are getting close to the boundaries of all-time DVOA suckitude. As of this week, the Lions are the second-worst team we've ever tracked through Week 8, ahead of only the 2005 San Francisco 49ers. The other teams that would rank in the bottom 25 are Oakland (seventh), Tampa Bay (18th), St. Louis (19th), and Cleveland (22nd).

The other difference with the bad teams is that they are more grouped into specific seasons. There are five teams from 2009 in the bottom 25, but also four teams from 2008 and three teams from both 1996 and 2005.

Just below our top five is another set of rankings that is likely to be controversial: Green Bay sixth, Minnesota seventh. Wait, didn't the Vikings beat the Packers twice this year? Yes, and those games give Minnesota its two best single-game DVOA ratings of the season. However, Green Bay has been better in its other games. They beat Detroit and Cleveland by a combined score of 57-3, while Minnesota beat these same teams by a combined score of 61-33.

* * * * *

One thing that really drew my attention this week after I had run all the stats was the identity of the new leader in rushing DYAR: Steven Jackson. That's right, the guy with only one touchdown. After Ronnie Brown's awful performance against the Jets, Jackson now ranks as the most valuable runner of the year. What's interesting there is the power of the opponent adjustments. Six of the Rams' eight opponents rank in the top ten for DVOA run defense. Here's a table showing Jackson's yardage in each game along with where that ranks among all running backs who have faced that defense so far this season. He's had the biggest day of any back against three teams, and the second-biggest day against three other teams:

Steven Jackson's 2009 Rushing Totals
Week Opponent Run Defense
Runs Yards Rank among RB
vs. Team in 2009
1 SEA 8 16 67 2
2 WAS 2 17 104 1
3 GB 6 27 119 2
4 SF 3 23 79 3
5 MIN 5 21 86 1
6 JAC 9 16 50 4
7 IND 23 23 134 2
8 DET 24 22 149 1

* * * * *

Housekeeping: This week saw the return of a feature that's been missing for more than a year, but otherwise goes all the way back to the beginning of the site in 2003: the Innovative Stats box on the front page. You can now check out the top 5 teams in different aspects of DVOA as well as the top 5 in DVOA and DYAR at each position, right on the front page. In addition, all 2009 stats pages should be updated through Week 8.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through eight 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 DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are currently at 80 percent strength. WEIGHTED DVOA slightly discounts the results of the first four weeks to get a better idea of how strong teams are right now.

As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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 NE 40.9% 3 41.4% 1 5-2 32.2% 1 -8.6% 8 0.1% 14
2 PHI 39.9% 6 39.7% 2 5-2 14.3% 12 -19.9% 1 5.7% 5
3 NO 39.0% 1 38.5% 3 7-0 31.1% 2 -14.0% 4 -6.1% 30
4 IND 36.4% 2 36.3% 4 7-0 29.1% 3 -6.2% 10 1.2% 11
5 BAL 35.2% 7 35.1% 5 4-3 26.2% 4 -7.7% 9 1.3% 10
6 GB 28.4% 4 28.7% 6 4-3 19.8% 7 -13.7% 5 -5.1% 26
7 MIN 28.1% 8 28.1% 7 7-1 16.4% 8 -1.2% 13 10.5% 2
8 DEN 26.7% 5 26.4% 8 6-1 14.9% 10 -17.6% 2 -5.8% 28
9 DAL 24.6% 11 25.1% 9 5-2 25.9% 5 7.2% 22 5.9% 4
10 PIT 15.5% 12 15.8% 10 5-2 23.6% 6 1.2% 17 -6.8% 31
11 MIA 13.0% 13 13.3% 11 3-4 11.4% 14 2.8% 18 4.3% 6
12 ARI 12.6% 10 13.1% 12 4-3 2.5% 18 -9.5% 7 0.5% 13
13 NYG 10.4% 9 9.9% 13 5-3 10.0% 15 -2.2% 12 -1.8% 24
14 ATL 9.2% 14 9.1% 14 4-3 13.0% 13 3.1% 19 -0.7% 19
15 CIN 5.8% 15 6.1% 15 5-2 15.8% 9 4.3% 21 -5.8% 29
16 NYJ 5.7% 17 5.4% 16 4-4 -8.3% 21 -14.2% 3 -0.2% 16
17 HOU 2.6% 18 2.9% 17 5-3 14.4% 11 15.4% 28 3.5% 7
18 SF -0.3% 21 -0.5% 18 3-4 -8.5% 22 -9.8% 6 -1.6% 21
19 SD -1.1% 20 -0.9% 19 4-3 9.6% 16 9.1% 23 -1.7% 22
20 JAC -4.9% 16 -5.8% 20 3-4 7.3% 17 14.3% 26 2.0% 9
21 SEA -10.4% 19 -10.5% 22 2-5 -5.2% 19 3.5% 20 -1.7% 23
22 WAS -10.6% 22 -10.4% 21 2-5 -14.8% 24 -4.5% 11 -0.2% 17
23 CHI -15.3% 24 -15.8% 23 4-3 -21.1% 28 1.0% 16 6.8% 3
24 BUF -18.1% 23 -18.2% 25 3-5 -19.4% 27 -0.5% 14 0.7% 12
25 CAR -18.6% 25 -18.0% 24 3-4 -9.9% 23 0.9% 15 -7.7% 32
26 TEN -28.2% 29 -28.2% 26 1-6 -8.2% 20 14.9% 27 -5.1% 27
27 KC -30.9% 26 -31.0% 27 1-6 -23.2% 29 10.6% 24 2.9% 8
28 CLE -40.7% 27 -41.2% 28 1-7 -33.5% 31 17.8% 29 10.7% 1
29 STL -42.3% 30 -42.1% 29 1-7 -19.3% 26 22.8% 31 -0.2% 15
30 TB -43.0% 28 -43.2% 30 0-7 -17.3% 25 24.9% 32 -0.8% 20
31 OAK -49.0% 31 -49.0% 31 2-6 -37.3% 32 11.1% 25 -0.6% 18
32 DET -54.6% 32 -54.8% 32 1-6 -27.5% 30 22.5% 30 -4.6% 25

  • 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 NE 40.9% 5-2 39.3% 6.0 5 -1.6% 20 8.5% 8 20.0% 27
2 PHI 39.9% 5-2 51.3% 5.7 7 -12.8% 30 8.5% 7 26.7% 30
3 NO 39.0% 7-0 41.5% 7.0 1 0.7% 18 -12.7% 31 7.0% 7
4 IND 36.4% 7-0 47.7% 6.2 2 -7.6% 27 7.8% 9 12.7% 16
5 BAL 35.2% 4-3 36.1% 6.0 4 3.6% 11 -7.2% 25 11.4% 15
6 GB 28.4% 4-3 38.1% 5.2 11 -11.4% 29 -4.5% 22 13.0% 17
7 MIN 28.1% 7-1 31.1% 6.1 3 -3.8% 22 -10.7% 28 4.7% 3
8 DEN 26.7% 6-1 25.9% 5.7 6 2.0% 12 -2.5% 21 8.3% 8
9 DAL 24.6% 5-2 30.3% 5.7 8 -7.1% 25 10.8% 5 9.8% 13
10 PIT 15.5% 5-2 29.2% 5.3 9 -13.2% 31 3.0% 14 3.6% 1
11 MIA 13.0% 3-4 6.7% 4.8 12 9.6% 4 -1.6% 20 13.2% 18
12 ARI 12.6% 4-3 11.3% 5.3 10 1.9% 13 -17.1% 32 27.9% 31
13 NYG 10.4% 5-3 9.1% 3.9 18 -2.2% 21 12.3% 4 23.4% 28
14 ATL 9.2% 4-3 9.5% 4.6 13 10.4% 3 -4.8% 23 14.2% 19
15 CIN 5.8% 5-2 8.0% 4.5 14 6.6% 6 -11.5% 29 17.4% 23
16 NYJ 5.7% 4-4 13.4% 4.2 16 1.6% 15 1.0% 17 11.4% 14
17 HOU 2.6% 5-3 12.8% 4.4 15 -9.6% 28 5.1% 12 8.6% 9
18 SF -0.3% 3-4 -10.2% 3.8 20 4.5% 10 -9.4% 26 9.5% 12
19 SD -1.1% 4-3 0.5% 4.0 17 -4.8% 23 -0.4% 18 3.9% 2
20 JAC -4.9% 3-4 -3.0% 3.9 19 -7.2% 26 1.1% 16 25.7% 29
21 SEA -10.4% 2-5 -13.5% 2.7 24 1.3% 17 -12.1% 30 17.2% 22
22 WAS -10.6% 2-5 0.6% 3.2 21 -17.4% 32 15.5% 2 6.5% 5
23 CHI -15.3% 4-3 -8.4% 3.0 22 -5.8% 24 9.4% 6 17.2% 21
24 BUF -18.1% 3-5 -17.5% 3.0 23 -0.1% 19 5.1% 11 15.2% 20
25 CAR -18.6% 3-4 -25.4% 2.7 25 1.8% 14 17.8% 1 17.6% 24
26 TEN -28.2% 1-6 -40.0% 2.3 26 11.4% 2 -1.0% 19 52.9% 32
27 KC -30.9% 1-6 -31.1% 2.0 27 6.2% 8 -4.9% 24 8.7% 11
28 CLE -40.7% 1-7 -51.8% 1.6 29 13.3% 1 -10.5% 27 19.6% 26
29 STL -42.3% 1-7 -43.4% 1.8 28 1.5% 16 1.6% 15 4.9% 4
30 TB -43.0% 0-7 -43.4% 1.0 32 8.5% 5 14.3% 3 6.9% 6
31 OAK -49.0% 2-6 -53.7% 1.1 31 6.5% 7 3.2% 13 17.9% 25
32 DET -54.6% 1-6 -58.8% 1.3 30 5.4% 9 5.4% 10 8.6% 10


225 comments, Last at 06 Nov 2009, 8:27am

2 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"They beat Detroit and Cleveland by a combined score of 57-3, while Minnesota beat these same teams by a combined score of 61-33."

Yeah they did, against Derek Anderson whos battling JaMarcus for LVP and a Lions team without Calvin Johnson aka there only player thats worth a crap. I know DVOA doesn't account for this but you guys personally should as an aside. That is a huge part why the Packers D is ranked so high yet the Vikings have carved them up both games.

Bu, bu, but Brady Quinn isnt any good either! True but at least he is a professional QB, albeit a mediocre one, which is a lot better than Anderson at this point.

6 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'm a Packers fan and I just can't agree that Green Bay is the 6th best team in the league. They have 4 wins, but against the combined might of Chicago (ranked 23rd in DVOA), Cleveland (28), St Louis (29) and Detroit (32). They were without doubt 2nd best against Minnesota twice and against Cincinnati even though they were all close-ish games. Possibly there is not much between Green Bay and the likes of Arizona, San Diego, Dallas, Atlanta etc. but I would not be confident about Green Bay winning 50% of those types of game. And certainly Minnesota is a stronger team than Green Bay. I don;t think that looking at the points scored against the weaker opposition here is a good argument. Minnesota was up 34-13 in the 3rd quarter against Cleveland, which is a pretty dominant position, and Green Bay also dominated. Anyway, I would love to be proved wrong and find out that Green Bay is better than I think, but on the evidence of watching all their games this season and watching a lot of other teams, I think that Green Bay is a slightly better than average team, but no more.

9 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Having watched both Vikings-Packers games, it seems to me that it's one of those matchup situations. The Vikings' biggest strength on defense is their pass rush, while the Packers' biggest weakness on offense is pass protection, coupled with Rodgers' tendency to hold the ball too long at times. These problems are exacerbated once the Packers fall behind and have to abandon the running game. I think that those factors (along with the awesome Brett Favre swagger, of course) explain the two decisive wins by the Vikings, as opposed to any huge discrepancy in talent between the two teams.

84 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Estimated wins is probably a better indication of where the Packers rank: 11th. Sounds about right to me.

These problems are exacerbated once the Packers fall behind and have to abandon the running game.

Hey, they don't need to fall behind. They can lead 20-0, and have given up five sacks to the Lions, but that doesn't mean they're going to put their faith in Ryan Grant.

10 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I think most people watching Minn and GB this year would conclude that Minnesota is a better team. I think the rating of Minnesota as essentially even with GB seems out of whack to some because during long stretches against good teams (Balt, GB, GB, and Pitt) Minnesota looked like a significantly stronger team. They led GB 30-14 with the ball at mid field in the 4th quarter and 24-3 in the 3rd in GB. They led Baltimore 27-10 in the 4th quarter with 10 minutes to go as well. But they didn't put those games away, in fact they let GB and Baltimore get very close in all three of those games.

I can't tell if Minnesota has a strong defence that gets too conservative once they get a lead or that they have a significant weakness in pass defence.

The funny thing is Minnesota ranks as one of the most consistent teams in variance (3rd) but in game their defence consistently goes from great to awful in the same game.

11 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I think the Vikings have sort of gone to sleep after building substantial leads on a few teams, and that has hurt their DVOA score. The good news for Vikings fans is that this is something that likely can be improved upon'

This might be homerism, but if this version of the Vikings plays this version of the Packers seven times, on a neutral field, I think the Vikings win five.

13 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

If I hadn't seen them play similar bad pass defence against St Louis and SF I might agree. In both those games their pass defence was beaten in a very similar fashion.

I think it is a general lack of aggression on the part of Frazier. He tends to play soft whenever the Vikings are leading.

Also - I don't think their pass rush is as good as people think it is. Two games against GB tends to jack up the ratings. In 6 games against teams other than GB Minnesota has averaged 2.8 sacks per game against teams giving up 2.7 on average.

39 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It is a mistake to analyze pass rushing by sack totals. I'm not saying you are wrong, just that analyzing football performance without breaking down film in a time consuming process is likely to lead to some inaccurate notions. My sense of it is that Frazier does get a little passive with the lead, but then again he was blitzing Rodgers in the 4th quarter. I do think their pass rushers get gassed very frequently in the 2nd half. I think their secondary is below average when Winfield is off the field. I think E.J. Henderson is just now getting fully back to what he was prior to his injury last year.

But I could be dead wrong. Darn.

44 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

For what little it's worth, I feel the same way about the late-game pass rush problem. It especially seems to be pronounced with Pat Williams (who seems to be a much better pass rusher than someone his size deserves to be early in the game).

167 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"Bu, bu, but Brady Quinn isnt any good either! True but at least he is a professional QB, albeit a mediocre one, which is a lot better than Anderson at this point."

As a Browns fan, I can assure that this statement is not true. Quinn has been horrible when he has played. He cannot throw with any accuracy 5 yards past the line of Scrimmage. Anderson is also horrible - but neither should be described as professional QBs.

178 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Quinn has been horrible when he has played. He cannot throw with any accuracy 5 yards past the line of Scrimmage.

If this is true, why was he drafted at all, let alone in the first round? Surely college QBs are expected to be accurate 6 yards past the line of scrimmage?

201 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

As a fan of the team currently QB'd by JaCrapus Russell, I can safely say that no first round pick is ever a guarantee.

1 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

NE is clearly ranked too high because all their stats came against tomato cans. Seeing how they played against real teams is way better than this. u st00pid loosers!


48 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Post 1 is clearly ranked low because the time of the post is the declarative measure of post order. Timestamp is way better than this. Post 2 is clearly ordered too high.

Ok, that sucked, but to be fair, the template isn't an easy form to work a joke into.

108 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

You mean he fixed something in that post, and it's STILL that lame? Wow, glad I didn't see it when it was messed up.

92 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

a) Good teams aren't good because they win close games but because they clobber bad opponents
b) Tomato cans? (Confidently) beat Baltimore, beat Atlanta, and performed even with Jets and Broncos. They played the Jets in arguably the best stretch the Jets had. They clobbered the Titans and the Bucs.

AND, arguably this has little to do with the stats here, GOOD TEAMS MUST SUCK IN SEPTEMBER. No team ever won a SB in September or October. November is when the real season starts. And now let's see what the Saints and Broncos have to offer down the stretch. Not much me guesses.

SB Prediction: Pats over Eagles
AFC Champ.: Pats over Colts
NFL Champ: Eagles over Vikings

171 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by FooBarFooFoo (not verified)

NFL Champ: Eagles over Vikings

I hate to tell you, but...the AFL has joined with the NFL now. So the Eagles and Vikes won't be playing each other for the championship anytime soon.

214 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by FooBarFooFoo (not verified)

I know, it's silly to respond to this post, but I am anyway.

b) Tomato cans? (Confidently) beat Baltimore, beat Atlanta, and performed even with Jets and Broncos.

One, I'm sure you didn't mean to use the word confidently, as confidence level is a non sequitor.
Two, the Baltimore game was just as close as the Broncos and Jets. By your methodology, the Jets and Broncos "confidently" beat the Pats.

3 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It seems like only yesterday the Patriots needed late game heroics to overcome the Bills and Brady looked ready to crap his pants in the Meadowlands.

Paging Dr. Pollard.

40 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The misconception that's caused them to sneak up on people - they barely beat Buffalo and lost to the Jets. But they had no problem possessing and moving the ball the entire games. They just couldn't punch it in once they got to the red area. With a QB who had missed an entire year and a brand new offensive coordinator.
It's pretty exciting to see them getting back to a good level, if only to see how they can match up with Indy and New Orleans in the coming weeks. As weak as the Tennessee then Tampa Bay schedule was, the next 5 weeks on their schedule is the opposite.

121 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Pats-Bills game is interesting in that, if you look at the stats from the game, you see that the Pats dominated time of possession and far outgained the Bills. Why were they trailing by 11 with five and a half minutes left?
Well, there was the pick 6, and they also were 0-2 on 4th down conversions. A failure on 4th down is roughly equivalent to losing 40-45 yards of offense, if you compare turning over the ball on downs as opposed to a typical punt.

4 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Wow, CIN is the anti-PHI - no DVOA love at all.

So many DVOA comments to make, but the most important one is that it may not seem like NE should be #1 and they have shown some lose play in the first 7 games, but they are a deep team, younger and faster on defense than the past 4 years and I don't see a team out there that will be able to handle them. If Brady were Brady sharp against the Jets and DEN they would be one of three 7-0 teams.

74 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

yeah, as a homer, i'd love to see the bengals a little higher. after all, they've essentially tied or beaten baltimore, pittsburgh, denver and GB...all top 10 DVOA teams.

the flip side of this is that they've been very, very inconsistent...within each game! DVOA doesn't really like that. i'm surprised that the offense is ranked so high while the defense is ranked so low. qualitatively, the bengals d has kept the games close enough with big plays and ball hawking while the o has managed to come up with miracle drives at the end of the half (while failing to move the ball at all the rest of the time). but i guess the bears STOMP and putting up 30+ on GB's make the difference...

7 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Aaron...on behalf of all Niner fans, I'd like to thank you for giving them a 4-3 record in the tables. Wish the NFL were as generous. It's OK, though. We all thought they beat IND too.

p.s. Even though I'm alerting you to this error, feel free to leave it as is. We like it better this way, obviously. :-)

8 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Slowly, slowly the 49ers claw their way into the middle of the pack, gasping the whole way "An OC...give us an OC...."

75 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Niner defense is a solid unit now. The offense is a potentially different animal with Alex Smith. The offensive line is a problem but the skill position players are nothing to sneeze at. Vernon Davis has been productive, Isaac Bruce is capable, Frank Gore can both catch and run, and Crabtree is off to a great start. If Alex Smith can get them the ball the defense will keep them in games.

190 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

One thing that struck me looking at this was how many teams in the top half seem to experience tougher schedules in the second half, which has to be influenced by the fact that every team affected its first half opponents DVOA but not the second.

I was wondering if these stats should be run individually for each team, removing the game that each team played from the DVOA stats of its opponents. Thoughts?

12 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Viking rush offence DVOA - 17th -2.5%. A. Peterson 12th - 10.3%. Chester Taylor -50.4%.

The Vikings really need to let Peterson play more downs in the passing game. He rates 7th among rb's in receiving (43.6%) while Taylor ranks 23rd (5.1%). Taylor needs to be used to spell Peterson not replace him on key downs (3rd down, red zone).

I would also like to see more of Harvin in the run game - 2-4 carries a game makes sense to me.

41 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

He's getting better, but Peterson is still a sub-par pass blocker, and it is difficult to fully use a running back in the passing game if he doesn't pass block well. It tends to invite a lot of hits from blitzes on 40 year old qbs. This is definitely an area which is improving, however, so there is reason to hope.

113 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

You're right, but the other problem with having Peterson on the sidelines is that opposing defenses then know that Peterson is not going to be running the ball, which most people seem to agree is a key to the Viking's success in the passing game.

There are, of course, a few situations where a pass is nearly certain, but I see him sitting down fairly often in other than those situations also - e.g. 2nd and 7. I would really love to see a comparison of the Vike's passing success relative to whether or not Peterson is in the game, perhaps excluding 3rd and long.

149 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I would attribute the Vikings success in the passing game to a dramatic improvement in their receiving corps. I also attribute it to improved accuracy from the quarterback position. Other factors include the ability of the quarterback to read a defense and adequately execute the offense.

For those that haven't been watching, Sidney Rice's catch percentage improved from 48% in 2008 to 72% in 2009.

Berrian improved from 51% to 57% in a similar time span.

Harvin is catching at a 61% clip.

14 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Let me be the first commenter to say this week... what the hell happened to the Giants? It makes zero sense.

16 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Well, the starting secondary got decimated by injuries, and their backups weren't as good as it appeared they were when they were playing the dregs of the league.

38 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

But that doesn't explain anything - DVOA is saying their offense is even worse than their defense (and has dropped off considerably). Cupcakes also coming home to roost? (to mix a metaphor)

So, everyone complaining about DVOA's inability to deal with the talent disaparity this year: is the Giants swift drop a data point in DVOA's favor (it quickly adjusted their ranking once they lost to good teams and as opponent adjustments kicked in) or against it (it over-rated them because they were beating up on soup cans!)

49 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Careful, your brain likely doesn't think in ordinal rankings (few fans know exactly how proficient every team's offense/defense is) - it has an idea of what an offense should be able to do. In other words, the Giants offense is worse in ranking (15 vs 12) than the defense, but better in terms of average expected performance (10% vs -2.2%). Most people, watching the Giants, would therefore say that the Giants offense is better than the defense.

62 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Pat (filler) (not verified)

Hi Pat,

Are you saying that most people would be wrong? Or are you saying that the offense is better? I would say that people could certainly learn the distributions of offense and defense, in addition to average expected performance, and correctly conclude that the defense is better, without being aware of how other teams are doing. Of course I have no idea how stable the distributions are from season to season, so it might not be plausible, but if they are stable they would certainly be used.


176 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by DaveRichters (not verified)

No, I'm saying that the statements "the Giants offense is better than their defense" and "the Giants defense is better than their offense" are both correct, depending on how you define "better." If you define it as "farther removed from the average performance over the past ten years," the former is true. If you define it as "higher in rank in the league" the latter is true.

I think most people do the former intuitively. They see the Giants offense putting up points and the secondary giving up long TDs at the drop of the hat. They don't see that there are a lot of really good offenses this year.

169 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

These are some of the reasons for the Giants collapse, in no particular order. Sorry for the long post, but it feels good to vent.

1. The injury to Kenny Philips, which forced the Giants to play C.C Brown and Rouse at free safety, both of whom are so bad it's painful to watch. Michael Johnson, who looked like a slightly above league average safety his first two years, has taken some awful angles that led to big running plays. He was always mediocre in pass coverage.

2. The injury to Aaron Ross, who while bad last year, is probably an above average #2 corner. This has led to Terell Thomas getting exposed as a starting corner when he is better suited as a nickel corner and Kevin Dockery getting exposed as a nickel when he should play only in dime.

3. Boley's second injury and Coughlin's decision to play Chase Blackburn (great special teamer, bad linebacker despite being a fan favorite) instead of the more athletic Brian Kehl. Alford and Canty getting hurt, leaving the coming off surgery Barry Cofield and the old and coming off surgery Fred Robbins as the only viable DTs.

4. Barely any of the Giants blitzes are getting there. It's amazing to see how many times the Giants send 5 or 6 people and still no one sniffs the quarterback. This is probably because of the downgrade in quality of defensive coordinators from Spagnola to Sheridan.

5. On offense, Eli has been bad the past three games. I think the running game is struggling because teams are able to allocate more resources to stopping it in Plaxico's absence. Like last year, this should have led to more big plays through the passing game, but the last three weeks they can't hit any. Eli has missed so many open receivers deep and airmailed so many receivers over the middle, I'm worried that his foot injury is affecting his play. Either that, or his annual slump has come 4 weeks early. This offense won't move if Eli can't complete a few medium to long passes a game.

6. I'm usually the biggest defender of Kevin Gilbride (I blamed the playoff loss last year mainly on Eli while most Giants fans were calling for Gilbride's head), but he has been bad the past few weeks. I realize Eli is a smart QB and can audible, but seriously, snap the ball with more than one second on the play clock sometimes. Take some responsibility away from him. Run the no-huddle for a series. Quick snap it every once in a while. Going to the silent one count every play allows defenses to time blitzes perfectly. Aside from that, his tendencies are easy to read. Count how many times the Giants pass the ball on 2nd and 10 after an incomplete pass on first down (I remember 1 so far this year, and I've been counting). This puts the Giants in 3rd and long way too often. This is just one example of the lack of creative play calling and game planning.

15 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The DVOA can't (and shouldn't) take into account the Viking defense falling apart in 3 games where it had a big lead. We don't know whether it's a scheme issue or something else. Overall, the Vikings have played decently in every game (the variance thing). It is interesting, however, that they can be so wildly inconsistent (especially with their pass D) within the course of one game. I would like their DVOA if we removed the 4th quarter against GB at home, the 4th quarter against Baltimore, and the 3rd quarter last week. Combining the numbers from what I'm seeing live, I think they have the best shot in the NFC of unseating New Orleans (I know the numbers like Philly, but I can't trust them).

26 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Uh... which 3 games are you talking about? Is Baltimore-Minnesota one? You can't honestly say that stats should ignore a collapse that came within a few feet of having Minnesota lose the game. If Minnesota's scheme is to soften up on defense and allow a team to very nearly win, I believe that scheme is called "sucking."

52 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I read that as "DVOA shouldn't give Minnesotas defense a bonus for falling apart after big leads". Meaning that DVOA should only include what happens, and not try to guess the reason and factor that in. I don't think it meant to ignore what a defense does once it gets a big lead.

But I could be completely wrong.

54 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Uh, no, he specifically said he wanted to know what would happen if you removed the 4th quarter versus Baltimore.

As in, the 4th quarter that nearly cost Minnesota the game and in fact put the fate of the game completely out of their hands.

There is absolutely no logic you can use to say "well, that collapse didn't mean anything, it should be ignored."

101 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

No. Read what I write, not what you want to read. I never suggested that any of the numbers should be ignored, because the fact that their defense fell apart is significant, regardless if they won or loss. The post was in response to the discussion of why Minnesota, who looked clearly better than Green Bay in both games, could be rated below them in DVOA. I made the suggestion because you have the odd combination of a team that, based on the numbers, is consistent from game to game but has been wildly variable within certain games. How much did those 3 quarters offset the other 29 they have played? Would it not be interesting to find out that the Vikings had 2 or 3 of the 10 worst DVOA quarters this season (Titans 2nd against NE and Steelers 4th against SD immediately come to mind as others) but were a top 3 team the rest of the time? And yes, before you post, I understand that you can play this game for any team. I'm using the Vikings because of the disparity in play between those 3 quarters and the rest of their season. Is there a recent team they compare to?

143 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I get what you're saying. Even though every team would improve significantly if one removed their 3 worst quarters of the season so far, Minnesota's improvement would easily be above average. i.e. their 3 worst quarters are further from their average overall performance than most other teams.

151 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Here's the breakdown on Minnesota by quarter/half (DVOA rank)


1st Quarter: -16.66 (7th)
2nd Quarter: -31.1 (1st)
3rd Quarter: -4.1 (18th)
4th Quarter: 48.0 (30th)

1st half: -24.5 (1st)
2nd half: 20.8 (27th)

Late and Close: -16.3% (5th)

Offensively they are the opposite - start slow and get better

1st Quarter: -0.9 (18th)
2nd Quarter: 6.2 (16th)
3rd Quarter: 16.5 (11th)
4th Quarter: 41.0 (5th)

1st half: 3.1 (17th)
2nd half: 29.9 (5th)

Late and Close: 12.2 (11th)

Kind of explains Minnesota's season. The defence plays great in the 1st half - the offence is OK as they try to establish the run usually unsuccessfully. The Special teams play great and Minnesota builds a lead. The defence crumbles in the 2nd half but the offence starts passing and gets stronger as is required.

The only surprising number I see is that Minnesota's defence is listed as 5th in late and close games. That doesn't seem right.

224 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Yes, the Steelers' early games seem to be very comparable. In the SD game that you mention as well as in their losses at Chicago and Cincinnati they played very well through the first three quarters and lost due to playing poor prevent D in the fourth.

29 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Well I would like the DVOA for the Packers to have removed every incomplete pass attempt, because ya know it makes them look a lot better too, but that would have nothing to do with the reality of the situation.

Seriously, go look at the 4th quarter of the GB @ Minn game again. GB might have one that game if they could have recovered either one of TWO onside kicks. The idea that blowing a big lead shouldn't count is absurd. Those weren't Minnesota's backups getting shredded at the end of that game.

17 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Man, Philadelphia is all over that top 25 through 8 weeks (of the DVOA era) list - 5 teams total. No other franchise is even close (Indy has 3 and then no one else has more than 2). Their stat breakdowns for 2009 actually look pretty similiar to their 2001 team (great defense and special teams, just ok offense with a good running game and mediocre passing) - so I guess losing a close Championship game to the very 2001 Rams-esque Saints is in the cards this year...

20 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Andy Reid's way of thinking about football may be similar to FO's. I wonder if this explains the high passing percentage?

Philly's offense is probably better than the DVOA can show - two games are Kolb rather than McNabb, and I can't remember how many they've played without Westbrook. The egg at Oakland isn't the only thing weighing them down.

If the Eagles lose another NFC Championship game - don't be in eastern PA.

22 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Kolb actually has a much higher DVOA than McNabb. McNabb was at the helm for their two worst offensive performances of the year - the Washington and Oakland games.

Anyhoo, it's also interesting that of those 5 "Top 25 Games," only one team has a great record (2004's 7-0) and the others are all floating around .500. This year's 5-2 is actually the second best record of the group. And the 2004 7-0 team had the worst DVOA. Not sure what any of it means, other than the Eagles have fielded an impressive number of teams that were really good in the early going...

27 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It's definitely true that passing declines as the season goes on. Makes sense that a pass-heavy team would tend to put up a higher DVOA early in the season, and so a good pass-heavy team (like Philly) would litter the list of highest DVOA in the first half of the season.

32 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

That's interesting - but several of those Philly teams (like this year and 2001) aren't in any way buoyed by their passing DVOA. However, Indy's famous memorably pass-proficient high DVOA teams do show up...

47 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Wouldn't matter. How they get to a high average DVOA isn't important - if passing declines in efficiency, and a high component of your offense (thus ~half your DVOA) is dependent on passing, your DVOA will start high and finish lower. Philly's defense puts them near the top - the season-long "DVOA-slope" that passing (might!) generate pushes you very high near the beginning, and lower near the end.

125 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, but do you have any indication that's what happened? For one - these Eagles teams didn't finish low in DVOA, so I'm not sure why the downward slop matters. We're not discussing where the Eagles ended up in DVOA. Also, the 2001 team wasn't very pass heavy and last year their passing DVOA stayed more or less even throughout the year. I'm actually not sure what you're arguing her because these teams are clearly not high up on the list as a result of incredibly high passing DVOA.

"Philly's defense puts them near the top" as you say - that's true in 2001, 2008, and 2009. They're buoyed by Special Teams in 2001, 2004 & 2009. Their offense is the strong component only in 2004...

154 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

They finished lower most of those years.

The slope matters because when you look at "Top 25 DVOA by week 8" you're putting a hard cut, so teams which have some reason to be higher than their full-season average (which would put them in a more 'normal' group) would pop up.

"Philly's defense puts them near the top" as you say - that's true in 2001, 2008, and 2009. They're buoyed by Special Teams in 2001, 2004 & 2009. Their offense is the strong component only in 2004...

Yeah, the point again is that it doesn't matter how they get high. If they've got a trend where they're higher at the beginning and lower at the end, they'll pop out frequently as a top team early on because their full-season average will be a more "average" value.

160 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

But you're not basing that on anything! There's no reason for that to be more true of the Eagles than literally any other team on that list. Except in 2004, the Eagles did not have a significantly different passing DVOA between the mid-point and the end of the season.

I completely understand your general point, but it's not data to support your argument. It's just unrelated. And then you offer nothing to support your argument.

177 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

PHI 2008: OFF DVOA: 11.7% WEI OFF DVOA: 7.8%
PHI 2006: OFF DVOA: 22.0% WEI OFF DVOA: 19.3%
PHI 2004: OFF DVOA: 16.0% WEI OFF DVOA: 10.3%
PHI 2001: OFF DVOA: 0.5% WEI OFF DVOA: -5.4%

Philly's offense declined over the season in every single one of those years (the defense, incidentally did not - it improved in 2/4 of those years). The passing offense doesn't actually even need to decline for that logic to work: if passing offense becomes less effective in general then the coach may decide to run in situations where passing would be preferable early in the season, leading to a general overall decline rather than a specific decline.

185 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

But you're still missing my point: since passing generally declines for all teams (and 3% to 6% DVOA difference is not exactly a big change which really supports your argument either), why does it any of this matter. The same thing is true for all of those teams on that list. And many of those teams had even higher passing DVOA that dropped even more significantly. It does literally nothing to shed light on the fact that the Eagles are up there so frequently (and with suspect win/loss records).

I'm interested to see them 5 times on that list, way significantly more than any other franchise, with several of the teams having multiple losses and the different teams having variable strengths and weaknesses.

You're harping on some issues that has nothing to do with anything - about how they finished the season (and I keep arguing with you because your logic is all screwy on that bizarrely unrelated point)...

191 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

But you're still missing my point: since passing generally declines for all teams

Because a team that relies on passing in neutral situations will tend to be affected more by this. "Passing declines" does not necessarily mean "passing DVOA declines." The team can respond to this by running more often, which may pull the total DVOA down just by rushing (if their rushing DVOA is worse), or quite possibly by rushing in situations they wouldn't've rushed in before (which would lower their rushing DVOA).

And many of those teams had even higher passing DVOA that dropped even more significantly.

Riight... I'm missing how this disagrees with my point. For those Philly teams, it was the offense, every year, that declined. Philly passes more in neutral situations than just about any other team. We know that passing declines as the season goes on. Philly tends to be a good team. Combine all of those facts, and it's fairly likely that Philly would end up several times on the Top 25 DVOA in the first half.

Look, I'm not even saying I agree with this idea. I personally think it has more to do with Philly being a very good team every year with a set of players that are more injury-prone than the rest of the league. But that might be a Philly fan in me talking, since that makes Philly essentially the best team in the league over the past 10 years.

(and 3% to 6% DVOA difference is not exactly a big change which really supports your argument either)

It's more like a 5 to 10% difference. The full season numbers include the late season numbers, so if you want to examine early season to late season, it's about twice the difference. Since the numbers in this list are "early season only" they'd be about 5-10% higher than the weighted DVOA portion to get the full season numbers.

You're harping on some issues that has nothing to do with anything

I don't get the vitriol. The idea is clear to me. Take an average "good" DVOA - say, 25-30% - boost it by 5 to 10% due to an early-season benefit from passing - and you get somewhere between 35-40% early in the season, which pushes you up into the "top 25".

80 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

RE: Indy, actually Manning's highest traditional stats years are NOT in the top 25. The years Indy is in the top 25 are all years... (drumroll, please)... when their D played particularly well. In terms of scoring D, they are #1 as of today, and were top-3 or 4 the other two years.

Now, even a "down" passing year for Indy is probably worth a top-8 slot, but still, their *best* passing seasons seemed to run counter-cyclical with their best D seasons. This year being the exception to that rule.

33 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The easiest way to get a really high DVOA is to play well against a really tough schedule. However, that also tends to result in having a mediocre record.

I'm guessing that if you looked at the Top 25 in terms of VOA (with no opponent adjustments) after 8 weeks, there would be a much stronger correlation between VOA and W-L record.

64 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It's a way of trying to remove the "luck" and other random variables from wins and losses. Surely you're aware that there have been many cases in which the team with the lower VOA in the game still won.

For example, this year the Eagles have a higher non-adjusted VOA than the Colts or Saints. VOA is much more like Pythagorean W-L record than actual W-L record.

114 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Here's Philly's splits in the five years we are looking at:

2001 1st Half 4-3 145 98 +47
2001 2nd Half 7-2 198 110 +88

2004 1st Half 7-0 186 104 +82
2004 2nd Half 6-3 200 156 +44

2006 1st Half 4-4 206 160 +46
2006 2nd Half 6-2 192 168 +24

2008 1st Half 4-3 194 137 +57
2008 2nd Half 5-3-1 222 152 +70

2009 1st Half 5-2 203 133 +70
2009 2nd Half ???

Combine 2001,2004,2006,2008
1st Half 19-11-0 731 499 +232
2nd Half 24-10-1 812 586 +226

In the 1st half of the seasons described, Philly outscores their opponents by 7.7 pts/game, while in the 2nd half they outscore their opponents by 6.5 pts/game. However, their winning percentage improves from .633 to .700. While not being able to illustrate schedule strengh differences, I think one of the main phenomena occurring is that they seem to have slightly better luck in close games in the 2nd half of seasons. That, and for some reason most of the times they have been blown out have disproportionately happened in the second half (2004 Pit/Cin, 2006 Ten/Ind, 2008 Bal).

The last sentence brings up an interesting point - the Eagles under Andy Reid have on average had a poorer record against the AFC than the NFC (23-18-1 .560 vs. 79-46-0 .632). Of course, the AFC has usually been much better over this period, so this may be within expectations once allowing for strength of opponents.

83 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Eagles must a lovely trophy case for all those high DVOA ratings. It must be really impressive when a rookie walks into the facility. Rings too.

128 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Be fair: the Eagles have three NFL Titles - they just all came before the merger...

Anyway, yes Eagles fans are tired of having good teams and no rings - you win. Congratulations. Is there any fan base that needs to put in their place less than Eagles fans?

21 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I don't like the Eagles or Pats, but I'm not rooting for a DVOA title for my team. It's great information, and a fairly useful. This year raises an interesting problem. Since the bad teams are so bad, the good teams' deficiencies can sometimes be hidden by playing teams unable to exploit them, and this can go on for a long time. For example, the Giants' pass defense, the Packers' lousy tackles, the Colts' possible lousy left tackle, and the Ravens' lousy cornerbacks are all very vulnerable weaknesses than strong teams can exploit, but they can get by for a long time without being exposed. More than previous years, this year it seems to come down to matchups.

I guess what I'm saying is that maybe the 'guts-stomps' analysis need to be re-evaluated . Pounding lousy teams seems less predictive when everybody is doing it, and if opponent adjustments were truly enough, teams wouldn't soar in the ratings by playing crap teams, because that would be taken into account.

97 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

While I think your overall point raises interesting questions, as a Colts fan, I will nitpick one of your points. As much as we all dreaded hearing Charlie Johnson starting LT this year, he's shown marked improvement. Now if you want to say possibly lousy right guard, I doubt you'd get many arguments.

112 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

A DVOA "title" is useful insofar as it gives great guidance on how to help manage the team's fortunes (if you're a coach and pay attention to this stuff). I don't know if any NFL teams have paid attention to this site. I know NONE (literally) of my "football fan" friends either visit, let alone know about it. Yet I visit the site regularly, even in off season.

Point is, you're right, what's the point of a DVOA title if you don't win any other title? But I will say that the DVOA has been a useful guide for me to use in picking teams, even in postseason (sometimes in postseason it's useful to ignore the DVOA if you're considering team history, psychology, and other intangibles).

In that sense, the DVOA "title" has sometimes been a useful guide to pay attention to, or ignore, as the situation defines itself.

Frankly, while I hate the Giants, I totally ignored it going into the Pats/Giants Super Bowl. The Pats "blowout" scenario was so obvious, I couldn't take it seriously. I just didn't believe a team on a major roll like the Giants would simply get blown out. As I told my friends, don't bet the spread - bet the team. If the Giants cover, they'll win. I think I even posted that prediction here in the comments, but I could be wrong.

In the end, these stats are good to use for discussion and analysis purposes, and that's all they should be used for....any thought of "titles" should be on the individual basis of DYAR, etc.

18 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

No need for a debate guys about who's the better team, the saints and pats play later this year. And if straight winning or losing that game doesn't convince people, at least the saints still get the bucs twice this year for boosting their DVOA

23 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Saints would have to win awfully big against the Bucs to increase their DVOA much. It's more likely that they win convincingly, but that their DVOA decreases anyway.

37 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It's that's your thought process, why even come to this site? What if, say, it's an otherwise even game, but NE fumbles three times in the red zone and recovers all three fumbles; while the Saints fumble once and have the ball returned by NE for a TD? Would you be willing concede that NE is the better team or would you agree with DVOA that they lucked out?

DVOA is measuring all of things for all of those stomps and blowouts and games you don't watch at all - give it a little credit for that reason alone...

19 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I looked at games where the top 10 DVOA teams play each other and looked at their DVOA in those games.

games dvoa avg
NO 1 75.2
Minn 4 39.5
Bal 3 35.4
NE 2 29.85
Den 3 20.96
Pitt 1 19.2
Philly 1 -1.1
GB 3 -10.2
Dall 1 -11.7
Indy 0

DVOA of opponents in those games

games opp dvoa
NO 1 -1.1
Minn 4 -0.4
Bal 3 10.1
Pitt 1 19.1
Den 3 31.8
NE 2 36.8
Dall 1 49.6
GB 3 62.55
Philly 1 75.2
Indy 0

I think this year there are a bunch of truly putrid teams and the top teams are building up big DVOA by pounding those teams. Not sure I buy that it necessarily makes them great teams.

31 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Interesting to look at your list, although I think it would be more telling to see the results broken down game by game. Also, keep in mind, the Eagles played a Top 10 DVOA team this weekend and beat them so thoroughly as to drop them out of the top teams - not sure how often that's happened this season where one of these Top 10 teams knocked another team out of the Top 10.

Looking over that list, only MN has played good teams all that often - the sample sizes are tiny (and always will be with DVOA only having a 16 game season to work with). One of the reasons the guts/stomps research was so interesting was that it revealed that beating up cupcakes does consistently tell us something about a team's strength. Almost no team is ever going to play the majority of their games against Top 10 teams, so DVOA by necessity better have something to tell us about what beating up on cupcakes means...

But looking at your list, does that ranking look "right" to you? Sure, NO looks like the best team in the league - but MN, Bal, NE, Den is just as much of jumble of counterintuitive things and justifiable rankings as DVOA. It doesn't look any closer to conventional wisdom or a more nuanced view of how things "really" are...

56 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Actually, it does look about right to me. I would say that New Orleans is playing better than anyone; then I'd suggest Indianapolis, even though they've played no one.
And I do think Minnesota is clearly at least competitive in a game with either of those teams.
And Baltimore has been really good.

However, the sample size is ridiculously small.

130 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

But that list actually puts Indy between Pitt and Philly - does that seem right? It's an interesting jumble, like DVOA...

24 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

When Steven Jackson is inducted into the HOF, 9 out of 10 people in the NFL viewing population will never have seen him play live on TV.

93 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by evenchunkiermonkey (not verified)

I actually think it's sad that such a great player is suck on that team. Up in Boston I think it's been 4 or 5 years since a Rams game has been on TV. But I get to see Eli Manning each week...ugh.

85 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

When Steven Jackson gets inducted into the Hall of Fame that 11 yard run in the 4th quarter run from the Rams 2 yard line will be on the highlights package. He stiff armed 5 guys. FIVE! In 11 yards!

109 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'm assuming that most fans see just about all of their favorite teams games. Since the Rams play every team at least once every 4 years, I don't know that it's possible that anywhere near 90% of NFL fans will have not watched him play. In fact, I'd guess it would be more in the 10% range.

148 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Steven Jackson is turning into Walter Payton. An amazing player who is growing as a person and not complaining while being the leader of a terrible, terrible team.

He's going to be the leading rusher in franchise history, which is an incredible accomplishment, given the talented running backs who have played for the Rams. Dickerson, Faulk, etc. His stats are getting scary, so he'll definitely make the Hall of Fame (barring injury).

But he's 26, so he's only got a few years left. Unless Devaney and Spags are miracle-workers and get this team back in the Super Bowl, I don't know that Jackson will have the signature season that places him on the short list of all-time greats.

199 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

To be fair, Dickerson only played there for 4 years and 3 games and Faulk only played there for 7 years (and the last 3 were his three worst in his career). It's still an impressive accomplishment, but not quite as impressive as it otherwise sounds.

That being said, you will find no bigger S-Jax fan than I, so I would not be at all surprised if he ends up right around Curtis Martin (one of my all-time favorites) on the rushing list, which would all but guarantee him into the Hall of Fame.

When I was looking up the career totals I came across this--I think it says more about how good Dickerson was than anything about S-Jax, but it was interesting nonetheless. S-Jax averages 78.9 yards per game in his career in StL while Dickerson averaged 111.5. Wow.

Amazingly, my CAPTCHA is "canton June"

25 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I looked at games where the top 10 DVOA teams play each other and looked at their DVOA in those games.

Team DVOA Games
NO 75.2 1
Minn 39.5 4
Bal 35.4 3
NE 29.85 2
Den 20.96 3
Pitt 19.2 1
Phil -1.1 1
GB -10.2 2
Dall -11.7 1
Indy 0 games

DVOA of opponents in those games

Team DVOA Games
NO -1.1 1
Minn -0.4 4
Bal 10.1 3
Pitt 19.1 1
Den 31.8 3
NE 36.8 2
Dall 49.6 1
GB 62.55 2
Phil 75.2 1
Indy 0 games

hope this is more readable

28 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

How am I running the worst offense? I got the best arm in the league and am better than Tom Brady and Peyton Manning COMBINED! Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go do my mid-week workouts of pounding big macs.

30 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

As I keep saying this year, even bothering to apply DVOA, or analysis of the strengths and flaws of DVOA, or any other mental energy, to the bottom half teams is nothing more than a complete waste. And, unfortunately, rating the top half teams becomes increasingly suspect because they play these tomato cans too often rather than each other. Pro football has drastically changed as a result of free-agency. Completely gone are the days of Pete Rozelle and the leagues own desire for "parity". In it's place is something that parallels baseball--when the season begins there are only a handful of teams that have a real chance. Of course that's not to say that an owner can buy a title, as Dan Snyder has painfully found out, but the winners are ONLY going to come from those ownerships who do want to win. And then, since the only good teams come from those ownership groups, their various stats and other conceptual residue left behind from their performance against the tomato cans, looks to be something it isn't really. The idea that DVOA's owners proclaim this week that all 5 of the top teams are among the top 25 all time--that's absolutely ridiculous. People that really know something about pro football do not see any mystery in why Minny has handled Green Bay twice, or how it is that the Jints get complacent after a run against the weakies--just to name a couple of examples that appear to be plaguing you all. I'm sorry but DVOA is way off this year, as good of a system as it is. You know, to rate Green Bay and Minny as about equal is just absurd--and those of you that have been involved in these threads know that I'm not just saying that because now the Vikes have swept them. I'm the same guy that was saying this before they played the first time and I fully expected a Minny outright of G.B on the road too. Several other of the DVOA proclamations are just not realistic either...

34 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Rick A. (not verified)

Frankly I think this post is complete nonsense.

I also don't understand your contention that "DVOA is way off this year". Off when compared to what? Wins and losses? Your personal opinion?

From my point of view DVOA is the exact same mix of exactly/interesting/huh?/wtf!?! as it is every year.

The eagles in particular have made DVOA look good after everyone gave up on them following the Oakland loss.

Not saying the system is perfect, it is what it is. But I completely fail to see the reasons for the pessimism expressed in your post.

42 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Well Mr. Still Alive--What I mean by saying that it is way off this year is that I think that in years past, less so in the last couple, it started reflecting football reality by around game 6 or so. Not so at all this year by game 8, in my view. It's only an invention of the last few years, obviously, and it seemed alot more accurate in the first couple. By the year of the Giants win over N.E. it was already beginning to miss alot. It just didn't even see that one coming at all, whereas alot of people, myself included, did. You probably didn't. And you probably never played the game even at a college level ? What I mean by "way off" is relative to football reality. Right now it is proclaiming Green Bay and Baltimore as more efficient units that Minnesota and Pittsburgh. Isn't that enough for you, as a watcher, right there ?

And what else can you possibly find nonsensical ? How about the statement that there is no parity anymore ? Of course you probably haven't been around for very long either. Maybe you're in your twenties or thirties. Anyway, whoever you are and wherever you've been in life, you should try to understand that a whole bunch of these NFL owners have no intention of fielding winning teams. Therefore games involving the good teams versus those crap teams have no meaning whatsoever except for the paychecks to all involved...

46 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

As a watcher, I think Baltimore certainly looks as good (and probably better than) Minn and Pitt - what's crazy about that? I think Green Bay has had a lot of variance in their performance, but seem about on the same level as Minn. Minny is a bad matchup for them (hence their two wins in head to head), but their relative strengths compared to the rest of the league doesn't seem far off from each other. Bal, Minn and Pitt all seem like teams with really strong strengths and weak weaknesses - what they're good at, they're great at and what they're bad at, they're pretty darn bad at. NO seems really good. Indy seems really good.

The obvious head-scratchers are NE and Philly - if you're taking issue with DVOA, that's where to start, not with quibbling about the exact ranking of good but flawed teams like Baltimore, Minny, Green Bay and Pittsburgh...

53 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, I have to agree that the inclusion of Baltimore with Green Bay seems pretty odd. Baltimore's losses were close and came to opponents with aggregate record of 14-5 (not including that game). They've beaten a 4-2 team and a 6-0 team, as well as two cream puffs. A roughly ~0.500 record against good teams seems a pretty darn good indicator you're a good team, too.

61 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Pat, GB is actually quite similar to Baltimore by your measurements, excepting a single win over a top team.

Their losses were twice to the 7-1 Vikings and once to the 5-2 Bengals. Not counting those games (but counting Minnesota's record twice), they've lost to teams with a combined 14-4 record.

They've beaten a 4-2 team in Chicago (not count that game in their record), but no team with a better record, while they've blown out three bad teams.

Just to throw out one more stat I was curious about, in terms of scoring differential, GB is 26.7 - 19.1 = +7.6 points per game better than their opponents, while Baltimore is 28.4 - 19.6 = +8.8 points per game better.

Given these comparisons, I think it's reasonable that a pair of 4-3 teams are ranked closely together.

153 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, the single win over a top team is the important part. I don't disagree that objectively it's completely believable that GB/BAL are in the same category. But naively just looking at who they've beaten, they're a notch below Baltimore. But a naive view of Baltimore thinking they're not a top team just has no basis in logic.

57 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Rick - Here are several things you wrote that may seem obvious to you, but I think I disagree with.

1) "...it started reflecting football reality by around game 6..."

I think that "football reality" is totally meaningless since it's just your impression of how good teams are - you don't really know more than anyone else (or DVOA) does. It changes, and DVOA and DYAR can help us see what has happened and help point out where impressions are innaccurate (and a lot of them are). For instance, a lot of people's football reality probably included the Giants being an excellent team. Things change, and aren't always predictable. Sometimes DVOA can predict that, or show us that peoples impressions are wrong, and sometimes it can't. But in general it does better than most people. Perhaps the Eagles will turn out to be better than most people give them credit for because they over-weight the Raiders loss... My guess (and it's just a guess) is that DVOA would do better at picking games than the vast majority of people.

2) "It just didn't even see that one coming at all, whereas a lot of people...did"

DVOA can't possibly predict every game - nothing can. And most people can't either, despite the contention that a lot of people saw it coming. The Patriots were about a 12 point favorite, meaning the majority of people thought New England was going to win, and likely win fairly easily.

3) "And you probably never played the game even at a college level?"

This has zero to do with this site or analysis or correctness or intelligence of the comments. I'm not sure why it's included in your statement. As some analysts on TV and announcers have seemed to show, having played the game doesn't necessarily make you a better or worse judge than the average dedicated fan. (Although that's conjecture on my part, but I believe it.)

4) "How about the statement that there is no parity anymore? Of course you probably haven't been around for very long either. Maybe you're in your twenties or thirties."

How about it? I find the salary cap and draft still providing plenty of parity. And I'm 33 and was alive in the late 70's and began watching in the early 80's. Are you claiming there's less parity now than there was then?

Every year for the last 11 or 12 years, at least 5 teams have made the playoffs that didn't the year before. A team as dreadful as the Raiders was in the Super Bowl this decade. A team as dreadful as Cleveland managed to win 10 games in 2007. A team as dreadful as Cincinnatti used to be has had a couple of good years lately with an owner who was accused of mismanagement many times. All of this is anecdotal, but it adds up to a lot. Anyone know of an article actually analyzing parity by wins or playoff appearances? I could swear there was one...

5) "...you should try to understand that a whole bunch of these NFL owners have no intention of fielding winning teams."

I'd like to see any kind of proof of this. While some owners might just want to be good enough to make some money off the league, the large majority seem to make moves that would run counter to that. They might not make good moves, but they make them.

My point is that opinions can feel like they must be right, and everyone must agree with you, but it's often not the case. Selective memory, innaccurate pattern recognition, and a whole host of mistaken conclusions and fallacies can lead to a very wrong analysis. This is one of the reasons this system was developed - to try to help avoid that kind of thing. (Not prevent it, but at least help.) The "run to win" was the prime example.

65 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"It just didn't even see that one coming at all, whereas a lot of people...did"

DVOA can't possibly predict every game - nothing can. And most people can't either, despite the contention that a lot of people saw it coming. The Patriots were about a 12 point favorite, meaning the majority of people thought New England was going to win, and likely win fairly easily.

I was one of the people arguing that DVOA was missing what seemed obvious to me that as the season progressed the Patriots were coming back to the pack in a serious way and were no way 12 points or whatever the spread was better than the Giants. DVOA suggested that game would be a huge mismatch. But from week 12 on the Patriots were in tough in just about every game through the playoffs. If the Chargers weren't so banged up I doubt they would have even made it to the Super Bowl.

It was just one game - so the result proves nothing, but the fact that the Pats had so much trouble with their two previous home playoffs games suggested they weren't some over powering team.

67 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I still think Brady was more seriously injured in that game than anybody was willing to admit. He's never been a scrambler, but normally, he has good mobility within the pocket. In that Super Bowl, however, he looked like a complete statue. He made Drew Bledsoe look like Fran Tarkenton.

Everyone wanted to give all the credit to the Giants' front four (and they did play well), but remember, that same front four was barely able to lay a finger on Brady just one month earlier. I find it hard to believe that they improved that much in such a short span of time.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that Brady was faking the injury to mess with the Giants' heads, but in retrospect, it seems clear that the deception was running in the opposite direction, with Brady claiming he was healthier than he really was.

72 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"Made Drew Bledsoe look like Fran Tarkenton."

Whoa. Drew Bledsoe always reminded me of my father's favorite joke about Dan Marino: His legs. (I agree it's bad, but he told me that joke from when I was about 7 years old on. I could name three football players: John Elway, Ickey Woods, and Dan Marino. The only reason I could name Marino was his joke.)

I do agree that I thought Brady looked hurt, though I admit I don't remember hearing anyone say that it was a mind game. It's very fitting of the Patriot mystique, especially that year coming off of Spygate, though, so I can't say I'm surprised.

131 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Sheesh, if you only knew three players at seven, you were lagging behind. My brother's first word was football. My sister claims that his second was touchdown (though I am not sure on that one).

When he was a little older, he would toddle back and forth in the living room with his nerf football saying, "Fuhbuh, tuhduh! Fuhbuh, tuhduh!"

188 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Well, I lived in the middle of nowhere in Colorado (so far from Denver you can't see the mountains from there) where we had one tv channel (seriously--you had to be able to afford a better antenna to get more) and the early '90s Broncos were not exactly star-studded.

142 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"I still think Brady was more seriously injured in that game than anybody was willing to admit. He's never been a scrambler, but normally, he has good mobility within the pocket. In that Super Bowl, however, he looked like a complete statue. He made Drew Bledsoe look like Fran Tarkenton."

He definitely was hurt. I think the ankle caused some accuracy issues early, and forced him to make throws earlier than usual.

Steven Neal getting hurt early only compounded things, as Hochstein against Tuck was a really bad matchup.

172 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I think I remember reading an article (by Tanier or Farrar or someone who looked at tape here on FO) that one of the things the Giants did sometimes was move Tuck inside and have him work against the center, because centers generally were used to dealing with bigger, but less agile guys. In the regular season, the Giants didn't do this, but in the Superbowl, they did, and it was Koppen who simply couldn't deal with it. I'm sure having Hochstein, not Neal, next to him contributed, but it was mainly that the Giants found one clever weakness that they had the personnell to exploit (much like Walsh figured out how to neutralize LT in another SB with one little trick). That was the gist of the article as I remember it... can someone confirm?

Anyway, while it was surprising that the Giants shut down the Patriots offense, the Giants were trailing by 4 with less than two minutes to go, facing 3rd and long on their own half of the field. Take away that miracle catch, or give Asante Samuel slightly better hands, and this discussion probably isn't being had. Flukes happen.

68 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"I was one of the people arguing that DVOA was missing what seemed obvious to me that as the season progressed."

That's a good way to put it, since that's what you felt was obvious, but may not have been. Based on the spread, a lot of people didn't think that was obvious at all. It's possible that you have better insight than a lot of people (as the original poster might). However, it's also possible that if that Super Bowl could have been played 100 time, NE might have won the large majority, and the Giants victory is a little on the "fluky" side.

The question is what is more predictive - how a team did recently, or the level the established throughout the season? I think the whole season is more meaningful. There have been several things I've read I think showing that a team being "on a roll" is not that important, and the team's strength over a season is more important (predictive).

You're suggesting in the case of the Pats that factoring more recent tough wins was more important than the overall season. If weighting more recent games more heavily was more predictive, DVOA would include it (unless it's something they haven't looked at yet, which is also possible). Maybe there is a difference given particular circumstances - like a team coming down off a really high level is more likely to continue to decline. Something like that might be possible, but awfully hard to tease out and add to the formulas.

95 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I think FO does do a more recent rating as the season wears on. Obviously injuries are a major factor. The longer the season goes the more injuries can effect the quality of a team.

NE played the Giants twice in 5 weeks. Won by a narrow margin and lost by a narrow margin. Maybe if they could somehow have played 100 games they would have beat them convincing the majority of the time. But usually when a team is far better than the other but the game ends up close or in an upset you see all sorts of lucky type of bounces, turnovers, etc. That sure didn't look like the case to me when several teams played NE very close over the last half of the season.

As for the stomps article, is it still on the site? Are there limits to the value of stomps? When I see a team beat someone 59-0 it suggests to me that team is likely very strong - but if some other teams goes and beats Tenn 42-10 a weak later I don't intuitively think the team that won by 59 is obviously better. DVOA suggests otherwise.

For the same reason I don't think GB beating Cle and Det by a much bigger margin than did Minnesota is nearly as predictive as Minnesota beating GB head to head twice by 19 points.

110 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Actually, I don't think the ratings for the teams that scored 42 and 59 would be very far off (unless one of the scores was the result of thinks DVOA classifies as lucky or non-predictive - extreme fumble luck, or lots of kick returns, etc.) In other words, I don't think DVOA would suggest that the team that scored 59 is obviously better.

Now if the team that scored 59 also scored 30-50 points against several other teams with high margin-of-victory wins, then yes, DVOA would likely suggest that it was a much better team.

139 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

in the case of NE that one game provides over 40% of their DVOA. Had they merely beat Tenn 42-10 or so I expect their DVOA for the game would have been something like 60-80 and they would rank 5th or 6th in total DVOA.

I wonder if capping individual games would provide a more accurate DVOA?

165 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

There was a year recently (2005? 2006? I remember the Chiefs were involved somehow) where there were a handful of early blowouts that really made it look like the ratings were off. This prompted Aaron to look into ways to reduce the effect of a single blowout win or loss, but everything he tried resulted in less accurate overall DVOA, so the conclusion was to leave blowouts in without adjustments.

It might be worth revisiting, though, now that we have another crazy year with some truly awful teams.

170 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Ummm... the Patriots have played 7 games. Assuming every game has roughly the same number of plays, that means that that gave accounts for 1/7th of the Patriots DVOA...or about 14% of their DVOA.

And there IS a DVOA adjustment for blowout scenarios. Aaron tried making it stronger and it hurt the system. But plays in a blowout situation do count less.

58 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Rick A. (not verified)

It would make sense intuitively that games vs. doormats would have less predictive value than games vs. real teams. But the bottom half of the table is not made entirely of doormat teams. More like the bottom quarter (this year) or the bottom eighth (in a normal year). So, yeah, I can see DVOA being a bit more wonky than usual this year due to more teams having doormat type seasons, and Green Bay is probably getting more credit than it should for its games vs the Lions and Browns.

However, you seem to be implying that DVOA, over time, is becoming less capable of predicting the Super Bowl winner, or the winner of specific games. Are you aware that the FO staffers have stated repeatedly that DVOA is NOT a tool to predict the outcome of single games? That it is a tool to predict future performance? Surely you must have followed football long enough to know that the team that performs the best does not always win the game. Or that the better of the two teams does not always out-perform the other team. Even two or three or four times in a row. It happens that way sometimes.

And I'd be curious to know exactly which owners you think are not even trying to field a winning team.

60 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Suggesting that "a lot" of people expected the Giants to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl might be true in the sense that a whole lot of people made predictions, so "a lot" of people picked the Giants. But if you mean to claim that a large percentage of people picked the Giants, then I think you're practicing revisionist history. There's a reason nfl.com named it the second-biggest upset in NFL history. It may be true that DVOA ends up being less accurate this year, but that claim would be much more valid if it were backed up with systematic, rather than cherry-picked analysis, and that probably can't be done until the season is over.

"Football reality" is an awfully subjective term, and using it really doesn't answer Still Alive's question. Are you defining "football reality" as your own observations? Those made by someone like Peter King? Those made by someone like Greg Cosell? More conventional stats like total yards or win-loss records?

Finally, the assertion that some owners don't care about winning may be true, but the current CBA also includes a salary floor that prevents owners from maximizing profit simply by slashing player salaries to reduce costs. So owners are operating with at least $100M of fixed player costs, plus the fixed short-run costs of keeping other personnel and running a stadium. In comparison, the variable cost of trying to "discover" information to spend those fixed player costs wisely, including the investment necessary to make good front-office hires, is fairly small. It's basically a drop in the bucket in comparison to the time and money already spent. Meanwhile, the payoff from that additional work has the potential to be pretty significant; the observable effect that winning has on filling seats is suggests that the payoff of fielding a winning team is probably greater than the relatively small cost of trying. (And yes, I do know that they're making much more money on TV revenue, but it's also important to note that that revenue is shared, so ticket and luxury box sales are what we should focus on for payoffs to the owner.) So the marginal benefits of trying to win are almost certainly greater than the marginal cost of doing so, even taking into consideration that trying to win doesn't guarantee good results. (I'm not saying it's easy to win, just that it's relatively easy for owners to try to do so.)

If we were talking baseball, your argument would probably make much more sense.

73 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Rick A. (not verified)

I actually bet on NYG that game... I thought that NYG had 7 chances in 20 or so. Many people thought it more like 1 in 5. Worked well for me. To claim that you honestly thought the NYG would win, or even to claim you think they would win more than 50 games if the two teams had played a hundred in parallel universes is folly IMO. There was very little to no reason to believe NYG would be more likely win.

I think anyone who would identify the DVOA "prediction" that NE was better than the NYG based on how they performed that year as a weakness, simply is completely confused about what this site (or any sort of reasonable analysis) is about.

Maybe in 500 years we will have USEFUL models that would have predicted a NYG victory, I am not holding my breath.

No the ranking of GB and BAL is not enough for me.

A) I haven't watched close to every second of every game, have you?
B) Even if I had, despite my fantastic memory and top notch reasoning abilities (don't ask me ask the US Army) I completely lack the ability to adjust all that data for opponent situation et cetera without the aid of statistics. No one could do it, it is simply too much data. You might watch every snap of those four teams and come to some subjective judgment, but then of course to really understand you would also need to watch all of their opponent's games as well. All this without any errors or slip-ups where you forget that some good passes came in situations where a team didn't care about giving up yards, or where you forget that a 18 yard scramble on 3rd and 25 isn't actually that helpful.

I highly doubt the owners intentions matter as much as you think.

127 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Still Alive (not verified)

"Maybe in 500 years we will have USEFUL models that would have predicted a NYG victory, I am not holding my breath."

We never will (as I'm sure you knew when you wrote that). The models will get better, but there are two many random elements on every play in an NFL game to ever make that possible. If you have, for example, a 50 percent chance of recovering any given fumble, then statistics pretty much dictate that eventually you will recover 3 or 4 in a row (or vice versa).

Other factors may not be totally random, but always have a significant random component, and again randomness over a period of time dictates streaks. If a QB throws 16 interceptions in a year, I am guessing that it would be more of a statistical anomaly for him to throw exactly 1 interception per game than it would be for him to throw 3 in one game over that span. (it's been years since I've done these kind of numbers and I don't feel like re-learning - better minds can probably provide actual numbers). Over enough games, it becomes a virtual statistical certainty that he will have such a game, and if memory serves, it is not all that many games. And yet it is almost certain that a 3 INT game will be ascribed to the QB having a bad day.

No receiver catches every pass and every running back fumbles occasionally, and while factors like 'clutch' and 'choke' are certainly real to some extent, the pure random factor never disappears.

And turnovers barely begins to cover the extent to which randomness comes into play during every football game.

Teams that are very good relative to their opposition can come close to eliminating the vagaries of chance (relative to winning or losing), but never completely eliminate them (that is, however, why dominating lesser teams is a reasonable indicator of how good a team is). By the time you get to the playoffs, that amount of difference is rarely there, and the 'better' team is going to lose sometimes (actually with some frequency, I would argue).

If it were possible to create two teams that were exactly 'equal' at each position and have them play a thousand games, chances are they would each end up winning about half of the games. But... not all of those games would be close - each side would have blowout wins, and each side would have significantly long winning and losing streaks. That's just the way that works.

It appears to me that DVOA is a good model. It's not perfect and never will be, but no matter how good a model you construct, it will never, never, never be able to predict the outcome of any individual game with absolute certainty.

126 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

DVOA is off because it didn't predict the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III?

That's a pretty high standard you have there. By any reasonable standard based on statistics alone, the Pats should have been treated as the huge favorites they were. Their regular season performance was, by any objective standard, much, much better than that of the Giants.

161 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I think maybe the Giants were underestimated...didn't they start the next season 7-0, which would have given them an 11-game winning streak?

Brady was definitely hurt, as seen in him not being able to sidestep the rush whatsoever, but in hindsight, those teams weren't as disparate as thought at the time. Maybe the Patriots would have won 60% of games between the two, not the 80-95% some would like to believe.

THAT being said, anybody who predicted a Giants win straight-up was either a member of the Giants organization, picking with their heart or else trying to be the local contrarian....so he/she could claim to be a genius prognosticator when it happened. There were a LOT of those folks in the weeks leading up to the game. There was absolutely zero basis at the time to suggest the Giants were likely to win that game.

45 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

What I meant to say Mr Still Alive was "never even at a high school level"...

107 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Rick A. (not verified)

Fair enough, but it's still a totally meaningless statement. Haven't innumerable commentators and talking-head analysts demonstrated that having played at a high level has no bearing on your ability to talk about the sport coherantly?

51 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

First an amusing statistic

S.Jackson is first in DVOA at ~20% yet the Rams rushing offense is 19th at -3%. Amazing that the other rushes and penalties cause the total DVOA to drop ~20%.

I don't see how DVOA is WAY off. And one number is never the end all be all. It's just a handy reference point. I think its best use is at the end of the season to look back. One of its main flaws and any football formulas flaws is that there is plenty of variation going on from week to week with respect to who is starting for each team.

For example, Pittsburgh is going to naturally be better on defense with Polamalu than without him.But DVOA counts every game against pittsburgh as the same in its opponent adjustments.

With respect to GB/MIN, the main problem is the difference in the OL vs DL matchup. I'm still waiting to see if Favre will hold up for the whole season. So far so good.

This season has displayed one of the biggest gaps between the best and worst teams that I can remember.

55 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Denver has played three top ten teams, and is 2-1 against them. Coincidentally the two they won (Bal, Dal) were at home and the one they lost (Bal) was an 11am game on the road. Where big games are played is a big deal, that may not be factored enough. If Denver would have played Balt at home and (Dal,NE) on the road I could see their record as 1-2 in those games.

I find it hard to believe New England is number one, given their losses to Denver and New York along with a 'lucky' win against Buffalo that came due to a last minute special teams error. The Titans game must have artificially pushed up their DVOA.

71 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I disagree that the Broncos would have beat the Ravens in Denver. The Broncos appeared unprepared, unfocused lazy and sloppy. In short, they looked like a team that was thrilled to be 6-0 and had spent the bye week being very happy with themselves. The Ravens looked focused, aggressive, fast and desperate. In short, they looked like a team with Super Bowl aspirations who were coming off a three game losing streak (all three games, they probably felt they deserved to win) and knew that in the course of a 16 game season, you have to stop the bleeding sooner rather than later, and spent the bye week angry.
Sorry if all that sounds kind of... TV analyst-ish and trite, but if the Bronco offense was going to come out that weak, I don't think location had any impact on the ouutcome of the game.

133 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

New England lost in Denver _in overtime_. That suggests that the Pats would have won on a neutral site.

The Broncos have one of the biggest home field advantages in the NFL. No, let me amend that: the Broncos have _the_ biggest home field advantage in the NFL. A visiting team cannot simulate playing at altitude.

66 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Vikings have an interesting scheduling quirk. They don't play the Bears until they have played their other two division rivals twice. If the Vikings beat the Lions at home, then, because the Bears have already lost one divisional game, the Vikings can gain the tiebreaker over the Bears with a win in their first game, in the Metrodome.

Given the other opponent the Vikings have before the Bears is Seattle, in the Metrodome, the schedule has worked out perfectly. Creampuffs to start, followed by their toughest stretch, except for a road creampuff to convieniently follow an emotional Monday night game, then a bye week. Start up with creampuffs again, then what will likely be their last important division game, then some potentially more difficult games, but when there likely will a bit of a cushion. Who knows? It may make sense to rest the Zombie King at Soldier Field at night, come December. If it is cold enough, Favre might not even mind.

81 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I haven't seen the word creampuff so many times since I worked in a bakery. But it got me thinking that FO needs a glossary, if only so we can tell the difference between a creampuff and a tomato can.

147 Vikings schedule

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

I was thinking this, too. As a Vikings fan, I've shifted my focus from the team being division champions to seeding in the conference. Because the Saints are 7-0 and have an easier schedule (2nd easiest according to FO) left than even the Vikings (5th easiest), every game matters if the goal is to prevent a trip to New Orleans for a conference championship game. If the 2 seed is good enough, then Minnesota can go 5-3 (with 5 home games remaining) and be fine.

That's all a long ways off, I know, but it's the way I think.

69 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

To 57, 58 and 60 :
First to Mr dbostedo--when I say that DVOA did not see the Giant SB victory coming I don't mean in regard to just that one game. I mean that the "football reality" was obvious to ex and current players, and others who have had a meaningful connection to pro or college football, that the Giants were a serious emerging force that year from much earlier in the season. DVOA did not think so. The G Men were winning every road game and were getting better as they went along. Anyone who has ever played beyond high school knows how HARD that is to accomplish. It was an historic roll and DVOA was, seemingly, minimizing it--while trumpeting, like the rest of the national media, the Pats and their particular roll which was, admittedly, historic in it's own self. But the idea that the SB game was a mismatch and all that--it was a joke. Right here in these threads I warned all the readers not to bet against the Giants. Let's face it, so much of this is about either betting or rooting or both. The spread in the game was not relevant to anything, nor is any pointspread. All a pointspread is the sum total of public perception--nothing to do with "football reality".

Another thing in reply to you--yes, I am claiming there is FAR less parity now than in the late 70's. I am somewhat mystified to see a bunch of you guys wanting to argue with that one. You are never going to see "proof" of owners that do not want really to win. You're a fan. They're billionaires. All you have to do, however, is open your eyes. The current Rams ownership couldn't care less about winning if it means paying a bunch of free agents. The Cardinal ownership, even though the son of Bill Bidwill puts on a good front, was run by his father and the sole reason they didn't win for 50 years was him. Don't hold your breath waiting for the same circumstances to repeat that happened last year. Some of these type owners will make a PR move by hiring a certain coach, or whatever, but then they will undercut the guy. That's what will happen to Whisenhunt. And you don't seriously think the Chargers ownership wants to do what it takes, do you ? I could go on. I don't have time right now.

So 58, obviously what I just said also goes out to you. And 60--give me a break. You're going to quote nfl.com ?? I repeat, the Giant victory was not that big of an upset. You know, even though there are such things as upsets in football, there are really not that many of them. Certainly not as history records them. The Jets over Baltimore in SB 3 was not really an upset, for example. The Jets did indeed have a better team. Namath's "prediction" wasn't much of a prediction. The Jets were loaded with NFL guys that had had enough of the system and went over for more money and better treatment. Among them the great Johnny Sample who made a joke of the over-rated Earl Morall on that day. And Namath was ascending into his prime. Anyway, that's a long dissertation that any football person who was around at the time could tell you about. The media version of the event is mainly hyperbole. Right now, suffice to say that the NFL has the characteristic of the good teams looking better than they are because the era of free-agency has finally upended the one time ideal of parity. There are a bunch of horrible teams and they make the good teams look great. They're not. There are no really great teams right now. The only question for systems like DVOA is to delineate who is efficient in the games that go on between the good teams. It's obvious that the Saints, Vikings, and Cowboys maybe, Eagles definitely, from the NFC side, have the talent. The Giants are missing the threat that Burress was among other problems. Green Bay, forget it--way too many problems. The AFC has one team above all others and that is Indy. Then there's Pitt and Balt, Denver maybe, New England of course. San Diego forget it. Everything else is a load of naive rooting...

76 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I think you sir are right about a lot of things. I believe that Aaron and CO. are definitely overrating this year's crop of teams in terms of the grand scheme. The fact of the matter is that these teams are not all-time greats, they are just simply all-time better-than-the-other-teams. If that didn't make sense, what I mean is that the best teams are just so much better than the worst teams that they are putting up huge numbers. In a normal year, that would indicate all-time greatness. But this year it does not. I agree that I can't remember a time the league has ever been this black and white. The Saints could play the Bucs 16 times and probably win every time. The same goes for Saints vs. Rams, and probably Saints vs. Lions. The same goes for Colts vs. all those teams. That said, I'm not even in my 20s and I've only been following the league for a few years, so I can't really say how this "historic" year fits in with the rest of the years the league has been around.

I think that you are right about ownership. Certain owners just don't care. There is no way that the Cardinals can be so terrible for so long with the only common denominator being the ownership. Eventually you'd just hit some dumb luck and win something if you were actually trying as hard as possible to win. The ties into my previous point about historic amounts of team disparity because I truly believe that this economic climate has played a huge role in the team disparity. The owners who are more concerned with keeping their checkbook growing certainly have cut corners with their personnel to save money. I don't know if they're cutting more corners this year or not, but it's certainly producing worse products this year. I think many owners feel that they can get away with mediocrity as long as the spin is "rebuilding", all the while they're actually just trying to perpetuate the "rebuilding" period to save on cash. Case in point, the Browns. They traded down SO FAR in the draft that they literally saved tens of millions of dollars on draft choices. I don't think they do that if the owner is financially set and cares 100% about the team. No one wants top picks anymore. Why? The common answer is "guaranteed money", and sure that's part of it, but I'm sure that the other part of it is just sheer amount of total money involved. I think the Lions were stuck taking Stafford because they needed a new face to sell tickets and the general consensus in the media (and amongst a large portion of the fanbase) was that Stafford was the correct choice. If they didn't make him their choice, it would guarantee that they would have every game be blacked out this season. That's bad for business. So they decided to invest in him and sell some tickets. You can't tell me that the Ford family really cares about winning football games. They are trying to do whatever they can to stay afloat while their car company tries to get out of the tank. The NFL is profitable for them, especially when not having to pay top free agents.

The problem is that the gamble has not paid off very well for these owners. Many fanbases are protesting and causing quite the PR nightmare because the teams are so historically bad compared to the competition around them (aka the teams that give a...). I think the owners expected to win a few games and be fine, but these bad teams will all be lucky to get 3 wins this year. They are just that disadvantaged. Hence, the fanbases are in uproars and things aren't working out so well. I think that if the financial climate improves dramatically, you will see the parity of the NFL probably improve dramatically too.

Owners who want to win have a big advantage over those who just wish to make money. It's naive to know that a large percent of players play for love of the check, not love of the game but still think that the owners somehow all are just diehard winner wannabes. There are percentages of both groups that are just here to cash checks and do whatever to make the most of their check cashing.

102 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I can't find it now, but I remember reading an article that showed a playoff run and Super Bowl appearance ended up costing the owner more money than was earned. The ideal case was to show enough change to give the impression that a championship run would happen. That would boost season ticket sales, merchandising, etc. Then, when the team failed, the owner did not incur the additional costs of the playoffs.

I would imagine that ownership could only go to the well so many times before the fanbase got tired of the same old rhetoric.