DVOA Analysis
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2015 DVOA Projections

2015 DVOA Projections
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

The time has come for our annual preseason DVOA projections, updated from the projections that gave us the season forecasts in Football Outsiders Almanac 2015

We must start with the requisite link to an explanation of DVOA. For anyone new to our site, DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average and measures a team's performance on every play of the season compared to league average in the same situation, adjusted for opponent. I know a lot of people may be coming here from various message boards and this is just going to look like a jumble of pointless numbers. Trust me, there is a method to the madness, and over the past dozen seasons past DVOA ratings -- as well as these multivariable-based DVOA projections -- have been a far more accurate predictor of future performance than wins or points.

Offense, defense, and special teams DVOA are all projected separately using a system based on looking at trends for teams over the past decade. This offseason, we overhauled and improved the team projection system for the first time in a few years. The new system starts by considering the team's DVOA over the past three seasons and, on offense, a separate projection for the starting quarterback. Then we look at a number of other variables which suggest when a team will be better or worse than would otherwise be expected due to standard regression towards the mean. The biggest change is that the new system does a much better job of incorporating personnel changes. For offense, this variable is based on DYAR for non-quarterbacks, while for defense, this variable is based on the net change in Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value stat over a replacement level set at 3 AV. Other factors include coaching experience, recent draft history, combined tenure on the offensive line, and certain players returning from injury (or, in the case of these preseason updates, certain players getting injured in the preseason).

(If you would like to hear more about the changes in this year's projection system and what they mean for this year's team projections, I'll be discussing that more on Thursday on the first edition of the new weekly "Off the Charts NFL Podcast" featuring myself with Sports Information Systems' Scott Spratt. Look on the homepage for a link on Thursday afternoon!)

The team projection system does a better job of forecasting the upcoming season than just looking at last year's numbers. The most accurate forecast incorporates the team's schedule to predict win totals, as you can see from the table below.

Correlation of Various Stats/Projections with Wins and DVOA, 2003-2014
Metric Correlation
with Wins
with DVOA
Wins Y-1 .307 .414
Pythagorean Wins Y-1 .347 .412
DVOA Y-1 .370 .513
DVOA Projection .539 .642
Mean Wins Forecast from
DVOA Projection + Schedule
.560 .624

(Note: I apologize for not having "old projection system" in this table for comparison's sake... I couldn't find all 12 years of projections from that system in one place to paste into a spreadsheet.)

The numbers we are presenting here are exactly what the projection system spit out. As we say every year: "A few of them will look strange to you. A few of them look strange to us." As always, the offensive projections come out in a wider range than defensive projections because offense performance tends to be easier to predict (and more consistent from year to year) than defensive performance. If you are looking for subjective projections, Thursday we will be running our usual staff predictions article where we all talk about where we think the numbers are wrong.

We've also done our first playoff odds report simulation based on these updated DVOA projections, and I've added the playoff odds and Super Bowl championship odds to the table below. In past years, we always manually tweaked our preseason simulations to get a set of win-loss records closer to what you see in the actual NFL. This year, we don't need to do this because what we're calling a "dynamic" season simulation. In real life, winning teams generally see their DVOA ratings go up because they played well, and losing teams generally see their DVOA ratings go down because they played poorly. So in our simulation of the future, we now boost a team's rating by 2.0% after each win and drop it by 2.0% after each loss. The original preseason projections are by their very nature conservative, but this dynamic simulation means that when we get to the end of the season, the best teams look as good as best teams usually look. To give an example, Seattle starts the simulation with a DVOA of 23.5%. Should the Seahawks go 14-2, the simulation starts the postseason matchups with the belief that Seattle has a DVOA of 47.5%. That's a rating much more in line with what we would see from a 14-2 team.

The resulting simulation still ends up looking very conservative as far as the average number of wins and losses projected for each team. Obviously, the NFL is going to have teams that are 11-5 or better, and it is going to have teams that are 5-11 or worse. But the actual range of seasons produced by this simulation looks much more like reality, with more simulated seasons ending with double-digit wins and fewer simulated seasons ending around 8-8.

There are still a couple of important differences between this simulation and the one we did for Football Outsiders Almanac 2015. For example, this simulation only uses one set of mean projected DVOA ratings, rather than using 1,000 different sets of ratings to represent that some teams have a higher standard deviation than others. More importantly, this simulation handles early-season suspensions and injuries differently. Obviously, suspensions were a bigger issue for a 2015 simulation than in any other year, because of Tom Brady, but we also considered a number of other suspensions in the simulation we did for the book. We also considered those suspensions and injuries in this simulation, but treated them differently. To create consistency with the playoff odds simulation in future weeks, we only wanted to use a single rating for each team. For example, we give the Dallas Cowboys a single defensive rating instead of simulating Dallas games with one defensive rating for Weeks 1-4 and another defensive rating for Weeks 5-17 once Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain return from suspensions. The projected defensive DVOA for Dallas is weighted to be 25 percent of what the projection would have been if McClain were gone and Hardy had never been signed, and 75 percent of what the projection is when we add Hardy to the roster and don't remove McClain.

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Making this change means that the simulation effectively "spreads" an injury or suspension over the entire year. In the simulation from the book, New England and San Francisco got a big extra advantage from playing Pittsburgh without Le'Veon Bell. In this simulation, every team that plays Pittsburgh this year faces a slightly weaker simulated Steelers offense. The differences here are small and should generally even out over the course of the year, and for the most part, this change doesn't really affect the playoff odds or mean win projections.

Note that the FO Premium picks against the spread will use DVOA ratings that fully incorporate early-season injuries and suspensions.

For those who may be curious about a handful of unsure player situations: Jason Pierre-Paul is projected to miss half the season, just as we did in the book. Brooks Reed and Arian Foster are projected to miss four games each. Dontari Poe is projected to miss three games to make things easier, since that let us consider his injury and Sean Smith's suspension together. We had no idea what to do about Kam Chancellor, so I penalized the Seahawks as if Chancellor would miss three games. I did not penalize the 49ers for losing Ahmad Brooks, since it looks like he's going to play despite his legal issues.

Projected division champions are colored in light yellow and projected wild card teams are colored in light purple, although the difference between Baltimore and Cincinnati is so close that it's a bit absurd to say we're picking one team over the other as AFC North champions.

SEA 23.5% 1 10.7 11.8% 3 -13.0% 1 -1.1% 23 0.9% 15 0.0% 78.4% 17.0%
NE 18.4% 2 10.6 12.1% 2 -1.0% 11 5.3% 1 -2.9% 25 0.1% 75.3% 13.1%
DEN 14.6% 3 9.4 9.7% 5 -7.8% 3 -2.8% 32 2.6% 8 0.4% 59.6% 7.8%
GB 8.5% 4 8.8 12.2% 1 1.4% 20 -2.1% 30 2.5% 9 0.9% 50.1% 4.6%
STL 7.7% 5 8.8 -0.3% 17 -6.7% 4 1.4% 7 0.8% 16 1.1% 47.0% 4.0%
CIN 6.1% 6 8.6 3.5% 12 -2.5% 7 0.2% 11 1.6% 11 1.2% 46.2% 3.6%
PIT 6.1% 7 8.2 10.9% 4 4.1% 26 -0.7% 20 4.0% 3 1.3% 40.1% 3.1%
BAL 5.5% 8 8.5 -2.2% 20 -4.2% 6 3.6% 3 1.3% 13 1.5% 44.6% 3.4%
SD 5.4% 9 8.6 8.7% 6 2.5% 22 -1.7% 27 1.0% 14 1.4% 44.4% 3.4%
KC 5.2% 10 8.4 2.9% 13 0.0% 14 2.3% 5 1.4% 12 1.6% 40.8% 3.1%
IND 5.2% 11 9.2 6.8% 9 1.8% 21 0.2% 10 -4.0% 29 0.7% 61.3% 5.1%
MIN 4.4% 12 8.2 -1.9% 19 -2.1% 9 4.3% 2 2.9% 7 1.5% 39.5% 2.9%
PHI 4.2% 13 8.8 3.6% 11 -1.0% 12 -0.3% 13 -2.7% 24 1.0% 50.2% 3.8%
DAL 3.9% 14 8.6 7.3% 8 2.8% 23 -0.5% 17 -0.6% 19 1.0% 46.8% 3.5%
DET 3.7% 15 8.0 2.8% 14 -1.3% 10 -0.4% 15 3.4% 5 1.6% 36.9% 2.4%
ATL 2.7% 16 9.0 6.4% 10 6.4% 31 2.9% 4 -5.2% 32 1.0% 51.7% 3.6%
NO 1.2% 17 8.8 7.8% 7 6.1% 30 -1.5% 26 -5.1% 31 1.3% 47.5% 3.1%
NYJ 0.0% 18 8.5 -10.4% 27 -8.3% 2 2.2% 6 -3.2% 28 1.5% 40.9% 2.3%
NYG -3.5% 19 7.8 1.2% 16 4.2% 27 -0.4% 16 -1.6% 21 2.6% 33.1% 1.5%
CAR -3.7% 20 7.8 -2.7% 23 0.5% 17 -0.5% 18 -2.4% 23 2.4% 33.3% 1.6%
SF -3.8% 21 7.0 -2.4% 22 0.7% 18 -0.6% 19 4.3% 2 4.2% 20.1% 0.8%
MIA -3.9% 22 7.5 -1.2% 18 0.2% 15 -2.8% 31 -0.7% 20 3.2% 26.2% 1.0%
ARI -5.0% 23 6.8 -2.4% 21 0.7% 19 -1.8% 28 4.8% 1 4.7% 18.3% 0.8%
BUF -5.8% 24 7.4 -12.4% 30 -6.3% 5 0.4% 9 -0.5% 18 3.3% 25.3% 1.0%
CHI -7.1% 25 6.8 2.3% 15 7.5% 32 -1.9% 29 2.3% 10 5.5% 19.9% 0.6%
HOU -8.5% 26 7.3 -10.7% 28 -2.2% 8 0.1% 12 -2.9% 26 3.9% 29.1% 0.9%
CLE -10.2% 27 6.3 -6.4% 24 3.4% 24 -0.3% 14 3.6% 4 7.7% 15.0% 0.4%
OAK -10.3% 28 6.3 -8.7% 26 0.4% 16 -1.1% 24 3.3% 6 8.0% 14.7% 0.4%
TEN -14.5% 29 6.8 -7.7% 25 6.0% 29 -0.8% 21 -4.2% 30 6.9% 21.6% 0.4%
TB -15.2% 30 6.6 -16.3% 32 -0.7% 13 0.5% 8 -2.9% 27 7.4% 16.6% 0.3%
JAC -16.5% 31 6.2 -10.7% 29 4.5% 28 -1.2% 25 -1.9% 22 9.4% 14.9% 0.2%
WAS -18.2% 32 5.8 -13.5% 31 3.7% 25 -0.9% 22 0.2% 17 11.5% 10.6% 0.2%

Which teams saw the biggest drop in mean wins since the book, and why?

  • Green Bay fell by almost a full win because of the Jordy Nelson injury, though the Packers are still projected to win their division.
  • Buffalo fell by 0.6 mean wins because the quarterback-specific part of the projection system really, really doesn't like them starting Tyrod Taylor. It actually knows nothing about Taylor, because there's not much to go by to project quarterbacks with no track record. It simply knows he's a sixth-round pick (and thus has an estimated QBASE of zero) with almost no NFL experience. It likes Matt Cassel's history of mediocrity better than that gamble. Your own personal opinion may vary, but that's why we do the subjective staff predictions article on Thursday.
  • Minnesota fell by 0.3 mean wins because of Phil Loadholt.

Which teams saw the biggest rise in mean wins since the book, and why?

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  • Kansas City gained 0.5 mean wins because I didn't credit them in the book simulation for the return of Eric Berry, plus the age-related variables like some of the other changes in their expected starting lineup.
  • Tennessee gained 0.4 mean wins because the age-related variables like the younger expected starting lineup compared to what we had down in July.
  • Chicago gained 0.3 mean wins because of a few random things. Sorry, nothing specific that's easy to point to.
  • The New York Jets gained 0.3 wins because just as quarterback-specific part of the system likes Matt Cassel over Tyrod Taylor, so too does it like Ryan Fitzpatrick over Geno Smith... enough to move the Jets all the way up the amazing heights of 27TH PLACE in mean projected offense! But that's better than what we had before.

Finally, allow me to draw your attention to one team that curiously ends up with almost the same forecast it had a couple months ago. New England had 10.5 mean wins in the book, when we made Jimmy Garoppolo the starting quarterback in the first four games in 75 percent of the simulations. Now, Tom Brady plays all 16 games and... the Patriots are at 10.6 mean wins. Yes, that's strange. Penalizing them for being without Brandon LaFell for 5-6 games plays a small role, but also, I think this may be the one place where changing the methodology of handling suspensions matters, because of what it does to Pittsburgh's odds of winning the first two games in the simulation. If it's not that, I honestly have no idea how to explain it.


115 comments, Last at 13 Sep 2015, 10:22pm

1 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Considering Pittsburgh historic inability to stop Tom Brady and the NE offenses(and that was with some high ranking defenses) - I really don't like their chances much now that #12 is back.

11 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Couple that with the success rates when teams raise a banner and the outlook isn't very good. That said, the football health goods seem intent on ensuring NE has a corresponding absence for every one of Pitt's missing players.

39 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Wow, you're right. Hadn't thought of that.

Both teams missing their starting center to injury, both teams missing their starting RB to suspension. The Patriots missing their #2 WR to injury, the Steelers their #2 WR to suspension.

Any other parallels?

3 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Wow. The Bears are predicted to have the league's worse defense despite the arrival of John Fox and Vic Fangio. Can't say I disagree too strongly with that assessment, although I guess like many people I am expecting a slightly better degree of competency than I saw in the Mel Tucker era just based on coaching.

No doubt that the defense won't actually be *good* again unless the Bears manage to have a few good drafts in a row, though.

45 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Yeah, I'd expect a big boost just from moving from Tucker to 'average defensive coordinator'. I don't think he was quite Ted Cottrell levels of bad, but man it wasn't good.

Still, I'm not expecting better than 24th, and I'd find better than 16th to be a miracle, so I'm not too concerned with the system seeing the Bears defense as terrible when they turn out to be just bad.

55 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

One thing we've never been able to account for well is the history of certain specific coordinators. For every coach who has a history of improving units and once again succeeds in his next job, there's a coach with a history of improving units who suddenly fails in his next job. So it's hard to put that in with trustworthy statistical significance. But I'm not going to personally disagree with the idea that Fox and Fangio should keep the Bears' defense out of last place.

59 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I'd love to start the specialized field of gridiron studies, call it Cottrellology. I'd have to get game film from Bills games in the late 90s, to see if that squad was able to play defense well, while never getting lined up right, or if playing defense without ever getting lined up correctly was an innovation Ted Cottrell only attempted to develop at his later stops.

Seriously, when he was with the Vikings, and then Chargers, I wondered if he was some sort of figurehead in Buffalo, like how Lovie Smith is taking over from Leslie Frazier this year.

(Edit) Wade Phillips was his boss in Buffalo, so it is possible that Phillips was actually coordinating the defense.

73 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Having a lot of 4-3 talent but switching to a 3-4 may end up canceling out any boost from Fox and company this year. But yeah, 32 seems low for the Bears considering Mel Tucker isn't around.

77 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Speaking of good drafts for the Bears, it looks like they have about a 5% chance of getting the #1 pick and a 20% chance of making the playoffs. As a Bears fan, I can't decide which of those I'd rather have happen. Go to the playoffs and risk getting stuck with Cutler for another year, or replace Cutler with Cook/Goff/Hackenberg/Jones/whoever after enduring a year of miserable football? Football in Chicago these days feels like a bizarre Sophie's Choice parody.

That's right, I just compared football to Nazi war crimes. God, Smokin' Jay Cutler is turning me into Skip Bayless. Here ends my hot take.

79 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I would root for the #1 pick. As someone who watched the Lions throughout the 1990s, going to the playoffs, yet having no shot of advancing past the Wildcard round is not a purgatory you want to be stuck in. The front office fools themselves into thinking they're "one player away". Of course if you do end up tanking, you have to pray the guy making the draft picks knows what the hell they're doing.

85 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I'm going to disagree here. What did you enjoy more, the Barry Sanders era or the Matt Millen era?

Give me a competent team that can mathematically make the playoffs going into week 15 over being the Rams or Titans of the past few years.

To put it another way, I'd rather root for the 90s Steelers than most other teams. I'm sure, it would be even better to root for the 90s Cowboys, 49ers, or Packers, but I'm willing to be realistic.

114 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

The Barry Sanders era was frustrating. The Millen era was disgusting. Neither was enjoyable, but the Millen era was easier to ignore.

The Billy Sims era was frustrating for Lions fans, too. One game-changing player, diminished by a mediocre surrounding cast.

102 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Oh, I'm rooting for the #1 pick by far (or, pending the consensus on what the QBs look like when the 2016 draft comes around, any top 3-5 pick that lets them select someone they think is their next franchise quarterback).

I'm actually a Cutler defender in a lot of ways, but even if you take an extremely optimistic view and say that he's going to improve to be the 8th-10th best QB in the league in the next few years, the Bears still aren't going to be a good enough team to win a Super Bowl. So at that point, with where the rest of the team is, I don't really care what Cutler does, I'm ready to move on just because they're not going to be a great team while he's still remotely in his prime.

My secret fear is that they lose a ton of games this season, get a high draft pick, and feel pressured to take a QB. They guess wrong, draft the next Blaine Gabbert, and set the franchise back another 3-4 years.

105 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I agree with pretty much all of this.

And even if Cutler right now was the 8th-best QB in the league, they need to be looking at the long-term future. He's 32, and NOT in the top 12-15 in the league, so the Bears need to do more of what the Packers have traditionally done (which is why I was pissed they didn't take a flyer on Brett Hundley, and even more pissed that the Packers DID!).

108 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I am past the halfway point of my years on this planet (and probably the halfway point of my football-watching years), and I cannot root for one of those precious years to be spent in utter misery, no matter what the payoff.

Also, the Bears are at least 3 awful seasons away from filling all their needs through the draft---one of the negative consequences of the move to the 3-4 is that they now need a shutdown corner, which, combined with Bushrod's deteriorating health, means they need to fill 3 positions which are traditionally only filled in the top of the 1st round (QB, CB, LT)---and I sure as hell can't root for three years of misery, which is like 10% of the way to my grave.

[edit]: One actual prediction I will make is that there's no way in hell the Bears end up 29th in Specials this year. I liked Trestman and rooted for him & his non-traditional approach to succeed, but omg did he ever screw the pooch on special teams, starting with not offering Toub the moon and stars and a say in personnel and an "assistant HC" title to not make a freaking lateral move to the freaking Chiefs. Anyway, I think that the throwback staff they have now will not similarly ignore ST, and the fact that they kept Mariani and a number of other ST professionals, and the ST performance in preseason (which I think is much more predictive than offense or defense in the fake games), and the fact that they still have Gould, means they're probably middle of the pack this year.

5 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Well DVOA projects are right in line for my expectations for my favorite team(Washington) this year.

0-16 here we come!

I better get my couch ready for plenty of sad naps.

PS: Jay Gruden fired by the Bye Week in late October.

6 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I'm trying to think of another coach whos on a short leash to be fired by midseason. Definitely Jay tops the list, though I think Gus Bradley isn't far behind if the jags go into another 0 for 8 streak.

In either case - would it be justified? For three years in a row, Gus Bradley inherits a team bereft of talent and a serious liability(read - worse than geno smith) qb. Jay Gruden hasn't even had time/draft picks/ or cap space to even put a stamp on this team.

8 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I'm of the mind that Kyle Shannahan is a better offensive coordinator than Jay Gruden who never should have been hired. Plus he throws everyone under the bus publicly. So yes, he can go.

He wasn't even that good in Cincy, just ask their fans.

9 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Trying to apply reason to the Washington D.C. football club situation is pointless. One may as well have my cat and my dog debate the merits of peeing in a box versus peeing against a tree.

30 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

And geno smith looked like Peyton Manning in 4 game stretches as a rookie and as a sophomore.
Bortles season last year was so terrible, I'm pretty close to writing him off(if I'm not already there yet).

For some perspective. FO has been pretty harsh on David Carr. ANd that pathetic moribund talentless raider offense finished 29th in the nfl. The jaguars finished 32...but what gets lost in the rankings was that the raiders were a pathetic -10.1% in pass dvoa, the jaguars finished(!!!) a -32.1%. That was actually nearly 10 percentage points worse than the 31st ranked pass offense(the bucs).

I guess Alex Smith is one qb who has crawled back from the dead after a rookie season like that, but I'm not hopeful.

67 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I think being head coach in that organization is like being the British commander at the Battle of Dunkirk...even if you lose, you should get credit for not allowing it to become a complete disaster.

54 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Well, Jay isn't only evaluated on W-L. We can be relatively certain he promised Snyder he could make RGIII a dropback QB. Yet he has undermined RGIII publicly for a year and a half. He's made a very large bet on Kirk Cousins being effective. That's not a hand I'd like to hold. If KC doesn't deliver at least 7 wins, I would say JG is toast. If you stomp on the owners favorite pet, the one you promised to train, and then don't replace it with anything good, you expect to get fired.

In addition, the GM is new and likely has his own ideas about who should be coach (though his history is in the Walsh offense so it's not like Gruden is a total mismatch).

The DVOA ratings for the Redskins don't match well with my expectations. Defense will be improved. Offense will be bad, because of the young players on the right side of the line and Cousins' interceptions and weak TE blocking. But special teams is headed for the dumpster again, with a weak kicker and the loss of several of their best special teamers (Hayward and Paul).

66 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

There are a range of possibilities for every team, and the odds of the Redskins winning 7 games to me is probably 1% at best. So if 6 wins or less makes Jay Gruden toast...fire up the toaster.

7 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

The Rams don't look that strange to me, if Foles plays efficiently, and he has previously dispayed an ability to do so. It really has to be noted that the spread between the the 6th best projected DVOA, and the 15th, is only 2.4%, and the difference between the 4th and 11th is only 3.3%. In other words too many random events than we can imgaine will likely determine which fans are enetrtained by December playoff contention, and which will be bandwagon jumping.

Denver looks high to me, probably because I'm projecting the health of old qbs to be what we saw in Denver last December.

16 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Yeah, my thinking is more impressionistic than analytic. I like watching ol' longneck play, so I hope you are right.

I think the matchup between your favorite team and mine is kind of interesting Monday. If the Niners defensive front can't horsewhip the Vikings patched together, never that talented, o-line, in San Jose, on their opening night, the rumors of the Niners defensive woes will have been confirmed. I really don't expect the Vikings offense to do much on the road this year, however, because I don't think they can block people in a hostile stadium.

20 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

The left side of your defensive line will feast upon the niners' right guard and tackle, if they leave with less than a sack each then they should hang their heads in shame.

The niners are better up front than people think but they're playing with some weird substitution groups. The base 3-4 features what is basically three nose guards on the defensive line, it should hold up well against the run but the pass rush will be doing well to be sporadic. Then the nickel will be the 'so called' pass rushers, Carradine and NotDockett at DT, which could struggle to stop the run. I feel that the correct approach will be bizarro football, to pass from 12 or 21 formations and throw from multiple receiver sets.

I don't think the Vikings are as good as pundits say and I don't think the niners are as bad but I wouldn't want to bet on the niners.

And the niners stadium doesn't seem to be very hostile unless you have an aversion to 'vegan dogs', denim jeans or sushi. Or a gentle susurration of people checking their stocks and email.

21 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I know I'm an old fart, wedded to outdated concepts, but I don't understand how those who are high on the Vikings think it is going to get done without blocking anybody

22 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

The game will take place too late in blighty for me to watch it live but I expect to wake up to a game full of scraping quarterbacks off, the probably dodgy, Levis' stadium turf.

27 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I think offensive line's are one of the more misunderstood positions because people take both extremes. The chargers showed me, short of having Peyton Manning, a porous o line will kill your offense even with a great qb and set of skill players. Same could probably be said for Tom Brady last year when the line was in flux.

On the other hand - building a great o line requires tons of resources and even then...all it takes is a jason smith type to severely undermine the entire unit. Throw in a charlie johnson with a jason smith and the rest of your line could be made of hall of famers but the sum would still be awful.

SO its really like - build an o line that is reasonably functional, then prioritize other positions.

31 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Don't forget the theory employed by The Intrepid Jerrel Jones, Football Genius, for many years, until his son managed to get Tyron Smith drafted; pay a bunch of old, immobile, worn out guys a lot of money, as the qb you proclaim to have great regard for has to play like his hair is on fire.

33 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I've posed this question before. Tyron Smith is in the top 5 of his position and a likely hall of fame candidate. Dez Bryant is also a top 5 at his position(and if the hall of fame wasn't made up for a bunch of philosophically lazy people) - is having a hall of fame type career so far. Which player is more valuable to the offense? I say Bryant.

36 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Joe thomas, Andy Whitworth come to mind. People said Tyron Smith was like the third best offensive linemen on his own team last year(I think it was Bob Sturm who said this).

I might take the point though that he probably gets picked first of any offensive linemen in the game, but I think its closeish.

12 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I don't disagree with Seattle having a very strong projection but I thought their defense regressed a little last year and was slightly flattered by facing one of the worst sets of quarterbacks that any defense has ever seen in the second half of last season. It was why I didn't expect them to breeze through the playoffs and I wasn't surprised that without GB's implosion they would have lost the NFCCG.

I think the niners will be better than people think but while they might make the playoffs, I struggle to see them doing anything other than making up numbers if they do get there. (Only mentioning this because I'm a niners' fan.)

Denver look very strong because their pass defense should be great, they have Peyton and a Kubiak run game. It's a good combination.

After that I don't really see an elite team, a handful of very good sides in each conference but at this stage I think the league looks to be closer to parity than most other people seem to. So maybe throw up the well coached teams but I think injury luck could be bigger than usual this year because I think there are fewer top teams that can overcome hits to their roster.

103 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

As a Bronco fan, Peyton's mobility doesn't concern me as much as his arm strength and willingness/ability to withstand a hit.

The Kubiak offense will definitely improve their running game, but the passing game is based upon play-action big play opportunities where the QB throws a long throw from the edge after rolling out to either the right or left (see Osweiler's 1st pass against Arizona). I wonder if he can make that throw, especially when he rolls out to the left. Additionally, these big play roll outs take a lot of time to develop and the QB often takes a hit after throwing it. Getting rid of the ball within 2.2 seconds or then taking a self-sack will not be an option.

The Kubiak offense also doesn't rely on a great offensive line, which given the quality of Denver's OTs... a rookie (Sambrailo) & a journeyman (Harris) is significant.

As a random note, if there was any QB that would thrive in Kubiak's offense, it would be Cam Newton and I can't think of a quality QB that is more different than Peyton Manning..

26 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

"It was why I didn't expect them to breeze through the playoffs and I wasn't surprised that without GB's implosion they would have lost the NFCCG."

Well the defense certainly wasn't at fault against Green Bay. As for the QBs they faced, DVOA adjusts for all that. They played Davis and Hill once each and faced Sanchez who had almost the same DVOA as Foles. They do get a boost from playing Stanton and Lindley once each instead of Palmer 0.8 times, Stanton 0.86 times and Lindley 0.34 times which is how Arizona's QB pass distribution breaks down, but that's all.

Still, you're right that -13.0% seems high, especially after they were only predicted to get -10.7% last year. I suppose it's because they kept more talent this year than last: 2014 saw the loss of McDonald, Clemons, Bryant, Thurmond and Browner and the addition of K. Williams, while this year they only lost Maxwell, McDaniel and K. Williams and added C. Williams. On the other hand, I'm expecting a much better special teams ranking this year considering how electric Lockett has looked as a return man. On the third hand, 3rd in offense seems wildly optimistic given their shaky OL.

Denver's defense looks to be able to repeat their 2012 and 2014 performance, but the results those two years are rather puzzling. Both years they were tops at fewest yards per drive allowed, but their points per drive allowed ranking was only 5th and 12th. They forced the most 3-and-outs per drive both years but weren't able to force many turnovers. They also had pretty bad red zone defense, which partly accounts for the relatively high percentage of TDs they give up per drive.

34 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Genuine question here: I don't know every detail of his domestic violence history but how has that guy not been suspended? What I did see looked like a chat with Goodell followed by a four game ban (under the most recent, slightly more lenient than the old rules that are still more lenient than the oldest, Goodell set of rules).

52 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Have they always been bringing in rookies for these things? I'd think the NFL would delegate punishments of athletes in the college system to the NCAA, and Clark was dismissed from his team.

95 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

There actually is (awful) precedent for this- Terrelle Pryor. Guessing it won't be an issue right now though with the NFL hopefully putting something at least a little more coherent together wrt player discipline.

68 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Genuine question here: I don't know every detail of his domestic violence history but how has that guy not been suspended? What I did see looked like a chat with Goodell followed by a four game ban (under the most recent, slightly more lenient than the old rules that are still more lenient than the oldest, Goodell set of rules).

The short version is that Clark was the abusee not the abuser.

82 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Really? This is all I've seen on it but it doesn't sound like that.



84 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Well, I did say it was the short version. The longer version is much more complicated and very, very gray. About the only thing that is indisputable is that the GF was violent toward Clark. The Florio report above was hastily reported and did not follow up on a number of items (as was true for the Seahawks "investigation" - they got a bit lucky in that regard). A better starting point if you're really interested is here:


86 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Calling Clark "not the abuser" seems like a bit of a stretch. It seems like it was more of a mutual exchange, with Clark doing the most damage. http://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/university-michigan/2014/11/17/frank-clark-michigan-football/19157491/

93 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Well this probably isn't the place to start trying to piece what happened together but this article paints a very different picture to that in Lyle's article, which is a little fanboyish (or fangirlish to be exact).

The fieldgulls article says it's really unusual for a DV case to be reduced to a misdemeanor and that the woman was cooperative with the investigation but your article says, "with what Frank has going on, she didn't want him arrested." I think that's the reason it was reduced. In this way it's quite similar to the Ray McDonald and Greg Hardy cases.

My impression is that Clark did hit her (possibly not first but then he's a NFL end when he hit her that's going to cause a lot more damage)and that he's got away with it because the victim doesn't think he's an awful person and didn't want this ruining his career. But this is just my impression.

It's not ideal from any perspective. I think he's fortunate that Goodell has had his overarching powers reduced in several courts or he would probably have been looking at 4 games.

96 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Oh, agreed that the one I linked was a bit fangirlish but I couldn't quite put my fingers on the one I really wanted. Somewhere if you dig around, there is one that actually referenced the prosecutor's report which is somewhere in between the FreeP's
account and the fieldgulls article. My memory of the prosecutor's report is essentially what I said above - that the prosecutor's thought that the GF was the instigator/abuser - but since I can't lay my hands on it, you are free to take it at whatever value you want to place on it.

29 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Seahawks defense will be fine as long as they aren't playing street free agents in the secondary(same principle really applied to all 32 teams).

Yes they lost some depth, but that's like complaining your 100k sportscar has a rough second gear. The core of that defense is still together and features really good talent at all three layers. Its about as talented and evenly spread defense i can remember since probably one of the ravens/bears iterations.

32 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

"As for the QBs they faced, DVOA adjusts for all that. They played Davis and Hill once each and faced Sanchez who had almost the same DVOA as Foles. They do get a boost from playing Stanton and Lindley once each instead of Palmer 0.8 times, Stanton 0.86 times and Lindley 0.34 times which is how Arizona's QB pass distribution breaks down, but that's all."

But they didn't face Palmer at all, so their DVOA accounts for none of the games he played in and they got a boost for playing the backups, with the same being true for the other scrubs. Seattle accounted for 20% of the non-Palmer games, that's going to skew the data. Plus when they played Kaepernick it was behind a line that was decimated and without any running backs for most of the second game. In the last eight regular season games they faced crippled offenses in at least six of them, it's going to paint a rosier picture.

DVOA is great but it doesn't give full account for who you actually played and Seattle were remarkable fortunate with opponent injuries at the end of last year.

I'm not trying to write them off our even say they shouldn't be among the favourites, just suggesting that their projection is likely to be a little over positive.

42 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

But they didn't face Palmer at all, so their DVOA accounts for none of the games he played in and they got a boost for playing the backups

Yes, that's exactly what I said.

with the same being true for the other scrubs

And I addressed this as well. Foles and Sanchez had nearly the same DVOA, so facing Sanchez isn't going to boost Seattle's defense. Hill was slightly worse than Davis, but it doesn't matter because Seattle faced both of them.

In the last eight regular season games they faced crippled offenses in at least six of them, it's going to paint a rosier picture.

Beyond what I've already said, the opposite is true as well. They faced the Chargers before their line was decimated and with their two main running backs (Mathews missed 8 games and Woodhead 13), and they faced the Redskins with Cousins (4.6% DVOA to Griffin's -34.2% and McCoy's -15.9%). Also, every team faces crippled offenses at some time or another. San Francisco, for instance, also faced Stanton and Lindley, faced San Diego on their 4th center and without Mathews, Woodhead and Allen, faced Philadelphia without Kelce, Johnson and Mathis (the only game that all three missed), and faced Washington in the only game that Trent Williams missed, and with Griffin at QB.

104 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

With incredible quality and depth at CB and Edge Rusher, I think Denver's pass defense will be incredible, but I'm worried about their run defense because they are counting so much on Sly Williams who has been a bust up to this point.

Even though Williams has looked great in the preseason, it concerns me that they are counting so much on him and have very limited depth behind him.

106 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Fair point. My counter would be that this is the modern NFL and the pass game rules all, Denver should be good on both sides of the ball and Peyton should be better rested with an improved run game.

107 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I agree that its a passing league and if given the choice I'd take an elite pass defense with an average run defense any day over a great run defense with an average pass defense like what Denver had in 2013.

Still, the game plan to beat Denver will be to run the ball up the middle to challenge Sly and their very good, but smallish and injury prone MLBs. I think they will be up to the challenge and their defense will be among the best in the NFL, but their defensive vulnerability will be run defense up the middle.

23 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Kansas city's defense got lowballed at 14 I'll be shocked if the pats d is better than the chiefs

40 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

If there's one thing a Sith Lord understands, it's how to get at his enemies and crush their hopes and dreams of scoring touchdowns. Darth Hoodie and his legions of cameramen shall triumph over the weak, idealistic opposition.

53 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Here are the Pats Defensive DVOA rankings from 2010 to 2014:

2010 2.3% 21st
2011 13.2% 30th
2012 1.4% 15th
2013 4.2% 20th
2014 -3.0% 12th

So the only year the Pats had a Defensive DVOA in the negative was with Browner and Revis. No, they're probably going to end up in the twenties with a small positive amount, like 2012 or 2013. That's a major reason I believe the Steelers have an underrated chance to pull off the upset tonight: the awfulness of New England's corners, minus McCourty if they use him that way. The Pats may end up having a great pass rush, but that doesn't work very well against Rothlisberger. And yeah, the Chiefs defense is probably underrated, like they were two years ago, in this projection.

57 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

"the awfulness of New England's corners"

...may be greatly overstated. We don't know, yet, what Malcolm Butler is. Ignoring that one play is hard to do, but pretty much everything else we've seen from him has been good. He's not Revis, but he may be a pretty good NFL cornerback. We just don't know yet.

65 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Butler has looked pretty weak for stretches this preseason. I'm not sold--he has plenty of time for a learning curve--he was very raw last year, but I don't think he'll hold up all that well at the beginning.

That said, this Patriots defense has a chance to have a really strong front 7--something they haven't had since before 2007.

75 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I have to admit to not seeing what you saw. He looked great against GB, OK against NO (one really bad deep pass that was dropped, but solid otherwise) and competent against Carolina. I know there were reports of a horrendous day in the joint practice with NO, but he apparently bounced back the following afternoon.

Would you care to elaborate?

74 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I don't disagree that the most likely projection for NE's defensive DVOA is in the mid to low 20s. This is partly because of what they lost, but mostly because even when the defense is solid, DVOA generally doesn't like the way they do it.

As for the secondary, I suspect it won't be as bad as you think. Butler and Brown appear to be at least reasonably competent. Middle of the lower half type stuff, rather than the abomination they were in 2011. Add to that that the safeties have an elite contributor and solid depth behind it, which was absent in 2011 when things really bottomed out. Until McCourty was transitioned over, Patrick Chung was the best coverage S on the roster. Yes, you read that right. To top it all off, this secondary will get much more help from the pass rush and LB coverage than the group did in 2011, particularly the latter of those two.

Yes, I know I'm comparing them to one of the worst secondary's of all time, but it seems like that might be where you think this train is headed. It also should be noted that the Patriots still won 13 games that year and made it to the super bowl... and, oddly, the defense was what helped them beat Baltimore and kept them in the SB until the final minutes.

81 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Not sure if that is one of the worst secondaries of all time. I doubt it, since it had McCourty in it. I was just suggesting that the defensive DVOA drop off is going to be stronger than projected, not that the Pats aren't favorites in the division. The offense did the heavy lifting in 2011, I just think it won't be able to lift as much, just because I have my doubts about the receivers (Gronk and Chandler definitely mitigate some of this). You know, 10 to 12 wins instead of 12 to 14.

87 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

McCourty was atrocious in September and only OK after that. He is clearly a talented kid, but I wouldn't say his presence elevated that group.

An oddity about that season, NE was the only team to not allow more than 27 offensive points (Buffalo hit 34, but 7 came on a pick). They and SF's dominant group were the only two that pulled off that feat in the regular season, but NO cracked it against the 9ers in the divisional round, so only the Patriots remained.

90 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

That 27 point stat is interesting, but It helps when you face the following QBs in the last 8 games of the season (and I still remember this because it was so absurd - funny how they're 5-3 start become a 13-3 finish):

Mar Sanchez, Tyler Palko, Vince Young, Dan Orlovsky, Rex Grossman, Tim Tebow, Matt Moore and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Oh, and add to that Tim Tebow in teh Divisional Round.

They finally faced a good QB in Flacco, and while they gave up only 20 points, probably should have lost the game.

92 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Sure, which is why I called it an "oddity" rather than something that implies more meaning. I still find it noteworthy that, even had they lost the AFCCG, it would have been due to the offense more than the defense, and it was the defense that kept them in the SB as well.

Just trying to point out that, even with a back end that is without question worse than this one, the team was still able to MacGyver their way to a reasonable performance level.

44 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

The penalty for Chancellor should probably be five games under a theory of he misses zero (now one) to ten, and split the difference. It also would end up closer to a Palmer-esque "Hold out and force a week six trade to the Raiders."

49 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections


Arc Ast-
2. jwts
3. bills

AfC South
1., Clots
2. Texans
3. jagursa
4. Titans

AfC North
1. Steel4rs
3. Bengals
4. Browns

AFC Wets
1. Raiders
2. broincos
3. Chargers
4. Huefs

NFC South
2. Saints
4. Buccaneers

NFC East
2. Ciwboys
3. Gianta
4. Squirrels

NFC West
1. Seahawks
2. Rams
3. Cafeinala
4. 49Err

NFac North
1. Packers
2. Loins
3. Vikings
4. Bears

Playoff twams- Raiders, steelers, pates, clots,, ravens, Broncos
FFalcons, sehawks, packers, eags, cowboys, loins

Super Bowl 50 : Raiders 27, Cowboys 20

99 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Been pushing for a name change to Squirrels. Perosnally not bothered by Redskijs name but others are and undertsnsd why. So let us get it changed to something amazing like Squirrels. Rmendous logo opportunities.

51 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

"Chicago gained 0.3 mean wins because of a few random things. Sorry, nothing specific that's easy to point to."

Well, GB and MIN together lost 1+ wins on average due to injuries. Those wins have to go somewhere, and since CHI is in that division they should get a chunk of that?

70 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Jordy Nelson worth a full win? Seems awful high, as good as he has become... Would think Adams/Jones/Montgomery behind Cobb with Rodgers still at helm and a solid OL plus Lacy would add up to more than that. We'll see....

94 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

If Adams takes a clear step up and Jones is still within 85% or so of his 2013 form I actually think they will have Nelson's loss pretty close to covered, especially if they can get more out of their TEs. On the other hand, if Jones is washed up and Adams and the TEs still struggle a bit, they might be hurting even worse than one win. Nelson leaves a massive amount of targets and production out there from the past two years to pick up.

76 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Do your numbers for Detroit change at all, now that it looks like DeAndry Levy will probably miss a few weeks?

78 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

My only objection to Tampa having the #32 projected offense is it might be better displayed as "???" instead with rookies starting at QB, LT, and RG. Being that my hope this season is Winston somehow stays under 20 INTs (no, really, that and "Mike Evans not spontaneously combusting" are pretty much my only solid points of hope), I have no idea what the heck will go on there.

Also, general curiosity on special teams projections; Tampa has a new punter, new kicker, and new returners. How does ST wind up getting projected with all the variation?

89 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Are the projected defensive DVOAs separated for pass and rush somewhere or is that in the Almanac?

97 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Well, the Vikings have lost their center for at least 8 weeks. I really don't like their chances now against a very difficult schedule, absent their 22 year old qb playing like a 32 year old Peyton Manning.

98 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

Dontari Poe is a full participant in practice and is expected to play Sunday. So KC is penalized for nothing it would appear

100 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

In all my years following Football Outsiders, this is the first time ever that my team has been projected to be the worst in the league. When I saw that table, I just shrugged and said "Meh." I don't actually think they will be worst-in-the-league bad, but if they are, so what? In a way I hope they are- if you're going to fail, fail hard.

DC football- feel the excitement!

109 Re: 2015 DVOA Projections

I know the the loss of Kelvin Benjamin hurt the Panthers' chances a lot, but I am curious how the system views a player like Michael Oher. It may be he's just better when compared to the options the Panthers had last year, but homer-vision glasses are indicating that his issues may really have been due to foot injuries, and that he is back to something like his original form. Does this fall into a similar situation as you mentioned with coaches and there's no way to catch that lightning in a bottle?