Week 19 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

(Note: Single-game numbers below are corrected for original mistaken special teams ratings.)

Once again, it is time for postseason DVOA ratings. As always, the following rules apply:

  • All 32 teams are ranked, whether they made the playoffs or not.
  • Teams are ranked in order of weighted DVOA, not total season DVOA. Since weighted DVOA is meant to lower the strength of older games, these ratings do not include Weeks 1-5, and Weeks 6-11 are somewhat discounted. "Last week" here refers to last week's rank in weighted DVOA, not total season DVOA.
  • Teams are treated as having a bye week in any week where they did not play. Since most teams haven't played in two weeks, that means some of the ratings for non-playoff teams can start getting a little unreliable. Really, this is only to be used for playoff teams, the other teams are just there for ranking comparison purposes.
  • DVOA, as always takes a long-term view of an NFL team's performance. That means that the games of the last two weeks are just two games among many, so teams may be listed below other teams that they have beaten in the playoffs.

Based on DVOA, Indianapolis is clearly the unexpected team in the final four. The Colts ranked just No. 12 in the final DVOA ratings for the year and come out at No. 13 in the current weighted DVOA ratings. If we created full-season ratings that included the two weeks of playoff games, Indianapolis would improve, but only slightly, to No. 11 overall.

The other three teams all rank in the current top four in weighted DVOA (along with Baltimore) and were in the top four in total DVOA for the regular season (along with Denver).

The playoff odds report is updated for the final four. Snap counts and scores for the FO Playoff Challenge game are updated as well. You will find DVOA matchup pages for the AFC and NFC Championship games on the FO Premium page. Remember that the equation used to determine win probabilities for the playoff odds report is not as complex as the one used for FO Premium picks, so picks may differ.

* * * * *

To save people some time, we remind everyone to put their angry troll hatred into the official zlionsfan angry troll hatred Mad Libs form:

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

If you are new to our website, you can read the explanation of how DVOA is figured here. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

Teams in yellow are still alive in the playoffs. Teams in gray lost this past weekend.

1 SEA 39.7% 1 13-4 16.9% 4 -23.0% 1 -0.2% 17
2 NE 34.1% 2 13-4 21.1% 3 -7.4% 12 5.6% 7
3 BAL 25.3% 5 11-7 6.9% 8 -8.4% 11 10.1% 2
4 GB 21.5% 3 13-4 26.8% 1 0.1% 18 -5.1% 30
5 BUF 18.5% 7 9-7 -9.3% 23 -20.5% 2 7.2% 4
6 DEN 17.5% 4 12-5 11.3% 6 -9.7% 8 -3.5% 25
7 PIT 16.8% 6 11-6 21.2% 2 6.4% 25 2.0% 13
8 PHI 16.6% 9 10-6 1.9% 12 -6.5% 14 8.2% 3
9 DAL 16.3% 8 13-5 16.2% 5 2.6% 21 2.7% 11
10 SF 10.2% 12 8-8 -1.8% 16 -12.2% 6 -0.3% 20
11 KC 9.3% 10 9-7 -0.6% 15 0.2% 20 10.1% 1
12 CAR 6.7% 11 8-9-1 -4.3% 17 -18.3% 3 -7.3% 32
13 IND 6.1% 13 13-5 -5.0% 19 -10.3% 7 0.8% 15
14 CIN 4.2% 16 10-6-1 -7.8% 22 -6.2% 15 5.7% 6
15 HOU 2.1% 14 9-7 -10.1% 24 -14.9% 4 -2.8% 21
16 MIN 2.0% 18 7-9 2.3% 11 4.7% 24 4.4% 8
17 DET 1.0% 21 11-6 -4.7% 18 -9.7% 9 -4.0% 26
18 STL 1.0% 15 6-10 -18.8% 26 -13.2% 5 6.5% 5
19 NO -2.0% 19 7-9 3.7% 9 8.6% 27 2.8% 9
20 MIA -3.3% 20 8-8 10.3% 7 8.9% 28 -4.7% 29
21 SD -5.2% 17 9-7 1.1% 13 0.2% 19 -6.1% 31
22 ATL -5.2% 22 6-10 3.6% 10 11.6% 30 2.8% 10
23 NYG -5.7% 23 6-10 0.6% 14 6.8% 26 0.5% 16
24 CLE -11.7% 26 7-9 -22.4% 29 -8.7% 10 2.0% 14
25 NYJ -13.8% 24 4-12 -7.8% 21 2.9% 22 -3.1% 22
26 ARI -14.9% 25 11-6 -15.0% 25 -4.4% 16 -4.4% 28
27 TB -22.3% 28 2-14 -32.0% 32 -7.3% 13 2.4% 12
28 JAC -24.2% 27 3-13 -22.8% 30 -2.0% 17 -3.4% 23
29 CHI -24.2% 30 5-11 -7.3% 20 16.7% 32 -0.2% 18
30 OAK -28.8% 29 3-13 -21.0% 27 3.7% 23 -4.1% 27
31 TEN -37.8% 31 2-14 -27.4% 31 10.1% 29 -0.3% 19
32 WAS -38.5% 32 4-12 -22.0% 28 13.0% 31 -3.5% 24

Here are the one-game DVOA ratings for this weekend's games. No real surprises, as the team that played better by VOA won all four contests.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
NE 37% 47% 8% -3%
BAL 31% 37% 15% 9%
SEA 34% 28% -5% 2%
CAR 3% 9% 10% 4%
GB 32% 39% 3% -4%
DAL 5% 31% 22% -4%
IND 69% 33% -37% -1%
DEN -12% -1% 15% 4%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
NE 22% 41% 17% -3%
BAL 8% 31% 31% 9%
SEA 34% 24% -8% 2%
CAR -27% -6% 26% 4%
GB 18% 41% 19% -4%
DAL -15% 31% 41% -4%
IND 35% 18% -18% -1%
DEN -18% -9% 13% 4%

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Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

The Football Outsiders stars for the Divisional round are:

  • QB Russell Wilson, SEA (24-HOUR HERO): Led all QB with 78.7% DVOA; 15-of-22 for 268 yards with 3 TD passes on third-and-long.
  • WR Danny Amendola, NE: Second among WR this week with 44 DYAR (5-for-6, 81 yards, 2 TD).
  • FB Tyler Clutts, DAL: TD reception, helped block for 59 yards by DeMarco Murray on 12 carries from two-back formations.
  • MLB D'Qwell Jackson, IND: 11 combined tackles including 5 Stops.
  • RG John Urschel, BAL: Helped block for Ravens RB on 27 carries for 136 yards, 59 percent Success Rate.

We're very happy to finally get to the oft-requested Wilson, our first FO fullback of the season Clutts, and our comrade and combination offensive lineman/math genius Urschel.


68 comments, Last at 14 Jan 2015, 7:47pm

1 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Well those are some horrible weighted special team numbers for Green Bay. Is it still the coverage units dragging the numbers down?

2 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I am starting to love seeing the Colts numbers. I only wish they were #32 across the board. To quote Ernest Hemingway, "DVOA, I obscenity in the milk of thy motherboard."

3 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Strange because the Packers blocked a FG-- Both teams returned kickoffs past the 30-- Dallas might have done it twice... Can't remember the punting all that much... Packers are getting no punt returns... OH-- Cobb's fumble is the reason.. as it should be-- Packers lucky (Quarless with his biggest play of game) to recover....

4 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I thought Davante Adams - 7 catches, 117 yards, 1 TD might get a nod, but I can't complain about any of the choices.

5 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I'm a little surprised at the disparity in the Cowboys Packers VOA, since if Peppers doesn't make contact with the ball Murray is carrying, and the Packers don't fall on the fumble they had on the kickoff, they very probably lose, to the point that the Bryant call is superfluous.

6 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I was shocked when, I believe when it was just 21-20, to see that the Packers had outgained Dallas by ~125. Up to that point it felt like Dallas was controlling the game, their drives ending with missed field goals and such. Then the fumble on what could have been a really nice gain.

It was just one of those games that disappears so quickly, despite not really doing that much wrong, kind of like Detroit itself last week, or the Colts in the Super Bowl against the Saints.

9 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I think the game demonstrates why having a great running game and eschewing the pass just doesn't work in the modern NFL - you need to maximize scoring opportunities, not just control the ball and line of scrimmage because the other team does have the option of working the clock and the pace with their passing game. Romo only threw 19 times - I guarantee if he threw 30 times, they would have won in a route. Green Bay abandoned the run in the second half to a point of not even having an RB lining up in the backfield for entire drives - the rules are just so bent in favor of passing that being built old-school and trying to play like Dallas did in this game just doesn't make sense (especially if your defense is not good - then it's indefensible.) What feels like a domination actually isn't.

12 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Cowboys "would have won in a rout" (if Romo threw 30+ times) and "GB abandoned the run"-- talk to Joe Flacco about those two statements... Only difference between what McCarthy did and what Belichick did was the timing-- both abandoned the run to give their teams the best chance of winning with HOF QBs at the helm. And a closer reading of the Dallas offensive performance would suggest that Romo was not the same (but for that final pass to Bryant) after the hit from Micah Hyde.

As to the overall VOA of this game, as one who has questioned its accuracy before-- or more correctly, its seeming inconsistency with what seemed to transpire in a game-- I'm not going to get very deep-- except to say from 21-13 on it was domination by the Packers offense-- they were never stopped-- and really only the late block penalty on Lang prevented them from scoring a TD on the previous drive. So basically for four consecutive possessions the Dallas defense failed to stop the Packers.. That's why they lost...

14 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Maybe I should restate it, inversely: there was no way they were going to win against Green Bay's offense with their defense being what it is without committing to throwing the ball, regardless of if they dominated in their running game and at the line of scrimmage on offense. You just can't pace a team out of a game with modern rules unless you have a very good defense and even then, you probably need to be playing a less than stellar passing offense. You're agreeing with me, I think, but we're coming at it from opposite angles: I'm talking about what Dallas did to lose and you're focused on what Green Bay did to win.

20 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

That's quite false. They absolutely would've had a great chance to win without committing to throwing the ball had Murray not fumbled away a potential TD.

22 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

That's waaaay too early in the game to be meaningfully decisive. Green Bay was able to score 3 points in less than 16 seconds at one point. On another play they went 47 yards in less than 8 seconds. Even if the Bryant catch was ruled a completion and they scored, the 2 minutes they had the ball would have been more than enough to score a TD or a field goal. You can't pace them out of the game, not with that defense, and you can't recover quickly enough if you over-commit to running. You might notice that Dallas was the one who had the clock used against them (even into a kneel-down), not Green Bay.

(Also, giving the ball too much to your fumble-prone back for minimal gains is exactly the bad philosophy I'm talking about.)

51 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I think you have it exactly backward. Getting into a shootout with Green Bay is a game Dallas will almost always lose. By running the ball effectively you can limit possessions, which increases variance for your defense, which as an underdog playing on the road is the correct strategy. Green Bay only had 9 possessions, Dallas 8. The more possessions each team has, the more likely Rodgers will eventually pick you apart.

It almost worked. Despite their D not being able to stop Rodgers, they still nearly won the game. If Dallas hadn't so badly mismanaged the end-of-half sequence and hadn't gone for broke on the last fourth down, they might have won anyway.

53 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

McCarthy confirmed this view-- said main reason he shifted out of pistol into the spread and started throwing a lot more in the 2nd half is that he was afraid it was going to be a 6 or 7 possession game....

13 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Well, I certainly agree that you need a good defense to optimize a good running attack, in a way that a good passing attack does not demand. Thats why the Vikings have been entirely mismanaged from 2010 until now, when they are starting to get some talent in the defensive backfield, and coach who get something out of it. It makes no sense to be paying a (no doubt great) running back a ton of money, if you aren't going to quickly build a good defensive backfield. Somehow, Pete Carroll avoided this error.

As far as Romo throwing 11 more times to guarantee victory, you can never make such a guarantee with confidence. Maybe Romo throws two picks with those 11 throws. Having said that I didn't like the timing of their throws, and would have preferred more on first down.

17 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Of course I can't guarantee anything. But I think it increases their chance of winning - the best way to both score and control a game in the modern NFL is by passing. You have more options for manipulating the clock, a higher chance of gaining more yards, a greater chance of drawing game-changing fouls and (if especially if Murray is your running back) only only slightly higher chance of negative plays. And you can't ignore the same is true for the opposing team - at the end of the half, Rodgers and company received the ball on their own side of the field and turned 16 seconds into 3 points.

Sure, Seattle can get away with it, but with that defense, it's hard to imagine what even moderately functional offense they couldn't get away with. I agree absolutely that Dallas' play selection was once again dubious - if you pass that infrequently, your passes should be well-considered and designed to play off of the running game success. Dallas' coaches once again made head-scratching calls, although at least two of them were audibled into Romo.

25 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I'm puzzled that you wrote that you could "guarantee" that the Cowboys would have won in a rout, and now you are saying that of course you can't guarantee anything.

Yes, I agree, all things being equal, passing is a much more efficient way to win. I do think the Cowboys have lived in fear of the health of Romo all season, which has had the effect of more running plays being called than otherwise would have been the case. I admit that's just a hunch, however.

50 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I don't know man, a lot of "run first" teams have been having success. The current Superbowl champions are one example; every other team is their division is three more.

54 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Seattle is a defense first team, and more specifically a 'defend the pass' first team. That's the basis of their success.

Their run success is obviously amazing this year but a lot of that is down to Wilson's insane scrambling ability, which isn't really analogous to handing the ball off loads of times.

55 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

That's what I'm saying: with that defense, I'm not sure what kind of even semi-functional offense wouldn't work. Teams that can stop the pass can build a team very differently than ones that can't - it's the inverse of my point about the modern NFL being so pass-oriented. (Although teams with top pass defenses this year didn't have nearly the success of teams with great pass offenses.)

Also, as far as "run first teams" being successful: 3 of the Top 5 teams by rushing DVOA didn't even make the playoffs (MIA, KC and MINN.) Neither did Philadelphia, which had the RB with the 2nd most attempts in the league. Meanwhile, all 5 of the Top team by passing DVOA made the playoffs, 4 of them making it to the divisional round. So, I'm not sure what "run first" teams are having comparable success to the pass-first teams.

(FWIW, Dallas was the only team with both a Top 5 rushing and Passing DVOA - although, GB came closest with the 6th ranked rushing DVOA and 2nd ranked passing.)

11 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

You could say the same about a lot of the plays, and fumbles, in that game. Dallas recovered the first three fumbles of the game - what if they don't recover those? VOA doesn't know Peppers turned a TD into a turnover, it just knows it was a fumble.

15 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Yes, I know. My impression is that a VOA disparity of 30 to 5 usually doesn't result in a situation where one fumble not being forced, and another with a reversed recovery, results in the lower team gaining victory. It'd be interesting to see what the VOAs are if the Cowboys get that kickoff fumble, and kick a field goal, and then Murray, instead of fumbling, runs for a touchdown, and then the Packers, with the resulting possession, drive down, say, 55 yards, on 8 plays, with 4 successful, and kick a field goal.

18 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Well Dallas did go 3 and out on their first possession with a fumble they recovered. Then Green Bay marched down the field for a TD. Dallas's next drive would have been a 3 and out if not for a bit of a ticky tack, though legit penalty on 3rd down. After that it might have only been a field goal if not for another ticky tack penalty on Williams in the endzone. Green Bay ended the quarter getting a first down (via penalty). So I'm sure GB had a fairly clear VOA advantage in the first quarter.

Also what a lot of folks don't realize is that Murray was averaging less than 4 yards a carry until his 30 yard carry with only 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter, that includes that 26 yarder he had in the 3rd quarter. While the Cowboys ran on the Packers, it's not like they got a lot of yards, there were several 3rd and short conversions that hurt that YPC, that are still high value, but there were quite a few low value plays before those sub 3 yard runs on 1st and 10. So what looked like a dominate run game really wasn't quite as good as it seemed. I'm very curious to see what Murray's DYAR was, without the Peppers fumble because I don't think it will be as good as some think. The fumble will clearly kill him.

Both teams recovered 2 of their 3 fumbles so either way luck could have changed a lot for both teams. Think what happens if Peppers recovers that fumble on the 3rd play of the game and GB scores an easy TD and then still marches down the field with their scripted drive on their next possession, which they tend to do against everyone. Or what if Rodgers recovers that fumble on the aborted play early in the 2nd and Green Bay goes up 14 or 10-7. Both of those are the same hypothetical as the fumbled kick off return.

I will grant you that Peppers stripping Murray was monstrous because it sure looked like he could have taken it to the house, or at least gotten a huge chuck of yardage, he can be run down from behind and there was a safety that the TV angle didn't have in it.

So I'm not that surprised by the difference. The Packers had a clear advantage in the first and fourth quarters, remember that Dez play was on a 4th and 2, you aren't going to generally have positive value if you have to try a 4th and 2.

19 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Don't misunderstand; I wasn't saying I thought the Packers were luckier than the Cowboys. I'm just saying that I was surprised to see a 30 to 5 disparity in VOA, when one avoided fumble, and one fumble recovery reversal, could have had such a big impact on the win-loss result. Another way to put it; I'm surprised that given the VOA difference, and the relative even luck, that the Cowboys were one reversed call away from taking the lead with a few minutes left.

21 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Gotcha. I thought you were surprised by what VOA was stating in general, and that the Cowboys had been more dominant in the game than what it looked like. As a homer I know I can be biased, but it mostly felt to me that the Cowboys were only in the game because Green Bay had some questionable along with some stupid penalties. So the penalties felt unforced, some penalties feel like they happened because someone was outplayed and in reacting to it a penalty is committed. These didn't feel that way, so Dallas didn't feel to me like they were playing as well as the results they had showed.

I also don't think 25% VOA is that different. Isn't home field considered like 17%. Changing two turnovers and having that be able to overcome 25% VOA doesn't seem that crazy. I think it actually highlights one of the things I like about DVOA, turnovers are huge.

Saying that a team played 25% better but lost because they turned the ball over 2 more times, does not feel out of line. The better team often loses when they turn the ball over more. If I read your hypothetical correctly that would basically be the situation. Heck Murray getting a TD instead of a turnover may have been the difference because that would have been a big boost for Dallas and big minus for GB with the VOA numbers.

35 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I didn't mean to imply Peppers was lucky. I just thought it unusual that a single play like that could have such impact in a game which ended up with such lopsided VOA totals.

36 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I didn't mean to imply Peppers was lucky. I just thought it unusual that a single play like that could have such impact in a game which ended up with such lopsided VOA totals.

34 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

31% isn't that big a disparity. My guess is that, if you subtract Murray's fumble and give him a long TD run instead, that would be enough to increase Dallas's offensive VOA by at least 16%, and hurt GB's defensive VOA by at least 16%. Which would give Dallas a higher VOA for the game.

38 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Which leads to the reasonable conclusion that VOA within the small sample of one game's plays has some pretty random elements, even if less so than the point totals. I don't mean this as criticism; it's just the nature of the game to take a very long time to build up sample sizes which can tell us something with a lot of confidence

7 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

The Colts offense is clearly ranked too low because Andrew Luck is just havin' fun out there. The eye test is way better than this. The Luckslinger's coming for you!!!

Seriously though, is it the turnovers that is dragging down the Colts offensive DVOA? Having them ranked behind Chicago, Carolina and the Jets(?!?) just seems odd to me.

8 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Yes. Check the drive stats. The Colts are 27th in turnovers per drive -- 16th in INTs per drive, and dead last in fumbles lost per drive.


And due to the difference in field position, turnovers are, on average, much worse than punts.

And they were especially bad at ball security late in the year, thus the terrible rating in weighted DVOA. Quoting myself from last week:

"The Dallas loss is really skewing things downwards, especially in weighted DVOA where it counts more. But consider that in one five-game stretch over November and December (against Jacksonville, Washington, Houston, Cleveland, and Dallas), the Colts turned the ball over 15 times. That is more turnovers than the Patriots, Packers, or Seahawks had ALL SEASON. And yes, the Colts won four of those five games ... because they were playing Jacksonville, Washington, Houston, and Cleveland."

16 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

This is as good a place as any - do you look at Cam's Punt/INT on Third down in a no score/field position game (or Luck's on 3rd and 12 for that matter) differently than a Pick-6 on Second Down when the Panthers were in at least easy FG position?

24 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

For interceptions, DVOA takes into account the line of scrimmage, and the point at which the ball was intercepted. Interception returns are so varied and random as to have no predictive value, and so we estimate an average return value based on where the ball was thrown and where it was caught.

40 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I think the bad thing about the arm punt was that it was a 3 and out not that it was an arm punt. To my mind 3 and outs, are almost as bad as, if not equivalent to, turnovers.

29 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

VV, you get extra karma points for repeatedly, and patiently, pointing this out.

I still think this somehow UNDER-estimated the potency of the offense because it overcomes these mistakes. And have problems believing that anybody, anywhere would take some of those higher rated offenses over Indy's. Ever.

Yes, as you point out, the opponent adjustments are rather weak, but the Colts lost the TO battle to Denver and beat that awesome/killer defense pretty handily. Per DVOA and drive stats that makes their offense worse. Well, they scored less (or allowed the opponent to score more) than they would have otherwise, but a team that can overcome those mistakes is pretty good, no?

All Ind/Den turnovers yesterday were around midfield and all resulted in points. Were they considered unequal because Luck's INTS were "arm punts" on 3rd and long while Manning's fumble was not?

37 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Luck's second interception gave Denver the ball at their 24; that's not near midfield. Nor did Indianapolis beat Denver's defense handily. Besides the two turnovers, they only averaged 5.1 yards per play, which would've been near the bottom of the league over a whole season.

but a team that can overcome those mistakes is pretty good, no?

They earned 59% DVOA for the game. What exactly were you expecting?

44 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

You said this last week, and I pointed it out then, that Houston team that Luck should have beaten which you dismiss out-of-hand is rated right behind IND in DVOA on offense, and is better on defense. Luck and the Colts lose that game if Fitzpatrick doesn't break his leg 20 minutes into the game.

Houston was not a good team throughout the year, but is not the pit of despair that is Cleveland, devoid of talent like Jacksonville, or a basket case like Washington.

64 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

You're really picking at this nit, aren't you?

Houston finished with a negative DVOA, barely any better than Cleveland (-4.5% to -6.9%). Eighteen teams were better than them. They played the easiest schedule in the league and still lost seven times.

So no, I don't feel guilty of mistaken for lumping them in with a group of bad teams.

10 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, DVOA seems unimpressed by Luck for almost the same reason it doesn't believe Warner consistently put historically great performances - too many turnovers. I think the idea of "eh, that was just as good as a punt" will not be said if he does that stuff again in NE.

26 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

The "as good as a punt" stuff also doesn't take into account situations where he had other options. At least one of the interceptions he was relatively free from pressure and decided to chuck the ball in the middle of a sea of Broncos. In that situation you aren't comparing to a punt (and of course a net 32 yards on a punt from your own end is pretty awful), you're comparing to a punt + whatever he could have gotten out of a scramble or check down.

And if the defender doesn't get touched down right away that kind of long pick can get ugly in a hurry. Newton's pick to Sherman was similar in that Sherman's momentum just barely took him out of bounds... if he had been able to plant and reverse field he had a lot of green grass in front of him.

31 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I concur that those throws are not what I'd have chosen. The net effect was not terrible, but sheesh! One was underthrown literally in a sea of orange with one Colt nearby. Not sure if that was the "barely touched down" play, but a runback on that one could have been disastrous.

Now maybe Luck was considering the possibility of a DPI call. Really, there are a handful of outcomes, catch (good! add 40 yards), incomplete (neutral; punt), INT (bad! turnover) DPI (good! add 40 yards) OPI (bad half the distance back then punt) and he got the worst one, which wasn't all that bad. Because it was third down, two of the three neutral/bad ones still allow a punt. Two good ones allow for a sizeable gain, and the worst one--an INT--is only a little worse than a punt that happens a play earlier than it should have.

Still, scrambling or checking down for 8 sets up a much better field position game with McAfee punting (probably a 15-20 yard net gain for Indy) and might just result in a 1st down. Seems like a more benevolent downside and less wonderful upside, but a lower likelihood of disaster potential--the conservative approach.

32 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I agree, but I would split "INT (bad!)" into "INT (bad!)" and "INT returned for a TD or significant yardage (game-changinly awful!)" He got the second worst one if you consider it that way and you're tempting fate to be lax about interceptions. Also, I know losing a down with the INT isn't horrible, but if you check down and end up in 4th and inches, you have more varied and interesting options than if you surrender that 4th down by simply throwing a pick on 3rd and long. There's a reason that teams don't punt on 3rd and long down.

Overall, I really like Luck and think his aggressiveness is one of his better traits, he's just got that Favre killer instinct and unflappability. Throwing an interception doesn't phase him (which just having watched Mark Sanchez play half a season, seeing a guy who wants to curl up into a ball and cry after throwing a pick is totally dispiriting and no way to win football games.) So... keep it up, Andrew Luck? I mean, I definitely saw Favre lose his share of games on bone-headed picks...

47 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

One of the reasons I'm beginning to want to watch NFL games on mute is that the announcing has gotten so painfully bad when talking about things like turnovers, and the way they describe them depending on the QB.

I agree with almost all that has been said here about Luck's INTs (yes, they're like punts in some ways, but no, they're not meaningless and he probably had better options) and was incredibly frustrated to hear Nantz and Simms on the broadcast keep repeating that those INTs were the same as a punt and ignoring the possibility of a return.

Meanwhile, Cutler throws an interception as time expires in the 4th quarter in a game where the Bears are down more than two scores (a literally unwinnable situation), and that turnover is the problem, rather than the 59+ minutes of overall subpar play leading up to it. Sigh.

43 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Another crucial part of the equation is the chance of a PI or defensive holding penalty, and for that reason I really like the deep heave on 3rd and long. Once you add the chance of a penalty to the chance of a completion I certainly believe it is an optimal play-call in many situations. Certainly more optimal than a checkdown with zero chance of conversion.

33 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

You have KC's off WEI DVOA at -.6% but ranked 12th. I am thinking one or the other number is wrong. Also MINN has a higher DVOA but a worse ranking. Am I missing something?
Also, I think it would be great for those of us whose teams were not in the hunt if you provided a few comments on any significant effects the playoffs are having on the results for our teams:e.g. Denver's offensive failure against Indy resulted in teams such as OAK and MIA to take significant hits on their DEF ratings.

39 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Looking at last week's numbers, it appears that the offensive and defensive ranks didn't get updated for any team. Indianapolis, for instance, should be ranked 19th on offense and 7th on defense.

48 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Oops. This is now fixed.

Changes are based entirely on time passing, not on opponent adjustments. In current version of doing playoff DVOA, I stop updating the opponent adjustments after the regular season ends.

41 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I went back through the play by play and other than the ugly sequence where Cobb fumbled and Jones committed a penalty on the same kickoff return I am not able to tie GB's special teams evaluation collapsing

Most of the times observations jibe in broad strokes with the metrics. This is one where yes I know that the special teams are below average on the season but I thought this game performance was adequate.


42 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

SEA special teams is clearly ranked too low because Kam Chancellor can't get spuriously flagged every time.

46 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

It's been a pretty good postseason for Buffalo. Has any team ever gone up five ranks in weighted DVOA while hiring a new coach? Great work by Rex, I guess.

56 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

I feel like I don't understand what the non-playoff teams DVOA actually means - Buffalo keeps moving around because of the success they had against teams continuing to play well in the playoffs? Doesn't having a wildly uneven number of games to compare between teams throw these numbers off? Philadelphia played games against 5 of the teams in the divisional round, but the Giants only played 2 - and then those teams still in the playoffs have played more games on top of that, obviously. It just seems something like Buffalo jumping up as Green Bay and New England continue to do well makes sense in theory but there's less chance for other teams to "catch up" to Buffalo's improvement because the good teams they played well against are no longer playing games. Or am I interpreting what's happening wrong? I just take the post-season numbers with a grain of salt...

57 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

If Buffalo is jumping up, it's because they had bad games early in the year that are no longer part of the weighted DVOA formula. Every week that passes, there's another game that drops out of weighted DVOA entirely, and other earlier games become smaller and smaller parts of the formula.

63 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Here's a short description with a link to a longer breakdown:


I believe the specific weights have changed slightly since then, but the nuts and bolts are the same.

65 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

It would seem that the weights have changed more than "slightly" since 2003. Aaron talks about weeks 1-4 and maybe more completely dropping off. That doesn't happen in the 2003 formula (which is where the link takes you).

60 Re: Week 19 DVOA Ratings

Washington was definitely a worse team in the second half. They went from 3-5, coming off an impressive win in Dallas, to finish by losing 7 of their last 8 games.

66 Colts DVOA thoughts

So, I'm fairly convinced that the analytic football community is being unduly critical of the Colts, and not just FO, due to the explosive and absurd nature of their failures (visual bias?) - similar to diarrhea. If you take a somewhat deeper look at the data, some interesting things pop out:

- The Colts average DVOA on a game-by-game basis is 10.16%
- Their standard deviation is 40.49%
- This makes the Cowboys game a 2.66 SD event, which causes me to question the validity of whether this is the Colts true floor or if it was a one-time occurrence (sure felt one-off watching it for a lot of reasons, including early play of back-ups, fluke penalties, ST turnovers, etc.)
- The 17 other games fit into the normal curve
- And please know I'm not a stats guy by trade and haven't taken a class on the topic in ~20 years so please let me know if there are any fallacies thus far!

So, with that said, here are some observations:
- The Colts have 8 games with 20%+ DVOA ratings this year, including 4 of the last 5 and 6 of the last 8. The only teams to match those results over the last two months were Dallas and Seattle, with GB and NE close.
- So, in the Colts 7-1 stretch, they've been fairly dominant in all but two games with an average DVOA of 12.4% even including the Dallas debacle.
- Dropping the Dallas game to be only as bad as the Pats game increases the Colts overall average DVOA to 13.0% and the average over the past 8 games to 18.8%. This feels much more in-line with the team I've been watching.

All this said, I completely get why FO doesn't get into individual teams with this level of depth during the season. But now there are only four teams left and it's pretty clear the DVOA ratings for the Colts - especially WEI DVOA - do not seem to be reflecting the actual team performance.

67 Re: Colts DVOA thoughts

Closing thought on "reflecting the actual performance" - the Colts pythagenpat record thus far this year is 12-6 through 18 games. This is more akin to a 13-15% DVOA team. Right where they fall when you normalize the Dallas game.

Also, their SRS rating of 3.8 was 9th in the league at the end of the year and can have only increased with the last two games included.

Anyway, long and boring post about why I think the Colts are really a team with a performance level around 10-15% in DVOA coming into the New England game. This still makes them big dogs for sure, just not to the degree it feels like in the analysis of the upcoming game.

68 Re: Colts DVOA thoughts

There actually is a statistical technique to remove outliers where you take off the 25% most extreme results on each side of the data set. DVOA is a per play, not per game, so you'd have to do this on a per play basis.