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

Week 15 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The gap between the top two teams in our DVOA ratings gets even wider this week, a combination of Seattle's 23-0 stomping of the Giants and Denver's upset loss to San Diego. But at this point, Seattle doesn't just rank as the best team of 2013. It ranks as one of the best teams in DVOA history.

Yes, Seattle's 40.4% DVOA rating ties the Seahawks with the 1995 San Francisco 49ers for the third highest DVOA ever after 14 games. Don't think the Seahawks belong in that rarified company? Well, there's a colossal gap between the Seahawks and the top two teams in DVOA history. Both the 1991 Redskins and the 2007 Patriots were more than 15 percentage points higher than Seattle at this point. The Seahawks certainly don't belong in that rarified company. There's also a little bit of a weird timing fluke that puts the Seahawks all the way up to third all-time. A number of the best teams in DVOA history had surprising losses in Week 15, which means that their DVOA ratings dropped specifically this week. To give a few examples:

  • The 1998 Broncos, who had 43.4% DVOA through Week 14, lost their first game of the year in Week 15, to the 6-8 Giants.
  • The 2004 Patriots, who had 40.9% DVOA through Week 14, lost only their second game of the year in Week 15, to the 3-11 Dolphins.
  • The 2004 Steelers, who had 45.1% DVOA through Week 14, barely beat the 5-9 Giants in Week 15, 33-30.
  • The 2012 Patriots, who had 41.8% DVOA through Week 14, lost to San Francisco in Week 15.

Because of this string of Week 15 losses and close games, we go from 11 teams that had DVOA over 40% through 12 games (including Seattle this year) to just five teams that had DVOA over 40% through 14 games.

BEST TOTAL DVOA THROUGH 14 GAMES
Year Team DVOA
1991 WAS 57.3%
2007 NE 56.3%
2013 SEA 40.4%
1995 SF 40.4%
2010 NE 40.1%
2012 NE 39.8%
2004 PIT 39.7%
1999 STL 38.9%
2005 IND 38.5%
2012 SEA 38.5%
1996 GB 38.1%
2004 PHI 37.4%

Will Seattle finish as only the sixth team in DVOA history with a rating over 40%? There's a good chance the Seahawks can keep this up. Remember, last year's Seahawks finished with 38.7% DVOA, which currently stands as the sixth highest season total ever. They also have their final two games at home, against Arizona and St. Louis. Seattle's home-field advantage makes them strong favorites to take both contests, unless they sit starters in the final game. Those two games are also going to take care of complaints about Seattle's schedule strength, thanks to the overall strength of the NFC West this year. Even right now, Seattle's schedule doesn't rank particularly low; they are 22nd with an average opponent DVOA of -1.7%. Once you add in Arizona and St. Louis, the Seahawks' schedule goes to -0.7% DVOA, which ranks 18th. So they're basically playing an average schedule in 2013. If you want to complain about teams that aren't as good as they look, you have to complain about Denver and Kansas City. Add in the final two games, and those teams have by far the easiest schedules in the NFL this year, at -8.6% DVOA for Kansas City and -7.4% for Denver. No other team has an average opponent DVOA below -4.0%.

That's not to say that Kansas City and Denver aren't still strong Super Bowl contenders. After all, it's a sign of a strong team to clobber the easy teams on the schedule. And Kansas City has done just that the past two weeks, beating Washington and Oakland by a combined score of 101-41. Even when we account for opponent strength, these are by far the Chiefs' most impressive games of the year. Both games have a single-game DVOA over 80% even though no previous Kansas City game had a single-game DVOA over 40%. With these wins, the Chiefs have climbed from eighth in DVOA two weeks ago to fifth this week. I don't buy the idea that these huge wins mean the Chiefs are "peaking at the right time," but they do show that perhaps this offense had more tricks up its sleeve than we realized and the Chiefs shouldn't be written off as Super Bowl contenders. (They certainly shouldn't be written off as division champions; our playoff odds report now gives them a 26.4 percent chance of winning the AFC West.)

The Chiefs are also making waves with their special teams, which have now climbed up to 9.6% DVOA. That's tied with the 1996 Carolina Panthers as the seventh highest special teams DVOA ever through 14 games. However, that comes with a wee bit of an asterisk. Kansas City's high special teams rating is built almost entirely on kickoff and punt returns. I have never been able to work opponent adjustments properly into special teams, but we know that the Chiefs had their best return game against Washington's worst-ever special teams. They also had strong return games against the Broncos (who are terrible at covering kicks) and the Giants (who are terrible at covering punts). Maybe I need to work on those opponent adjustments for special teams returns against this offseason.

As just noted, yes, Washington is still the worst special teams in DVOA history despite having almost average value in Week 15's loss to Atlanta. We'll have to see if they can have one more disaster game in the final two weeks, which they'll need to fend off the 2000 Bills for the full-season title of worst special teams ever.

WORST ST DVOA THROUGH 14 GAMES
Year Team DVOA
2013 WAS -13.7%
1997 SEA -13.1%
2000 BUF -11.8%
2010 SD -11.7%
1995 PHI -9.7%
2009 GB -9.5%
1998 OAK -9.3%
1997 STL -9.2%
1993 MIN -9.1%
2008 MIN -9.0%
2002 CIN -9.0%
1996 NYJ -8.9%

At this point, we can probably drop the whole "WORST DVOA EVER WATCH" with multiple tables each week. San Diego's surprising clampdown on Peyton Manning and the Broncos moves its defense out of the ten worst ever. Jacksonville's offense has also climbed out of the depths of the ten worst ever. The Jaguars are still ninth in worst overall DVOA ever, but that's mainly because of poor play early in the season. Jacksonville had five games with single-game DVOA below -50% before their Week 9 bye. They haven't had a single one since. This is the first week that the weighted DVOA formula fully drops the first week of the season, when the Jaguars got crushed 28-2 by Kansas City, and that helps the Jaguars climb out of the bottom spot in weighted DVOA for the first time all season. Oakland is now the weakest team in the league by weighted DVOA.

* * * * *

During the 2013 season, we'll be partnering with EA Sports to bring special Football Outsiders-branded items to Madden 25 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in standard stats. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats, including DYAR, Defeats, and our game charting coverage stats for cornerbacks. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend, beginning Friday night.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 15 are:

  • Brian Orakpo, OLB, WAS (Limited Edition): 1.5 sacks, 4 TFL (including the sacks), 6 Stops.
  • Kelvin Beachum, LT, PIT: Allowed just one hurry and no sacks vs. Cincinnati.
  • Vontae Davis, CB, IND: Allowed just two catches for nine yards, mostly covering Andre Johnson.
  • Geoff Schwartz, RG, KC: Allowed no hurries or sacks vs. Oakland, started at guard then moved to tackle when Eric Fisher was injured.
  • Justin Tucker, K, BAL: 6-for-6 on field goals including game-winning 61-yarder, plus four touchbacks.

I feel bad that Justin Tucker knocked poor Dan Bailey off the list, as Bailey was a fabulous 5-for-5 on field goals and 9-for-9 on touchbacks against Green Bay, but Tucker's 61-yard field goal was worth more than Bailey's touchbacks because in our current system, the expected score of a field goal over 60 yards is zero. Some other players we considered (not including players we did in previous weeks or those included in Madden's Team of the Week) were D.J. Fluker, Stephon Gilmore, DeSean Jackson, Matt Kalil, Ryan Kalil, Rodger Saffold, Michael Thomas, and DeAngelo Williams. We couldn't do Byron Maxwell of the Seahawks because he was just done for Team of the Week recently.

* * * * *

All 2013 stat pages are now updated or will be updated in the next few minutes, including snap counts, playoff odds, and the FO Premium database. For more on what these DVOA changes have meant to the playoff odds, including an estimate of what getting Aaron Rodgers back would mean for Green Bay's chances of making the postseason, check out Danny Tuccitto's playoff odds commentary on ESPN Insider.

* * * * *

[ad placeholder 3]

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 15 weeks of 2013, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.

As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 SEA 40.4% 1 38.4% 1 12-2 11.5% 7 -23.3% 1 5.6% 5
2 DEN 30.5% 2 26.1% 2 11-3 30.6% 1 -0.3% 15 -0.4% 20
3 CAR 25.2% 3 25.0% 4 10-4 10.8% 8 -13.4% 3 1.0% 14
4 KC 20.7% 5 21.8% 5 11-3 4.2% 13 -6.9% 10 9.6% 1
5 SF 17.9% 8 25.1% 3 10-4 5.2% 11 -8.5% 8 4.1% 7
6 NE 17.0% 6 21.0% 6 10-4 14.8% 5 3.8% 21 6.0% 3
7 NO 16.9% 4 15.6% 8 10-4 14.4% 6 -5.2% 11 -2.7% 23
8 CIN 13.9% 7 14.8% 9 9-5 -0.6% 19 -11.6% 5 2.9% 10
9 CHI 12.4% 9 9.1% 12 8-6 16.1% 4 5.5% 22 1.8% 12
10 ARI 10.9% 10 16.8% 7 9-5 -1.8% 20 -15.5% 2 -2.8% 24
11 PHI 7.7% 11 11.1% 10 8-6 19.5% 3 8.0% 25 -3.8% 26
12 SD 3.1% 14 6.5% 13 7-7 22.5% 2 20.0% 32 0.7% 15
13 PIT 3.0% 16 6.1% 14 6-8 5.2% 12 3.6% 20 1.3% 13
14 IND 2.5% 17 -4.8% 20 9-5 4.0% 14 1.5% 17 0.0% 17
15 STL 2.3% 18 9.6% 11 6-8 -7.4% 23 -3.7% 13 5.9% 4
16 DET 1.9% 12 3.2% 15 7-7 0.3% 18 -1.8% 14 -0.1% 18
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 TB -0.9% 13 1.9% 16 4-10 -9.7% 24 -10.7% 6 -1.9% 22
18 MIA -1.4% 19 -0.8% 18 8-6 1.8% 15 0.3% 16 -2.9% 25
19 DAL -1.8% 15 -7.1% 21 7-7 8.4% 10 14.1% 31 3.9% 8
20 BAL -3.1% 21 0.9% 17 8-6 -20.9% 30 -10.2% 7 7.6% 2
21 GB -3.5% 20 -9.6% 24 7-6-1 9.3% 9 12.6% 30 -0.2% 19
22 TEN -5.8% 23 -3.9% 19 5-9 1.1% 17 2.5% 19 -4.4% 27
23 BUF -6.2% 22 -8.5% 23 5-9 -12.6% 25 -11.6% 4 -5.3% 28
24 MIN -10.6% 25 -7.7% 22 4-9-1 -4.2% 21 9.6% 26 3.2% 9
25 ATL -11.6% 24 -17.6% 27 4-10 1.6% 16 12.5% 29 -0.7% 21
26 NYJ -13.8% 26 -19.3% 28 6-8 -22.7% 31 -4.6% 12 4.2% 6
27 CLE -18.8% 28 -17.0% 26 4-10 -13.3% 26 5.9% 23 0.4% 16
28 NYG -18.9% 27 -12.4% 25 5-9 -20.8% 29 -8.2% 9 -6.4% 29
29 HOU -27.0% 29 -31.1% 30 2-12 -18.6% 28 1.8% 18 -6.6% 30
30 WAS -27.1% 30 -25.6% 29 3-11 -7.1% 22 6.3% 24 -13.7% 32
31 OAK -33.3% 31 -34.2% 32 4-10 -16.7% 27 9.8% 27 -6.9% 31
32 JAC -42.3% 32 -31.4% 31 4-10 -32.1% 32 12.4% 28 2.2% 11
  • 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).



TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 SEA 40.4% 12-2 41.9% 11.6 2 -1.7% 22 6.6% 12 12.7% 19
2 DEN 30.5% 11-3 38.1% 11.9 1 -4.1% 30 -30.2% 31 7.7% 8
3 CAR 25.2% 10-4 23.8% 9.6 3 2.9% 7 2.6% 15 10.7% 16
4 KC 20.7% 11-3 27.4% 9.3 4 -10.2% 32 2.8% 14 13.2% 22
5 SF 17.9% 10-4 12.9% 8.9 8 2.5% 8 -0.4% 17 13.4% 23
6 NE 17.0% 10-4 15.5% 9.2 6 -0.4% 16 -4.7% 19 5.0% 1
7 NO 16.9% 10-4 14.4% 8.4 11 5.6% 2 12.1% 7 15.4% 27
8 CIN 13.9% 9-5 19.0% 8.9 7 -1.6% 21 -6.9% 22 12.7% 20
9 CHI 12.4% 8-6 11.2% 8.8 9 -3.9% 29 2.1% 16 8.8% 10
10 ARI 10.9% 9-5 8.8% 9.2 5 2.1% 9 29.2% 1 6.5% 4
11 PHI 7.7% 8-6 10.3% 8.7 10 -5.4% 31 5.3% 13 25.4% 31
12 SD 3.1% 7-7 4.3% 7.1 15 -3.7% 28 -6.3% 21 7.0% 5
13 PIT 3.0% 6-8 3.3% 7.3 14 -2.7% 25 -11.1% 28 7.7% 7
14 IND 2.5% 9-5 3.1% 8.1 12 -1.7% 23 -10.8% 27 19.9% 28
15 STL 2.3% 6-8 0.4% 6.7 18 4.7% 5 19.7% 3 25.8% 32
16 DET 1.9% 7-7 2.7% 7.1 16 -0.7% 18 -14.8% 30 12.0% 18
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 TB -0.9% 4-10 -8.6% 5.7 24 8.5% 1 9.6% 8 9.3% 13
18 MIA -1.4% 8-6 -0.3% 6.5 20 3.1% 6 -10.0% 24 9.2% 11
19 DAL -1.8% 7-7 1.1% 7.4 13 -1.2% 20 -9.7% 23 11.3% 17
20 BAL -3.1% 8-6 -1.3% 6.6 19 -2.5% 24 15.4% 5 6.4% 3
21 GB -3.5% 7-6-1 1.0% 7.0 17 -3.3% 26 7.7% 11 20.4% 29
22 TEN -5.8% 5-9 -5.7% 5.6 26 1.2% 13 -34.6% 32 6.1% 2
23 BUF -6.2% 5-9 -3.3% 6.1 21 -0.7% 17 7.8% 10 14.3% 24
24 MIN -10.6% 4-9-1 -9.6% 5.6 25 1.9% 10 7.9% 9 7.9% 9
25 ATL -11.6% 4-10 -16.0% 5.9 22 5.4% 3 21.5% 2 7.1% 6
26 NYJ -13.8% 6-8 -16.9% 5.8 23 1.7% 11 -10.1% 25 20.9% 30
27 CLE -18.8% 4-10 -14.6% 4.3 28 0.9% 14 -5.4% 20 10.5% 15
28 NYG -18.9% 5-9 -25.3% 4.7 27 5.0% 4 -12.6% 29 14.9% 25
29 HOU -27.0% 2-12 -23.1% 3.2 30 -0.7% 19 12.3% 6 15.1% 26
30 WAS -27.1% 3-11 -30.7% 3.5 29 1.6% 12 -10.4% 26 9.3% 12
31 OAK -33.3% 4-10 -31.5% 2.2 32 -3.5% 27 16.8% 4 10.1% 14
32 JAC -42.3% 4-10 -40.5% 2.5 31 0.7% 15 -1.6% 18 12.9% 21

Comments

202 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2013, 12:18pm

1 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Not surprising the GB is steadily trending towards the largest variance in DVOA

7 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

It would be really nice to see DVOA graphs for GB with and GB without Rodgers (the CHI game would also go in to No Rodgers since he was hurt on the 1st Series)

135 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I's also like to see Indy with/without Wayne and Philly with/without Foles. That would account for 3 of the 5 highest varianced teams. The Jets and Rams just seem to be Jekyll and Hyde teams.

199 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

What is it with the Rams' variance on defense? Some weeks they seem like a top 5 defense (e.g. against the Saints). Other weeks, they look like a bottom 5 defense. And it isn't any obvious injury, as they have gone back and forth during the season, though probably trending toward the better games.

I guess it could be just typical statistical clustering, but it seems somehow atypical just eyeballing the games and box scores.

111 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Well, they have the highest offensive variance, as expected. Unfortunately, they have the 8th-lowest defensive variance, which means their defense has been very consistent at sucking.

2 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

What's the best division in DVOA history? NFC West this year must be high on the list.

5 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Any theories as to the surreal switch around for this division? They were one of the worst divisions in football following on a string of terrible combined seasons, including those miserable play-off teams in 2004, and especially 2011, and now they're among the best, and look to continue to be so. Is that just a lot of high draft picks all concentrated in one place? Is it something to do with inter-divisional culture? What gives?

21 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

This is definitely something that should be investigated. They had a 7-9 division winner in 2010 (the year you meant - the 2011 division winner was legitimately very good).

Part of it is just finally hitting on draft picks. The high picks in recent years by these teams have almost always worked. Peterson for ARZ. Quinn, Brockers, Austin (to some degree) for STL. Everything Jon Schneider has done is Seattle.

The bigger part to me is stability and good fortune in the coaching/GM.

Apart from three years, Jeff Fisher always fielded competitive teams in Tennessee. He's a big upgrade from Spagnuolo/Linehan. Pete Carroll has proven himself to being a very good coach in turn #3, far better than Jim Mora. Jim Harbuagh has been so much better than Mike Singletary/Mike Nolan it is ridiculous.

Inter-division culture definitely plays a part. The AL East wasn't the best division just because of the Yankees and Red Sox, but because of the impact those teams had on the rest. In baseball, it is a matter of innovation and making sure you catch up to the financial power. In the NFL, it is probably more dubious. It hasn't worked in other divisions (namely, the AFC East in the Brady era), but it definitely has in the NFC West.

The final thing I have is maybe they are taking advantage of a relative underrated skill right now: running and defense. All four teams have been built in similar ways: defense first, not dependent on the QB as much as the other premier teams. Them all hitting on defensive personnel is odd, but there may be something to trying to build opposite of what the norm is in today's NFL.

144 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

The final thing I have is maybe they are taking advantage of a relative underrated skill right now: running and defense. All four teams have been built in similar ways: defense first, not dependent on the QB as much as the other premier teams. Them all hitting on defensive personnel is odd, but there may be something to trying to build opposite of what the norm is in today's NFL.

This point has the most potential, I think. Plenty of divisions have stunk it up and had lots of high draft picks. True the NFC West has good coaching right now, but nobody's ever shown there's much difference between good coaching and competent coaching.

Maybe there's nothing to the similar style of all NFC West teams, but what if there is? That would be interesting. Four teams that emphasize defense, special teams, and the running game -- despite all advanced statistics saying these things are less important than passing and QB play -- have turned the division around from worst to first. What gives?

163 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

It's probably has to do with the lower variance nature of good defense added to the ability to shorten a football game if you get up a whether or not it was by chance or skill.

168 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I'd say that Arizona shows the importance of quarterback play. Basically, whenever they've had competent or better quarterbacking they've been a pretty good team in the last decade or so and when they haven't, they haven't.

Seattle shows the importance of drafting. They've absolutely nailed most of their picks in the Schneider / Carroll era and as a result of the new salary structure for rookies, they've got a very good, very cheap team. Which allows them to do things like sign Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and turn a weakness into a strength.

The 49ers show the importance of coaching. I'd actually say Harbaugh is a bit overrated. My theory is that a truly awful coach (Singletary) does more harm than a good coach does good. This team was underachieving with very good talent for years.

The Rams are interesting in that they've had a lot of high picks but haven't really benefitted from them outside of the Griffin trade which is about to come home to roost. With the exception of Long, their high picks have been negative value (including Bradford when you factor in salary). They're more average-ish than good, which isn't any sort of achievement considering how long they've been bad and how many chances that has given them to rebuild.

22 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I think the draft picks helped a lot but it doesn't really tell the whole story. San Fran had all of the talent they needed on the team but couldn't put it together until Harbaugh came in. Seattle has some high draft picks (Earl Thomas and Russell Okung) but they haven't spent much time drafting high. I think that it's really the quality of coaching that makes the most difference. All four of the head coaches in the division now are very good.

26 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I think the high volume of draft picks garnered when NFC West teams were historically shitty really helps the 'next-man-up' dynamic that is driving the NFL more these days than maybe people realize (players are bigger/stronger/faster which leads to more injury risk, concussion awareness knocks guys out of games that previously they'd have played etc.).

It's not just about hitting the lottery with draft picks, it's about building a true 50-man roster with them, maybe more than it was in the past. So to sum up, the NFC West is really good after being really bad is because the NFL draft actually works.

31 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

San Francisco I would ascribe to high draft picks which came together with the right coaching.

2005 1-1: Alex Smith (well, he did play his part in 2011 and the first half of 2012)
2006 1-6: Vernon Davis
2007 1-11: Patrick Willis
2007 1-28: Joe Staley
2009 1-10; Michael Crabtree
2010 1-11: Michael Davis
2010 1-17: Mike Iupati
2011 1-7: Aldon Smith
2011 2-36: Colin Kaepernick

None of the other three teams had a particularly high number of early-round successes; looking through the selections there were actually more busts.

I think it's partly from the extreme focus on defense that all these teams share in a time when offenses are getting more and more explosive, which happens to be the same strategy of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. We've seen how elite defenses can pull even woeful offenses into the playoffs, and if the offenses are good as well, you get Seattle and SF today.

37 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Good breakdown! We might add that the Rams turned some high draft picks into multiple medium-high draft picks. They have five 2nd-rounders on their roster that were drafted in the last 3 years.

103 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Incidentally, this was one of the foundations upon which I built the "here's why they didn't regress" SF chapter in FOA2013. They had a historically outlying number of first-round picks on that roster when Harbaugh arrived -- and not just guys they drafted. Breakout teams of the "high talent stops underachieving" variety tend to have an easier time avoiding a fall back to earth than breakout teams of the "mediocre talent played out of their minds" variety.

104 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

But it can be hard to disentangle which was which no?

I actually think the biggest thing was that offensive line study of how its the third year when the high picks on the o line really blossom(I remember a niner friend telling me, but I never read the article). Seemed to me, the big difference between the 13-3 niners and the 11-4-1 niners was the dominance of their offensive line. Of course, replacing snyder with boone would be hard for anyone to predict.

107 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Well, considering everything in football stat analysis is hard to disentangle, yeah. But, I'm comfortable with what the research showed (mainly because it also happens to make theoretical sense). As much as front offices get wrong about the draft, I think they do a better-than-chance job at separating the wheat from the chaff. The 2010 team could only muster a 6-10 record despite 161 starts from first rounders when the only team with more starts from first rounders that season went 11-5. Then, the 2011 team went 13-3 after having 162 starts from first rounders, and the only plexiglass team with more (177 by '08 BAL) also didn't fall back to earth the following year.

As to your OL point, yeah, two of those first rounders were Davis and Iupati in 2010. The research says those guys blossom in year 2, not year 3, so that jibes with being a factor in the 2011 breakout season.

34 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

None of the teams are really riding on the strength of high draft picks (although the Rams have had some help in that area). Mostly, it's a coincidence of cycles in coaching changes (Rams, 49ers, Seahawks) or QB's (Cardinals).

The Cardinals were pretty good with Kurt Warner, then fell apart after he retired (18-30 over three season) despite decent talent elsewhere. Carson Palmer is making a huge difference.

The 49ers were never terrible, winning between 6 and 8 games in four out of five seasons between 2006 and 2010. But Singletary was a disaster as head coach. Harbaugh took over in 2011 and made them an instant contender.

The Rams did stack up talent in the draft, but it was Jeff Fisher's arrival in 2012 that made them decent (still not really good, but easily a .500 team in any other division).

The Seahawks bad stretch covered the last year of Mike Holmgren with a terribly old and slow roster (4-12), a year of horrible coaching from Jim Mora (5-11), followed by two years of Pete Carroll's complete rebuild (7-9 and 7-9). The 2010 7-9 team won the historically bad division, and was really not as good as the 2011 7-9 team. Carroll and general manager John Schneider built the roster mainly with low draft picks and UFDA's (Russell Wilson in the 3rd round, K.J. Wright in the 4th, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman in the 5th, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse UDFA's, etc.).

156 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Couldn't they? Losers won't get penalized since they lose to good teams and winners will get bonuses. Its maybe a long shot but possible. Also DVOA doesn't takenpodt season into account right?

180 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Well on average it may be, but it is frequently not the case in specific instances. For example that wasn't the case when SF beat SEA two weeks ago. On that occasion both teams total DVOA actually dropped slightly (though SF's weighted DVOA rose) perhaps this dip was a result of other permutations though so total DVOA may not be a good indicator. Regardless, this truth doesn't help my assumption that two good teams playing a close game might help raise both teams' (and thus the division) DVOA because that is clearly not the case as I would have discovered by doing some legwork prior to opening my yap. Mea culpa.

186 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

It seems like it ought to be a zero-sum game in terms of *changes* to team ratings.

If a 20% DVOA team plays a 0% DVOA team, and they play to a 0-0 VOA draw, the team ratings for the game seem like they ought to be 0% and 20%, respectively.

But who knows if I am correct. That's just the way it would seem to work intuitively. (ignoring stuff that you point out, like FG's and penalties)

3 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Wow, one game was enough to push Seattle's DVOA against #2 receivers from 5th-worst to 6th-best. If Browner does get retained next year, he needs to get himself suspended for the end of the season yet again, because it's clearly helping the team.

11 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Seems more likely a reminder that splits like "best DVOA against #2 receivers" are a product of a small sample size of plays and are not reliable indicators of teams' actual talent.

20 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Speaking of small sample size, The Seahawks this year have an average per-game DVOA performance of 29.2% on the road, and just below 60.0% (59.95%) at home.

4 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Apart from the typical, Romo chokes rhetoric, any over-arching reason why the Cowboys are collapsing so much down the stretch in DVOA? I haven't been actively watching them, but they seemed pretty solid through the first half of the season and now they're almost in free fall...

13 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Defensive injuries, especially Sean Lee. Took the defense from "bad, but can at least get a turnover occasionally" to "can't even slow down anyone" right around the Saints game.

28 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Right, which you can imagine how that makes me feel as a Giants fan. Giants struggled to score for 3 quarters against their defense, right after New Orleans put up 49 on them and backup QB's in Chicago and Green Bay scored 42 and 37.

8 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I just want to remind everyone that Dave Toub is the special teams teams coach in KC, after spending the last 8 years making the Bears the only consistently good team in special teams DVOA.

What does that guy do on punts and kickoffs that everyone else doesn't do?

102 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by whckandrw (not verified)

The Patriots special teams have also been consistently good. I went back to 2004, and every year was greater than 0%. Most years they were top 5.

I'm guessing its having real special teams players, instead of just whoever happens to be on the roster and not starting.

106 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Are you saying the pats routinely put starters on their special teams units? Or maybe you mean they have designated special teams roster spots for players who might be useless otherwise, but excel at special teams so they are kept on?

113 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Pats keep special teams players such as Matt Slater and Ebner. Bill often carries more TEs and LBs and safetys so that the pats are stronger in the kicking game.
S
This in turn leads to having 4 WRs on the roster or other such oddities like no DT depth.

The Pats roster is such a mess this year due to their ridiculous number of injuries at every level.

If Reid doesn't win COTY then Belichick should, simply for how he's managed the roster, though I do think he should have less emphasis on special teams and he should've kept woodhead.

141 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by whckandrw (not verified)

Not everyone else. Seahawk special teams are on the brink of setting a record for fewest yards allowed on punt returns, for example...

202 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Seahawks also had two blocked FG attempts run back for touchdowns, and a couple of blocked punts, one run back for a touchdown. It takes a lot of zero return punts to make up for those disasters.

142 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by whckandrw (not verified)

Not everyone else. Seahawk special teams are on the brink of setting a record for fewest yards allowed on punt returns, for example...