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

Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

We went through a large part of the year worrying about how our ratings looked when an undefeated Green Bay team wasn't at number one. Turns out that we were worrying for no reason. Green Bay didn't end up undefeated, and they eventually ascended to the top spot in DVOA nonetheless. In fact, the Packers end the year with a reasonable lead, more than five percentage points ahead of No. 2 Pittsburgh. Still, as we've noted all season, the Packers are not a historically great team. They just happen to be the best team this year. The Packers' final DVOA of 28.3% is the second-lowest ever for a team that finished at No. 1, behind only the 1993 San Francisco 49ers (25.6%).

The Packers also don't finish the year as the hottest team in the league. That would be the New Orleans Saints, who moved into the top spot in weighted DVOA this week. New Orleans has single-game DVOA ratings above 35% in five of their last six games, and ratings above 60% in three of those last six. Pittsburgh is second in weighted DVOA, followed by Green Bay and New England. The really hot teams, the teams with a big difference between total DVOA and weighted DVOA, were Seattle and Philadelphia, and they didn't make the playoffs.

One of the interesting things about 2011 is how similar it was to 2010. Although some different teams made the playoffs, and ratings were more condensed than last year, most of the top teams were the same. Eight of the top ten teams in 2010 are once again in the top ten in 2011. That includes a couple of teams that DVOA seems to particularly like, the Jets and Eagles. In addition, 11 of the top 13 teams are the same in both years. The teams that dropped out of the top 13 were San Diego and Tampa Bay. No team went from the top ten in 2010 to the bottom ten in 2011, and only San Francisco (just barely) went from the bottom 10 last year to the top 10 this year.

From 2001-2010, the year-to-year correlation of total DVOA was .526. For 2010-2011, it was .622. This actually isn't the highest year-to-year correlation between two recent years. The correlation between 2008 and 2009 was ridiculous, .744. However, part of the reason the correlation was higher for 2008-2009 is that ratings were higher and lower at the extremes in those seasons (especially at the low extreme). If we look at the correlation between a team's rank 1-32 in one year and its rank 1-32 the next year, the correlation in 2010-2011 is the highest ever at .673. Here's a look at the year-to-year correlation of DVOA ratings (not rankings) since 2000:

Years DVOA
Correlation
08-09 0.744
01-02 0.634
10-11 0.622
02-03 0.591
06-07 0.525
04-05 0.522
05-06 0.501
07-08 0.497
00-01 0.485
09-10 0.418
03-04 0.405

This year's higher level of parity also played out in the individual games each week, as we didn't have a lot of spectacular individual game performances this year. This year there were only three games with DVOA over 100%. The highest was Houston at 119.1% when they dismantled Tennessee 41-7 in Week 7. Baltimore got 113.0% for its turnoverfest over Pittsburgh in Week 1. And the Eagles get 100.4% for their 45-19 win over the Jets in Week 15. There was only one game under -100% this year, as Washington gets -107.7% for its 23-0 loss to Buffalo in Week 8. By comparison, 2010 had seven games over 100% and nine games under 100%.

I know that a lot of people will look at this year's tables and think something is wrong with opponent adjustments. All the top teams played easy schedules this year, and the top six teams all have schedules in the bottom seven. However, this is a one-year fluke. Look back at 2010 and you'll notice that last year four of the top six teams actually played top ten schedules.

Like last year, I'm going to go through and show where the teams and players of 2011 fit historically -- at least as far as the regular season goes. Note that all these historical rankings come with a bit of an asterisk. One of the first projects I'm planning for the offseason is an update of DVOA that will normalize the ratings so every season averages out at 0%. This will adjust for the big uptick in offensive numbers in recent years, which is likely to move more seasons from 1992-2003 into the various top ten rankings. We may run updated "best ever" lists this summer once we've done the new normalized DVOA and added 1991 to our database. (That's another one of my February projects.)

Teams

Although the Packers aren't a historically great team, they are a historically great offense. So are the Saints and the Patriots. Here's where they finish up on the all-time DVOA lists:

BEST TOTAL OFFENSE DVOA
1992-2011
  BEST PASS OFFENSE DVOA
1992-2011
NE 2010 46.1% x NE 2007 75.4%
NE 2007 45.2% x GB 2011 73.2%
GB 2011 39.2% x NE 2010 72.5%
KC 2002 38.0% x IND 2004 69.1%
NO 2011 37.8% x SD 2009 63.7%
NE 2011 36.8% x NE 2011 60.7%
IND 2004 33.2% x NE 2009 57.0%
KC 2004 32.9% x IND 2006 56.9%
KC 2003 32.2% x NO 2011 55.8%
DEN 1998 30.8% x SD 2008 54.9%

The Carolina Panthers set a new record for the largest year-to-year improvement in offensive DVOA, and they set it by leaps and bounds. The Panthers were dead last in 2010 at -31.9%. This year, they rank fourth at 23.0%. That's an increase of 54.9%. There is only one other team that has ever improved its offense by 40% DVOA in one season: the 1998-1999 Raiders, who went from -28.1% DVOA to 15.2% DVOA.

The Panthers also set a new record with the best running game in DVOA history, thanks to adding Cam Newton to their running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers led the league with 36.0% rushing DVOA. The previous record was 34.4% by the 2000 St. Louis Rams, followed by the 2002 Kansas City Chiefs at 32.0%.

Defenses were neither historically great nor historically terrible this year. Baltimore leads the league at -13.7%, only the second team to lead the league with defensive DVOA above 18%. (The other: the 2007 Titans at -13.3%.) Carolina edges out Tampa Bay and New England to rank as this year's worst defense, but it isn't close to the all-time worst. At one point it looked like Jacksonville and Houston were challenging for the title of "best year-to-year defensive improvement," but both teams declined a little bit on defense in the final weeks.

Chicago ends up with this year's best special teams at 7.3%. Finally, Atlanta ends up with a variance of 4.6%, which makes the Falcons the most consistent week-to-week team in DVOA history. Amazingly, the second most consistent week-to-week team in DVOA history was last year's Falcons at 4.9%.

Players

We'll be running a season-review version of Quick Reads on Thursday, so for now let's just go through players who set records rather than listing all the best and worst players at every position.

Just like the pass offense ratings for teams were historically great, so too were the passing DVOA and DYAR numbers for the top three quarterbacks. The difference in FO stats is the same difference that's going to be discussed when it comes to the MVP race: Which is more important for a quarterback, quality or quantity? Not that Drew Brees' season wasn't filled with quality, but he threw far more passes than Aaron Rodgers. Brees finishes fifth all-time in pass attempts (he has four of the top nine seasons) and his DVOA and DYAR are based on 138 more pass plays than Rodgers' ratings. So Brees ends up with 2,544 passing DYAR, the second highest total we've ever measured, but he finishes second to Rodgers in DVOA. Here's how the three quarterbacks end up on the all-time lists. I've limited the DVOA list here to quarterbacks with at least 400 passes so we're not listing guys who had a smaller sample but still enough passes to make the FO yearly rankings, such as Boomer Esiason (53.6% DVOA on 197 passes in 1997) and Wade Wilson (55.3% DVOA on 169 passes in 1992).

Top 11 Passing DVOA, 1992-2011
(min. 400 passes)
  Top 10 Passing DYAR, 1992-2011
Year Player Team DVOA   Year Player Team DYAR
2004 P.Manning IND 60.6% x 2007 T.Brady NE 2,788
2007 T.Brady NE 56.9% x 2011 D.Brees NO 2,544
2010 T.Brady NE 53.3% x 2004 P.Manning IND 2,493
2011 A.Rodgers GB 52.6% x 2006 P.Manning IND 2,308
2006 P.Manning IND 51.0% x 2011 A.Rodgers GB 2,268
2009 P.Rivers SD 45.9% x 2011 T.Brady NE 2,235
2011 D.Brees NO 44.5% x 2009 T.Brady NE 2,170
2009 T.Brady NE 44.2% x 2010 T.Brady NE 2,137
1998 R.Cunningham MIN 42.9% x 2009 P.Manning IND 1,936
2011 T.Brady NE 41.0% x 2004 D.Culpepper MIN 1,929
2009 D.Brees NO 41.0%    

Blaine Gabbert, with -825 passing DYAR, finishes with the fifth worst season we've ever measured in that stat.

Pierre Thomas led the league with 32.6% rushing DVOA, which is the third highest rating ever for a running back with at least 100 carries, behind Marshall Faulk (35.0% in 2000) and Jamaal Charles (33.9% in 2010). LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing DYAR.

Calvin Johnson had a huge 122 DYAR week in Week 17, which rocketed him past Wes Welker and into this year's top spot for wide receiver DYAR. In fact, Johnson's huge final week puts him into historic company, because it also rocketed him past Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, and Randy Moss. Johnson's 586 receiving DYAR are the second highest total we've ever measured, behind only Michael Irvin's 636 DYAR in 1995. Jordy Nelson finishes second for the season with 530 DYAR and ends up with 54.1% receiving DVOA. That's not technically the record, but it is a record for players with more than 60 pass targets. Our rankings for wide receivers start at 50 pass targets, and there was one wide receiver who had a higher DVOA on exactly 50 targets: Dennis Northcutt with 61.0% DVOA in 2002. However, no wide receiver had ever put up 50% receiving DVOA on more than 60 pass targets. In fact, this year we get three of the five highest wide receiver DVOAs with a minimum of 60 passes, as Malcom Floyd and Laurent Robinson also had great seasons with smaller sample sizes. (Floyd was injured for a few weeks; Robinson was the third option in Dallas.) Here is where everyone ends up in the record books:

Top 10 WR DYAR, 1992-2011   Top 10 WR DVOA, 1992-2011
(min. 60 passes)
Year Player Team DYAR   Year Player Team DVOA Passes
1995 M.Irvin DAL 636 x 2011 J.Nelson GB 54.1% 96
2011 C.Johnson DET 586 x 2011 M.Floyd SD 51.9% 70
2007 R.Moss NE 569 x 1993 J.Taylor SF 49.7% 74
1995 J.Rice SF 550 x 2010 M.Wallace PIT 48.8% 98
1994 J.Rice SF 545 x 2011 L.Robinson DAL 43.1% 80
2001 M.Harrison IND 537 x 2002 J.Porter OAK 41.5% 70
2011 J.Nelson GB 530 x 2009 R.Meachem NO 39.2% 64
2006 M.Harrison IND 510 x 1998 E.Moulds BUF 38.9% 116
2005 S.Smith CAR 497 x 2009 V.Jackson SD 38.7% 109
2004 R.Wayne IND 496 x 2004 R.Wayne IND 38.0% 115

Finally, tight ends. Rob Gronkowski absolutely destroyed the previous record for receiving DYAR by a tight end with 505 DYAR. The previous record was 371 DYAR by Antonio Gates last year, when he played only ten games. The difference between Gronkowski's total and the previous record is equal to the difference between the previous record and the season now ranked 21st all-time, which is Tony Gonzalez's 237 DYAR this season. Between Gronkowski and Gonzalez are two other tight ends who make the all-time top ten in receiving DYAR. Jimmy Graham finishes with 331 DYAR, which is fourth all-time. Antonio Gates finishes with 287 receiving DYAR, which is ninth all-time. Gates has four of the top nine tight end seasons, and five of the top 11.

Gronk doesn't get onto the all-time tight end DVOA top ten because the minimum number of passes to be ranked as a tight end is 25, and there are a number of tight ends who had 25-40 passes and DVOA ratings in the 50s and 60s (including Gronkowski himself last year). However, no tight end with at least 80 passes has ever come close to Gronk's 52.0% DVOA. The next-highest would be Gates with 38.4% DVOA in 2009.

* * * * *

All team and individual stats pages should be updated in the next few minutes after this article posts. FO Premium will be updated with final 2011 ratings later today, and there are already matchup views available so you can check out how the wild card games match up. We'll get all the 2011 stats onto the player pages sometime in the next few weeks, as well as updated similarity scores based on 2009-2011 rather than 2008-2010. Loser League results will be announced in Scramble for the Ball on Wednesday, and look for a brand new playoff fantasy game on FO coming this evening.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through the end of the 2011 regular season, 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.)

Please note that ratings may change in the future as we get a chance to incorporate stat changes from throughout the season.

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 is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how well the team is playing right now. LAST WEEK represents rank after Week 16, while LAST YEAR represents rank in 2010.

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>

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
LAST
YEAR
W-L WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 GB 28.3% 1 3 15-1 26.1% 3 39.2% 1 12.6% 24 1.6% 8
2 PIT 23.7% 2 2 12-4 29.9% 2 16.3% 6 -5.8% 7 1.6% 9
3 NO 23.3% 5 10 13-3 30.1% 1 37.8% 2 15.0% 28 0.6% 13
4 NE 22.5% 3 1 13-3 23.7% 4 36.8% 3 17.9% 30 3.7% 5
5 HOU 19.4% 4 13 10-6 17.2% 7 13.3% 9 -5.2% 8 0.9% 12
6 SF 19.0% 6 23 13-3 16.1% 8 1.6% 18 -10.3% 3 7.0% 2
7 BAL 17.2% 7 4 12-4 14.8% 9 8.2% 13 -13.7% 1 -4.7% 30
8 ATL 15.5% 9 8 10-6 19.5% 6 10.3% 12 -6.2% 6 -1.0% 22
9 NYJ 14.2% 8 6 8-8 9.9% 11 -2.7% 21 -11.9% 2 5.0% 4
10 PHI 14.1% 10 5 8-8 22.9% 5 14.3% 8 0.3% 12 0.1% 18
11 DET 11.6% 11 18 10-6 14.5% 10 11.8% 10 -4.0% 9 -4.3% 29
12 NYG 9.0% 13 9 9-7 4.8% 16 15.6% 7 6.9% 20 0.3% 16
13 TEN 7.2% 12 11 9-7 5.0% 15 6.0% 15 4.2% 15 5.5% 3
14 DAL 4.4% 14 24 8-8 3.9% 17 10.8% 11 4.8% 16 -1.6% 25
15 CHI 1.8% 15 16 8-8 -0.1% 20 -15.7% 30 -10.2% 4 7.3% 1
16 SD 0.6% 20 7 8-8 6.3% 13 17.7% 5 15.9% 29 -1.2% 23
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
LAST
YEAR
W-L WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 CIN 0.5% 18 19 9-7 0.3% 18 3.9% 17 5.4% 17 2.0% 7
18 MIA -0.4% 19 14 6-10 5.6% 14 -2.2% 20 0.3% 11 2.2% 6
19 SEA -0.7% 16 30 7-9 8.7% 12 -4.1% 22 -3.1% 10 0.2% 17
20 CAR -2.4% 17 31 6-10 0.1% 19 23.0% 4 20.1% 32 -5.4% 32
21 WAS -5.9% 21 27 5-11 -6.6% 21 -2.1% 19 2.8% 14 -1.0% 21
22 OAK -6.8% 22 21 8-8 -10.8% 25 7.6% 14 13.7% 26 -0.7% 20
23 BUF -8.2% 23 28 6-10 -25.3% 28 5.5% 16 12.3% 23 -1.3% 24
24 DEN -11.0% 24 26 8-8 -8.8% 23 -5.1% 23 6.4% 19 0.5% 15
25 CLE -12.9% 25 20 4-12 -10.0% 24 -6.3% 25 8.0% 21 1.4% 10
26 KC -15.7% 26 17 7-9 -8.1% 22 -14.2% 29 0.9% 13 -0.7% 19
27 JAC -16.6% 27 22 5-11 -13.5% 26 -21.4% 31 -6.6% 5 -1.8% 26
28 ARI -18.9% 28 32 8-8 -15.4% 27 -13.7% 28 6.4% 18 1.1% 11
29 MIN -21.2% 30 25 3-13 -33.0% 30 -5.2% 24 12.7% 25 -3.3% 27
30 TB -25.0% 29 12 4-12 -38.4% 32 -6.7% 26 18.8% 31 0.6% 14
31 IND -32.0% 31 15 2-14 -30.9% 29 -12.5% 27 14.3% 27 -5.2% 31
32 STL -35.5% 32 29 2-14 -34.1% 31 -22.8% 32 8.7% 22 -4.0% 28
  • 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.
  • WEIGHTED DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season.
  • 2011 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent a projection of the team's expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed. Please note that for 2011, Pythagorean wins uses the new "Pythagenport" method where the projection takes into account the "offensive environment" that each team played in, rather than just using the same exponent to project for each team.
  • 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).
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK 2011
SCHED
RANK PYTH
WINS
RANK VAR. RANK
1 GB 28.3% 15-1 28.3% 12.6 1 -2.7% 28 12.2 3 6.7% 4
2 PIT 23.7% 12-4 24.2% 11.4 4 -3.0% 29 11.1 6 13.9% 16
3 NO 23.3% 13-3 24.7% 11.6 3 -4.2% 31 12.4 1 14.2% 18
4 NE 22.5% 13-3 24.6% 11.8 2 -1.4% 26 11.9 4 9.5% 7
5 HOU 19.4% 10-6 25.1% 10.2 8 -3.6% 30 10.9 7 15.7% 20
6 SF 19.0% 13-3 22.6% 10.3 7 -4.2% 32 12.3 2 6.2% 2
7 BAL 17.2% 12-4 16.9% 10.9 5 -0.1% 21 11.2 5 23.3% 31
8 ATL 15.5% 10-6 14.1% 10.5 6 0.2% 17 9.4 10 4.6% 1
9 NYJ 14.2% 8-8 12.7% 8.8 12 1.1% 13 8.4 15 19.8% 27
10 PHI 14.1% 8-8 13.7% 9.2 10 1.3% 11 9.8 9 17.4% 24
11 DET 11.6% 10-6 14.1% 9.4 9 0.3% 16 10.1 8 9.5% 6
12 NYG 9.0% 9-7 4.8% 9.1 11 4.3% 3 7.8 19 15.8% 21
13 TEN 7.2% 9-7 11.5% 8.6 15 -2.4% 27 8.2 17 16.6% 22
14 DAL 4.4% 8-8 6.6% 8.7 14 0.1% 19 8.6 13 12.7% 13
15 CHI 1.8% 8-8 2.1% 7.9 18 1.8% 9 8.3 16 14.9% 19
16 SD 0.6% 8-8 4.5% 7.6 19 -0.7% 23 8.7 11 20.8% 28
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK 2011
SCHED
RANK PYTH
WINS
RANK VAR. RANK
17 CIN 0.5% 9-7 4.5% 8.7 13 0.7% 14 8.6 12 7.0% 5
18 MIA -0.4% 6-10 -2.8% 8.2 16 3.3% 6 8.5 14 10.4% 11
19 SEA -0.7% 7-9 0.1% 8.2 17 -0.8% 24 8.2 18 16.9% 23
20 CAR -2.4% 6-10 -3.1% 7.6 20 -0.9% 25 7.4 20 19.5% 25
21 WAS -5.9% 5-11 -13.4% 7.1 24 0.3% 15 5.7 25 11.3% 12
22 OAK -6.8% 8-8 -3.2% 7.5 21 0.2% 18 6.1 23 19.7% 26
23 BUF -8.2% 6-10 -8.2% 7.2 23 3.8% 4 6.4 22 29.3% 32
24 DEN -11.0% 8-8 -9.1% 7.3 22 1.2% 12 5.8 24 9.7% 8
25 CLE -12.9% 4-12 -9.1% 6.8 25 -0.1% 20 5.0 28 6.3% 3
26 KC -15.7% 7-9 -17.3% 6.5 26 1.7% 10 4.1 29 21.5% 29
27 JAC -16.6% 5-11 -14.6% 5.9 27 2.8% 7 5.3 26 13.7% 15
28 ARI -18.9% 8-8 -14.6% 5.9 28 -0.5% 22 6.9 21 9.9% 9
29 MIN -21.2% 3-13 -21.5% 5.3 30 3.3% 5 5.3 27 14.0% 17
30 TB -25.0% 4-12 -31.5% 5.4 29 7.9% 1 3.2 30 22.8% 30
31 IND -32.0% 2-14 -35.5% 3.9 31 2.7% 8 3.2 31 13.4% 14
32 STL -35.5% 2-14 -42.3% 3.7 32 7.5% 2 2.3 32 9.9% 10

(Note: Although this post is titled "Final DVOA Ratings," unofficial postseason ratings will continue each Monday through the playoffs.)

Comments

104 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2012, 6:01pm

2 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Oh, the irony. Don't want to start a P. Manning/Brady discussion, but as a Colts fan, I was always of the impression (from 2001-2005/6) that Brady wasn't even close to Manning in talent level when the debate was hot, from 2002-2005 or so. Yet, Brady had won championships, and everyone said he was the reason for NE's success (or used that tactic in saying he was one of the greats). Now, if you look at Brady's great DVOA and DYAR seasons of the past 4/5 years, you can tell Brady is clearly at Manning's, and yet he hasn't won any championships.

My point? Brady is now a MUCH better QB than he was in 2001-2004, and I can now accept him as Manning's equal.

(As a side note, it's pretty clear the the 2009-11 Patriots have become the 2003-5 Colts, from the passing offense to the terrible but opportunistic defense, to the playoff disappointments. We'll have to see if NE can break out this post season.)

3 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Thanks for admitting you respect Mr. Brady. It's fans like you that make it easier for me, as a NE fan, to admit how much I respect Peyton. In my opinion, both suffer from their greatness - too much emphasis on one individual in a team sport spells disaster. I think you are dead on in your analysis that the 2009-11 Patriots have become the 2003-5 Colts.

For my money, there was no better thrower in the NFL than Dan Marino, but both Peyton and Tom blow him away as complete quarterbacks.

Go Pats, and I truly hope Peyton comes back so we can have so more historic duels! Even the crushing losses were historically memorable - from both sides.

59 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

After reading that this summer DVOA will be normalized to 0% for each year, I'll be excited (even though its years away I guess) to see how Marino's '84 season grades out.

The guy was just un-freaking-stoppable.

I'm sad to see his yardage record broken this year and was when his TD record was too. I'll always argue its the rule changes!

(please draft a 1st rd QB this year...)

91 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I think what changed in 2007 was the supporting cast, not Brady. He's been an elite player since at least 2005, maybe even 2004. I think 2006 may have been his most impressive season, given what he had to work with. Similarly, Manning's best play wasn't in 2004, great as he was then, with in-their-primes Harrison, Wayne, Clark, Saturday and Glenn. It was the more recent seasons, in which he managed to produce an outstanding offense with declining receiving talent and a shambles of an offensive line (seemingly now somewhat fixed by a solid but too-late 2011 offseason).

94 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Supporting cast matters a lot. In a different thread, I saw a Colts fan lamenting how Garcon and Collie can't beat double coverage. I then realized that during Manning's career he always had at least one receiver who could routinely challenge and beat double coverage, and often had two or three.

Brady didn't have the luxury of even one until 2007. Even today, you don't think of Welker as the "beat the double" kind of receiver. He's more of a "destroy the zone" guy. Gronkowski might now be considered a "beat the double" guy, but not in the usual sense. Branch is nice and all, but he's no threat if/when double covered and never has been.

17 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Unfortuately for the Patriots, they are more like the oh seven, oh eight Colts than the oh four version. Prolific passing offense coupled with terrible defense and no running game to speak of, held together by an aging but world class quarterback. If the offensive line doesn't come back from injury the transformation will be complete.

22 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I don't agree with this statement. First, running game. The Patriots had the 4th ranked rushing offense this year (+17%) and the second ranked rushing offense last year (+27%). In '07-08, Indy had the 5th ranked rushing offense (~+11%) and the 27th ranked rushing offense (-6.5%). So I wouldn't say they have no running game to speak of. It's true that they don't have a great FANTASY running back, which many people seem to equate with not having a running game, but that's because they platoon it out among three or four guys.

QB age is roughly analogous, but at this point Brady has played one full season less as a starter than Manning had at the end of the '08 season. (2001 - 2011, excluding 2008 for Brady, 1998-2008 for Manning).

The teams are similar in defense, but not as having "terrible" defense. Both teams had terrible defense measured by yards, and fairly respectable defenses measured by points allowed (the 2007 Colts actually had the best scoring defense in the league by points allowed). This isn't surprising, because the Patriots this year were actually running predominantly a 4-3 with a cover-2 zone behind them...exactly the defense the Colts ran through their heyday.

The final difference is that the Colts started to fall apart when their offensive line did. The Pats offensive line fell about back about Week 4 (and similarly it fell apart last year, and the year before) due to injury, and they still have weathered the storm... The Pats have got to have one of the best O-line coaches in the league...

23 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Both the '07 and '08 Colts had good defenses (#2 overall DVOA in 2007 and #10 in 2008). The 2004 Colts team was the all-offense, no-defense version.

25 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Weird how the '07 and '10 Patriots have a better Passing Offense (by DVOA) than the '04 Colts, while '04 Manning has a better QB DVOA than '07 or '10 Brady.

30 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

It's not strange at all, when you consider Darren Sproles', Jimmy Graham's, Wes Welker's and Rob Gronkowski's DVOAs.

34 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Two reasons:

1) QB passing DVOA only compares passes to other passes. Team passing DVOA is based on comparing all plays to all plays, including penalties and runs. So a team might have a higher passing DVOA based on how often they pass compared to how often an average team passes.

2) Jim Sorgi played most of Week 17 in 2004.

4 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

If Jay Cutler had been injured one week earlier (or earlier in the SD/CHI game), or if the Bears' schedule against the AFC West had been flipped, the Chargers would be in the playoffs, and the Steelers' first-round game would be *very* different. Instead, the Chargers got the peaking, Cutler-led Bears and lost, but not before turning them into the pathetic, Hanie-led Bears so that their AFCW rivals could all get an unexpected win. Not sure how to blame that one on Norv, but I'm guessing someone can figure out a way.

26 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

If Cutler AND Forte AND Urlacher (for the playoffs) had not gotten hurt, I would agree. But Cutler alone is probably not enough to offset the loss of Forte and Urlacher.

62 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

True. Of course, who knows if Forte and Urlacher would have gotten hurt if Cutler had been healthy? (I would like to think that Urlacher at least would not have been playing in the 4th quarter of the Vikings game if the Bears had clinched a playoff spot, which I'm assuming they would have had Cutler stayed healthy). And I think RB is probably the single position the Bears have the most depth at, so I wouldn't say it would have been impossible for Bell to have a good game in the playoffs.

One of the points on Chicago talk radio this morning is that if Cutler hadn't gotten hurt, Jerry Angelo almost certainly would not have been fired - I don't see how this team wouldn't have won 11 games and made the playoffs, and even assuming another loss (in the NFC championship game or not sooner) his job would have been safe. I'm certainly not happy Cutler was hurt, but long-term it may have been a good thing for the team, assuming he comes back at 100% next year.

29 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Either of you could be right, but I was just pointing out how funny it is that the Cutler injury (and, to a lesser extent the Forte injury) affected the AFC playoff picture almost as much as it did the NFC playoff picture.

56 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Oh if we are playing pick the injury, then I'd keep Campbell, McFadden, J Ford, M Huff and D Moore fit so who knows what the Raiders do. Maybe even tackle someone to force a SD punt!

6 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I'm baffled how PIT finishes 2nd in weighted DVOA when their last six games look like this:

@ KC W 13-9
CIN W 35-7
CLE W 14-3
@ SF L 3-20
STL W 27-0
@ CLE W 13-9

The CIN win is the only one that seems legitimately strong. Playing a couple of mediocre-to-bad teams close and beating up another really bad team doesn't say "#2" to me.

9 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Did any of the top 4 have an amazing finish stretch of schedule?

GB: Det, NYG, Oak, KC, Chi, Det
NO: NYG, Det, Ten, Min, Atl, Car
NE: Phi, Indy, Wash, Den, Mia, Buf

All of the top teams played some pretty bad teams down the stretch, or at least mediocre teams.

14 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I think the point was that the Steelers didn't look particularly good against those teams. At least not "#2 in weighted DVOA" good.

I didn't see enough of those games to say whether that's right or wrong, though.

13 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

It's a case of the scores not representing the play on the field. KC and the first CLE game were not as close as the score suggests. The SF game felt demoralizing, but the Steelers where in it a lot longer than the final score indicates.

As a fan, I can't put my finger on why, but the KC-CIN-CLE felt like the best football they played all year.

15 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

They are a 13-3 team, and they went 5-1 over those games, giving up an average of 8 points; that's pretty good, regardless of the opponents.

But there are a lot more statistics than points. My impression is that the Steelers dominated statistically (in yards, first downs, TOP) much more than the scoreboard indicates; turnovers are a big reason-- they've won a lot of games this year while losing the turnover battle. (For example, when I last checked yesterday's PIT-CLE stats, right before CLE's final drive, the Steelers had double the yards and TOP of the Browns, even though the score was 13-9.) I see no reason to doubt the ranking; but they have looked a bit weaker to me the last 3.5 games, with Ben injured.

65 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Well, I would probably have to pick the New England game as the best one of the season for the Steelers.

The games after the injury they have certainly looked weaker because the offense has failed to put much on the scoreboard, despite moving the ball fairly well in all the games. In their 4 losses and 6 close wins, the Steelers had 25 turnovers- Ben was responsible for 17 of those- while only coming up with 11 for a -14 differential in those 10 games.

Both Cleveland games might have turned into comfortable victories but for the 5 Steeler turnovers (1 from Ben) against 3 Browns turnovers.

24 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I think this might be a case of something like the anti-marshawn lynch effect. The steelers, when I have watched them, haven't _looked_ dominating. They _look_ like they are limping along, old, slow, injured half the time, no offensive line to speak of. They look very vulnerable, and that's a great story to tell about them. Yet they're 3-4 against playoff teams, with 4 of those games (in which the steelers went 2-2) being decided by 1 score.

It doesn't help their image that the two biggest games of their season, opening night and that monday night game against san fran, were also their biggest embarrassments of the season. The rest of the country doesn't pay much attention when the steelers beat up on weaker opposition. Yet the two highest scoring games by opponents against the steelers this year were the 35 and the 23 put up by Baltimore. By comparison, the ravens have allowed more than 20 points 5 times, including 3 of their 4 losses. (the other being that turd sandwich in jacksonville) The pats have allowed over 20 11 times. This steeler defense is a shadow of what it once was, but that shadow still has teeth.

35 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Weighted DVOA looks over a longer period of time than most people think of as "recent." The last eight weeks are at mostly full strength. It's nine weeks and above where games start to lose strength.

7 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

The 2011 FO Almanac hit on 8 of the 12 playoff teams (based on estimated wins):

*New England
*Houston
*Baltimore
*Pittsburgh
*New Orleans
*Atlanta
*Green Bay
*San Francisco

It overestimated four teams that didn't end up making the playoffs:

*NY Jets
*San Diego
*Philadelphia
*Chicago

And it missed four sleepers:

*Cincinnati
*Denver
*Detroit
*NY Giants

Eight out of 12 is not as good as 2010's 10-for-12, but still pretty damn good.

12 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

The four overestimates aren't terrible, either. The Jets collapsed at the end, but still had an OK year. The Chargers are pretty widely viewed to be the best AFC West team as of right now. Ditto the Eagles and the NFC East. And the Bears were playing great football, sitting at 7-3, when Cutler went out for the year and the Caleb Hanie Slapdash Variety Show started.

57 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

The Chargers are the only AFCW team that didnt replace its starting QB... Aside from replacing that Rivers-imposter that had kidnapped the real one in the first half of the season.

63 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

With a healthy Jay Cutler, I would say it's almost a certainty that the Bears would have made the playoffs. The Kansas City and Denver games would have been wins, and I would argue that they would have won the Oakland game too. 10 wins would have gotten them in, and I just don't see how the Bears don't win 2 from the 5-game losing streak if they'd had Cutler.

88 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I didn't see that one (mercifully) and I know Hanie threw a couple pick-6s, but wasn't the defense a little shaky overall that day?

Regarding GB, who knows what the score would've been with Cutler and if GB had had to put up more points, but I don't think it would have been impossible for the Bears to score more than 35. I agree that I would have favored the Packers regardless.

28 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Pythagorean wins overestimated the Eagles, then, too. The Eagles had the highest point differential in the NFC East, by a large margin (+68 vs. the Cowboys +22) - heck, the Eagles scored more and allowed fewer points than any other team in the NFC East.

I think it's pretty clear if the season were 18 games long, the Eagles would've been the favorite to win the division. The only reason they underachieved is because the season's too short.

33 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Yes, it's a shame for the Eagles the season starts in September and not December. If my life ever depends on someone winning a meaningless game, or scoring another touchdown when it's 27-10, I know who I'm betting on.

40 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I think it's more the fact that the preseason was short. The offense was pretty consistent all year - they ended with essentially the same weighted DVOA as DVOA. The defense, however, went from awful to very good - basically average over the year, but the last games, one of the top defenses in the league.

I don't think it takes a huge leap of faith to think that the short offseason hurt the Eagles defense a ton - moreso than the top teams, who experienced very little turnover.

winning a meaningless game

Meaningless game? The only fully meaningless game the Eagles played this year was the last one. For the weeks before that, they were all must win games, and the Eagles won every one (and probably would've still beaten Dallas had the Jets won).

61 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Holy cow, Pat - we agree! The lockout hurt the Eagles just about more than any team in the league. The defensive improvement can't be overstated - they were solidly 32nd in DVOA after several games, just the worst by a significant margin. That they finished 12th is a pretty spectacular turn-around. Also, that dude is going to be sitting on his money for the bet on a meaningless game - the last time the Eagles played in a game with zero playoff implications before this last one was in 2005. (that is, a game where they weren't going to the playoffs and they team they were playing had no chance of going to the playoffs.)

Anyhoo, I have no idea how I want the off-season to proceed other than for Andy Reid and Howard Mudd to come back... I might even be able to convince myself that Juan Castillo has earned a second shot. (no... I just can't do it.)

Pat - how do you feel about the situation at LB? Do you think Rolle, Chaney, Matthews is viable? Or that having Jordan do so much spot duty means Matthews/Rolle aren't really viable options? Also, Coleman/Allen is working out pretty good at safety, right?

But finally, I think that this team played its heart out on Sunday is one of the best things that can be said in favor of Andy Reid - this team played their hardest even when it didn't matter and all they were left with this season was a giant pile of disappointment and tons of derision from the fans and media. Look at the Bucs for comparison...

72 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Holy cow, Pat - we agree!

And if you would've just seen reason before the season, your expectations would've been right in line with where they ended up! Granted, as you might've guessed if you had asked before the season, I wished I had been wrong, but my instincts were just flat out screaming that this was going to be a complete and total disaster until they managed to find a few linebackers/safeties that don't suck.

Seriously, it was really depressing losing all hope two weeks into the season seeing all my fears come true. I really, really wish you had been right.

Anyhoo, I have no idea how I want the off-season to proceed other than for Andy Reid and Howard Mudd to come back... I might even be able to convince myself that Juan Castillo has earned a second shot. (no... I just can't do it.)

Really? I'm fine with Juan sticking around another year. Replacing Juan with Random Guy (that includes Spags) is most likely to produce an average defense. Juan had them playing at top-10 level defense by the end of the year. I'll take that gamble.

Pat - how do you feel about the situation at LB?

How do I always feel about the situation at LB? Do I like Rolle/Chaney/Matthews? Um. No. They might deserve a shot next year, but guess what? That's yet another year (every... single... one under Reid) that they've had a new set of starting linebackers. In other words - I've felt like this before, and by the middle of next year, I've wanted to take the linebackers out back and put them out of my misery (see, I'm funny).

I like Rolle and Matthews... so far. Chaney never impressed me during the year. He's really, really slow at recognizing things (if he does at all), so he ends up wildly out of position a lot. But again, see above. Linebackers for the Eagles need to impress me for more than a half-year in order to make me accept that they aren't Yet Another Eagles Linebacker.

Also, Coleman/Allen is working out pretty good at safety, right?

Assuming they both stay healthy. I like Allen more than Coleman - Allen's easily got more range - but the knee just worries me.

73 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

You like Allen more than Coleman? I know you haven't liked Coleman as a rule, but Allen takes such bad angles on plays and is such a weak tackler - with him 20 yards gains frequently end up turning into 30 yarders or home runs.

But let me ask you - you aren't even a little excited for Rolle? I haven't seen an Eagles linebackers be so disruptive in the back-field since Trotter. He's rarely out of position and his instincts are just phenomenal. His main problem is that he's small and gets pushed off of plays, so he shares the same downside as Matthews, but he had a handful of "wow - great play!" moments this year. I'm not sure he didn't lead the team in them.

Anyway, we were both right in a funny way - you insisted that the Eagles didn't have the talent on the roster or depth to be good and I disagreed. They just needed time to gel and get their shit together. I thought they would do it before week 10. I also thought as with all reid teams, they didn't need great or even above average LB"s to be a good d and by the end of the year, that was proven to be true...

How do you feel about the impending Samuel and Jackson departures? Like I said, the only people in the organization I want 100% to come back are Mudd and Reid and literally almost every single other player or coach I'm ambivalent about. Well, not Trent Cole & Jason Peters. But if literally anyone else got traded or cut for good reasons/value, I wouldn't scream about it...

76 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

Guys, If I can chime in on the LB/S situation:

Chaney: Athletic, but questionable instincts, takes bad angles and can have issues tackling. I was baffled to run that he thinks he had a great year. Still think he can be a good starter.

Matthews: REally don't like him... Not physical (always getting dragged on tackles), and quite slow for a small guy (watching Witten gaining yards on him after a dumpoff in the flat was depressing.

Rolle: Active, good hitter, good blitzer, seem to read the plays correctly, but still misses a high number of tackles. I really like him because I really liked him in college and reminds me of London Fletcher, who I absolutely love (target in FA?), but ideally you'd have him competing for a spot next year, not more.

Allen: Had some very, very bad games (Pats...), can still take bad angles and miss tackles, but can at times look quite good in coverage. I honestly don't know what to expect from him, but he should be starting next year (and getting challenged by the other 2)

Coleman: I like the guy, even with his inconsistency (games to games and tackling during the games). At least our 3rd safety next year.

Wish Colt Anderson will be back healthy, what a good STer he was this year...

I think adding a top LB within the next 3 picks (I see LB/WR/DT), and maybe even 2 is the major priority coming into the draft. Tommy Lawlor, whose opinion I value a lot is high on Luke Kuechly for the Eagles and from what I've seen I tend to trust his opinion. A good, solid young MLB would go a long way in stabilizing this defense

87 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

There is zero chance the Eagles go after London Fletcher. 30+ vets with high salaries are typically not on their wish list. Vontaze Burfict in the draft, please. This D needs a lot of talent and a little crazy.

90 Re: Final 2011 DVOA Ratings

I actually agree with the "a little crazy" part. I think Andy Reid teams have a tendency to be a little subdued and while being even-keeled pays off for the offense in the long run, the defense sometimes feels soft and non-threatening. It's one of the reasons I like Coleman - in the Pats blowout, he seemed like he was going to go punch in a car window after the game, while everybody else was just sort of shrugging like "oh, well... he is Tom Brady, after all - what are you gonna do?"