Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Week 2 DVOA Ratings
Week 2 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Well, that was certainly a strange week in the NFL. As Andrew Healy detailed in this week's Any Given Sunday, Week 2 of 2015 ended up as one of the ten most surprising, upset-filled weeks of the past 35 years. Vegas favorites went either 6-10 or 7-9, depending on which team a given gambling establishment had listed as the favorite in the New England-Buffalo game.

The strangeness extended to the Football Outsiders Premium picks, based on our DAVE ratings. Almost every week, the Premium picks will do better straight up than against the spread; after all, the point of the spread is to make picking games tougher than just picking winners and losers. A couple of times per year, the spread picks will actually do better than the straight picks. But usually, the difference is a win or two. Not this week. The Premium picks were 11-5 against the spread this week, which is excellent. Those same picks were 6-10 straight up, which is miserable. That gap is colossal and really weird. When straight picks go five wins better than spread picks, that's a bit extreme but not too crazy. Spread picks going five wins better than straight picks is unheard of.

There was a lot of attention paid to teams that put up surprise wins in Week 2, but the DVOA system gets even more excited about teams that put up surprisingly large wins. Our DVOA leader through Week 2 is a team whose two wins are a surprise more for their size than for the actual W's. We've been writing all offseason, and in Football Outsiders Almanac 2015, about how the Arizona Cardinals' play-by-play performance did not match their win-loss record in 2014. We predicted that the Cardinals were due for decline this season, and we projected them as likely to miss the playoffs. Nonetheless, it wasn't hard to imagine the Cardinals starting the season 2-0. The Cardinals were ranked 23rd in DVOA in the final preseason forecast, while New Orleans ranked No. 17 and Chicago ranked No. 25. It's not strange to beat a slightly better team in your home stadium, but it's also not strange to beat a slightly worse team on the road.

What's weird is that the Cardinals didn't just beat these teams, they destroyed them. Arizona has won its first two games by a combined 79-42. The Cardinals had 66.5% DVOA in Week 1 and 107.6% DVOA in Week 2. Except... that's without opponent adjustments. We're not doing the opponent adjustments yet. And given the way New Orleans and Chicago each played in their other games so far, it's reasonable to believe that neither team is as good as we forecast in the preseason. These may be the two worst defenses in the league.

Trying to figure out the meaning of big early wins over (perceived as) weak opponents is an annual tradition for NFL analysts. It was just a year ago that we were trying to figure out what we learned from Washington's 41-10 dismantling of Jacksonville. In the long run, it turns out we didn't learn much. The 2014 Redskins were not a good team, just a team with a great game against a weak opponent. But Washington had lost in Week 1, so we were trying to figure out the impact of just one game without opponent adjustments. What about two early games without opponent adjustments?

It turns out that Arizona comes out of Week 2 as the best team in DVOA since the 2007 Patriots. Here's a look at every team in DVOA history with a rating of 70% or more after two games. (All of these teams played in Weeks 1-2 except for the 2008 Ravens, who had their Week 2 game in Houston postponed due to Hurricane Ike. This is Weeks 1-3 for them.)

Best DVOA for 2-0 Teams,1989-2015
2005 PIT 111.5% 11-5 27.2% 4 WC 1
1990 CHI 101.3% 11-5 15.0% 9 DIV 11
1996 GB 94.4% 13-3 42.0% 1 DIV 5
2007 NE 93.5% 16-0 52.9% 1 DIV 3
1996 SF 87.8% 12-4 29.3% 2 WC 1
2002 SD 85.9% 8-8 -2.4% 21 -- 13
2015 ARI 85.2% -- -- -- -- 22
1989 CLE1 83.3% 9-6-1 24.4% 2 DIV --
1999 PIT 77.7% 6-10 1.4% 20 -- 16
2007 PIT 75.6% 10-6 19.4% 6 DIV 10
1996 SD 74.8% 8-8 -0.5% 18 -- 12
2003 KC 74.6% 13-3 30.3% 1 DIV 4
1991 WAS 73.2% 14-2 56.9% 1 DIV 5
1997 NE 72.7% 10-6 12.0% 7 DIV 8
2013 DEN 72.1% 13-3 32.7% 2 DIV 2
2005 NYG 72.0% 11-5 18.5% 9 DIV 25
2008 BAL 70.8% 11-5 27.6% 2 WC 19

If you look at that table, you'll notice that almost all of these teams ended up with winning records and a trip to the playoffs after they started their season with two huge wins. However, almost all of these teams had also ranked among the top teams in DVOA the year before. What happens if we just compare the Cardinals to the teams that didn't rank in the top dozen for DVOA the year before?

  • The 2002 Chargers started the year by beating Cincinnati 34-6 on the road, then Houston 24-3 at home. But even at the time, it was clear that you had to consider the opponents. Cincinnati was 26th in DVOA the year before, and finished 29th in 2002. Houston was an expansion team. The Chargers blew their 4-0 start when the schedule got harder and finished 8-8.

  • The 1999 Steelers started by whipping the new expansion Browns 43-0 in the game with the highest single-game DVOA ofall-time. That whole rating is really that game, and that game really told us nothing about the 1999 Steelers. The second win was 23-20 over Baltimore,which was 6-10 (15th in DVOA) the year before and 8-8 (11th in DVOA) that year.

  • The 2005 Giants whipped an Arizona team that had been29th in DVOA the year before, and then a New Orleans team that had been 27ththe year before and was in the middle of the Hurricane Katrina nightmare.That game was played in New Jersey even though it was originally scheduled for New Orleans. But guess what? Despite their big first two wins coming over two very weak opponents, the Giants were absolutely for real! The Giants went from 25th in DVOA the year before to ninth in 2005 and won the NFC East at 11-5.

  • The big start for the 2008 Ravens looked a lot more impressive at the time. Cleveland and Cincinnati had ranked 12th and 16th in DVOA the year before. But by the end of 2008, those teams were 26th and 27th in DVOA. Nonetheless, the 2008 Ravens were definitely an improved team,though they didn't show it when they lost their next three games including a 31-3 loss in Indianapolis. Then the Ravens finished 9-2 to make the playoffs.

So what's the story with the Arizona Cardinals? It's hard to know. I still believe strongly in the numbers from last year that showed that the Cardinals were not as good as their 11-5 record. I know that some of the best players on their offense are aging, and are likely not going to be this good over the course of the year against better defenses. I also know that the Arizona defense lost a lot of talent between last season and this season. However, there's no doubt that Arizona's first two wins were hugely impressive. And we know that Bruce Arians has this habit of destroying our mediocre projections for his teams. We'll have to see what happens to this team once they've played some harder opponents, and once the schedule adjustments kick in for the ratings on these early games.

Nonetheless, those huge first two games have a big impact on the DAVE ratings that combine current DVOA with our preseason projections. The current DAVE formula counts the projection as 75 percent of the rating after Week 2. That sounds like a lot, but if a team has two great games like Arizona has, that DVOA will totally outweigh the preseason projection once we combine the two. Arizona and Denver are now tied for No. 2 in DAVE behind New England, and the Cardinals now win the Super Bowl in 12.1 percent of our simulations, second only to the Patriots. That sounds like a bit of an overreaction to the first two games, and we'll have to see how things shake out. Regular FO readers know we have a long to-do list of improvements to our formulas that we never seem to get the time for, but that to-do list includes both re-evaluating the percentages involved in DAVE and incorporating the preseason projections as an opponent adjustment to be used early in the season. Both of those changes might mute the loud charge of the Cardinals up our playoff odds report standings.

[ad placeholder 3]

Speaking of the playoff odds report, we've made a big change this week to try to properly measure the impact of the injury to Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. For most teams, our simulation uses the same DAVE rating for each week of the season, adjusted only by the new dynamic simulation equation that boosts teams after wins and penalizes them after losses. However, we've programmed something different for Dallas. The simulation now uses a DAVE that is based on Brandon Weeden as the Dallas starting quarterback for Weeks 3-9. In Weeks 10-12, half the simulations use that rating and half use a rating based on Tony Romo as the quarterback. In Weeks 13-17, all simulations expect Tony Romo to be playing quarterback for Dallas. This programming gives us a more realistic output that reflects the schedule, including the fact that Washington's two games with Dallas are both after Week 12 while both Philadelphia and New York will play a backup Dallas quarterback for their Cowboys rematches.

Because there is not yet an announcement of Jay Cutler or Drew Brees missing more than a game or two, we did not program in anything similar for Chicago or New Orleans. But Chicago already is the lowest team in DAVE even without accounting for games to be started by Jimmy Claussen. The Bears now get the No. 1 pick in 26.5 percent of our simulations, and a top-3 pick in over half our simulations.

One last note, just so people can appreciate how strange it is before it goes away with a larger sample size: Peyton Manning is in last place in passing DYAR through two games. No, seriously, he is. And yes, if you are looking for more hot Brady vs. Manning debate action, Tom Brady is indeed in first place. That's somewhat an issue of volume as well as quality; Brady is only fifth in DVOA.

* * * * *

Once again in 2015, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 16 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 2 are:

  • DT Geno Atkins, CIN (24 HOURS ONLY): Sack, 2 hurries, 3 quarterback knockdowns despite facing almost constant double-teams.
  • WR Travis Benjamin, CLE: Fourth among Week 2 wide receivers with 55 DYAR (3-for-4, 115 yards, 2 TD) plus 154 yards on 6 punt returns including a 78-yard TD. Punt returns were worth an estimated 8.3 points of field position more than an average punt returner would get with similar opportunities.
  • RB Dion Lewis, NE: Led all running backs in Week 2 with 46 DYAR (7 runs, 40 yards, TD; 5-for-10 on passes, 98 receiving yards).
  • RG Brandon Linder, JAC: Allowed no sacks, quarterback hits, or pressures against Ndamukong Suh and the Miami defensive line.
  • LE Brian Robison, MIN: Led NFL with 5 defeats in Week 2 including two PDs on third down.

Apologies to all the rabid Crockett Gillmore fans out there, he was our last cut from this list of five. We always try to do at least one offensive lineman and two defensive players.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated through Week 2 of 2015. That includes for the first time offensive lines, defensive lines, and defense vs. receivers. (Defense by side of the field is also now updated as of Wednesday evening.) Snap counts and playoff odds are also fully updated. The FO Premium database is now updated through Week 2, and the Matchup View now shows 2015 stats instead of 2014 stats.

* * * * *

[ad placeholder 4]

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through two weeks of 2015, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

Please note that there are no opponent adjustments in DVOA until after Week 4. (It's still listed as DVOA instead of VOA because I don't feel like going through and changing all the tables manually.) In addition, our second weekly table which includes schedule strength, variation, and Estimated Wins will appear beginning after Week 4.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 75 percent of DAVE.

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

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

1 ARI 85.2% 3 17.8% 2 2-0 59.3% 1 -13.6% 8 12.4% 2
2 NYJ 43.3% 5 11.0% 8 2-0 4.8% 10 -39.1% 2 -0.6% 19
3 PIT 40.3% 21 15.9% 4 1-1 55.4% 2 10.0% 24 -5.2% 23
4 CIN 39.9% 4 14.8% 6 2-0 30.0% 5 -13.0% 9 -3.2% 20
5 GB 35.8% 6 15.5% 5 2-0 35.9% 3 6.8% 22 6.7% 8
6 NE 35.6% 9 23.1% 1 2-0 35.2% 4 6.7% 21 7.1% 7
7 DEN 26.3% 12 17.8% 3 2-0 -32.2% 31 -48.1% 1 10.3% 4
8 CAR 23.9% 13 3.4% 12 2-0 -5.7% 18 -37.9% 3 -8.3% 25
9 TEN 17.6% 1 -6.3% 23 1-1 5.3% 9 -26.9% 4 -14.6% 32
10 ATL 13.4% 15 5.6% 11 2-0 13.8% 6 0.6% 13 0.2% 16
11 DAL 8.9% 16 -3.6% 21 2-0 -8.3% 21 -16.9% 5 0.4% 15
12 KC 6.3% 8 5.7% 10 1-1 -11.5% 24 -14.0% 7 3.8% 12
13 WAS 6.1% 22 -13.2% 29 1-1 1.3% 13 -14.7% 6 -10.0% 29
14 BUF 5.3% 2 -2.8% 19 1-1 12.2% 7 14.4% 27 7.4% 6
15 MIA 4.6% 14 -1.6% 17 1-1 3.8% 11 0.7% 14 1.4% 14
16 STL -1.1% 11 5.7% 9 1-1 -8.5% 22 -4.5% 11 2.8% 13
17 BAL -1.8% 18 3.2% 14 0-2 -6.1% 20 1.6% 16 5.9% 9
18 NYG -3.4% 17 -3.3% 20 0-2 -3.2% 15 12.4% 25 12.1% 3
19 SD -4.7% 10 3.4% 13 1-1 10.6% 8 6.1% 18 -9.2% 26
20 JAC -5.7% 23 -13.6% 30 1-1 -9.6% 23 -8.5% 10 -4.6% 21
21 CLE -6.3% 28 -9.0% 24 1-1 -20.8% 30 1.1% 15 15.6% 1
22 DET -13.3% 20 -0.3% 15 0-2 -4.1% 16 8.8% 23 -0.4% 17
23 SEA -18.0% 24 13.0% 7 0-2 -5.6% 17 16.6% 28 4.3% 11
24 MIN -18.9% 30 -1.2% 16 1-1 -5.7% 19 12.6% 26 -0.6% 18
25 OAK -21.2% 31 -12.9% 27 1-1 2.2% 12 28.3% 31 4.9% 10
26 PHI -24.4% 19 -2.7% 18 0-2 -16.6% 26 -1.8% 12 -9.5% 28
27 SF -33.6% 7 -11.0% 25 1-1 0.3% 14 26.3% 30 -7.6% 24
28 HOU -34.7% 25 -12.6% 26 0-2 -19.0% 29 6.4% 19 -9.3% 27
29 IND -35.2% 27 -4.7% 22 0-2 -17.4% 27 6.6% 20 -11.2% 31
30 TB -42.1% 32 -21.7% 31 1-1 -46.2% 32 3.5% 17 7.6% 5
31 NO -53.0% 29 -12.9% 28 0-2 -17.5% 28 24.7% 29 -10.8% 30
32 CHI -69.0% 26 -23.1% 32 0-2 -15.9% 25 48.1% 32 -5.0% 22


85 comments, Last at 25 Sep 2015, 5:19pm

1 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

If I'm a Bears fan, I'm rooting very hard for Cardale Jones to prove he is worthy of a number 1 pick. So far, not so much.

Good grief, the Niners must have been hideous against the Steelers, to go from a VOA of 53, to a VOA of -33. Even worse than the Vikings were against the Niners.

4 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I don't follow college at all so I hope some one is worthy of the #1 pick. I have trouble picturing a team with an actual bonafide great QB though. Maybe the Bears should just trade their pick to Danny Snyder and draft some linebackers just so I understand this team.

10 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

"Maybe the Bears should just trade their pick to Danny Snyder and draft some linebackers just so I understand this team."

I love this comment

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

6 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

If you are a Bears fan, start rooting for David Fales to get some time, or that blithering idiots on other teams draft deserving 4th round pick Cardale Jones so your team can run up to the podium and take Cal quarterback Jared Goff. Joey Bosa or one of the top two offensive tackles wouldn't be bad either.

18 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Connor Cook (MSU) has impressed me the most. Cardale Jones does not look like a good pro prospect to me.

I haven't seen enough of Jared Goff to have much of an opinion on him, though.

21 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Nobody is even in the vicinity of being an Andrew Luck no-brainer, which is what you want, as a fan of a team that might win 2 games. You'd like to see Cardale Jones have that sort of season, because he's such a physical specimen.

31 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Connor Cook has yet to complete over 60 percent of his passes in a season, which is usually a benchline for a solid NFL starter. Matt Ryan and Tannehill are the exceptions. Cook plays behind a really good line, has a great running game, and occasionally makes really bad decisions. He made a lot of mistakes in the bowl game last year, and while the Spartans came back to win, a lot of that was not because of him.
Goff looks like a good prospect to me, worhty of a first round selection but not the first pick in the draft. He's not surrounded by a lot of talent, but still is able to keep his team competitive in the Pac-12.

52 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

As a big college fan I think Conner Cook gets more credit than he deserves because he is one of the few pro-style QBs. When I've seen him play against comparable talent he hasn't been consistent with mechanics and his arm strength hasn't been enough to beat tight coverage.

He does make all of the correct decisions and I think he'll be a decent Trent Dilferish or Jon Kitnaish backup in the NFL.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

72 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I am really hoping that someone, anyone, proves himself to be a QB worthy of a #1 overall pick because I think the Bears stand a great chance of getting the #1 pick in 2016, and almost no chance of picking in the top 5 or 10 anytime soon after that. (And if they do, then something went terribly wrong).

14 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

It's not really news, but Pittsburgh's offence is great. Roethlisberger has a very good shot at MVP this season if he stays healthy and his defense can do enough to ensure there is a double-digit number in the Ws column.

20 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

The Niners were pretty terrible, especially on defense. But they are also hurt by the lack of opponent adjustments. Pittsburgh was the #2 DVOA offense and #1 DVOA passing offense last year, and they are going to shred a lot of teams this season.

25 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

9/10 Thu - Steelers play NE. 90 minute flight same time zone

9/14 Mon - 49ers play MNF late game on West coast

9/20 Sun - 49ers travel 3 time zone on 5.5hr nonstop flight to play early game (10am PST) against a very good team at home.

The 6.5 spread was pretty damn funny.

27 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Yep, the Vikings being favored on a Monday night opener in San Francisco, with a 9:15 PM central time zone kickoff, was even more ridiculous, it seems to me.

30 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I don't think the time zone difference should make that much of an impact for a professional team, unless they are dumb and travel the night before or something.

Having a few extra days less of rest will make a difference though.

33 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Go look at how East Coast teams do on the West Coast on Monday Nights (and a 7:15 start effectively made the Vikings an east coast team), or how West Coast teams do with a noon East Coast Sunday game. Professionalism doesn't trump biology and the circadian clock, and it takes more than a day or two to eliminate the effect. It is dumb, however, that more teams don't travel to the time zone a full six days early.

34 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I know there's an effect I'm just not convinced it's caused by the circadian clock as those times aren't extremely early or late. I also have some experience with competing in different time zones in college (though in a race based sport) and didn't notice any effect going west with the later start time.

35 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Anecdotal evidence does not equal a statistic. There have been countless studies and stats showing how bad teams do after traveling for early games or late games (relative to the visiting team).

49 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Because the impact is already fairly small and there are fewer 3PM games so the sample size is smaller? Maybe football teams are really just really behind the times in how they manage traveling. I guess that wouldn't surprise me, but I was originally assuming some base level of competence in terms of how they deal with travel.

46 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

This is related to basketball but I would think the effect would be more pronounced there since there is less time between games. Sure there is an effect (before 2002) if you don't take any steps to mitigate it but I find it hard to believe that NFL teams these days wouldn't be aware of what they could do.


59 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I don't believe he takes the team out early (I could be wrong). However, if they have back-to-back west coast games he'll often spend the week out there rather than coming home and going out again.

65 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Baltimore played at Denver and then at Oakland. I read that they requested to have their west coast games in back to back weeks. Does anybody know if they stayed out west between the games? If not, I wonder why they requested to play them back to back.

67 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Yes, they arranged for practice facilities in San Jose. I think they plan to do the same thing (stay in the west) the week between their 49ers & Cardinals games.

60 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I don't know what other east coast teams do, so I don't know what "early" is, but a couple of years ago he had back-to-back games early in the season and back-to-back games late in the season among some combination of Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego, and he was sure to acquire practice facilities for the week in between games so he could keep the team on Pacific time instead of trying to take them back east for a couple of days, then back west. This has become normal for him in the few occurrences since.

42 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Especially since this was week one why didn't Minn travel early to SF. Seems logistically much easier for the first game of the season than for any other week (except maybe coming off a bye).

28 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

This reads like I thought the 49ers flew a redeye to PIT, I know that ain't the case but traveling 3000+ miles on short rest to play a team that hasn't played in 10 days and is already better than you is not ideal.

29 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I'm still shocked that the Vikings are rated worse than the Lions, even after the Vikings thouroughly whipped the Lions in every phase last Sunday. I didn't stay up to watch the MIN-SF game, but it must have been a hard watch.

32 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

The purple heads, especially on defense, seemed like they had scored some prescriptions from a doctor operating out of a strip mall, and had spent the afternoon at one of Cali's medical weed farmers' markets. No, they didn't block anybody on offense, but I think that'll be a regular feature, for their road games in particular.

43 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I agree with that. I saw the Minn-SF game so that made what Minn did to Detroit look even worse to me. FYI Minn was really, really terible against SF, -67% DVOA.

77 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Yea, as a Lions fan, this 0-2 start is about as discouraging as it gets (non-Millen category). The defense can't tackle anybody, and the offensive line has been a particularly leaky sieve.

2 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Hey, Aaron, that playoff column in the 'Best DVOA' table is all kinds of wrong.

Probably just a translation mistake.

/EDIT: I realized what it was supposed to mean, please disregard.

3 Cardinals Underestimated?

I love DVOA, but I think there's a strong case that DVOA underestimated Arizona last year. Arizona did regress back to the "mean" by the end of last year, leading a lot of statisticians to point out that their models were right all along. But anyone who had the misfortune to see Ryan Lindsey run the offense can come up with an alternative reason for why they fell back down to earth.

Here is Arizona's DVOA from Week 10, when Palmer got injured. Although they were middle of the pack in DVOA, it's clear that they were an elite defensive team. The problem was the offense, ranked 25th in the league. Had they possessed even a league average offense, they would have been at 10%DVOA. Strangely enough, they finished with a higher DVOA at the end of the year, perhaps due to changes in opponent adjustments.

I think there is a case that as bad as the running game was, Arizona's offense was closer to league average than DVOA realized at the time. Arizona did go 3-2 against a tough slate with Stanton at QB, and were probably punished for an overreliance on big plays. This year, assuming Palmer stays healthy, I think we can expect the DVOA to come around to rating them as slightly above average on offense and good on defense, probably a solid 10-6 team.

23 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

Yeah, a lot of last season the Cardinals were underrated, and then that low rating was validated by injuries that shouldn't have been used to validate it. And yes, they certainly had an elite defensive team last year. I don't know why people overlooked them in pre-season prognostications, though I suspect it comes down to the lazy "what was the last thing we saw" attitude that sportswriters often have.

37 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

DVOA consistently underrates Bruce Arians offenses, and other big-play offenses. And consistently overrates dink-&-dunk offenses like the late Andy Reid Eagles offenses and everything Tom Brady touches.

39 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

Considering the success both Reid Eagles and Brady Patriots have had, can you really claim they were overrated?

The only big play boom/bust offense I can see an argument for DVOA undervaluing is the Eli Manning Giants. Although, I don't think underrate is the correct term. Rather, DVOA doesn't handle variance very well.

53 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

My impression is that DVOA tends to reward balanced, high-scoring offenses (as it should!). Arizona's offense these past few years has been fairly average, but average can be good enough with a solid defense.

I'd say the best point of comparison for optimism is the 2008 Steelers, a good defensive team that could air it out when it had to. Or maybe the Falcons of years past, with a good D and pass-heavy offense.

55 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

Depends what you mean by that. But FO doesn't report 95% confidence levels, and I think they probably underrate high variance teams' ability to upset better teams (see Giants, New York, 2007).

69 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

I think FO wrote an article on variance, or maybe I'm just remembering the comments section. My recollection is that if you're a fan of a great team, you want as little variance as possible. However, if you're a fan of a mid-pack team, you want LOTS of variance, which gives you the greatest chance of an upset (e.g. Giants).

40 Re: Cardinals Underestimated?

Palmer is way better than Stanton or Lindsey but he is old and due for a diminishment in his ability. I thought it was likely to happen this year so was not expecting much from Arizona.

5 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Just for posterity, I want to remark that I picked Arizona for the Super Bowl last week, and I'm still pretty sure I'm going to be right.

Remember, you heard it here from some anonymous weirdo on the internet.

God knows who the AFC team will be. Raiders, maybe?

7 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Bryce Petty's backwards pass that isn't a backwards pass gets returned to clinch it for Oakland in the AFC championship. Raiderjoe's revenger for 68.
After they win the Super Bowl, Derek Carr tells the TV announcer they're going to play in Disneyland next year.

22 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I'm never pretty sure about the outcome of any season in September, but if I had to make a wager on a team whose 36 year old qb has had the same knee rebuilt twice, and lost most of another season to an elbow injury, my bet would be "Not Super Bowl".

54 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

You doubt the power of Hepcat Jedi-Master Arians. He who can manufacture victories without a quarterback.

"Do, or do not. There is no try. Or pregame stretching."

8 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Lots of spacing issues with the column today.

But yikes, the Bears look terrible. I would not count on Cardale Jones being the first pick, but hopefully the Bears can pick a good quarterback with their first pick.

79 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I finally switched from Microsoft Frontpage (from Office 2000, very old) to Microsoft Expression Web late last season, and I'm still getting used to some of the changes in how it sets up webpages. That must have left me deleting spaces by accident. Oops! I've fixed it now.

9 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Chicago is clearly ranked too high because there should be a special -10 ranks penalty for having Jimmy Clausen as your Quarterback. BCS Championship series is way better than this. BCS would correctly rank the Bears as worse than several college teams, and put them where they belong as the 45th best team in the NFL.

11 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Wait, the Colts and Panthers have WORSE placekicking than the Steelers?! Do I even want to look at their plackickers' stats, or is it all just too horrible to contemplate?

- Dr. Kris Brown Flashbacks

12 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Carolina has had 1 FG blocked in each game. Last week the kicker took too low of an angle + defender had great timing (wasn't due to penetration).
Sometimes I even trip myself out.

16 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Vinatieri has missed both field goals and one was from about 30 yards. The other was a 52 yarder that should never have been tried.

The return game is beyond abysmal though. If not for McAfee, ST would be much much lower.

13 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I just continue to marvel at the change in special teams performance by the Packers while trying to contain my irritation that the team spent years, yes years, having a guy coach special teams when he repeatedly was unable to generate results.

I don't know if special teams will stay in the top ten, but you can visually see the difference.

I appreciate the Packers sense of loyalty and desire for continuity but it does have its downside.

15 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

It's a really pathological ability of the team to ignore or paper over an obvious and exceedingly glaring weakness until it costs them big. Past examples of course being backup QB and safety.

17 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Agree completely. Toss in the Marshall Newhouse experience as another example.

But Slocum keeping his job year after year after year despite repeated outages and failures became comically exasperating

19 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

They have looked good through 8 weeks on special teams, not just in the numbers but on the field a few times in the past. So I'm still not buying what Zook and McCarthy are selling yet. I am giving McCarthy credit for giving play calling to Clements and trying to spend more time with the defense and special teams. I don't know if it will really help, but all indications are that he is the one who forced Capers to use Matthews at ILB after the bye last week and helped turned the run defense around.

On offensive play calling I think the 4th quarter offense has been better in the first two games which was McCarthy's biggest issue as a play caller as well so that is another positive from the hand off. Of course I should be more cautious about that too. Chicago is a joke team and Seattle's D is not what it was last year. But the calls have not been as conservative. You can separate that from the results. That is good.

26 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

"Apologies to all the rabid Crockett Gillmore fans out there" is the best sentence no one saw coming this year.

50 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

So do all the underhanded things the Patriots do factor into their DVOA? Honestly I can't think of a stronger influencing agent than having tape on the entire league and sabotaging headsets. Honest question: does the "meta" game (cheating) effect DVOA? If not, why? I thought you were supposed to be impartial?

Also where is the mention (ANY MENTION) of the ESPN article? That was really revealing stuff and deserved to be talked about. Too many Patriot fans on staff I guess.

51 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

There's a hidden column at the end of the DVOA table called 'Magic' it incorporates the Patriots ability to cheat as well as players (R. Wilson, R. Lewis) ability to call upon the power of God to influence the outcome of games.

61 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Via a series of offshore shell corporations, FO is actually owned by Kraft Evil Ventures, Inc. And Aaron is really the fifth Kraft son, working undercover. This is all common knowledge in Patriots fandom.

64 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

This, absolutely. More attention should have been given to this under-discussed topic. Also why not 1000+ words on how Aaron Rodgers is on the express train to GOATville, and how no other player is fit to touch the hem of his jersey, and how his hair smells of fresh basil, and how the fact any of us have eyes to witness his greatness can only be irrefutable proof of a loving and benevolent God?

68 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, our neighbor had goats and one got its head stuck in an electric fence. The bleating was the worst sound I had ever heard until Kanye covered Bohemian Rhapsody at Glastonbury.

70 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Mmmmmm... love me some fresh cut basil. But I have to admit that even I might find that gets old after a while. Are you sure he can't modify his odors to whatever happens to be the most pleasing at any given time?

76 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

My favorite video game is GOAT Simulator, which features nothing but defensive linemen trying to tackle Aaron Rodgers and bouncing off his glorious, beautiful thighs with hilariously bad ragdoll animations.

63 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Well, I guess this is what happens when the Raiders only change the lawn chairs they place out there on defense and put everything into offense.

84 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

I wonder why Atlanta is not near 100% in playoff odds, they are 2-0 and the remaining schedule looks like a piece of cake. Since playoff odds are computed simulating seasons I would like to know what happened in the simulations in the cases where Atlanta didn't make the playoffs, record, games lost and which teams made it.

85 Re: Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Maybe the simulation thinks that 2 point and 4 point wins over teams ranked lower than the Falcons isn't exactly a sustainable formula for continuing to put up enough wins to make the playoffs?