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

Week 9 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

So, which team has the best defense in the NFL this year? The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed just 12.3 points per game, the best figure in the league. The Houston Texans, as crazy as it sounds, are leading the league with just 273.5 yards allowed per game. Cleveland actually leads the league with just 4.5 yards allowed per play. And a lot of fans would just forget about which teams lead in these various categories and instead go with the defense with the strongest track record of dominance over the last season and a half, the Seattle Seahawks.

Well, DVOA doesn't have any of these teams as the top defense of 2013. It has a surprise team instead: the 4-4 Arizona Cardinals.

Yes, the Cardinals move into the top spot in defense at -19.1% DVOA despite not playing in Week 9, as Seattle's near-loss to Tampa Bay drops the Seahawks into second place. The Cardinals have a strong all-around defense, ranking second against the run and third against the pass.

Why does Football Outsiders put the Cardinals so far ahead of their rank in points allowed (21.8 per game, 11th) or yards per play (5.0, eighth)? Well, one reason is turnovers. The Cardinals are second in the NFL with 2.4 takeaways per game. (DVOA doesn't actually give them as much credit as that number would indicate, because they've recovered seven of ten fumbles.) The Cardinals also get better on more important downs. They're just average on first downs, but have the league's best defensive DVOA on second downs and rank third on third and fourth downs. Finally, there's the issue of schedule. So far the Cardinals have played the league's fourth hardest schedule of opposing offenses.

Some credit has to go to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. We thought that the Cardinals defense was going to be in trouble this year, with previous defensive coordinator Ray Horton leaving for Cleveland. Horton has made the Browns better, but his departure has not made the Cardinals worse. Bowles looked like a terrible hire as defensive coordinator when you considered the way the Eagles defense crashed and burned when he took over as interim coordinator halfway through the 2012 season, and Arizona was due for some regression on defense after improving from 20th in 2011 to sixth in 2012. There were plenty of reasons to expect this defense to have problems in 2013, but they've been outstanding. Tyrann Mathieu has been a Rookie of the Year candidate, John Abraham has been a strong addition to the pass rush, and Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell are both excellent on the defensive line. Patrick Peterson is now one of the league's top corners, and the Cardinals rank fourth in DVOA against No. 1 receivers and sixth against No. 2 recievers.

Unfortunately, Bruce Arians hasn't been able to put together an offense that complements the Cardinals' strong defense, even Carson Palmer providing an upgrade at the quarterback position compared to last year's mess. Arizona is just 29th in offensive DVOA. Add that to average special teams, and you end up with a team that's 4-4 and ranks 14th in the league overall.

* * * * *

In this week's Quick Reads, you saw that Nick Foles didn't make our list of the best quarterback games ever despite throwing seven touchdown passes. The main reason was quantity, not quality; because our list was based on DYAR, it gives more value to games where players have more passes or runs.

Team DVOA, of course is a different story. It's a per-play statistic, not a total value stat, and by measuring team DVOA we can also incorporate a strong running day where Eagles backs had 98 yards on 19 carries. Put it all together, and the Eagles end up with the fifth-highest single-game offensive DVOA in DVOA history. Here's a list of every game above 90.0%. The links in the scores will take you to each game's boxscore.

Top Offensive DVOA Games, 1989-2013 (Regular Season Only)
TEAM OPP WEEK YEAR OFF DVOA SCORE OPP RK
DEF DVOA
SD NYG 3 2005 113.8% 45-23 13
KC DET 15 2003 105.0% 45-17 21
SF CHI 17 1991 98.8% 52-14 6
STL SD 5 2000 98.6% 57-31 9
PHI OAK 9 2013 97.8% 49-20 27
DEN DAL 2 1998 97.0% 42-23 24
SD JAC 13 2011 95.1% 38-14 5
IND MIA 2 2009 93.6% 27-23 18
KC MIA 4 2002 93.1% 48-30 2
SD MIN 10 2003 91.4% 42-28 23
DAL NYG 1 2007 91.0% 45-35 13
NE MIA 7 2007 90.3% 49-28 31

The Chargers gained 485 yards in the best offensive DVOA game ever, or 8.7 yards per play, and their only turnover was a fumble recovered by the Giants. However, the game listed from the 2003 Chargers was probably even more interesting. The Chargers were 2-6 going into this game, and they stomped a Vikings team that came in 6-2. Drew Brees was injured, so Doug Flutie was the starting quarterback. Even more remarkable is the way the Chargers' offense collapsed the following week. In Week 10, San Diego beat Minnesota 42-28 with 458 yards, no turnovers, and 91.4% offensive DVOA. In Week 11, the same Chargers team again had Flutie at quarterback and lost 37-8 to Denver, with just 96 yards, four turnovers, and -98.0% offensive DVOA.

The other game that might stand out is the 2009 game where the Colts got one of the highest DVOA ratings ever with just 27 points. That was the Monday Night Football game that showed everyone how meaningless time of possession was. The Dolphins had the ball for 45:07 and 84 plays compared to just 14:53 and 35 plays for the Colts. The Colts gained 10.2 yards per play and won the game.

BEST AND WORST DVOA EVER WATCH

The gradual increase in the strength of the opponent adjustments mean that the Denver Broncos dropped a little bit this week without even playing a game. As a result, the Broncos have almost dropped off the list of the best teams in DVOA history. Only a dozen teams have ever put up at least 40% DVOA through Week 9, and the Broncos are the last team in that dozen.

Jacksonville was also saw its rating drop this week despite being on its bye week. In Jacksonville's case, the issue wasn't opponent adjustments getting stronger, but rather opponent adjustments changing as past Jacksonville opponents like Seattle, St. Louis, and especially Oakland all played worse than usual in Week 9. That moves Jacksonville back into the top spot (if you can call it that) as the worst team DVOA has ever tracked.

However, when it comes to watching for the best and worst DVOA ratings ever, I'm not sure anything quite matches what's going on with special teams this year. Houston special teams cost the Texans an estimated minus-10.4 points compared to average this week, mostly thanks to three missed field goals. That's enough to move the Texans down to 31st in special teams. Of course, it isn't like the Giants got better on their bye week. As a result, we now have three 2013 teams sitting among the dozen worst special teams DVOA ratings through Week 9, going back to 1989. That's just crazy. We estimate that the Giants have cost themselves 3.6 points per game with bad special teams, the Texans have cost themselves 4.0 points per game, and the Redskins have cost themselves 4.5 points per game. Houston and Washington are below average in all five phases of special teams that we measure. The Giants are above average on kickoffs and close to average on field goals and kick returns, but their punts and punt coverage have been horrific. Right now, we estimate that the Giants have cost themselves minus-23.4 points of estimated field position on punts. That would be the fifth-worst figure since 1989, and there's still half a season left.

The current version of DVOA normalizes every year to 0.0%, which means that these three pathetic special teams units (and the slightly less pathetic Tennessee Titans, at -8.1% DVOA) should skew the average and lead to more teams with positive special teams DVOA than with negative special teams DVOA. Surprisingly, that's not the case. We still have 16 teams above average, and 16 teams below. However, there are a lot more good special teams than bad. Ten different teams have special teams DVOA above 4.0%, while only the four teams mentioned in this section have special teams DVOA below -4.0%.

BEST TOT DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 9
x BEST OFF DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 9
x WORST TOT DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 9
x WORST OFF DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 9
x WORST ST DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 9
Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 73.8% x 2007 NE 47.0% x 2013 JAC -66.3% x 2005 SF -47.9% x 2010 SD -19.0%
1991 WAS 58.8% x 1999 WAS 46.8% x 2005 SF -63.3% x 1992 SEA -47.8% x 2008 MIN -14.5%
2001 PHI 51.8% x 1998 DEN 38.2% x 1993 TB -58.3% x 2010 CAR -47.3% x 2013 WAS -14.3%
1996 GB 47.9% x 2004 IND 36.7% x 2009 DET -55.5% x 2013 JAC -45.1% x 1995 PHI -12.6%
1990 CHI 47.7% x 1993 DAL 35.8% x 2009 OAK -52.5% x 2007 SF -42.0% x 2013 HOU -12.8%
2007 IND 46.0% x 2013 DEN 35.5% x 1991 IND -52.2% x 1996 STL -41.9% x 1997 STL -12.5%
2003 KC 44.4% x 1995 DAL 35.3% x 1999 CIN -50.0% x 2002 HOU -41.1% x 1997 PHI -12.3%
2007 DAL 41.7% x 2000 STL 35.0% x 1996 STL -48.7% x 2009 OAK -40.8% x 1999 CIN -12.2%
2002 TB 41.4% x 2002 KC 34.5% x 2002 HOU -48.6% x 2006 OAK -40.1% x 1996 ARI -11.7%
1994 DAL 41.4% x 2000 IND 34.4% x 2007 SF -48.4% x 2004 MIA -38.6% x 1994 HOIL -11.6%
2009 NE 41.2% x 2011 GB 34.0% x 1999 CLE -48.2% x 1992 IND -38.5% x 2006 ARI -11.4%
2013 DEN 41.1% x 2005 DEN 33.9% x 1998 PHI -47.3% x 1991 PHI -37.8% x 2013 NYG -11.4%

* * * * *

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 9 are:

  • Andre Johnson, WR, HOU (Limited Edition): 9 rec, 229 yards, 3 TD, led all WR with 116 DYAR
  • Duane Brown, LT, HOU: Allowed no sacks or hurries vs. Colts
  • Quinton Coples, OLB, NYJ: 3 QB hits, 4 hurries, TFL on fourth-and-1
  • Darrelle Revis, CB, TB: Allowed just eight yards on two pass targets
  • Ryan Succop, K, KC: 5-for-6 touchbacks on kickoffs, 3-for-3 FG

We also have some extra special Limited Edition players available this week, celebrating Football Outsiders' choices for the major NFL awards as of midseason. These are part of a big Madden 25 Ultimate Team content update on Thursday called "Road to the Playoffs."

  • MVP: Peyton Manning, QB, DEN
  • Offensive Player of the Year: Calvin Johnson, WR, DET
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Dontari Poe, DT, KC
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kyle Long, RG, CHI
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alonso, MLB, BUF
  • Comeback Player of the Year: LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI
  • Coach of the Year: Andy Reid, KC

A couple of these awards were pretty difficult to choose. We were also considering Justin Houston, J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas for Defensive Player of the Year, and we were considering Eddie Lacy, Giovani
Bernard, Keenan Allen, and Jordan Reed for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Here's a look at all seven special FO Midseason Awards players:

Here's a bit of a description of "Road to the Playoffs" from the guys at EA Sports: "As real-world NFL players build momentum into the playoffs, Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) players will also improve with game-changing upgrades. Elite and gold players that were in packs have been replaced by new versions, many with different chemistries and others with an overall rating increase. You'll also have an increased chance of finding your favorite players with the chemistries you want. All elite players will have dual-chemistries, and there will be multiple versions of players in packs boasting different combinations of chemistries. The midseason update will also include new solo challenges and collections."

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through nine 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.)

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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.

Because it is early in the season, opponent strength is at only 90 percent; it will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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

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

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 DEN 41.1% 1 40.3% 1 7-1 35.5% 1 -0.2% 16 5.5% 6
2 SEA 30.0% 2 29.5% 2 8-1 6.4% 13 -17.5% 2 6.0% 5
3 CAR 26.0% 4 26.9% 3 5-3 10.7% 10 -13.6% 3 1.7% 14
4 CHI 24.2% 6 23.9% 4 5-3 16.5% 5 -4.8% 10 2.9% 11
5 IND 20.2% 3 20.8% 5 6-2 17.0% 4 1.7% 20 4.9% 7
6 SF 17.3% 8 17.0% 7 6-2 14.1% 8 -2.6% 14 0.7% 15
7 NO 17.1% 7 17.3% 6 6-2 14.8% 7 -2.7% 13 -0.4% 19
8 CIN 16.0% 5 16.2% 8 6-3 1.7% 15 -10.1% 6 4.1% 10
9 KC 14.7% 10 13.9% 10 9-0 -3.6% 18 -12.0% 4 6.3% 3
10 GB 14.4% 9 14.5% 9 5-3 23.5% 2 7.1% 26 -2.1% 25
11 NE 12.9% 13 13.6% 12 7-2 1.9% 14 -4.6% 11 6.3% 2
12 DAL 12.8% 11 13.8% 11 5-4 6.9% 12 0.9% 18 6.8% 1
13 DET 6.3% 12 6.2% 13 5-3 13.3% 9 5.1% 24 -1.9% 24
14 ARI 2.5% 14 3.8% 14 4-4 -16.5% 29 -19.1% 1 0.0% 18
15 SD -1.5% 15 -1.3% 15 4-4 21.4% 3 22.2% 32 -0.8% 21
16 PHI -1.6% 24 -2.1% 16 4-5 14.8% 6 13.4% 30 -3.0% 26
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 MIA -2.1% 22 -2.9% 17 4-4 -3.9% 19 -3.0% 12 -1.2% 22
18 ATL -4.5% 18 -4.9% 18 2-6 6.9% 11 10.9% 29 -0.6% 20
19 NYJ -5.1% 23 -5.0% 19 5-4 -22.3% 31 -11.0% 5 6.3% 4
20 BUF -5.5% 17 -6.5% 20 3-6 -8.6% 21 -6.4% 7 -3.4% 27
21 BAL -8.1% 19 -6.7% 21 3-5 -16.1% 27 -5.6% 8 2.3% 12
22 CLE -9.8% 21 -8.8% 22 4-5 -10.7% 24 3.5% 21 4.4% 9
23 TB -10.3% 27 -11.0% 24 0-8 -8.8% 22 0.3% 17 -1.3% 23
24 PIT -10.9% 16 -10.6% 23 2-6 -0.4% 17 10.6% 28 0.0% 17
25 MIN -11.7% 25 -11.1% 25 1-7 -9.9% 23 6.1% 25 4.4% 8
26 STL -13.2% 26 -13.9% 26 3-6 -10.9% 25 4.4% 22 2.1% 13
27 TEN -14.0% 20 -15.0% 27 4-4 -4.5% 20 1.4% 19 -8.1% 29
28 WAS -18.4% 30 -17.6% 28 3-5 0.6% 16 4.7% 23 -14.3% 32
29 HOU -22.6% 29 -23.5% 30 2-6 -11.9% 26 -2.1% 15 -12.8% 31
30 NYG -22.6% 31 -22.4% 29 2-6 -16.1% 28 -4.9% 9 -11.4% 30
31 OAK -36.1% 28 -37.2% 31 3-5 -22.2% 30 10.1% 27 -3.8% 28
32 JAC -66.3% 32 -64.2% 32 0-8 -45.1% 32 21.4% 31 0.2% 16
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).



TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 DEN 41.1% 7-1 51.3% 8.9 1 -15.0% 30 -4.2% 23 9.3% 16
2 SEA 30.0% 8-1 31.2% 6.8 2 -6.7% 29 -2.2% 19 12.3% 22
3 CAR 26.0% 5-3 30.3% 6.1 6 -4.4% 25 5.3% 8 11.7% 21
4 CHI 24.2% 5-3 20.4% 6.7 3 -1.3% 21 -1.4% 17 8.7% 12
5 IND 20.2% 6-2 21.6% 6.4 4 -5.0% 27 -12.1% 29 9.0% 15
6 SF 17.3% 6-2 19.2% 5.3 12 -6.1% 28 3.6% 11 20.8% 30
7 NO 17.1% 6-2 21.8% 5.6 11 1.5% 15 10.5% 2 11.1% 20
8 CIN 16.0% 6-3 16.6% 5.8 9 2.7% 12 -4.3% 24 15.0% 25
9 KC 14.7% 9-0 27.1% 6.2 5 -18.4% 32 6.4% 6 4.4% 2
10 GB 14.4% 5-3 16.9% 6.0 7 2.0% 13 -1.0% 16 7.2% 10
11 NE 12.9% 7-2 16.3% 5.8 10 -1.2% 20 2.7% 12 3.5% 1
12 DAL 12.8% 5-4 15.0% 5.9 8 -0.8% 19 -3.3% 21 5.8% 8
13 DET 6.3% 5-3 5.2% 5.1 13 3.7% 10 -3.4% 22 4.8% 3
14 ARI 2.5% 4-4 -1.1% 5.1 14 8.6% 4 -6.3% 27 9.5% 17
15 SD -1.5% 4-4 2.6% 4.1 19 -15.7% 31 8.4% 4 5.5% 6
16 PHI -1.6% 4-5 2.1% 5.0 15 -4.8% 26 4.3% 10 31.4% 32
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 MIA -2.1% 4-4 -2.0% 4.0 20 4.8% 9 0.0% 15 16.3% 27
18 ATL -4.5% 2-6 -7.7% 4.3 17 3.5% 11 8.8% 3 4.9% 4
19 NYJ -5.1% 5-4 -6.6% 4.4 16 1.5% 16 -5.4% 25 21.7% 31
20 BUF -5.5% 3-6 -6.7% 4.2 18 6.8% 6 -12.3% 30 14.0% 24
21 BAL -8.1% 3-5 -5.5% 3.8 21 -0.7% 18 5.9% 7 10.3% 19
22 CLE -9.8% 4-5 -4.8% 3.3 23 1.8% 14 -5.7% 26 8.9% 14
23 TB -10.3% 0-8 -15.2% 2.7 29 9.7% 2 5.2% 9 5.9% 9
24 PIT -10.9% 2-6 -13.8% 3.2 24 -2.7% 23 0.2% 14 5.1% 5
25 MIN -11.7% 1-7 -12.7% 3.4 22 5.0% 8 7.8% 5 8.9% 13
26 STL -13.2% 3-6 -13.7% 3.0 27 -2.1% 22 14.4% 1 15.8% 26
27 TEN -14.0% 4-4 -6.1% 3.1 26 1.1% 17 -13.4% 32 8.6% 11
28 WAS -18.4% 3-5 -21.8% 3.0 28 7.4% 5 -2.3% 20 5.6% 7
29 HOU -22.6% 2-6 -22.1% 3.2 25 5.7% 7 -13.2% 31 18.3% 29
30 NYG -22.6% 2-6 -33.9% 2.0 30 13.0% 1 -1.4% 18 18.0% 28
31 OAK -36.1% 3-5 -27.5% 1.6 31 -2.8% 24 0.4% 13 14.0% 23
32 JAC -66.3% 0-8 -66.1% 0.0 32 9.1% 3 -8.2% 28 9.8% 18

Comments

132 comments, Last at 12 Nov 2013, 6:28pm

1 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Wow is that Bears 10th ranked defense a joke. They're mistakenly getting a lot of credit for their performance against Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers on the sideline.

115 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Based on Bears defensive ratings and KC's defensive rating, I'd say giving up lots of yardage on the ground doesn't seem to hurt you DVOA all that much. At least the Bears have giving up huge rushing totals to Washington and the Packers... better than getting gashed by the Browns and Bills.

What moved the Bears up in DVOA was most likely the production from the defensive line which had been bad up until now.

2 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Wow do things change...
Bears rankings go best on offense, then defense, and finally special teams... That has to be a long time ago for when they last went in that order.

3 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Chiefs are close in DVOA to the winless Buccaneers than they are to the first place Broncos. Cue the hordes of angry Kansas City fans, followed shortly thereafter by the cruel sting of the FO message board curse.

40 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

A fun little exercise is to imagine playing the few teams immediately above and below the team whose dvoa ranking you are wondering about. If I imagine KC on a neutral site against SF, NO, CIN, GB, NE, and DAL, I think they'd come out right around 3-3, which says to me their ranking is fine. The Bears, on the other hand, I think would be more like 2-4 or even 1-5 against the other teams in the top 7, which says to me they're too high (for reasons already gone into at length here and that are not DVOA's "fault").

114 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

You think KC would go 3-3 on a neutral field against those teams? REALLY? In case you haven't noticed they were playing much better early in the year when they eeked by Dallas. In my opinion, if they were to play any of those teams on Sunday on a neutral field they'd be lucky to go 1-5.

I watch every snap of every NFL game but I'm a Bears fan and know them better than I know any other team. My knee-jerk reaction to the Bears' ranking is that it's too high also. On the other hand I tend to think that people perceive the Bears' defense to be worse than it is. The unit still was solid against both the Bengals and the Saints... and say what you will about the rushing against Green Bay... they only scored 20 points. The defense is obviously struggling against the run, but the pass rush showed up against the Packers and I think that's the reason for them shooting up in the ranks. That offense is obviously getting it done.

Another thing that jumps out at me is the discrepancy between the outcry about the Bears defensive rank and the KC's. Why doesn't anybody question that defense that's been getting gashed on the ground as well? To me KC is a slightly above average defense that's good against the pass and terrible against the run. They've benefitted greatly from an easy schedule and playing back-up and third string QBs.

76 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Angry? I think KC fans are pretty happy, irrespective of output from FO DVOA algorithms. What matters is what happens, to who, on a cold February day in New Jersey...
======================
Reporter: It seems like people want you guys to almost apologize for being 9-0. What are your thoughts?

ALEX SMITH: “The funny thing is, a little bit, I feel like, what are we even talking about? There’s a system in place in the NFL to find out who’s the best. It’s the 16-game season and it’s the playoffs. To be speculating right now, nine games in, who’s the best and who’s not is just talk. They don’t give any trophies out after nine weeks and we understand that and all the talk of any of that is just talk. It’s pointless in my mind. It has it set up to find out who’s the best and that’s our focus, just one game at a time and one week at a time, until we get there.”
===========================

82 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Dammit, Buck B and Alex S., you aren't fulfilling your projected roles as irrational homers that the rest of us get to feel superior to. Don't you understand that enjoying your team's success and not worrying about the degree of respect afforded them by a computer algorithm is no way to go through life?

98 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I'm not Chiefs fan, but I can't help thinking: they have a new head coach, a new QB, and a new scheme. It seems to me that it would be very tough for a mediocre team to be 6-3 at this point, let alone 9-0, even against poor opposition under those circumstances.

I don't believe for a minute that the Chiefs will win even 12 games, but I don't think they're as bad as they were with Cassel at QB and Haley coaching. They are at least a very consistent team, and if they improve at that level of consistency they look like a real contender. The upcoming games against Denver and SD willshow how far they can go.

99 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I find it strange you're assuming that with cassel and hayley, they would be winning less when all indications have been that the chiefs offense is pretty lousy to this point. Their offense has been pretty much terrible across the board other than in turnovers. And since even cassel had a year with low turnovers, I doubt it would have made much of a difference. The point is, this chiefs team feels like the exact inverse of the 2011 packers team. That team had an otherworldly offense and a defense that was awful at everything but collecting turnovers.

107 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Alex Smith, much like Donovan McNabb, is above all else phenomenal at avoiding turning the ball over. If that's one of your primary requirements for the offense, he's an outstanding choice for QB.

109 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

IS he? Or is that also context driven. An examination of the type of attempts he makes tells a much clearer story of alex smith's turnover skill than the raw numbers might imply. I live in the bay area and I have watched many smith games with the 49ers. One of the hallmarks of alex smith was his penchant for throwing short at all costs, rolling out whenever he didn't get a clear vision, and then throwing out of bounds when no one was open. He is risk averse to a fault. Is that ultimately better than throwing ints? MAybe...until you fall behind by 17 at home and you attempt to convert a 4th and 20 with a 5 yard checkdown to vernon davis...

127 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Being willing to play extremely conservative is not a mindset that most QBs possess, especially QBs who are also competent starters. If you are a running-and-defense team that is built around winning low-scoring games, it's a perfectly good attitude for your QB to have.

112 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Exactly what am I crediting andy reid for? Defense? Is that his schtick now, good defense? This offense has been poor at everything BUT turning it over. And if you back and look at hayley's 2010 chiefs, cassel had only 7 ints that year and the chiefs offense committed the 2nd fewest turnovers that year too. YOu know what's happened? We're seeing an uptick in wins and blindly crediting the qb/coach. Oh, how soon do people forget the lesson of tony sparano, the coach who took a 1-15 dolphins to a record of 11-5 the next year. Yes, the same tony sparano is now unemployed and has the horrible mark sanchez stain over him.

113 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I think that a head coach is the coach of the whole team. Even if he doesn't come from a defensive background, he's still in charge of hiring defensive coaches, evaluating defensive players to add to team, and how much priority to give to defense.

Almost all Andy Reid coached teams have had good defenses, and I don't think it's a coincidence.

116 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Maybe, but its really really hard to parse credit to head coaches, especially parsing credit for one side of the ball to a coach who isn't known for that side. Think about how often we do this for all head coaches. DO we think Dungy was responsible for the offensive success of the colts? What about Fox? What about lovie? Do we think his presence led to a much worse offense than the talent suggested? Or Rex Ryan? I'm not saying I know, I'm just saying I'm skeptical.

The biggest thing is...does Andy Reid do something personally to raise the defenses play? This I doubt. I think sutton calls the schemes and most of those defenders were drafted by pioli, so its not even like ANdy brought in HIS GUYS. Furthermore, its year 1 of the reid regime, so exactly how much of his style could they have been using?

119 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I think I should make clear the distinction in my coming question. I don't think Lovie made the offense better - because that wasn't his area. Instead, I want to ask, was Lovie personally responsible for making the offense WORSE than it was. And if so, tell me how. I don't see how it was directly his fault that his qbs were grossman and orton and then when they landed cutler, the offensive line imploded and both tackles became huge busts. That feels more like a gm/offensive coordinator decision than Lovie directly. And if you want to blame lovie for his choice of coordinators, fine, but that doesn't mean he specifically was screwing things up on the offense.

123 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The Bears ignored their offensive line for a long time, which is one reason it imploded. They also believed in Grossman so strongly they didn't bother with a veteran backup. Ron Turner and Mike Martz were questionable hires, and Lovie didn't rein in Martz when it was obvious it was getting Cutler killed. John Shea, the first oc was the worst coordinator I have ever seen.

122 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Probably no one will see this but...

First This offense has been poor at everything BUT turning it over.
If you watched the Chiefs offense last year, you'd know this is not a trivial improvement. I'll grant that this may just be regression to the mean that would have happened regardless of who the QB/coach were. But Smith's running ability has also improved the offense.

Second, as to who assembled the defensive talent. I added up all the defensive snaps for KC so far this year. Here's the breakdown by the GMs who acquired the players taking those snaps:

Pioli 42% Houston, Berry, Lewis, Poe, Jackson
Dorsey 33% Smith, Cooper, Devito, Jordan
Peterson 25% DJohnson, Hali, Flowers

The named players are those with 300+ snaps.

Pioli certainly added the most snaps. Peterson acquired three of the best six players,along with Houston, Berry, and Poe from the Pioli regime.

Dorsey's 33% has not yet produced any stars yet but the addition of Sean Smith and Cooper has been key to how well the defense has played. The 2nd and 3rd cbs were huge weaknesses last year (giving $7M to San ford Routt to play half a season was a fireable offense all by itself).

Also, the depth of the defense has been almost all Dorsey - 7 of the other 9 players taking snaps were added by Dorsey. A decent amount of the snaps by those guys were taken by players who once played for Reid.

I find it interesting that KC record is knocked for playing 2nd string QBs - except Henne because he's seen as better than Gabbert. Ask IND and BAL if Keenum and Campbell were tougher QBs to face than Schaub and Weeden. I think in those cases, the 2nd/3rd string QBs were better (this year anyhow) than the 1st string guys they replaced.

The Chiefs have had a remarkable run of luck in schedule, injuries, turnovers, etc. But beating teams in the NFL is hard, even the bad ones. I'll take being a weak 9-0 team over being a strong 5-4 squad. And if 9-7 is all the Chiefs manage this year, it's been a good year.

117 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

"Exactly what am I crediting andy reid for?" Yes. Exactly. When has 9-0 become so easily attainable that Reid gets no credit whatsoever?

It is interesting that you would bring Sparano up. Sparano, a one good year and nothing else to show for coach, is a great match to Haley, a one good year and nothing else to show for coach. He is in no way an example for Reid, who has been successful coach many years. Haley is following Sparano's path really, if anything. It would not surprise me if he has no job next year after two unsuccessful years as OC.

If you really want to do a proof-by-analogy, Reid-Crennel is a lot like Harbaugh-Singletary.

121 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

You scoff now, but what might you have said about Sparano when the dolphins went 11-5? Only a good head coach could do that right? RIght? Dig deeper into the numbers and it becomes clear why wins are a poor metric. Now let's examine the chiefs. They have a superlative defense, no doubt about it, but also a ton of un-sustainable good fortune. They got to face an easy schedule with a number of third and 4th stringers, had turnovers leading to tds, pristine health, and a bunch of close wins - the very things that tend to regress massively no matter who the head coach is. What's more, this chiefs team looks absolutely nothing like the majority of Reid's eagles teams, so we can't even say this is Reid's MO. So ultimately, I think you are committing a post hoc fallacy, of looking at wins and crediting the head coach, because of his prior success. That's fine, but as a bayesian, when the evidence doesn't support our priors, we really ought not to toss that away and just defer blindly to our priors.

124 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The Chiefs look like the mid-90s "Marty-ball" Chiefs. Good defense that creates turnovers complimented by a conservative offense. It's a proven regular season formula that isn't sustainable in the playoffs because turnovers are harder to get against playoff teams and they can't keep up if it's a high scoring game.

DVOA is essentially revealing who the real Chiefs will likely be, and that's a solid, but not great team.

125 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The Chiefs look like the mid-90s "Marty-ball" Chiefs. Good defense that creates turnovers complimented by a conservative offense. It's a proven regular season formula that isn't sustainable in the playoffs because turnovers are harder to get against playoff teams and they can't keep up if it's a high scoring game.

DVOA is essentially revealing who the real Chiefs will likely be, and that's a solid, but not great team.

129 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

"You scoff now, but what might you have said about Sparano when the dolphins went 11-5? Only a good head coach could do that right? Right?"
Wrong. I dare you to find anything I said positive or negative about Sparano. I did not follow Dolphins and Sparano had no track record before so there was nothing for me to write about.

Also they were successful because of wildcat AFAIK. Which was brought in by QB coach. I believe most of the people credited the wildcat (and as an extension the QB coach and OC) more than Sparano.

Also, why are we talking about Sparano? You said that they would have the same record with Haley and Cassel. Nothing about sustainability of the record.

As I understand all the players of Chiefs are crediting Reid and Dorsey for their success. What gives you deeper insight than them?

120 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

And btw, Harbaugh wasn't a great coach, in my eyes, because he took a team to a 13-3 record. I've seen that done before many times by coaches who flame out. What separates harbaugh is the next year, he took a team that overachieved at 13-3 and made them a better team. That to me is a hallmark of a good coach.

4 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

We have to write something about the Bears, right?

Easy: please can Ben Muth explain what the heck has happened to their offensive line?

7 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I saw a lot of wide open running lanes last night for both teams. As a non-NFC fan it was disappointing that Rodgers went down, but a great night for watching RBs perform in both phases of the game. Lacy looked a bit Marshawn Lynch-like. (eerily echoing the Profootballmock QBs on FB gag in which Rodgers declares Lacy to be Lace Mode to counter the Seahawks' Beast Mode.)

20 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yes, I get that. I was unclear.

I know that the explanation is the new guys, but I would love Ben to explain what they're doing and whether he's surprised to see them doing it so fast, because he's really, really good at it, and I'm really, really not.

(The driving narrative pre-season was not: wow, these guys have solved their o-line issues. It was: is Bushrod that great, like, really - didn't he get to the Pro Bowls off the back of Brees? And anyway, whoa, they're starting a fifth round rookie at right tackle, I doubt that ends well! Or am I misremembering. I might be.)

21 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

No you're not misremembering at all. Even Kyle Long was considered a questionable first round choice. The Bears offensive line being as effective as its been is a huge shock. But really its just one aspect of a complete page turn on offense. The play calling is much better, the quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball more quickly, there are more offensive weapons with the emergence of Alshon Jeffery and the signing of Martellus Bennett. Bennett is also a pretty good blocker in addition to being a threat downfield. The offensive line has been good, but it helps a lot that Phil Emery has literally addressed every problem he had on offense over the past 2 offseasons.

28 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Both rookies being good is somewhat of a shock, but putting several good players together usually leads to a good unit.

Ben could explain how they're good, but the why is pretty obvious, talent upgrade.

43 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, going into this season there was some optimism, but offensively things have gone pretty much as well as they possibly could (minus the Cutler injury, which may not make all that much of a difference). Kyle Long was judged by many to be a crazy pick and coming after McClellin last year had a lot of people doubting Emery's draft decisions. It's getting to the point where whatever happens next, it definitely wasn't a crazy choice, and best case they have a solid 10+ year player in him. Mills is a great surprise and Bushrod seems to be at least what they expected him to be.

Obviously I'm biased as a Bears fan, but can anyone else think of a team that has improved a unit so much in such a short time? I mean, the O-line has gone from their biggest liability to arguably one of their biggest strengths. Cutler was having a good year before he went down, but I think the 1.5 games of McCown that we've seen indicate that the biggest reason their offense is successful is that the QB is well-protected.

If only the defense was half as good as it was last year. Sigh.

6 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

You guys did not even consider Sheldon Richardson for defensive rookie of the year? Alonso is obviously having a good year too, don't get me wrong. He and Richardson seem to be the only guys potentially in the conversation. I'm not in a position to judge between them, but PFF has Richardson as their top defensive rookie.

15 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Richardson is excellent, so is Tyrann Mathieu, but Alonso is the key piece in a Buffalo defense that has improved dramatically despite not having its top two defensive backs for most of the year. He's been involved in 18.9 percent of Buffalo's defensive Plays (i.e. tackles, assists, turnovers, etc.) which is fifth in the league, and he is fifth in the NFL with 19 Defeats.

It's not meant to be negative commentary on Richardson or Mathieu, of course, but we could only pick one.

47 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

That does make sense, but you guys at least have to make a football outsiders sheldon richardson card from the the way he has played, cause a 73 overall does not make sense lol

9 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Interesting parallel? For AFC watchers, Den is #1 and Indy #5 and no other AFC teams in the top 7. CIN is next at #8. Then you flip to the QB rating page and Manning is #1, Luck is #9 or so, and just one other AFC QB in the top 10. (Rivers, having a great year, messes with the perfect parallel) A few spots later, Dalton.

One might infer that QB play is important here....

Also, looking at SOS, the Colts had #32 last week, but now that one HOU game is out of the way, they're at #29 and TEN has #32. A lot of sked overlap there between those two teams with a lot of division games on tap, so presumably Ten has both Jax games coming up.... Of course they also have the #5 Colts twice. I'm a little surprised that facing the #5 team twice in the final 7 results in the easiest remaining slate. The power of Jax's suck is not to be underestimated.

17 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

A few weeks ago I read a bunch of articles about how the AFC was dominant by ten games or so quite early in the season... so maybe things are swinging back. And if so, DVOA suggests they'll swing ALL THE WAY back.

36 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

It's all a question of who has been playing whom. The Chiefs are 3-0 vs. the NFC and the Broncos are 4-0. But the Chiefs only have one more inter-conference game, while the Broncos have zero. Similarly, the Pats and Jets are 3-0 vs. the NFC. The Colts are the only AFC team above .500 that has more than one game left vs. the NFC.

Of course, the schedule isn't exactly randomized. Most of the interconference games have already been played. The Colts, Steelers, Bills, Dolphins and Raiders have two interconference games left, while the Ravens have three.

That's all from an AFC perspective.

From the NFC perspective, the Panthers have three interconference games left while the Cardinals have all four left. Both the Seahawks and 49ers are done.

45 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yes, the NFC East looks weak pretty much because they've been getting their butts kicked by the AFC East this season. You don't really get to say "big deal" when that's the reason the NFC looks weak. The NFC East is 11-11 against the NFC, and 3-9 against the AFC East.