Week 16 DVOA Ratings

Week 16 DVOA Ratings
Week 16 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

It should be no surprise that the New England Patriots are still far ahead of the rest of the league in this week's DVOA ratings. Sunday's win over Buffalo saw further improvement from the Pats defense, which is now ranked 20th in the league. In addition, the Patriots' weighted DVOA of 48.3% is now the highest of any team ever, passing the 2004 Steelers and 2007 Patriots. Barring some Brian Hoyer-led faceplant against Miami, the Patriots will be the hottest team going into the playoffs since at least 1993, when our play-by-play stats begin. I took out the "Best DVOA Ever" watch this week, since the results are basically the same as last week, but I'll run those tables one last time after Week 17.

At this point we're getting some significant differences between regular DVOA and weighted DVOA which drops the importance of early games. Seattle, for example, had two games with DVOA over 50% in the first three weeks. However, they have only two games since with positive DVOA of any kind: their Week 6 upset of Chicago, and the Week 15 loss to Atlanta where the play-by-play indicates a game a lot closer than the 34-18 final score. On the other hand, you have the Oakland Raiders. Three of their first six games were really bad, but they've been pretty good since then with one huge exception: Week 11, when they got pummeled by the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's a big reason why the Raiders rank 32nd in VARIANCE, as the most inconsistent team of 2010. Here's a look at the week-to-week graphs for the Seahawks and Raiders:

Speaking of the Seahawks, some readers had a problem with the earlier versions of our Week 16 playoff odds report which listed Seattle as the favorite for this weekend's NFC West championship. The problem is that the playoff odds report equation is not really meant to predict single games -- it's meant to predict performance over the rest of the season. It doesn't take into account things that are important for specific games, such as injuries and backup quarterbacks. That's what the FO Premium picks are for. However, if people are going to use the playoff odds report to try to predict a single Sunday night game, we want them to have the right prediction. Therefore, we've manually fixed the chances of Sunday's game to better match the results of the FO Premium picks formula, with St. Louis now as the favorite. However, other games didn't get manually fixed, so remember that the chances of Jacksonville actually beating out Indianapolis for the AFC South title are actually lower than in the playoff odds report now that David Garrard won't be able to play this Sunday.

There are four other teams with a big difference (six or more percentage points) between total season DVOA and weighted DVOA: Chicago and Baltimore, who have been better in recent weeks, and Kansas City and the New York Jets, who were better earlier in the season. Since those four teams are all in the playoffs, we'll take a look at their week-by-week graphs when it comes time for our big playoff preview articles.

With this week's ratings delayed, I threw out a call yesterday on Twitter for some questions people might want me to answer in today's commentary. Let's see what we can do.

@WonkoSD: Is there anything interesting to learn from 25 of the 32 teams having positive pass offense DVOA? And 21 having pass offense DVOA above 10%?

Sure, two things.

First, when I re-did the DVOA formulas in 2008, we added two more penalties to our measurement of offensive DVOA: delays of game and false starts. Now, you have to understand that all offensive plays for DVOA are compared to the baseline, no matter what kind of play. That's different from how we measure players. When we measure players, we want to compare like to like, so wideouts only get compared to wideouts, and running back runs to running back runs. When we measure teams, we went to measure the offense and defense as a whole. If passing is more efficient than rushing, we want DVOA to reflect that passing is more efficient than rushing. It is possible to end up with two teams, where team A has higher passing DVOA and higher rushing DVOA than team B, but team B has the highest overall DVOA because team B calls more passes (and/or more runs in short yardage) and thus has smarter, more efficient playcalling.

The penalties are not counted in rushing DVOA or passing DVOA, and of course they are all negative. Therefore, the overall league passing DVOA and rushing DVOA are both going to be above 0%. For example, this year the league-wide passing DVOA is 16.3%, the league-wide rushing DVOA is 1.5%, and the league-wide penalty DVOA is -228.7%. Of course, that last one is a bit of a nonsense number, since there are so many more runs and passes than there are delays of game and false starts. But anyway, that's why passing DVOA will always be higher than rushing DVOA, and both will generally be above zero.

Second, the DVOA baselines are based on the period between 2002 and 2007. As strong as the offensive environment was during those seasons, it has been even stronger over the last three years. One of my projects for the offseason is going to be figuring out whether it makes sense to adjust DVOA to the offensive environment of the time rather than one multi-year baseline. It seems like something that should be obvious -- when we're doing historical studies, we almost always adjust numbers to the offensive environment of that season. However, I need to figure out the best way to adjust because the baselines are based on multiple seasons, not a single season. I do think that even with adjustments, we shouldn't adjust things to the point where the average DVOA in every season is exactly 0%. Although the overall offensive environment does oscillate over time, with rules and strategy changes, there are certain seasons where there are more good offenses than defenses, and there are certain seasons where there are more good defenses than offenses. The question is how to balance things, so you have years where the league DVOA is a percentage point above or below zero, but not years where the league DVOA is five percentage points above or below zero.

@ZackFlatto: Can you rate the fumble recovery rates by team and are the Jets still above 70 percent?

Let's run the highest and lowest. Please note that this doesn't include special teams, and it also doesn't include aborted snaps where the quarterback recovers quickly and is able to get a pass off. (That has to do with how I code things in the database, and I don't have time right now to go through and add those all up... aborted snaps are mostly recovered by the offense anyway.)

(Rate > 60%)
OAK 7 15 68%
NYJ 7 13 65%
DAL 8 13 62%
SF 7 11 61%
HOU 6 9 60%
WAS 8 12 60%
(Rate < 40%)
NE 3 2 40%
CIN 8 5 38%
MIN 10 6 38%
IND 6 3 33%
ATL 6 3 33%
SD 14 6 30%
NYG 16 5 24%
SEA 8 2 20%
(Rate > 60%)
CLE 8 1 89%
NYJ 14 5 74%
NE 11 4 73%
PHI 10 4 71%
SD 7 3 70%
WAS 11 6 65%
SF 7 4 64%
MIN 8 5 62%
(Rate < 40%)
DEN 6 10 38%
HOU 4 7 36%
GB 6 11 35%
TEN 6 11 35%
KC 6 12 33%
BAL 3 12 20%

@gberry: How big an impact is lack of Stewart Bradley on Eagles' defensive rankings?

The Eagles defense has declined over the last four weeks, but of course we can't tell how much of that is due to the absence of Bradley and how much of it is due to other things, such as the injury to Asante Samuel or a bad day where everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed and realized that for some reason they were playing on a Tuesday.

Nevertheless, I can tell you that while the Eagles' run defense DVOA is roughly equivalent between Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-16, the Eagles' pass defense DVOA has gone from 3.2% (12th) to 25.5% (27th).

@elliottmann: Do you have quarterbacks ranked by dropped interceptions for 2010?

I ended up working up a whole big thing on this that doesn't fit in the DVOA commentary; look for that as an Extra Point later today.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 16 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 NE 42.5% 1 48.3% 1 13-2 46.0% 1 6.2% 20 2.7% 10
2 PIT 33.5% 2 34.2% 2 11-4 15.6% 7 -17.0% 1 0.9% 15
3 BAL 24.3% 5 30.9% 3 11-4 11.2% 12 -7.5% 4 5.7% 3
4 PHI 24.2% 3 24.5% 4 10-5 25.7% 2 2.8% 15 1.3% 14
5 GB 23.8% 7 23.9% 5 9-6 16.5% 5 -10.0% 2 -2.7% 29
6 SD 19.4% 4 22.6% 6 8-7 20.6% 4 -7.5% 5 -8.6% 32
7 ATL 16.2% 8 14.3% 9 12-3 12.0% 10 0.3% 12 4.5% 7
8 NYG 15.9% 6 16.6% 8 9-6 12.2% 9 -8.5% 3 -4.7% 30
9 NO 14.3% 10 19.7% 7 11-4 12.9% 8 -2.5% 10 -1.1% 20
10 NYJ 13.2% 9 4.4% 13 10-5 5.5% 17 -2.6% 9 5.1% 4
11 TEN 8.5% 11 4.0% 14 6-9 -1.1% 22 -5.0% 7 4.6% 6
12 MIA 8.1% 12 7.1% 11 7-8 6.1% 15 -3.2% 8 -1.2% 21
13 KC 3.9% 13 -5.3% 21 10-5 11.0% 13 5.1% 17 -1.9% 26
14 IND 2.8% 14 -0.3% 19 9-6 16.1% 6 7.7% 24 -5.6% 31
15 CHI 2.8% 16 10.8% 10 11-4 -11.4% 28 -6.8% 6 7.3% 1
16 CLE 2.3% 17 3.3% 15 5-10 1.6% 20 1.7% 13 2.4% 11
17 TB 0.9% 18 3.0% 16 9-6 11.8% 11 9.9% 26 -1.1% 19
18 HOU 0.6% 15 1.9% 17 5-10 23.6% 3 21.6% 31 -1.4% 24
19 DET -2.7% 20 0.3% 18 5-10 2.5% 19 7.4% 23 2.2% 12
20 CIN -2.9% 22 -5.7% 22 4-11 5.8% 16 6.2% 21 -2.4% 28
21 JAC -6.3% 19 -1.0% 20 8-7 7.9% 14 19.2% 30 4.9% 5
22 OAK -7.6% 21 5.0% 12 7-8 -4.7% 24 5.6% 18 2.7% 9
23 MIN -12.4% 26 -14.7% 25 6-9 -10.9% 27 0.1% 11 -1.4% 23
24 DAL -13.6% 23 -16.4% 28 5-10 -0.1% 21 15.0% 28 1.6% 13
25 BUF -13.7% 25 -8.5% 23 4-11 -4.1% 23 9.6% 25 0.0% 18
26 SF -14.5% 24 -12.1% 24 5-10 -9.3% 26 3.9% 16 -1.3% 22
27 STL -18.4% 28 -16.4% 27 7-8 -13.0% 29 6.1% 19 0.7% 17
28 DEN -19.2% 27 -15.8% 26 4-11 4.6% 18 21.7% 32 -2.1% 27
29 WAS -20.2% 29 -23.5% 29 6-9 -8.5% 25 10.0% 27 -1.7% 25
30 SEA -27.7% 30 -38.3% 32 6-9 -15.9% 30 17.6% 29 5.8% 2
31 ARI -32.0% 32 -27.0% 30 5-10 -28.2% 31 7.1% 22 3.3% 8
32 CAR -33.5% 31 -32.5% 31 2-13 -32.0% 32 2.2% 14 0.8% 16
  • 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 NE 42.5% 13-2 37.4% 13.0 1 6.5% 6 8.1% 12 17.4% 19
2 PIT 33.5% 11-4 30.0% 11.1 2 6.3% 8 2.3% 16 12.0% 11
3 BAL 24.3% 11-4 16.4% 11.0 3 6.5% 7 -2.9% 20 4.2% 1
4 PHI 24.2% 10-5 25.6% 10.6 4 -0.2% 20 -13.6% 24 9.2% 6
5 GB 23.8% 9-6 22.8% 10.1 5 2.1% 15 2.8% 15 16.5% 17
6 SD 19.4% 8-7 23.7% 9.3 9 -4.9% 25 -19.2% 28 25.0% 29
7 ATL 16.2% 12-3 16.2% 9.8 6 0.6% 19 -33.5% 32 5.4% 2
8 NYG 15.9% 9-6 16.8% 9.8 7 -2.9% 24 -20.2% 29 23.0% 28
9 NO 14.3% 11-4 18.5% 9.5 8 -6.3% 28 0.9% 17 9.2% 5
10 NYJ 13.2% 10-5 12.4% 8.8 11 9.2% 3 -13.7% 25 17.0% 18
11 TEN 8.5% 6-9 5.6% 8.2 13 2.4% 14 2.8% 14 21.8% 25
12 MIA 8.1% 7-8 6.5% 8.9 10 7.4% 5 42.5% 1 10.8% 10
13 KC 3.9% 10-5 11.5% 8.1 14 -7.0% 30 -7.6% 22 22.5% 27
14 IND 2.8% 9-6 3.5% 8.4 12 2.6% 12 8.5% 11 7.9% 3
15 CHI 2.8% 11-4 1.3% 7.8 15 -0.7% 21 23.8% 5 27.6% 30
16 CLE 2.3% 5-10 0.5% 7.6 17 8.1% 4 33.5% 2 15.7% 16
17 TB 0.9% 9-6 6.6% 7.7 16 -5.2% 26 14.3% 9 13.4% 14
18 HOU 0.6% 5-10 -0.7% 7.3 18 3.8% 11 -6.3% 21 18.1% 20
19 DET -2.7% 5-10 -4.0% 7.1 19 5.3% 10 -12.4% 23 9.5% 7
20 CIN -2.9% 4-11 -11.9% 6.7 20 11.1% 2 24.3% 3 13.4% 13
21 JAC -6.3% 8-7 -5.4% 6.6 21 1.0% 18 0.6% 18 19.1% 21
22 OAK -7.6% 7-8 -1.7% 6.1 24 -2.7% 23 3.9% 13 33.6% 32
23 MIN -12.4% 6-9 -16.7% 6.5 22 6.0% 9 -2.7% 19 15.2% 15
24 DAL -13.6% 5-10 -11.8% 5.9 26 1.0% 17 24.2% 4 20.3% 23
25 BUF -13.7% 4-11 -22.0% 6.0 25 12.0% 1 13.2% 10 13.2% 12
26 SF -14.5% 5-10 -9.6% 6.2 23 -5.5% 27 -32.0% 31 22.5% 26
27 STL -18.4% 7-8 -10.7% 5.6 27 -9.9% 32 -27.7% 30 10.6% 8
28 DEN -19.2% 4-11 -15.7% 5.4 29 -2.5% 22 19.4% 6 19.7% 22
29 WAS -20.2% 6-9 -18.7% 5.4 28 2.5% 13 15.9% 8 8.7% 4
30 SEA -27.7% 6-9 -26.7% 5.3 30 -6.6% 29 -18.4% 27 27.7% 31
31 ARI -32.0% 5-10 -23.1% 4.0 31 -9.2% 31 -14.5% 26 21.6% 24
32 CAR -33.5% 2-13 -35.7% 3.8 32 2.0% 16 16.2% 7 10.7% 9


126 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2011, 8:32pm

#2 by PatsFan // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:09pm

Barring some Brian Hoyer-led faceplant against Miami

Well, that's exactly what's going to happen. While I expect Brady to play some, Hoyer's going to be playing a lot in the finale. Moreso if the OL has any problems at all keeping Wake off Brady.

Points: 0

#5 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:23pm

What makes you think this? Other than the Houston game last year, which they weren't sure they wanted to win or not (or at least that's how it seemed), there is no precedent for this. They always try and finish strong, especially against Miami. Brady might come out a little early, but only after they're up a couple scores. I don't exactly see Chad Henne putting up numbers (except in the INT/FR categories) on this D either, do you?

Points: 0

#6 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:29pm

After looking up prior SB years when the Pats finished 14-2, their week 17 games: NE 31 Buffalo 0, SF 7 NE 21, and in '06, with no shot at a bye: NE 40 TENN 23. Brady played all or almost all of the game in all 3 of those.

Points: 0

#25 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:19pm

In 2006 the Pats needed a win and a Colts loss to get the 3 seed over the 4 seed, so they had something to play for that game. In 2003, I the #1 seed might have been on the line. Both NE and KC would have been 13-3 had NE lost, and i don't know who had the tiebreaker.

Points: 0

#31 by Scott P. (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:31pm

The Patriots didn't care about the #3 seed in 2006.

Points: 0

#47 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:05pm

This is based on the fact that the Patriots rested their starters in the final game of 2005 (Against Miami) Maybe they just wanted to see how Cassel would do in that game. Brady did start, but I believe he only played a quarter.

Points: 0

#54 by Judy (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:32pm

If it's the game I'm remembering, it's generally assumed they preferred to lose that game, as they'd play the Jags in the 1st round with a loss, and it would have been the Steelers with a win. Cassel had a chance to tie the game at the end and didn't even make it look like he was really trying to.

Points: 0

#58 by Jim D (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:52pm

I think you're talking about different years. In the 2006 reg season (playoffs in Jan 2007), the Colts were #3 seed and Pats were #4. This was the year the Pats blew the big lead in the AFC championship game (21-3 halftime i think?)

I'm sure they would have rather played the game in Foxboro!

Points: 0

#60 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:58pm

2006 was when they had a shot at the #3 seed and played their starters, needing a win and a Colts loss. 2005 they had to lose to get the #4 seed and avoid Pittsburgh in the opening round and they rested their starters. At the time, Bellichick said something along the lines of once they couldn't get the bye, it wasn't worth risking an injury to try for the #3 seed. However, his actions in the next season suggest otherwise.

Points: 0

#61 by Eddo // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:08pm

His actions in 2005 and 2006 don't contradict each other.

In 2005, he saw a huge difference between playing the #5 seed (Jacksonville) and the #6 seed (eventual champion Pittsburgh). Since Jacksonville was a much easier matchup for New England, they basically conceded their week 17 game (this was a little controversial at the time, since they were accused by some media members of "tanking" the game).

In 2006, however, it's likely they didn't see a big difference between playing the #5 seed (New York) and the #6 seed (Kansas City). Therefore, it made sense to try and get the better seed, both to play against the #2 (Baltimore) instead of the #1 (San Diego) in round two and in case they had to play the Colts in the championship game.

Points: 0

#67 by Anonymous1 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:47pm

The "avoid Pittsburg" storyline is laughable, since Brady has only lost to them once in his career and has put up at least 20 points every time they've clashed. I know you aren't the originator of that theory, but it is still comical nonetheless.

The benefit of the #4 seed was that their opponent was already known. Heading into the final week, it was still undetermined whether Pitt or KC would take the #6 seed. That way, NE could begin scouting Jax even during the week before the Miami game.

Points: 0

#68 by drobviousso // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:57pm

Even in my dark, black (and gold) heart, I don't buy the avoiding Pittsburgh story line either.

Points: 0

#75 by rk (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:30pm

I don't buy the avoid Pittsburgh idea either, but it's pretty clear the Pats weren't trying too hard. That's the game they had Doug Flutie drop kick a two point conversion.

Points: 0

#77 by Eddo // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:39pm

My perception was that it was less "avoid Pittsburgh" and more "we want to play Jacksonville".

Points: 0

#92 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:08am

Yes, the Pats at least respect the Steelers. The Jags? Not so much. Belichick has never lost to the Jaguars. And the Patriots have only lost once - in the 1998 playoffs, on the road.

Points: 0

#88 by Alternator // Dec 29, 2010 - 11:06pm

Pittsburg was a good team that the Pats knew were able to pull the upset, even if they were unlikely to worry much about them. Jacksonville, on the other hand, was a sitting duck plumped up on an easy schedule and ripe for the slaughter.

It wasn't ducking Pittsburg, it was aiming for Jax.

Points: 0

#106 by Anonymous454545 (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 10:04am

Totally agree that it had to do with getting the Jags. The name "Del Rio" does not cause fear in NE come when it comes to meaningful games.

As for the Steelers-- it's always better to beat them in Pit during the playoffs not in Foxboro! A Home victory against Pitt, just wouldn't feel right.

Points: 0

#62 by Jetspete // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:25pm

i'm pretty sure the pats needed to win the 03 finale vs the Bills to assure themselves the 1 seed.

Many on this thread have tried to compare 05 and 06. In 05 the Pats were playing Miami at home, who was already out of the playoffs. In 06 the Pats were playing a Tennessee team that needed a win to enter the post-season. Also if i'm not mistaken the Titans did their fair share of trash talking during the game. It is quite possible that BB respects the league too much to not try in a game where the opponent needs a win to reach the playoffs. That scenario obviously does not occur on Sunday, so i would expect a lay-down of sorts (maybe the starters for a quarter or a half).

Points: 0

#64 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:38pm

What about 2004, though? Nothing to play for, with a bye already secured, Brady played at least 3 quarters.

Points: 0

#90 by Judy (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 11:30pm

If I have this one right, I think the starters were playing like crap, so it was believed they were left in until they played decently.

Points: 0

#7 by PatsFan // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:30pm

For one thing, unlike in past years, Brady's actually injured (I'm not counting the phantom shoulder thing). He's been missing Wednesday practices for several weeks with a foot sprain.

Points: 0

#8 by PatsFan // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:34pm

LOLd at this one:

Belichick was asked why the Patriots don't put the little "C" on the jerseys to denote who the captains are:

"I guess that's another one of the new traditions in the league. I've seen a lot of football games, there has been football for a long time, and there have been captains with no patches and it seemed like everything was fine. I guess that's another one of our improvements, with the new overtime rules and all that."

Points: 0

#9 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:35pm

Yet he plays deep into blowouts anyway. No reason to think that changes this week, especially because with a bye, BB probably doesn't want his starters going 2 weeks without real reps. The Pats have learned from the Colts mistake, as should everyone else; Sitting starters with a bye week kills momentum.

Points: 0

#49 by JIPanick // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:14pm

Yeah, they looked like a team with no momentum whatever against Baltimore and New York. Oh, wait.

I'm not a supporter of resting players by any means, but there's no statistical evidence whatever that resting hurts you. It's all anecdotal, and last year's Colts are not a good example. They won twice, before losing a competitive game to a statisically superior team (which also rested week 17, by the way).

Points: 0

#91 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 12:09am

I don't get the Baltimore and NY jabs. It isn't like they hadn't played in 3 weeks.
As far as statistical evidence goes, lets go through the Colts over the years:

Last year: 14-0, pulled Manning halfway through game 15 (presumably to remove pressure to go 16-0), lose SB even without that pressure.
2008: Riding an 8 game win streak, Manning benched after 7 attempts in game 16, Colts lose the next week.
2007: Manning benched early in the 2nd quarter of game 16 riding a 6 game win streak, Colts lose in the divisional round.
2006: Manning plays every snap of game 16, Colts win SB
2005: Riding a 2 game losing streak, Dungy is apparently unconcerned, Manning throws twice in game 16, Colts bounced after a bye.
2004: Manning throws twice in game 16, Colts put up 35 in the first half the next week against the same team (Denver), then gets pummeled by NE, Manning having played less than 30 meaningful minutes in two weeks.

So the Colts are 4-0 in playoff games when they play their starters in the finale, and 3-5 when they don't rest their starters since 2004, when Manning became the elite megastar that apparently requires resting.

Lets look at New England:

2009: Brady plays sporadically at Houston, Pats get crushed at home the next week, their only loss with Brady in Gillette in 3 years.
2007: Brady plays every snap of the Giants game, losing to the Giants in the SB (perhaps the best thesis is to rest against teams you will be playing the next week? but the Bengals disproved that last year)
2006: Brady plays the majority of the game in week 16 against the Titans in a meaningful effort, NE comes within a Reche Caldwell and Bill Polian of winning the SB.
2005: Brady throws 8 passes, NE loses to Denver two weeks later.
2004: Brady plays majority of the game against SF, SB results
2003: Plays the full game, SB results

So Brady's numbers over his superstar era look like this:
Play the week 16 game: 10-2 in playoffs, 2 SBs
Don't play the week 16 game: 1-2

I could do this for every team and you would find that the numbers tend to be similar: other than Drew Brees last year, and Brad Johnson in 2002 (one of SB teams of the two decades on which the QB was basically irrelevant to the success of the team, the other being the Ravens), the QB of the winning SB squad played hard at the end of the season. And remember, Brees played Manning's Colts, who angered the football Gods (there should be statistics for this) by not going for 16-0, whereas the Saints at least lost their week 15 and 14 games giving a full effort.

Points: 0

#96 by JIPanick // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:40am

No, here's the thing. I *did* do it for every team and that is *not* what you find.

These are the records for the opening game of the playoffs only, bye teams 1990-2009, on the assumption that if there is a momentum killing effect associated with resting it will manifest immediately.

Sat starters two full games : 3-1
Rested starters one full game : 7-3
Pulled starters early in the finale : 17-4
Total 'Rested' : 27-8

Clinched playoff seed, but played it out anyway: 6-2
Played it out because they could improve playoff standing with a win: 28-11
Total 'Played' : 34-13

The teams that played it out actually had worse performance in the playoff opener, but I'm assuming that's because they were weaker on average. As I said, your position is purely anecdotal and is not supported by the weight of the evidence.

DISCLAIMER: I added these by hand, and may be off by a game or two. It doesn't affect the big picture.

Points: 0

#93 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:17am

"The Pats have learned from the Colts mistake".

The Pats lost Wes Welker last year in Week 17. So the choices are not so cut-and-dry.

The game against the Bills was a game the Pats wanted to win to clinch the #1 seed. They hadn't clinched it until they won (or the Jets lost, but the Jets were leading in the 1st half and there was no reason to suspect they'd lose or, indeed, waste time scoreboard-watching).

This week there is literally nothing to play for. It's hard to believe the "momentum" is a big deal given the bye week. But it's more a question of who will play and who won't. Anybody with any kind of injury will be rested, I should think. And that includes Brady. Hoyer has gotten almost no playing time this year. He could use some.

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#48 by RichC (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:08pm

In 2005, they played Miami in week 17 in what was pretty much a meaningless game..

Brady threw 8 passes. Rookie Matt Cassel threw 25. Bam Childress was the team's leading receiver, and also played some snaps at DEFENSIVE END. Doug Flutie kicked an extra point. Patrick Pass led the team in Rushing Attempts.

The idea that sitting starters would be a first for BB is ridiculous.

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#84 by Nathan // Dec 29, 2010 - 8:06pm

oh man, I forgot about Bam

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#39 by Jonadan // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:51pm

Given that it's the Pats we're discussing here (and against Miami), I'd be completely unsurprised if they let Hoyer play the whole game and won by thirty.

Given that it's a divisional game, even if Miami is done, I also wouldn't be (very) surprised if Brady played the whole game and the Pats managed to lose by thirty, so take the previous sentiment for what it's worth.

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#1 by doofman (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:09pm

Here's a trivia question for someone that might know the answer: Has there ever been a higher ranked team in the Week 16 DVOA that had already been eliminated from the playoffs than the Chargers at #6?

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#3 by Al (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:14pm

How about a lower ranked team that will get in? The NFC west will send a team lower than #26 by default. That's a gambler's dream but a DVOA nightmare!

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#10 by Splattered // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:40pm

You mean it's not awesome that there are 5 *last place* teams with higher DVOA than anyone in the NFC West?

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#14 by Al (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:52pm

From the perspective of a Viking fan who can't wait for them to just move to LA and create a division shift (Cards to South, Bucs or Falcons to east, and then someone from the east to north [philly maybe?]) and then win that division at 9-9 every year with AP as the only legit weapon on the whole team, it's pretty aggravating that there are last place teams better than an entire division.

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#46 by Rikki (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:03pm

I think in that case St. Louis would move to the NFC North, also with the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry in mind.

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#63 by CuseFanInSoCal // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:32pm

I think if anyone even remotely plausible moves to LA*, that team joins the NFC West and the Rams join the old team's division.

* Disclaimer here: I don't think it's plausible that any NFC East or AFC East team would move to LA, or anyone other than the Bills would move at all.

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#72 by DisplacedPackerFan // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:20pm

Yep, if Minny goes to LA the most logical re-alignment would be to swap them and St. Louis. You'd have

NFC North
St. Louis - MO borders IL
Green Bay - WI borders IL and MI (shares a border with the UP has the lake between it and the part that Detroit is in)
Detroit - Borders WI, IL
Chicago - Borders WI, MO, MI (again the lake is between but there is a shared border)

The old alignment had WI with shared borders with all the other teams and MN only sharing with WI. The new would shift that to IL with 3, and MO only have the one common border. But Detroit and St. Louis are only 556 miles apart, driving. GB and Detroit are 483 mile drive. Detroit and Minneapolis are 690 miles driving. So it would actually make all the teams closer ( GB and St. Louis are only 489 miles driving). Taking the longest distance (Det - Minn) from 690 to 556 (Detroit - St. Louis).

NFC West
San Fran

You can always make the argument that Dallas in the East and Carolina in the South should swap for those to be better geographically. That applies right now though too. There are really only 3 current "West" teams in the NFC. Dallas is actually about 300 miles more west than St. Louis, but they didn't want to break up too many rivalries so they stayed in the east.

But if they were in the South and Carolina in the east you would cut down a lot of travel for the teams in the east and add less than you might think for the South. (Dallas to Tampa Bay is about 1,100 miles driving, compared to their CLOSEST NFC East team of Washington which is 1320 or so miles).

The AFC has the same issue with only three true west teams, though with Denver and KC being several hundred miles farther west the west isn't too bad. The AFC problems reside more with Indy being South and Miami being East. There are several better geographic alignments that could be made with the East, North, and South. Of course if you want to allow more AFC / NFC cross over you can do even better, but the west is still going to be an issue. :)

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#74 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:29pm

Geographic issues aside, Dallas has to stay in the NFC East to maintain the traditional rivalries. It wouldn't be right to have the Eagles and Cowboys or Redskins and Cowboys only play once every four years.
Edit, if Minnesota moves to LA, would they still be the Vikings? I'm pushing for renaming them the Lakers.

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#102 by TimTheEnchanter (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 8:28am

They'd be the LA 'kings!

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#108 by Athelas // Dec 30, 2010 - 11:21am

Ba dum bum.

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#76 by Eddo // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:35pm

If you want to keep the conferences as they are (a good goal, in my opinion) and go purely by geography, I think you've nailed it. To summarize:

East: Patriots, Bills, Jets, Ravens
North: Steelers, Colts, Bengals, Browns
South: Dolphins, Jaguars, Titans, Texans
West: Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers, Raiders

East: Redskins, Giants, Eagles, Panthers
North: Bears, Packers, Vikings, Lions
South: Falcons, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Saints
West: Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals

Possible LA moves...

Vikings: swap the Vikings and Rams
Chargers: everything stays the same
Raiders: everything stays the same
Bills: move the Bills to the west, the Chiefs to the north, and the Steelers or Ravens to the east
Jaguars: swap the Jaguars and Chiefs

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#83 by CuseFanInSoCal // Dec 29, 2010 - 7:26pm

I forgot to mention any AFC West team moving to LA would not trigger any realignment before. But I really think I'd have a team swap conferences before breaking up the AFC West (which has real rivalries, unlike the NFC West).

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#94 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:30am

Is there no Rams-49ers rivalry? After all, the Rams used to be in LA, and LA and SF generally hate each other in all things sporting. I know the Cardinals are really an NFC East while the Seahawks were an AFC West team for so long they don't really have the historic rivalries.

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#104 by FireOmarTomlin // Dec 30, 2010 - 9:20am

How is it nailed when Kansas City and St Louis are further east than Dallas or Houston?


Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

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#109 by Eddo // Dec 30, 2010 - 12:51pm

You're right, but it's moreso that the Texas teams fit into the south, geographically, while Kansas City and St. Louis don't. I suppose they could be considered "north" teams, but that's even more of a stretch.

You could make the same argument, that Seattle, Buffalo, and New England are farther north than Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago. It's just that those teams fit better into other divisions (west, east, and east), so they go there to make the rest of the alignment work out.

The biggest problem with geographic alignment is that you have more than just eight teams in some geographic regions.

East: Patriots, Bills, Jets, Giants, Redskins, Eagles, Ravens, Steelers (kind of).
West: 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Broncos, Chargers, Raiders.
South: Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Titans, Dolphins, Jaguars, Buccaneers.
"North" (really Central): Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings, Chiefs, Rams, Colts, Bengals, Browns.
South/West/Central: Texans, Cowboys.

The Texas teams are the most flexible, in that Texas can be considered a southern or a western state (and in a three-division alignment, a central state).

If you were reshuffling, forgetting about current rivalries and conferences, you'd probably start with the western teams, since they're the most distinct. You'd grab the 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders, and put them in the wests. That's six teams.

Now, move south: take the Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Titans, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Buccaneers. That's seven.

Put the Patriots, Bills, Jets, Giants, Redskins, Eagles, Ravens, and Steelers in the easts. That's eight.

To keep the four cardinal directions as divisions, call the other divisions "norths". Unfortunately, there are nine teams that fit this distinction better than any other. So you have to get creative. We still need two west teams, so we see that Kansas City can move west. Sweet. Let's move them there. Now, we're back to eight "north" teams.

So let's also move Dallas west, since it's slightly west of Houston. Houston can slide into the south.

So, now we have our divisions:

That seems to be the geographical ideal. However, it loses some of the conference alignment we used to have. There are only three NFC teams in the east, and only three AFC teams in the north. So we need to make a switch.

First option: move the Lions to the NFC east and move the Steelers to the AFC north. This looks really weird, since Detroit is considerably farther west that Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh does fit into the "north" designation pretty well, so that's a start.

We can look at the north and see that St. Louis isn't really that far north. We think, hey, St. Louis is the "Gateway to the West". We could move the Rams to the NFC west, move the Cowboys into the NFC south, and move Carolina into the NFC east. That's what I have above, which makes the most sense to me.

But no matter how you do it, you're going to wind up with a team that is farther north than one of the north division teams, or farther west that a west team, or farther east than an east team. It's inevitable, due the cities involved.

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#111 by FireOmarTomlin // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:21pm

Holy crap, you put a LOT of effort into that.

With an 18 game season pending, and assuming only 32 teams for a long while to come,

I suggest the following RADICAL change in structure.
4 8-team based division. (2 per conference)

Align them as close as possible to geographic sense

Schedule: 2x division games (Home and Away) = 14 games
3 games against divisional "equal" seed/finish from prior season= 17 games
Rotating schedule of one of prior rivals from old division (play them 1x every 3 years)= 18 games

Not ideal by any sense, but what are teams really going to do with 2 extra games in the same structure we have now ?
Not enough for a 3rd divisional game with all 3, not enough for playing someone else out of each division in conference, etc.

I would keep each conference playoff structure the same.
AFC_A_1 and AFC_B_1 are the division winners and get a 1st round bye. 2nd and 3rd place in each division gets a WC.

AFC_A_2 vs AFC_B_3
AFC_A_3 vs AFC_B_2

are the WC weekend games

re-seed, etc.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

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#15 by BucNasty // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:54pm

How is it a DVOA nightmare? All four teams are generally perceived as being bad, and DVOA agrees. It only becomes a nightmare if the winner ends up going on a run.

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#16 by Al (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:54pm

What I meant was that the teams are nightmarish by DVOA standards. I should have phrased it better. I think we can all agree that "going on a run" is not an option for any of the NFC West teams, though "going on a run" in the NFC west probably just means putting together four straight good quarters, so maybe they can.

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#79 by jebmak // Dec 29, 2010 - 7:06pm

It isn't a nightmare then either. No one thinks that the NFCW winner will win any games. Someone saying that it was a problem would be like someone saying, "Ha ha! We're both idiots."

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#89 by Al (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 11:24pm

I meant nightmarish as in "those teams are horrific football teams/experiences to watch, and the DVOA agrees with this" seems pretty straightforward

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#34 by psgqpr (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:36pm

I think San Diego, Miami, and Tennessee's ranking in DVOA show how weak/flawed the system is. Especially Miami. Doesn't it bother anyone that N=15?

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#52 by Spoilt Victori… // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:17pm

N is actually the total number of plays that a team has participated in over the course of a season. DVOA is a per-play metric, not a per-game metric.

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#95 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:38am

San Diego is a very good team with a head coach who is a horrible game manager.

Miami is a good team in a division where they have to play the Jets and Pats twice apiece, and they've also had to play a fairly tough schedule including the AFC North and NFC North.

As for Tennessee, before Vince Young went out for the season they looked like a team that could play with anybody, even if they didn't do so consistently. When Collins went down, too, that basically killed their season. Teams that are forced to rely on their #3 QB usually don't do well.

Don't ask me to explain how the Vikings beat the Eagles. I'm still baffled.

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#105 by Will Allen // Dec 30, 2010 - 9:41am

Yeah, it certainly was unexpected for the Vikings to win, but the Vikings defense has mostly been pretty decent this year, once one factors the short fields and lack of offense. The Eagles offensive line got whipped, and the offense as a unit did not handle blitzes. Defensively, I think what happened is that they did not have any film on an extraordinarily athletic qb, didn't prepare all that well, and then there secondary was bit banged up. If Tavaris Jackson plays, the Eagles probably win.

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#110 by jmaron // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:13pm

The defence played well enough for Minnesota to be a playoff team. The offence was horrendous.

It's also the only game I can think of where the offence was both productive and didn't throw any ints.

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#114 by Will Allen // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:49pm

What I fear for this team next year, if they decide to see what Webb can do in a full season, is that they will fall prey to Jerryjonesitis, and decide that they can tolerate hideous pass protection because they have a qb who is extremely elusive. John Sullivan can't play. Ryan Cook can't play. By August 1st, they need to know if Bryant McKinnie still wants to be a productive football player. They need to get a year of decent health from Hutchinson, and find out if the other starting guard is on the roster. Yes, they need help in the defensive backfield, and to make a decision on Ray Edwards, among others. Yes, they need to pray that Rice and Harvin become more consistently healthy, and even then they need better depth at receiver. They obviously need to get lucky with Webb, and find a backup to him. They absolutely, beyond all dispute, however, need to get a massively better performance out of their offensive line next year.

If Frazier is retained, I don't know for sure if that means getting a new offensive line coach, but it needs to be considered. I'm not sold on Bevell as OC, but if they are going to try to start Webb, continuity for a very inexperienced but physically gifted qb may be the most important thing.

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#123 by Pass to Set Up… // Jan 01, 2011 - 5:23pm

What I fear for this team next year, if they decide to see what Webb can do in a full season, is that they will fall prey to Jerryjonesitis, and decide that they can tolerate hideous pass protection because they have a qb who is extremely elusive.

Unfortunately, the Eagles have already fallen prey to this dread disease. The full effects were put on display by Morningwheg repeatedly calling slow-developing passing plays while the Vikings were making origami crafts out of the Eagles' o-line.

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#119 by tally // Dec 30, 2010 - 3:53pm

Because, of course, the team with the better record always wins over the team with the worse record, and wins/losses are foolproof.

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#100 by Elroy44 (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:59am

2006 Jags

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#4 by Khamel (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:16pm

are the bears the lowest ranked 11-4 team through Week 16?

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#11 by Scizzy (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:42pm

Interesting that after all the time you guys have spent crowing about calling KC as division champs, your numbers say that they basically got lucky to beat a far better SD team (and not lucky in any foreseeable way like schedule strength). I don't begrudge you that - certainly no one would give you credit if the situation were reversed, i.e. KC was 6th in DVOA and SD ranked 13th yet still won the division, so you deserve to take the credit.

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#13 by Nathan // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:51pm

strength of schedule accounts for both the disparity in dvoa and kc winning the division
just like fo said it would in the almanac

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#38 by Scizzy (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:47pm

I'm not sure how you would calculate it, but I can't imagine the difference between KC's schedule (-7.6%, 30th in the league) and SD's (-4.9%, 25th in the league with an easier game in the finale), would do too much to close the gap. Indeed, SD's VOA more than doubles KC.

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#85 by jebmak // Dec 29, 2010 - 8:42pm

They also have a really high variance. That is a bad thing when you are a good team.

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#12 by Julio (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:43pm

The average dvoa for past schedule is misleadingly high
for any teams that faced the Pats, especially for the AFC
east teams that had to face them twice. For instance,t aking out the two
Patriots games the Jets had to play, their past schedule
dvoa drops to +3.1%. Meanwhile, the Pats didn't have to
play themselves.

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#17 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:57pm

The closest the Pats could get to playing the Pats would be if they make the SB and play the Falcon, who are like Pats jr. If Jerrious Norwood hadn't gone on IR we'd probably be comparing the two teams a lot more, as Norwood and Woodhead fill the same role for their offenses, which is to be a matchup problem for any defender on the field.

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#97 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:42am

The Falcons aren't much like the Pats. The Saints are a closer match - a team that thrives on a high-powered passing game and has a defense that isn't particularly strong at stopping offenses, but does have a knack for forcing turnovers.

But an even better match is the Chiefs, for fairly obvious reasons.

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#103 by RichC (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 8:50am

Atlanta has about the same similar claim as the Chiefs. Dimitroff was a patriots front office guy.

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#19 by Biebs (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:12pm

I'm not sure what makes it misleadingly high. Why wouldn't the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills Past schedule reflect that they played the strongest team in the NFL over the past 15 years (according to DVOA).

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#21 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:17pm

It does reflect this, which is why it's misleading. If you take the Patriots out of the equation (because they are an extreme outlier) then the SoS looks a lot different. It's like a DII football team playing all DII schools and then being a homecoming cupcake for a good DI school, so if you want to know how good their average opponent is, including that outlier skews the data considerably.

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#26 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:22pm

So it should reflect their median opponent, not their (mean) average opponent? IE, just drop the highest and ranked opponent and then calculate from there. Conversely, the Patriots SoS is ranked too low because they face the Bills twice a year.

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#27 by B // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:24pm

(deleted double post)

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#33 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:33pm

Not necessarily, just if they are so far outside the realm of the ordinary. The Bills are not historically bad, in fact, they have played a lot of close games this year. The Pats however are historically great, so you don't get as good a sense of the difficulty faced over the course of the year through including games against them because it raises the average ranking of teams too high, as in my analogy of DI and DII football schools.

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#101 by Milkman (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 3:14am

That would only be true if the Pats were this good DVOA wise and were currently 15-0. Shouldn't the Jets and Browns be credited for having played this supposed DI-school-to-their-DII-schools and yet winning? They had a tough road having to play the Pats but came out ahead. Thus why should the Pats be eliminated from their (or anybody's) schedule toughness?

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#35 by psgqpr (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:38pm

Because N=15!!!!

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#44 by Intropy (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:00pm

I'm not sure what you to do about it, but an issue is this. Past schedule is taken to mean "how tough was their season" with respect to their record. If you play an outlier team, they can blow you out 100 - 0, but they can't give you two losses in one game, so it can show a past schedule incongruously high compared wit the actual difficulty a team had achiving a particular record.

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#107 by Julio (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 10:45am

My point was that the past DVOA for the Jets and the Pats
was the same or similar, when in fact it was the Pats that
had the tougher schedule overall.

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#118 by B // Dec 30, 2010 - 3:34pm

How do the Pats have the tougher schedule? They didn't have to play the Patriots twice, and the Jets did.

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#18 by DeltaWhiskey // Dec 29, 2010 - 1:58pm









AVG 1.02%
SD 18.80%


COMMENTS: It blows my mind that SEA has a shot at the playoffs.


AVG 1.79%
SD 19.87%



AVG 4.06%
SD 15.79%


COMMENTS: If we remove NE as an outlier (MEAN = 2.71%, SD = 14.04%), PHI becomes ELITE, TB, BAL, KC become good, and BUF becomes AVG.


AVG 3.64%
SD 9.41%



AVG 0.60%
SD 3.60%



1. SEA has a shot at the playoffs. WOW!!!! Must be the solid special teams work.
2. Teams with at least to GOOD or ELITE units: NE PIT* BAL PHI GB* SD* ATL NYG* NO* NYJ TEN. (* OFF and DEF). No team has all three as GOOD or better units.

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#22 by Athelas // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:17pm

The Patriots Defense is AVERAGE?--WOO HOO!!!

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#30 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:30pm

Given the amount of turnovers they create and points they allow per yards given up? I'd say so. Think about all their big point allowances. Heck, starting with game 1, they've given up a pretty high percentage of their points with a big lead, and if that offense can't protect a lead, then no one can. 34 in Cleveland was an aberrational performance, as Gronkowski's KR fumble and the garbage time score skew their performance there, and other than Manning driving against them in the end of the Colts game and Flynn shredding them (due to the onside kick and the massive possession time differential) they've looked pretty solid. Remember the Steelers "comeback" in which they were always a couple scores down and basically just made the game take longer? Or how about the Bills game, in which they gave up a KR TD, a TD with 4:08 remaining that cut the score to 8, and a score off of a fumble recovery (37 yard drive)? I bet they remind everyone of the '06 Colts defense come playoff time; a unit that looked bad on paper all year, then carried them to the SB (along with the Refs in the AFC Championship game, of course).

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#36 by RichC (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:40pm

I'd argue that the Patriots Defense is much better than average at this point. For the season as a whole, they're average, but they've managed to move a 10 game sample from +14% to +6% in 5 weeks, which makes me think they've been playing at about -10%

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#37 by AK 48 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:45pm

7 turnovers last week and shutting down the Bears and Jets would say you're probably right. They're playing bend but don't break, which makes the yardage totals they give up look a lot worse than the D is. No good team gives up more underneath stuff than NE, but as the turnovers show, no one capitalizes on mistakes better.

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#41 by Nathan // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:53pm

and to borrow a line from barstool sports, their opponents seem to march up the field at will only to hit an invisible dog fence at the 20.

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#45 by RichC (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:02pm

". No good team gives up more underneath stuff than NE, but as the turnovers show, no one capitalizes on mistakes better."

I was reading somewhere that the Patriots have given up significantly less plays over 30 yards than any other team in the NFL since week (5?).

Lots of underneath stuff, very little deep stuff, lots of turnovers? Sounds like successfull bend-not-break.

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#24 by c0rrections (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:19pm

Looks like you missed Chicago as a team with two Good or Elite units (elite special teams, good defense).

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#28 by DeltaWhiskey // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:25pm


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#51 by Kevin from Philly // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:15pm

I'm guessing the Eagles offense isn't elite after that mess last night. Yuck!

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#20 by Will Allen // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:17pm

If the Vikings had any defensive backs who could catch 80% of the passes which hit them square in the hands, they might have had a top-5 defense this year, and they might still be contending for a wild card spot.

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#23 by Athelas // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:18pm

I guess you saw the game last night? Has the MN defense done that all year?

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#29 by Will Allen // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:25pm

Last night was the worst example, but, yes, they have been dropping easy ints all year, by my casual observation. I don't know if they are one of the leaders by FO's charters' calculations. This has been an issue for years, even for their best db, Antione Winfield. Hell, they likely beat the Saints in the NFCCC last year, if the dbs just catch half the easy ints they had a chance at.

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#50 by DisplacedPackerFan // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:14pm

I don't watch enough games to really tell, but isn't this common for a lot of teams? I know the Packers DB's have all dropped "easy" interceptions this year. I've seen Shields drop at least two, Collins at least three, Woodson at least two, Williams at least one, Burnett at least one. Maybe one of the Woodson drops wasn't really easy, but it hit his hands and he wasn't really engaged with the defender.

Of course you see wide outs do this too and there is the old "well if they could catch the ball they would be wide outs and not defensive backs" argument, but I don't know the validity of the grain of truth, that is at the middle of most sayings, for that one. I also believe it is inherently more difficult for a defensive back to catch a ball because they have to be completely reactionary to it. The receiver still has to react, but they are expecting a pass at least.

I'd think the Packers would be up there with the Vikings on drops of easy interceptions, but I have no charting data and I have no frame of reference to compare it to how many easy ints are dropped on average. I have seen Patriots, Colts, Bears, Vikings, Giants, and Philly defenders drop easy ones this year in the few games I've seen. So I know that all teams drop easy ints, I just don't know the rate, and I know since I see more Packers games than any other team I have a natural bias in regards to them.

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#56 by jmaron // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:45pm

Hey Will,

What's your impression of Webb so far?

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#70 by Will Allen // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:13pm

Well, he obviously is an elite athlete in many respects, even by the standard of NFL quarterbacks. When you observe Webb run the ball, and Tavaris Jackson run the ball, it becomes apparent how dumb a lot of analysts are in lumping "athletic qbs" together (it may be the case that melanin levels have an impact on such commentary as well). Tavaris Jackson compares to Webb as an running qb in the same manner that a guy who has .400 slugging percentage in MLB compares to Ryan Howard in slugging percentage.

His arm strength appears above average, and I have't seen anything yet which would indicate, as it did pretty quickly with Jackson, that his accuracy is below average. I have no idea whether he will become adept at recognizing defenses quickly, and responding appropriately, but I didn't see as many deer in the headlights moments last night as I usually did with Jackson. He appears much more relaxed than Jackson, for what that observation of ones and zeros, sent through the ether and fiber optic cable, is worth. He certainly is worth further snaps, and short of the qb at Stanford, the Vikings may as well spend as much time on him as any other prospect I've seen.

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#82 by jmaron // Dec 29, 2010 - 7:19pm

Funny how much more comfortable he appeared against the Eagles than Jackson did against the Giants. You certainly wouldn't guess which one was the rookie and which one had 5 years of NFL experience.

He is ridiculously fast for a QB. He ran a 4.45 at the combine. Same as Vick. But he also seems to be very elusive. When Philly did get a guy through they couldn't even touch him most of the time, let alone tackle him.

But it's a passing league, so his ability to read defences and pass accurately will be the key.

At least it makes watching next Sunday worthwhile unless "Old Stubbleface" as you call him plays.

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#32 by bigtencrazy (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:32pm

Yes. It's uncanny.

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#53 by Don (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:21pm

Ike Taylor Syndrome.

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#57 by jmaron // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:48pm

or if the db's the Vikings played this year were equally challenged in catching easy interceptions.

Last year it seemed that the opponents dropped a ton of passes that should have been intercepted. This year it seems they caught every one.

I think that and a much tougher schedule goes a long way to explaining the big drop in wins.

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#40 by ChicagoRaider // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:52pm

I think that the Raiders' early season woes were as much from not knowing who their good players were as anything else. The Raiders had a lot of new talent because that is what losing teams that want to improve get.

They found out that Jacoby Ford and DHB should swap salaries. They found out that they had a fullback that could make some tough catches. They found out that their rookie from a Division II school was their starting left tackle. It took time to sort that all out. And Darren McFadden turned into the guy they drafted (who knew?), so they beefed up their power running game.

And yes, teams that could stop Oakland's power running game did well.

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#43 by Nathan // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:56pm

don't forget campbell vs gradkowski

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#42 by rockred19 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 2:55pm

What is the Bears DVOA since their bye week?

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#55 by Kal // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:36pm

Similarly, what is the difference for the Bears between their standard DVOA and their weighted in terms of things being better? Anecdotally I'd think it would be their offense, but it'd be nice to see how much better they actually are.

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#59 by redman25 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 3:56pm

KC's OFFDVOA and DEFDVOA really didn't budge from week 15?

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#65 by Rax Grissman (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:39pm

Looks like Seattle has had some bad fumble luck... this will likely turn around and lead to a Superbowl run.

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#66 by Aaron Schatz // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:40pm

Hey all. All stats sheets should now be updated through Week 16. Yee-hah! I'm off to do Premium picks and Numbers Crunching.

As for KC, kinda nutty, but yeah. Offensive and Defensive DVOA for Week 16 was almost exactly equal to their season ratings, so the season ratings change less than one-tenth of one percent.

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#69 by drobviousso // Dec 29, 2010 - 4:59pm

Woo hoo. Mike "no Pro Bowl material" Wallace is now #1 in DYAR, as well as DVOA. Fanboy happy moment.

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#98 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:54am

The AFC is loaded with WRs right now. Hard to argue with Andre Johnson. Reggie Wayne has a low DVOA but he's been the only outlet for Peyton Manning for much of the season. Brandon Lloyd leads in the league in yardage. Bowe has also had a good season, esp. in the second half.

But yeah, Wallace has also had a great year.

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#71 by Jeff Fogle // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:13pm

Wanted to update the preseason differences between FO and the "regular season wins" market. Going to be a good year at worst, with a shot at a great year.

Baltimore Over 10 (winner)
Pittsburgh Over 8.5 (winner)
Cincinnati Under 8.5 (winner)
Cleveland Under 5.5 (5-10)
Houston Under 8.5 (winner)
Kansas City Over 6.5 (winner)
San Diego Under 10.5 (winner)
Denver Over 7 (loss)
Oakland Under 6.5 (loss)
Washington Over 7.5 (loss)
Dallas Under 10.5 (winner)
Chicago Over 7.5 (winner)
Detroit Under 5.5 (5-10)
Atlanta Over 9.5 (winner)
New Orleans Under 10.5 (loss)
San Francisco Under 9 (winner)
St. Louis Over 4.5 (winner)

11 winners so far, 4 losers, 2 yet to be determined

If Cleveland and Detroit both lose, that's 13-4 for the year, almost completely erasing last year's 5-16 negative differential. A split and it's an excellent 12-5 season. If they both win, 11-6 gets back about half of last year's deficit.

Projected Division winners from the online projections at http://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2010/2010-dvoa-projections

AFC East: New England
AFC North: Baltimore
AFC South: Indianapolis
AFC West: Kansas City

NFC East: Washington
NFC North: Green Bay
NFC South: Atlanta
NFC West: Arizona

Most of the Super Bowl picks are still active from the staff. Cutting and pasting from http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings/2010/2010-staff-predictions

Bill Barnwell: Atlanta over Pittsburgh

Will Carroll: Indianapolis over Green Bay

Doug Farrar: Green Bay over Baltimore

David Gardner: Baltimore over New Orleans

Tom Gower: Indianapolis over Green Bay. Not that I expect either team actually to make it to the Super Bowl, but they're the teams I think have the best shot of ending up with the number-one seeds.

Mike Kurtz: Baltimore over New York Giants

Sean McCormick: Indianapolis over Green Bay

Ben Muth: Indianapolis over Green Bay

Aaron Schatz: Baltimore over Green Bay. That's what I told ESPN Magazine to run, that's what I picked for an ESPN piece with various "expert picks" running later today or tomorrow, and that's what I'm sticking with despite Atlanta's move in the updated projections. I like Green Bay to be a more balanced team, and thus have a slightly better chance to go all the way.

Mike Tanier: Indianapolis over Green Bay. Unless this game plays out like the preseason game in which the Packers scored 56 points and Peyton Manning spent the whole game looking like he wanted to smack someone, in which case reverse the results.

Vince Verhei: Indianapolis over Green Bay

Robert Weintraub: Baltimore over New Orleans

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#73 by Will Allen // Dec 29, 2010 - 5:25pm

Aaron, any chance we can get an update regarding how Webb and Vick compared last night?

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#78 by JonFrum // Dec 29, 2010 - 6:36pm

This is the second time I've seen the term 'faceplant' in the last 24 hours. Is this a new internet meme, or did someone use it on American Survival Gossip Island Idol, or some other popular TV show I don't watch?

I hate it when the cool kids include me out.

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#80 by Andrew Potter // Dec 29, 2010 - 7:09pm

As far as I'm aware, it's a skateboarding term for a embarrassing failure which results in you landing on your face.

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#87 by DisplacedPackerFan // Dec 29, 2010 - 9:44pm

I can't really give you the origins, but it's not new. I heard people using it in the 80's. So if it got revived somehow, I don't know, but yeah, as was mentioned, I think it originated with skateboarding, perhaps the BMX bike stuff.

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#117 by DaveP // Dec 30, 2010 - 3:13pm

>I can't really give you the origins, but it's not new. I heard people using it in the 80's. So if it got revived somehow, I don't know, but yeah, as was mentioned, I think it originated with skateboarding, perhaps the BMX bike stuff.

Skiers have been faceplanting for years, long before BMX. That and the infamous "yard sale".

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#81 by Anonymous1 (not verified) // Dec 29, 2010 - 7:12pm

I have to admit, from the outside looking in it seems that Pitt has been struggling over the last 7-8 games. The clobbered Oakland and beat Carolina soundly (though I think that had more to do with Carolina being godawful that Pitt being good) but otherwise haven't had many impressive performances.

I guess I'm having a hard time reconciling DVOA's love for Pitt and my impression of their performance. I'm perfectly willing to be convinced otherwise if anyone has a strong case in their favor.

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#99 by RickD // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:58am

In reply to by Anonymous1 (not verified)

Pittsburgh has not looked good against the better teams. They've lost at home to the Jets, Ravens, and Patriots. They did beat Baltimore on the road, barely.

Personally, I think the Ravens are better, except Pittsburgh has a slight advantage at QB.

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#115 by Anonymous1 (not verified) // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:52pm

I can buy that, but they also were outplayed by Cincy at every position except QB abd safety. Had Palmer just played OK Cincy wins that game by double digits. And we all know about the "shoulda coulda woulda" near loss to Buffalo, so it isn't just good teams they are struggling against.

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#116 by FireOmarTomlin // Dec 30, 2010 - 2:43pm

For the most part, they play up and down to the level of their competition.

Truly, the mark of a well-coached squad.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

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#120 by Jerry // Dec 30, 2010 - 3:54pm

What would their record be with a better coach? 12-3? Or are you expecting someone who will win every game 56-0?

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#86 by Ben // Dec 29, 2010 - 9:18pm

Wow, I knew that Indy's Special Teams had gone down hill, but I didn't realize they were within hailing distance of the Charger's, who were in the historically awful category for so long.

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#112 by ammek // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:30pm

The question is how to balance things, so you have years where the league DVOA is a percentage point above or below zero, but not years where the league DVOA is five percentage points above or below zero.

I think the main aim should be to avoid multiple years where the average is either persistently above zero, or persistently below zero. For the resasons you suggest, year-to-year fluctuations are fine — valuable, even. The question is: what do you want to eliminate from the measurement by altering the baseline? Is it:

— improvements due to advancements in coaching and conditioning (eg, gross punting average; success rates on 50+ yard field goals);

— improvements that seem connected to rule changes (pass completion percentage; DPI yards);

— or improvements due to strategic changes, possibly linked to one of the above (interception and sack rates; higher rush averages due to fewer attempts)?

If rule changes appear to be the key drivers of shifts in DVOA, then it would make sense to split the DVOA era into blocks. Pass offense, for instance, would divide into four blocks: up to 1993; years affected by the 1994 rule changes (1994-2003); by the 2004 changes (2004-06); and by the 2007 changes (2007 onward).

The alternative would be a rolling baseline, whereby each past year appears at the center of a five-year span. For instance, the baseline for 2007 would be 2005-09; the baseline for 1996 would be 1994-98. This has the advantage of mirroring the gradual nature of teams' adaptation to rule changes, while respecting year-to-year fluctuations of performance. The biggest problems are: is it feasible; and what to do about the years at the beginning and end of the DVOA era? For the latter question, I'd suggest using a three-year baseline for the first and last seasons (currently: 2008-2010 for 2010 DVOA; 1993-95 for 1993 DVOA) and then adding a year whenever it becomes available until you reach the five-year span. That would leave 2010 DVOA feeling somewhat temporary and alterable at the end of the season; it would be revised again after 2011 and 2012. But DVOA gets brushed up most offseasons anyway.

As for the other question, well, I haven't seen the magic spreadsheets. Only the folks at FO know whether it would be worth the work involved to create multiple baselines for numbers that essentially only interest history buffs. Here's hoping you'll try!

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#113 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 30, 2010 - 1:38pm

The alternative would be a rolling baseline, whereby each past year appears at the center of a five-year span

This sounds like the best plan to me. For the years near the end points, just use the 5 most recent years. So 2008 would use 2006-2010, as would 2009 and 2010.

So I guess I'm just agreeing with your entire proposal.

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#121 by morrongiello // Dec 31, 2010 - 1:29am

Is it weird that Pittsburgh's offensive drive success rate is 16th in the league but their offensive DVOA is 7th?

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#122 by Stirling Newberry (not verified) // Jan 01, 2011 - 5:18pm

There is a perpetual question about how to adjust stats, and not just in sports. Should the statistics provide an absolute yardstick, for example, umber of home runs, or should it provide a relative yardstick, say the way ERA+ does? The answer in most systems is to keep both, because the "long term" is going to vary. Sometimes you want to ask questions about the relationships at a point in time, and other times, you want to compare different periods.

Example, let's say the NFL goes to an 18 game schedule. People are going to want to ask, "how has this altered the game." This is a case for keeping "absolute" DVOA numbers. On the other hand, you might someday ask "should Matt Ryan go to the Hall of Fame." I this case, one wants numbers that are measured in standard deviations from his background to say how much more he added on his pass plays to team success than a replacement player, or the league average.

So on one hand, the absolute stats going above a baseline of zero tells us something about the game, and that is important for observing the real effects of rules changes on a play by play basis. On the other hand, the only way to compare how dominant one team in one year is against other teams in other years, is to curve the results.

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#124 by Stirling Newberry (not verified) // Jan 01, 2011 - 5:34pm

One of the uses of DVOA that has not been written about enough is in play calling. DVOA is a play oriented series of statistics, more than it is about players, or wins and losses. One can do better than DVOA in calling games against the spread by taking statistics which correlate well with victories, and using this to reduce the noise from luck and particular game changing plays in picking teams to win or lose. On the other hand, such statistics are less useful in deciding which play to call, because they bundle up several factors together. An example is CHFF's "scoreability" which really bundles up the defense's ability to hold down yards given up, and score on their own right, along with special teams ability to score and get good field position. It doesn't really tell you if the offense, qua the offense, is efficient, as much as it tells you whether the offense can exploit a short porch if they have one.

DVOA, by contrast, breaks these features out by play. So what would be useful is to talk more about situational DVOA. Go for it on 4th and 4 from your own 45? Run or pass? Run on 2nd and 7 to get it to 3rd and manageable? Or just go for the first down straight up? The basic methodology of DVOA allows for looking, not so much as money ball, but how teams perform on the money shot: does this defense give up more third and long conversions than it should? Does this offense get first downs on first down? For coach decision making, these kinds of situationals, boiled down to a single set of numbers, saying what is the rate of success on this particular place, would be invaluable. Particularly because some teams seem to have chronic problems with good decision making on play calling.

Ditto for QBs that audible. What are the stats on what you want to shift to? What is the option? Should you go for a second look on your long receivers, or just check down fast. Play design could be altered to DVOA situationals: tell the QB to go to the hot read against a team that is good at bringing pressure and generating negative plays, tell the QB to keep the play alive against teams whose secondaries get burned more frequently, because there's upside.

Play calling is one of the most debated and controversial of topics, and DVOA, more than any other statistical tool available, gives specific numbers that lead to specific guidance on where the best choices are.

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#125 by pistolpete (not verified) // Jan 01, 2011 - 7:32pm

Momentum does not exist in sports. It makes no difference if you rest or go all out in the last games of the regular season. The team with 'momentum' or the 'better' team does not always win. It comes down to preparation/smarts, desire/attitude, talent/depth. With playoff games, any one of them, if great enough, can make the difference in any one game. Lose one and you're done is a great format.

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#126 by Nathan // Jan 05, 2011 - 8:32pm


Have you ever watched a basketball game?

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