DVOA Analysis

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

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

For a wonderful 24 hours, the Seattle Seahawks were the No. 1 team in DVOA for the first time since Week 1 of 2010 -- and the first time ever in Week 5 or later. Alas, it was not to be, as the Patriots went and clobbered the Texans. New England's victory had a total DVOA of 86.8%, which doesn't even come close to what Seattle did on Sunday. (I wrote about Seattle and the best DVOA games ever yesterday.) However, it was the Patriots' best game of the year, and it propelled them past the Seahawks and into first place.

Some big gaps have opened up between teams in our ratings, with some clear stratification through Week 14. The Patriots and Seahawks have now pulled ahead with two of the best total DVOA ratings of the last 20 years. A little bit behind those teams you will find Denver and San Francisco. Then there's a huge gap. In total DVOA, the gap between San Francisco and No. 5 Green Bay is about 13 percentage points; in weighted DVOA, the gap is between the 49ers and the No. 5 Giants, about 12 percentage points.

If there's one thing right now that FO readers should be telling other football fans who don't read FO, it's this: don't sleep on the Seattle Seahawks.

Yes, yes, I know, they should be 7-6 because of the Fail Mary or Goldengate or what I prefer to call it, "REF-POCALYPSE." That's nice, but it has nothing to do with how they've been playing the last few weeks. Driving home from the Patriots win ast night, the hosts on 98.5 The Sports Hub were talking about which top teams scared them as the Patriots' biggest competition, and they were talking about the Broncos, 49ers, Packers, and Giants ("even though they're inconsistent"). The Seahawks never came up. That's a mistake. This is a very good team right now. The Seahawks have not lost a game by more than a touchdown all season. It's not because they have a particularly bad record in close games; they've just played a lot of them. Seattle is 4-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less (including their win against Green Bay).

The Seahawks are now in the top five for DVOA in all three phases of the game, although it is interesting to note that their defense seems to be regressing at the same time that the offense and special teams have massively improved:

Seattle DVOA, Weeks 1-7 vs. 8-14
Weeks OFF
Weeks 1-7 -4.1% 20 -27.8% 2 1.9% 12 25.6%
Weeks 8-14 38.1% 2 -3.5% 13 12.0% 2 53.7%

It's interesting to note another team with virtually identical stats since Week 8:

New England DVOA, Weeks 1-7 vs. 8-14
Weeks OFF
Weeks 1-7 32.1% 1 3.9% 18 2.8% 10 31.0%
Weeks 8-14 40.5% 1 -3.7% 12 10.8% 3 55.0%

Something else both New England and Seattle have in common: both teams lost close games to Arizona during the Cardinals' four-game winning streak to start the year. That's a distant memory, isn't it? I received numerous tweets on Sunday asking me where the Cardinals stood among the worst offenses we've ever tracked. The surprising answer is: They don't.

That embarassment on Sunday dropped the Cardinals' offensive DVOA from -26.7% to -31.2%. They are now comfortably in last place. But that rating wouldn't make a list of the worst ten offenses we've ever tracked through Week 14. The Cardinals would rank 16th. The same thing is true if we break offensive DVOA down to passing and rushing. I don't have a spreadsheet that puts together how these splits develop week-by-week, so we'll have to compare the Cardinals to other teams over a full season instead of just 13 games, but... Arizona's passing DVOA of -32.1% doesn't even make the list of the worst 20 passing games in DVOA history. In fact, their running game is comparitively worse; the Cardinals and Raiders are basically tied at -20.1%, which would rank them 16th and 17th in DVOA history.

Remember, we changed DVOA this offseason to normalize every season to 0%, so the Cardinals do not miss the bottom of our lists simply because the current offensive environment of the NFL means that the worst offense now will get a lot more yardage than the worst offense 20 years ago. I'm not sure people realize just how bad the worst offenses of the last 20 years really were.

Twenty years ago, that Seattle franchise that walloped Arizona on Sunday had a team that couldn't even average 10 points per game. That team finished the year with offensive DVOA of -41.3% and passing DVOA of -65.3%. That's beyond pathetic, and way worse than what the Cardinals are doing this year, even after including this week's game. Between them, Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Dan McGwire had a completion rate of 48.3 percent, 67 sacks, and 23 picks with only nine touchdowns.

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That's the worst passing offense we've tracked, but not the worst offense overall. That would be the 2002 expansion Texans, when David Carr took 76 sacks and the running game averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The Cardinals can't come close to the 2005 49ers, who had rookie Alex Smith and his 1-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That team started Ken Dorsey three times and Cody Pickett twice. They can't come close to the 2004 Bears team that was stuck starting Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, and Jonathan Quinn after Rex Grossman got hurt early. The Cardinals don't even have the worst offensive DVOA in franchise history. In fact, they don't even have the worst offensive DVOA in Ken Whisenhunt history. The 2010 Cardinals finished the year with -35.6% DVOA. That team's best quarterback was a UFL refugee named Richard Bartel. That was the season that inspired the Cardinals to go out and get Kevin Kolb. And I know people like to say horrible things about Kolb, and he certainly hasn't turned into a viable NFL starter, but can we be honest about the fact that a healthy Kevin Kolb (passing DVOA: -24.3%) would be better than the alternatives of John Skelton (-35.7%) and Ryan Lindley (-64.9%)?

The Cardinals are very bad, but not historically bad, and the same goes for the Jets, Jaguars, and Chiefs.

One last note: Atlanta and Indianapolis are still teams that have won a bunch of close games with very easy schedules. I don't have anything new to add about their low DVOA ratings.

* * * * *


Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 62.0% x 2007 NE 49.1% x 1991 PHI -40.0% x 2006 CHI 11.2%
1991 WAS 58.6% x 2010 NE 44.7% x 2002 TB -39.9% x 2011 CHI 10.8%
2004 PIT 45.1% x 1993 SF 39.4% x 2008 BAL -31.4% x 2001 PHI 10.7%
1998 DEN 43.4% x 1998 DEN 39.3% x 1995 SF -29.3% x 1994 CLE1 10.3%
1995 SF 41.9% x 2002 KC 38.2% x 2012 CHI -27.8% x 2012 BAL 10.3%
2012 NE 41.8% x 2004 IND 37.1% x 2008 PIT -27.0% x 2007 CHI 10.1%
2004 NE 40.9% x 1992 SF 35.7% x 2004 PIT -26.8% x 2000 MIA 9.9%
1999 STL 40.3% x 2012 NE 35.7% x 1991 NO -26.7% x 1998 DAL 9.8%
2002 TB 39.1% x 1995 DAL 33.7% x 1997 SF -26.6% x 1996 CAR 9.7%
2004 PHI 38.8% x 2004 KC 32.2% x 2004 BAL -24.8% x 2004 BUF 9.7%
2012 SEA 38.8% x 2003 KC 31.9% x 2006 CHI -24.7% x 1997 DAL 9.5%
1994 DAL 38.3% x 2011 NE 31.1% x 1998 MIA -24.4% x 2002 NO 9.2%

Yes, I know what you are saying to yourself at this point: "How the hell are the Chicago Bears still on this list?" Well, the Bears had a long way to drop. The Chicago defense "peaked" at -39.9% after Week 10. Their defensive rating has gotten worse each week since then, but they've still been above average. From Week 11 through Week 14, Chicago's defensive DVOA is -5.8%. There's a lot of opponent adjustment in that because the opponents have included two offenses in our top five, San Francisco and Seattle. Before the season, I definitely wasn't expecting to write things like "offenses in our top five include San Francisco and Seattle."

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2012, 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.)

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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>

All stats pages should now be updated (or, at least, will be in the next few minutes) including snap counts and the FO Premium database.

Two general site notes: First, Any Given Sunday will appear tomorrow because of Rivers McCown's travel home. Second, please note that we're way behind on answering e-mails to the Football Outsiders general mailbag because both Rivers and I attended the game last night and were recovering/traveling home today. If you've e-mailed recently, have patience. Thanks!

1 NE 41.8% 1 45.8% 1 10-3 35.7% 1 0.3% 14 6.5% 3
2 SEA 38.8% 4 43.9% 2 8-5 15.4% 5 -16.7% 2 6.6% 2
3 DEN 35.5% 2 37.9% 3 10-3 18.5% 3 -14.5% 5 2.4% 10
4 SF 34.8% 3 33.8% 4 9-3-1 20.1% 2 -15.9% 4 -1.2% 22
5 GB 21.9% 5 16.2% 7 9-4 15.5% 4 -5.3% 9 1.1% 11
6 CHI 20.6% 6 21.1% 6 8-5 -12.8% 26 -27.8% 1 5.7% 5
7 NYG 20.3% 8 21.8% 5 8-5 13.4% 6 -3.5% 10 3.4% 9
8 HOU 15.1% 7 13.6% 8 11-2 4.8% 12 -16.6% 3 -6.3% 31
9 BAL 12.0% 9 9.8% 10 9-4 3.7% 16 2.0% 19 10.3% 1
10 WAS 5.3% 11 9.2% 11 7-6 12.2% 8 3.3% 21 -3.5% 27
11 ATL 5.2% 10 0.6% 14 11-2 4.1% 13 -0.7% 13 0.5% 14
12 CIN 4.7% 12 13.2% 9 7-6 3.9% 14 2.7% 20 3.5% 8
13 DET 2.3% 14 2.4% 12 4-9 12.8% 7 5.9% 24 -4.5% 28
14 TB 1.1% 13 0.4% 15 6-7 7.4% 10 1.3% 18 -5.0% 29
15 PIT -0.5% 15 2.1% 13 7-6 -4.0% 20 -3.1% 11 0.5% 15
16 CAR -1.6% 18 -1.4% 16 4-9 5.5% 11 0.7% 16 -6.5% 32
17 DAL -2.1% 16 -3.3% 18 7-6 3.7% 15 4.2% 22 -1.6% 24
18 MIN -5.1% 19 -8.8% 24 7-6 -3.5% 18 5.1% 23 3.6% 7
19 STL -5.3% 20 -6.3% 19 6-6-1 -8.7% 23 -6.6% 7 -3.2% 26
20 MIA -5.9% 21 -8.3% 23 5-8 -9.8% 25 -2.9% 12 1.0% 12
21 BUF -6.5% 22 -2.0% 17 5-8 -2.8% 17 7.5% 26 3.9% 6
22 NO -8.1% 17 -7.0% 21 5-8 8.1% 9 15.7% 31 -0.4% 17
23 SD -8.2% 23 -7.2% 22 5-8 -8.4% 22 0.6% 15 0.9% 13
24 NYJ -8.9% 25 -10.8% 25 6-7 -15.4% 27 -6.5% 8 0.1% 16
25 CLE -10.3% 26 -6.5% 20 5-8 -15.5% 28 1.2% 17 6.3% 4
26 PHI -18.2% 27 -22.1% 27 4-9 -9.8% 24 7.2% 25 -1.2% 21
27 ARI -18.5% 24 -24.6% 28 4-9 -31.2% 32 -13.6% 6 -0.9% 18
28 IND -20.1% 28 -19.0% 26 9-4 -3.7% 19 15.4% 30 -1.0% 20
29 TEN -29.1% 29 -27.1% 29 4-9 -17.9% 29 9.7% 27 -1.4% 23
30 OAK -31.9% 31 -31.7% 30 3-10 -8.1% 21 18.0% 32 -5.8% 30
31 JAC -34.8% 30 -32.7% 31 2-11 -20.9% 30 13.1% 28 -0.9% 19
32 KC -39.7% 32 -35.6% 32 2-11 -23.0% 31 13.7% 29 -3.1% 25
  • 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 41.8% 10-3 43.4% 11.8 1 -0.6% 18 -2.0% 18 10.6% 10
2 SEA 38.8% 8-5 29.3% 10.5 4 4.3% 6 7.7% 10 14.8% 22
3 DEN 35.5% 10-3 35.0% 11.7 2 -4.8% 27 -12.7% 27 7.1% 7
4 SF 34.8% 9-3-1 31.7% 10.6 3 3.1% 9 20.7% 1 22.8% 31
5 GB 21.9% 9-4 14.6% 9.6 5 3.3% 8 -4.5% 23 11.3% 12
6 CHI 20.6% 8-5 17.9% 9.1 6 0.7% 14 1.9% 13 13.1% 19
7 NYG 20.3% 8-5 19.1% 8.2 7 2.3% 11 -0.3% 15 25.9% 32
8 HOU 15.1% 11-2 21.2% 7.5 9 -1.1% 20 -15.1% 30 12.3% 17
9 BAL 12.0% 9-4 16.0% 7.7 8 -4.2% 25 20.2% 2 16.5% 26
10 WAS 5.3% 7-6 7.6% 7.2 10 1.8% 13 -10.2% 26 11.3% 13
11 ATL 5.2% 11-2 12.6% 7.1 11 -7.4% 32 7.9% 9 12.0% 14
12 CIN 4.7% 7-6 11.4% 6.6 13 -5.4% 29 -2.2% 19 17.5% 27
13 DET 2.3% 4-9 -0.6% 6.4 15 2.7% 10 2.4% 11 5.5% 4
14 TB 1.1% 6-7 7.3% 7.0 12 -3.9% 24 -2.7% 21 6.2% 5
15 PIT -0.5% 7-6 3.0% 6.2 18 -4.3% 26 -2.5% 20 19.2% 30
16 CAR -1.6% 4-9 -2.5% 6.3 17 5.0% 5 -16.1% 31 12.1% 16
17 DAL -2.1% 7-6 -5.3% 6.5 14 6.2% 3 -1.1% 17 7.2% 8
18 MIN -5.1% 7-6 -4.9% 6.1 19 3.5% 7 10.6% 6 5.1% 1
19 STL -5.3% 6-6-1 -10.3% 6.0 20 10.9% 1 11.6% 5 6.8% 6
20 MIA -5.9% 5-8 -7.6% 6.3 16 0.5% 15 0.2% 14 16.4% 25
21 BUF -6.5% 5-8 -8.1% 5.6 23 -3.0% 22 8.0% 8 15.6% 24
22 NO -8.1% 5-8 -7.3% 4.9 25 2.3% 12 -0.9% 16 10.8% 11
23 SD -8.2% 5-8 -3.9% 5.0 24 -5.0% 28 -14.1% 28 5.5% 3
24 NYJ -8.9% 6-7 -10.3% 5.8 21 5.7% 4 -14.6% 29 17.9% 29
25 CLE -10.3% 5-8 1.0% 5.7 22 -5.7% 30 13.4% 4 13.9% 21
26 PHI -18.2% 4-9 -20.7% 4.2 27 0.2% 16 10.1% 7 12.1% 15
27 ARI -18.5% 4-9 -26.8% 3.7 28 9.7% 2 19.3% 3 17.5% 28
28 IND -20.1% 9-4 -10.9% 4.6 26 -6.0% 31 -3.2% 22 8.3% 9
29 TEN -29.1% 4-9 -28.9% 2.3 30 -0.5% 17 -7.3% 25 15.4% 23
30 OAK -31.9% 3-10 -28.1% 2.5 29 -1.0% 19 -16.5% 32 13.9% 20
31 JAC -34.8% 2-11 -31.7% 1.6 32 -3.2% 23 2.3% 12 5.4% 2
32 KC -39.7% 2-11 -43.8% 1.8 31 -1.3% 21 -5.5% 24 12.7% 18


282 comments, Last at 18 Dec 2012, 8:19am

163 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

The Buccaneers came close to that last year, starting 4-2 (including a win over a Saints team that would finish 13-3) and then losing their last 10 in a row.

197 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

The only teams to lose 12 straight to end the season in the 16-game era are the 1990 Patriots, the 2001 Panthers, and the 2008 Lions. Those three teams won a combined two games, so obviously none went 4-0 to start. The closest I can find are the aforementioned Buccaneers of last season and the 1999 49ers, each of which began the year 3-1 and then went 1-11 the rest of the way.

Something rather unrelated but interesting I came across while looking this up: the 1981 Baltimore Colts opened the season by beating the Patriots, then lost 14 straight, then beat the Patriots again. Those two wins were by a total of three points and the Patriots were also a 2-14 team that year, so it certainly wasn't impressive to beat them twice, but to bookend 14 consecutive losses with wins over the same team is just funny looking.
Note: I am NOT saying that this season was historically unique--I am not going to take the time to look that up. It just looks funny.

199 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

The 1999 49ers should have an asterisk, because Steve Young's career being ended prematurely in week 3 had a lot to do with their collapse.

201 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I just realized that those are actually the only teams to lose 12 straight to end a 16-game season. There have been some non-16-game seasons played in the 16-game era that would not have come up in my search. Yes, I am a complete and utter fool.

31 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I'm really down on Cutler again, and I'm out of patience with the bad o-line explanation. Sunday, with his team desperately in need of getting the wound cauterized, he plays against a team which simply can't score, once 11 guys get coordinated to stop one running back. What the Bears need most from their highest paid player is 4 quarters of disciplined effort. Instead, they get a couple monumental f***-ups from their highest paid player, one when he lacks the discipline to execute simple mechanics, and bunch of minor f***-ups. His team loses. I hate guys like that ("hate" in the figurative, vicarious, sense, of course).

32 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Fair enough. I will note that at various times this year, you could say that 4 of the Bears top 5 receivers have been hurt.

One might think as long as Marshal is healthy, it wouldn't matter, but it turns out there is a difference been Earl Bennett and Eric Weems.

38 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Oh, no doubt, and if Cutler was playing for a team which needed him to throw for 4 tds a game, Luck-style, in order to give his team a chance to win, I'd be more sympathetic. Instead, the guy has just refused to adjust his play to what would be best for his team, and thus take on the responsibility that comes with his placement on the payroll. I naturally watched the game Sunday more closey, but what I saw was pretty awful, given the context of the opponent, the standings, and it being week 14.

90 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Boy, people turn on Cutler quick. He and Marshall were the only reason that Seahawks game was close. Cutler move really well in the pocket and frankly (and embarrassingly) broke a couple of Seahawks defenders ankles when he converted about 3 first downs on the run.

94 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Quick? I've been critical of him since his days in Denver, for being very ill disciplined at times. I've gone back and forth, because he also at time displays tremendous talent. He was simply awful, from a mental aspect, last Sunday, especially given the context. That's inexcusable for a veteran qb who has the responsibility of being the highest paid guy on the team.

111 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I've yet to figure out why Cutler gets so much slack. The narrative seems to be that "if he only had better talent around him, he'd be Canton bound". What QB above a certain threshold COULDN'T you say that about? People seem to have to bolster Cutler more than many, many other guys who have been saddled with mediocre to bad surrounding talent. Who was voting Chad Pennington to the HOF only if had had surrounding talent? I could list a half dozen more at least. Cutler has some skills there is no doubt, but he's basically Jeff George 2.0, and no one was lighting candles for him as I recall. Cutler is a mediocre QB who can zing a nice pass now and again. No more, no less.

120 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Well, that's not completely accurate. Jeff George was the closest thing you'll see to a physical coward playing in the NFL. Cutler has his faults, and I'll hammer him for then when warranted, but being afraid to take a punch is not one of them.

215 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

This "Jay Cutler is Jeff George" thing has gotten so tired. Cutler is skilled but undisciplined. We've seen it many times before. George is not the only or even the most compelling comparable.

124 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Pennington never had the talent that Cutler does. When he first got to Chicago, I still thought he could be really good. Now, I think he is what he is, and it isn't good enough.

195 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

What Pennington had was an ability to read the defense almost as well as Brady and Manning, and the accuracy to put the ball in the right spot. Cutler has a better arm and a tougher body. By the way, Cutler may have better receivers, but the only year where Pennington played behind a line as weak as Cutler's was 2005. The rest of the time he was surrounded by Mangold, Mawae, D'brickashaw Ferguson, Jake Long and Fabini. And Pennington got to hand off to Curtis Martin.

198 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

"And Pennington got to hand off to Curtis Martin."

You can debate whether Matt Forte and Curtis Martin are on the same level, but it's not as if Cutler hasn't had a decent running game to lean on.

188 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

What QB above a certain threshold COULDN'T you say that about?

Well here's the thing. Cutler is the first QB above that threshold the Bears have had in at least 2 decades, maybe 6.

189 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Ya' know, when I think of those wonderful Bears teams of the latter half of the 80s, I think they may have been better off, given McMahon's fragility, to make a commitment to building an unorthodox attack with Doug Flutie. Yeah, he had obvious physical limits, but he had a great understanding of the game, and with terrific defense and good offensive line, they may have been able to get a few more January victories with him.

191 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings


In response to the previous comment, Kyle Orton has been a very decent NFL quarterback since his rookie season. He is now the backup in Dallas, but he is better than five or six starters I can think of offhand. Probably more.

196 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I love Kyle Orton, I wish he was the Bears backup right now. However, he is not as good as Cutler and he wouldn't be Canton bound if you put him on the 89 49ers.

203 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings


I didn't mean to imply that he was better than Cutler, just that he was better than every Bears quarterback of the 16 game era OTHER than Cutler. Which is possibly damning with faint praise, I understand.

I just mention Orton whenever I can because New York (Jets) DREAM of having Kyle Orton at the helm. Larry Fitzgerald has fantasies where he catches (mostly) accurate passes from Kyle Orton. Minnesota is a playoff team with Kyle Orton. Kyle Orton is also a better quarterback than the majority of the "young" quarterbacks the media obsesses over (at this point in their careers).

Any given year in the NFL there is a 28-34 year old quarterback who is better than 10 or 12 starters, but is not starting. Right now, that man is Kyle Orton. Nothing would make him a hall of famer. But he could improve a lot of teams.

226 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I actually think most teams in the NFL are trying to build their offenses on an unsustainable model. It feels like the vast majority of teams want their QB to be Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees, and so constantly look for that guy and build their offense in the hopes of getting that guy. The problem is that the vast majority of QBs in the league are going to be pedestrian at best, and most teams will probably be better off by building an offense modeled around a strong run game, a competent (if not terribly exciting) passing game and a strong defense.

230 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

It's a nice thought, but that avenue was closed about 7-8 years ago, with the tight enforcement of contact with receivers. The rules environment so favors the top echelon qbs these days that trying to beat teams that have a qb like that, when your qb isn't that, in the playoffs, is just a major long shot. Thus, everybody constantly searches for their Peyton/Eli/Tom/Drew/Ben/Aaron, and perhaps a few other guys. It may be a while before we see two qbs of the caliber of Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson win titles within a few years of each other, and I don't think we will ever again see a team string together 3 titles in a decade with a Theismann, Williams, and Rypien, with another team getting one with a Hostetler in the same decade. The suits have decided that making qbs the focus of the game, with ever increasing intensity, sells ad spots at a higher price, and they are probably right. I like just about everything about today's game, compared to eras past, but that is the one element I do not like as much. I think it makes the game have less variety, and decreases the importance of sound offensive line play, which is part of the game I've really enjoyed since I was a kid.

6 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I was wondering why NE's defense DVOA didn't improve much after abusing one of the better offenses in the league...

Until looking down and seeing that Houston is actually *not* one of the better offenses in the league. ;-) In a surprising twist, it is this week's opponent that will be the bigger challenge to NE's defense.

And just to let my bitter colors show for a minute, as bad as the final play was in the Sea/GB game, the officiating the night before was significantly worse. One game involved an evenly played contest settled late via a questionable call whereas the other was a 17-24 point blowout that was systematically skewed into a game that came down to the final play.

NE had two third down stops, an incomplete that should have forced 3rd and 14, a huge sack that would have set up a third and goal from the 20 and not one, but two first downs called back - all on erroneous calls. We aren't talking about questionable, but bad enough that even the announcers became speechless after a while. And that doesn't even count the FG that probably wasn't at the very end!

I can take a close game that veers poorly due to a bad call. Hell, that happened this year in the AZ game on a questionable Gronk hold that negated a game winning Woodhead TD. But a blowout massaged into a loss is beyond infuriating.

29 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Well I remember the officiating during the game (NE/Bal) that you refer to. I remember it being infuriating. I remember thinking how hard it would be to convey just how bad the officiating was without sounding horribly biased.

And then the refs in Seattle bailed me out. I could complain about them instead!

But that holding call on McCourty remains special.

8 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Interesting to note that San Francisco and Seattle look like rough flipped images of the other on offense and defense, with the only major separation coming from Seattle's special teams. I'm hoping @ Seattle on December 23rd's going to be one of the best games of the year.

12 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Look at the difference between wins and expected wins for Indy--that's epic!

23 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Houston, Atlanta and Indy have been hovering around 4 wins higher than their estimated win total for a few weeks now, which matches the general perception that they're not nearly as good as their record indicates (although I suppose Houston may only be earning that perception after Monday's blowout).

Seems like Manning always outperformed estimated wins with the Colts too.

145 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I used to complain to Aaron, back when this site was like a three-man show, that DVOA and their various models underestimated the Colts. Year after year, their projections would be for 9-10 wins and year after year, Indy would rack up 12 or more. I attributed it to Manning and now the same thing gets laid at the feet of Luck? No, that's too weird. Until further notice, I blame it on the uniforms, or maybe the water in Indy. (Seriously, though, I believe DVOA places too much weight on ST, which always suck in Indy. Empirical evidence is surely against what is merely my gut feeling, however.) I guess I'd rather always outperform then underperform....

216 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I also think that since close games are considered a statistical wash in terms of W-L record, a single team who has a really good QB, notorious for winning games at the last second, would consistently get underrated. I wonder whether there are enough single possession games in the 4Q to show Offensive DVOA for particular teams or quarterbacks. Might get an idea if specific teams are extraordinarily good at closing out games.

Also, because the SOS doesn't take into account injuries of teams, as well as potentially tanking a game, it also blows up in Seattle's favor when it comes to the Bears / Ravens, and defenses that have lost potency due to injuries. (Alternatively, it might be underestimating the Steelers, who finally got Polamalu back, and watching that defense turn into a beast).

DVOA is a fantastic measure, but it does not account for game specific context 100% (and that's obviously impossible). I need to crunch some numbers and see if I can't quantify some more context based matchup information.

16 Seattle's Variance

How did Seattle go from 2nd in variance last week to 22nd this week? After 14 weeks, the decimation of Arizona has that big of an effect?

26 Re: Seattle's Variance

In reply to by Andy (not verified)

Its got to be that the 58-0 blowout 'corrected' the gap between Seattle's performance on a play to play basis and the expected point output (Seattle was both poorer than expected and unlucky in the red zone over the first several games).

30 Re: Seattle's Variance

In reply to by Andy (not verified)

Every play for the Seahawks seemed like it was either hugely valuable or a slight negative. There was absolutely no inbetween at all in that Cardinals game. Every run for the Seahawks seemed like it was less than 2 yards or 7+. It seemed like every pass was incomplete or 10 to 70 yards. For the Cardinals they either got 9 yards, a first down, nothing, or a turnover.

18 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

It's surprising that Green Bay's weighted DVOA is lower than their total....considering they started 2-3 and have won 7 of their last 8.

130 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by archibaldcrane (not verified)

It's not really that surprising, as their only truly dominant win of the season was against the Texans, and that was 8 weeks ago. In the last 4 weeks they have beaten three mediocre by single digits (DET, MN, DET) and gotten absolutely throttled by a good team (NYG).
What I think is surprising is that they have a Top 10 defense, and they have been without Woodson and Matthews for big chunks of time. (Not to mention losing Bishop, Perry, and Smith for the season). I also think it is surprising that the offense has managed to look out of sync for most of the season, after almost never looking that way last year (with most of the same personnel). If you had told me coming into the season that the Packers would be -6% on Defense, and +1% on Special Teams, I would have bet we would be a Top 10 DVOA team of all time. The +34% offensive DVOA of 2011 seemed imminently repeatable this year, and that would have put us easily into the Top 10 all time, and essentially tied with the Patriots. But the offense has never looked right this year. If they can finally get everyone on the field, and on the same page, the top 5 receivers are still unmatched in the league (Cobb, Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Finley), and the running game is starting to look at least replacement level again. Pair that with a young, improving, above average defense and Green Bay has all the tools to make another run at a Super Bowl.

134 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

" I also think it is surprising that the offense has managed to look out of sync for most of the season, after almost never looking that way last year (with most of the same personnel)."

Well, it certainly looked that way in 2010 (with about the same number of injuries). The offensive line certainly isn't most of the same personnel, and that obviously is most of the problem. But yes, watching their offense has been a chore this year.

236 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

The O-line turned over one player from last year, with Saturday replacing Wells at center. Until Bulaga and then Lang got hurt that was the only significant change.

The O-line has definitely played worse this year, even with a healthy Bulaga and Lang, but the injuries at both WR and RB have been just as significant.

139 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Would you put their top 5 over (in order of strength I'd say): Gronkowski, Welker, Hernandez, Lloyd, and either Vereen or Woodhead. I would've liked to have put Edelmann there but he's done for the season and while Branch and Brady have a great connection Branch doesn't have the ability to separate nearly the way he used to.

In terms of comparing these two groups I'd say Greenbay has more speed on the perimeter and height, and I think the speed that Cobb has is more than Vereen but the agility of the Patriots WR is higher I think. Further, having TE's and WR's who block make the running game viable. Gronk and Welker are great in this respect and I'd say Hernandez and Lloyd are about average in this respect. I have no idea how well GB run blocks.

I think the Patriots are stronger with how they manipulate the middle of the field, Gronk is way ahead of Finely, and I'd say Hernandez is as well. Welker is being his ridiculous self and Lloyd is now integrating into the system and clearly has in the past had the ability to make circus catches. The lateral agility and balance that Woodhead has is also quite incredible. Before his fumble last night he did break a few tackles.

If anything I think both of these groups are the best at YAC in the league. I think with GB this is a lot of scheme and pure speed, whereas with NE it's scheme and agility to break ankles the way point guards in basketball will get defenders to trip over themselves. When GB breaks a play they are ridiculously fast.

I think the receiving core in New England is going to look interesting next year with the addition of Demps to the roster (Now who do they keep Edelmann or Welker?). Now splitting out the RB to the edge takes on a whole new level of threat. They ran a fly with Vereen yesterday but he couldn't get behind the defense the way his wheel route allowed him to against the Jets.

174 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Based on DYAR this year, which, as a counting stat, punishes Jennings, Gronkowski, Nelson, and Hernandez for injury time, GB's top five has outperformed NE's top five 654 to 621.

27 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Hey, look, San Diego's up to a 1.3% chance of making the playoffs.

Given how strange the AFC North is playing out lately, I'm surprised to see Baltimore at 100% chance of making the playoffs. I guess the Steelers and Bengals have to win out, and Baltimore has to lose out, for them to miss.

37 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I think the Ravens have in fact clinched a playoff spot, but the NFL hasn't noticed this because it's schedule-dependent.

The NFL sees that the Bengals and Steelers are both 6-loss teams and that the Ravens are a 9-win team. They then think that both of these teams can win out, as you say. But since there's a Steelers-Bengals game on Week 16, that's impossible. At least one of these teams is going to be a 7-loss team. Either of those two teams can win that game and take the AFC North. But it's not possible for both of those teams to finish ahead of the Ravens. Even if the Ravens finish 0-3, they'll be ahead of one of those two teams. (according the the playoff machine's tiebreakers)

I've been playing with ESPN's playoff machine, and it gives the Ravens the 6 seed no matter how I decide that one game, even if I give the Bengals, Steelers, and Jets wins in all of their other games. (The Jets have 7 losses already, but it seems they could end up in a tie with Baltimore, but would lose that tiebreaker.)

So, congrats to the Ravens! You're in the playoffs already!

Edit: nope, I can get both of them ahead of the Ravens if they tie.

But I can see how the possibility of all of that happening is below .0001%

241 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

It's because the Steelers and Bengals can tie. If Bal loses out, and the Steelers and Bengals go 2-0-1 they can knock Ravens out of the playoffs.

34 Re: Week 14 DVOA Ratings

I think it has to do with the overall remaining schedule. Pit/Cin have to play each other, so one of them will necessarily lose a 7th game. At this point, the most losses Baltimore can have is 7, so they'd be tied in some way.

Looking at the AFC overall, the scenario is that the AFC North + Wild Card + Wild Card will be composed of 3 teams from among: Bal, Pit, Cin, NYJ, and Ind.

I haven't looked at all their schedules, but perhaps there's some combination of games remaining that essentially mean Baltimore is already in, but when just looking at won-loss and a few initial tie-breakers, nobody is yet saying Baltimore has secured a spot in the playoffs.