DVOA Analysis
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2010 DVOA Projections

2010 DVOA Projections
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

The time has come for our annual preseason DVOA projections, updated from the projections that gave us the season forecasts in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010. Although we are still projecting the Baltimore Ravens as the best team in the NFL in 2010, there has been a lot of movement by the other teams ranked below them since our book went to press.

We must start with the requisite link to an explanation of DVOA. For anyone new to our site, DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average and measures a team's performance on every play of the season compared to league average in the same situation, adjusted for opponent. I know a lot of people are coming here from various message boards and this is just going to look like a jumble of pointless numbers. Trust me, there is a method to the madness, and over the past nine seasons past DVOA ratings -- as well as these multivariable-based DVOA projections -- have been a far more accurate predictor of future performance than wins or points. (This is true even if we count last year's extremely disappointing projections.)

Offense, defense, and special teams DVOA are all projected separately using a system based on looking at trends for teams over the past decade. The equations include a number of variables based on performance over the past two seasons in different splits (by down, passing vs. rushing, red zone vs. whole field) plus variables based on recent draft history, injury history, offensive and defensive pace, coaching experience, quarterback experience, weather, and even the specific number of home games for each team. (San Francisco gets docked for having only seven.) Strength of schedule was then figured based on the average projected total DVOA of all 16 opponents for 2010. Teams that play Pittsburgh in the first four games of the season have slightly lower strength of schedule ratings based on the fact that the overall Pittsburgh projection would be lower without Ben Roethlisberger returning in October.

The projections here are updated from Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 based on changes in some of the variables, usually related to injuries, offensive line continuity, and quarterback experience. There are no manual adjustments after the fact, although there are manual adjustments because some of the personnel-related variables can be somewhat subjective. For example, there are variables based on mean or median age of projected starters, but we have to decide for some teams whether "projected starters" incorporates a fullback, two tight ends, or three wide receivers. The numbers we are presenting here are exactly what the projection system spit out. As we say every year: "A few of them will look strange to you. A few of them look strange to us." There's no reason to really regurgitate the reasons why our projections for some teams (Dallas, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, etc.) differ so greatly from the conventional wisdom -- we've gone over it in numerous articles and in numerous promotional interviews over the past few weeks.

Last year, there was very little difference between the book projections and the ones we ran on the site before the season. This year, on the other hand, there was a ton of change, with three main drivers:

  • There may have been more projected starters released on cut down day in 2010 than in any previous season. That meant big changes for some teams in the variables related to mean and median age of starters on various units, as well as variables related to number of returning starters.
  • Arizona takes a big drop down because of variables related to their quarterback change -- not only does Derek Anderson have a lower "no team variables" projection than Matt Leinart, but there's an additional variable that drops the offensive projection for any team whose starting quarterback was on a different team the year before.
  • I decided it is finally time to assume that the players still holding out mean business, so New England took a hit for losing Logan Mankins while San Diego took a bigger hit for losing Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson.

The new projections include two changes in our playoff forecast for 2010. First, Miami has passed the New York Jets as the projected second AFC wild card team. Second, even though Philadelphia still projects to be better than Washington overall, an easier schedule has the Redskins narrowly passing the Eagles as our projected NFC East champion. Arizona still projects as the NFC West champion, although the Cardinals' overall projection has moved a lot closer to the conventional wisdom.

There's been a lot of talk out there about how surprising it is that we don't have the Vikings and Saints going back to the playoffs, and now I'm sure we can talk about how surprising it is that we don't have the Jets going back either, but the projection differences between the teams in our playoff forecast and the teams that narrowly miss out are very small. Cincinnati is really the only 2010 playoff team that is projected far, far below the top teams in its division.

You will notice that offensive projections tend come out in a wider range than defensive projections, primarily because offense performance tends to be easier to predict (and more consistent from year to year) than defensive performance. In addition, the average projection for the entire league is higher than the 0% DVOA "average" because the offensive environment in the league has been so strong in recent years when compared to the entire period used to construct the DVOA baselines. (If we have another very strong offensive year, I'll have to look at the baseline issue in the offseason.) Another odd trend: There is a huge gap in the offensive projections between 26th and 27th, and again between 28th and 29th. As a result, the difference between Arizona (26th) and Oakland (29th) is bigger than the difference between Arizona and Minnesota (eighth).

Projected division champions are colored in light yellow. Projected wild card teams are colored in light blue. The ranks for projected DVOA and the ranks for mean wins are going to be very different in some places, because as bad as the two West divisions were in past years, they project as even worse this year because we are expecting decline from both Arizona and San Diego. The entire NFC East projects with better DVOA than any of the eight teams in the two West divisions. This also effects schedules, giving a boost to the NFC South (which plays the NFC West) and the AFC South (which plays the AFC West). (The fact that the two West divisions also play each other also keeps those teams from having even fewer projected wins.)


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
TOTAL
RANK
MEAN
WINS
OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
SCHED SCHED
RANK
BAL 31.5% 1 12.2 20.1% 5 -13.0% 1 -1.6% 27 1.6% 16
PIT 26.8% 2 11.1 21.9% 2 -3.6% 9 1.3% 10 2.8% 11
NE 21.4% 3 10.0 20.7% 4 3.1% 19 3.9% 3 4.7% 7
IND 20.3% 4 11.4 27.6% 1 8.0% 25 0.7% 12 -3.3% 24
ATL 19.1% 5 10.9 21.6% 3 2.5% 18 0.1% 16 -0.3% 20
GB 15.5% 6 9.6 18.7% 6 1.4% 14 -1.9% 28 3.0% 10
PHI 14.4% 7 9.2 10.4% 10 2.3% 17 6.3% 1 2.4% 12
CHI 14.1% 8 9.3 2.5% 17 -9.6% 2 2.0% 8 2.2% 13
MIN 13.5% 9 9.0 12.3% 8 -2.5% 10 -1.2% 24 6.5% 5
MIA 12.9% 10 9.3 6.2% 13 -7.3% 5 -0.6% 23 2.0% 14
NYJ 12.4% 11 8.9 5.1% 14 -8.6% 4 -1.3% 25 4.8% 6
WAS 12.0% 12 9.4 6.3% 12 -4.2% 8 1.4% 9 0.2% 19
NO 9.6% 13 9.1 18.0% 7 6.1% 22 -2.3% 31 0.6% 18
NYG 8.8% 14 8.8 8.6% 11 -0.4% 13 -0.1% 19 1.6% 15
DAL 2.7% 15 7.7 5.0% 15 1.7% 15 -0.6% 22 3.4% 9
KC -0.7% 16 9.0 1.9% 19 3.3% 20 0.6% 13 -9.7% 32
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
TOTAL
RANK
MEAN
WINS
OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
SCHED SCHED
RANK
CIN -2.6% 17 6.7 0.9% 20 2.0% 16 -1.5% 26 6.5% 4
ARI -5.3% 18 8.0 -4.2% 26 -0.8% 12 -1.9% 29 -5.9% 29
SD -5.5% 19 8.4 12.1% 9 15.4% 29 -2.2% 30 -7.5% 31
DEN -6.6% 20 8.0 0.9% 21 7.0% 23 -0.5% 21 -5.9% 28
SEA -6.7% 21 7.6 -14.3% 27 -4.7% 7 2.8% 6 -5.1% 27
TEN -6.8% 22 7.2 -3.4% 25 3.5% 21 0.1% 15 -0.6% 21
CAR -7.8% 23 6.5 0.3% 22 7.7% 24 -0.4% 20 1.3% 17
BUF -11.3% 24 5.3 -23.3% 30 -9.4% 3 2.6% 7 7.1% 2
JAC -11.4% 25 7.0 2.5% 18 14.2% 28 0.3% 14 -1.8% 23
TB -11.5% 26 6.9 2.6% 16 14.1% 27 0.0% 17 -0.7% 22
HOU -18.5% 27 4.8 -2.7% 24 15.7% 30 -0.1% 18 3.4% 8
SF -19.2% 28 6.2 -26.2% 31 -1.6% 11 5.4% 2 -4.2% 26
CLE -20.6% 29 4.3 -30.5% 32 -6.7% 6 3.2% 4 7.3% 1
STL -22.0% 30 6.2 -1.3% 23 18.0% 31 -2.8% 32 -6.9% 30
OAK -30.5% 31 4.9 -23.1% 29 10.6% 26 3.1% 5 -3.4% 25
DET -33.2% 32 3.2 -14.4% 28 19.9% 32 1.1% 11 7.0% 3

We're still working on getting the first postseason odds report online. Be aware that when that goes up, the mean projected wins on the postseason odds report will look slightly different from the mean projected wins listed here, because each page uses different methods. The method used on this page is based on an equation that considers the DVOA of each unit, the strength of schedule, and the balance between offense and defense. The method for the postseason odds report plays out the season game by game rather than looking at all 16 games together, and also includes a variable to account for road games with dome or warm-weather teams visiting cold-weather cities after November 1.

Later today, I will post our annual subjective staff predictions for 2010.

Comments

252 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2010, 3:31pm

2 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....

Much of this is not intuitive. I will have to consider it all before making any judgements here.

61 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I can guess the logic. Last year's Buffalo defense ranked #8 in DVOA, and they were absolutely hosed with injuries. Figure that their injury luck will probably be better, and it's a young defense, and there ya go.

I don't believe it for a minute -- I think they're going to be awful, especially against the rush -- but hey, a ray of light is always nice. They threatened to go 3-4 this year, a scheme for which their personnel are a bad fit, but in preseason, they've been heavily 4-3. Hm.

14 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Well, regression towards the mean, and the addition of Julius Peppers, if he decides to be Julius Peppers, would mean a big improvement.

4 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Note- all of my comments are subjective, where the numbers are objective-- That said...

I think the system has Washington pegged wrong. I love McNabb and think he's a huge upgrade over Campbell, but I just do not see them having it all fall together the way the projections suggest.

It also does not feel quite right to suggest the best four teams in the NFL are in the AFC.

But the biggest !!! to my eyes is Chicago. I just am not seeing them being that good.

16 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

The scary thing to me about Chicago is that despite all of the problems they had last year that make them look horrible on paper (terrible o-line, Cutler's sacks and INTs, poor year for Forte, bad WRs, injury ravaged defense), they still finished an essentially average 7-9.

They really don't need to improve by a whole lot to have a winning record. A Martz offense that Cutler manages to survive, plus better health on defense and a boost from Julius Peppers could do it.

192 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I'm curious as to how the projections viewed Albert Haynesworth. Was he still projected as a full-time starter, given the tension that's been brewing between him and Shanahan (not to mention hypothetical trade talks)? And if so, how much would his absence affect the Redskins ranking?

However, I'd be pleasantly surprised if the Redskins and Eagles finish 1-2 in the division; that's a much better scenario than what I'd have predicted.

6 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I think you're way off on the Bucs. Their defense is going to be better than their offense this year.

38 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Agreed, but given the collapse that began at the end of '08 I think it's easy to understand why the system wouldn't be quite so optimistic. It probably also doesn't understand just how important the scheme change should be. What's really surprising is the special teams being ranked 17th, though I guess our punting and kicking was less than stellar last year even if the coverage and return units were great.

7 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

The NFC North projections are about what my thoughts were, which means the only surprise winner of the division would be the Lions. The Vikings have the hardest schedule, and at this point the worst injury luck, so I guess things are a little more uphill for them. Really, though, the DVOAs of the Packers, Bears, and Vikings are close enough to be essentially tied.

I think an interesting thing to watch in this division will be the relative performance of two defensive ends, Julius Peppers and Ray Edwards, with entirely opposite career perspectives, but some similarities as well. Peppers has been a great player who has, somewhat strangely, disappeared at times. Edwards has a times, like last year's playoffs, shown streaks of brilliance, while disappearing at other times. Peppers has made a ton of money in his career, capped by a whopper bonus this spring. Edwards hasn't made much money, but has the chance to earn a similar bonus this spring, if he has a monster year. How these guys perform will likely have a large impact on their teams' records. What will happen? Damned if I know, which is why I watch the games, I guess.

66 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

From what I saw in preseason Peppers looked very energized. Of course it's easy to try hard for 10 snaps.

Still this prediction is more optimistic about the Bears than I am. I expect them to hover around average, like they have the past 3 years.

78 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

All my NFC North-centrism aside, I really do think this is again one of the more interesting divisions, with a lot of volatile factors.

148 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

It's interesting that you bring up Edwards. I think the whole defensive line is the most exciting thing to watch for the Vikings this year. I'm not sure how much stock you put in preseason games, but the Viking backups dlinemen were fantastic. Evans and Guion in particular looked great. Mayock commented that the Vikings second team def line is better than a lot of first stringers.

The Viking defence was hit and miss last year, but they were truly outstanding in the playoffs against Dall and NO. I think if the Vikings are to compete for the Super Bowl it will be on the back of the defence this year.

8 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Arizona was the one projection from the book that you didn't seem to be able to justify — this makes more sense.

You'll get a lot of flak as the only media outlet predicting division titles for Washington and Kansas City, but at least you bother to analyze and explain your numbers. It's easy to forget how the MSM deals with preseason articles: cut and paste last year's standings, make three changes, and point out that Vince Young just wins. Or Mass Groupthink.

9 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I like the Browns' chances of being this year's unlikely contender, and your numbers suggest that if they can muster a semblance of an offense — and they have half a very good line — they might cause a stir. Shame about the schedule, then.

11 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Well, speaking as a Cowboys fan, the beginning of the season will be an interesting test of the more unconventional rankings here. DAL (ranked much lower here than by conventional wisdom) starts out with WAS and CHI, both ranked much higher here than by conventional wisdom. Then they get HOU, who many expect to improve but look terrible by DVOA. Conveniently, one of the reasons that DAL is ranked low by DVOA is the expectation of injuries on the OL, and lo and behold, they're likely to have two backups on the OL for at least the first game.

13 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

As a Dallas fan, I've learned over the past 4 or 5 years not to put too much stock in how the system evaluates the Cowboys. DVOA just doesn't seem to evaluate them correctly for whatever reason, perhaps because it predicts injury regression as it would for an average team, and the Cowboys seem to for whatever reason (training staff, player profiles, drafting philosophy, etc.) to be better than average at avoiding injury.

22 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Oh, I agree completely. To my knowledge, FO has projected the Cowboys to have a winning record exactly once: 2004, a year they ended up going 6-10. Every year, I just assume that they will pick the Eagles to be the best team in the NFCE (which they have, every single year) and the Cowboys to be either 3rd or 4th (which they have, for five straight years now).

But the point remains: the first three weeks of the Cowboys' season involve four teams that FO ranks differently, fairly radically so, than most other outlets.

143 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I wish I had the time to pull this, but now I am curious to see if there is any one division where the correlation between preseason DVOA and final record has been stronger, or weaker, than the norm over a period of x number of years.

10 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I also think it is interesting to not that what seperates spot 6 from spot 12, the bottom half of the playoff teams, if you will, if not for division and conference alignments, is a mere 3.5% in DVOA. That strikes me as pretty tight, but I haven't compared it with previous years.

12 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Washington was 4-12 last year, and there's a DVOA component that penalizes teams with starting QBs that played on different teams the prior year, and you project them for 9.4 wins?

Good luck with that.

26 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

FOA does a pretty good job explaining that Washington had about 7 expected wins last year (they were really unlucky in close games), and even though McNabb might get dinged for switching teams, he's still an upgrade on Campbell. It doesn't take much to change a team that should have won 7 games into a winning team.

15 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

chicago as #2 def quite perplexing: there are already injuries to LB's, secondary is slow in a division that is QB driven and the o-line is so porous that i can't see then sustaining drives and keeping D rested.
strange indeed.

17 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

The Chicago prediction almost has to be drastically mistaken. I think the offense should do well, and in Martz/Reid pass-wacky ways, make DVOA even happier than their teams' fans are. But that defense is old, the strong players are injury risks, and there are holes in the secondary that haven't been fixed.

SF's offense going down the toilet like that despite an investment in the offensive line and the youth movement at receiver seems a bit drastic too; I understand no statistical process is going to like Alex Smith, but the line could be average this year, and Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Crabtree are athletes.

But forget all that. What the hell is up with the Atlanta projection? Atlanta is projected for higher offensive DVOA than New England, New Orleans, and Green Bay? Higher than San Diego?!!?

I don't understand that, nor do I understand any part of the positive the Pittsburgh projection. Pittsburgh is a bottom feeder in that division. They will need luck to hold off the Browns.

39 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

You may be right, but if Peppers picks a pack of peak performances, their defense has a decent chance to be very good. I don't know if he will, but it ain't an entirely crazy notion.

40 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Urlacher is the only Bears defender over 30. A lot of the starters are 28-30, which could be a problem in a couple years, but for now they should be near their peak.

44 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

The 13 potential starters, by age:

32 Brian Urlacher MLB
30 Julius Peppers DE
30 Anthony Adams DT
29 Lance Briggs WLB
29 Charles Tillman CB
29 Pisa Tinoisamoa SLB
29 Israel Idonije DE
28 Chris Harris S
28 Danieal Manning S
27 Tommie Harris DT
27 Mark Anderson DE
25 Zackary Bowman CB
22 Major Wright S

54 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Calling Adams a starter isn't really accurate. The DT position is more like Tommie Harris and a bunch of guys.

And a similar situation for SLB and safety, where a younger player might get nearly as much playing time as the named starter.

Unfortunately all the best players are getting old (Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers).

100 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I understand Peppers is there, and I know Urlacher and the others are not -that- old. But they've all had injury issues, which means they are injury risks going forward, and Urlacher, in particular, does not appear to be the same player he was in 2006. Ditto Tommie Harris, who was the best defensive player in the NFL at one time, but now seems pedestrian.

Also, I think of 28-30 as "getting old", except for running backs who are already old by then.

Too bad, I'm 32.

110 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Urlacher doesn't have to be the player he was in 2006 for this defense to be good. He has to an above average linebacker who can make the right calls. Last year we had two options for MLB, Nick Roach who played OK, but was apparently clueless when making calls or Hillenmeyer who could make calls, but couldn't get off a block if his life depended on it or get back to stop deep-ins or post routes.

I also dispute the notion he is an injury risk. He has been hurt bad enough to miss a start twice in his career. In 2004 when he had a hamstring injury (I think? some leg problem like that) and didn't let it heal all the way before playing again, and last year he had a freak wrist dislocation.

Tommie Harris was nigh-on unblockable for about 12 games in 2006. Then he got hurt and has never been the same, but he's still an above average DT. You can just look at the defenses performance with an without him last year to see that (he didn't play in the Bengals or Cardinals games). He is definitely an injury risk though, I don't think he has been 100% healthy at any point since 2006.

163 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Where does this "the Bears D is old" thing I'm always hearing come from? The Bears D is just as old as any other D in the league. Urlacher had a fluky bone injury in his hand last year but prior to that the guy only missed 5 out of what 121 games? The perception the Bears D is old is just flat out untrue.

18 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Questions:

Pittsburgh has the second ranked offense even with Ben sitting out four weeks? And the 10th ranked special teams after last year's epic fail?

Atlanta has the 3rd ranked offense--does that surprise anyone besides me?

Just checking. Overall the rankings mostly make sense to me. Except the Dallas one, but you knew that.

30 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Atlanta did not surprise me at all--I would, without DVOA, expect that to be a great offense.

Pittsburgh being that high is a surprise for me, though.

19 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Did I hear that Josh Cribbs is no longer returning kicks or punts for Cleveland this season? Love to see how that impacts their special teams DVOA and overall DVOA.

33 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

No, Cribbs will still be returning kicks and punts he just won't be covering them (at least at the start of the year) as he has in the past.

20 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

New Orleans the 7th best Offense? HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Sorry I had to let that out.

29 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Precisely my point. Laughing at and dismissing the rankings for "only" putting the Saints @ #7 offense might be a bit foolish. Hide your homerism for a second and look at this objectively.

34 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I don't have homerism. The Saints have had the number 1 ranked offense 3 out of the past 4 years. To think they are just going to suddenly drop to #7 when they have the exact same personnel and coaching is ludicrous.

36 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

The Saints haven't been ranked as the #1 offense in DVOA three of the last four years, though.

2009: 2nd
2008: 4th
2007: 11th
2006: 8th

180 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Well, that's um, hey, pretty close, eh? There are two 1's in your list... of course they're part of an eleven, but that's besides the point.

195 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I think that the better question is why your model is predicting a double digit drop in offensive DVOA. Was Mike Bell that good a 3rd Running Back? Because he's the only player gone. I think that your model is poor if it's predicting that precipitous a drop based on very little change, particularly when many other teams have stayed closer to their values from 2009. The Saints have been at 4th and 2nd in Offensive DVOA with much of the same lineup, the drop is questionable, and I think my assessment will be validated by data from this year.

197 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

New Orleans's DVOA each year since Brees has arrived:

2006: 10.5%
2007: 7.9%
2008: 21.1%
2009: 27.8%

What makes you think this high level of play can be sustained?

199 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Potentially, the liberalization of holding rules a couple of years ago has allowed elite QB's to sustain success at a higher level than in the past (as long as they don't get hurt!). Remember the league-wide pass defense medians in DVOA jumped way up in '08 and '09...

202 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Even if that were the case, you can't expect a computer model to predict that. It only has past performance to go on. Looking through the last 5 years only one team has had an offense with 20%+ DVOA 3 year in a row, it was the Colts 05-07. They were only above 25% once. It's very unlikely, based on past evidence, for an offense to achieve that level of offensive production. I think the poster above said "barring injury," but that's silly. Injuries happen, and the model incorporates them. If Brees or Thomas goes down, this offense is hurting. If 2 receivers go down it's hurting. If a couple linemen go down it's hurting.

205 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

You asked of the poster, "What makes you think this high level of play can be sustained?" You didn't ask what a computer model would predict. Thinking allows us to adjust to potential paradigm shifts that occur after rules changes much faster than computer models can.

If there was a paradigm shift, then it doesn't matter what happened over the last 5 years...because the early part of that segment happened before the new reality set in.

What computer models might have guessed about high jumping before just before the Fosbury flop was invented/introduced didn't much matter once everyone adopted the superior approach (aided also by changes in the landing area that made landing softer). The world changed.

If the NFL rules changes that were adopted have successfully:

*Made passing easier for the elite QB's
*Made QB injuries less common
*Allowed those two factors to magnify in the best scoring conditions (domes, good weather, etc...)

Then, it's a new world. One could make the case that FO's own stats are showing this (the medians of DVOA pass defense have shot way up)...and that any methodology strongly influenced by regressions toward the mean may be in a bit of trouble (as FO's turned out to be last season).

And...Saints and Colts fans may be right in thinking their consistently strong offenses may not regress as long as Manning and Brees stay healthy enough to hit targets (the stats you showed from Saints offensive DVOA is consistent with the theory too obviously).

This factor is conceivably at the heart of what...50 different discussions people are having on this site about various things in the NFL. What unfolds in 2010 will help us see more of the picture...

206 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Fair enough. I could have phrased that response better. What I really meant was "what factors do you think a computer model would see that would lead to it predicting a repeat of that high level of performance?"

I just looked through a few more years, and one team has an offense that reaches above 25% 3 years in a row, it maybe surprising. It's the KC offense from 2002-2005.

Also, while the median offense is a lot better, the very best offense the past couple years has not been as good as those years. So if the holding effect exists, it is only making offense easier to play to a certain point.

208 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Because I think that the underlying average value is closer to 2008 and 2009. This isn't completely random. If it were, then Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady and other elite quarterbacks wouldn't stay in the top slots of all objective categories year after year (including DVOA). Regression can occur, but the mean that the Saints offense is regressing to is likely higher than that of other teams based on the performance of the past few years. We expect the Colts, Patriots, Ravens, and Packers to continue their offensive success from the last few years, but not the Cardinals. We have intuitive, but logical reasons for thinking that and the model seems to match well with those expectations. For the Saints it is a counter-intuitive prediction. The real problem here is that, objective or not, this is a legitimately surprising, counter-intuitive result and it's disingenuous to taunt someone who doesn't appreciate or understand statistics for being surprised at it.

210 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Look at the predictions again. Only one team is predicted to have an offense better than 22% DVOA. An offense around 20% DVOA is basically elite. They're predicting the Saints offense to be very good, just not historically good like it was last year. They're basically saying it will be as good as it was 2 years ago when it was very good.

211 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I think that you make a fair and accurate assessment. I just feel like I'm reading Peter King (who picked the Steelers to win the Superbowl this year) and despair at the whole endeavor of objective statistical analysis when Pittsburgh is modeled/predicted as an elite offense and Chicago as an elite Defense.

60 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Damnit, I went through this yesterday with you know-nothings! The only thing that matters is being like a kid out there! Sheesh!

50 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Ways points can be scored in a game that have nothing to do with how good an offense is:

Turnover returned for a TD
Kickoff returned for a TD
Punt returned for a TD
Turnover returned into field goal range
Kickoff returned into field goal range
Punt returned into field goal range

68 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Yeah, with 11--5 picks, 2 fumbles (iirc, one was recovered IN the end zone, and the other was returned like 5 yds), 1 KR vs. Rams, and the "Meachem stole the ball" play against the Skins. Then in the playoffs, Bush's PR vs. the Cards and Porter's pick to effectively end the SB.

71 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Yes, and they also led the league in red zone efficiency. I'm sure that one is irrelevant as well.

As I've said here before. Bow to the Champs and kiss the RING! TWO DAT!!

81 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Hey Drew--nice to have another Saints fan here.

BTW, they also led the NFL (iirc) in DVOA vs the pass in the red zone. That means a lot of red zone drives end in 3 points (or 0, or -7 when Sharper is in there) instead of TD's. That is one of the BIGGEST reasons the Saints won it all.

86 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

It's nice to be here. I'm looking forward to reaping the financial rewards of a Viking beat down tomorrow night. Take the Saints and lay the points guys. Anyone remember the 2006 Saints/Atlanta game? This one's going to look eerily similar.

89 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Look, there's nothing like an obnoxious fan to dissipate good will a team has built up. If you knew what you were talking about, you'd understand that excellent red zone performance in one year is not a good predictor of excellent red zone performance in the next year, for any team.

Who knows, maybe your favorite team will get thorughly whipped on the line of scrimmage, give up 500 yards at home, whiile gaining 240, in an overtime victory at home in the conference championship again, on their way to winning the Super Bowl. This will give you reason to act like you have accomplished something.

151 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Really more stupid than obnoxious, especially comimg from people who have not done anything which contributed to what they talk such smack about. I mean, the guys who will block the Vikings' defensive line tomorrow night have earned some room to be the fools. Of course, unlike internet dimwits, they aren't fools, so they don't.

128 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Ah, another stat freak that forgets to mention the stats that matter.

Vikings Turnovers:5
Saints: 1

Score
Vikings: 28
Saints: 31

You just keep on worrying about who beat who at the line of scrimmage and who had more yds.

147 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Uh, you were the one who mentioned yardage gained, with the 3:17 post.

Yes, yes, I know a titanic football intellect like yourself understands that play on the line of scrimmage is something that does not merit any heed, and has come to the stunningly insightful conclusion that if a team scores more points, they win. It is a wonder that the boys in Canton have yet to fit you for an ugly yellow blazer.

155 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

It's a wonder your ego hasn't collapsed in on itself and created a singularity. I take it your the snarky douche around these parts. I'm sure Canton has a spot reserved in the "Can't see the forest for the trees" wing for you.

156 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I take it your [sic] the snarky douche around these parts.

No, no...the only consistently snarky dudes we get are visitors angry about their team. They usually don't last long because the minute their teams start losing they chicken out.

160 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I'm as cool as a cucumber. I was attacked and so I retaliated. First off I'm not a visitor and if my team starts losing, I will be the first person on here to talk about why I think that is.

171 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I wasn't attacking you. To the contrary, I was agreeing with you that one had to be a "stats geek" (a very orginal, non-insulting term you chose to employ, in an excellent example of pronounced self awareness) to think that paying attention to the line of scrimmage was worthwhile, or to pay attention to anything other than points scored. Unless one wanted to pay attention to yards gained, except in those instances that one decided that paying attention to yards gained was not worthwhile. Or something. In any case, I thank you for the enlightenment you have chosen to shower upon me.

181 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Will, when you say "titanic" I am not sure what you're getting at. You either mean it ironically or straight-forward, and both are pretty amusing.

1) titanic = large, great, ponderous, massive.
2) titanic = pertaining to a dead race of ancient Greek gods (even a half-breed teenager can beat 'em)
3) titanic = symbolic of epic failure, and more subtly, epic hubris which leads to that failure. Big, costly ship sinks, kills 2/3 of those aboard.

Not much wiggle room there to squeeze a compliment in.

167 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Doesn't this tell you something important about NFL football? Stats mean absolutely nothing except as masturbation material for fantasy football fans. More than half the predictions on that list are way off base. You have the Bills defense better than the Jets? Jesus what a waste of my and everyone else's time this site is.

175 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

speak for yourself man, i think this is the best football analysis out there and most of us on here would agree.

the bills finished last year at #6 in weighted defense dvoa (-9.8%), they're now being projected to be -9.4% which turns out to be 3rd best. How is that a ridiculous projection?

the jets on the other hand had an unbelievable season on defense, it's not too far-fetched to think they'd slip just a teeny bit.

I don't know all the variables involved (injuries and such) but i think the projection at least makes sense.

92 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Drive Stats are an improvement on points per game and yards per game. Last year the Saints were 2nd in pts/drive and 4th in yds/drive, in 2008 they were 1st & 3rd, 2007 11th & 7th, and 2006 4th & 2nd. Top 4 in both categories in 3 of the past 4 years is impressive.

This year offenses 2-7 are all projected very close to each other (the gap between 2 & 7 is smaller than the gap between 7 & 8, or between 1 & 2), so I wouldn't worry about the Saints being 7th.

53 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

You appear to be new to this site. I suggest you go back and read the recent FO Basics articles which you can find on the front page, then come back here.

If you aren't going to read these, then I'll condense one point: total yards is an absolutely useless measure of team offense or defense.

63 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Someone asked me what category the Saints ranked first in. I told them. Being new to the site has nothing to do with anything, except that maybe I use my eyes a little bit more during games than some people do.

80 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Well this formula isn't trying to predict who will have the most points or yards, but which team will be the most efficient on a play-by-play basis. So, you're comparing apples to oranges.

Also, 7th isn't even that bad, what are you complaining about?

124 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

At this point of the season, nothing is "absurd". Well, a #1 overall pick flushing his career down the toilet for cough syrup is absurd. But as far as guessing how a given team will perform, there's no such thing as absurd.

The good news is that, unlike in college football, it'll all get sorted out on the field, and no one's opinion really matters.

191 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Dude, relax. You're embarrassing me.

If you want smack talk, this isn't the place. Try Fox Sports.

Nobody's taking the Lombardi trophy away, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for a Super Bowl champion to miss the playoffs the following year. I hope the projections are wrong, but I'm not offended by them, and neither should you.

112 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

you must be new to this site. I recommend you use the zLionsFan template to harness all of your analysis.

is clearly ranked because . is way better than this.

Here I will help you out:

The New Orleans Saints are clearly ranked too low because they score a lot of points and recently won the Super Bowl. Using my eyes when I watch football is way better than this. TWO DAT!

118 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

In reply to by Sweet Loretta (not verified)

I screwed up zLionsFan template. Here it is again

(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)

123 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Here, I'll help you out. As long as the Saints have Drew Brees at QB, the Saints will be in the top 5 of every single offensive category this year.

I know it's much easier for some of you to try and rip a real opinion than actually come up with one of your own and face criticism.

I don't really care about DVOA projections. The main reason I posted is because it appears FO has the Saints not even landing a wild card spot.

The only statistics I care about are Wins and Losses. Nothing else matters.

131 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

[Sigh] I'll bite...

1. If all you care about are wins and losses, and not DVOA projections, why are you visiting the site?

2. The projections have the Saints missing out on a wildcard by 0.1 wins. It's not like they're saying the Saints won't even be in contention.

3. The projections have the Saints as being 4.0% DVOA from being #2 overall, and 2.2% from being #5 overall.

------

The Saints have had a good-to-great offense for four years running. It's likely they'll have another very good offense. Looking at things like points scored last year, however, doesn't tell us much. This is because the Saints scored a disproportionate amount of return touchdowns. This is unlikely to be repeated and is in no way indicative of the quality of the offense.

The Saints had a great year last year. However, their defensive performance doesn't seem particularly sustainable, mostly due to return touchdowns. Therefore, it's likely they'll be a few games worse, and a few games worse could very well mean missing the playoffs.

140 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Saints points scored per game last season: 31.9
Saints point allowed per game last season: 21.3
Saints record 13-3

Those return touchdowns don't take place in a vacuum. The very nature of our offense forces teams to press, take chances, go for 7 instead of 3, in the hope of keeping up. Our defense preys on this. While I agree that it is highly unlikely that we force as many turnovers or score as many Defensive TD's this year, if you look at that point differential, we don't have to. We can still have a 13-3 record even if we have a smaller pt differential. When you say it is "likely they'll be a few games worse", that's called your opinion. I believe our defense will be just as attacking because our offense allows them to be.

141 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Turnovers don't happen in a vacuum, but the returns off the turnovers are basically random and the Saints were lucky to have so many reach the endzone.

153 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

So your basically saying none of those turnovers would have resulted in 7 pts had the defense not taken it to the house? We don't need to take as many turnovers to the endzone this year. Our offense is more than capable of turning a turnover into a touchdown. So we win the average game by 7 pts this year instead of 10. I care not.

154 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

They might have or they might not have. I'm pretty sure that not every single one would have become a TD. The point is, the Saints had some luck in returning turnovers, and that lead to points they scored. Not the offense. So using points per game as a metric to measure offensive production is flawed.

158 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Luck. I love it. People use that word a lot. More often here than I would have guessed. Yes, the Saints were lucky to win it all last year.

Keep thinking that.

178 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

absolutely, saints had so much luck last year it was unbelievable!
their defense will generate less turnovers in general plus the turnovers they do get won't be returned for scores. their offense will not score as many points per game and their defense will allow more points per game. they may get the wild card spot, but then again they may not.

Keep thinking that every other team but your own will come down from a high.

217 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

There's no such thing as luck. I hate to break this to you but their's no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy either. All there is at the end of things is what you do and what you don't do.
The Saints were neither fortunate nor cosmically blessed last year. They prepared harder, worked as a cohesive unit more, and were the best team in football because they were the best 53 player unit.
Will the Saints get as many turnovers this year? Doubtful. Will they return as many TD's on Defense? Doubtful. Will there offense be as good as it was last year? Probable. Will their special teams play be better this year? According to this website, Probable. Do they still have the best QB in the league and their entire team and coaching staff back from last year as well as the best homefield advantage in the league. Absolutely.
Will they win their Division. Yes. Will they repeat as Superbowl Champion? I believe they will. But it sure as hell with have nothing to do with luck or being fortunate. Come talk to me in February if your not hiding in a hole somewhere.

239 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

"There's no such thing as luck."

HAHAHAHAA! That is a great joke.

Have you ever even watched what a football does when it bounces off the ground? When it takes a funny bounce and lands right into team A's hands instead of team B's hands, thats a great bit of skill there by team A to make it bounce like that!

Oh great myopic one, please bring us more insight.

218 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Let me ask you all a question. Has any team in NFL history ever repeated as champion before?
Well according to your statistical model, it says that should never happen. A team should always come back toward the mean or back down "from their high".
Then how does a team ever repeat if it's such a statistical anomaly? It's called strength of character. The will to push yourself even when you are already at the pinnacle. It's a characteristic that the Saints have in spades. They may not repeat, but if they do it will have very little to do with statistics and everything to do with heart.

227 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

"Then how does a team ever repeat if it's such a statistical anomaly? It's called strength of character"

No, actually it is called "luck". The luck to avoid injuries to key players, the luck to recover fumbles at critical times, the luck to avoid playing teams that match up well against you in the playoffs, and so on...

228 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Or it's a team so dominant that even when they have a bit of a down year, they're still good enough to win. Steelers in the 70s, Cowboys in the 90s, etc.

229 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

That's oversimplification, but of course so is what DrewBrees4MVP said. In reality, it's a combination of luck, character, talent, retention of key components (players, coaches, backroom staff), schedule, and a whole bunch of other things.

Not just luck, and definitely not just swagger.

135 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

They have them missing the playoffs, but it's really close. Look at the difference between the Bears and the Saints. It's a difference of .2 wins. That's basically close enough to say, these teams are too close to call, but the numbers say this one will be slightly better so that's our prediction.

96 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

The difference between the number two team (Pit at 21.9%) and number seven (NO at 18.0%) is smaller than the difference between number seven and number eight (Min at 12.3%).

111 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Based on your comment, I believe you are somewhere you shouldn't be.

Canal Street Chronicles is ----THAT WAY--->

133 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I'm exactly where I should be. A fan of the best team in football. About to watch my team raise a banner and then kick the crap out of the Vikings tomorrow night. Life is good.

142 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I didn't know I needed your permission BucNasty. My interest is in the truth. Ball don't lie.

And just so you know, every writer on FO has at some point contributed to content on ESPN.com. So I guess the creators of this site and my interests are quite in line with each other.

Do you even have a team that you follow? Let's hear you say something intelligent about your team.

169 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I think he was speaking about your comments being more in line with the comments seen (for example) on ESPN's website. If you read through a typical comments section on FO, you'll find that they tend not to be of the "Ohh-- my team's gonna wihp yours! WE DA CHAMPS!!!1 YOU ALL SUXXX!!1111" variety.

225 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Banning smack talk does not turn football into math. Smack talk is not football. Smack talk is linguistic masturbation by insecure juveniles with nothing worthwhile to contribute.

226 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

No one is banning "smack talk" here. The previous poster simply observed that the style of your posts was more in line with other football websites. Read through some other threads (or note the comments not related to you on this thread) and you'll see very little of the obnoxious, in-your-face "smack talk" seen elsewhere on the web.

173 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Come now, the stat isn't that stupid. Being the reigning Super Bowl champ implies that the team is considerably better than most NFL teams.

That's what the 2010 Saints have in common with the 1976 Raiders. Their relative position with respect to their peer group.

I have to say, though, as a Pats fan I'm glad to see Drew here. A few more weeks of this and we may never again hear about how obnoxious Patriots fans are.

176 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I'm just saying, this is a place for intelligent football analysis. If you want to talk about how wonderful the Saints are going to be, and how parity somehow won't affect them this year, and how one time you saw Tracy Porter's face on your grilled cheese sandwich, you might want to go to SB Nation or something.

221 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Parity is a myth. There's a reason a team like the Colts, Steelers, Pats are contenders year in and year out and the Lions, Rams, & Browns are not.

For someone looking for "intelligent football analysis" you should probably do some homework. If you don't think elite QB play, the pocket book of the owner, skill of the front office and scouting department, strength of schedule, and how teams were assembled this year given the new free agency rules play no part in why the Saints will be ELITE this year, then I don't know what to tell you.

Here's the fun part. You only have 8 1/2 hours to wait to see if I am right. If the Saints beat the Vikings handily tonight, as I think they will, then let's see if you show up Treima6. If the Saints lose tonight, I will dutifully be back here to take my lashing.

238 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

That is a nice big hole you left there between "Saints beat the Vikings handily" and "Saints lose." The weasel room you left yourself notwithstanding, NO did not cover last night.

The game last night looked very much like what DVOA projected, except MIN was rated too high. Not enough negative weight for the loss of Sidney Rice and the decline of Brett Favre, and Pat and Kevin Williams. Of course, there are still 15 games to go.

252 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Through two weeks, your New Orleans Saints are averaging a very mortal 19.5 points per game.

Still fired up about their projection?

21 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Did the Jets drop below Miami because they cut David Clowney?

23 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

So Football Outsider numbers like the NFC East much more than the AFC South this year?

I have a hard time thinking that the 2010 Texans offense is going to be worse than the 2006 Texans offense that was comprised of David Carr, Ron Dayne as your leading rusher, ancient Eric Moulds as your #2 WR, chewing gum, duct tape and Gary Kubiak starring as MacGyver. 24th for offense is quite the drop off from the previous three Schaub years, either with full time Schaub or Schaub that missed games.

107 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I'm curious as to what exactly informs that drop-off in wins. Is it all losing Ben Tate? Offensive line continuity? NFC East getting better?

144 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I'm really wondering this as well. I can imagine a defense that has a dropoff from last season, but I don't see how they end up 24th on offense even if Schaub misses the whole season.

214 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Thirded. Could the offense decline a bit? Sure - even quite significantly if Schaub misses a lot of time. Could the defense take a step backwards? Sure, though I actually don't think it will. But I have a really hard time seeing -2.7% offensive DVOA, even if Schaub tears his ACL in the first quarter on Sunday. I'd really be intrigued to know what the specific factors behind that projection are, because I don't understand it at all (whereas I do fully understand what the system doesn't like about the defense, even though I expect it to be proved wrong).

PS. To be fair, Steph, the projection is still for a better offense than 2006 in the sense of higher DVOA (-2.7% vs. -5.5%) - just a lower ranking (24th vs. 21st).

222 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Is the difference in DVOA projections somewhat due to strength of schedule differences between this year and 2006?

Further, while I agree with the logic mentioned higher in the thread about the rule changes of the last two years really favoring QB play, so we shouldn't expect the Brady, Peyton, and Brees of the world to regress that much, I'm not sure Schaub is in their class. He's struck me as a bit fragile, I'm not at all sold on Foster extending drives, the OL is a bit worrisome in the power running game, and I consequently don't know whether 4700 passing yds is a reasonable target for Schaub to hit again. OTOH, getting Daniels back, and Jones finally deciding to work like an NFL WR should, should really help matters for Schaub.

How accurate have DVOA/DAVE predictions been looking backwards? How well have they correlated to wins? I did not find the free DAVE information last year useful, but I don't have any information as to how accurate/inaccurate it was.

25 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

As we say every year: "A few of them will look strange to you. A few of them look strange to us."

I may post this sentence every 25 comments or so to make sure nobody misses it.

35 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Which few look strange to you? Hopefully it's the Saints at #7 on offense. If they don't score 30 pts a game again this year, (barring a Drew Brees injury) I'll eat my shorts.

52 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Haha! Yeah, I'm a real homer for pointing out that the Saints have the most feared offense in the NFL. I don't know who your team is, but I bet if your playing the Saints on Sunday, your just praying you can stay close.

Yes, my beer advice is Chimay Blue. It's the nectar of the Gods.

67 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Congratulations. My wife's a Saints fan and you've just managed to make me actively root against a team I've been rooting for since I married her.

The most feared offense in the NFL is the Colts. No question whatsoever.

76 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

That Colts last ranked running game strikes fear in the hearts of men. LOL!

Your wife appears to know more about football than you do. She has excellent taste in teams by the way.

My wife is a Charger fan. I'm not about to actively root against them while she's in the room.

77 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Well--I think both lead their respective conferences. However, IMO, the Colts are more one-dimensional--it's a great dimension, though. The Saints have a passing attack that's just as difficult to stop because of it's variety--however, their running game is MUCH better than the Colts.
Considering that in the last real NFL game played, the "most feared" offense in the AFC could only manage a TD against what most feel is a below-average defense (who, BTW, MATCHED that TD with one of their own), I can only say that you have been overtaken for now.

94 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

I haven't been overtaken at all. Firstly, I'm not a Colts fan. Secondly, and far more pertinently, I'm not involved in the NFL at all so even if I was a Colts fan and they had been overtaken (which I dispute) it would be nothing to do with me personally.

It's a shame people feel the need to make things like this personal; it seriously detracts from otherwise valid commentary.

95 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

No one's taking anything personally "Big-Hairy-Andy". You made an absurd statement and got called out on it. It's fine. It happens.

If you can't come back with some kind of retort about how your most feared offense in the league was shut down in the Superbowl by a mediocre defense then why should anyone care about your opinion?

106 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

Yes, very logical. Performance in a meaning less week 16 game vs. performance in the biggest game of the season. Paint chips are for the wall not for eating.

119 Re: 2010 DVOA Projections

You were still fighting for home field advantage. You also posted the same score against Dallas the week before while still shooting for perfection.

And I don't think you're supposed to put paint chips on your wall.