DVOA Analysis
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Week 18 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

(Ed. Note: Four days after running these ratings, we discovered a manual error that left a few plays shortened by penalty uncorrected. There were three in the KC-HOU game and one in the GB-WAS game. These fixes changed the DVOA ratings for wild-card weekend so that Kansas City no longer had the best single game of the year, and the Chiefs' punt returns weren't quite as impressive. We've corrected the numbers below but have not changed the text except for notes. -- Aaron Schatz)

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 1-4, and Weeks 5-10 are somewhat discounted.
  • Teams which did not play in the wild-card round are treated as if they had a bye week. (That includes both the 20 non-playoff teams and the four teams with byes.)

Since we've been writing a lot again these last couple weeks about the question of weighted DVOA vs. total DVOA, and which is more accurate for predicting the postseason, this year I'm including total DVOA in the postseason DVOA ratings table. The total DVOA listed below adds the four wild-card games in with all 256 regular-season games. As I noted last year, adding one game into a sample of 17 doesn't usually change things very much. It does this year because of the extreme dominance that Kansas City showed in its victory over Houston.

Kansas City ended up with 123.4% DVOA in the 30-0 win. That ends up as the biggest single-game DVOA of the year, surpassing the 115.7% DVOA Seattle had in its Week 17 stomping of Arizona.

(After corrections, Kansas City was actually at 110.3% DVOA. No need to delete our table, but we've removed the Chiefs.)

However, this game is far from having the highest DVOA of any playoff game we've ever measured. It turns out there are a lot of postseason games with really high single-game ratings, because that's what happens when a playoff-caliber team loses a blowout. Kansas City's win is the tenth different playoff game with DVOA over 120%. Here's the rundown:

Playoff Games with DVOA of 120% or More, 1989-2015
Year Team Week Opp DVOA Score
1993 SF Divisional NYG 145.0% 44-3
1989 SF NFC Champ LARM 135.2% 30-3
2005 CAR Wild Card NYG 131.6% 23-0
2002 NYJ Wild Card IND 129.6% 41-0
2000 BAL Super Bowl NYG 127.5% 34-7
1989 SF Super Bowl DEN 126.6% 55-10
2013 SEA Super Bowl DEN 126.2% 43-8
1999 JAC Divisional MIA 123.3% 62-7
1992 DAL Super Bowl BUF 122.2% 52-17

Quick note: for a few of these years, playoffs are still only done with an older version of DVOA, so ratings may change in the future when we get a chance to go through and update all past playoff data. And, of course, we don't have 1985 yet, when the Bears won their three playoff games by a combined score of 91-10. It will be interesting to see how well those games do compared to the three games where the 1989 49ers beat their opponents by a combined 126-26.

Just how bad was this game for Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer? You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out in Quick Reads.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of Kansas City's win was not what the Chiefs did to Hoyer but how much they dominated on special teams in every possible way. The all-around special teams performance earned a special teams DVOA of 43.9%, the best special teams game of 2015 and one of the best we've ever measured, even after adjusting for the game taking place indoors. (Apologies, I don't have time to go through all 26 years to track down the current list of the best special teams games.) The Chiefs only fielded one kickoff, but of course Knile Davis returned it for a touchdown. Frankie Hammond averaged 19.5 yards on four punt returns, which is phenomenal. Dustin Colquitt punted four times with no returns; two of the punts landed inside the 10 and another was inside the 20. Cairo Santos had touchbacks on every one of his kickoffs and converted all three field goals, including two of 49 yards.

(The corrected special teams DVOA is 36.1%, still the No. 2 special teams game of the year behind Seattle in Week 3 against Chicago. We had mistakenly missed that two of Hammond's punt returns were shortened by penalties.)

This game massively juices Kansas City's rating in both regular DVOA and weighted DVOA. As a result, our playoff odds simulation now has Kansas City actually listed as the AFC favorite, representing the conference in Super Bowl 50 for 31.6 percent of simulations. Do note, however, that the playoff odds simulation doesn't understand specific matchups in these next four games. It is also not as complex as the one used for FO Premium picks, so picks may differ. In addition, we did not adjust Kansas City's rating for the Jeremy Maclin injury. We did, however, leave in the slight boost to New England's rating based on Julian Edelman's return. As for Pittsburgh's injuries, in past weeks we had adjusted Pittsburgh's rating to account for the four weeks they played without Ben Roethlisberger; this week, we didn't do that in order to try to account for Roethlisberger's injury.

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With the best weighted DVOA ratings belonging to wild-card teams, the playoff odds are pretty scrambled right now. We actually end up with Seattle as the current Super Bowl favorites even though they aren't even favored to win this week's game according to the formula we use in the playoff odds. Five different teams win the Super Bowl in at least 12 percent of simulations.

You will find DVOA matchup pages for the four divisional games on the FO Premium page. Snap counts are now updated with information on the wild-card round. And if you have a team in the Football Outsiders 2016 Playoff Fantasy Challenge, you can check out your team right here.

* * * * *

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.

Table is updated with the fixed numbers for KC-HOU and a slight change in GB-WAS.

1 SEA 49.9% 1 11-6 24.8% 1 -23.9% 2 1.2% 18 37.1% 1
2 KC 44.6% 2 12-5 13.3% 4 -26.1% 1 5.2% 30.4% 2
3 CAR 29.9% 3 15-1 12.1% 6 -17.5% 5 0.2% 19 25.9% 5
4 PIT 28.4% 4 11-6 13.5% 3 -12.3% 6 2.6% 14 22.3% 7
5 CIN 22.4% 5 12-5 6.9% 13 -12.1% 7 3.4% 8 28.1% 3
6 DEN 20.0% 6 12-4 -1.3% 17 -22.0% 3 -0.7% 20 17.7% 8
7 ARI 16.8% 7 13-3 12.9% 5 -11.0% 8 -7.0% 32 27.4% 4
8 MIN 15.8% 10 11-6 3.2% 14 -7.9% 10 4.7% 5 6.7% 11
9 NE 14.7% 9 12-4 8.2% 11 -4.3% 15 2.2% 15 22.6% 6
10 NYJ 11.7% 8 10-6 2.2% 15 -10.4% 9 -0.9% 23 12.4% 10
11 DET 11.5% 11 7-9 8.7% 9 -0.2% 16 2.6% 13 1.1% 13
12 WAS 5.9% 12 9-8 7.0% 12 6.6% 22 5.5% 3 -2.0% 15
13 CHI 1.0% 14 6-10 11.0% 7 13.1% 29 3.1% 11 -5.7% 18
14 GB 0.7% 19 11-6 -6.1% 20 -5.0% 14 1.8% 16 13.2% 9
15 BUF 0.6% 15 8-8 10.2% 8 12.3% 28 2.7% 12 2.7% 12
16 OAK 0.2% 16 7-9 -5.3% 19 -6.3% 12 -0.8% 21 0.0% 14
17 BAL -2.7% 17 5-11 -8.4% 22 3.8% 18 9.5% 1 -3.0% 17
18 TB -2.7% 18 6-10 8.4% 10 5.4% 20 -5.8% 31 -9.3% 20
19 HOU -3.7% 13 9-8 -16.0% 28 -17.8% 4 -5.5% 30 9.9% 21
20 STL -5.8% 20 7-9 -15.2% 26 -6.2% 13 3.2% 10 -2.2% 16
21 NYG -7.6% 21 6-10 1.1% 16 15.5% 31 6.8% 2 -6.5% 19
22 IND -13.0% 22 8-8 -22.0% 32 -7.4% 11 1.6% 17 -12.9% 23
23 DAL -15.8% 25 4-12 -18.2% 31 2.1% 17 4.6% 6 -18.3% 27
24 SD -15.9% 24 4-12 -4.0% 18 8.3% 25 -3.6% 28 -14.8% 24
25 JAC -17.0% 26 5-11 -8.9% 23 11.4% 27 3.3% 9 -16.0% 25
26 NO -17.0% 28 7-9 13.5% 2 27.9% 32 -2.6% 25 -18.7% 28
27 MIA -18.1% 23 6-10 -6.4% 21 8.1% 24 -3.6% 29 -19.0% 29
28 SF -19.2% 29 5-11 -11.9% 25 4.7% 19 -2.5% 24 -27.4% 32
29 PHI -21.5% 27 7-9 -10.6% 24 15.0% 30 4.1% 7 -11.2% 22
30 ATL -22.9% 30 8-8 -16.0% 29 6.0% 21 -0.8% 22 -16.1% 26
31 CLE -26.3% 31 3-13 -15.6% 27 7.8% 23 -3.0% 26 -23.0% 30
32 TEN -31.4% 32 3-13 -16.9% 30 11.1% 26 -3.4% 27 -26.5% 31

Here are the one-game DVOA ratings for the first round of the playoffs.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
KC 110% 4% -70% 36%
HOU -92% -77% -8% -23%
PIT 40% -14% -48% 7%
CIN 31% -23% -39% 15%
SEA 20% -12% -37% -5%
MIN 24% -12% -42% -5%
GB 59% 28% -19% 13%
WAS -28% -8% 25% 4%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
KC 108% -3% -76% 36%
HOU -109% -84% 2% -23%
PIT 15% -19% -27% 7%
CIN 10% -30% -25% 15%
SEA 16% -15% -36% -5%
MIN -16% -30% -19% -5%
GB 58% 33% -12% 13%
WAS -34% -16% 23% 4%

* * * * *

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 the wild-card round are:

  • LG Josh Sitton, GB (24-HOUR HERO): Helped Green Bay running backs gain 10.1 yards per carry with a 71 percent success rate on runs to the left.
  • FS Husain Abdullah, KC: All five of his plays (2 PD, 3 tackles) were successful by FO baselines.
  • RE Cliff Avril, SEA: 5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, sack, and 3 QB hits.
  • K Chris Boswell, PIT: 4-for-4 on field goals, 4-for-6 touchbacks on kickoffs.
  • CB Quinton Dunbar, WAS: Prevented three different third-down conversions with two passes defensed and a tackle.


113 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2016, 1:59am

1 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I've often asked this - how does one distinguish bad offense vs good defense? Its pretty hard to answer, but in watching SEA MIN and KC Hou - I think the latter was firmly in bad offense. Sure Kc's D is great and all, but Hoyer was a mess.

4 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Bad offense would be stuff like QBs missing open receivers even without pressure, throwing into heavy coverage or taking sacks 5 seconds after the snap, miscommunications between QB and receivers, players fumbling the ball, running backs running straight into defenders or their own linemen, receivers not giving full effort on routes or dropping simple passes, and lineman giving up immediate pressure or unintentionally allowing free rushers. Basically, self-inflicted errors.

16 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I agree that some of the Houston mistakes were bad offense, but there was plenty that KC did to disrupt the offense (pressure, good coverage, etc.). On top of that, KC did settle for FGs but (20-20) that was the right thing to do. On top of that, there were TD drives of 70+ and 90+ yards in the 2nd half. I'd say KC had great defense against a bad offense, and had above average offense against a (arguably) great defense.

2 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

The all-around special teams performance earned a special teams DVOA of 43.9%, the best special teams game of 2015 and one of the best we've ever measured, even after adjusting for the game taking place indoors.

The top 10 single-game special teams DVOAs since 1989:
58.1%: 2007 Texans, Week 17 (2 kick return TDs)
53.4%: 2000 Ravens, Week 17 (2 punt return TDs)
52.6%: 2010 Seahawks, Week 3 (2 kick return TDs)
52.3%: 2002 Saints, Week 6 (kick return TD, punt return TD)
51.7%: 2011 49ers, Week 1 (kick return TD, punt return TD)
50.1%: 2007 Bears, Week 12 (kick return TD, punt return TD)
49.7%: 2009 Bears, Week 4 (kick return TD, 4 of 4 punts inside 20)
49.6%: 1997 Chargers, Week 10 (2 punt return TDs)
49.5%: 2002 Panthers, Week 14 (2 punt return TDs)
49.1%: 2000 Buccaneers, Week 13 (punt return TD)

3 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Is there a way to determine how much weather affects the performance of a team and therefore the DVOA measurement? It seems that the numbers for the Minnesota/Seattle game are not quite comparable to the other games when an exterior factor was so drastically different than the other games and clearly affected the players. Is it negligible over the course of a full season?

6 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

A game like KC vs. Hou makes me think DVOA overreacts to routs. What I saw from the Chiefs wasn't anything close to the a top 10 playoff performance of all time. They took advantage of a terrible Chiefs' offense and a QB who self-destructed in a historic fashion.

It also feels ridiculous that any special teams' performance could ever merit getting 43.9%.

10 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Houston wasn't a terrible offense. They were 24th by DVOA. That's bad, but not terrible. So yeah, smothering a bad offense is *really* good. Hoyer had 4 yard per attempt and 4 picks. He also fumbled twice.

The average running back does better than that in most NFL games.

Also, down big an NFL team is usually able to get something going in garbage time. See all the comments in a usual blow out where people complain about how the losing QB gets too much credit for getting yards and TDs in garbage time. Hoyer wasn't able to get anything going even then.

11 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

To go with a great special teams and a dominant defensive performance, the Kansas City offense was actually pretty solid against a good Texans D. They got as many yards per play as GB, and were decent on 3rd down. Their biggest problem was consistently coming up 1 yard shy of first down (not just ALEX's fault, also the RBs). It certainly wasn't a dominant offensive effort, but it wasn't terrible either.

43% is high but special teams is pretty important to winning games (especially when you have a good defense). I have always wondered about the predictiveness of ST DVOA though. In this weekends' games the teams with better offense/defense DVOA generally won that matchup. Special teams is the one place where regular season DVOA didn't predict who would win the matchup.

17 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Re: 6

The KC-Hou game didn't feel like a top 10 performance of all-time because it was still close in score in middle of the 3rd quarter - 13-0 with 7 of those points having come on the opening kickoff.

51 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings


And in the 4th quarter the Texans simply gave up.

I've seen much better teams than this Texans' team get blown out in the past, and quite a good number of times. Arguments along the line of "but this really was a blowout" aren't convincing to me. I know it was a blowout. But it wasn't a Top Ten blowout.

Aside: discussions about DVOA should focus on value, not ranking.

29 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I vaguely remember that 5% DVOA is worth about 1 point. So 43.9% ST DVOA implies the special teams were about 9 points better than replacement. With a return TD and, two 49 yd FGs, 3 punts inside the 20 and punt return average of 20 yards, I can see that.

53 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

"With a return TD and, two 49 yd FGs, 3 punts inside the 20 and punt return average of 20 yards, I can see that."

That's supposed to be the best special teams' performance ever?

What did the Eagles get when they had a blocked FG returned for a TD and a punt return for a TD? Certainly that was a better day for them than the Chiefs had.

Having 3 punts inside the 20 is good, but it's hardly a rare occurrence.

111 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

It's correct that they don't get credit for it.

It's odd that they don't get credit, as FG returns aren't random. They don't happen often, but chances are good that if you tell me what team is going to do a FG return (and against which other team) I can tell you whether or not it's going to be a successful return or not.

7 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

How much special teams VOA did Minnesota lose with the shanked field goal?

I was arguing with a friend today over whether Minnesota or Seattle played better yesterday (my main argument was the 4 vs 3.3 difference in yards per play, friends main argument was that Seattle was lucky to win due to botched field goal attempt).

Was wondering what VOA had to say...

21 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Probably preaching to the choir here, but I hate it when people look at one play at the end of the game in which something "lucky" happens and claim that it is the sole reason for the final outcome.

In the Seahawks-Vikings game, both teams played good defense against offenses that were probably hamstrung by the ridiculously cold weather (which might have been the ultimate lucky break for the Vikings, given that it seemed to negate the Seahawks downfield passing advantage). Taken from a broad view, I don't see how either side could feel cheated if their team lost. Yes, the ending was dramatic and heart-wrenching (for the losers), but much like the last Super Bowl, there was no clear-cut "deserving winner" in this one.

27 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Yes, the "well, it was evenly played overall" rationale is cold comfort for the losing squad, especially if their "unlucky" break occurs at the very end of the game. As a Seahawks fans I've been on both sides of this coin twice the past few postseasons: Green Bay, Minnesota (good); Atlanta, New England (bad).

28 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I'd say the incident on the field that contained the highest luck (meaning "no player skill involved", as opposed to "non-predictive" which are two distinctly different things, if subtly different) which impacted the outcome most, occurred the moment immediately after Peterson had the ball stripped. The ball flies out, and strikes a Viking square in the chest. If his arms are simply positioned a little differently, he may simply reflexively cradle the ball. Instead, it bounces off him, and Seattle recovers. Such is the stuff of suggestions that another fellow human being should commit suicide, made on Twitter.

Every time I try to decide which bunch is more vile, in the sport I like the most, NFL owners, or big time college coaches, I have to remind myself that idiot football fans need to be recognized.

24 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Yeah this was one of those games where if you cloned the players 100 times and then played the game under the exact same conditions, one team would be lucky to win more then 55.

It was a hard fought game, I just think Seattle was the (slightly) better team, however most people wont think that because of the way the game ended.

25 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

People need to understand how great Wilson was on the botched snap, even if his greatness was enabled by two fundamental errors by two Vikings, one extremely egregious, and that two Seahwaks made a great play in unison, to force Peterson's fumble.

32 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

being as the largest play of the game (botched snap turned into a 35 yard gain) was essentially a miracle play that doesn't happen 99 times out of a 100, and that that net change (10 yard loss from where wilson is surrounded by players to 35 yard catch) itself single-handedly reverses the yards per play (gives seattle a 3.14 YPP average), I find you argument... unpersuasive. did you watch the game? seattle never looked comfortable, russell looked notably wary every second until he hit that miracle pass, and the vikings players, especially the vikings defense, were the dominant force in that game. seattle was not the better team on the day, they were just the winning team.

35 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I'd be careful with that 99 out of 100 figure. When defenses don't employ proper discipline with Wilson, and that is far more than a 1 out 100 occurrence, Wilson makes a lot of plays like that.

It was a tie game to me, with two huge, good, plays by the Seahawks giving them 10 points, and the Vikings having one red zone opportunity not obtaining points, and that was that.

46 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I'll agree with Will. This was basically an even game. Although I'll poke back at alvastar's luck complaints and say that if Wilson's hands weren't so cold he would likely have completed those 2 deep passes where there was a receiver open behind everyone instead of uncharacteristically having the pass hang up in the air long enough for the defenders to get there.

73 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I've watched every one of Wilson's NFL plays and he has the rare ability to pull plays out of his a$$ even when defenses DO employ proper discipline. It's very crushing for an opposing fan. I've suffered from the exploits of Roethlisburger (recently) and especially Elway (back in the day). Their style is different from Wilson's though. Well, waaaaay back in the day, growing up a Pack fan, Tark pulled some crazy plays out of his a$$.

103 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Very true. As I watched that play develop, it went from "wow - they are going to have to punt now" to "How can he walk with a horseshoe implanted up in there?" ... but that is Russell Wilson.

108 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Going back to his rookie year, Wilson has had a knack for turning an apparent busted play on third downs into a first down conversion. Considering I usually want Seattle to lose, this has been very frustrating.

89 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Another overlooked play was the dropped INT by the Vikings defender (Sendejo?) on Seattle's final drive. In hindsight it could be said not to matter because the Vikings drove into chip-shot field goal range anyway, but at the time it cost them 30+ yards of field position in a game where yards were very hard to come by. And given the ball at halfway instead of pinned deep would have hugely increased their chance of driving for a TD and not putting the game on the foot of Walsh.

Indeed dropped INTs are some of the highest leverage plays in a lot of games, and frequently go unmentioned in the final analysis.

8 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

NFC North - all four teams top 14 and the one still left in the playoffs rated 14. Didn't see that coming after half way through the year.

12 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Hoyer was Hoyerble. That had everything to do with Houstons hideous offensive showing. the Seattle-Minnesota game you can't draw anything from except both defenses had it easy and both offenses were seriously affected by the cold and wind.

13 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Seahawks the favorite for it all because they won the game on a single terrible fluke play that should've resulted in a turnover. Lol okay.

20 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Seattle averaged more net yards per play (4.0 vs 3.3), a better redzone effiency (1/1 vs 0/2), better 3rd/4th down efficiency (5/17 [29%] vs 4/14 [28%]) and gained more field position per punt.

Even without the missed field goal, Seattle outplayed Minnesota. The only reason Minnesota was in the position to win it was because Seattle was 0/3 on 4th down, while Minnesota was 1/1 (those numbers are included up there), and there's no difference between how a team plays third and short and how a team plays 4th and short.

Minnesota got lucky that they gained more field position on Seattle's failed 3rd/4th down attempts then Seattle gained on Minnesotas. That's the reason why Minnesota had the opportunity to win on that field goal.

Seattle was the better team and outplayed Minnesota yesterday, but people wont remember that because Minnesota missed a field goal.

26 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I don't think red zone efficiency tells you anything more about a team than 4th down conversion stats. Seattle had one more good play in the red zone than Minnesota, it could have been skill, it could have been luck.

Edit: you also did not include penalty yards in your net yards per play calculation as far as I can tell.

72 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

However some teams are consistently good or bad in the redzone, though granted it's subject to small sample sizes.

And penalties narrows the gap from 0.7 to 0.4. Seattle was still better.

100 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I think another issue is that with Minnesota in the lead most of the game, they were playing less aggressively. This is natural. This may have affected their yards per play. From a neutral fan's perspective i thought the game was pretty even and i'm not wildly impressed by 4.0 vs. 3.4 or whatever. Even if I agree that Wilson making an incredible play like that once per game is expected and not miraculous.

They ran Peterson into the line on every first and second down because they were ahead, rather than because it maximized yards per play is another way of saying this.

34 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

already said this above, but if you take out that one miracle play (botched snap resulting in Russell Wilson kneeling on the ground somehow resulting in a successful downfield bomb), seattle would've averaged less yards per play (3.14 vs 3.3), similarly bad redzone efficiency (0/0 vs 0/2), and statistically equal 3rd/4th down efficiency (a single percentage point means basically nothing). the punting average (35.4 vs 34.4) were likewise essentially identical. The vikings had more first downs, a greater time of possession, less penalties/penalty yards, better kickoff returns, more passes defended, frankly i don't know anyone who watched it who didn't think that the vikings deserved to win (heck, even Pete Carroll said that the seahawks were "fortunate" to win that one).

Seattle got lucky in that they had three unlikely situations all happen, and all happen in their favor (miracle botched snap, AP some reason fighting after he already had the first, missed 26 yard FG). you take away any of those three in-themselves-unlikely situations, and the vikings win. the vikings did not get "lucky" in basically any way whatsoever on Sunday.

83 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

According to the win probability calculator, Vikings had a 54% chance of winning at that stage.

There was 11 minutes left in the game, with the Vikings barely holding onto a two point lead. Peterson was right to fight for yardage as getting into field goal range would be equally if not more important then clock killing at that stage of the game.

I think the argument that Peterson should have dived on that play to avoid the fumble requires the benefit of hindsight and is something that Peterson couldn't have known.

But I guess we're all monday morning quarterbacks here.

39 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

You have a very strange, and I would say incorrect, definition of luck. In my view, unlikely or high variance plays are not necessarily lucky. I mean, how on Earth could Wilson's great play be viewed as lucky? Everything he did was a result of his unique athleticism. That play was basically the exact opposite of luck; there might not be another player in the league who has the skills to pull it off. You make it sound like he threw the ball with his eyes closed and a random gust of wind blew the ball to his receiver who got it lodged in his face mask and he stumbled blindly to the three yard line.

As for the AP fumble it was again a great play by two defenders to strip it. It did take a lucky bounce for Seattle, but Rubin put himself in position to get it by hustling.

As for the missed field goal, it was very lucky for the Seahawks. But this isn't a credit to the Vikings -- they didn't execute on a chip shot. That hardly should count as a point in favor of the Vikings "deserving" to win.

67 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I won't argue with you about the Wilson play after he picked up the ball - I thought it was great reaction under pressure - do I think other QBs could do the same thing - sure - several of the athletic ones, but the point is that was only one element of the play. Sea was lucky that the ball didn't bounce a little funnier - that it didn't glance of his shoulder or something and bounce towards a Viking rusher, that it went a distance that gave Wilson time to pick it up and react.

What was lucky about the play was Sea screwed up royally and it didn't cost them. They in fact benefited greatly.

44 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

So Minnesota didn't get lucky on a botched Seattle snap in cold weather when punting that resulted in a FG?
Not sure how Russell Wilson taking a botched snap and turning it into a big play is luck. It took skill and great awareness to turn that into a positive play.

48 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Well, the expected outcome of a punter not getting a punt off due to a bad snap is a short field for the opposition, so, no that really isn't lucky. Now, the expected outcome of a snap past the qb is a large loss, and not a huge gain, so that is very unexpected, but the reason it is unexpected is because very, very, few qbs can get back quickly, obtain the ball, and then elude a blitzing corner (albeit one displyaing very poor discipline), and thus escape to the outside, thus also escaping the center rush. Not really "lucky" either, unless you consider the opposition failing to execute to be "luck" , which it only is in a very narrow sense.

74 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

The bad snap itself is unlucky. You can play the time slice game to wring luck out of everything. The odds of a field goal going through when the kicker rushes his approach and sticks his plant foot too close to the ball are quite low. Does that make the missed field goal a neutral luck event?

76 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

The events I consider to be purely luck based are A) fumble recoveries when a player from each team is in the vicinity, and B) many penalties, or non-penalties. Gusts of wind at the wrong time, too, I suppose.

49 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Well, the expected outcome of a punter not getting a punt off due to a bad snap is a short field for the opposition, so, no that really isn't lucky. Now, the expected outcome of a snap past the qb is a large loss, and not a huge gain, so that is very unexpected, but the reason it is unexpected is because very, very, few qbs can get back quickly, obtain the ball, and then elude a blitzing corner (albeit one displyaing very poor discipline), and thus escape to the outside, thus also escaping the center rush. Not really "lucky" either, unless you consider the opposition failing to execute to be "luck" , which it only is in a very narrow sense.

68 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Take away the botched punt snap early in the game that gave Min the ball in FG position... and that final kick may have not even mattered.

Take away the cold... etc.

both teams experienced plenty of luck in the game.

79 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Your math is off, based on the official play-by-play, Wilson recovered the ball 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. If he was sacked there, the result Seattle would have averaged 3.44 yards per play, compared to Minnesotas 3.39 (so yes, very very close).

Your 3.14 assumes that Wilson lost an additional 16 yards after he recovered the football, which frankly is absurd.

The net punting (includes punt return) was 34 to 32.4, small yes, but still gained Seattle 8 yards of field position (and would have gained them 13 yards if Seattle punted on their 4th down attempts).

"The vikings had more first downs"
1 more first down. Seattle's touchdown is more valuable then that.

"a greater time of possession"
I thought everyone by now knew this was a useless stat.

"less penalties/penalty yards,"
Including penalties Seattle still had a great net yards.

"better kickoff returns"
Seattle lost 3 yards on kickoff returns (with the 20/touchback being line of scrimage), Minnesota gained 6. So Punts/Kickoffs netted 1 yard for Minnesota in the entire game.

"more passes defended"
An incomplete pass is already worth 0 yards, whether it's gained from a bad throw or a defended pass is irrelevant.

87 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

You keep insisting it was a miracle play. Have a seat with some 49er fans. They'll explain to you the difference between miracle play and Russell Wilson amazingly gets away from a sure 10+ yard sack and somehow finds a guy deep who is wide open.

It's what he does.

91 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

If you watch the play again, you'll see Wilson fall around the ball carefully, on the ground, where he won't turn it over if he gets hit. He then looks up and realizes he has time to get up and make something happen. Only then does he get up and make something happen. It was a very cagey play. He made this wild disaster as low a risk play as possible at every moment from the time the snap went past his head to the time he found Lockette.

65 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

no people will think Sea was lucky to win because at the point in the game with 26 seconds to go it was incredibly likely they would lose...so they think of that as luck.

Was Sea a better team...DVOA thinks so, but I suspect if you polled 100 coaches who had no bias it would come out fairly evenly split as to which was the better team on that day.

In the end, who cares - there is luck in every game - Sea had some Minn had some - Sea won.

66 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I mean, you can be the better team and still deserve to lose a game. THat's why wins are a noisy statistics. That being said, I don't care if SEA was the better team/slightly outplayed Minnesota; that missed kick was the the definition of insane flukiness.

14 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, Football Outsiders has this crazy system where they evaluate teams' overall performance based on more than just one play.

18 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I thought Tretter deserved some of the credit for the run blocking to the left by GB. On several of those runs guys got the edge which isn't possible wihtout the left tackle doing his job. That basic function has been missing even with Bhaktari because he's limited on run blocking with his ailing knee.

19 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

It's a cliche but GB will live and die with its line play on Saturday. The Cards d-line destroyed the GB offensive line last game, and the GB line was unable to generate consistent pressure on Palmer which allowed him to take advantage of the poor linebacker coverages

If the Packers are to have any chance both lines will need to play incredibly well. Otherwise, the game may be closer but still a defeat for GB

The Cards are just too good.

22 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I'm trying to figure out why the Vikings were able to compete so much better in Phoenix, compared to the Packers, other than week to week variance. I think the Vikings and Packers defenses are very, very, similar in quality, and the Vikings had significant guys missing when they played in Phoenix. Maybe it was just the Vikings o-line having a better day, compared to the Packers o-line, as weird as that is to say.

30 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

That cards game was a total meltdown for gb. I cant c that happening again, tho ari feels like the better team on both sides of the ball.

Oh and i think minnys D at full strength is a notch above gb and probably among the best in the nfl not named denver.

31 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

The Packers offense being so surprisingly dysfunctional for the last 10 games of the regular season has kind of masked the quality of the Packers defense, I suspect.

33 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings


For reasons that only make sense to Mike McCarthy the team asked Don Barclay to play left tackle after he had struggled at right tackle earlier in the year. Recall also that MM does not give his tackles help. Then Belaga went out in the second quarter with injury

Then all hell broke loose as the Cards ran these mysterious approaches that the Packer line later learned are known as "stunts"

That and Campbell played like Justin Smith's big brother

It was ugly. So I kind of understand Rodgers still being shell shocked. He was not sacked. He was trampled then tied to the back of a truck and dragged around the block

38 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

With Devonte Adams likely out, I gotta believe the Cardinals drop a safety into the box on every 1st down, a lot of 2nd downs, play lock down on the Packer pass catchers, put a spy on Rodgers to make him stay in the pocket, and just force him to try to play like an MVP without any help.

The Packers defensive front has to have their best game of the year, by a good margin.

41 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

You still need to have guys on the field. Now, I suspect, you are bringing a practice guy squad onto the active roster, and giving him snaps. It really helps the Cards to freely keep 8 guys in the box on every first down.

42 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

If Adams can't play, it will mostly mean more time for Abbrederis, and probably some significant time for Jeff Janis.

The results could be interesting. Rodgers has been pulling for Abby to get more playing time since he's a good route runner, though he's managed a few drops like every other GB receiver,

Janis is more of an enigma. Great speed, and the one guy on the team who can really stretch defenses, but poor route running and awareness. I would really like the Pack to figure out a few packages that can take advantage of his skills without requiring him to run the full route tree.

The other reason I would like to see him get used more in a game like this is that GB needs to employ a high variance strategy for the best odds of winning, and throwing a few bombs to a raw but speedy big play threat fits the bill, with potential side benefit of opening things up a bit more underneath.

45 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Yes. This is where Mike's long term expectations interfere with single game tactical planning

When he sees Janis he thinks of all the things Jannis CANNOT do versus what he CAN do

I wish Mike could be of understanding of Janis as he is of a Richard Rodgers or until very recently a Don Barclay

50 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

The funny thing is that the Capers defense has been full of role players for years.

Hyde and Rollins covering TEs. Thomas as the dime LB, when he doesn't get on the field in Nickel or Base. Hayward being a slot guy, and last year splitting the Nickel job with House depending on whether they wanted more inside quickness or outside size.

All I really want for Janis is to run three routes: go, post, and drag. If he can't read defenses, then don't make him do the option routes, just let him run a few routes, in mostly straight lines, that force CBs in man coverage to chase him to every far corner of the field.

Another advantage I didn't mention before is that a great way to make defenses pay for man coverage is to run a lot of deep routes, then have the QB scramble when the CBs have their backs turned. Not something you want to do often with a QB like Rodgers in the regular season, but in a single elimination tournament I think it's worth the extra injury risk, especially as an underdog.

54 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Agreed all around. I appreciate that the Packers have high standards for their receivers but the handling of Janis is really odd

This isn't a guy with physical limitations like other receivers in the past. The guy is fast, strong and tough. (See his special teams play)

If you cannot leverage THAT on a FOOTBALL field as a coach you need to reconsider your priorities

71 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I didn't see the Cardinals-Packers game so I can't really judge, but in my experience people place too much emphasis on line-play when discussing individual game (and then doing a complete reverse and often completely forgetting about line-play when ranking QBs performances for the season/career), and tend to always blame the line when a quarterback they like has a bad game.

Maybe given I play goalie in hockey I might have too much sympathy for the offensive line:
When they do their job, they rarely get credited, when the play breaks down, they're normaly left on the hook.

However, I've found the Packers O-line in particular get way too much fault when their QB has a bad game. Since Rodgers has the tendency to hold onto the ball longer then most QBs (which he does mostly to take advantage of his ability to scramble so isn't necessarily a bad thing), the O-line can play well, but if Rodgers hasn't made a throw by the time to pocket ultimately breaks down, people wont remember the 3.5+ seconds the line held, they'll see Rodgers escaping pressure before throwing the ball out of bounds and ultimately chalk it up to a bad O-line.

So, as previously acknowledged, I didn't see the Cardinals-Packers games, but I'm always hesitant to blame the O-line when an offense struggles, especially if it's the O-line of a QB that likes to scramble (Packers, Seahawks, Panthers etc.)

88 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Don Barclay played left tackle where as I described he is overmatched because despite decent size and huge hands he has terrible feet. He gave up 8.5 pressures including 4.5 sacks and all but one were in about 2 seconds or less. Bryan Bulaga's replacement Josh Walker gave up four pressures in 20 snaps and all were bull rushes where he was in Rodgers lap within about 2.5 seconds from the snap.

They were a few times where Rodgers contributed to the sacks. As you describe, Rodgers certainly has that tendency which exacerbates a tough situation. Also, as I have mentioned elsehwere Mike McCarthy steadfastly refuses to give his tackles help. He just will not do it. This also can create some issues.

But in this particular Cards game the Packers just got flat out whipped especially since Campbell played OUT OF HIS MIND. He was everywhere. Josh Sitton is a deserving Pro Bowler at left guard and Campbell ate him for lunch. When matched against others on the line it was not even a contest.

Dwight Freeney went into the wayback machine and teed off as well. It was like it was 2009

Check it out on NFL network if they replay it. It was pretty incredible play by d-linemen

96 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Fair enough, you seem to know your stuff when it comes to line-play so you're probably right.

Not sure if I'll watch it since I don't really enjoy blowouts, but I'll consider it.

98 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

It very likely won't be a blowout again, at least not anywhere close to the previous level. Rodgers is still one of the best, and Green Bay's defense is very credible. If the Packers o-line doesn't suffer another injury, I rather doubt they will get blown out again.

99 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I agree, and I don't think I've said otherwise.

I do however think that Arizona is a pretty comfortable pick to win. They're the better team and the game is in Arizona. I don't expect a blowout though.

109 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

He said that I should consider watching the Cardinals-Packers game that has already been played if I appreciate watching a dominating defensive line.

I was responding to that.

That game was a blowout. Doesn't mean the next one will be.

47 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Looking at the Playoff Odds report, is this the most balanced field we've ever seen, with no team having even a 19 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl? Also, it seems wrong to me that Seattle is supposedly twice as likely as New England to win the SB despite playing in a much tougher conference. Is this a case of the computer not recognizing that the Patriots will be healthy for the first time in roughly half a year, or are the Seahawks really that much better?

104 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I was wondering why Seattle had a better result in the Superbowl, but Carolina had higher chances of winning the two games beforehand. Is that due to home-field advantage? or is there some match-up thing going on with Seattle and the AFC that Carolina doesn't have?

106 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Home field is just enough to overcome Seattle's DVOA advantage over Carolina. But the Superbowl is on a neutral field, and Seattle's DVOA advantage over all the AFC teams means the model has them winning a high % of the time they make it to the Superbowl (almost 2/3rds, vs. Carolina barely over 1/2).

107 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

OK - thanks for the sanity check - it just seemed odd that Carolina had the advantage along the way, but Seattle had the advantage for the whole journey.

57 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Aaron, I have a queasy feeling you've answered this question umpteen times already (or umpteen thousand times), but not knowing where to find the answer, I'll pose it again:

Under week 18's VOA, I see that KC posted 122, while Houston posted -122, and Seattle was 16, while MIN was -16. Why then don't the PIT/CIN and GB/WAS games have the same symmetry? If both teams are participating in all the same plays in any given day, why is one team's VOA not an exact mirror image of the opposing team?

59 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Ooh - this is a good question. It hasn't been asked "umpteen thousand times" but I have seen the answer. It has to do with certain plays that count for one side but not against the other.

Now if only I could remember what kinds of plays and why...

62 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Well, that makes sense, and I can see it accounting for the difference between GB (+57%) and WAS (-34%), but look at PIT and CIN: +15 for PIT and +10 for CIN; that seems like a huge discrepancy, no?

61 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Actually it seems to be a statistical fluke that KC and Houston have opposite VOA's since that's not true of the sub-categories (nor is it true of Sea vs. Min.)

In particular KC has a special teams value of 44% while Houston has -32. I'm hard-pressed to think of a mathematical reason that 12% difference should be balanced out by the other two categories other than blind luck.

63 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I think the Santos long FGs count positively for KC but don't count as much negative for Houston due to the expectations of opposing kickers making long FGs, but that's only my impression from reading this site over the years. I could be wrong or inaccurate.

69 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Wilson made a play in that botched snap that very few quarterbacks would make. It isn't that other quarterbacks aren't as physically gifted as much as Wilson has tremendous poise and a mindset few quarterbacks have. This wasn't his first "miracle" play. In addition, it is difficult to look at individual plays and judge the accretive effect on the score. The best team on the field that day is really whatever the score is at the end of the game.

The whole Did-Seattle-Get-Lucky argument is pointless and meaningless. If Seattle was "lucky", then it follows Minnesota was "unlucky". In the end, Minnesota failed to execute a successful field goal. Was that unlucky or did they fail to manage the skill necessary to bring a successful field goal. Conditions weren't ideal. That isn't luck if it affects both equitably. Nobody said Seattle didn't score in the last Super Bowl because of them being unlucky. They failed to execute even though the odds were favorable to a Seattle win prior to the beginning of that play. Minnesota didn't do enough to win the game, pure and simple.

70 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but.....

"The best team on the field that day is really whatever the score is at the end of the game."

is simply erroneous.

80 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I'm glad someone agrees with me there.

In a blowout win, then yes, the best team won. But in a close game, luck and variance may have affected the outcome to the extent that the better team lost.

78 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I'm willing to both say that Seattle was lucky and not say that Minnesota was unlucky.

Seattle was lucky because something beyond their control went their way thanks in no part to what they did.

Minnesota was not unlucky because they blew what is ordinarily considered a relatively easy play.

97 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Seattle was lucky because something beyond their control went their way thanks in no part to what they did.

This may not be fully true. Pete Carroll, in his Monday press conference, stated that the missed field goal was kicked significantly faster than their others. Between this and the fact it was pulled left, it's possible Sherman's near block of their prior field goal might have influenced that final attempt.

75 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I don't expect many to agree with me on this as I've been arguing with football fans about this nearly my whole life, FOOTBALL NEEDS TO BE PLAYED INDOORS.

The Seattle/Minnesota this past weekend is just another example of how the weather impacts the entire game. I think it stinks that we wait all year for these big playoff games and that was game that what we get. Nothing was solved there IMO as that game wasn't close to being an indication of how good/bad both of these teams are.

When I watch an NFL football game I want to see it played at the highest levels. I want to the speed, quickness, precision passing, awesome cuts, the power and just all around athleticism and not that garbage that we watched in that game Sunday.

84 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

I hate to break it to you but nothing is solved by any one, or even three games. The sample size is simply not large enough.

As for the rest, a lot of people associate football with adverse conditions, I am sure they feel differently than you.

95 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

That was at a high level. Both defenses played great. Even if that game was played at 40 degrees, the level on defense would have kept scoring down.

I'll take the cold and outdoors, if it gives us classics like the 2007 NFC Title Game in -27 wind chill.

77 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings


I apologize if this has already been asked but I didn't see it when I looked. It's something I should know and think I do but I just wanted to make sure.

Do you include the playoff stats and continue to make adjustments for each NFL teams TOTAL DVOA using the post-season numbers or is every teams TOTAL DVOA and all their yearly stats 'locked in' forever no matter what happens in these playoff games?

I get that you will continue to do a weighted DVOA during the playoffs but I was wondering if the post-season games have any effect and if the normal adjustments will be made on each NFL team's efficiency numbers and all the other stats in the premium content section also?

I assume that the official TOTAL DVOA and all the premium contact is officially finished right now and locked in forever for the 2015 NFL season here.


81 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Unfortunately they don't include post-season for their final DVOA ratings.

This is where I disagree with FO, personally I'd go for the improved sample size then the loss of balance.

94 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

Russell Wilson was a great baseball player. I think that helped him scoop up the ball, maintain his cool and make that great pass. A lot of other guys might have jumped on it, but Wilson scooped it up and popped back up on his feet - very quickly. I think his baseball days helped him do something that not all other QBs could do as well. (Just a theory)

113 Re: Week 18 DVOA Ratings

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