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

Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

With a big win over division rival St. Louis, the Seattle Seahawks once again ascend to the top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, just in time to finish No. 1 for the entire season for the third straight year. The Seahawks also take over the top spot in weighted DVOA and are our current favorite to win the Super Bowl, taking the Lombardi Trophy in 26.2 percent of our simulations. Seattle now looks like the best team in the league whether you are asking about the short term (recent weeks), medium term (the full 2014 season), or long term (since 2012). It's been a remarkable run of quality football.

Seattle is only the second team to ever finish No. 1 in DVOA for three straight seasons, going back to the first year we currently have ratings (1989). Dallas did it as well from 1992-1994. The only other team to repeat at No. 1 overall was Green Bay in 1996-1997.

Seattle also climb past Detroit and Buffalo this week to finish the year as the No. 1 team in defensive DVOA for the second straight season. The 1993-1994 Pittsburgh Steelers were the only other team to finish No. 1 in defensive DVOA for two straight years. On offense, the Seahawks finish with one of the top five team rushing DVOA ratings we've ever measured, just below 30.0%. The only teams above that were the 2000 Rams, 2011 Panthers, 1998 Broncos, and 1993 49ers.

This year's Denver Broncos held the top spot in overall DVOA since Week 5, but they've gradually been fading over the second half of the season and they finally fall into second place this week. Yes, that also means that Seattle and Denver have now finished 1-2 for three straight years. From 1989 through 2012, the same two teams never finished 1-2 for two straight years.

Green Bay finishes third for the season, followed by New England and then Baltimore to round out the top five. There's a clear gap at that point between the top five teams and everybody else, led by Dallas at No. 6. However, that gap disappears in our weighted DVOA ratings because the Cowboys have been playing so well over the second half of the season. Actually, a more accurate statement is that the gap moves up. It's still there, but in weighted DVOA the gap is between the top two (Seattle and New England) and the next few teams (Green Bay, Denver, Baltimore, and Dallas -- still sixth, but much closer to the Ravens).

You may be wondering if it is accurate for our ratings to penalize the Patriots for a game where they sat many of their starters -- some for the entire game, some for just the first half -- and didn't necessarily try to win. This is a frustrating problem that we run into every couple of seasons. We've done research on it and never figured out a way to account for teams sitting starters that actually improved our ability to predict playoff results with the overall DVOA ratings. There are all kinds of issues here. Does it make sense to come up with an arbitary bonus to give a team to make up for the fact that they are playing backups? If we do this for Week 17, why not for other weeks when there are injuries? If we want to do that, how do we separate every player from his teammates to determine the value a team loses when he's out? Even if we wanted to only consider adjusting for situations where a team plays a backup quarterback, and only when it is on purpose (i.e., not a midseason injury), how do we deal with the fact that Tom Brady actually did play in the Week 17 loss, at least in the first half?

Plus, how do you handle the situation if a team plays better with the backups than with the starters? Of course, the overall ratings for the Patriots were affected by the players who were inactive for the entire game -- Rob Gronkowski being the most important, but also Julian Edelman, Donta Hightower, Brandon Browner, and two starting offensive linemen. However, the Patriots had a number of regular starters who came out around halftime. The offense had virtually the same offensive DVOA with Tom Brady at quarterback (-3.4% DVOA before halftime) as it had with Jimmy Garappolo at quarterback (-2.8% DVOA before halftime). And the defense was much worse with most of the starters on the field (36.1% DVOA before halftime) than it was in the second half with players such as Darrelle Revis, Jamie Collins, and Vince Wilfork on the sidelines (-19.6% DVOA after halftime).

And just in case the whole "sitting starters" issue isn't annoying enough, there's also the problem that some teams (like the Patriots yesterday) will specifically play vanilla schemes in a meaningless Week 17 game, as if it were the preseason, even if they actually are using their starters on the field. Good luck adjusting DVOA for that.

The moral of the story is that in DVOA, pretty much every play counts, except for time-wasting nonsense at the end of a win or multiple-lateral silliness. When it comes to teams that sit starters in Week 17, we do the same thing we do when dealing with games where a team struggled because of specific player injuries -- we use common sense to talk about it when we talk about the numbers, and write words instead of just running tables.

Maybe we just have to deal with this every five years. You might remember the Colts deciding they didn't care about a perfect season back in 2009, and the Eagles playing a bunch of nobodies for two weeks because they were so far superior to the rest of the NFC in 2004.

OK, enough digression on this issue. Let's get back to talking about 2014. One of the general running themes of the DVOA commentaries this year has been that this was a year with very few extremes, very few examples of teams that were historically efficient or inefficient on either side of the ball. The final numbers for the year continue with this theme. This was only the third season since 1990 where no team was better than 12-4. (The others: 1993 and 2002.) The Seahawks were No. 1 in DVOA, but this year's rating (31.3%) is nowhere near their ratings for 2012 (38.7%, seventh all-time) and 2013 (40.0%, fifth all-time).

The lack of extremes is particularly strong when it comes to overall defense. The Seahawks' final defensive DVOA of -16.3% may lead the league for this season but is only 46th in DVOA history. Only twice has the No. 1 defense been closer to average than this year's Seahawks: the 2001 Eagles (-15.5%) and the 2007 Titans (-14.4%). In a fun bit of symmetry, the last-place Atlanta Falcons rank 46th among the worst defenses in DVOA history (+15.2%).

Split defense into passing and rushing, and things are a little different. The Buffalo Bills led the league with -18.1% pass defense DVOA, the first time in history that no team had pass defense DVOA below -20.0%. The Bills don't even rank among the 60 best pass defenses of the DVOA era. However, the Detroit Lions end up with one of the best run defenses in DVOA history. On both sides of the ball, the only place to find extreme quality this year was on the ground.

Year Team DVOA   Year Team DVOA
2000 BAL -36.6% x 2000 STL 36.5%
1991 PHI -34.9% x 2011 CAR 32.1%
1998 SD -32.9% x 1998 DEN 31.4%
2014 DET -31.3% x 1993 SF 30.5%
2006 MIN -30.5% x 2014 SEA 29.9%
1995 KC -30.5% x 2002 KC 29.3%
2010 PIT -29.0% x 1990 DET 29.2%
2008 BAL -28.6% x 2003 KC 28.9%
2000 TEN -27.4% x 1998 SF 27.8%
2007 BAL -27.3% x 2006 SD 27.2%
2000 SD -26.6% x 2005 DEN 26.8%
2011 CHI -26.5% x 2000 PIT 26.4%

By the way, when we looked at these tables a couple of weeks ago, the Denver Broncos also ranked among the best run defenses in DVOA history, while the Oakland Raiders were threatening to rank among the worst run offenses we had ever measured. In the three weeks since, the Raiders running game improved a little bit, saving them from that ignominy, while the Denver Broncos run defense hasn't been quite as strong as it was early in the season. Run defense DVOA turns out to be yet another of the many stats where Seattle passed Denver over the last couple weeks of the season.

This year brings us a couple of teams with a huge disparity between win-loss record and DVOA, particularly Arizona (which ends up 22nd despite going 11-5). However, for the most part, the teams with the most wins this year are at the top of DVOA, and the teams with the most losses are at the bottom. The five 12-4 teams all rank in the top six in DVOA, and the top ten teams in DVOA all had winning records The seven teams that went 5-11 or worse are the bottom seven teams in DVOA. The Jacksonville Jaguars end up at the bottom of the league for the third straight year, but just as this year's Seattle team isn't as good as the 2013 edition, so too the Jaguars were not as bad as last year. In fact, this is only the third season of the DVOA era where no team had an overall DVOA worse than -30.0%. (The others: 1995 and 2001.) The Jaguars also improved over the course of the year, moving up to 27th in weighted DVOA. Washington, on the other hand, was 28th in overall DVOA but dead last in weighted DVOA.

Philadelphia stayed in first place in special teams pretty much all year, with Baltimore right behind in second place. Miami ends up in last place for special teams, passing the Lions once Detroit figured out at midseason how to find someone who could actually hit a field goal.

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Other interesting notes on 2014:

  • Check out how close the Saints and Falcons ended up in all three phases of the game. The Saints are slightly better on offense, the Falcons slightly better on special teams, and the two rivals ended up with the two worst defenses in the NFL.
  • One preseason prediction that certainly did come true for us: Oakland had the hardest schedule in the league by leaps and bounds. The easiest schedules were in Texas, with Houston at No. 32 and Dallas at No. 31. The top four teams, who also won the four first-round byes, all had schedules close to the league average.
  • The Minnesota Vikings lost a player generally believed to be the best running back in football for almost the entire season and ended up fourth in run offense DVOA but 29th in pass offense.
  • Cleveland had a better pass defense than any team except Buffalo, but a more porous run defense than any team except New Orleans.
  • The Rams finished strong but were the least consistent team in the league. They had the highest variance overall, the highest variance on defense, and one of the five highest variance ratings on offense.

* * * * *

All team and individual stats pages are now updated with final 2014 stats. (Final pending later play-by-play changes by the league, of course.) FO Premium is also updated with all 2014 stats, and we've added special matchup pages for the four wild card games. We'll get individual 2014 stats onto all of our player pages sometime in the next few weeks.

Vince Verhei will discuss which players had the best and worst seasons by FO stats in tomorrow's Quick Reads Year in Review. Loser League results will be announced in Scramble for the Ball Wednesday, and our Playoff Challenge game will go up on the site sometime tomorrow.

* * * * *

Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 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 DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. 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. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 17 are:

  • LOLB Justin Houston, KC (24-HOUR HERO): 4 sacks, FF, PD
  • WR Michael Floyd, ARI: No. 2 WR of the week by FO Stats, with 76 DYAR (8-for-12 for 153 yards and 2 TD).
  • DT Bennie Logan, PHI: 6 run tackles for a combined 1 yard, including 2 TFL.
  • LOLB Pernell McPhee, BAL: 5 Defeats (2 sacks, PD, run TFL, and tackle to prevent third-down conversion on reception).
  • LG Josh Sitton, GB: Helped limit Detroit defense to just one sack and QB hits.

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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through the entire 2014 regular season, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

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. LAST WEEK represents rank after Week 16, while LAST YEAR represents rank in 2013.

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

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

1 SEA 31.3% 2 1 12-4 32.8% 1 16.7% 5 -16.3% 1 -1.7% 19
2 DEN 29.5% 1 2 12-4 23.9% 4 19.9% 3 -13.3% 4 -3.7% 27
3 GB 23.3% 4 20 12-4 24.0% 3 24.6% 1 -1.0% 16 -2.3% 22
4 NE 22.4% 3 5 12-4 31.4% 2 13.6% 6 -3.4% 11 5.5% 5
5 BAL 22.2% 5 23 10-6 23.0% 5 9.7% 9 -4.6% 8 8.0% 2
6 DAL 13.8% 6 17 12-4 21.0% 6 17.0% 4 4.1% 22 0.9% 13
7 PHI 12.8% 7 8 10-6 16.8% 7 1.0% 13 -3.5% 10 8.3% 1
8 PIT 12.1% 8 15 11-5 14.8% 8 22.5% 2 11.3% 30 0.9% 12
9 BUF 10.6% 10 18 9-7 14.5% 9 -11.1% 26 -15.6% 2 6.2% 4
10 KC 9.9% 9 6 9-7 11.9% 10 4.6% 12 1.4% 19 6.7% 3
11 SF 6.6% 14 7 8-8 8.4% 11 -0.4% 16 -10.0% 5 -3.0% 24
12 IND 4.7% 15 13 11-5 1.8% 13 -0.9% 17 -2.3% 13 3.3% 8
13 CIN 4.6% 12 9 10-5-1 0.5% 17 -1.8% 18 -2.2% 14 4.2% 6
14 DET 4.4% 13 16 11-5 0.9% 15 -3.7% 19 -13.8% 3 -5.7% 31
15 MIA 3.4% 11 22 8-8 0.7% 16 10.2% 7 0.6% 17 -6.2% 32
16 SD 0.0% 16 12 9-7 -3.0% 20 7.6% 10 4.9% 24 -2.7% 23
17 NO -1.4% 17 4 7-9 -2.4% 19 10.0% 8 13.1% 31 1.6% 11
18 STL -4.4% 19 14 6-10 2.6% 12 -11.6% 27 -3.7% 9 3.5% 7
19 HOU -4.5% 20 30 9-7 1.7% 14 -6.7% 21 -6.1% 6 -3.9% 28
20 ATL -5.0% 18 25 6-10 -9.3% 24 7.2% 11 15.2% 32 3.0% 9
21 NYG -5.9% 21 27 6-10 -6.8% 22 -0.3% 15 5.0% 25 -0.6% 15
22 ARI -6.0% 22 10 11-5 -8.1% 23 -9.3% 23 -5.5% 7 -2.2% 21
23 CLE -6.9% 23 28 7-9 -10.0% 25 -10.0% 24 -2.6% 12 0.6% 14
24 MIN -8.8% 24 26 7-9 -2.0% 18 -7.4% 22 4.4% 23 3.0% 10
25 CAR -8.9% 26 3 7-8-1 -6.7% 21 -5.0% 20 -1.6% 15 -5.5% 30
26 CHI -14.0% 25 11 5-11 -23.6% 29 0.0% 14 10.9% 28 -3.1% 25
27 NYJ -14.9% 27 24 4-12 -10.9% 26 -10.7% 25 3.6% 21 -0.7% 16
28 WAS -26.7% 29 29 4-12 -39.0% 32 -11.7% 28 9.6% 27 -5.4% 29
29 OAK -27.0% 28 31 3-13 -28.2% 30 -19.5% 30 5.8% 26 -1.7% 18
30 TB -28.4% 32 19 2-14 -23.1% 28 -26.4% 32 1.2% 18 -0.8% 17
31 TEN -29.3% 30 21 2-14 -35.2% 31 -16.3% 29 11.2% 29 -1.8% 20
32 JAC -29.5% 31 32 3-13 -22.1% 27 -24.4% 31 1.5% 20 -3.6% 26
  • 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.
  • 2014 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent a projection of the team's expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed.
  • 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).
RANK 2014
1 SEA 31.3% 12-4 27.2% 12.6 2 0.8% 13 11.9 1 13.6% 10
2 DEN 29.5% 12-4 29.3% 13.2 1 1.5% 12 11.0 4 8.5% 3
3 GB 23.3% 12-4 22.8% 10.7 5 -0.9% 16 11.2 3 13.2% 9
4 NE 22.4% 12-4 19.9% 10.9 4 1.6% 11 11.8 2 15.9% 18
5 BAL 22.2% 10-6 25.6% 11.6 3 -5.0% 30 10.9 5 8.9% 4
6 DAL 13.8% 12-4 16.3% 10.3 6 -5.4% 31 10.8 6 20.7% 27
7 PHI 12.8% 10-6 10.4% 9.7 7 -3.4% 28 9.7 10 14.7% 12
8 PIT 12.1% 11-5 13.4% 9.4 8 -4.2% 29 9.7 11 14.2% 11
9 BUF 10.6% 9-7 10.1% 9.0 10 1.7% 10 9.6 12 9.4% 6
10 KC 9.9% 9-7 9.4% 9.4 9 2.3% 6 10.1 8 19.5% 26
11 SF 6.6% 8-8 1.3% 9.0 11 2.0% 9 7.0 24 15.7% 15
12 IND 4.7% 11-5 7.2% 8.8 13 -3.1% 26 10.2 7 17.6% 22
13 CIN 4.6% 10-5-1 3.5% 8.9 12 0.3% 15 8.6 14 22.8% 31
14 DET 4.4% 11-5 9.1% 8.7 15 -2.1% 23 9.2 13 7.0% 2
15 MIA 3.4% 8-8 6.7% 8.7 14 2.9% 5 8.4 15 17.5% 21
16 SD 0.0% 9-7 -0.2% 8.1 16 4.2% 4 8.0 17 15.7% 16
RANK 2014
17 NO -1.4% 7-9 -2.5% 7.6 17 -1.7% 20 7.4 20 21.1% 28
18 STL -4.4% 6-10 -5.7% 6.0 26 2.1% 8 7.1 21 26.9% 32
19 HOU -4.5% 9-7 3.6% 6.7 24 -6.2% 32 9.8 9 6.7% 1
20 ATL -5.0% 6-10 -2.3% 7.3 20 -3.3% 27 7.1 22 14.7% 13
21 NYG -5.9% 6-10 -9.9% 7.0 23 -2.0% 22 7.5 18 17.0% 20
22 ARI -6.0% 11-5 -7.0% 7.5 18 4.5% 3 8.3 16 9.0% 5
23 CLE -6.9% 7-9 -5.2% 7.1 22 -2.6% 25 6.9 25 18.0% 23
24 MIN -8.8% 7-9 -6.7% 7.2 21 -1.6% 18 7.5 19 11.6% 8
25 CAR -8.9% 7-8-1 -9.4% 7.4 19 0.7% 14 7.0 23 15.3% 14
26 CHI -14.0% 5-11 -18.5% 6.3 25 2.3% 7 4.9 26 9.9% 7
27 NYJ -14.9% 4-12 -18.6% 6.0 27 4.6% 2 4.8 27 17.0% 19
28 WAS -26.7% 4-12 -25.9% 4.4 29 -1.7% 19 4.5 28 22.4% 30
29 OAK -27.0% 3-13 -35.0% 4.8 28 7.3% 1 3.1 32 19.3% 25
30 TB -28.4% 2-14 -24.2% 4.0 30 -1.5% 17 4.4 29 21.3% 29
31 TEN -29.3% 2-14 -25.8% 4.0 31 -2.4% 24 3.3 31 18.7% 24
32 JAC -29.5% 3-13 -26.1% 3.3 32 -1.8% 21 3.6 30 15.9% 17

Please note that while this article is called "Final 2014 DVOA Ratings," we will continue with our unofficial postseason weighted DVOA ratings each Monday through the playoffs.


112 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2015, 1:16pm

1 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

What was so great about the Seahawks' effort on Sunday? It felt like they were in control all game but I wouldn't have guessed it was worth a 5+ percentage point bump in DVOA at this point in the season.

3 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

It was the usual super fast Seattle game where they only get 20 points because that's how much time they had. Dominated yards first half, completely dominated game second half, win by 2 TDs, this isn't a big mystery. Folks don't know how to watch Seattle games because they play differently from other teams, relentlessly suffocating the opponent while simultaneously speeding up the game and playing ball control when they get a 2 score lead.

15 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

So keeping a game close until the 4th quarter against bad teams is a good strategy? Looking at win probability the Rams had a slight edge all the way until the 4th so I wouldn't say that Seattle dominated the first half.

30 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Really, this gnashing of teeth on the intricacies of DVOA is pretty pointless. The model works better than anything I'm aware of, but that doesn't make it totally infallible. Look at the top six teams and it would be hard to make a case that they don't belong in consideration as true Super Bowl champion possibilities. There are simply too many variables that act dependently on other variables, so that a single indicator such as DVOA can't be the ultimate indicator of how good or bad a team is. I, for one, am amazed it does as well as it does throughout the year. As far as predicting results, the AGS (Any Given Sunday) rule applies.

18 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

13 offensive points in 11 drives is nowhere near the usual Seattle game. And I think people know that when they watch Seattle lose an interception, fumble three times and throw a useless 38-yard reception to Baldwin that they aren't playing that well on offense.

65 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

True, if you don't give any consideration to the defense that they were playing against. St. Louis is #9 DVOA and was improving to end the season, and Seattle put up almost 600 Yards and 35 points on the road against the #7 defense the week before.

They didn't turn it into a boat race, but I don't think anyone can say their offense isn't playing good.

66 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

They're only #9 because they played well against Seattle; they were #12 before that. And what they did against Arizona is irrelevant to their less-than-impressive offensive performance against St. Louis. It's the height of presumption for him to declare that any kind of apparently suboptimal performance by Seattle is merely the fault of the viewer.

4 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Trying to divorce my homerism from my analytical thinking... at halftime the yards gained disparity was something like 189 to 65. The Seahawks had committed two relatively uncharacteristic turnovers (Wilson with the overthrow on a scramble--I did not agree with the audible analysis that it got picked because he threw into the middle of the field; it got picked because it went a foot over his target's outstretched hands and floated into a defender's waiting hands--and Lynch with a fumble). The St. Louis scoring drives covered 35 and 4 yards, respectively, and the Seahawks were getting the ball back.

I never really thought the Seahawks were going to lose, but I didn't expect to see the big jump in DVOA. I also thought the big swingy plays in the Seahawks' favor in the second half would affect the score line more than the DVOA number.

6 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Well, DVOA has loved the Rams defense of late, so moving the ball well against them probably caused some of the bump. It seems like a lot of numbers settled weird at the very end - the Eagles offense went up sharply and their defense dropped a few spots, but I couldn't tell you a major difference between this week and their general performance all season.

28 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

They dipped slightly in offensive DVOA, so almost all of their rise was from the defense. One key stat is zero penalties by the defense and only one by the offense (the other was a personal foul on special teams), and making St. Louis commit some of their post-snap penalties probably helps as well. In fact, on an Expected Points basis, yesterday's game was the second-best Seattle's defense has had in the last three years (obviously behind the 58-0 game).

102 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

I had predicted a 17-6 win for the Seahawks, maybe 20-6... you can check my texts to my dad. My Seahawks did get lucky by the goal line fumble/touchback, and any Seahawks fan will agree. Yes, we "forced" it, but we got lucky that ball wasn't five inches forward when it was knocked loose. Nevertheless, my point about my prediction was that I'm used to watching Fisher game plan against us, and get his players to rise up and give 110% against us, and let's not forget they have an amazing front seven... so I did not expect a runaway blowout. At the same time I didn't expect the Rams to score more than two FGs, and I was very lucky to get that one right (i.e. the fumble/touchback above). Still, this game was about what I expected, and even down 6 at halftime I was doing my best to calm my fellow Seahawks fans I was watching the game with; I wasn't worried at all. This is a team that always plays best in the second half. Its what they do. We're a very physical team that wears our opponents down on both sides of the ball, yet we continue to exert our physicality through all four quarters. The Rams are likewise a physical team, and a low scoring first half makes sense. But they are far from as complete a team as the Seahawks, and lack the mental and physical toughness the Seahawks are built around. Yeah, its easy to say, and sure, these are professional athletes, so they are all physical specimens who are used to the rigors of the game. I've heard that a million times to describe all NFL players collectively... but ask Pete Carroll why he succeeds with so many late round draft picks? Its because not all NFL players are actually built the same. Most all teams draft with the physical metrics as the forefront of their measurements and comparisons. While those certainly don't get pushed under the rug with Carroll, he weighs the thing above a kid's shoulders a lot more than most other teams. Chip on the shoulder. Drive. Heart. Commitment. Resiliency. And there are more factors of the same general arena. These are the things that separate the men from the boys. A guy who has all these traits but lacks the ideal physical/statistical traits falls to the fifth round, gets plucked by Carroll and Schneider, and turns into a Pro Bowl player. These guys are the reason that second half means so much to this team... its when the men get separated from the boys.

Also, I love to hate Belichick and Brady, but I do it with the utmost respect for what they can get done. I mention this because Belichick and Carroll think alike when it comes to finding value in drafts... they know what kinds of players will be "surprise" value picks, and they know how to rally their troops and get them thinking the right way to win hard games. The Patriots know how to finish off the hard games. They know the second half, and the 4th quarter, is when games are won. And Belichick knows it takes a certain "breed" of player to get that done on his team.

9 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Without the Rams fumbling out of the end zone giving Seattle a touchback the score would have been much closer.

It never really felt like Seattle was going to lose but it seems strange that they got such a significant bump.

7 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Well goodbye 2014 Eagles and your bottomless frustration. Enjoy your place as a footnote in history as the 10 win team that got locked out of the playoffs by a 7 win one. DVOA and your record say you were almost identical in quality to last year's team, which I just can't bring myself to believe.

Let's hope next year goes better and I don't have to watch some Redskins reject at QB throwing the ball to some more Oregon bros & Riley Cooper after Foles is relegated to back-up status and Maclin leaves town. Hopefully Lane Johnson will finally prove himself worth a Top 5 pick, McCoy will return to form and there will be at least 3 new players in the secondary...

10 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Just hope they don't end up like the last 10 win team to miss the playoffs behind a 7 win team. The Bucs haven't had a winning season since 2010. Just like this year's Eagles, the 2010 Bucs beat the Seahawks head to head but still went home after Week 17.

Actually I forgot the Giants went 10-6 that year too and both teams lost a 3-way tie with Green Bay that went all the way down to strength of victory. So not only did a sub-.500 division winner take a playoff spot from two winning teams, the 2010 Seahawks basically eliminated the two teams that beat them by sucking so bad they gave the tiebreak to the team they didn't play.

14 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

It was the early version of the Seahawks curse.

Pete Carroll has now moved on to the Seahawks meta-curse. The two teams they played in the NFC playoffs last year both missed the postseason this year, while their Super Bowl opponent has dropped from a dominant 1 seed to a shaky looking 2 seed.

48 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

NFL tiebreakers rules can be wierd and arbitrary, but that year was one of the cases where the clearly better team won the tiebreaker (which is why I think strength of victory should supplant conference records as the primary tiebreaker). That Packers team was solid, but crappy injury luck pushed them down to 10 wins instead of 12 or 13.

87 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Better (true talent or whatever) shouldn't matter, more accomplished should matter. It's one of my pet peeves. The playoffs are something you earn by actual endeavor not by being rated highly by stat heads.

103 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

The funny thing is the Seahawks in 2010, and the Panthers in 2014, were both 7-9 entering the playoffs, and both won their first playoff games. Wouldn't that mean they were maybe better than their 7-9 records may have shown? Granted the Panthers beat an Arizona team that has been floundering on offense for a while, but many thought their defense would hold them up in their first playoff game. The Seahawks on the other hand beat a thriving Saints team. Its easy to see "7-9" and forget that this team struggled through tough divisional rivalries, against coaches and players who know them better than anyone else. Its why coaches preach winning their divisional games above all else. Take this away, and whats the point of winning your division? Would people prefer and NBA conference division where you basically lose your rivalries, and just play for position based on wins and losses?? Forgive me, but I love it when my Seahawks play their division games, especially when we (get to) kick the 49ers ass! I love playing a 6-9 Rams team that could potentially beat us, even though their record doesn't say so, simply because its a rivalry game against a coach who loves to game plan to win his division, and kick our ass if he can. Tell Ravens, Steelers, Browns and Bengals fans that their rivalries basically will have no value anymore... sure a win against them will be great, but there's no bragging rights to winning your division anymore.

There's a reason this system is in place, and it keeps 6 games a year for your team more exciting, more important, than it might normally be. Change it, and you lose the rivalries that have been a thing of lore for so many franchises. Its so rare that a team wins their division with a record of 8-8 or worse that these rare years should just be accepted as, well... it is what it is. Next year will be different.

111 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Wouldn't that mean they were maybe better than their 7-9 records may have shown?

No, it doesn't. It just means Any Given Sunday (or Saturday). Seattle was arguably the worst team to ever make the playoffs.

Its easy to see "7-9" and forget that this team struggled through tough divisional rivalries, against coaches and players who know them better than anyone else.

I'm pretty sure New Orleans did exactly the same thing.

Take this away, and whats the point of winning your division?

Give division winners a playoff berth, fine, but there's no need to give them an automatic home game.

Would people prefer and NBA conference division where you basically lose your rivalries, and just play for position based on wins and losses??

I prefer the aspect of the NBA system where the division winners don't always have home court advantage.

8 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Despite dropping from third to 25th in DVOA, the most likely final outcome for the Panthers this is that they are eliminated in exactly the same round as they were last year.

11 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Random trivia that may only interest me; Big Ben is the first person not named Manning, Brady or Brees to lead the league in passing DPAR since Rich Gannon in 2002.

12 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

There is a substantial difference, for the Vikings passing attack, between throwing the ball against a defense that has 8-10 defenders within 5-7 yards of the line of scrimmage, keyed to stop Adrian Peterson from going off tackle for a touchdown, and throwing the ball against a defense that has 6 or 7 defenders within 5-7 yards of the line of scrimmage, who are sort of paying attention to whether Matt Asiata achieves a four yard burst.

13 Weighting end-of-year games

The Pats conundrum may be an opportunity to improve DVOA predictive power. When looking at NBA games and point spreads a few years ago, I tried to quantify "Game Importance" for each team based on their record, games out of playoffs/home-court/#1 seed, and what happened in similar situations historically. It was an absolute bear to wrangle, but I did find that top teams had negative Game Importances at the end of the season when they had already locked up playoff seeds (i.e. wins after clinching the top seed often reduced chances of winning a championship). When I tried to adjust players' individual plus/minus ratings for Game Importance, I hit a wall and put it on a back-burner that has yet to be re-ignited.

I'm not sure we would see the same impacts in the NFL. While it is a tolling game, people seem more concerned about the rust of taking two/three weeks off than the benefits of extra rest. In looking at the Pats chances going forward, I would be tempted just to throw out last game as one that has a game importance ≤ 0.

(Full Disclaimer: I'm from Boston and may be trying to justify New England's lackluster offense of the past few weeks)

19 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

Full Disclaimer: I'm from Boston and may be trying to justify New England's lackluster offense of the past few weeks

I'm pretty sure their game against the Jets ranked quite high in game importance, since a loss there coupled with Denver not losing to Cincinnati (which hadn't been played yet) would've dropped them to a 2-seed.

24 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

Well, there's no real justification for treating the last game as if New England were playing a serious game. Gronk didn't play at all, most of their best players didn't play the second half at all...

I think sometimes people want to try to create a system of rules that would allow them to drop this game according to some objective rules. But really, you can feel free to just drop the game and give your justification. It's a bit of a myth that one can create a comprehensive system of rules to deal with all possible eventualities. It's OK to make judgment calls from time to time.

The Jets game, though, could not be downweighted.

27 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

I don't think anyone would really complain if the last NE game was dropped from the ratings; we could also use a similar rule for games that get really out of hand, e.g. the Packers romp over the bears where basically everything after the first half was meaningless.

It would be interesting to see how that would change things in a handful of specific scenarios.

41 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

I believe that happens a bit already. I *think* that plays occurring in low leverage situations are given less weight, since gaining 8 yards on 3rd-and-10 up 42 in the second half would not meaningfully hurt a team's chance of winning. With Game Importance, perhaps one could start using weights before the game even starts.

It is also interesting that we tend to see a "Dead Cat Bounce" from teams that are out of playoff contention. You would imagine that management would prefer to improve their draft pick, but perhaps players and coaches competing for their next guaranteed contract counteracts that. Or it's just random noise and regression to the mean. Perhaps the "Game Importance" is different for different levels of the organization, which only complicates matters.

Side note: As a non-Jets fan, I'm a bit incredulous that the Jets would be so quick to ditch Geno Smith. His last four games were pretty solid, and he's only in his second year. Plus the Jets had the 2nd toughest schedule this year

71 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

Geno looked somewhat competent in the last 4 games of last year, two, but that didn't exactly carry over.

The track record of QB's who have looked as bad as he has for so many games is not good as far as showing improvement. Drew Brees is the only example I can think of, but I don't think he was ever Geno Smith bad, more just "meh". Hoping for an outlier is not a good business model.

77 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

Stafford was really, really bad as a rookie and wasn't on the field much in his second year (although he was serviceable before he got hurt that year).

The problem with your analysis, which does make sense as far as it goes, is that there's no way to compare apples to apples. Critically, there's no way to evaluate improvement by players that may be similar to Geno but that did not start right away. Under better circumstances, a player like Geno would have the opportunity to learn a pro offense and related fundamentals and mechanics for a year or two. For example, Aaron Rodgers was utterly terrible in his VERY limited opportunities his first two years. He may not have been as bad as Geno if he were the full time starter those years, but he obviously had major limitations and even when he got the starting job in his 4th year his DVOA was only 8.5% (14th in the league). I'd take that for Geno next year! What would we think of Rodgers if he'd been drafted by a team with a crap offense and had to start from day 1? Maybe he never gets the chance to develop into a HOFer.

For some other examples, we don't have DVOA data for Steve Young's first two years but his conventional stats were terrible (and those were his 3rd and 4th years as a pro!). Rich Gannon sat the bench a awhile and had a -17% DVOA in 1990 (the first year he has any DVOA data), and he was already in his 4th year. In his 5th year he was 13th in the league in DVOA before disappearing for an injury plagued series of years.

I'm not saying Geno is going to be as good as those players or even that he'll be any good at all. I'm just saying your historical analysis is necessarily incomplete and does not justify giving up on Geno yet. It does strongly counsel bringing in another potential starter, whether that's a polished rookie or a veteran, and let them fight it out.

79 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

DVOA adjusts value based on time and score, but it doesn't adjust value based on time taken or getting out of bounds. Probably it's biggest flaw in my opinion. It would take a crazy amount of work to figure how much value time should be worth though.

105 Re: Weighting end-of-year games

I agree that its hard to justify weighting a game like that too much. One element not being discussed/considered is that when the backups play in those games, they are playing their hardest because its almost like another pre-season game... its a chance to prove their value. They tend to play hard, and play to win. So there is still some value in the game, its just hard to quantify it when its primarily coming from backup players. But like was said, you just have to have a written and mental footnote that the DVOA isn't quite what it should be, so make your own (fingers crossed) adjustments as best you see fit. You know the Pats should have a higher DVOA, or at least we all think they should, so you just kinda adjust it on your own... for whatever reason that benefits you.

16 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Colts-Bengals playoff game looks like it couldn't possibly closer based on their DVOA rankings. O: 17/18. D: 13/14, ST: 8/6. Injuries will play a huge factor (AJ Green, Ahmad Bradshaw, Wayne, whole Colts OL), and probably HFA, but I can't quite imagine a replay of their 27-0 regular season game.

Pit/Bal started to look like that until I saw the D disparity: Bal is #8 and Pitt is #30? Yet all the pundits are saying Pit is the non-bye team that can make a run to the AFCCG or beyond...?

Dal/Det is another interesting DVOA matchup, with Dallas's #4 O facing Detroit's #3 D, and the Lions' #19 O vs Cowboys' #22 D. Looks like a competitive game, unless Suh's absence leads to 57 Murray carries and 300 rushing yards, which it might.

20 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

I think the perception with Pittsburgh is that they are a high variance team and their best game is better than the best that IND/CIN/BAL can manage, so if you're going to pick somebody with a puncher's chance of getting to the big game the Steelers are the logical choice.

25 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

"I think the perception with Pittsburgh is that they are a high variance team and their best game is better than the best that IND/CIN/BAL can manage, so if you're going to pick somebody with a puncher's chance of getting to the big game the Steelers are the logical choice."

The other way to look at it is that the Steelers have a bad defense that a good offense can exploit, whereas the Ravens have much fewer weaknesses so can keep a game close. It may be more advantages to keep the game close and hope the ball bounces your way rather than rely on an awful defense.

99 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

You assume wrong. Brady has been able to shred Lebeau's defenses when they were good, I don't think the Steeler's D will stand a chance now that they suck.

I don't place any predictive value in how teams have performed in close games against good teams in a given season.

22 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

I theorized in another thread that Suh's actions on Sunday were part of grand strategy to have Suh jump Romo in the parking lot next Sunday morning. I was probably selling The Kongster short. A man of his deep strategic vision will likely hide in Romo's refrigerator, at palatial Romo Estate, waiting to spring out when Tony reaches in for a ice pack for his aching back Saturday night. It'll have to be a walk-in fridge, of course.....

21 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

Pittsburgh: Total DVOA rank 8th, Offense rank 2, Defense rank 30
Buffalo: Total DVOA rank 9th, Offense rank 26, Defense rank 2

It seems like one could draw a conclusion from these identical-yet-opposite rankings, but I wouldn't know where to start.

29 Re: Final 2014 DVOA Ratings

The interesting part to me would be to measure the impact of the most prominent position. I think Orton would diminish the perception of Antonio Brown more than Bills offense would diminish the perception of Roethlisberger.