Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Week 7 DVOA Ratings
Week 7 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

The undefeated New England Patriots are back on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week, with just a small margin putting them ahead of the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. The change on top of this week's ratings is similar to what happened last week, but a mirror image. Both the Patriots and Cardinals fell in DVOA after close games in Week 6, but the Patriots fell a little bit more than the Cardinals. The same thing happened after Week 7, but this time the Cardinals fell a little bit more than the Patriots. The Packers just sat in the same place on a bye week, but now are within a single percentage point of both New England and Arizona.

Two weeks ago, both New England and Arizona ranked among the top 10 teams in DVOA history, but two weeks of close games have brought them back to the pack historically. New England, Arizona, and Green Bay now all fall between No. 17 and No. 21 in a ranking of teams since 1989 based on DVOA after Week 7.

New England's "fade" from historically spectacular to merely the best team in football is the main reason our estimated odds of a perfect regular season have not gone up significantly over the last couple weeks. Last week, 11.0 percent of our simulations ended with at least one team at 16-0. This week, that's up to 11.6 percent.

Actually, the undefeated team that is closest to making DVOA history right now is the Denver Broncos. On one hand, the Broncos defense is historically great. They currently rank ninth among all DVOA defenses through Week 7. On the other hand, Denver is in the strange position of having the league's worst offense to go along with the best defense. When you put the two units together, the Broncos end up with the second-lowest DVOA ever among teams with a 6-0 record. Only the 2000 Vikings had a lower rating when they stood at 6-0.

Year Team DVOA Final W-L x Year Team DVOA
2000 MIN 1.2% 11-5 x 1991 NO -49.0%
2015 DEN 6.2% -- x 1991 PHI -42.8%
2006 IND 9.2% 12-4 x 2002 TB -38.8%
2015 CAR 16.2% -- x 1997 SF -37.1%
2012 ATL 18.4% 13-3 x 2012 CHI -34.6%
1990 SF 21.1% 14-2 x 2011 BAL -34.4%
1992 MIA 21.3% 11-5 x 1993 PIT -33.5%
2003 MIN 22.0% 9-7 x 1996 GB -32.8%
2011 GB 22.0% 15-1 x 2015 DEN -31.9%
2000 STL 22.5% 10-6 x 2000 MIA -29.6%

A number of readers have asked in the comments and on Twitter if a team has ever finished first in defense and last in offense for an entire regular season. I gave a long history of teams of this type in last week's Off The Charts Podcast, but the short answer is no. The team that came closest is also listed above on the table for best defensive DVOA through Week 7. The 1991 Philadelphia Eagles lost Randall Cunningham to an injury in the first game of the year and then put together the greatest defense in DVOA history with a horrific offense that finished 26th in a 28-team league. At this same point in 1991, the Eagles had a horrendous -39.5% offensive DVOA to go with their -42.8% defensive DVOA, and a 3-4 record. By the end of the year, that offensive rating improved to -24.6%. The Eagles finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker.

The Broncos and Panthers both rank among the worst 6-0 teams in DVOA history, although the Panthers have moved up in the ratings the last two weeks and don't really have anything to be ashamed about. Still, there are a couple of very surprising teams ahead of Denver and Carolina.

The first is the New York Jets, who stay at No. 5 despite their loss to the Patriots. We've been driving the Jets' bandwagon since the preseason but even we didn't think the offense could be this good. Yes, I just said the New York Jets offense was "good." That's not a misprint. The Jets are currently ranked sixth in offensive DVOA. Sixth! Now, don't get too carried away by that ranking, because there's a huge gap between the top four offenses and the bottom 27 offenses. (Pittsburgh is in the middle at No. 5, but of course they are likely to end the season higher with Roethlisberger returning.) The gap in DVOA between the Packers at No. 4 and the Jets at No. 6 is larger than the gap between the Jets and the Eagles at No. 23. Still, sixth! And it's not all about the run: the Jets are sixth passing and 15th running the ball. Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting great protection, and he has great receivers, but he's also having the best season of his career.

After opponent adjustments, the Patriots ended up with 28.1% DVOA for this week's game. The Jets, because the adjustments for playing the Patriots are so strong, are even higher at 34.1%. I don't have time to go back and check every single-game DVOA rating going back to 1989, but I'm going to guess that has to be one of the highest combined totals for single-game DVOA ever. I hope that fans came out of watching that Patriots-Jets game with a proper respect for how good the Jets are this year. It's hard to win the division when you're two games behind the best team in the league, but the current playoff odds report gives the Jets a 72 percent chance to win a wild card (83 percent to make the playoffs either way).

The other surprisingly high team is probably Seattle. If I were doing subjective power rankings here, I would definitely move the Seahawks behind the Panthers after Carolina beat them in their own building. But I wouldn't move them down too much. The system is probably giving the Seahawks a little too much credit for their Week 3 win over Chicago since the Bears were stuck using their backup quarterback that day, but otherwise the Seahawks have played well. You can't blow fourth-quarter leads without getting fourth-quarter leads to begin with, and opponent adjustments help give the Seahawks positive single-game DVOA ratings in two of their four losses (Week 2 at Green Bay, and Week 6 against Carolina).

The flipside of Seattle would be two teams with winning records and surprisingly low DVOA ratings. OK, make that one team. I don't think anyone is surprised to see Atlanta at No. 17 in DVOA despite the Falcons' 6-1 record. We all know that team has played close games against a very easy schedule. It's not going to change, as the Falcons have the easiest remaining schedule as well.

 No, the surprisingly low team is really Minnesota, which is just 28th in DVOA despite a 4-2 record. Here are a few reasons why the DVOA system isn't impressed by Minnesota's play so far:

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  • Every week, the Vikings' Week 1 loss looks worse as the 49ers play like garbage and the opponent adjustments gradually get stronger. As of now, the single-game DVOA for that loss is -84.3%. We've never seen any evidence that DVOA works better if we throw out each team's worst game or anything like that. That game counts.
  • The Vikings beat Kansas City in Week 6 despite gaining just 4.7 yards per play with a 33 percent success rate. We covered the kooky numbers from this win last week.
  • Those are just two of the bad teams Minnesota has played this year. The Vikings have played the easiest schedule in the league so far, thanks to two games against Detroit. Even the loss to Denver doesn't look any better to DVOA because, as detailed above, Denver doesn't have the rating you would expect from an undefeated 6-0 team.
  • The Vikings have also gotten the bounces. They've recovered 5 of 8 fumbles on offense and all 4 of the fumbles they've caused on defense.

The schedule strength issue is also part of the massive disconnect between Football Outsiders' advanced stats for Teddy Bridgewater and ESPN's Total QBR. But only a small part. We currently have Bridgewater ranked 25th in passing DVOA, but ESPN has him ninth in QBR. But the gap between Bridgewater's DVOA and VOA is very small, less than two percentage points.

I talked to some folks from ESPN to try to figure out where the difference is, and there's really no clear explanation I can give. Figuring this out will likely take going deep into the difference between the two ratings systems on individual plays. We know that Bridgewater has been outstanding on third downs this year, but that should be picked up by both stats systems. Bridgewater's passing DVOA goes from -22.3% on first and second down to 6.5% on third and fourth down. The difference is even bigger in QBR, where Bridgewater is fifth in the league with 83 QBR on third downs, because QBR includes both running and passing plays. Bridgewater has a first down on four of his six third-down scrambles.

Bridgewater does get a little value in QBR because of Vikings have drawn a lot of penalties by opposing defenses without commiting penalties themselves. However, this is one place where I disagree with ESPN methodology; our research has never found evidence that specific quarterbacks do anything to determine most defensive penalties. Defensive Pass Interference is a big exception, but Bridgewater has only one of those.

As far as other differences between DVOA and QBR, Bridgewater hasn't had an overwhelming number of "clutch situations" when looking at the average weight of his plays in terms of expected wins added, and his percentage of YAC to total yardage is around the league average. So those are two differences between the methodologies that don't explain what's going on with him.

So it's a mystery! We'll have to keep looking into the issue and figure out if Bridgewater really is having a good season or not. Vikings fans probably don't mind the question so much when it comes with a 4-2 record.

* * * * *

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 7 are:

  • LE Rob Ninkovich, NE (24-HOUR HERO): 4 batted passes.
  • CB Lamarcus Joyner, STL: 5 different tackles prevented a conversion on third or fourth down.
  • DT Caraun Reid, DET: 4 tackles for loss: a third-down sack, two run TFL, and a TFL on a screen pass to Mike Wallace.
  • LT Tyron Smith, DAL: Dallas running backs gained 57 yards on 8 carries running to the left and 194 yards on 36 carries overall. No sacks or hurries allowed.
  • RB Danny Woodhead, SD: Ranked No. 3 among running backs in Week 7 with 54 DYAR, catching 11-of-12 passes for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns. Also had 5 carries for 26 yards.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 7 information including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds.

* * * * *

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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through seven 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 for strength of schedule and 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. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 70 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE. 

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 9 percent of DAVE for teams with seven games played, and 19 percent of DAVE for teams with six games played.

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 NE 39.7% 2 35.5% 1 6-0 30.6% 2 -0.7% 11 8.4% 1
2 ARI 39.2% 1 34.7% 2 5-2 23.8% 3 -17.4% 4 -2.0% 21
3 GB 39.0% 3 33.1% 3 6-0 21.8% 4 -14.4% 7 2.9% 9
4 CIN 34.1% 4 28.9% 4 6-0 32.7% 1 2.1% 13 3.5% 8
5 NYJ 28.2% 5 23.2% 5 4-2 7.1% 6 -27.6% 2 -6.5% 30
6 SEA 17.7% 9 18.2% 6 3-4 2.7% 15 -7.0% 8 8.0% 2
7 CAR 16.2% 10 12.6% 7 6-0 4.7% 9 -16.8% 6 -5.2% 28
8 PHI 12.8% 7 12.2% 8 3-4 -7.1% 23 -19.0% 3 0.9% 14
9 PIT 12.2% 6 11.2% 9 4-3 14.7% 5 2.9% 16 0.4% 16
10 BUF 6.6% 8 5.1% 12 3-4 4.2% 11 -0.9% 10 1.6% 11
11 DEN 6.2% 11 7.7% 10 6-0 -28.4% 32 -31.9% 1 2.7% 10
12 NYG 6.0% 12 5.1% 11 4-3 0.3% 17 0.0% 12 5.7% 4
13 OAK 4.6% 16 1.9% 16 3-3 3.1% 14 2.2% 14 3.6% 7
14 MIA 2.2% 22 1.9% 15 3-3 4.6% 10 2.7% 15 0.3% 17
15 KC 2.0% 18 2.4% 14 2-5 3.4% 13 5.1% 20 3.8% 6
16 STL 1.9% 17 3.1% 13 3-3 -16.5% 30 -16.9% 5 1.4% 12
17 ATL -1.3% 14 -1.2% 17 6-1 6.6% 7 3.7% 17 -4.3% 26
18 BAL -2.5% 13 -1.7% 18 1-6 -1.8% 18 6.2% 23 5.5% 5
19 WAS -3.2% 15 -4.7% 19 3-4 0.6% 16 5.1% 19 1.2% 13
20 NO -9.9% 25 -8.7% 20 3-4 6.5% 8 14.3% 31 -2.1% 22
21 IND -10.2% 19 -8.8% 21 3-4 -4.5% 20 5.3% 21 -0.4% 20
22 TEN -12.1% 23 -12.7% 22 1-5 -15.4% 29 -6.1% 9 -2.8% 24
23 CLE -14.5% 20 -14.1% 23 2-5 -9.3% 24 12.2% 27 7.0% 3
24 SD -16.6% 21 -14.5% 25 2-5 3.6% 12 13.4% 30 -6.8% 31
25 JAC -16.6% 27 -16.6% 27 2-5 -6.1% 21 4.6% 18 -6.0% 29
26 DAL -16.8% 24 -14.1% 24 2-4 -4.4% 19 7.2% 25 -5.1% 27
27 TB -18.5% 28 -17.3% 28 2-4 -12.4% 26 6.0% 22 -0.1% 18
28 MIN -20.4% 26 -15.9% 26 4-2 -14.7% 28 6.2% 24 0.4% 15
29 DET -23.5% 29 -21.1% 30 1-6 -10.6% 25 12.5% 28 -0.4% 19
30 CHI -23.5% 30 -19.8% 29 2-4 -6.4% 22 13.1% 29 -4.0% 25
31 HOU -31.7% 31 -29.5% 31 2-5 -14.4% 27 10.3% 26 -7.0% 32
32 SF -36.9% 32 -33.8% 32 2-5 -17.9% 31 16.6% 32 -2.4% 23
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).

1 NE 39.7% 6-0 38.0% 6.9 1 0.6% 19 1.7% 15 5.6% 7
2 ARI 39.2% 5-2 44.4% 5.5 5 -11.8% 31 5.7% 8 15.3% 25
3 GB 39.0% 6-0 39.7% 6.8 2 -9.3% 29 -6.2% 27 3.3% 4
4 CIN 34.1% 6-0 33.4% 6.2 4 2.0% 14 -2.8% 24 9.2% 15
5 NYJ 28.2% 4-2 29.6% 6.2 3 4.5% 9 -1.1% 19 5.5% 6
6 SEA 17.7% 3-4 16.0% 4.3 7 1.0% 16 0.1% 18 9.7% 16
7 CAR 16.2% 6-0 23.2% 4.8 6 -7.7% 25 -2.8% 23 2.0% 2
8 PHI 12.8% 3-4 11.0% 3.9 11 2.7% 12 3.5% 11 15.9% 27
9 PIT 12.2% 4-3 11.6% 4.1 10 3.8% 10 6.1% 7 15.4% 26
10 BUF 6.6% 3-4 13.2% 2.9 19 6.2% 6 6.8% 5 14.7% 23
11 DEN 6.2% 6-0 19.9% 4.2 8 -9.1% 28 6.5% 6 2.2% 3
12 NYG 6.0% 4-3 6.1% 4.2 9 -7.9% 27 5.2% 10 7.1% 10
13 OAK 4.6% 3-3 7.0% 3.7 12 -2.8% 21 1.7% 16 15.0% 24
14 MIA 2.2% 3-3 7.3% 3.7 14 -4.8% 23 8.7% 4 33.7% 32
15 KC 2.0% 2-5 3.6% 3.3 16 2.3% 13 -5.7% 26 13.6% 21
16 STL 1.9% 3-3 1.6% 3.3 17 15.1% 1 -7.1% 28 10.1% 18
17 ATL -1.3% 6-1 6.3% 3.7 13 -7.8% 26 -11.0% 32 5.8% 8
18 BAL -2.5% 1-6 -3.5% 3.3 15 6.4% 5 2.5% 14 0.8% 1
19 WAS -3.2% 3-4 -8.1% 3.3 18 4.5% 8 1.6% 17 9.8% 17
20 NO -9.9% 3-4 -12.5% 2.6 23 3.1% 11 -9.4% 31 9.1% 13
21 IND -10.2% 3-4 -15.5% 2.2 27 0.6% 18 -4.8% 25 5.1% 5
22 TEN -12.1% 1-5 -15.2% 2.8 20 -5.9% 24 -2.8% 22 28.5% 31
23 CLE -14.5% 2-5 -16.3% 2.7 22 1.4% 15 12.4% 1 13.1% 20
24 SD -16.6% 2-5 -18.7% 2.8 21 4.5% 7 -2.1% 20 9.2% 14
25 JAC -16.6% 2-5 -14.8% 2.4 26 0.6% 17 -7.6% 29 8.9% 12
26 DAL -16.8% 2-4 -22.2% 1.9 29 8.9% 4 9.8% 3 7.7% 11
27 TB -18.5% 2-4 -15.4% 2.4 25 -9.5% 30 -2.6% 21 27.8% 30
28 MIN -20.4% 4-2 -3.8% 2.6 24 -15.4% 32 9.9% 2 17.2% 28
29 DET -23.5% 1-6 -22.6% 1.4 32 -2.6% 20 3.2% 13 6.9% 9
30 CHI -23.5% 2-4 -27.9% 1.9 28 13.2% 2 -9.2% 30 14.7% 22
31 HOU -31.7% 2-5 -25.7% 1.6 30 -3.7% 22 5.3% 9 12.9% 19
32 SF -36.9% 2-5 -36.4% 1.5 31 13.0% 3 3.5% 12 21.1% 29


104 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2015, 9:35pm

1 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I wonder how often the number 1 team in pts allowed after 6 weeks, has been ranked 24th in defensive DVOA.

11 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Because it's misleading because they haven't given up any points on offense or special teams, unlike the Broncos, Jets and Rams (who have stingier defenses when you only look at that side of the ball)?

2 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Maybe if Denver loses to New England in a few weeks, they can finally move ahead of Buffalo.

I still wonder how this team is rated so much lower than the 6-0 team from the 2009 McDumbass era that featured Completely Competent Kyle Orton at QB.

13 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

That year's team did at least have legit wins over the Patriots (McDaniels Fist Pump Special!) and Chargers. This year's team has wins over... uh, the Raiders and Vikings?

4 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

As I noted in the Quick Reads thread, QBR loves Bridgewater's Week 2 game against Detroit (near-perfect 98.5 rating), when he threw for 153 yards and rushed for 21. Vincent Verhei in Quick Reads loved it considerably less (74 YAR, ranked 13th that week), pointing out that it contained lots of failed completions.

Looking at the Game Log, I'm with Vincent.

6 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Compare that game with Bridgewater's performance Sunday, also against the Lions.

Week 2:
completion percentage 77.8%
average gain 8.5
TD/Int 1/0
Sacked 1
Runs 5-21
Passer rating 120.6
YAR 74

Week 7:
completion percentage 71.4%
average gain 9.0
TD/int 2/0
Sacked 4
Runs 1-2
Passer rating 118.3

The differences aren't enormous – in week 2 he had a few extra runs, was much better on sacks, and slightly worse in yards per pass. Yet:

Week 2 QBR 98.5
Week 7 QBR 59.9

That big a disparity is inexplicable to me.

12 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Week 2: out of Teddy's 5 runs, he had rushing conversions on 3rd and 3 down to the DET 5, 3rd and 6 down to the DET 1, and then 4th and goal for a touchdown. Maybe QBR is placing heavy value on 3rd/4th down conversions, red zone performance, and touchdowns?

36 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

It would be a lot easier to figure it out if QBR weren't such a black box. I have trouble taking any stat seriously when the details of its calculation are intentionally obscured.

37 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

It would be a lot easier to figure it out if QBR weren't such a black box. I have trouble taking any stat seriously when the details of its calculation are intentionally obscured.

77 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I was also very confused by the 98.5 QBR in Week 2. He had like 6 failed completions out of 14 total. Throw in a goal-to-go sack and that just seems like enough unsuccessful plays to drop the rating well below 98.5.

I've come to accept weird single-game results from any metric, but that one is among the weirdest I've seen from QBR.

5 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Hmm. I expected Buffalo to take more of a beating given how awful that loss was, but there was a lot of offensive and defensive success in-between the awfulness.

29 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Mostly defensive success. Jacksonville ranks 18th in defense, so opponent adjustments can't be that harsh, and Buffalo's offensive DVOA ranking still crashed from 6th to 12th.

7 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Watching the Vikings this year has been completely a Jekyll and Hyde affair....for long stretches they look pathetic and then through long stretches they look really good.

In their 4 wins they have seemingly had the game well in control in the 4th quarter but have let teams gain tons of yards late (109-127 in each case). A couple of them got interesting, so it's not like they were all garbage yards, but it did seem that all of those games wcould have been real stomps if the offence didn't go 3 and out every 4th quarter drive.

Personally I can't figure out what they are - ELO ratings has them 9th (kind of like the Bridgewater thing) and DVOA has them 28th. My guess, they are somewhere in the middle.

9 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

SRS, which I believe is simply point differential + strength of schedule, has the Vikings at 16th in the league, just below 0.0 (-0.5). Definitely a convenient compromise between some of the numbers out there, though it doesn't really provide any insight into why certain systems disagree.

22 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

From a non metrics based vantage point, they look to me like a team that 1) can't block anyone, especially, on the road, but 2) still has a great running back who can make gigantic plays when the defense doesn't commit 8 or 9 guys to stopping him, and 3) a young, talented, constantly pressured qb who makes plays when he can, throwing to 4) a receiving corps whose best member may be a guy who was drafted in the 5th round about 160 days ago. This is paired with a defense that 1) has some talent rushing the passer, and 2) some talent at rb) but is a little soft in the middle.

I doubt they are as bad as dvoa indicates, but I wouldn't put them as part of the top half of the league, eitjer.

28 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I find it really tough to call someone a "great running back" when they are currently ranked third from the bottom in rushing value and contributes zippo to the passing game.

Yes, I understand the importance of the offensive line in evaluating running backs, but what would an average back be doing behind that line? I find it tough to believe they'd be worse than third from the bottom. As a comparison, their other two backs, neither of whom will ever be called great by anyone, have both been about average just like they were last year.

Odd 75 yard run aside, Peterson just isn't very good anymore.

31 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The average running back would not have run blitzes called against him constantly, with 8 to (yes, it's true) 10 guys within 6 yards of the line of scrimmage, all in an effort to prevent him from being productive. To really grasp how awful the Vikings passing game is, you have to undertsand that nobody is really trying to stop it with anything other than constant pressure on the qb, because, again, they can't block anyone. The average running back literally would not be facing the same opponents.

50 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Having watched him his entire career, here's what my eyes tell me about 2015 Adrian Peterson:

1. He's lost half a step or so compared to his younger days, so he's getting tackled 20+ yards downfield on runs he would've taken to the house.

2. He's also lost a bit of his elusiveness. This is probably the thing that's dragging him down the most from a metrics perspective. There have been lots of negative yardage runs this year that were due to him dancing around where if he would've leaned forward he could've gotten a couple of yards instead. It's been the difference between a 2-3 yard run and a 2 yard loss, for however much that impacts the various advanced metrics systems.

3. He's made a marginal improvement in his pass catching.

58 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Individual stats tell you very little about the individual in football - they're much more related to how that particular facet of the game is working. Even comparing the individual stats of players on the same team in the same position can be misleading.

There really are very few parts of football that are actually independent (maybe field goal kicking) - everything is interdependent - the passing game has a large effect on the running game, and vice versa.

87 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I completely understand that an individual's production is heavily dependent on his teammates, especially at running back, which is one reason why investing heavily in one is so stupid.

But comparing the Viking's offense last year to this year and 2013, it looks obvious to me that Peterson simply isn't any sort of difference maker.

The running game isn't any better (in fact it's much worse) despite the presence of an allegedly generational running talent and the passing offense is only marginally better, all of which is simply attributable to having their best QB taking snaps instead of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell. All this supposed attention that Peterson is drawing from defenses doesn't seem to be making anyone else's life any easier. We've seen from Seattle in the past that a great running game can open things up for the passing game (and also how the QB's running ability can open up lanes for the running back), but that really doesn't seem to be happening in Minnesota.

Is the Vikings line really that much worse than it was last year? I don't think so.

89 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

You are missing some things. Phil Loadholdt was their best run blocker in 2013, and overall an above average run blocker. He now is on IR, and they are starting a guy who was drafted in the 4th round a few months ago. John Sullivan was an above average center in 2013. He hasn't played this year, either, and they are starting a 33 year old career backup, who never has primarily been a center, in his place. Brandon Fusco is playing on the left side of the line for the first time in his career. Their offensive line play IS really that much worse than it was in 2013, especially with regard to handling stunts, with Sullivan gone.

15 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The Week 7 BES Rankings came out a little wild as well.Patriots have been No. 1 since Week 4. Broncos owned the top spot prior to that. Cardinals just fell out of the Top-10. But the BES has the Colts No. 10 which is wacky but understandable upon closer inspection. Vikings are No. 8.

103 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Interesting... Saints at #14, I think the Saints are perhaps being underrated by most people. I think they are probably better than their first few games suggested.

104 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

They are better. That whole division is...even Tampa Bay. The NFC South is collectively playing some really good football. I'd be only mildly surprised if Tampa Bay beat Atlanta. Giants @ Saints quietly has the potential to be one of the best games of Week 8.

10 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Looking at Seattle and Philly I have to ask, what are the best DVOAs by teams with losing records by weeks 7, 8, & 9?

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

19 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The bad news with blown fourth quarter leads is the heartbreak. The good news is that you aren't getting blown out.

It's nice to watch the Seahawks creep back up into statistical competence. Here's hoping they continue the trend and take care of business against Matt Cassell.

14 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

It is interesting the split for both Carolina and Denvers VOA and DVOA. Both have huge reductions due to strength of teams played.

16 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Pagano keeps his job because the Colts are so consistent... 20th ranked O, 21st D and 20th ranked ST.

I'm going to jump off a bridge now. No need to worry; I'll probably be intercepted on the way there.

17 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

This morning I was going through the divisions in my head, trying to think who the "good" team or teams was in each division.

I got stuck when I got to the AFC South. I couldn't think who the good team was.

Now I know why.

18 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings


On one hand they laid down to the Patriots - that is bad
On the other, they have beaten both MIA and BUF - that's pretty good

and more then can be said about its divisional opponents.

20 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, I think agree. Despite the fact that they are 3rd place in their division by DVOA, they *feel* like the best team in that division to me. Indy just looks clueless and ill-prepared, and is skating on (considerable) talent in select areas that is poorly coached and poorly complemented. Tennessee is utterly unremarkable and sub-mediocre in every aspect. And Houston is kind of a mess with a bad QB.

Jacksonville at least makes every game interesting (excepting the NE one), and their offense at least is explosive and fun to watch, albeit mistake-prone.

47 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

There comes a time when you stop asking who the good team is and ask who the slightly less bad team is. Same thing happened in the NFC South last year. Any team can "win" the AFC South just by virtue of being slightly better than the other awful teams in that division.

Now, that team has to hope the starting QB of their first-round playoff opponent gets hurt, and Ryan Lindley's phone starts ringing.

54 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Happened to Carolina last year; NO picked #13, Carolina was #25. If the Saints stumble into the playoffs instead, those picks would flip around. That being said, I'm sure teams would prefer the playoff spot to picking 12 slots higher.

64 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

As a Seahawks fan, I treasure the 2010 playoff appearance from a 7-9 team. That included the famous Beastquake run that knocked out the (defending Superbowl champion!) Saints.

It wasn't a great team, but it sure as hell was a memorable one.

67 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

And Carolina, like those Seahawks, won their home playoff game. So did SD in 2009 and Denver in 2011, FWIW. I have no idea how predictive that is, but it is still interesting that every recent example of a division being won with a record of .500 or under saw that team beat their wildcard opponent.

70 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The NFL playoffs are generally well designed, but there is a very clear case for seeding being determined purely by W-L record so that division winners still get in, but forfeit home field advantage to a wild-card team with a better record.

A team that has stumbled into winning lousy division does not deserve the advantage (or revenue) that a home playoff game brings.

75 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Wouldn't it be just as likely, if not more likely, that a team which wins a tough division would have a poorer record than a wild-card team because of that?

79 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Agreed. If I were to enact a reseeding rule, it would only spring into life in seasons when a division winner has a sub-.500 record. EDIT: And it would only apply to that one matchup.

92 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

It's easy to say that a 12-4 wild card team shouldn't have to travel to play at the home field of a 7-9 team. But what if we're talking about a 11-5 wild card traveling to play at a 10-6 team? And let's say the 10-6 team plays in a tougher division while the 11-5 team played a very soft schedule?

Given how many of these supposedly inferior division winners have actually won their home games, I don't have sympathy for re-assigning home field according to record. The NFL doesn't have a balanced schedule. There's no reason to conclude "better record means better team". Now you could say "much better record means better team" but I don't want to try to figure out where the line is between "clearly better" and "not clearly better".

Really, the purpose of the playoffs is to find the best team. I'm fine with handicapping a team that cannot win its own division.

94 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I agree with everything Rick says except:

Really, the purpose of the playoffs is to find the best team.

It's to crown a champion, and to rake in lots of money from TV and ticket sales along the way. Sometimes the champion is the best team, and sometimes it isn't. We all accept that the team that wins the tournament, however arbitrary its setup is, gets the rings.

99 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I think one place to put the line is .500. If you win your division with a .500 or worse record, then HFA is determined by which team has the better record.

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That was a great game. The best part of it was that all of my friends had left for a party before the game ended, so when I joined later, I got to tell them that they had missed maybe the greatest run of all time.

21 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Here's an interesting thing. The best team with a below average defense is KC at 15th. On the other hand the 12th ranked defense is 0%. So mildly successful year for defense lovers.

24 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Man, the Jets punt team is terrible. I knew there would be something bad this week but I expected more of a really big play by Edelman (he did have a 17 yard return) but turned out the performance was just consistently awful. (They had to bring in Weatherford off the street on Saturday because their starter got a weird infection out of nowhere, but the unit has stunk out loud all year.) It probably cost them at least 3-4 points this week, maybe more. They punted with 5:46 left in the 4th, down 3 from their 46 and gave it to the Pats on their 33. Awful. A couple other times they gave the Pats the ball around midfield when decent punting/coverage would have pushed the Pats back inside the 30 at least. The Pats scored on all 3 of those drives. That's maybe 3 or 4 opportunities to get stops during those drives that they lost due to bad punting. With the additional opportunities, odds are they force a punt or a FG instead of a TD on at least one of those drives. Could have been the difference in the game right there. (Admittedly, a lot of things could have been the difference, but the punting is an important, non-obvious factor.)

25 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I told my wife, who was watching, that the Jets offense couldn't afford to go three and out because the punt team was so bad. She just wanted people to run around, irregardless of which team they played for. She needs to watch the Jets punt team more often.

27 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I am quite confused - these numbers seem to reflect the general outline of how I would rank these teams and their relative strength. IT even has the Cardinals which no one else seems to consider decent... I haven't seen enough of the Jets, but I will take that on faith. What format should one use for compliments?

32 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

>A number of readers have asked in the comments and on Twitter if a team has ever finished first in defense and last in offense for an entire regular season.

I wonder if the '76 Steelers would have accomplished this if DVOA went back that far. Bradshaw got injured early in the season, but went 10-4 on the strength of a defense that sent eight players to the Pro Bowl.

33 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The Steelers still scored the fifth most points that year. Dead ball era offenses of the '70s was not nearly as qb-centric, and those Steelers o-lines were some trap blocking maniacs, with running backs who could take advantage of it.

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That same season expansion Tampa Bay went 0-14, got shut out 5 times, and finished last in the NFL in both net yards per pass and yards per rush. Everyone else was competing for next-to-last.

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I was surprised that they didn't mention the 1992 Seahawks, who are infamous for having one of the worst offenses in NFL history, coupled with a terrific defense. They ranked #3 in defense that year, and Cortez Kennedy won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Merely competent quarterback play would have turned that team into a playoff contender.

34 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

One of the major sites had a ridiculously early draft page up, and based on tie-breakers and the fact that NE lost theirs, they had the Panthers drafting at 31? Is that right? (I know that is subject to change, but curious if that is true, today.)

35 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Drafting 31st would be based on the Panthers' getting to the Super Bowl. The teams drafting 29th and 30th are the ones who lost the championship games.

45 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Any draft preview at this point would be based on regular season records. The Panthers are 6-0, which is as good as anybody. With the Pats having no pick, there has to be some arbitrary way to sort out Denver, Cincy, Carolina, and Green Bay. Maybe it was done alphabetically by team name? Did they list 28. Bengals, 29. Broncos, 30. Packers, 31. Panthers?

91 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Walter Football does it by guessing who's going farther in the playoffs; the most recent mock has the Bills drafting after the Raiders, which wouldn't be based on their current records, so they're guessing records the rest of the way as well. Honestly, I only read mocks right now to see which players are going relatively higher than others; the actual draft ranking is just absurd guesswork until a couple of weeks are left in the season, or it's even over.

38 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Looking at the updated QB rankings for this week, can someone explain to me why Kirk Cousins is the 7th-best quarterback in football by DVOA despite having a 9:8 TD to INT ratio, with one-third of those TDs coming against the Tampa Bay defense?

42 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

He has a sizable opponent adjustment (8% VOA to almost 12% DVOA) only Tyrod Tailor and Ftizpatrick have similar upwards adjustments [those AFCE defenses must be pretty good]).

Also, it's been a crappy year for quarterbacking. Only 13 QBs, with at least 105 attemtps, have positive DVOA. These in include Weedon (!) and Hoyer (!).

When Ben Roethlisburger and Tony Romo return it should restore some semblance of balance to the universe.

43 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

You might be overrating TDs.

Cousins is 2nd in the NFL in completions. Admittedly he's doing that via a lot of short passes (his 6.48 yards per attempt is 28th in the NFL), but that might be the kind of production DVOA loves. His completion rate is 67.7%, which is 6th in the NFL.


He's better than people generally think. He's clearly better than RGIII at this point. Still, 7th seems a bit high. I'd say he's producing median-level play these days.

95 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The Redskins are also (at least in the first half) putting together good drives, but failing to score TDs.

He's pretty meh, really. They don't seem to trust him throwing long, but their running game has disappeared and they lost their best deep threat.

41 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

All four AFC East teams are in the Top 14. All four AFC South teams are in the bottom 12.

49 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The Patriots are a weird team. They dont have great defense, they dont have a great offensive line and with all the injuries thats subject to get worse and i also dont know if they have a consistent running game seeing how they've rushed it the least out of every team in the league(128 attempts), yet they have the best dvoa in the league and looking at it from an historical view at this point right now their the 7th best team in DVOA going back to 1990. I dont see that with this team, is it because that passing offense is so nasty that it elevates their DVOA unrealistically or is it something else?

51 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I think you're underrating the Patriots' offensive line. FO has them rated at #1 in run-blocking. Of course, part of that is that they mostly use the run against defenses that are vulnerable to the running attack.

They've been beating good defenses by scoring a lot of points. It's more impressive to score 30 points on the Jets than to score 48 on the Texans. They make very few turnovers. They have excellent special teams.

The defense could certainly be better, but what they usually do in any given game is focus on one aspect of the opponent's offense and try to stop that. On Sunday, that was stopping Chris Ivory. A historically good defense would be able to both stop Ivory and stop the Jets' passing game. The Pats don't have that.

The Patriots also make very few stupid mistakes. Compare the Jets-Pats game with, say, the Eagles-Giants game last Monday. One game had two teams playing very well while the other had two teams playing very poorly. In both cases you get one winner and one loser. But the level of play was much different.

55 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I agree with everything you said. But man, Brady is hiding a lot of this teams deficiencies and to put all that pressure on a 38 year old QB is going to back fire in one game this season.

57 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

While his arm remains good, he's mostly covering for the team with his decision making and pocket mobility. Short of his getting injured, those should last the season no problem.

But you're right. Brady's role leaves the Patriots vulnerable to one specific strategy: Code Red.


72 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Whether he underrates the OL, I think the point still stands. You are talking about an OL that, for the moment, is playing a 3rd string UDFA rookie center, a LG who most Pats fans were hoping wouldn't make the team, two rookie 4th rounders at RG, their RT at LT and their 3rd string RT, a guy who cleared waivers just two months ago. How many teams could get even marginal production out that ^that^?

74 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Could it have to do with the average speed of snap to release for Tom Brady being about 2 seconds, so the OL doesn't have to hold up too long against vastly superior OL?

A lot of reliance, I think, on how good a QB is at making pre-snap reads and identifying the mismatches- and I think Gronkowski is pretty much what makes that whole offense hum along, as he draws a ridiculous amount of attention on his own -and- he's a major mismatch.

78 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I'm sure that's a big part of it, which was kind of my point. That scheme and Brady make the OL appear stronger than it would in another system.

I think your latter point would be more accurate if you said Gronk is what makes the offense *excel*, because we've seen the Patriots in a mostly Gronk-less setting with a mediocre-to-poor OL still put up 27 ppg.

63 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I think a lot of that is that the special teams give both the offense and defense great field position to work from - the defense has more field to work with to prevent scoring, the offense less yards needed to score. It puts a lot of pressure on other teams' to match up.

This is a team that spent a fifth round pick on a LONG SNAPPER, and he's been consistently good and fast in snapping the ball and making it easy for the kicker/punter/holder, so that might be helping the kicking game function smoothly.

So in this case, I'd look a lot closer at NE's #1 ranking in ST's and poke around in how much that helps the offense and defense.

71 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

This Patriots team feels like it started stronger and has gotten a bit shakier as the season has worn on due to the injuries, but it's a team with a lot of strengths and flexibility, much like strong Patriots teams of the past. The team has a powerful stable of pass rushers--the rush is not consistent, pending injuries and game-planning, but they shine for stretches of every game. The team has a very flexible group of pass catchers, including a swing back and a great tight end. The offensive line is playing reasonably--certainly not poorly, despite all of the injuries, and all of the players but one ought to be coming back at some point. The secondary is a bit patchwork, but it is surprisingly competitive. Butler and Ryan give up chunks of yardage for stretches in each game, but they also make key third down stops, and critical pass defenses on long balls etc. that just didn't happen back in 2010 or even 2011. The run defense can be leaky, but when the team clamps down with Alan Branch and Malcolm Brown, they get a lot stiffer. This team feels a lot like the flexible sort of squad that the Patriots fielded back around 2003, where manipulating match-ups and carefully utilizing the talent could lead to nailbiter wins week after week. I'd say that's a very good team. You don't have to dominate to be great.

52 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

... our research has never found evidence that specific quarterbacks do anything to determine most defensive penalties. Defensive Pass Interference is a big exception ...

I have a question about that, specifically about offsides penalties. Since I mostly watch the Packers, I know Rodgers seems much better on those hard counts to draw offsides than most QBs. I do know there are also a few other QBs who are very good at it. It might also be helpful to include uncalled offsides. Rodgers, and probably some other QBs, go for big plays when they see they have that penalty coming knowing there is no downside to whatever happens.

56 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Well, we can't include "uncalled" penalties. They aren't in the data. We did include declined penalties when we did this research. It's one of those things we always check on every couple years because it seems like common sense disagrees with our research, so I'm sure it will come up again.

60 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

A lot of penalty feeling and observation ends up being very inconsistent with the actual data.

Someone made a comment a little while back on a hit during the Cam Newton referee racism hoopla along the lines of "Tom Brady would have got that call" - but when you look at the data, it turned out that Brady was at the bottom of the league in the rate of Roughing calls per pass attempt, and Newton was very near the top - the perception was the opposite of reality.

98 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

The stat may have actually been that - I'm having a hard time finding it at the moment(I think it was on nflpenalties.com). Can't remember how I got it to show 'by victim' instead of 'by perpatrator'

The point was that the actual truth was the opposite of what common opinion was - so claims that 'X player draws penalties better' should be taken with a grain of salt when data isn't provided..

100 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

I'd be surprised if the stat was based on QB hits. That's a lot more work because you have to watch every play. If it's just based on PAs, then it doesn't show much. I'm sure Brady takes fewer hits in general for the same reasons that he is consistently in the top 3rd in sack rates and Newton is consistently in the bottom 3rd* (some combo of better line play, better recognition of pressure by Brady, and a faster trigger).

*Carolina actually has a lower sack rate this year, but it's still early. I'd expect by the end of the year the numbers will look more like the past several years.

59 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Interesting to see the Patriots passing defense drop from -6.5% to 3.4% despite facing a passing offense that DVOA thinks very highly of. I thought it might be due to changing opponent adjustments, but both Pitt and Buffalo are also still top 10 DVOA passing offenses.

Were all those 3rd and long conversions huge hits? The disparity between NY's rushing and passing success appears to be a factor, seeing as NE's run defense improved a good deal, but any specifics on why NE's defensive passing DVOA dropped 10% would be appreciated.

62 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

You're most likely right in it being 3rd down - DVOA places a huge value on that.

Strange performance though - in that they forced a ton of long 3rd downs.

65 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

the colts have the best dvoa in their division. at this point, the way they're playing, i'm not sure whether they can beat anyone else on their schedule. is the nfl ready for a 6-10 division winner? how about 5-11? do the playoffs mean pagano and grigson keep their jobs regardless of how laughable the team has become?

i grew up with the dolts and this team is there again in any other division. if one of the other three teams becomes competent maybe our pain will end.

hail damage

68 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Is QBR actually good for anything? Has anyone ever looked at the strength of association/predictive ability of QBR on wins, offensive points, yards, etc. and how it might compare to NFL passer rating or DVOA?

My sense is that it's generally not a helpful measure of QB performance.

69 Re: Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Cold Hard Football Facts claims that the most predictive stat in football is (real)RQBR differential. Their explanation of RQBR being QBR+the QB's running stats thrown into the equation. (I guess as attempts?)

That's the closest I know of your answer.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.