Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Week 8 DVOA Ratings
Week 8 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Green Bay stays on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after its week off. There's a bit of shuffling right below, with Buffalo moving up into the second spot. The Jets drop in DVOA despite not playing, for two different reasons: First, due to opponent adjustments changing, and second, because I adjusted the baselines for measuring punts and kickoffs this week in order to get leaguewide special teams performance closer to DVOA. That dropped a handful of teams depending on how many punts and kickoffs they've been involved in.

This week's surprising team is Pittsburgh, which ranks just 12th despite their big victory over New England this week. Part of the problem is that it wasn't that big a victory. In particular, the Steelers' offense slowed down in the fourth quarter, converting just one out of four third downs and losing yardage on two big sacks that gave the Patriots one last chance to try a desperate comeback drive with 30 seconds left. Pittsburgh's single-game DVOA was just 26.6%, so the Steelers' total DVOA for the season barely moves and they actually lose a spot in the rankings, passed by Detroit and Atlanta.

This week we say goodbye to DAVE, our formula which combines preseason projection with in-season performance. The tables now list WEIGHTED DVOA instead, our formula which drops the importance of earlier games, although right now the difference between regular DVOA and weighted DVOA is minimal.

I apologize for the lack of commentary this week, but I've been hit by massive writer's block and finally decided I needed to get these ratings up so you could all discuss them rather than continuing to bang my head against the desk trying to write. So enjoy.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through eight weeks of 2011, 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.

Opponent adjustments are currently at 80 percent strength and will steadily grow stronger until Week 10. 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 GB 29.4% 1 29.5% 1 7-0 37.4% 1 8.0% 20 0.0% 13
2 BUF 26.4% 4 26.1% 3 5-2 29.6% 3 2.2% 17 -1.1% 23
3 NYJ 26.2% 2 26.5% 2 4-3 2.6% 20 -14.4% 2 9.2% 3
4 SF 25.0% 3 25.2% 4 6-1 4.0% 18 -11.1% 4 9.9% 2
5 HOU 21.7% 8 21.9% 5 5-3 18.5% 7 -1.0% 11 2.3% 8
6 BAL 20.5% 6 20.5% 6 5-2 -4.0% 23 -29.8% 1 -5.2% 30
7 NYG 18.7% 10 18.8% 7 5-2 19.8% 5 -0.2% 12 -1.3% 25
8 NE 17.5% 5 17.1% 8 5-2 33.8% 2 16.2% 27 -0.2% 15
9 DET 16.8% 13 16.8% 9 6-2 8.9% 11 -11.2% 3 -3.3% 28
10 ATL 13.4% 14 13.5% 10 4-3 7.3% 13 -4.2% 6 1.8% 9
11 NO 13.0% 7 12.7% 11 5-3 24.2% 4 10.4% 26 -0.7% 20
12 PIT 11.5% 11 11.8% 13 6-2 12.9% 9 1.3% 15 -0.1% 14
13 PHI 11.4% 16 12.0% 12 3-4 18.2% 8 5.9% 18 -0.8% 22
14 CIN 10.8% 12 10.8% 14 5-2 4.1% 17 -2.9% 7 3.9% 6
15 CHI 7.1% 15 7.5% 15 4-3 -3.9% 22 -1.0% 10 9.9% 1
16 DAL 5.8% 9 5.9% 16 3-4 5.6% 15 -2.1% 8 -1.8% 26
17 TEN 3.2% 17 2.4% 17 4-3 11.1% 10 7.7% 19 -0.2% 17
18 OAK 0.4% 18 0.0% 18 4-3 8.5% 12 9.4% 23 1.2% 10
19 TB -1.3% 19 -1.7% 20 4-3 4.2% 16 10.1% 25 4.6% 4
20 MIN -1.3% 20 -1.4% 19 2-6 7.2% 14 8.7% 21 0.2% 12
21 SD -8.8% 24 -9.0% 22 4-3 3.2% 19 9.9% 24 -2.1% 27
22 KC -9.3% 23 -8.6% 21 4-3 -10.4% 27 1.6% 16 2.8% 7
23 CAR -9.9% 22 -9.8% 23 2-6 19.2% 6 21.0% 31 -8.1% 31
24 CLE -10.8% 25 -10.5% 24 3-4 -9.2% 26 0.8% 14 -0.8% 21
25 WAS -14.5% 21 -15.0% 25 3-4 -15.3% 30 -1.4% 9 -0.6% 19
26 SEA -18.6% 27 -18.6% 26 2-5 -14.4% 29 0.2% 13 -4.1% 29
27 MIA -19.8% 29 -19.9% 27 0-7 -2.9% 21 16.7% 28 -0.2% 16
28 DEN -21.9% 26 -22.0% 28 2-5 -13.2% 28 9.4% 22 0.7% 11
29 JAC -25.2% 28 -24.9% 29 2-6 -29.0% 32 -4.9% 5 -1.1% 24
30 ARI -25.7% 30 -25.9% 30 1-6 -9.2% 25 20.7% 30 4.3% 5
31 STL -38.2% 32 -38.1% 31 1-6 -20.7% 31 17.1% 29 -0.4% 18
32 IND -40.0% 31 -40.3% 32 0-8 -5.8% 24 25.1% 32 -9.0% 32
  • 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 GB 29.4% 7-0 32.2% 7.0 1 -5.4% 27 4.5% 9 2.1% 1
2 BUF 26.4% 5-2 27.4% 5.5 3 2.3% 13 1.0% 16 9.4% 12
3 NYJ 26.2% 4-3 23.5% 5.0 10 -1.4% 20 3.9% 11 11.9% 18
4 SF 25.0% 6-1 22.9% 5.5 4 2.0% 15 -10.6% 32 8.1% 10
5 HOU 21.7% 5-3 28.4% 5.2 7 -5.0% 26 -7.5% 30 19.1% 28
6 BAL 20.5% 5-2 24.6% 5.5 2 -0.1% 19 -3.4% 28 27.7% 31
7 NYG 18.7% 5-2 24.6% 5.2 6 -8.5% 31 13.3% 1 16.2% 23
8 NE 17.5% 5-2 14.6% 5.4 5 2.2% 14 -2.5% 25 10.1% 14
9 DET 16.8% 6-2 26.7% 5.1 9 0.5% 18 7.4% 3 7.3% 8
10 ATL 13.4% 4-3 3.7% 5.0 11 5.0% 7 -3.0% 26 3.0% 4
11 NO 13.0% 5-3 16.8% 4.9 12 -7.1% 30 4.9% 7 15.2% 21
12 PIT 11.5% 6-2 16.5% 4.9 13 -6.2% 28 -0.2% 21 17.1% 25
13 PHI 11.4% 3-4 6.0% 4.5 14 4.4% 9 -0.4% 22 11.9% 17
14 CIN 10.8% 5-2 23.0% 5.1 8 -3.6% 25 1.6% 15 2.2% 2
15 CHI 7.1% 4-3 6.4% 4.2 18 8.6% 4 -0.2% 19 11.5% 16
16 DAL 5.8% 3-4 0.5% 4.4 16 3.9% 10 -0.5% 23 18.4% 27
17 TEN 3.2% 4-3 7.4% 4.4 17 -6.3% 29 -0.2% 20 30.0% 32
18 OAK 0.4% 4-3 1.8% 4.4 15 7.1% 5 -0.9% 24 20.5% 29
19 TB -1.3% 4-3 -3.5% 4.1 19 10.6% 3 4.6% 8 16.4% 24
20 MIN -1.3% 2-6 2.4% 4.0 20 0.9% 16 5.5% 5 17.4% 26
21 SD -8.8% 4-3 0.6% 3.2 26 -2.5% 24 5.9% 4 6.6% 7
22 KC -9.3% 4-3 -12.6% 3.4 22 -2.0% 22 3.2% 13 25.0% 30
23 CAR -9.9% 2-6 -6.0% 3.5 21 -2.1% 23 3.2% 12 8.4% 11
24 CLE -10.8% 3-4 -0.7% 3.3 23 -9.2% 32 0.8% 17 2.8% 3
25 WAS -14.5% 3-4 -16.9% 3.2 25 -1.6% 21 4.4% 10 13.3% 20
26 SEA -18.6% 2-5 -21.2% 3.1 27 3.5% 11 -5.2% 29 12.3% 19
27 MIA -19.8% 0-7 -19.4% 3.2 24 6.1% 6 10.0% 2 3.7% 5
28 DEN -21.9% 2-5 -19.1% 2.9 28 4.6% 8 5.4% 6 6.2% 6
29 JAC -25.2% 2-6 -27.5% 2.4 29 12.1% 1 -7.8% 31 10.5% 15
30 ARI -25.7% 1-6 -21.2% 2.4 30 0.9% 17 -3.1% 27 7.8% 9
31 STL -38.2% 1-6 -43.4% 1.8 31 12.1% 2 -0.2% 18 9.6% 13
32 IND -40.0% 0-8 -43.9% 1.6 32 3.2% 12 2.0% 14 15.9% 22


133 comments, Last at 17 Nov 2011, 1:11pm

1 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I know the guy still doesn't pass block well, and it drives me nuts, but the Vikings rank on offense is purely testimony to how freakin' great Adrian Peterson is at rushing the ball.

65 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Pass Offense: -1.5%
Rush Offense: 25.2%

Yowser. That's a bigger disparity than the Barry Sanders era Lions.

73 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I mentioned this before, but it was really driven home for me when Dom Capers had the Packers defense playing with a single safety over the top, when the Packers were up by 13 points on the Vikings, in the fourth quarter. I had to go to my computer in order to make sure Richard Nixon hadn't become President again.

2 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Kudos to Cincy for continuing to exceed expectations. That Buffalo win will have less impact as time goes by, though ... it will be interesting to see the Bengals' DVOA after they've been challenged by the Stealers and Ravens.

3 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Random question but one thing I've never understood is how on the individual player stats 0% DVOA can be considered replacement level? Isn't 0% DVOA at (or near) league average? That should be far above replacement level, because you're talking about what the typical freely available replacement would be able to produce. That by definition should not be a level that half of the league is below, because if it were teams would be easily able to replace those players with replacement level ones!

7 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

0% DVOA is an average performance over the period where the baselines are calculated.

Replacement level is like -18% DVOA. The exact number is in the Methods page.

36 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Think of it this way: a street free agent is almost certainly not a league-average player. If he were, he would not be a street free agent.

Also, DVOA is not a measure of individual talent. DVOA is a team statistic.

4 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Wow, Green Bay's estimated wins jumped from 6.2 -> 7.0

What's the latest in a season that a team has had a perfect estimated record?

12 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The other things that impresses me is that GB leads the league in variation, or lack thereof. They are the best, and have been consistently the best every game this season. People like to knock their defense, and it's not that good, but they prevent points ... the offense is other-worldly.

5 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I wonder how much of DET's DVOA value comes from playing KC when they were brutal at the beginning of the year and the worse than Brutal Tebow Broncos

40 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Packers played those same brutal Broncos not too long ago. It's not clear that they are brutally worse now than they were then.

41 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by QQ (not verified)

I'm not sure how much of that was KC being god-awful early in the season, as it is KC playing the two best teams on its schedule in the first 3 games.

The got shellacked by Detroit and Buffalo, who appear to actually be good teams, then lost close to SD. They then ran off 4 wins against 3 nobodies and then a close win over SD. We tend to think of SD as a good team, but they've been brutal this year, and are 1-3 against teams with a winning record, and that team was KC.

KC might actually be middling as opposed to terrible. Or they're just maddeningly inconsistent, a la NO who clocked Indy and was even with GB, then got smacked by the woeful Rams.

76 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It's interesting. Just imagine if KC had played the exact same games with the exact same outcomes, but in a different order. Imagine they had started 4-0 and then went 0-3. All we would have heard at first was how surprising and amazing Haley had the Chiefs playing this season, and are they a SB contender, etc... and then we'd be hearing nothing about them except what an epic collapse they were having, and should Haley be fired and is Matt Cassel any good...

The perception of them would be totally different.

8 Giants vs Patriots

DVOA is yet another metric by which the Giants seem much closer to the Patriots than the 8.5 point spread. Is that all about the the fact that New England never loses two games in a row? Cause I'm trying to distinguish my fanhood from my pick this week but am still loving the Giants and the way they match up with New England.

Also... surprised how low the Chargers make it. Even though they haven't beat anyone they are 4-3 and have been in the games they lost. Odd to see them at a negative DVOA

25 Re: Giants vs Patriots

Patriots have been a huge public money team since probably 2007. Also, people view the Giants as the team that barely beat Miami and lost to Seattle.

I will say, while the back-to-back loss thing is largely true, in 2009 they lost back-to-back twice (if you count Week 17 and then the Wild Card game), and while they did beat the Steelers after the Browns loss (after a bye week), they won very unconvincingly over a bad Buffalo team after losing to the Jets in Week 2.

124 Re: Giants vs Patriots

Well, the Patriots were 13 point favourites the last time the sides met. Anyone remember how that one turned out?

10 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

You're darn right that that NY Giants have the toughest schedule from hereon out. Look at their next five games. They'll be lucky to get into the playoffs. It's not easy for the Saints or the Lions, either.

On the other hand, look at the 49ers, the Patriots, and the Texans. They can moonwalk into the playoffs. The 49ers are pretty much a lock to get to the conference championship unless they lose at home in the playoffs.

26 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I can't see the Pats moonwalking to the playoffs. Their offense is not as good as it was last year, and their defense is worse. They have two tough games upcoming, and then a trip to Philly and another game against Buffalo. They do have a nice part of the schedule with Miami, KC (not a cakewalk anymore, I guess), Denver adn Washington, but the schedules of the other teams aren't that bad either. Totally agree with the Texans and 49ers. The difference with those two is that their divisions aren't very good (not a believer in TEN at all).

100 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

see.. and i always considered moonwalking as moving forward while looking backwards.

which kind of sounds like the giants and the ravens right now.

33 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Well, the Playoff Odds report still has the Giants as 61% likely to win the NFCE, and 9% likely to get a wildcard berth. The schedule is frightening, but they do have a 2-game lead on the rest of the division, with a win already in hand @Philly (i.e., the rival most likely to be able to make up that 2-game gap). The hopeful scenario for them is to go 3-1 in their remaining divisional games (3 of which are at home), and steal another win or two somewhere else.

66 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

That's why losing against Seattle was so horrific. Knowing the schedule, I knew they had to come out of the bye at 6-1 to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. It's still possible, but much, much more difficult.

11 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

You're darn right that that NY Giants have the toughest schedule from hereon out. Look at their next five games. They'll be lucky to get into the playoffs. It's not easy for the Saints or the Lions, either.

On the other hand, look at the 49ers, the Patriots, and the Texans. They can moonwalk into the playoffs. The 49ers are pretty much a lock to get to the conference championship unless they lose at home in the playoffs.

14 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

How long before the Chiefs disastrous start stops being significant in weighted DVOA?

15 Playoff odds

Wow, huge changes for Dallas, San Diego and New Orleans Saints (down). And then... the NFC West with not much deviation from 100% and 0%, no matter the outcome.

16 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Huh. Last week the Giants had the 32nd ranked "Past Schedule" and the Browns were 31st.

This week, after the Giants played Miami at home and the Browns went to San Francisco, their rankings flipped. I guess it's due to team quality adjustments, but I would not have expected that.

31 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Eagles' and Rams' big wins (and, to a lesser extent, the Cards playing Baltimore close) probably boosted the Giants' "past schedule" rating.

18 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The PIT sacks at the end of the game are an example of where DVOA fails because it doesn't know about the clock (other than kneeldowns at the end of a half). Obviously, these sacks were much, much better than incomplete passes would have been, but they are treated as much worse. I'm not saying that these playcalls were especially intelligent, but the actual difference between sacks and, say, runs into the middle of the line are not very big (assuming that PIT planned to eschew the FG attempt).

22 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Given the way the Pats were looking for the run, I had no problem with those two "throw it if someone's wide open, otherwise take the sack" calls. As long as they didn't stop the clock or lose the football, it was acceptable.

Your more important point is correct. I don't expect DVOA to recognize that those weren't "big sacks". In this case, they were significantly better than incompletions, or even short completions that went out of bounds.

28 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Very true. With these cited as a big reason for an underwhelming PIT DVOA this week, I wonder just how much of an effect they had.

I was also expecting PIT's defense to climb a few spots, since they performed well against a highly-rated offense. But I'm still quite happy with the win, and I'm eager to see how the game against the Ravens goes (with maybe just 1 out of 4 starting linebackers available!).

34 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I was much more surprised that the PIT weighted DVOA didn't go up, as they move away from the week 1 debacle.

Anyway, I will be a bit surprised if PIT wins this week. If I'm BAL, I'm running unbalanced line with an extra tackle, going no-huddle, and seeing how long it takes for Big Snack to suck oxygen with Chris Hoke and all of the starting LBs out.

37 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The games in M&T have been more memorable (the regular season games of course, all three playoff meetings were in Heinz), with last years game, and that great defensive struggle in Week 15 in 2008, which ended with Ben's 92-yd drive and a goal-line controversy. Here's hoping for a solid game, one with a lot of defense. I think with possibly three of the four LBs out the Ravens have the edge (and DVOA probably gives them the edge as well), but playing in Heinz will be tough. It will be fun if it comes down to kickers. Which ex-Cowboy castoff will come up big?

39 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

An ultraviolent close defensive slugfest is all well and good, but I choose to continue to hope for the Steelers to administer a three digit mega-stomping.

47 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I just want any team to get to 100. It will be like that Wimbledon match that ended 70-68. I could just stare at that scoreboard saying 106-13 for years and not believe it.

55 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It wouldn't be expected, but the most points scored in an NFL game (73) occurred in the NFL Championship game, and came against the 3rd best scoring defense that year.


That said, I only count 4 NFL games with a combined score greater than 100 points.


94 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

That 73-0 score would have been even worse if the Bears hadn't missed 4 extra points (3 kicks and 1 pass attempt). The pass attempts on the last two extra point were necessary because they were down to their last football to play with, as the Bears had kicked so many extra points into the crowd. They couldn't kick the last ball into the stands. The Bears went 1-2 on these last two extra points, converting on the first and failing on the second.

98 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Just missing was this beauty

Green Bay 48, Washington 47 on Monday Night Football, when Mark Mosely missed a makeable field goal at the buzzer. I watched that one on a crummy black and white TV, still about as much fun as a MNF game can get.

Interesting trivia - the Redskins that year went 14-2. Their other loss was also on Monday Night, 31-30 to Dallas in a game they once lead 23-3. (the cowboys were 12-4 that year, the packers 8-8). Given that they went 4-0 in the playoffs in January the previous season (the strike shortened one) ending with a Superbowl win on January 30, 1983... and that they would not lose another game from that point until the following Superbowl to the Raiders in January 22, 1984...

The Redskins technically were undefeated on Sundays for the entire calendar year of 1983.

103 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Packers - Redskins game was the first time I was allowed to stay up for the entire game. It was a fantastic game from the perspective of a 10-year old Green Bay resident.

56 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

100 points would be 14 TDs and a FG. Assuming an NFL head coach would stop running it up after scoring 50-60, you'd need something like 5-7 defensive or special teams TDs to get to 100. Unless the Globetrotters join the league, I don't think you'll ever see that game.

52 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I hope I'll be able to walk right into the stadium Sunday night, but I expect to wait in line for a while. Which is to say, I share your hope.

67 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'm expecting LeBeau to play a 4-2-5 with Keisel, Hampton, McClendon and Hood on the line, Foote and Timmons at LB, and Polamalu coming up as a de facto third LB. And don't be surprised to see both Keisel and Hood dropping into coverage at times.

75 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Totally agree. I was going to make the same point myself. Those sacks helped Pittsburgh win far more than incomplete passes would have, or even short completed passes where the runner went out of bounds. Yet DVOA thinks they were terrible plays. The blindness to clock management of DVOA is a known issue, and I would tend to discount what it is telling you about how a team plays late in the first half and late in the second half of a close game.

77 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I was amused to hear the commentators' horror at Pittsburgh calling a passing play. Given that the alternative was an essentially hopeless run up the gut, the pass play wins on almost all accounts. It takes longer, it is safer (if your QB isn't stupid), and it has a chance of gaining a first down if the defense does something stupid. Losing yardage didn't matter in this case.

It's hard to mix clock management into overall DVOA, since it's a truly separate skill from playing well in general. But it would be interesting to see non-clock DVOA (excluding some portion of the ends of halves).

81 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I like the idea of tallying DVOA without plays in the last two minutes of each half (or with more intelligently-chosen cut-offs for each game, but that would probably be a lot of work). I'm sure it would throw out a lot of good information along with the hard-to-interpret clock-management decisions, but I would be very interested just to know how much the ratings change, and for which teams/which games. It could be very instructive to study.

Or, you could tally DVOA with only the plays from the last two minutes of each half, which I expect would give a direct measurement of which teams "want it more" and can pull out wins after 58 minutes of back-and-forth football.

88 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I don't think it would be that hard. The time remaining, score, and number of timeouts a team has are all available in the play-by-play, so DVOA could include that.

I think all you have to do is change the success point formula in time critical situations. I.e. give additional success points for a team leading managing to take time off the clock, and subtract success points for a team trailing taking too much time off the clock.

So, for example, a 4 yard run on 1st down is normally worth 1 success point. However, a team in a "run out the clock mode" might get a success point even for a zero yard run, as long as it stays in bounds and there are no penalties, since it takes time off the clock. Conversely, a team trying to come from behind might get zero success points for an in-bounds 4 yard run. On the flip side, a team normally would get 4 points for a 20 yard pass, and 3 points for a 10 yard pass, and 0 points for an incomplete. But if the team was trying to come from behind, maybe the 20 yard pass only is worth 3 points if it stays in bounds, and the 10 yard pass might be worth 4 if it goes to the sideline and stops the clock. An incomplete might even be worth a positive fraction of a success point, especially if it comes on 1st down, because it stops the clock.

Finally, you could take the context of FG's into account. A 10 yard pass on 3rd and 25 is normally a failure and would get only a tiny fraction of a success point. But to a team trailing by 2 points with practically no time left on the clock, a 10 yard pass on 3rd and 25 that moves the ball from the 35 yard line to the 25 yard line is a huge success, since it greatly increases the chance of winning, and should be worth substantial success points.

What situations this kicks in, and what the multipliers are, would have to be determined, but it's not like DVOA doesn't already have a bunch of multiplier modifiers in it that have been tuned to things.

90 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

This reminds me of Brian Burke's WPA stat - a two yard run on 1st and 10 which draws down the clock will add WPA, but not as much as if they converted a 1st down. It's not perfect, but it's a useful bit of analysis for our toolbox.

96 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

WPA is more about a play's leverage than about its indication of skill. So third and fourth down plays are overrepresented (for DVOA purposes...it's fine for Brians's) while other plays are under-weighted. It's the similar to the problem that the red-zone bonus has in DVOA.

I agree that WPA can be sensitive to the clock in a way that DVOA can't be. I think that's because WPA is telling the story of a game, while DVOA is scouting the skills demonstrated in the game.

114 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I've always thought there should be a way to include clock in DVOA. Something like:

Find the points in a game where a team that's leading takes a different amount of time per play than a team that's trailing. (This may vary by size of lead.) Then compare the time that a play consumes to the average to get clock VOA. Figuring out exactly how this fits into the overall DVOA scheme requires more information than I have, but it would credit teams that run good two-minute drills and/or great clock-draining drives. Those three kneeldowns at the end of a close game are valuable plays, and it would be nice if DVOA could somehow reflect that.

128 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

You are exactly right to focus on the success point formula. Merely comparing to a different baseline, as DVOA already does, doesn't solve the problems. Nor does adding or removing weight.

But I think it's harder than you suggest, for two reasons. First, is a correct success point formula too dependent on who is playing to make it universal? And second, does having a different formula make late-game DVOA less predictive of future general success?

My opinion is that what constitutes clock management success is inherently tactical. In all other parts of the game, there are strong theories as to the relative value of yards, first downs, turnovers, and touchdowns. These theories don't depend (much) on who you are and who you're playing. But the value of 30 more seconds on the clock vs. 20 yards of field position can depend heavily on the teams playing. In normal times, all teams have and should have the same strategic goals, even if they differ in tactics. But in clock-management time, teams have and should have different goals.

I also believe that late-game DVOA has a lot of problems when used to predict future success. The skills are different, and the goal is no longer to maximize the value of the next score without regard to speed of scoring.

For DVOA as a prediction tool, the best thing might be to just exclude clock-management time from the calculation. But for DYAR, which is more about grading past production (as in Quick Reads or QB stats ranking) we need something that covers all the plays. For me, I'd like to see DYAR divided into DYAR in 'normal' play and DYAR in clock-management play, with a reasonable cutoff between the two. That's what we tend to talk about anyway, so why not have the data?

102 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings


it wasn't just the announcers. the crowd was horrified as well. not to go all TMQ here, but from the nosebleeds it sure looked like the smart play was run mendenhall into the line for no gain twice, kick the field goal, and put the game out of reach.

104 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

That was never an option. You can:
1) take two sacks and punt,
2) manage to throw a first down and win the game,
3) run twice for no gain and punt,
4) run twice for no gain and miss a field goal.

They tried for 2, which is the best option. They failed 2, which yielded 1. 1 is just as good as 3, and 4 is the worst option. I think they made the right choice.

110 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

i think you're missing some options.

5) attempt to close out the game by running for a first down. jesus, james starks can do it, mendenhall can't?
6) make a 40 yard field goal if you can run for some positive yards.
7) make a damn 45 yard field goal.

if these three things are considered so unlikely as to be impossible, personnel changes would seem to be in order. a decent football team, much less a super bowl contender, should be able to do these things.

111 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

"personnel changes would seem to be in order"

Agreed, but they've been trying to find a guard since Faneca left, and had to hire a player they already cut and start a rookie to start the tackles they had. Why Suisham got the long contract he's on, I couldn't tell you.

116 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Suisham is a slightly-above-replacement-level kicker. They can flail around during the season trying to find something better, but that's risky. If the next Gary Anderson gets waived, I assume they'll be as quick to take advantage as they were thirty years ago, but they can live with what they've got until someone obviously better comes along.

105 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Now I'm even more amused. This time at Steelers fans, which I admit are easy to be amused about.

They'd already missed a field goal from closer than this one would have been. A first down would have been better than a field goal. A punt would have been safer than attempting a long field goal, and a punt would put the Patriots deeper in the hole than a missed field goal.

Sure making the field goal would be better than punting. But that's just wishful thinking.

106 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

just to clear up any confusion, i'm not a steelers fan, but i was in a sea of them at the game, and this was the chatter.

it seemed reasonable at the time (influence of the mob, perhaps).

looking at the play-by-play now.. says they had 1st & 10 at the 27, then ran for a loss of one. so.. gain nothing, and its a 45-yarder on a clear night. i don't really see that as wishful thinking. seems less likely he'd have banged two straight off the upright from the same distance, no?

118 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Good. Then I wasn't being amused at you.

Honestly, I would have understood three kneels and a punt, a long field goal try, attempts to run for yards, or the "safe pass" plays they called. It would have been stupid to stop the clock or run a double reverse.

I was amused at the "horror" being expressed, as if telling Roethliberger to "eat it or complete it" was some unusual play call for the situation. It's one of several right calls, especially against a pass defense as bad as the Patriots.

Remember: two shorter field goals had been missed at that end of the field in that half. I think it had become a tougher night for kickers than you realized.

119 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

ah, well. it was a late game. six or seven hours of drinking will do wonders for one's judgement on degree of difficulty.

107 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Suisham having to make a long FG in crunch time at Heinz Field is a scenario that ends well about as often as a Vikings or Bills Super Bowl.

109 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

at that point then, why even have him as a kicker? if you really think he'll shank two straight from 45, in perfect weather. am i off base here? this seems absurd to me.

117 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

speaking of amusing Steelers fans and towel dispenser killers.. conversation in the stands behind me after Suisham hit the upright:

fan #1: I miss Reed
fan #2: So what if he went on a 4-week bender in the middle of the season? They never should have let him go


fan #1: Whatever happened to him, anyway?
fan #3: Out of the league


fan #1: Oh... Hmm..

19 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It seems like a very weak year for pass defense, the 49ers are 4th in pass defense with a DVOA of -2.6%. Is that normal for this stage of the season?
(FYI 1:BAL -34.9, 2:NYJ -25.7, 3:DET -16.6)

23 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Yes, it's a great year for passing offense, and a lousy year for passing defense.

The Seahawks offense has a passing DVOA of 0.1%. They're almost exactly average for all teams going back to 1992. This year, though, they're 23rd.

42 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'm curious. Anecdotally we're not seeing the massive passing yards in week 1 or the 400+ passing yard games every week, but does DVOA see it that way as well? In other words are passing performances regressing to the mean more quickly?

One of my theories was that the defense was going to take longer to gel than the offense, especially on passing, and as a result defenses would get gashed early - but as the season got on and people got used to things we'd see a lot more calming.

43 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

My mind boggles at a world where the Lions have the 3rd best pass defense in the NFL.

The last time that happened, Dick LeBeau was still a player.

70 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Aaron Brook's … (not verified)

You're forgetting the quite competent Detroit defenses of the late 1970s. We don't have DVOA for those years, but for example, the 1976 team gave up the second-fewest passing yards while tying for the fourth-most interceptions.

20 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

What was involved in "bringing special teams closer to DVOA?" It looks like that was basically devaluing special teams relative to offense and defense.

24 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Why is the Denver Tebows so low? DVOA must not account for Detroit being evil or something because Tebow is awesome in the last 5 minutes in a game and the last time I checked that is Cluth time when Swagger and leadership and winning matter most.

27 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I somehow think the Niners easy schedule increases the likelihood of the Packers finishing undefeated, despite their relatively tough schedule.

Its scary that they are both overall #1 and #1 in variance, meaning they fluctuate between good and scary good.

30 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Huge dropoff in passing defense from Baltimore, to New York Jets, to Detroit, to San Francisco in passing defense. Basically, each of the top three are on their own tier, and then the 49ers start a larger grouping of passing defenses.

Baltimore is scary good against the pass.

Edit: just noticed that Karl already posted this...

32 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

They are scary good. I think the 5th best in the DVOA era (if they stay where they are). The 2009 Jets were higher (making what Manning did to them in the AFC Title Game that much more amazing), and the 2002 Bucs were a patently ridiculous -52.5% at pass defense, which makes Rich Gannon's 2td 5int Super Bowl game actually probably average. The other two I remember as being higher were the 1999 Bucs and the 2004 Bills (probably the oddest team to lead the league in defensive DVOA in the past 10 years).

38 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'm surprised that the 2004 Bills pass defense DVOA is higher than that of the 2003-2004 Patriots or the 2005-2006 Bears. I thought those 2 teams were two of the toughest defenses to pass on that I've ever seen.

89 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

That 2004 Bills defense was flat-out awesome against the pass. Nate Clements can thank them for being very rich, since that's where his rep was made. A starting four of Clements, McGee, Vincent and Milloy really helped, as did actually having a pass rush.

45 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Gannon wasn't helped by Callahan's moronic refusal to change the play call names, despite Gruden being on the opposing team.

48 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

No he wasn't, but I think that whole storyline was a bit overrated. The Bucs defense was just that good. It kind of takes away from just how amazing those Bucs were to say the only reason they crushed the Raiders (or a large part of the reason) was due to Gruden knowing the plays.

They were an underrated all-time team. Their offense was average, but their defense was crazy good (I think overall the best defense in the DVOA era too). They ran through the playoffs 31-6, 27-10 and 48-21. Scarier was that seven of those Eagles points were on like a 15 yard drive after a long KO return and 6 of the Raiders points came off of a blocked punt for a TD.

50 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

As a Ravens fan, and therefore biased to their 2000 D, I just want to chime in on how awesome that Tampa defense was in their Super Bowl year. Incredible front 4, and excellent secondary.

I don't know what DVOA says, but to my mind that Tampa D might have been better than the Ravens D was vs the pass, and maybe not quite as good against the run. Fun to watch them work.

51 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

DVOA is actually down on teh 2000 Ravens D, relatively of course. They actually rank the 2000 Titans D higher on DVOA. The Ravens run D was higher than the 2002 Bucs, but the 2002 Bucs pass D was off the charts. Their -52.5% might just be the most exceptional unit in the DVOA era, considering the next highest was the '99 Bucs at -38 something.

That Bucs D has two definite HOFs (Sapp, Brooks) and one other that probably will get in (Lynch) and another that quietly has a resume that lends an argument (Barber). To have possibly 4 HOFs on one defense, all in their prime? That's 1970's pre-free agency stuff.

54 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'd believe that, except for the Raiders players pointing out that based on the formation and line calls, the Tampa players were calling out what the play call was. When the defense is playing in Tecmo Bowl mode, your offense is in trouble.

53 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

The Packer special teams with a DVOA of 0.0%! This is like reaching the mountain top! After seasons' of subpar performances, ST Coach Shawn Slocum's unit has reached mediocrity. Trust me, in Green Bay we'll happily settle for that.

83 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It's amazing what making kickoffs 5 yards easier combined with a better than average kick returner can do. The return blocking still sucks (Cobb is doing much of this on his own) and the coverage units aren't that great either, just seeing fewer opportunities. If Methany can return to last year's second half punting levels, we may even see a positive number there.

120 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Cobb has to learn that this is the NFL and unless you are losing late in the half/game or are Devin Hester it is never a good idea to take a kick out of the end zone. Even if you took one all the way back earlier this year, the odds are still poor that you'll get past the 25 (and if you do get past the 25, the odds are excellent that it will come back on a penalty).

122 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Funny. I'm a Jets fan and I always want the Jets to run it out of the endzone, and they almost always do. Sure there's a chance the returner could be tackled between the 15 and the 20, but there's up to 80 yards of upside if they risk it. To me, the reward far outweighs the risk. But then again the Jets block the hell out of kick returns and the offense isn't likely to drive 80 yards. With GB, it's probably the opposite...

123 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

With the kickoff moving up this year, a lot of returners are bringing the ball out of the end zone and getting past the 20. I've read that since returners aren't going way back to get to those end zone kicks, they're positioned better to run them out.

58 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Jets @ Buffalo this week should be a good one!

59 Indy

The Colts must be mailing it in. Peyton didn't play defense or special teams, and both are ranked 32nd.

61 Re: Indy

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

That's a good point. Their offense last year was 16.6%. Even subbing that into their stats for this year, they would be -17.5%. Essentially, what I'm saying is that even with Peyton this year, assuming everything else stayed the same (which probably isn't fair) you could whack the Colts into the NFC West for the Seahawks and not make the division any better.

71 Re: Indy

In reply to by Podge (not verified)

That doesn't necessarily follow, though. The Colts D is designed to protect leads. It's basically pass-rush only (see Eagles, Philadelphia) It's known to be awful against the run. This year the offense can't generate a lead, and accordingly, the defense is playing to its weaknesses.

62 Re: Indy

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

By FO stats, the Colts are bad at just about every phase of the game. The only exceptions are pass protection (11th in adjusted sack rate) and run blocking (7th in adjusted line yards, 4th in avoiding stuffs, 10th in 'second level yards').

I guess without Manning to help them, the Colts offensive line can't carry the team any more.

Actually, my guess is that the Colts are indeed mailing it in, except for the OL which is breaking in some new guys and working hard to get to their usual high level for when Peyton returns or Luck takes over.

68 Re: Indy

In reply to by nat

I really hope Larry Coyer gets fired this year. He took a competant to mediocre defense and made them the worst in the league. They are actually better against the run this year than they've been in forever, but the secondary is so awful with only Bethea and Powers worthy players.

79 Re: Indy

In reply to by jedmarshall

+1. The secondary needs major upgrading, but it also needs better playcalling. You've got one of the best tandem of DEs in the league in Freeney and Mathis. They've proven time and again they can regularly get to the passer in under 3 seconds....however this is all moot when the DBs give all the wideouts a 10 yard cushion, leaving the quick slant or quick out open all day. With the speed Indy has at the DE position, they should be pressing hard at the line of scrimmage and playing tight man coverage, giving Freeney and Mathis the time to hit the QB. I can't help but think how many extra sacks Freeney would probably have in his career if the secondary forced the QB to hold the ball a little longer. Sure, they probably would have given up more long pass plays, but all that would have meant was that Manning and the offense would have had more possessions aswell.

95 Re: Indy

In reply to by Bernie (not verified)

I realize they are playing a nobody at SS and cycling various UDFA through the 2nd CB spot, but this is the same team who managed to make Jason David look like a real football player. It's hard to have the worse defense in the league without horrible coaching.

99 Re: Indy

In reply to by jedmarshall

Caldwell should be fired too. This team was absolutely unprepared for the season in all phases of the game. Too bad Harbaugh is already taken in San Fran, he would have been a great fit in Indianapolis.

84 Re: Indy

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

It would be interesting when discussing team injuries to consider how much of their salary cap isn't playing.

60 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Are there likely to be any tables for best and worst teams/units in the coming weeks? Are Indy close to worst ever, or will it take something monumental to reach that level? What about the Ravens D, or the Packers O (I presume they aren't close due to the Patriots O in the 18-1 year).

Special teams looks quite interesting - 3 teams above 9%. How much of that is based on kickoff values?

63 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

So what is the team with the greatest spread ever between the DVOA of their offense and their defense? If the Jaguar's offense is going to remain this terrible, I would like to have at least something to cheer for. Kinda like 5 or 6 years ago when they were the most variable team ever.

74 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Bah, you're right, I was looking at the rankings and not the values. My hopes and dreams are now crushed.

127 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Other teams to blow the 2011 Jags out of the water in this regard include the 2010 Texans and 2004 Chiefs, but the all time mark as far as I can (cursorily) tell belongs to the 2010 Patriots at 50.8% (46.1%/4.7%). In ordinal terms, I doubt anyone can top those Texans (2nd/31st).

125 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

It's kind of been lost because of the Garrard situation and how bad their offence is, but the Jags defence seems to have undergone quite a remarkable turnaround from last year when they were one of the very worst units in the league. Can anyone shed any light on this?

126 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

They certainly looked pretty impressive against my Texans last week. Powerful defensive line getting consistent penetration (though not enough speed to really kill a passing game). Solid coverage. I'd guess it's a combination of new additions and maturation from a pretty young unit.

78 Playoff odds for #1 seed

In the NFC, there's over a 90% chance that Green Bay or San Francisco will get the #1 seed.

In the AFC, the odds for the #1 seed are (fairly) evenly split among 6 teams: Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, New England, Cincinnati, and Houston. (They range from 19.7% for BAL to 12.4% for HOU; the Jets have a 3% chance and no one else even has 1%.). One of these 6 teams won't even make the playoffs, probably one from the AFC North-- but I would be pretty excited to see the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals all make it!

80 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Fact #1 - Right now Buffalo has the highest odds of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl according to the Playoff Odds (first time Buffalo holds this position since Football Outsiders started???)

Fact #2 - My wife's due date for our first child is February 3rd

Fact #3 - Super Bowl Roman Numeral Whatever is February 5th (given with Fact #2, poor planning by me, but what can you do)

Fact #4 - I am a Bills fan.

Taking these four facts together, I think we all know where this is leading - Buffalo will be playing in the Super Bowl, and my wife will be going into labor at the same time (of course, as long as the hospital has a TV, might be good and keep us distracted).

131 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Shouldn't he just use both? Like if that last name is Smith... it would be Ryan Fitzpatrick Smith. Has a nice ring to it. So does Frederick Jackson Smith though...

87 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Given the history of the 49ers in SBs and of the Bills in SBs, a 49ers-Bills Super Bowl might challenge 1940 for the most lopsided title game of all time.

86 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

John Lynch will never make it into the HOF. Please !

97 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Lord, I know you are partial to a good washing-of-feet lesson in humility, but, if I may be so bold, I don't think you need to make polite requests from the likes of Peter King.

129 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

I'm going to post this here (sorry if it's OT), because I don't know where else to ask of the the commenters of the DVOA Ratings. I'm wondering if any of my fellow Premium subscribers have been able to export the data easily into Excel. I recently signed up for the Premium account but I haven't found a good solution for extracting and load the data into Excel. Does anyone have any tips?

130 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

Signs of November:
- Changing Leaves
- Cooling Temperatures
- Chicago's ST unit is #1 in DVOA

Seriously, what do they do that is so different from every other team that they're consistently at the top of DVOA ST play every year?

132 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

There are a few factors at work. The first is simply that Dave Toub is one of the best special teams coaches ever. Second, while all teams talk about special teams being important the Bears back up that talk. They really stress it to a high degree and seek out players suited to special teams (I've read a rumor that part of the reason Chris Harris was released was because of his lack of special teams play). Third is a kind of happy coincidence, the Bears drafting strategy under Angelo has been to get athletes and rely on coaching to turn them into good players. Well, it turns out these type of players are well suited to special teams.

133 Re: Week 8 DVOA Ratings

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