DVOA Analysis
Football Outsiders' revolutionary metrics that break down every single play of the NFL season

Week 12 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Perhaps I should stop saying nice things about teams in the DVOA commentary. I declared Kansas City a team that we had to take seriously as a Super Bowl contender, after which the Chiefs divebombed straight into mediocrity. I congratulated the Giants on reaching the top of DVOA after Week 9, and they got upset by the Cowboys in Week 10. Last week, I declared that the Eagles and Steelers had finally established some separation between themselves and the rest of the pack; the Eagles took a face-plant against Chicago while the Steelers barely got past Buffalo in overtime.

While the Eagles tumble into third place after their Chicago loss, the Steelers take over the top spot with only a slight decline in DVOA. Even though the Steelers needed overtime to beat a 2-8 team, DVOA -- even after opponent adjustments -- sees Pittsburgh as the superior team over the course of the entire game. The Steelers did a better job of maintaining long, sustained drives, and only recovered one of the game's four fumbles. However, I know Steelers fans like to look for reasons for pessimism, so here's one: Take out the blowout win over Oakland, and the Steelers were actually better during the four games without Ben Roethlisberger than they have been since his return. Their average DVOA in the first four games was 32.7%. Their average DVOA in the last seven games is only slightly higher, 33.4%, even though that string of games includes the biggest single-game DVOA of the season in the Oakland blowout.

Now let us turn to the team ranked second overall, the New England Patriots. Not learning my lesson from the first paragraph above, I will now damn my personal favorite team by saying nice things about them. This week, the Patriots move ahead of the 2004 Colts as the second-best offense in DVOA history through Week 12. More astonishing is the fact that New England's current DVOA of 45.2% matches the 45.2% offensive DVOA that the record-setting 2007 Patriots put up over the entire season. Remember, the 2007 Patriots faded from otherworldly to merely very good over the second half of the season. If the current Patriots don't have a similar fade, they have a shot to rank as the greatest offense in DVOA history, despite trading a Hall of Fame receiver in midseason.

Tom Brady is now almost 300 DYAR -- and 15 percentage points of DVOA -- ahead of any other quarterback. Once again, as in 2009, Brady is playing even better than his standard stats would otherwise indicate because he's put up big numbers against a tough slate of defenses. The issue is not as much that the Patriots have played the best defenses in the league -- they've only played four games against top 10 defenses -- and more that their schedule is missing games where Brady could roll up big stats on bad defenses. Only one of the Patriots' 2010 opponents, Buffalo, ranks among the worst dozen pass defenses according to DVOA. And it is about to get worse -- the Pats' final five games include interconference matchups with the number two (Green Bay) and number four (Chicago) pass defenses in the league, plus this week's rematch with a Jets defense that a lot of people (including me) think is probably better than its current DVOA ranking of 15th.

Now some readers might be asking themselves, "Wait a minute... Didn't Football Outsiders write an Any Given Sunday column after the Patriots lost to the Browns, showing that the Patriots offense had struggled since the Randy Moss trade because it couldn't get the ball to Wes Welker or the tight ends?" Why yes, we did write that column -- and, in fact, Tom Brady was having trouble getting the ball to Welker and the tight ends for month after the Moss trade. But those struggles completely ended after the Browns loss, and the entire Patriots offense has been en fuego for the last three weeks. Welker is back to putting up a performance similar to the rest of his Patriots career. The tight ends have actually played better in the past three games than they did in the first four games. And since Week 10, Brandon Tate and Deion Branch have played far better than Tate and Randy Moss played back in September.

New England Patriots Receiving Stats, 2010
All Tight Ends Wes Welker All Other WR (includes Moss)
DVOA DYAR/G Catch Rate DVOA DYAR/G Catch Rate DVOA DYAR/G Catch Rate
Weeks 1-4 44.4% 25.3 86% 13.4% 18.0 76% -5.6% 5.3 57%
Weeks 6-9 -2.2% 3.8 58% -17.2% -2.5 64% -2.1% 9.3 48%
Weeks 10-12 99.9% 41.3 88% 17.0% 23.3 70% 18.9% 26.3 63%

There are three good explanations for these numbers:

1) The Patriots needed a couple of weeks to get used to how the offense would work without Moss, and the Browns loss helped them straighten out what worked and didn't work.

2) The struggles throwing to Welker and the tight ends in the first four games without Moss were a small sample size fluke.

3) The great numbers that the offense has over the last three weeks are a small sample fluke, not the mediocre numbers in Weeks 6-9.

As long as the actual explanation is either number one or number two, the Patriots have to be considered favorites against the Jets on Monday night -- and a win there would virtually ensure the top seed, giving them an excellent chance to make their fifth Super Bowl in ten years.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 12 weeks of 2010, 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. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. 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 PIT 33.4% 2 33.4% 1 8-3 13.5% 10 -16.7% 1 3.2% 8
2 NE 30.6% 3 30.5% 2 9-2 45.2% 1 17.0% 27 2.4% 11
3 PHI 27.3% 1 27.9% 3 7-4 28.0% 3 -0.2% 11 -0.9% 22
4 GB 22.4% 4 21.9% 5 7-4 15.7% 6 -10.1% 4 -3.5% 27
5 NYG 20.6% 6 21.7% 6 7-4 12.2% 13 -12.9% 3 -4.5% 29
6 SD 20.5% 8 22.2% 4 6-5 19.1% 4 -13.8% 2 -12.4% 32
7 BAL 19.7% 7 21.0% 7 8-3 12.2% 12 -4.1% 8 3.3% 6
8 NYJ 19.0% 10 16.8% 8 9-2 7.2% 16 -6.8% 7 4.9% 4
9 ATL 15.8% 9 15.4% 9 9-2 16.9% 5 3.5% 18 2.4% 10
10 TEN 13.6% 5 12.7% 11 5-6 -2.6% 22 -9.9% 5 6.3% 2
11 NO 11.6% 14 12.7% 10 8-3 11.6% 14 -1.5% 9 -1.5% 24
12 MIA 10.7% 12 12.2% 12 6-5 12.7% 11 1.3% 13 -0.7% 21
13 KC 8.4% 15 5.2% 16 7-4 15.6% 7 4.5% 20 -2.6% 26
14 IND 7.4% 11 6.7% 14 6-5 14.9% 9 2.6% 16 -5.0% 30
15 CLE 6.7% 13 8.3% 13 4-7 3.5% 18 0.0% 12 3.2% 7
16 HOU 4.4% 17 5.8% 15 5-6 29.0% 2 24.2% 32 -0.4% 20
17 TB 0.4% 16 0.9% 17 7-4 7.6% 15 7.1% 21 -0.2% 19
18 CHI -2.5% 19 -0.2% 18 8-3 -18.1% 30 -9.6% 6 6.0% 3
19 SF -6.8% 21 -4.0% 19 4-7 -7.1% 26 -0.5% 10 -0.1% 18
20 CIN -11.3% 18 -13.4% 25 2-9 -2.3% 21 3.6% 19 -5.4% 31
21 JAC -11.5% 22 -10.9% 21 6-5 5.0% 17 21.3% 30 4.8% 5
22 DEN -11.7% 24 -9.7% 20 3-8 15.2% 8 23.4% 31 -3.6% 28
23 MIN -11.8% 26 -11.9% 23 4-7 -6.5% 25 3.3% 17 -2.0% 25
24 DET -12.4% 20 -12.5% 24 2-9 -6.3% 24 7.3% 22 1.2% 14
25 BUF -13.3% 29 -11.3% 22 2-9 1.3% 19 16.9% 26 2.3% 13
26 WAS -14.3% 23 -14.6% 27 5-6 -3.6% 23 10.9% 24 0.2% 16
27 OAK -17.2% 27 -13.5% 26 5-6 -14.9% 29 2.3% 15 0.1% 17
28 DAL -17.5% 25 -19.9% 29 3-8 -1.0% 20 18.8% 29 2.4% 12
29 STL -19.8% 28 -19.0% 28 5-6 -9.3% 27 9.4% 23 -1.2% 23
30 SEA -26.1% 30 -30.2% 30 5-6 -14.2% 28 18.8% 28 6.9% 1
31 CAR -39.1% 32 -39.6% 32 1-10 -37.9% 32 1.9% 14 0.7% 15
32 ARI -39.5% 31 -38.9% 31 3-8 -28.9% 31 13.4% 25 2.9% 9
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • 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 PIT 33.4% 8-3 30.7% 8.0 3 6.1% 7 -1.0% 20 14.0% 16
2 NE 30.6% 9-2 23.4% 8.4 1 6.2% 5 7.3% 8 12.9% 14
3 PHI 27.3% 7-4 29.1% 8.2 2 1.6% 19 -4.3% 24 12.4% 13
4 GB 22.4% 7-4 24.6% 7.5 6 -1.0% 21 5.9% 10 14.4% 17
5 NYG 20.6% 7-4 23.6% 7.9 4 -6.7% 27 1.9% 16 27.2% 29
6 SD 20.5% 6-5 24.5% 7.3 7 -5.6% 25 -7.7% 27 17.8% 21
7 BAL 19.7% 8-3 13.9% 7.7 5 3.7% 11 9.0% 5 5.2% 1
8 NYJ 19.0% 9-2 24.3% 7.1 10 3.1% 16 11.8% 2 8.2% 5
9 ATL 15.8% 9-2 12.9% 7.2 8 4.0% 10 -18.5% 31 5.8% 2
10 TEN 13.6% 5-6 8.8% 6.5 12 4.1% 9 3.2% 13 24.4% 24
11 NO 11.6% 8-3 16.1% 6.7 11 -11.2% 31 1.0% 18 8.6% 6
12 MIA 10.7% 6-5 10.3% 7.2 9 7.5% 3 6.1% 9 14.6% 19
13 KC 8.4% 7-4 17.2% 6.2 13 -7.9% 29 -2.9% 22 24.6% 25
14 IND 7.4% 6-5 5.1% 6.2 14 6.1% 6 -3.8% 23 9.7% 7
15 CLE 6.7% 4-7 4.6% 6.1 15 7.0% 4 7.8% 6 13.0% 15
16 HOU 4.4% 5-6 3.1% 5.6 17 3.3% 15 7.5% 7 26.6% 27
17 TB 0.4% 7-4 5.2% 5.9 16 -6.2% 26 -5.1% 26 14.4% 18
18 CHI -2.5% 8-3 1.5% 4.9 19 -4.9% 24 9.5% 4 27.0% 28
19 SF -6.8% 4-7 -2.9% 5.2 18 -8.2% 30 -8.5% 28 27.8% 30
20 CIN -11.3% 2-9 -16.0% 4.0 28 8.3% 2 18.4% 1 10.5% 9
21 JAC -11.5% 6-5 -16.6% 4.6 21 6.0% 8 -1.2% 21 17.9% 22
22 DEN -11.7% 3-8 -12.3% 4.4 22 0.7% 20 -4.6% 25 23.5% 23
23 MIN -11.8% 4-7 -14.7% 4.8 20 2.8% 18 3.9% 11 9.7% 8
24 DET -12.4% 2-9 -11.8% 4.2 25 3.7% 12 3.8% 12 6.7% 3
25 BUF -13.3% 2-9 -16.0% 4.3 23 9.7% 1 11.0% 3 6.7% 4
26 WAS -14.3% 5-6 -14.1% 4.2 24 3.5% 14 2.5% 15 10.7% 10
27 OAK -17.2% 5-6 -9.6% 3.7 30 -1.2% 22 2.6% 14 40.0% 32
28 DAL -17.5% 3-8 -18.7% 4.0 27 3.7% 13 1.6% 17 26.4% 26
29 STL -19.8% 5-6 -10.0% 4.0 26 -11.8% 32 -10.5% 30 12.3% 12
30 SEA -26.1% 5-6 -22.8% 3.8 29 -6.9% 28 -9.9% 29 32.0% 31
31 CAR -39.1% 1-10 -40.8% 2.3 32 2.8% 17 -0.1% 19 10.7% 11
32 ARI -39.5% 3-8 -34.7% 2.6 31 -4.6% 23 -19.0% 32 16.6% 20

Worst Playoff Team Ever Watch

According to the FO Playoff Odds simulation:

  • Chance the NFC West champion will be 8-8 or worse: 83.3 percent
  • Chance the NFC West champion will be 7-9 or worse: 33.0 percent
  • Chance the NFC West champion will be 6-10 or worse: 0.9 percent

Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch

2007 NE 51.8% x 2005 SF -44.0% x 2004 STL 30.5% x 2010 SD -12.4%
2010 NE 45.2% x 1997 NO -41.9% x 2008 DET 27.7% x 1995 PHI -10.3%
2004 IND 42.6% x 2002 HOU -38.9% x 2005 HOU 27.2% x 1997 STL -10.0%
2002 KC 41.2% x 2004 CHI -38.7% x 2008 STL 27.2% x 2008 MIN -10.0%
1995 DAL 37.2% x 2004 MIA -37.9% x 2002 KC 25.7% x 1997 PHI -9.6%
1998 DEN 37.0% x 2010 CAR -37.9% x 2004 SF 24.7% x 1996 NYJ -8.6%
1993 SF 35.1% x 1998 PHI -36.3% x 2010 HOU 24.2% x 2008 MIA -8.5%
2005 SD 32.9% x 1993 TB -35.1% x 2010 DEN 23.4% x 2007 CAR -8.4%
2004 KC 32.4% x 1996 STL -34.8% x 2004 NO 23.3% x 2009 GB -8.3%
2004 PHI 31.6% x 2006 OAK -33.8% x 2000 STL 22.7% x 2004 STL -8.1%

Three notes for those curious about these tables:

1) Twitter reader @SeanBlanda asked about where the 1998 Vikings stand on the list of the best offensive DVOAs of all-time. Yes, I'll admit it is quite a surprise to see that Vikings team, with the second-most points in NFL history, missing from the top ten list above. An even bigger surprise is that 1998 Vikings don't even make the top 30. They rank only third in 1998 itself, behind Denver and San Francisco. I actually covered these issues back in 2005 when I first wrote up commentary on the 1998 ratings. The ratings have changed since then (with the big DVOA upgrade before the 2009 season) but the basic ideas remain the same. The Vikings played an easier-than-average schedule, and there's a reasonable argument to be made that DVOA, which generally likes teams that consistently move the chains, does not properly give the 1998 Vikings credit for their consistent ability to connect on deep pass plays over 25 yards.

2) The Rusty Venture Experience pulls the Texans out of last place in the all-time defensive ratings. This will surely bring on questions about why we don't account for injuries in our opponent adjustments; the Texans' performance is adjusted based on Tennessee's whole season, not who was quarterback this week. The answer to these questions is: "We expect you to use common sense." There really isn't any good system for deciding when an injury should or should not impact the rating. What's important is for us to look at all stats in context and understand why a rating may or may not be completely accurate. That's one of the reasons why we write all these words on Football Outsiders, rather than just running table after table of numbers. In the case of the Texans' defensive DVOA, I don't think we have to change the number for people to understand that it was a little better than it really should have been this week.

3) Longtime FO followers might be wondering why the "worst special teams after Week 12" table is missing the team that actually holds the record for the worst special teams in DVOA history, the 2000 Bills. The Bills actually managed to put up a few weeks of average special teams after a terrible start, so by Week 12 their rating was no longer below -8.0%. However, the special teams completely crashed in the final month, with two of the worst special teams games ever in Weeks 16 and 17. (Our weather adjustments may not do enough to adjust for the 40 mile per hour winds in Buffalo in Week 16, but there's no excuse for the Week 17 game played on a rainy but windless afternoon in Seattle.) The Bills didn't get below the current Chargers rating until after the final game of the season. However, this is the first week of 2010 where the Chargers' special teams DVOA has been higher than Buffalo's final 2000 rating of -12.9%.

4) Someone in last week's discussion thread pointed out that the same franchises seem to appear multiple times on the "worst defensive DVOA ever" list, but the lists of best and worst offensive DVOA seem to have mostly different franchises. Doesn't this contradict our general precept that offense is more consistent than defense from season to season? I don't think so. It might suggest that really awful defenses are more consistent than defenses that are good, average, or just a bit below average. However, you'll notice that while the same franchises repeat on the list, they don't generally repeat in consecutive years. Two examples: St. Louis ranks in the bottom 10 in three different seasons, but each of those seasons is separated by four years. Denver was among the worst 25 defenses in history in both 2008 and 2010, but had an above-average defense in 2009.


164 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2012, 3:36am

2 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Hmm. GB and SD stand out for being in the top ten (and relatively equal) on both sides of the ball. Interesting.

Oh, and "first"!

22 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

And both GB and SD are at the bottom of the heap with special teams. In past years SD's special teams has been at the top of the league. I give them more hope for fixing their special teams mess. If they do, they will be the team no one wants to play in the playoffs, once again. So we will see if, once again they choke, or if they go deep.

98 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

It may be true that going into the playoffs noone thinks they want to play SD. But as the years of disappointing playoffs collapses/upsets/results pile up around Norv, the reality is quite different.

130 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

You mean loosing AFC championship game and losing at the divisional round after one win and loosing at the divisional round after a bye in the wildcard round are collapses/upsets. And of course Keading with his 86.6% career field goal kicking rate not making on all 3 field goal attempts agains Jets on game that ended 17-14 shows how terrible Norv is.

He makes playoffs in all 3 years with Chargers, takes them to AFC championship game and divisional rounds twice, has 50% winning percentage on playoffs. That is not disappointing.

It seems like poeple loose perspective when the topic is Norv Turner.

1 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Noting with pleasure that, yet again, the Patriots' D is ranked 27th, where it belongs.

3 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Whats interesting about that, is in week 8, when the Pats were #27, they were at +11.4%. Now they'er at +17%, so DVOA thinks the defense is getting signficantly worse, when my eyes are telling me the opposite.

They've got from getting gashed to getting gashed and forcing turnovers.

6 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

It seems like their pass D is getting better while their run D is getting worse according to DVOA so that might be part of it. Frankly, I think they are pretty good at stopping the run but it doesn't show up in their stats since they have spent much of the third/fourth quarter in a sub defense.

12 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Thats probably a good thing then. If the offense can continue to score tons of points, the run defense probably doesn't mean all that much.

4 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Tom Brady is totally on another level this season. The Patriots offense has a solid group of running backs and receivers, but not a group which is particularly impressive. Brady makes all the difference. He's been crticized a lot this season in New England and I really don't understand. He's taken a seemingly unimpressive group of offensive skill players and made them the best offense in the league. Patriots fans are so used to top notch QB play that they don't realize Brady's not as good games are far better than what most teams get from their QBs.

7 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

I don't think he's received that much criticism at all, especially since the Moss trade. At the most people just say that he should get a haircut.

As for his play, this is nothing new. He's been the top QB in the league according to DVOA since 2007. The fact that he is doing it with a bunch of nobodies (other than maybe a recovering Welker) is making it more impressive this year. I believe Welker was quoted last Thursday that it was the first game where his knee actually felt back to normal. No surprise that that was a big game for him.

I also can't believe how effective Woodhead has been both running and receiving for them. As Rex Ryan said, he is a perfect fit for their offense.

9 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

"The Patriots offense has a solid group of running backs and receivers, but not a group which is particularly impressive"

I'm going to strongly disagree with this.

The tight ends are already (even though they're rookies) the best group of tight ends Brady has ever played with. They're really good.

Welker is good. Branch is getting open all the time. And Woodhead is drastically better than Faulk was in space. He's not nearly the blocker that Faulk is, but hes much faster, and much more likely to rip off big chunks of yards.

Randy Moss is gone, but I'd argue that the rest of the "skill positions" are better than they were in 07.

14 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

You are underestimating Grahmbo and Furia. Those two were both excellent TE that could both block well and get open. Gronk and Hernandez might have higher ceilings but at the moment they are still rookies and I am sure make plenty of mistakes.

And you are significantly underrating Faulk. The guy has routinely been one of the better 3rd down backs in the league for the past 8 years. Woodhead is doing an admirable job of replacing him but he still has a ways to go before being on the same level as Faulk.

23 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Graham and Fauria were both excellent? Take off your fanboy glasses. They had to stop passing to Graham because he couldn't hold on to the ball - and eventually kicked him to the curb - and Fauria was adequate, but not starting quality. Both had there moments, but neither was excellent.

31 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

That's ridiculous. Graham was a devastating blocker and was a reliable pass catcher. There was a short stretch where he was dropping passes, but that was hardly the story of his career with NE. As for NE kicking him to the curb, that is a pure fabrication. Graham received a huge contract from Denver that NE would not match. They would have definitely taken him back for the right price.

I'm not try to claim that these guys were like Tony G, Gates, Witten, Clark class. But Graham and Fauria were very effective in that Patriots offense. Gronk and Hernandez will probably surpass them soon but at this point they are rookies and expectations should be tempered.

54 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by RichC (not verified)

'Randy Moss is gone, but I'd argue that the rest of the "skill positions" are better than they were in 07'

The best deep receiver in football, along with its best slot man, and BRADY (now, with receivers!) with Stallworth, Gaffney, along with a very effective Maroney and Faulk, is somehow junior to Gronk*, GE\head and hope Branch isn't limping?

No, you're wrong. I respect that this offense churns out yards like it has no right to, but there is no comparison between the '07 and '10 Pats except the former could defend. And Brady.

55 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Dingle-Doodah (not verified)

Branch is better than Gaffney or Stallworth.

Gronk,Hernandez, and Crumpler are better than Watson and Kyle Brady.

Woodhead is a significantly better runner (although not the blocker) than Faulk.

So, yes, I stand by what I said, Aside from Moss, the Patriots have better "skill" positions than they did in 07

66 Comparison

Can you really take out one player and say the rest are equal? You're changing the whole match up?

1. Moss 07>Branch10
2. Welker07>Welker10 (coming back from injury)
3. Gaffney07>Tate10, and Hobbs was just as good at KR
4. Stallworth>>Price?, not comparable to Edelmann.

1. Watson=Hernandez, though H has more potential and flexibility
2. K Brady < Gronk, but Brady didn't have the fumble when fighting tackles issue.
3. Crumpler is an awesome blocker.

1. BJGE>Maroney. Maroney just never hit the hole, except for the end of 07
2. Faulk=Woodhead. Woodhead is like MJD with lower body strength and balance, but Faulk is shiftier; they are both small backs who defenses can't contain that come out of the backfield and catch the ball.

I'd say Tight ends are a wash, with Watson not utilized to his potential, and that the 07 Offense was built for vertical as well as intermediate passes, while the offense this year is built so much on balance and deception. Moss never runs the routes Branch does today because against double coverage those routes are suicide. Seriously, cutting a post square in against inside trail coverage with safety over the top is throwing it straight at the CB in coverage (Branch staple off PA). Similarly, an out and up (Branch 2nd TD vs Detroit) is something they weren't doing with moss as safety's were always directly over him. Also, zone defenders stick to Moss, they don't leave him till he's handed off with the smallest of windows.

If you take Moss out, sure you can compare the offenses, but you can't compare them without Moss because Moss was a part of that offense. 1st WR then vs 1st WR now, not 3rd WR then vs 1st WR now, cuz yeah, Branch is in tune with Brady, much more so than Stallworth ever was, who started as the 3rd WR, but became 4th as Gaffney moved up the Depth Chart.

Fyi, Gaffney was a first rounder, tate and price are still works in progress.

74 Re: Comparison

In reply to by Rich Arpin (not verified)

Can you people not read? Seriously?

Go back and read what I posted, and stop cutting down straw men.

94 Re: Comparison

So basically your argument is that, minus the guy that caught 100 balls and 23 tds, the skill position guys this year are better than 07? Thats kind of absurd logic. Welker, while still a pro bowler, is on pace for 20 fewer catches. And as far as the other guys go, most of them are interchangeable, with the exception of the invaluable Faulk out of the backfield.

With the exception of the Dillon years, the Pats have been a pass to set up the run team with a great O-Line. If BJE/DW are better, it is a minimal difference.

And taking Moss out of the equation, i would probably rather have a 27 year old stallworth than a 31 year old Branch.

The difference hasnt been in the skill positions, it has been in Brady. He appears to be back at his hall of fame level despite rookies and castoffs throughout the offense.

123 Re: Comparison

In reply to by Jetspete

"So basically your argument is that, minus the guy that caught 100 balls and 23 tds, the skill position guys this year are better than 07?"

Thats exactly what I said, isn't it? And it wasn't an argument, it was a statement.

142 Re: Comparison

Really? It's all Brady? The lack of QB hits and sacks is *all* Brady as well?

I know you didn't say it's *all* Brady, and I'm sure it's a lot Brady, but I'm definitely skeptical that the only difference is Brady. There's a reason why offensive linemen (and people who scout them) get paid, too.

60 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

There is another way to look at this. A way that I would not have even considered until lately.

Randy Moss was out of this world with Minnesota, but not so much in Oakland, and not so much with Tennessee.

Welker was promising in Miami, but had not proven much.

Branch was great in NE, and then went to another team and was not much of anything.

These guys just seem to play really great with Tom Brady as their quarterback- better than they play with other quarterbacks.

Maybe he has a lot more to do with it than many, including me, have believed.

115 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Interesting. I just took your points and did a more thorough analysis. I made a list of every receiver that has caught at least 20 passes in a season from Tom Brady, and compared their average DYAR per season playing with Brady to their average DYAR per season in all other seasons they played with a QB other than Brady. I excluded 2010 because it's not complete yet, and also because the Moss and Branch trades make it really messy. I counted seasons where the player caught no passes as 0 DYAR seasons. Here are the results (the * implies just a single-season sample).

Name / Avg DYAR with Brady / Avg DYAR without Brady

Troy Brown / 93 / 83
David Patten / 106 / -7
Deion Branch / 139 / 28
David Givens / 113 / -43*
Tim Dwight / 85* / 51
Reche Caldwell / 174* / -10
Doug Gabriel / 85* / 55
Wes Welker / 404 / 117
Randy Moss / 482 / 276
Donte Stallworth / 150* / 65
Jabar Gaffney / 89 / 52
Julian Edelman / 49* / Never played with other QB
Sam Aiken / 14* / -1

In every case, a WR has put up a better performance on average playing for Tom Brady than with other QB's. The only one with significant sample size that is even close is Troy Brown, who put up almost as good numbers with Drew Bledsoe as with Brady (of course, Brady had Brown in his waning years).

Of course, there is context to go with some of these. Givens never really got a chance to shine after he left NE because of a career ending injury. Stallworth's off-the-field problems post-NE are well known. A number of these players (Dwight, for example) left the Patriots because they were near the end of their careers, or because they really weren't all that good (e.g. Caldwell or Gabriel) and had one or two weak years before retirement that dragged their "without Brady" averages down. So some of this effect could be attributed to good personnel evaluation by the NE front office (of course, even signing guys like Gabriel, or thinking Caldwell could be a #1 WR, somewhat contradicts this theory).

But still, this "Brady Effect" seems real.

Probably not earth-shaking news, but interesting nonetheless.

124 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

DVOA would probably be a better choice than DYAR, as the "Caught 20+ passes from Brady" creates some selection bias.

143 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

I think so, too. I wold like to repeat this analysis for, say, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees (Aaron Rodgers is the other option that comes to mind, but he probably hasn't been starting long enough to have a good list of recievers that have played with him AND another QB for at least a season each).

To really do it right, the analysis should be repeated for some "average" QB's as well, and maybe also some bad ones (just about any recent Chicago QB would do). That way you could gauge how much of this effect, if any, is due to the nature of the analysis (i.e. teams generally don't let go of a receiver unless they think he's starting to decline, so maybe ANY QB's recievers would look worse if you look at how they did with someone else to some degree).

Unfortunately, I do have to get some work done during the work week... :-)

61 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

The tight ends are solid players but I think the reason why their numbers look so good is because of Brady. Hernandez is a good target and he can get open, but he's had costly drops this year and struggles against physical defenders. Gronkowski is a big, strong player who can catch but not a guy who can consistently get open. They'll get better but now I think their performance is more a product of the system and QB than themselves.

I guess it's kind of a chicken or egg type question but I think it's Brady who makes the tight ends more than them being particularly great receivers, at least this season.

69 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Hernandez had one game where he had a few drops. Aside from that, he's been excellent. He's already the best receiving TE for the Pats since Ben Coates.
I wouldn't say that Gronkowski has difficulty getting open. He has done so quite a few times for TDs. But most of the time he's either blocking or he's not the first option.
If it were so easy to excel as TE under Brady and the Patriots, Ben Watson would have been an all-Pro years ago.

44 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Looking at the QB page, it's interesting to see that Brady's unadjusted VOA isn't much higher than his peers:

Brady: 44.5%
Rivers: 43.1%
Roethlisberger: 38.6%
Rodgers: 34.5%

But when you adjust for opponents, he shoots way up.

Brady: 49.8%
Rivers: 35.0%
Roethlisberger: 34.5%
Rodgers: 34.4%

IMO this is one of the difficult to gauge things that makes FO's numbers particularly valuable. We can identify the top few defenses in the league, but the vast bulk of defenses don't particularly stick out in anyone's mind - even though they definitely impact the raw stats.

I'm also surprised to see how well Roethlisberger has done, considering the Pittsburgh offense hasn't been dominating. But I guess he's always been very efficient, even as a rookie.

75 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Dre538 (not verified)

Amen brother.

My (real) brother argued with me before the season that Brady has gone Hollywood and didn't have the drive to succeed that he had earlier in his career. I don't live in the Boston area anymore, but I'm certain he got that idea from listening to Boston sports talk radio was probably ablaze with that sort of mularkey after the Wild Card fiasco vs Baltimore last season.

90 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

This was the year that I decided to choose silence over sports talk radio. I am about 3 hours from Chicago, so I get Chicago sports radio. And it was non-stop, "Woe is me", at least up through a couple weeks ago.

I mean seriously, when they had six wins, people (and I'm including the hosts) were predicting seven or eight wins for the season. At that point I just couldn't take it anymore. I can't say that I'm happier, but I am less irritated.

105 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

I'm not sure how you can rip on sports talk radio for holding the same opinion of the Bears as DVOA (if DVOA can be said to have an opinion) and 95% of the posters on this site. And Vegas, too --- after beating Buffalo (which gave the Bears their 6th win), they were home dogs to the Vikings, which means that if nothing changed about Vegas's opinion, they would have been favored in at most one game the rest of the season (at Detroit, and even that wasn't a sure thing). The combination of unimpressive victories up to that point and the brutal second half schedule made 7-8 wins a perfectly rational prediction.

110 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

While I agree with you 100% in this specific case, I also despise Chicago-based sports radio. Last year, after the Bears looked ugly in beating the Rams, the talk on the radio was that the Bears were a "terrible team". I kept thinking, "No, you want to know what a 'terrible' team looks like? Look at whom the Bears were playing."

In some ways, the 1985 championship, especially the ease with which the playoff games were won, was the worst thing to happen to the way the local media and public view the Bears. If they're not destroying every one they're up against, then they must not be a good team. (And no one ever stops and examines the 1985 team, which wasn't without its own struggles; something like six or seven wins were come-from-behind, often against mediocre-to-bad competition (Buccaneers, Packers, etc.).)

5 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

REgarding the Pats, what is your take on how the weather will start to effect the Pats' offense? Unless they lose this week and have to go to SD/Indy in round 1, every game left until the SB is likely to played in poor weather.

As far as this week's game goes, I really dont know what to make of the Jets who will be facing their first real quality opponent in over a month. Brady should be able to tear up the middle of the field against the Jets (cleveland, det and hou had great success on te crossing patterns), but then again i thought the Jets were dead at halftime of Game 1 and Brady didnt put up another point.

13 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

The Pats' offense should not have any significant problems with cold weather. And if the footing is bad, that tends to favor the offense more than the defense.

15 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings

The Jets gave played three games this year against other top-ten DVOA teams (BAL, NE, GB)and allowed a total of 33 points in those games. They've also scored only 37 points in those games, so you would think that Monday's game might be a defensive struggle.