DVOA Analysis

Football Outsiders' revolutionary metrics that break down every single play of the NFL season

Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

We don't have to face questions about DVOA and teams sitting starters in every single season, but we face them often. As I often have to explain: no, we don't adjust either full-season DVOA or weighted DVOA for teams sitting starters in Week 17. It's hard to determine what counts as "sitting starters" when teams will sometimes pull players out halfway through a game, or sit their quarterback but not other players.

But there was nothing questionable about the way the Rams completely punted on their Week 17 game with San Francisco. The Rams sat all their star players on both sides of the ball. The result was a 34-13 shallacking by the Jimmy Garoppolo Experience, enough to knock the Rams out of the No. 1 spot in DVOA despite a lead of more than five percentage points entering Week 17.

Instead, your final No. 1 overall team for 2017 is the New Orleans Saints. This is the first time in DVOA history that the Saints finish No. 1 overall for an entire season. They were previously No. 2 in both 1987 and 2011. (In 2009, the year they won the Super Bowl, they got to be the team sitting starters, which dipped their DVOA rank to No. 6 by the end of the year.) The Saints' turnaround was almost as large as the Rams' turnaround, as the Saints go from No. 21 a year ago to No. 1 this year. The Saints ranked second in offense (behind New England), eighth in defense, and 15th in special teams.

However, sitting starters in Week 17 prevents the Rams from registering as the greatest one-year turnaround in DVOA history. We listed the greatest turnarounds in the commentary two weeks ago, but the Rams have now fallen slightly below the 2012-2013 Kansas City Chiefs. The Week 17 fall also prevents the Rams from achieving the very rare goal of ending the season ranked in the top five for all three phases of the game. However, they still managed to meet the only slightly less rare goal of finishing ranked in the top six for all three phases of the game, something that had previously been achieved by only eight teams since 1986 and only two Seattle teams since the year 2000:

Teams Ranking in DVOA Top 6 for All 3 Phases of the Game, 1986-2017
Year Team TOT DVOA Rk W-L OFF DVOA Rk DEF DVOA Rk ST DVOA Rk
1987 NO 26.9% 2 10-2 7.8% 6 -10.5% 6 8.6% 1
1991 WAS 56.9% 1 14-2 27.2% 1 -21.1% 3 8.6% 1
1992 PHI 31.7% 2 11-5 10.5% 5 -18.1% 2 3.1% 4
1996 GB 42.0% 1 13-3 15.2% 3 -19.3% 1 7.4% 2
1997 GB 29.7% 1 13-3 15.5% 4 -10.6% 3 3.5% 6
1997 KC 29.0% 3 13-3 13.3% 5 -8.4% 6 7.3% 2
2012 SEA 38.7% 1 11-5 18.5% 4 -14.5% 2 5.7% 3
2015 SEA 38.1% 1 10-6 18.7% 1 -15.2% 4 4.2% 3
2017 LARM 27.7% 2 11-5 11.1% 6 -9.7% 6 6.8% 2

The Rams sitting starters also did wonders for the rating of the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, the Niners ended the season on a hot streak, but that wasn't five straight 34-13 victories over the best teams in football like they had this week. Thanks to the opponent adjustments based on what the Rams did the rest of the year, San Francisco gets the best single-game DVOA of the season at 120.5%. San Francisco finishes 12th in weighted DVOA almost entirely based on this win. Remove Week 17, and the Rams would go from third to first in weighted DVOA, while the 49ers would fall from 12th all the way to 21st.

Note that while we don't incorporate any adjustments for sitting starters into the raw DVOA ratings for the season, we did take this into consideration when putting together the playoff odds simulation, removing Week 17 from the weighted DVOA for the Rams and Steelers.

The most impressive part of the Rams turnaround is that they went from dead last, one of the worst offenses ever measured by DVOA, to sixth in offense this year. The Rams also had excellent special teams, but they had that in the past as well: the Rams were third in special teams DVOA in 2016, then ranked second this past year. What's interesting is that this dichotomy -- inconsistent offense, consistent special teams -- matches the entire NFL in 2017.

If you've been reading Football Outsiders for a long time, you know one of our main axioms is that offense is more consistent than defense, while both are more consistent than special teams. In 2017, the exact opposite was true.

  • Only five of the top dozen offenses in 2017 were also ranked among the top dozen offenses in 2016. There was a bit more consistency at the bottom, where four of the bottom 10 offenses also ranked in the bottom dozen in 2016. But the year-to-year correlation coefficient for offensive DVOA in 2016-2017 was .33. It's usually around .50.
  • On the other hand, nine of the top dozen defenses in 2017 were also ranked among the top dozen defenses in 2016. The exceptions were the Rams (15), the huge turnaround for the Saints (31), and a very quiet defensive turnaround for Washington (25). Things were less consistent at the bottom, where only two of the bottom ten defenses in 2016 were also bottom ten defenses in 2017. However, the year-to-year correlation coefficient for defensive DVOA in 2016-2017 was .41. This is only slightly higher than the usual correlation for defense, which is about .38.
  • Special teams is kind of nuts. Three of the top four teams were also top four teams a year ago. The exception, New England, was eighth a year ago. Seven of the bottom ten special teams units in 2017 were also bottom ten special teams units in 2016. Some of this might be related to a change in the value of kickoffs because of moving the touchback to the 25, but remember, that's only one of the five special teams plays we measure to create special teams DVOA. The year-to-year correlation coefficient for special teams DVOA in 2016-2017 was an absurdly high .63. It's usually around .30.

Like 2016, 2017 ends up as a year of parity, with very few teams or units ranking among either the best or worst in DVOA history. The biggest exception is our No. 1 special teams unit, the Baltimore Ravens, who end up as one of the 10 best special teams units of the last 30 years:

Best Special Teams DVOA, 1986-2017
Year Team DVOA
2002 NO 12.2%
2007 CHI 11.2%
1994 CLE1 10.1%
1986 NYJ 9.9%
1996 CAR 9.8%
2009 CLE 9.7%
1986 NO 9.3%
2017 BAL 9.2%
1998 DAL 9.2%
2012 BAL 9.0%
2001 PHI 8.9%
1997 DAL 8.9%

Only 42 different teams since 1986 have managed a special teams DVOA above 7.0%, and four of those teams are recent Baltimore squads with Justin Tucker at kicker, Sam Koch at punter, and Jerry Rosburg as coordinator: 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017. It doesn't even include 2016, when Justin Tucker had the best placekicking year in NFL history but the Baltimore return game had an off year. This rating is subject to change once I finally build a new special teams kickoff method that fully accounts for all the pooch kicks teams have been using since the touchback move, but it likely won't change the Ravens much. Most of their special teams value came from placekicking and kickoff returns.

More than anywhere else, the parity of the 2017 season is seen in the defenses, with the smallest-ever gap between the best defense (Jacksonville at -16.1%) and the worst defense (Tampa Bay at -11.7%). Only two defenses have ever led the league with a worse defensive DVOA than the Jaguars: the 2007 Titans and the 2001 Eagles. And no team has ever been in last place with a rating anywhere close to being as good as what Tampa Bay ends up with. I can also note here that the New England Patriots escaped the possibility of being the first team to ever rank No. 1 on offense but dead last on defense, moving up to No. 31 after a great performance against the Jets in Week 17.

For a long time, we were talking about the Jaguars ranking among the greatest pass defenses we had ever measured. They end up falling far short of the all-time greats, but their -27.5% DVOA against the pass led the league by a gigantic margin. The gap between Jacksonville and No. 2 Baltimore at -15.3% is larger than the gap between No. 2 Baltimore and No. 11 Arizona.

It was only a few weeks ago we were talking about the Dolphins and Raiders ranking among the worst pass defenses we had ever measured. By the end of the season, neither one came close. Indianapolis actually finishes as the worst pass defense in the league, allowing 27.9% DVOA.

In fact, there's only one unit in 2017 which ends up ranking among the dozen worst units of DVOA history, and it's the Arizona running game:

Worst Run Offense DVOA, 1986-2017
Year Team DVOA
1991 IND -30.2%
2005 ARI -29.1%
2002 HOU -27.4%
2013 BAL -27.2%
2013 JAC -27.1%
2016 LARM -26.6%
1986 NE -26.5%
1995 ARI -25.1%
2017 ARI -24.8%
2015 WAS -23.5%
2016 MIN -23.3%
1991 PHI -23.0%

So, you may wonder, where are the 0-16 Cleveland Browns in the lists of all-time worst teams? According to DVOA, they don't even come close. The Cleveland Browns instead make the list of unluckiest teams in DVOA history, not the list of worst teams. With a DVOA of -27.2%, the Browns are the best-rated team to finish in last place since the 1988 Detroit Lions finished 28th in a 28-team league at -26.6%. By comparison, the winless Detroit Lions of 2008 had a last-place DVOA of -48.4%. The Browns lost four games by three points or less, compared to just one for the 2008 Lions. Check the points scored and allowed, and our Pythagaport equation suggests the Browns should have won 3.3 games, not zero. That ties them with the 2001 San Diego Chargers (5-11, projection of 8.3 wins) as the most unlucky team ever to play a 16-game schedule.

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All player/team DVOA stats pages are now updated through the end of the regular season. Playoff odds, snap counts, and the premium DVOA database should be updated by the end of tonight. Drive stats and pace stats will be updated by the end of Tuesday, as will the Matchup View in FO Standard Premium for the four wild-card games.

Vincent Verhei will discuss which players had the best and worst seasons by FO stats in tomorrow's Quick Reads Year in Review. Loser League results will be announced in Scramble for the Ball Wednesday, and our Playoff Challenge game will go up on the site sometime tomorrow.

Please note that while this article is called "Final 2017 DVOA Ratings," we will continue with our unofficial postseason weighted DVOA ratings each Monday through the playoffs. Our December players for Madden 18 on consoles will be announced next Monday in the DVOA ratings that go up after the wild-card round. Our weekly Powerline players for Madden mobile will be announced on Tuesday from our Twitter account, @fboutsiders.

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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through the entire 2017 regular season, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

LAST WEEK represents rank after Week 17, while LAST YEAR represents rank in 2016.

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>

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
YEAR
LAST
WEEK
WEI.
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NO 30.7% 21 2 32.9% 2 11-5 21.6% 2 -7.9% 8 1.2% 15
2 LARM 27.7% 30 1 30.3% 3 11-5 11.1% 6 -9.7% 6 6.8% 2
3 PIT 27.1% 4 3 27.5% 5 13-3 17.6% 3 -6.4% 9 3.1% 9
4 MIN 25.1% 20 5 28.8% 4 13-3 12.0% 5 -13.9% 2 -0.9% 18
5 PHI 23.5% 5 4 23.6% 7 13-3 10.0% 8 -12.6% 5 0.9% 16
6 NE 22.6% 1 6 33.6% 1 13-3 27.3% 1 10.9% 31 6.3% 3
7 BAL 18.5% 12 7 24.7% 6 9-7 -4.5% 21 -13.8% 3 9.2% 1
8 JAC 13.1% 26 9 9.2% 10 10-6 -0.2% 16 -16.1% 1 -2.8% 24
9 CAR 13.0% 24 8 15.0% 9 11-5 -0.5% 17 -8.8% 7 4.7% 6
10 KC 10.5% 6 10 0.0% 16 10-6 15.7% 4 10.6% 30 5.3% 4
11 LACH 7.9% 19 11 18.6% 8 9-7 10.7% 7 -4.7% 12 -7.5% 31
12 DET 5.6% 27 16 1.1% 15 9-7 4.5% 12 4.0% 19 5.1% 5
13 DAL 5.4% 2 12 8.7% 11 9-7 6.7% 10 5.9% 25 4.6% 7
14 SEA 3.2% 11 14 2.8% 13 9-7 1.3% 14 -3.8% 13 -2.0% 20
15 ATL 1.5% 3 17 2.3% 14 10-6 8.2% 9 5.6% 22 -1.2% 19
16 WAS -0.5% 9 13 -7.9% 20 7-9 -3.0% 20 -4.9% 11 -2.4% 22
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
YEAR
LAST
WEEK
WEI.
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 GB -3.3% 7 15 -9.5% 21 7-9 0.4% 15 4.9% 20 1.3% 14
18 TEN -5.6% 15 19 -7.0% 19 9-7 -2.1% 18 5.1% 21 1.6% 13
19 OAK -6.6% 10 18 -5.7% 18 6-10 3.9% 13 10.3% 29 -0.2% 17
20 SF -8.3% 28 23 2.9% 12 6-10 -2.8% 19 8.3% 26 2.9% 11
21 BUF -9.8% 17 20 -18.1% 28 9-7 -11.1% 26 1.7% 15 2.9% 10
22 ARI -11.2% 16 21 -3.8% 17 8-8 -18.4% 30 -12.6% 4 -5.5% 28
23 TB -11.9% 22 22 -14.3% 25 5-11 5.3% 11 11.7% 32 -5.5% 29
24 CIN -12.5% 13 24 -12.4% 24 7-9 -6.4% 22 3.7% 17 -2.4% 21
25 CHI -15.9% 25 25 -11.2% 22 5-11 -14.9% 28 -1.5% 14 -2.4% 23
26 NYJ -17.3% 32 26 -15.2% 26 5-11 -10.2% 24 4.0% 18 -3.2% 25
27 MIA -19.8% 18 28 -17.4% 27 6-10 -13.0% 27 9.4% 28 2.6% 12
28 HOU -20.3% 29 27 -37.1% 32 4-12 -10.2% 25 5.6% 23 -4.5% 26
29 DEN -20.9% 14 29 -29.3% 31 5-11 -18.9% 31 -5.5% 10 -7.4% 30
30 NYG -22.2% 8 30 -21.2% 30 3-13 -9.0% 23 5.7% 24 -7.5% 32
31 IND -22.4% 23 31 -12.1% 23 4-12 -17.7% 29 8.4% 27 3.7% 8
32 CLE -27.2% 31 32 -19.0% 29 0-16 -20.1% 32 2.0% 16 -5.1% 27
  • 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.
  • WEIGHTED DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season.
  • 2017 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent a projection of the team's expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed.
  • 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).



TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK 2017
SCHED
RANK PYTH
WINS
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NO 30.7% 11-5 26.5% 13.4 1 -0.3% 17 11.1 6 6.9% 4
2 LARM 27.7% 11-5 25.7% 11.3 4 -0.4% 18 11.6 5 26.8% 32
3 PIT 27.1% 13-3 29.1% 11.3 3 -2.1% 23 10.6 7 14.3% 19
4 MIN 25.1% 13-3 24.0% 12.0 2 2.4% 8 11.7 4 5.8% 2
5 PHI 23.5% 13-3 24.9% 11.2 5 -2.2% 24 12.0 1 13.3% 18
6 NE 22.6% 13-3 24.8% 11.0 6 -3.9% 28 12.0 2 9.8% 12
7 BAL 18.5% 9-7 24.9% 10.4 7 -4.7% 31 10.5 8 17.1% 25
8 JAC 13.1% 10-6 20.6% 9.0 10 -5.6% 32 11.9 3 23.7% 31
9 CAR 13.0% 11-5 11.7% 10.3 8 2.7% 7 9.0 12 9.2% 7
10 KC 10.5% 10-6 13.2% 10.0 9 -3.2% 27 10.0 10 15.2% 21
11 LACH 7.9% 9-7 16.7% 8.4 14 -4.1% 29 10.5 9 8.8% 6
12 DET 5.6% 9-7 5.3% 8.5 13 1.1% 12 8.9 14 6.6% 3
13 DAL 5.4% 9-7 4.9% 8.9 11 0.1% 15 8.6 15 19.8% 27
14 SEA 3.2% 9-7 5.0% 8.4 15 -0.9% 20 9.0 13 10.7% 13
15 ATL 1.5% 10-6 1.8% 8.5 12 3.7% 4 9.1 11 5.3% 1
16 WAS -0.5% 7-9 -7.1% 7.2 19 4.5% 3 6.8 17 17.1% 24
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK 2017
SCHED
RANK PYTH
WINS
RANK VAR. RANK
17 GB -3.3% 7-9 -9.0% 7.7 16 4.8% 2 6.2 22 10.8% 15
18 TEN -5.6% 9-7 -3.6% 7.6 18 -4.3% 30 7.4 16 16.5% 23
19 OAK -6.6% 6-10 -6.3% 7.6 17 -0.6% 19 6.0 25 9.8% 11
20 SF -8.3% 6-10 -10.4% 6.7 22 0.5% 14 6.6 19 18.8% 26
21 BUF -9.8% 9-7 -8.6% 6.8 20 -2.5% 26 6.3 20 15.7% 22
22 ARI -11.2% 8-8 -12.2% 5.5 27 0.6% 13 6.1 24 9.3% 8
23 TB -11.9% 5-11 -15.9% 6.2 23 2.8% 6 6.7 18 7.6% 5
24 CIN -12.5% 7-9 -11.9% 6.7 21 -1.1% 21 6.2 21 19.9% 28
25 CHI -15.9% 5-11 -18.3% 5.9 24 6.8% 1 6.2 23 14.4% 20
26 NYJ -17.3% 5-11 -16.9% 5.2 28 -0.2% 16 5.6 26 9.5% 10
27 MIA -19.8% 6-10 -17.8% 5.6 26 1.7% 10 4.9 29 13.1% 17
28 HOU -20.3% 4-12 -21.8% 5.1 29 1.3% 11 5.5 27 22.1% 30
29 DEN -20.9% 5-11 -15.2% 5.6 25 -1.9% 22 5.4 28 20.3% 29
30 NYG -22.2% 3-13 -24.4% 4.4 31 3.3% 5 4.0 31 10.7% 14
31 IND -22.4% 4-12 -20.9% 4.4 30 -2.4% 25 4.2 30 9.4% 9
32 CLE -27.2% 0-16 -32.5% 3.3 32 2.1% 9 3.3 32 10.9% 16

Comments

101 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2018, 10:44am

58 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Belichick was asked about trading Brady and he rejected the idea out of hand. "You want me to trade the greatest QB of all time?" is what I believe he said.

Garoppolo might play at a Brady level at some point. He might not. Regardless I don't think Belichick's horizon is stretching out that far into the future.

57 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

If they hadn't traded him, he would have walked away as a free agent.

He wasn't going to sign a long-term contract unless he was starting Week 1 in 2018. And Belichick wasn't going to do that.

(And the craziest idea going around would be to use a franchise tag on a backup QB.)

The Patriots didn't exactly have any leverage. They got a pick that at the time looked like it would be #2 in the second round. That was before Jimmy started getting starts....

65 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

I don't want to challenge any of these points but rather highlight the short term calculations, ie this season.

Belichick figured that a likely 2round+1year jump in the "compensatory" pick he'd get for JG was more valuable than having JG as Brady's backup for the rest of the season. I wouldn't criticize him for making that call at that time, but right now it's interesting that since JG started he's put up 100/150 more DYAR than Brady has (depending on if wk 17 is counted)-all without Gronk et al. and while Brady's been sitting out practices.

Patriots are like 2-1 to win SB but if MVP Brady goes down they're done. Whereas in alt universe where Bill keeps JG a Brady injury could well result in better QB play. That's wild.

68 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

"Patriots are like 2-1 to win SB but if MVP Brady goes down they're done. Whereas in alt universe where Bill keeps JG a Brady injury could well result in better QB play. "

Hard to say that though given JG is in a different offense. I'd be curious as to what his DYAR was in New England compared to Brady in those two games he started during Brady's suspension.

Edit: Nevermind...saw somebody had done that above

27 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Not quite the same, but look at the 1991 49ers

They started the season 4-6, but then finished 6-0, missing playoffs but were arguably one of the best teams in the league (not the best, which we know was the DVOA champ Redskins). They finished with a 52-14 demolition of the Ditka Bears who needed that game for the division (knocked them into a wild card). They haThey had the second best point differential (behidn the Redskins).

Ironically that hot streak coincided with Steve Young getting hurt and Steve Bono taking over (though Young came back for the final game).

36 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

The 91 Niners were not a team that suddenly got good in the second half of the season, they were just pretty clearly the second best team in the league. Their six losses were by 2, 3, 6, 5, 3 (losing on a Hail Mary), and 5 points, while their average MOV in their 10 wins was 18. The Hail Mary loss to the Falcons cost them the tiebreaker and ultimately the last playoff spot.

If there's one knock on the 1991 Skins, it's that they got a little lucky with opponents. They drew Atlanta and Detroit, who finished 11th and 17th in DVOA. They then blew them both out, but it would have been nice to see them tested by SF, NO, or Philly again (who had beaten them in a meaningless-for-WAS Week 17 game where Washington rested starters in the second half).

46 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

While I do think some NFL tiebreaker rules are arbitrary and stupid, it should be mentioned that the 1991 49ers also lost to the Falcons in their own building...which then allowed the hail mary loss to complete the sweep. Can't really argue that the Atlanta didn't deserve the 6th seed over them.

Also, the Niners have only themselves to blame for scoring 14, 14, and 6 points in losses against the abjectly mediocre Giants, Vikings, and Raiders early in the season. They dug themselves too big of a hole to crawl out of in time (kind of like this year's Chargers).

75 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

To me, it is a clear sign of something I've felt for a while. The NFL has become way too QB dependent. There aren't even 32 people on the planet who can play QB at a high level. When you start dealing with backups playing due to injury, it's even worse.

I think it's bad for the league when a team is doomed from the get go because of their QB isn't good. Same with teams whose seasons are ruined when the starters miss more then a game or two. Obviously just a single data point, but as a Colts fan, I was certainly less interested in the season since they didn't have a quality QB this year.

I have no idea how to fix that though. "Protecting the QB" just leads to even more of a discrepancy between the haves and haves-not.

82 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Packers fans have a better case for that than Colts fans.

I wouldn't say I 100% buy into the conspiracy that the Colts lied about Luck's injury preseason to sell tickets, but I wouldn't say I buy into it 0% either. Preseason Colts synopsis on the radio consistently turned on "Luck is coming back in 4 weeks, all the Colts have to do is get through their ridiculously soft starting schedule 3-1 and the playoffs are a possibility". If everyone is saying Luck was going to be back in 4 weeks, that means 99% hunch "an unidentified team source" told them that was the case. Colts' early season turned into a disaster, and magically Luck's injury news became vague. An October 16th post at ESPN says "the end was in sight". http://www.espn.com/blog/indianapolis-colts/post/_/id/21743/andrew-lucks-injury-how-we-got-here-and-when-he-will-return

So here we are we have a league where performance is so dependent on one player that teams at the very least if not lying are not telling the whole truth to their fanbases. Then you have Green Bay where "there is no plan B if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt". Any general manager that ever says that for any player should be fired on the spot for not understanding that part of their job is contingency planning. Imagine if you walked into any business in the real world of America and the guy in charge said "we had no hope of succeeding once X occurred".

87 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

I argued back with and forth with Chase Stuart on twitter about this. He took the view(which he ultimately convinced me on ) that nothing had really changed in terms of qb importance. Sure, passing is easier than ever, but that just means the worst qbs of yesteryear are throwing better than their forefathers. Relative performance matters and over history, the teams that made the playoffs were hugely helmed by good qbs.

It took some thought before I realized the main point he was making. Its why I keep being adamant about this. I truly believe building a competitive team with an average qb is harder to build and lasts far less than the inverse.

91 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

I'm not so certain the worst QBs of today throw better than their forefathers so much as the worst QBs of yesteryear didn't throw a screen pass on 3rd and 13, meaning they failed more spectacularly. Can we compare today's QBs to 1990 QBs for say passes 10 yards and longer? I don't think we have that level of detail data on this site.

67 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Good question. I'd be interested in that as well. I have the Bills at No. 15 in my latest report where the Peterman game has less impact on their numbers than it probably does in DVOA: http://besreport.com/week-17-bes-rankings-final-issue-2017/

So, I'd imagine the impact of that game falling off the Bills books in DVOA would be quite significant, likely propelling them into the top 15.

21 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

RE: "The Cleveland Browns instead make the list of unluckiest teams in DVOA history, not the list of worst teams."

It's a totally untestable notion but isn't it possible the difference between their DVOA and their record is less about "luck" than about "tanking"?

There's an assumption baked into projecting DVOA into Wins, something to the effect that all teams (from front offices right down to the players on the field) are trying their very best to eke out as many wins as possible given their quality. The 2017 Browns may be the rare case where that good-faith, best-effort assumption is violated severely enough to make them look like an "unluckiest" team.

30 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

You could probably construct a case that Hue Jackson & co., knowing their jobs were safe next year, produced some deliberately sub-optimal play-calling and game strategy along the way. But that's a serious stretch IMO. Many of these players/coaches will not be around on the Browns' roster to reap any benefit from tanking, should they arrive. Deliberately conspiring to lose is in very few of their individual interests.

And if the objective was to tank, why not just lose out of sight rather than making games close and risk winning by accident?

61 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Playing well is a primary objective. Simply sending scrubs onto the field to lose helps the team a lot less than having players trying to win. And then if they are playing well and "happen to lose", so much the better. That is, if tanking is also a goal.

They had six losses by four points or less or in overtime.

Curiously, they were 4-0 in the preseason.

64 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

When the 49ers were in the process of losing 5 in a row by 2-3 points, fans were calling it the "elegant tank."

Well. That went right out the window at the end of the season. Strangely, it's hard to find someone who'd rather be 1-15 right now than 6-10.

23 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

When a QB or even RB is out, you adjust win percentages going forward based on that player being out (Arod, Zeke, etc).

Do you do the same for Special Teams with a kicker? i.e., with Greg Zeurlein being out? I know finding a replacement kicker is a lot easier than a replacement QB or even RB, but he had to count for some of the Rams' terrific special teams ranking, right?

25 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

The only real surprise of any of the top 6 teams winning in February would be if the Eagles did so without Wentz. Keeping with that theme, I expect several playoff games, including the last one, will have their outcomes in large measure dictated by injuries that occur in the playoffs. It's the largest random factor in the NFL.

28 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

The Browns lost four games by three points or less, compared to just one for the 2008 Lions.

And that one loss, by two points.... came in a game where Dan Orlovsky ran out of the back of the end zone on his own, oblivious to where he was.... heck, one of the FO writers even made a nice hand drawn diagram of the play...

73 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Of course there was a blown DPI call. It's the Lions. They don't get calls, or replay reversals, or rule changes in their favor. If something hinkey occurs and the Lions are involved, there's a 100% probability the Lions will be on the bad side of the decision.

No one steals the Lions franchise in the middle of the night (looking at you, Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis) because no one wants it.

29 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Miami slipped in year two of Gase in offense (perhaps Tannehill injury) and defense while holding on special teams. It sure feels like a bad sign in terms of things to come in year 3. While they have almost no place to go but up, up could still mean 6-10 again without much of a shock in 2018.

With the Chargers and Ravens sitting so high on the list and sitting at home for the playoffs it really does feel like the AFC is the hopelessly weaker conference this year. In terms of the Superbowl, though, it really doesn't matter if 6 out of the 7 worse teams were AFC teams. Either the Steelers or Pats should give a good show. Of there could always be an upset...I'm assuming the dreadful showing of the bottom of the AFC is more a fluke than anything else?

31 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

"Either the Steelers or Pats should give a good show"

Yup - its important to remember that most of the teams don't really matter at this point. Buffalo and Tennessee are trash, but the rest of the teams are dangerous.

The Patriots beat the NFC 4, and 6 seeds (pretty handily), and lost to the 5 seed by 3 points.

The Steelers beat up the NFC 2 seed.

The Chiefs beat the NFC 1 seed.

Jacksonville is the only one who fell on their face against the NFC. (1-3, beat Seahawks, lost to Rams, Cardinals, JG 49ers).

So, at this level, I don't think there's much advantage either way.

33 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

The bottom defensive teams this year have defensive DVOA of ~ +10-11%. Whereas the top offensive teams have DVOA of ~ +20-25%.

Is it normal for good offenses to be so much better than bad defenses, or are the "bad" defenses this year simply not all that terrible compared to previous years?

34 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Its a bit of both. Everything is a bit compressed this year (well, the last couple years), but defense generally has less magnitude.

2017
O : -20 -> +27
D : +10 -> -16

2016
O : -37 -> +25
D : +18 -> -18

2015 was a bit of an outlier:
O : -16 -> +19
D : +26 -> -26

2014
O : -26 -> +25
D : +16 -> -17

Here's a big one
2007 (2010 is almost exactly the same)
O: -32 -> +44
D: +14 -> -15

47 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

The Saints were humiliated on both sides of the ball in Tampa (a kick return and a +2 in turnovers kept the game close). This was against a pathetic Tampa D (31st in DVOA) and the Saints offensive DVOA went up by 0.1.

They put up 323 yards on a team that was giving up 380+ per game.
They scored 17 on offense against a team that gives up around 24 per game.

How did the Saints offense improve off of that game?

62 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

I wonder if all of the Saints, Rams, and Panthers were trying to avoid the #3 seed. Not to avoid Atlanta, but to avoid Minnesota. Certainly the Rams sat their stars, lost, and still ended up with the #3 seed. New Orleans is arguably better off, playing a Panthers team they've beaten twice and likely going to Philly instead of Minnesota.

(I don't really think the Panthers were trying to avoid the #3 seed. Cam just had a horrible day.)

66 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

Since you can't control who your second round matchup would be if you earn the #4 seed, I don't know if it helps to try to actively avoid the #3 seed in this instance. Even if you particularly fear the #2 seed, you have to figure that you may still face them in the conference championship game. Would have to think other considerations like rest, injuries, or first round matchup would take precedence.

Now if Philly had been locked into the #2 seed—I think that would have provided quite a bit of incentive for the Rams/Saints/Panthers to play for the #3 seed.

100 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

"Since you can't control who your second round matchup would be if you earn the #4 seed, I don't know if it helps to try to actively avoid the #3 seed in this instance."

You can't control who your second round matchup would be if you earn the #4 seed, but you have a sub-50% chance that it will be the #2 seed. Whereas if you earn the #3 seed, your second round opponent is guaranteed to be the #2 seed. That's a pretty big difference.

"Even if you particularly fear the #2 seed, you have to figure that you may still face them in the conference championship game."

Sure, but again it's "may" instead of "will". It's always better to give the feared team a chance to lay an egg before you play them, thereby giving you an easier matchup.

"Now if Philly had been locked into the #2 seed—I think that would have provided quite a bit of incentive for the Rams/Saints/Panthers to play for the #3 seed."

In that case the difference between the #3 and #4 seeds, in terms of likelihood to face the Eagles in the second round, would be roughly 70% (100% chance as the #3 seed, roughly 30% chance as the #4 seed [you need the #6 seed to win]).

In real life, where the Eagles are the #1 seed, the difference is the same! As the #4 seed, you have roughly a 70% chance of facing the Eagles (need the #3 seed to win). As the #3 seed, you have a 0% chance. For a difference of 70%.

69 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

It's ALWAYS "polluted," if you're going with that term, every single year. There's always something funky to be accounted for in your headcanon-DVOA. That's why the FO guys don't even try making "eco-DVOA." Nothing exists outside of context and everything needs interpretation.

I kind of think their refusal to adjust it for any of the "obvious reasons to" is central to everything DVOA is about.

54 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

"This rating is subject to change once I finally build a new special teams kickoff method that fully accounts for all the pooch kicks teams have been using since the touchback move."

Could you elaborate more on this?

86 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

So the logic here is not that you underestimate Nick Foles and fear Case Keenum, but that the Saints do too.

The Saints don't care about a 2006 Colts situation where beatable Keenum and Foles both lose and they threw away a home NFCCG as the 3 seed because Foles and his 100+ playoff QB rating is so much weaker then Keenum.

You further have to believe that the Saints would much rather play in below freezing temps with wind and freezing rain than in the dome in Minnesota which would then be the same stadium they would play in 3 weeks later if they win out.

On top of that, they risk injuries to Kamara, Ingram, Brees, and others by playing a secret fake lets try to lose game in Tampa instead of playing backups.

The payoff to all of this fear and terror could just be facing the mighty Case Keenum the next week in the NFCCG anyway.

I have to ask if you actually think Sean Payton is this stupid?

Occam's Razor says the Saints are a flawed team that played to win and lost anyway and that the Rams were OK with 1 home game and resting healthy players rather than risking injury.

Have fun with projecting your worship of Case Keenum on others though.

88 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

[Case Keenum] is clearly ranked [too high] because [he lacks winner sauce]. [Nick Foles] is way better than this. [All hail at the altar of Nick Foles, who is drenched in winner sauce and bathes in victory!]

92 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

The funny bit here is that Minnesota and Philly are very close in DVOA but people's strong feelings for Keenum and against Foles are why they fill out the form letter above to rank Philly far lower and Minnesota stays at 4. The playoff odds of winning the divisional round are 54.4% for Philly and 54.0% for Minnesota. These odds favor Minnesota in a Super Bowl match up; but I doubt the Saints, Rams, or Panthers care about that if Philly is in the Super Bowl (hard to tell with the flawed logic though, maybe that is significant to you)

They both have strong defenses, good O-lines, weapons at WR and TE, and a strong running game. The Vikings have a slight edge in offensive and defensive DVOA where Philly has a slight edge in special teams (2.0, 1.3, 1.8)

Sarcasm fails when you are too ignorant to realize that your jab actually applies to the opposite side of your argument.

I am always amused when people form a half-wit opinion and go the next step to declare it as a likely motivation of experts and then get offended when you disagree with their delusion.

96 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

This is what I was disagreeing with to use your form of dull and lazy communication:

[The Eagles] are clearly ranked [too high] because [they lack winner sauce]. [Nick Foles] is way worse than this. [All hail at the altar of Case Keenum, who is drenched in winner sauce and bathes in victory!]

97 Re: Final 2017 DVOA Ratings

I wish i could post GIFs here because the above posts are just begging for some good WTF gifs.