Week 20 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

As usual after the Conference Championship games, we're not going to bother with the full 32-team table of weighted DVOA ratings, since there are only two teams left and most teams haven't played for three weeks. Instead, let's just look at the two remaining teams, Seattle and Denver. As you may remember from the end of the season, Seattle and Denver are the first teams to ever rank 1-2 in DVOA for two straight seasons, going back to 1989. Some other interesting notes about the rarity of a Super Bowl that matches the two best teams in the league:

  • This will be the first Super Bowl ever to match the No. 1 offense by DVOA against the No. 1 defense by DVOA.
  • This will be only the third time that the top two teams in DVOA will meet in the Super Bowl. This also happened in 1997 (Packers-Broncos) and 2002 (Buccaneers-Raiders).
  • It will also be only the fourth time that the Super Bowl matches the top team in DVOA from each conference. This also happened in 1997, 2002, and 1991 (Redskins-Bills).

Here's a look at both teams by weighted DVOA, as well as a look at total DVOA including both the regular season and the playoffs.

DEN (DVOA through Week 20) 33.1% 2 32.8% 1 -0.6% 14 -0.3% 18
DEN (WEI DVOA through Week 20) 28.2% 4 29.6% 3 -4.2% 13 -5.6% 26
SEA (DVOA through Week 20) 38.6% 1 7.5% 11 -25.2% 1 5.9% 5
SEA (WEI DVOA through Week 20) 46.4% 1 6.6% 9 -29.3% 1 10.5% 4

Here are the ratings for the Conference Championship games. The DVOA ratings for the NFC Championship game are a little surprisingly one-sided given how the game ended. It's not even about the fumble luck; while San Francisco was lucky on fumble recoveries early, the game ended up with each team fumbling three times, recovering two and losing one. It isn't about the red zone, either; while San Francisco was not particularly good in the red zone, Seattle didn't have a single play in the red zone that qualified as a "success" by Football Outsiders standards. The main difference was special teams and the Colin Kaepernick interceptions.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
DEN 48% 50% 7% 5%
NE 29% 35% 16% 10%
SEA 33% -25% -38% 20%
SF 0% -9% -19% -10%
VOAf (no opponent adjustments)
DEN 45% 57% 18% 5%
NE -4% 30% 44% 10%
SEA 19% -28% -28% 20%
SF -35% -33% -8% -10%

Our playoff odds report formula gives Seattle a 58.3 percent chance of winning Super Bowl XLVIII.

* * * * *

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 week 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 the Conference Championships:

  • NaVorro Bowman, ILB, SF (Limited Edition): We're sending the injured Bowman out on top with this 99 OVR Limited Edition. Bowman had nine Stops including three plays to prevent a conversion on third down.
  • Malcolm Smith, OLB, SEA: Game-winning interception plus four run tackles for an average gain of 1.8 yards.
  • Louis Vasquez, RG, DEN: Allowed no hurries, hits or sacks.

(Ed. Note: Whoops, I had mistakenly noted that Bowman was the first player to get two FO cards in Madden. Apparently, we also did Luke Kuechly twice.)


122 comments, Last at 30 Jan 2014, 12:55pm

2 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

18% DVOA for Denver's D? That's ridiculous. DVOA does overrate garbage time stats.

44 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

DVOA is awful at measuring the impact of prevent defense, which is obviously what the Broncos were doing in the 4th quarter. Just because they adjust for score and time remaining, that doesn't account for the widely different strategies used in similar situations. With 8 minutes left, some defenses will aggressively go for the kill shot, and some will play soft and let the offense march down the field. DVOA has no clue which type of defense is being played.

I don't care what Aaron says, I still believe DVOA would be more accurate with prevent/garbage plays removed. Of course since it's a black box formula, it's hard to make informed critiques about how to improve it.

46 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I don't care what Aaron says, I still believe your post exemplifies that it is hard to make informed critiques about how to improve DVOA.

57 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Maybe DVOA is actually good at stating that prevent defense is a losing strategy overtime. You can have a bad defense by design, tactics, or talent. Prevent is bad tactics.

67 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

DVOA probably does think prevent is a bad strategy. But then, DVOA seems to fundamentally function as an expected point-differential machine (the more positive, the better). I suspect it doesn't actually handle the Edwards Postulate ("you. play. to. win. the. game.") well. That sort of thing is in Win Probability's wheelhouse.

59 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

The problem with this is that "garbage time" has a million definitions and most of them are post hoc. If Vereen gets in on the 2 point conversion, it's a 1 score game with more than enough time left, so I don't see how that qualifies as garbage time. And on Denver's final clock killing drive they gained 38 yards on 6 plays. Do you want to throw them out too?

Plenty of people, not just Football Outsiders, have tried tossing out garbage time stats to make point differential more predictive. THe fact that no one has been able to do it successfully leads me to think that all the teeth gnashing about it is pointless and that it matters more than people think it does.

Point differential, yards and turnovers matter. The order in which they're distributed during the game really doesn't.

71 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

"Point differential, yards and turnovers matter. The order in which they're distributed during the game really doesn't."

You raise very good points with regards to garbage time (that FO and others have attempted to remove it or significantly downgrade it with no real improvement to their metrics).

However, the line I quoted is false, at least according to DVOA. DVOA buckets plays by down, distance, time remaining, and score difference, so it certainly thinks context is important.

In fact, that's why DVOA is a better metric to use that just pure yardage difference.

3 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I'm stunned the Broncos offensive performance doesn't rate higher. 63 yards per drive is just amazing. I guess the Patriots defense isn't great, but their VOA wasn't too much higher.

10 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Wouldn't a 48% DVOA rank as the all time high offensive DVOA if it was for a whole season?

2007 and 2010 Patriots were about 42% DVOA.

12 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

It is. Thought it would be higher. They were ridiculously efficient yesterday. Also, seeing New England at 35% seemed off as well. I just thought the distance between the two should be larger.

122 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

RedZone offense. Prater kicked FOUR field goals.

Even though I think Denver's ball control offense is playing a style that gives them a better chance to win in the playoffs, Their red zone efficiency has dramatically declined.

4 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

The Broncos haven't faced a great defense all year. Seattle's going to punch Peyton & company in the mouth in a big way.

7 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Luke Kuechly was actually the first to have 2 football outsider limited edition cards, not bowman

8 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

It's interesting that DVOA thinks that the 49ers played a 0% game, implying that they played no better than an average team yesterday. That's not what I saw. Of course this is an artifact of the fact that the application of opponent adjustments is necessarily imperfect, and that this kind of advanced statistical mixing is hard to pull off when so few games are played. FO should be praised for at least trying to do opponent adjustments. I think in this case, the adjustment for the 49ers is inadequate.

Because there's no way that the Pats were 29% better than the 49ers yesterday. The 49ers were in their game right until the end, while no serious fan thought the Pats were ever in their game after the 2nd quarter. The only things the Pats did well were punt and "not turn the ball over". The latter is admittedly important, and it's something the 49ers didn't do.

But really...

It's hard for any opponent adjustment to also account for the variability in how well the opponent plays. And if you try to account for too many things, you'll run into overfitting.

Let's just say I thought we'd see the Pats had played the worst game of all four teams yesterday, and this is a case where I think DVOA hasn't captured the truth of what we saw with our eyes.

14 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

"while no serious fan thought the Pats were ever in their game after the 2nd quarter"

Is this like how no serious fan thought the Seahawks were ever in their game against Atlanta last year after the 2nd quarter (a game where they were down by 20 points in the 4th quarter, just like New England)? A game is a blowout until it isn't, and the Patriots certainly had a chance to make it a game at the end.

40 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

My analysis stems from more than the score differential.

The Patriots did not force a punt after the very first Broncos' series. And they only had 3 points at halftime. Not all 20 point leads are the same.

I didn't think the Pats were out of the game when they trailed 24-0 at NE during the regular season. I thought they were close to done at halftime yesterday even though the score was closer. Why? The Pats couldn't move the ball at all and they couldn't stop the Broncos' offense at all.

Compared to that kind of impotence, a lead generated by a few turnovers is a piece of cake to deal with.

76 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Could NEs surprisingly high DVOA be attributed to:

Garbage time / Prevent defense
Denver's red zone inefficiency

9 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Lack of Pot Roast card makes me sad. Malcolm Smith card is pretty great, though.

11 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I wanted to do Pot Roast, but he's on the Madden Team of the Week, and they pick those players before we get to pick who gets Football Outsiders cards. Alas.

13 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I think DVOA overrates Seattle, period. Yes, Seattle's defense will be the toughest yet that the Broncos will have faced, but after the last two weeks, it's not Denver's offense that impresses me. It's their defense, which has just pretty much dominated two of the top 5 offenses in the league in back to back weeks. Two offenses that are superior to Seattle's offense, I might add, and I don't think it's close. I think the pressure will be on Russell Wilson because I can see Denver's D-line taking Lynch out of the game. The only reason that I personally think Seattle has a chance to win is because Denver is missing almost half of their defensive starters, but even then, I don't think Seattle has much of a chance, not with that offense.

15 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Um, the Denver offense just faced the 22nd and 23rd defenses in weighted DVOA; not exactly hard rowing there. Also, Harvin is almost certainly coming back, and while no one knows how long he'll last in the game, whatever time he does play should help out their offense immeasurably, as it has done every time he did play this season.

I have no idea how overrated Seattle is in DVOA, but it seems like they are a lot more such accusation for elite defensive teams, because it's harder to quantify their ability.

16 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Odd rebuttal, considering the original post said: "[...]it's not Denver's offense that impresses me. It's their defense, which has just pretty much dominated two of the top 5 offenses in the league in back to back weeks."

17 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

It was a bit odd, but I just felt that he was taking Denver's offensive efficiency for granted. The Harvin bit was my counter to the Denver defense comments.

26 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

That's a fair point, but I would similarly warn that no one should be taking Seattle's defensive efficiency for granted, either; they are facing the #1 overall offense, after all.

61 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

But Seattle has played elite offenses like NO, while Denver hasn't played the kind of Defense that Seattle has because they reside in a 4-6 team cluster in the NFC South and NFC West.

80 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

The difference between Denver's offense and New Orleans offense by DVOA is greater than the difference between Seattle's defense and New York (NFC)'s defense, which Denver played (and crushed).

Saying "Denver hasn't played a defense like this" is true, but "Seattle hasn't played an offense like this" is equally true.

90 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

By weighted DVOA, Denver was at 25.2% and New Orleans was at 20.0%, so it's pretty close. New York's defense was also noticeably worse at the beginning of the season. They gave up 400 yards to Denver, but they were giving up 400 yards to teams like Kansas City and Carolina as well.

95 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Love how everybody talks bad about football in the west. I don't know haw many times this season I've heard that "teams out West don't know how to play football."

My simple response: 5 of the 12 playoff teams this year came from the Western conferences. 3 of the top 8. 3 of the top 4. Both of the Superbowl teams.

When will the Western conferences get any respect?

Secondly, Denver does not reside in the NFC anything - they are in the AFC West.

97 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

"Love how everybody talks bad about football in the west. I don't know haw many times this season I've heard that "teamsout West don't know how to play football.""

What on Earth are you talking about? Show me one single person who has said that? The NFC West is widely acknowledged as the best division in football. What is it about football fans and the need to respond to voices in their head?

Listening to players go on and on about how "nobody believes in us" when they're 3 point favourites is annoying enough, but at least they're doing it to give themselves a psychological edge and build their own mythology. Watching fans buy into this stuff is downright pathetic. When did everybody turn into Patriots fans?

100 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I've heard it said that they fluoridate their water in the west. That probably explains things, what with the consequent impurities introduced to the football fans' precious bodily fluids. Buck Turgidson told me. Or Phil Simms.

18 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Didn't Harvin play for about 15 minutes this year total? Isn't that a bit on the lean side to start making pronouncements as to how he would "help out their offense immeasurably"?

20 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I think that fact is what makes it true that his contributions are immeasurable. If we had a full season of sample size, we could probably do a pretty decent job of measuring his impact but it's hard to measure much of anything from 20 snaps and 5 touches (or whatever it was he had).

21 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I would like to state in this context I have had a simply immeasurably significant impact on Peyton Manning's performance this year.

23 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I have it on good authority that I have had simply immeasurably significant impact on the conjugal happiness of Mrs. Tom Brady.

36 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

We don't only have to look at stats to reason about things. We know what Harvin did last year and we know his measurables and we've seen him play.

Harvin's played a few series this year. Why don't you check them out on Rewind and tell me that Seattle's offense was not significantly better when Harvin was on the field? Or, check one of the several articles, including on this site, that have done play breakdowns to demonstrate Harvin's effect on opposing defenses.

Against NO, Seattle scored on 4/5 possessions with Harvin in the game, 1/6 else.

22 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Coinciding with Denver's defensive playoff success is a change to their offensive philosophy. They have gone away from trying to get off as many plays as possible to becoming a ball control offense. They've soundly won the time of possession battle in both playoff games, which has given their defense much less exposure. If not for a serious decline in red-zone efficiency, both playoff games would have been much more of a blow out.

27 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Very good point. I'd imagine they would not continue that strategy against Seattle, which has a much less dangerous offense than SD or NE and a far, far more difficult defense to sustain long, time consuming drives against.

33 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Pretty nice to have a qb who can smoothly switch back and forth between offensive identities, as needs demand.

Frankly, this is what I believe sets Manning apart. He's not only able to switch back and forth, he's able to recognize (with rather frightful accuracy) at the line when it's required. Manning can be whatever kind of quarterback you need him to be, except a mobile one.

62 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

The funny thing is that Seattle, by base strategy and concept, neutralizes what Manning does best. Manning reads D and is almost impossible to fool. Seattle, makes almost no attempt to disguise their D.

68 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I'm not sure that works, either.

When NE had success, it was basically via late shifts that came as Manning was doing the Chicken Dance. What teams had success this year were mainly by deceit.

The more straightforward option is to simple manhandle the receivers, like Indy did. That works on the receivers, but doesn't really affect Manning per se. Unless Seattle wants to try to present the same front the entire game and try to switch behind it -- but that's basically a deceit concept, too, and Manning reads late almost as well as he reads early.

72 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Careful, I was saying the same things as a Bears fan in January 2007. And while Super Bowl XLI wasn't Manning's finest game, he did a great job simply taking what the Bears allowed (passes to RBs) and playing effectively enough to win the game. And that was against a very-good-to-great Bears defense.

And before you go saying "well that was against Rex Grossman" - Grossman didn't actually have a "Bad Rex" game, as he was 20/28 for 165 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions (both coming late while trailing). He didn't play well, but it's certainly the kind of game Russell Wilson could have.

91 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

"He didn't play well, but it's certainly the kind of game Russell Wilson could have."

This is nitpicking, but I don't think it is. Despite Grossman's reputation, that sounds like checkdown city to me, and Wilson has never been that kind of quarterback. Grossman had 8.25 yards per completion that game, and Wilson has had a higher YPC in every single one of his games. The closest he came to that was in his first game at Arizona, where he had 8.5 YPC. 14-28 for 165 yards would be more likely. And given Wilson's conservative playing style, I don't see him throwing a pick-six either.

Edit: I just went through the play-by-play of that game. If that wasn't a "Bad Rex" game, how low does his bar go? If you're willing to play down his two interceptions, then I'll throw out the entire fourth quarter. His stats through the first three quarters are 7/13 for 47 yards, with two fumbles, one lost. Now, Wilson was only a bit better in the Saints game, with 7/12 for 68 yards, but at least his team was comfortably ahead for the majority of it.

94 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Check out the famous "we are who we thought they were" Arizona game and the New Years day Packers game.

Although I do think Eddo is wrong and Grossman was pretty terrible that game.

34 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I have to disagree with the general praise of the Denver defense. In both games, and especially against the Pats, the Broncos dominated offensively, putting maximum pressure on the opposing offense. The defense performed solidly, but nothing spectacular. A timely sack against the Pats stands out as the best play. The New England offense got its fair share of 3-and-outs all thoughout the season, including against Indianapolis the week before, but Denver committed no turnovers, completed 7 and 7+ minute drives, scored on every drive except the first, etc. That's a mauling offense making a defense look better than it is.

35 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

That's the narrative you want to use?

San Diego's 1st half:
15:00 1 05:34 SD 20 9 23 Punt
02:25 1 01:57 SD 20 3 -2 Punt
14:08 2 02:55 SD 44 6 21 Missed FG
06:00 2 02:24 SD 20 5 14 Punt
00:30 2 00:30 SD 20 1 -1 End of Half

NE's 1st half:
15:00 1 01:21 NE 20 3 5 Punt
09:22 1 01:23 NE 20 3 7 Punt
03:43 1 03:43 NE 20 7 41 Punt
07:50 2 04:56 NE 20 9 51 Field Goal
00:25 2 00:25 NE 20 3 10 End of Half

That's pretty spectacular.

41 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

"Spectacular" seems a bit strong, considering that the Pats were an inaccurate throw by Brady from getting the first TD of the game.

Before I label a defense "spectacular" I want to see turnovers and defensive touchdowns.

The Bears' defense in Super Bowl XX was "spectacular". The Broncos' defense yesterday was solid.

63 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I believe his point is that the big plays were there and Brady missed the receivers.

Additionally, if you follow college at all where the kind of offensive and defensive strategy differences between Denver and Seattle are common, it is fair to say that Denver has a good situational defense. They can play a high variance strategy on D that complements their O, but if their O doesn't perform their high variance strategy can turn into bad defense in a hurry.

The exact opposite is Seattle which uses a high variance deep shot passing attack, to compliment a dominating D.

86 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

No, my argument was that a handful of a 3-and-outs doesn't mean that a defense is "spectacular".

The word "spectacular" comes from "spectacle". It implies the kind of performance that forces the viewer into a state of awe. The '85 Bears weren't the only team to have done such a thing. More recently I'd say what the '07 Giants did to win a Super Bowl would qualify.

The Broncos have a better-than-average defense. It's not as good as the Ravens were last season. It's nowhere near the level of what the Seahawks are doing these days.


106 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Semantics. It's all about context, and one can easily say that Denver's defense played spectacular given that (1) they are supposedly horrible, (2) they are missing five starters, and (3) they have just handled the #2 and #4 ranked offenses by DVOA in successive weeks. One can say this without implying that they are comparable to the '85 Bears or the '00 Ravens, which is ridiculous. How many points has Seattle allowed vs. lower rated offenses in the past two weeks? The point is that if Denver's defense plays another game like that, this time against a much less talented offense and QB, Seattle will be in for a long day.

109 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

There's no getting around that Brady threw poorly deep the other day. Will Denver prevent Wilson from extending plays for a long time, and thus find guys open deep? I think that is one of the important problems the Broncos will need to solve. Give up two plays like that, and you've really dug a hole to climb out of.

110 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Very true, Brady wasn't at his best, especially when he missed Edelman deep. I don't think that necessarily takes away anything that Denver did; every QB misses throws, and Manning had a couple missed throws too, though admittedly not as bad as the Brady throw.

Good point on Denver needing to stop Wilson from extending plays. I wonder if the risk of Wilson torching them that way is mitigated by the fact that his offensive line is terrible. In other words, Denver should get pressure on him quick enough not to let him make play after play, as Romo did in Denver's game vs. Dallas.

For Seattle, I think the key is for them to get pressure on Manning on a consistent basis with their linemen. It's possible, and they definitely have a stout defensive line and front seven, but I'm skeptical to say the least that they'll be able to. They have talented, but not dominant players in their front seven. If my assumption is correct, we'll get to see how good Seattle's secondary really is.

116 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I think overall this is true. No matter how the game plays out. When the game is done, we will finally have an idea (sample size = 1 for W/L record, or sample size = n, for DVOA per play style metrics) of how the teams play against each other. Until that point, most of this is just speculation and posturing. I can understand it, as I recall liking to think the Elway's Broncos were as good as Montana's and Young's 48ers, but the results on the field in the SB showed that it wasn't as close as I would have liked. In a little under two weeks, Manning might get to shed some of his "tarnished legacy" criticism or we might be talking all about the "new era" of NFC west dominance. I'm just hoping that we aren't taling about how the ref's made a bad call [or worse a controversial bad call] that swings the game and that the players on the field get credit for deciding it.

117 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I agree that Denver's defense will have to prevent Wilson from extending plays. He's at his best when he scrambles, or on designed roll-outs, because he forces the defense to maintain coverage longer than they expect (which is how Baldwin got open on that 50+ yarder on Sunday). He's been running away from pressure most of the year, so that's nothing new for him, although since the first NO game he seems to have lost some decisiveness and some accuracy. I hope he's able to find it in the next week and a half.

I think the key for Seattle's defense will be down to how much contact the officials will allow. They're a talented secondary regardless, but their game is bump-and-run. If the officials call the game tight and the secondary can't play their game, then Denver's receivers WILL get open and Manning WILL find them. And then Seattle's offense will have to open things up, which they haven't done since that NO game in December.

69 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I don't see why a strangulation system doesn't work, either. Consider the 1985 Bears divisional round game against the NYG. The only turnover came on a special teams play and the Bears won 21-0 on the back of two late TD passes. Is that better than San Diego's 1 passing yard in the first half?

89 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I can't find a drive chart for that game, but the two 2nd half tds were in the 3rd quarter. My recollection of the first half is that the Giants' defense was pretty stout in the first half themselves, so the Bears defense had to defend more possessions than the Broncos defense did in the fist half against the Chargers.

88 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

As a long time Broncos fan (going back to the Floyd Little days), I would agree that the Denver defense was more solid than spectacular. They were not expected to, nor did they win the game by themselves. Neither a "game manager" nor an inconsistent quarterback would have been expected to win given that defensive play. Yes, they kept the other team[s] (NE, SD) from scoring very much, but not in such a way that the offense enjoyed the luxury of short fields.

Now, how much credit goes to the DEF for taking Brady (or Rivers) out-of-his-game? I'm not sure. I've often felt that when a team doesn't look good, it might just be the opposing team playing well.

However, in both cases, the team was facing a potential losing "shoot-out" with Manning, so there was more pressure than a strict reading of the score and situation indicates. It's hard to disentangle the defensive performance from the pressure that facing a dominant offense that can almost score-at-will presents. An offense can't play 4-down football all game, but if you are getting behind a team that is consistently scoring against you playing 3-down football, you might make more mistakes trying to balance that game out, especially after a couple of breaks have already gone the other teams way. Even a 2 score deficit against Manning when it is apparent that the breaks are falling his way (and things aren't falling your way) might be a lot of pressure, even for a Brady or a Rivers.

While I'd like to have seen the Patriots play more of "their" game and it to have been more of a contest, my nerves are thankful it wasn't. The Patriots were too close for comfort, especially against that horrid "prevent nothing" defense. (I hope they burn that part of the Denver playbook.)

I don't have any idea how to compare this to Seattle's play nor to make any predictions going forward. I'm happy with Denver's solid defensive performance, but not necessarily sanguine about the SB prospects.

111 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

You want to talk first halves?

Drew Brees: 35 (39?) yds passing
Kaepernick: 16 yds passing.

Numbers may be slightly off, but that's 4 quarters of less than 60 yards passing and one of those teams was 2nd behind Denver in passing yards this season.

115 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Shame about Kaepernick's 100 rushing yards at the half.

That's more yardage than Denver allowed to Brady+Rivers at the half.

74 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

The lack of turnovers counts against them. In that, they did worse than an average defense would do against the Patriots.

They weren't particularly adept at keeping the Patriots from moving the chains. In the first half, the Patriots had a drive success rate (DSR) of .600, or .556 if you want to discount the final 25 second drive as meaningless. That's a great result, but really just 1 first down conversion from a below average result. In the second half and for the whole game, they were very bad in terms of DSR: .929 for the second half and .792 for the game. Again, that is worse than an average defense against the Patriots.

As for yards per drive, the Denver D did well in the first half (26, ignoring the drive curtailed by the end of the half) and badly in the second half (67). Over the whole game, they held the Patriots to an average of 44 yards per drive, which is not a good result. Once again, worse than an average defense.

But defense is only about preventing points. (Not really, but let's pretend). The Denver defense allowed 16 points in 7 meaningful drives, for 2.29 points per drive. Once again, that's worse than an average defense. The first half was great. But the second half was bad.

I'm all for giving credit to the defense when they deserve it. But this game was won by the Denver offense from the second quarter on. Or perhaps it was lost by the Patriot's defense. It amounts to the same thing.

78 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

In the fourth quarter, much to my frustration, is when New England did their damage going against a Denver defense that changed to a prevent shell.

Denver's defense shouldn't be considered as spectacular by anyone. The one thing they have consistently done well this season is stop the run. They have totally taken the run away from their opponents in the playoffs.

24 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

No Aldon Smith? he needs a new card. /: Bowman already has a 97 FF card

25 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

its very strange to me that the playoffs have Quick Reads come out tuesday or so but DVOA come out monday.

28 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

How much did the egregiously illegal intent to injure play
by the 49ers sideline factor in to that terrible rating?

{Play in question}

Tomlingate was $100k, that should be about $2-5M

The standard is the standard!

32 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Holy @#$!!!!, that is seriously messed-up. Who is that? Anybody hear the word yet on who that guy is who will apparently never again see the inside of an NFL stadium?

42 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Here's the exploded frame by frame GIF :


Looking at that, it's VERY hard to tell what actually happened. In my opinion, it certainly doesn't look as bad as the Vine makes it looks. It might not have been a blow to the head/clothesline as much as someone putting his hand up to protect himself and pushing the Seahawks player away. I'm not sure if the marker came in to play too.

47 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

You must delusional if you think it's not obvious what happened.

- The marker on the ground didn't move - thus it did not "come into play"
- The 49er guy leaned into Jeremy Lane - evidenced by his position AFTER the contact
- There was a clear collision between Lane and the unknown guy - after the collision, Lane went down and back toward the field (away from unknown guy), unknown guy made a step forward, then back, with his hands down (not an action of someone protecting himself).

Anyone who says the 49er guy did NOT purposely intend to knock down Lane would have to ignore evidence and really convince themselves of something they are not seeing.

51 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

He definitely leans into Lane but he doesn't look like he stepped towards him. I don't know what the rule is, when a player I'd running out of bounds are you supposed to just let him flatten you or can you protect yourself by leaning in?

Didn't look good though.

53 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Granted, sideline etiquette, common sense, and good sportsmanship would tell most people to step out of the way, but yeah, I don't know where in the rules it says a guy that far out of bounds has to cede. It's too hard to tell what kind of contact was going on there being that it's obscured.

121 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

A few things...First, yes it looks bad and I definitely could be wrong... but...

1) I guess I'm looking at it as what I could prove with the frames... not just what looks likely - what is shown conclusively. I'd agree that if I had to wager, the guy saw the player coming and decided to give him a little shot.

2) I think someone running into a person on the sideline who just braces himself (or even "leans in") to avoid getting knocked down, and to push the runner away, could have exactly the effect in the video. I don't think that's remotely the same thing as "throwing an elbow" or "taking a cheap shot" at a guy. I've been in sideline crowds where players come flying in off the field, and often, getting out of the way isn't an option (due to the speed and not knowing what's behind you and perhaps not paying a lot of attention) and bracing yourself and pushing the guy away (even stepping into the guy) is what happens.

3) The marker doesn't move, but it does look like the Seahawk player steps on it or very close to it right when contact is made (barely, but maybe), which may have affected his balance and made him go down with even moderate contact.

Really, if the guy in the red sleeves wasn't in the way, I think things might be a lot clearer because you'd see the actual extent of the contact. As it stands, I could see the guy on the sideline giving the Seahawk player a bump and shove (as I think is possible), which I think hardly requires any disciplinary action. It doesn't take much at all to knock someone down running at that speed if you hit him at an unexpected angle like that.

70 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Really? Because you can see the guy on the sidelines throw an elbow.
By Rule 13, Section 1, Article 8, that is a penalty even if he just body-blocks.

Brock should have gotten a personal foul for hitting Lane while out of bounds, too.

52 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I don't see the parallel. Tomlin was on the field in the path of a breakaway ball-carrier. This dude is a couple yards behind the OOB line with a fully padded player coming at him full speed.

113 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings


but it's sad the national media is ignoring
this disgustingly intentional cheapshot

The standard is the standard!

43 SF rating

Turnovers + Special Teams, which I presume includes the James muff.
Also, Seattle's front 7 was completely unblockable on standard running plays. I'd love to know why this is, because Seattle had some bad run defense games, and was somewhat permissive agains NO's rookie back. Ineffectiveness was while Iupati was in the game also. Oddly it seemed pass blocking was generally pretty good which it wasn't for a good stretch of the season.

54 Re: SF rating

In reply to by beargoggles

"Oddly it seemed pass blocking was generally pretty good which it wasn't for a good stretch of the season."

They sacrificed pressure for contain in the second half, because Kaepernick kept escaping the pressure in the first. Then they seemed to step it up again once they got the lead.

"Also, Seattle's front 7 was completely unblockable on standard running plays."

It looked like Seattle completely sold out to stop runs up the middle. Kaepernick had great success with that naked bootleg run to the left, and Gore's best run of the day came when he ran outside to the right. I was surprised San Francisco didn't try to counter that more, with more outside runs and screens.

55 Re: SF rating

In reply to by Perfundle

It's true that SF should have probably run more of those sweep type plays until it was stopped, i.e. forced full adjustment. That's a good point. I'm guessing that Seattle's game plan vs. NO was more to prevent deep throws and defend Graham and concede the off tackle type runs (I'm not being very precise here) that were semi-successful. Which means SF passing offense has a ways to go to get respect that the Saints get, given more viable targets including running backs to keep the defense honest and probably a more complete run through QB progressions. Then again, Brees can't run which offsets some of this.

Sorry about my incoherent musings; the complete uselessness of Gore in the game is still bugging me.

49 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Looking at the drive charts, it looks like Seattle was successful on most of its drives. Wouldn't have expected that watching the game!

50 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Seattle looks pretty good here. That's surprising.

58 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Think it is interesting that people are trying to claim that Denver dominated two great offenses and that Seattle will struggle since they have a poor offense.

1) SD was #3 and NE was #4...(hence the "we dominated two top 5 offenses!!) and Seattle was alllllllllllll the way down to #7? Really, there is that much of a drop off between #4 and #7 offense?

2) Looking at the NE DVOA numbers...it seems pretty clear that Denver didn't dominate the NE Offense like one would imagine. Seems like NE did pretty decent.

3) Now...SEA played the #5 and #8 offenses the last two weeks and did...absolutely dominate those two teams. The difference between what Denver and Seattle did on defense in the playoffs is stunning.

65 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Considering there's a smaller DVOA gap between Seattle and the #20 offense (Arizona) than there is between Seattle and SD, I would say that is quite a large difference, yes.

112 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Well, if you're going to go there, the difference between Seattles Weighted DVOA and Denvers is greater than the difference between Denver and the 12th ranked San Diego. I'd say that's quite a large difference.

But I think in the end, Seattle's offense is always better than it seemingly looks to the eye. Always. Every week. Without fail. And they win.

Denvers defense is what it is. A middling defense, not bad, not great.

The Broncos might stop Lynch, maybe not. They WILL pressure Wilson because every team does. They won't pressure him as much as he's been pressured the past 6 weeks because they don't have the pass rush St. Louis, Arizona or NO have. Nor the experience playing against Wilson that SF has. Which means he'll probably finish with over 100 QB rating once again and it won't look like he did it. The Broncos secondary won't cover the Hawk WR's, because the Bronco secondary can't cover well at all.

If Denvers plan is to stop Lynch, Wilson will beat them. Didn't work out so well for the Saints the first game when they tried that. In the playoffs, they didn't focus as much on Lynch because they'd learned their lesson.

If Manning steam rolls over the Hawks D, none of it will matter. But that really isn't likely to happen. What's most likely to happen IMO, is that Denver will get out to an early lead by dinking and dunking over the middle and taking what the defense gives them, Seattle won't panic, Mannings targets will get brutalized. Seattle will keep pounding the ball and wearing down Denvers D even as it generates little results. Denver will go in with a halftime lead that seems less than it felt like they should have. Second half Mannings targets will start dropping passes they caught the first half because they're hearing footsteps, the Denver D will start wearing down, having been banged up by Lynch and chasing after Wilson. Seattle will put some drives together and win it in the 4th. And people will be amazed that Wilson has such a great stat line.

Because that's how Seattle does it. Week in, week out.

114 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Sounds very plausible. Denver needs to win the turnover tally, perhaps by more than one, and can't lose on special teams. That will not be an easy task.

118 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I have no idea whether or not Seattle's secondary can get into the heads of Denver's receivers, but I do think you've described the Seattle game plan to a T.

Two not-unlikely scenarios may throw a monkey wrench into that game plan, though: 1) the officials go flag-happy against Seattle's secondary, and/or 2) it snows, which would also give Denver's receivers a slight advantage. In either of those scenarios I think Seattle would have to take the restrictor plates off of its offense and aim for more than 23 points, which concerns me only because Seattle's offense has the talent to get more than 23 points against Denver, but not a lot of recent practice at getting there.

119 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Of course, wind is just as likely as snow, which tips the scales towards the defenses.

Current forecast for the Friday before the SB is a high of 31, low of 20, 60% snow showers, and a 9mph wind. The latter is probably not enough to have any sort of effect.

60 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Also...great to see that all the Kaepernick played awesome and Wilson was trying to put up the "worst performance by a conference championship winning QB" comments from last night didn't really bear out in the numbers. Both guys didn't play great...only one guy didn't give the game away in the fourth quarter.

99 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

However, when you have a game between two teams that live and die by their running game and defense, is this really all that suprising? Sometimes in order to win, you must first "not lose". I could fault both QBs in this department, but ultimately it was Kaepernick that made more mistakes and more serious mistakes and the stats bear this out.


66 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I'm surprised at how high Seattle come out on the single game metrics v San Fran.

VOAf - just a pure reflection of how each team played, disregarding the opposition - has Seattle 54% better than San Fran. A bigger difference than between New England and Denver. Also rating San Fran's performance worse than New England's.

Sea-SF looked a very close game and as some really basic Box Score stats would show it.

1st Downs SF 16 Sea 14

Total Plays SF 54 Sea 58

Yards SF 308 Sea 308

Shouldn't Seattle's single game VOAf come out a lot closer to 0% with the OFF and DEF basically off setting each other and then a small positive for the ST? Would +3% overall be more logical?

Just genuinely interested to find out why Seattle come out so high on this particular game. Or am I looking at things entirely the wrong way?

73 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

The problem with the box score stats is that they ignore the 3 turnovers. Using p-f-r's value of -45 yards for an int (I believe originally from the Hidden Game of Football) and assuming the same for a fumble, that makes the adjusted yard score 308 to 163 in SEA's favor. Also, since 2 of the 3 turnovers created short fields, SEA's offense did not have the chance to pick up many yards or 1st downs, deflating those stats. The long return also left SEA with a short field. Granted SEA's offense did poorly with a few short fields but they couldn't have done much more in yards and 1st downs anyhow - points are a different matter but we see the score differential.

The combination of SEA defense and STs was pretty potent, while the SEA offense was reasonably effective from its 4th possession on. Look at the field position and drives:

SEA field position: 20, 16, 1, 24, 37, 40, SF33, 38, SF6, SF40, 10. After the 4th possession, SEA never had bad field position. That says a lot about how well the D/ST was playing.

SEA drives (plays/yards): 1/-5fum, 3/9punt, 8/40punt, 9/62FG, 9/25downs, 4/60TD, 5/11FG, 8/62TD, 4/-9downs, 7/11FG, 3/-3kneel. The first two drives were bad. The 3rd drive, although not point-producing, flipped the field and was arguably the key drive of the game. After that, the offense had its ups and downs but was never stopped on its side of the field. Pretty good even without considering the quality of defense it was up against.

SF field position: SEA15, 19, 14, 20, 23, 21, 17, 20, 11, 15, 22. Except for the 1st drive, SF never started with the ball in better field position than its own 23. SEA's ST deserves much of the credit, the SEA defense some for giving the offense the ball in good shape a few times, but also the SEA offense helped win the field position battle by playing well enough.

SF drives: 4/8FG, 6/35punt, 9/86TD, 3/0punt, 1/-1half, 6/11punt, 6/83TD, 3/0punt, 6/12fum, 2/11int, 9/60int. SF offense had 3 good drives although one ended in the final INT. The first drive at least produced points and the 2nd one combined with ST to create a huge field position advantage (SEA at its 1). After the 3rd drive though, it was mostly SEA's defense. Note that you could say that SF was one pass away from taking the lead and probably winning at the end of the game, you could also say the 49ers were one lucky bounce from a 2ns half that saw every drive end in a punt or turnover.

I think DVOA captures a lot of those 4 paragraphs in a few numbers while the final score and the headline box score numbers (yards, plays, 1st downs) don't.

75 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

If you're going to adjust the total yards for turnovers, you have to adjust for Seattle's turnover as well. It should be 263-173, not 308-163.

As for lucky bounces, Seattle fumbled 4 times and recovered three of them, while SF fumbled three times and recovered two of them. Fumble luck does not explain the VOA difference.

81 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

I know, but the box score is wrong. According to the PBB log:

1) Wilson's fumble on the first play. Recovered by SF.
2) Kearse's fumble on the one-yard line. (officially) Recovered by SEA.
3) Wilson's fumbled hand-off on the one-yard line on the next play. Recovered by SEA.
4) Wilson's fumbled snap in the fourth quarter on the drive following Kaepernick's first interception. Wilson recovered the ball and threw the ball away to avoid a sack, but because the play was supposed to be a run, one of the WRs was blocking and got called for offensive pass interference.

87 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Ah. Well that seems silly from a fumble luck perspective. If SF had recovered the fumble, they would have declined the penalty -- or, more accurately, the penalty would never have occurred in the first place because Wilson would never have thrown a pass, which is what caused the OPI.

93 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

From a fumble luck perspective, the kind of fumble where the QB mishandles the snap for such a short time that he has enough time to pick it up and still throw it shouldn't really be considered fumbles, insofar as the opponent's chances of actually recovering it are considered. I know that a lot of score operators don't even count them as such. Peyton Manning's twice-bobbled snap was far more a fumble than that one was.

96 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Fumbled snaps have something like an 75-80% recovery rate by the offense, which should be included in any analysis (and VOA does weight fumble luck by type of fumble/recovery rate). My point was that leaving it out of the analysis entirely due to the penalty makes no sense when the penalty only occurred as a result of the fumble.

101 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

That's out of all fumbled snaps, including ones where the ball just lies on the ground untouched for a second. Yesterday's was nothing like that.

As for why the penalty occurred, that's pretty silly. Are you going to penalize RBs for failing to help on a blitz pickup that gets his QB sacked as well? There's no way to know what causes what in a game from the box score. For all we know, the next time a fumble like that occurs, the nearest defenders might vacate their assignments and rush toward the ball, giving an easy pass to the QB. Something, in fact, like this: http://www.footballperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/wilson-td-denver1.gif

92 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Shouldn't fumbles be something like -22.5 yards? After all, there's only 50% chance of the opponent recovering. Seems like it would be easier to just say that any turnover is worth -45 yards.

84 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

If the odds are 58% towards Seattle, what should that translate into in terms of a neutral field line? -2 seattle? -3?

98 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Because of Seattle's huge home field advantage, it would be helpful to know the road DVOA's for Seattle and Denver.

103 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Just checking in as a Bronco fan who does not think the Broncos are being disrespected or marginalized in any way by the commentary. Is it always like this on here in the run up to the Super Bowl, with everyone having a "we are the victims of outrageous slander"-off (old-school rules) and I've not noticed because the Broncos haven't made it since I started reading this site or is this uncharacteristically thin skinned behavior?

104 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Any chance we can get DVOA of these teams on the road?

108 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

Hope Aaron doesn't mind this paraphrasing of offense/defense home/road splits: Both are dominant in their specialty on the road (although Seattle D drops off on the road more so than Denver O). Seattle O better on road than is Denver D.

120 Re: Week 20 DVOA Ratings

According to my meterics, Seattle played better than Denver and was the best team on the field in either game.

Great play does not always show on the score board, in this case it did not.

San Fran was very fortunate to stay close in that game.

This bodes well for Seattle in the Super Bowl.