DVOA Analysis
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Week 6 DVOA Ratings

Patriots
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

The New England Patriots are back on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week, as the San Francisco 49ers fall back one spot to No. 2. The Patriots have 56.7% DVOA for their Thursday night win over the Giants, which is their fifth game this season with single-game DVOA over 50% according to current opponent adjustments. Philadelphia and San Francisco have two such games, and no other team has more than one. The only exception on the Patriots' schedule was Week 4 against Buffalo, where they have -5.3% DVOA because of a dismal offensive performance that day. The Patriots offense has actually been fine other than that one game. They also have not been excellent except in Week 1 against Pittsburgh. But altogether, including the great Pittsburgh game and the awful Buffalo game gives New England the No. 8 offense in DVOA.

All those games over 50% give the Patriots a total DVOA over 50%, something only five other teams have ever done after six games of the season. The Pats move up one spot on the all-time total DVOA table.

BEST TOTAL DVOA
THROUGH 6 GAMES, 1986-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
2007 NE 6-0 65.3%
1991 WAS 6-0 63.7%
1996 GB 5-1 59.5%
2019 NE 6-0 53.5%
1994 DAL 5-1 51.8%
1999 STL 6-0 50.7%
2014 DEN 5-1 48.7%
2007 IND 6-0 47.6%
2013 DEN 6-0 46.6%
1998 DEN 6-0 46.1%
1990 CHI 5-1 45.9%
2015 ARI 4-2 45.3%

San Francisco had its worst offensive performance of the year against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, bad enough to kick the 49ers out of the top spot in our ratings and kick them off the "all-time best total DVOA" table. However, it does not kick them off the "all-time best defense table." In fact, looking at the top defenses in DVOA history through five games, the top two are teams playing right now: New England and San Francisco. The Patriots do fall behind the 1991 New Orleans Saints in the all-time list of defenses through six games because the Saints had an incredible performance in Week 7 of 1991 where they forced six fumbles and picked off Philadelphia quarterbacks five times.

BEST DEFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 5 GAMES, 1986-2019
  BEST DEFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 6 GAMES, 1986-2019
Year Team DVOA   Year Team DVOA
2019 NE -46.2% x 1991 NO -49.0%
2019 SF -41.6% x 2019 NE -47.1%
1991 PHI -41.2% x 1991 PHI -41.6%
1986 CHI -38.6% x 2002 TB -38.2%
2002 TB -38.5% x 1997 SF -37.1%
1997 SF -37.2% x 2012 CHI -34.6%
1991 NO -36.5% x 2011 BAL -34.4%
1996 GB -34.6% x 1996 GB -34.1%
2011 BAL -34.5% x 1993 PIT -33.5%
2008 BAL -34.0% x 1989 MIN -31.6%
1991 WAS -33.2% x 1986 CHI -31.5%
2012 CHI -32.4% x 2015 DEN -31.2%

The San Francisco-Los Angeles game was one of a number of games this week that ended with surprising DVOA ratings that didn't necessarily match the final score. Because of DVOA ratings, the Rams actually ended up with the higher rating for this game, 16.9% to just 3.0% for the 49ers. Without opponent adjustments, the 49ers have the better rating, 3.1% to -13.5%, but that's still closer than you might expect for a 20-7 game that San Francisco controlled throughout. The reason the rating was close is that the Rams offense was pretty good at staying on schedule on first and second downs. The Rams had a success rate of 60% on first down and 56% on second down. By comparison, the 49ers offense only had a success rate of 39% on first down and 44% on second down.

But ugh, third and fourth down. The Rams were a mind-boggling 0-for-15 converting third and fourth down opportunities on Sunday, including 0-for-6 in short yardage (1-2 yards to go). San Francisco converted 50% of their third and fourth downs, although the 49ers also had their two turnovers on third downs. Anyway, the DVOA formula looks at the Rams and their success rate on first and second down and says "this offense was bad, but not horrible" despite the terrible performance on third down. Once you add in the adjustment for the 49ers defense being so strong, the Rams' offensive rating for this game was -13.0%, not that far below average.

Another game this week where the DVOA doesn't quite match the final score was Monday night's Green Bay-Detroit thriller. Even though that game came down to the final play, the Packers come away with 40.0% DVOA for the game and move up two spots to No. 6 in DVOA, while Detroit has -1.3% DVOA for the game and moves down three spots to No. 14. Although the score of the game was close, the Packers did outgain the Lions on average, 6.5 yards to 5.4 yards. DVOA also discounts the two very long Detroit passes a little bit because really deep passes like that are harder to replicate than a series of medium-length passes that gradually move the ball down the field. The Packers also rank high in DVOA right now because they have played the No. 3 toughest schedule so far.

DVOA is a value per play metric, not a total value metric, and it doesn't have anything in it to give value to time of possession. That means that every so often, we'll end up with a game such as Houston at Kansas City. The Chiefs come out with 36.3% DVOA for the game and stay at No. 3 overall, while the Texans come out with -3.9% DVOA and drop from 10th to 13th. Kansas City outgained the Texans 6.6 yards per play to 5.7 yards per play and had a plus-1 turnover margin. However, Houston ran 83 plays to just 47 for the Chiefs! It's rare to have a game with this much of an imbalance in the number of plays run by each team. But DVOA looks at that result and says, Kansas City is still the more efficient team, and we would expect them to be the better team in the long run based on what we saw in this game. Kansas City didn't have many "middle of the road" drives in this game where they gained a few yards and then punted. They had two three-and-outs, and a drive that gained 5 yards followed by a field goal, and a drive where they fumbled the ball away on the first play. But once they got going, they had three drives with touchdowns, plus two drives that gained 34 and 36 yards on six plays apiece.

The final game that had a surprising DVOA result was the Tua Bowl between Miami and Washington. Although the Dolphins almost won with a final two-point conversion, Washington dominated in terms of DVOA. Well, as much as you can dominate when both teams are in the negative: -9.8% DVOA for Washington, and -54.9% DVOA for Miami. Washington had more yards per play (5.4 to 3.9) and Miami had two interceptions and two fumbles while Washington had zero interceptions and one fumble. (None of the three fumbles ended up as turnovers.) Four different Miami drives went backwards, while the only Washington "drive" that went backwards was the final kneeldown.

A -54.9% rating is still the best game of the season for the Dolphins but it keeps them comfortably in first place as the worst team we've ever tracked in 34 years of DVOA ratings. Once again, they continue to be among the worst teams ever on both offense and defense. Here's a look at those tables. Ratings for the 1987 Atlanta Falcons do not include the strike games from Week 4-6.

WORST TOTAL DVOA
THROUGH 5 GAMES, 1986-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
2019 MIA 0-5 -84.1%
2013 JAX 0-5 -76.0%
2009 OAK 1-4 -63.7%
1989 DAL 0-5 -63.5%
2001 WAS 0-5 -61.4%
1993 TB 1-4 -61.2%
2005 SF 1-4 -61.1%
2000 CIN 0-5 -58.2%
2005 MIN 1-4 -58.1%
2008 STL 1-4 -57.3%
1992 NE 0-5 -56.6%
1987 ATL 1-4 -56.1%
WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 5 GAMES, 1986-2019
  WORST DEFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 5 GAMES, 1986-2019
Year Team DVOA   Year Team DVOA
2013 JAX -59.4% x 2006 HOU 36.0%
2004 MIA -54.7% x 1998 WAS 35.5%
2002 HOU -52.2% x 2019 MIA 35.3%
2018 BUF -51.8% x 1998 PHI 30.3%
2009 OAK -50.1% x 1992 ATL 29.2%
2001 WAS -49.3% x 1992 NE 28.4%
2010 CAR -47.1% x 1996 SEA 28.1%
2019 MIA -46.7% x 2001 ARI 27.8%
2005 SF -46.1% x 2008 DET 27.6%
2005 MIN -44.6% x 2017 NE 27.6%
1989 DAL -43.5% x 2012 BUF 26.8%
1986 IND -43.1% x 1987 ATL 26.8%

Yes, that is the 2017 New England Patriots on the list of worst defenses ever through five games, just two years before a team with most of the same personnel would be the best defense ever tracked through five games. The Patriots that year allowed over 400 yards of offense in their first six games of the season, and only had five takeaways in their first five games. You might remember that as Stephon Gilmore's first year, and he seemed to have no idea what his assignments were in the early games leading to blatant missed coverages. Go back in time, here's an article about how bad things were. Here's another one. This is not an attempt to subject anyone to "Old Takes Exposed." It really was that bad. Here's what I wrote about it at the time. Suffice it to say, the Patriots straightened things out in the long run, although this same defense went on to allow 41 points and over 500 yards in a Super Bowl loss.

Moving back to the top of this week's DVOA ratings, you may notice the extreme imbalance between the two conferences. Although the Patriots are No. 1, there are only two other AFC teams in the top 12: Kansas City at No. 3 and Baltimore at No. 9. That means there are 9 NFC teams in the top dozen. With Houston at No. 13, that also gives us 11 NFC teams in the top 15.

Right now the median DVOA in the NFC is 9.6%, and the median rank is 11.5. Over in the AFC, the median DVOA is -2.2%, and the median rank is 20. (The gap between the conferences is roughly the same if you prefer mean to median: 5.3% for the NFC, -6.5% for the AFC.)

Is this the greatest imbalance ever between the two conferences? Nope, but it's pretty close if it continues like this for the rest of the year.

Here are the six years with the strongest imbalance between the conferences, based on the difference between the median AFC DVOA and the median NFC DVOA. (I used median instead of mean so that a single really good or really bad team couldn't overinfluence things.) Each year is listed with the median DVOA and median rank for each conference.

1) 2004

AFC median 16.1% DVOA (9.5)
NFC median -8.2% DVOA (20.5)

The year with by far the biggest conference imbalance, from the early days of Football Outsiders. Only one of the top 11 teams in DVOA that year was an NFC team: Philadelphia, which finished sixth. The Eagles would have finished higher, but they had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference with two weeks to go and sat their starters for two games. Only four teams in the NFC had winning records in 2004, which led to two 8-8 wild cards. The St. Louis Rams were a wild card despite being outscored by 73 points and finishing 30th in DVOA, making them the worst playoff team since 1986 according to our numbers. Over in the AFC there were four teams that went at least 12-4 and only four teams worse than 7-9. This imbalance stayed strong in both 2005 and 2006, which would be the next two years on this list if I wanted to write about more than six different seasons.

2) 2012

NFC median 3.8% DVOA (13.5)
AFC median -10.6% DVOA (22.5)

The imbalance in 2012 was stronger in DVOA than it was in the standings. The AFC still had six different teams with at least 10 wins, although that included the 11-5 Colts who were actually outscored by 30 points and finished 25th in DVOA. Seven of the top ten teams in DVOA were NFC teams, but more impressive was how much the NFC dominated the middle-of-the-road teams. On the bottom of the league, only two of the 12 worst teams by DVOA were NFC teams. Only three NFC teams had records worse than 7-9, and the Bears (sixth in DVOA) missed the playoffs by tiebreaker at 10-6.

3) 1989

NFC median 9.4% DVOA (11.5)
AFC median -4.9% DVOA (16.5)

It's a bit surprising there aren't more of these late '80s/early '90s years that stand out for conference imbalance, because that's what the NFL was known for back then: the domination of the NFC, at least when it came to the Super Bowl. In 1989, eight of the 14 NFC teams had winning records with seven of them at 10-6 or better. Over in the AFC, the Denver Broncos were the only team with double-digit wins at 11-5, and only six teams had winning records although another four teams went 8-8. In the DVOA ratings, eight of the top dozen teams were NFC teams.

4) 1990

AFC median 4.9% DVOA (13)
NFC median -8.1% DVOA (17)

Weirdly, the tables turned just one year later. With four different teams at 9-7, the AFC ended up with eight out of 14 teams finishing with winning records, including three different teams at 12-4 or better. Over in the NFC, only five teams finished with winning records. This was the first year with three wild cards, and one of them went to 8-8 New Orleans, which finished just 22nd in DVOA. Although the top two teams that year came from the NFC East, the Giants and Eagles, nine of the top 15 teams were AFC teams.

5) 1996

AFC median 2.7% DVOA (14)
NFC median -9.4% DVOA (20)

OK, this is a weird one. It didn't look like there was any imbalance at the top of the standings. Both conferences had 7 out of 15 teams with winning records. The difference was at the bottom. In the AFC, you had the 1-15 Jets and the 4-12 Ravens and then everyone else was 7-9 or better. Meanwhile, the NFC had six different teams that went 6-10 or worse. So in the DVOA ratings, the NFC had four of the top five teams and six of the top nine ... but then the AFC had every team between 10th and 18th. So only two of the ten worst teams in the league that year were AFC teams.

6) 2017

NFC median 2.3% DVOA (14.5)
AFC median -8.2% DVOA (20)

There was a strong imbalance between the conferences just two years ago, as only four teams in the AFC went 10-6 or better. Although the top ten teams in DVOA were evenly split between the conferences, 11 of the top 17 teams were NFC squads, with only three NFC teams in the bottom ten.

* * * * *

Stats pages should now be updated through Week 6, including playoff odds, the FO Premium DVOA database and snap counts.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through six weeks of 2019, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

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

Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 60 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 35 percent of DAVE for most teams (45 percent for teams with just five 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>

 

RK TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFF.
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEF.
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NE 53.5% 2 40.6% 1 6-0 7.5% 8 -47.1% 1 -1.2% 21
2 SF 44.3% 1 24.1% 2 5-0 5.5% 12 -41.6% 2 -2.9% 26
3 KC 23.3% 3 20.6% 3 4-2 28.6% 1 4.2% 20 -1.1% 19
4 MIN 21.9% 7 15.2% 4 4-2 10.8% 5 -10.9% 6 0.2% 14
5 DAL 18.0% 5 13.8% 5 3-3 28.5% 2 8.2% 25 -2.3% 24
6 GB 17.8% 8 12.9% 7 5-1 8.7% 7 -8.9% 7 0.3% 13
7 SEA 14.3% 9 12.6% 8 5-1 21.6% 3 3.4% 18 -3.9% 28
8 PHI 13.2% 4 12.1% 9 3-3 9.7% 6 -2.3% 13 1.3% 11
9 BAL 12.8% 6 10.2% 10 4-2 13.3% 4 6.4% 22 5.8% 3
10 NO 11.2% 12 13.7% 6 5-1 2.3% 16 -2.3% 14 6.6% 1
11 CAR 11.0% 15 8.3% 12 4-2 -4.6% 22 -12.6% 4 3.0% 7
12 CHI 8.2% 14 6.2% 14 3-2 -7.1% 23 -11.2% 5 4.2% 5
13 HOU 6.8% 10 7.3% 13 4-2 5.4% 13 -1.9% 15 -0.5% 16
14 DET 5.8% 11 4.9% 15 2-2-1 -4.3% 21 -3.9% 12 6.3% 2
15 LAR 5.3% 17 8.8% 11 3-3 2.0% 17 -4.3% 11 -0.9% 18
16 OAK 1.3% 18 -2.5% 18 3-2 5.7% 11 3.6% 19 -0.8% 17
17 JAX 0.5% 13 -3.0% 19 2-4 6.1% 9 9.0% 26 3.4% 6
18 DEN -1.0% 22 -4.6% 20 2-4 -4.1% 20 -7.5% 8 -4.3% 31
19 PIT -1.3% 20 -0.3% 17 2-4 -7.3% 24 -6.3% 9 -0.3% 15
20 TB -2.2% 16 -5.8% 22 2-4 -2.6% 19 -1.6% 17 -1.2% 20
21 BUF -3.2% 19 -5.8% 21 4-1 -10.2% 26 -13.1% 3 -6.1% 32
22 LAC -5.8% 21 2.5% 16 2-4 3.6% 15 10.4% 27 1.0% 12
23 IND -8.7% 23 -7.4% 23 3-2 5.8% 10 10.9% 28 -3.5% 27
24 CLE -15.8% 26 -10.0% 24 2-4 -15.9% 27 4.7% 21 4.8% 4
25 ATL -16.5% 27 -10.3% 25 1-5 4.3% 14 16.7% 29 -4.1% 30
26 NYG -17.8% 25 -18.0% 29 2-4 -9.0% 25 6.5% 23 -2.4% 25
27 TEN -19.4% 24 -10.9% 26 2-4 -20.4% 29 -5.0% 10 -3.9% 29
28 ARI -20.8% 28 -17.5% 28 2-3-1 -0.2% 18 18.4% 30 -2.2% 23
29 NYJ -27.4% 30 -16.8% 27 1-4 -31.1% 31 -1.8% 16 1.9% 10
30 WAS -28.7% 29 -24.6% 30 1-5 -22.6% 30 8.1% 24 1.9% 9
31 CIN -35.7% 31 -26.8% 31 0-6 -19.3% 28 19.3% 31 2.9% 8
32 MIA -84.1% 32 -59.3% 32 0-5 -46.7% 32 35.3% 32 -2.1% 22
  • 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).
RK TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NE 53.5% 6-0 65.0% 6.0 1 -27.1% 32 -9.2% 27 9.6% 15
2 SF 44.3% 5-0 44.2% 6.0 2 -10.0% 28 0.0% 18 12.0% 23
3 KC 23.3% 4-2 21.1% 4.0 8 3.1% 15 7.0% 8 12.6% 25
4 MIN 21.9% 4-2 22.8% 4.7 3 1.0% 17 5.8% 10 11.9% 22
5 DAL 18.0% 3-3 31.5% 4.4 4 -21.5% 30 7.1% 7 5.9% 8
6 GB 17.8% 5-1 8.8% 4.0 7 11.0% 3 6.3% 9 11.3% 20
7 SEA 14.3% 5-1 20.2% 4.2 6 -9.5% 27 11.3% 1 4.8% 6
8 PHI 13.2% 3-3 17.9% 4.0 9 -4.5% 24 -4.0% 21 20.5% 29
9 BAL 12.8% 4-2 22.7% 3.3 16 -22.4% 31 4.1% 14 12.5% 24
10 NO 11.2% 5-1 12.5% 3.4 13 7.1% 10 -1.0% 19 9.8% 16
11 CAR 11.0% 4-2 12.7% 3.6 10 -2.1% 22 0.9% 15 8.2% 12
12 CHI 8.2% 3-2 7.9% 3.3 15 2.2% 16 9.0% 3 10.0% 17
13 HOU 6.8% 4-2 11.1% 3.5 11 4.0% 14 0.9% 16 2.2% 3
14 DET 5.8% 2-2-1 9.1% 3.5 12 5.5% 11 4.3% 13 3.0% 5
15 LAR 5.3% 3-3 1.9% 3.4 14 10.5% 5 0.2% 17 10.6% 18
16 OAK 1.3% 3-2 -3.6% 4.3 5 8.7% 8 -3.7% 20 29.8% 32
17 JAX 0.5% 2-4 -8.4% 2.8 18 5.3% 12 -11.6% 28 5.4% 7
18 DEN -1.0% 2-4 3.2% 2.8 17 0.4% 18 4.9% 11 7.2% 11
19 PIT -1.3% 2-4 -4.6% 2.8 19 13.9% 1 -19.3% 32 11.7% 21
20 TB -2.2% 2-4 -0.5% 2.4 22 10.8% 4 -4.3% 22 6.5% 10
21 BUF -3.2% 4-1 2.9% 2.4 24 -9.4% 26 -13.2% 30 1.4% 2
22 LAC -5.8% 2-4 -3.8% 2.4 23 -13.7% 29 7.7% 6 6.0% 9
23 IND -8.7% 3-2 -10.3% 2.4 21 -3.4% 23 -6.5% 23 8.3% 13
24 CLE -15.8% 2-4 -13.7% 2.5 20 5.0% 13 -11.7% 29 24.2% 31
25 ATL -16.5% 1-5 -19.7% 1.9 26 -1.2% 19 10.4% 2 8.4% 14
26 NYG -17.8% 2-4 -27.5% 1.7 27 9.9% 7 -8.5% 26 20.8% 30
27 TEN -19.4% 2-4 -0.9% 2.3 25 -7.4% 25 4.4% 12 15.6% 27
28 ARI -20.8% 2-3-1 -21.7% 1.3 29 -1.4% 20 8.8% 4 1.3% 1
29 NYJ -27.4% 1-4 -33.7% 1.4 28 13.2% 2 -17.0% 31 14.1% 26
30 WAS -28.7% 1-5 -25.5% 0.6 31 -1.5% 21 8.4% 5 17.2% 28
31 CIN -35.7% 0-6 -41.1% 1.1 30 7.7% 9 -7.1% 25 10.8% 19
32 MIA -84.1% 0-5 -81.2% 0.0 32 9.9% 6 -6.7% 24 2.7% 4

Comments

93 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2019, 1:36am

1 strength of schedule adjustments

When do the strength of schedule start having an effect? This Patriot team being rated historically good means something is off with the formula. Most other places have them top 3 this season, but not near the 96 Packers/91 Redskin/07 Pats good. That offense is rough.

2 Well, they do have the…

Well, they do have the second-highest point differential after 6 games since the merger, ahead of the 96 Packers/91 Redskin/07 Pats (who are 4th, 5th and 3rd) and only behind the 1999 Rams. Of course, the 1999 Rams likely have the worst strength of schedule of all time, so SOS certainly is an issue. Also, having so many horrible teams is pushing everyone else's DVOA rating up.

As for the offense, they're hanging their hat on yet another top-5 placement in lowest turnovers per drive; only once in the last ten years has New England not finished the season in the top 5.

3 The Patriots offense really isn’t doing poorly

Brady is 8th in AY/A, 6th in total yards, as well as 10th in INT % despite some bone-headed decisions. He might not be playing like the Greatest of All Time, but he’s still a perfectly serviceable top ten QB so far this year. There’s been a mess of injuries to the offensive line and at wide receiver  and tight end, but the offense as a whole is on pace for over 400 points this season, and is still a top ten offense by points scored.

I think that the offense is fine by the standards of most teams; it’s just not the score at will offense of the 2007 or 2010 to 2012 Patriots. 8th by DVOA seems perfectly reasonable to me.

13 Agreed

Although there's quite a bit of hand-wringing over in Patsville, good but not great for the O seems right. They've actually moved the ball decently but had some bad red zone results - a few dumb INTs, missed FGs & XPs, that have taken points off the board. They have two good offensive lineman coming back soon and their first-round rookie wideout just started practicing again. They also re-signed Watson which should be at least a slight improvement over the zombies they've had plodding out at TE. Unlikely that the O will improve to the levels of Pats teams past but by Week 10 they should be improved enough to keep scoring at the current level against better teams (and it's not like the Ravens and Chiefs are exactly worldbeaters when it comes to stopping teams).

The $64,000 question is how the Pats defense will perform against the better offenses that are coming up.

15 The Patriot's schedule this…

The Patriot's schedule this year is just so extremely bad that we probably won't have a great idea on how good the team actually is until the playoffs. As good as DVOA is any statistical system is going to struggle when facing extreme circumstances like this.

18 Even the AFC side of the…

Even the AFC side of the playoffs right now looks like it will be a cakewalk for New England.  Kansas City seems to be the only hope - unless the last 2 weeks is a sign that they have problems.

19 things get tougher

The NFL, in its wisdom, put most of the Pats' tough opponents over November/early December.  They still have road games at Baltimore, Philly, and Houston, as well as home games vs. Cleveland, Dallas, KC, and Buffalo.  And apparently Darnold's return to the Jets has given them a bit of life.

As a Pats' fan, this site's 41% Super Bowl "win" percentage strikes me as a bit ridiculous.  The relative collapse of the rest of the AFC must be illusory.  

 

 

25 Haha their dominance this…

Haha their dominance this era is crazy when you put it that way. And that doesn't even count all of their super bowl losses. One thing that strikes me about the Playoff Odds is how low the Saints are. At full-strength their DAVE is the highest in the NFC and they have a projected win total decently higher than the Packers and quite close to the 49ers, yet there super bowl win odds are far below the 49ers and below even the Chiefs. I think maybe they have forgot to adjust for Brees' return in playoff simulations?

4 Misprint

I think you recopied the week 2 or 3 ratings here—DAL and BAL in the top four offences? Not lately.
Also, the idea that OAK (Or anyone else) has had a more variant performance than CLE is Incomprehensible

8 Just like DVOA, DAL and BAL…

In reply to by Raiderfan

Just like DVOA, DAL and BAL rank 2nd and 4th in the NFL in yards per play, and they are 2nd and 1st in first downs, respectively. That said, looks like Baltimore has fallen much closer to the middle of the pack in terms of its actual offensive DVOA (they are closer to Atlanta in 14th than Seattle one spot above them at 3). Dallas still looks like they stand out quite a bit.

5 can't believe

Again, Seattle has awful special teams. I can't believe Brian Schneider keeps hanging on without even getting critical press.

28 Are you thinking of John…

In reply to by scraps

Are you thinking of John Schneider? 

Also, Seattle has the toughest remaining schedule of all teams (oer DVOA).  Russell Wilson will be earning his keep.

44 no

 

I'm thinking of Brian Schneider, the Seahawks Special Teams coach, who is terrible.

 

John Schneider is of course excellent.

6 If the Vikings have the 5th…

If the Vikings have the 5th best offense, last night's umpire in Packers/Lions has excellent observational skills.

14 My guess is that the Vikings…

My guess is that the Vikings  block well enough at home, compared to the road, that, combined with some weird stuff, like the (mentioned below) true awfulness of the Eagles defensive backs not being fully captured yet, means the Vikings offense is getting overrated. Kubiak's work on the run game has really brought out Cook's ability to scare opposing defenses into peeking into the backfield too long, so some kudos are deserved, but they have yet to show that they can pass block on the road well enough to keep The Kirkster from morphing into a Neurotic Woody Allen with horns on his head. We'll see what happens in Detrout on Sunday. Maybe they can request the same zebras who worked last night.

More optimistically, Zimmer may get to a lifetime goal by December, and have 4 cornerbacks that he really trusts, which you hardly ever see in the NFL. That'll  likely let him do some exotic stuff that'll drive even the most experienced qbs nuts, especially at home and/or with the lead. I swear, that guy would like to see the rules changed so he could draft 5 corners every year.

11 I figure they've feasted on…

I figure they've feasted on bad defenses/favorable matchups (their WRs vs Eagles secondary) while being overwhelmed by better defenses. That said, they are actually in the middle of the pack in terms of variance?

If there was variance for QBs, though, I bet Cousins would rank pretty high in that.

12 Any chance we can see Miami…

Any chance we can see Miami's DVOA by quarter? (Or really just their fourth quarter DVOA; I presume DVOA thinks Miami looks like an actual NFL team then.)

75 Reminder this is available…

Reminder this is available for all teams in the Premium FO Database.

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/store/premium-access

OFFENSE
First Qtr: -21.6% (26)
Second Qtr: -24.1% (27)
Third Qtr: -122.9% (32)
Fourth Qtr/OT: -52.0% (31)

DEFENSE
First Qtr: 47.3% (32)
Second Qtr: 22.4% (31)
Third Qtr: 34.2% (31)
Fourth Qtr/OT: 39.8% (32)
 

16 San Francisco had its worst…

San Francisco had its worst offensive performance of the year against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday...

I'm afraid that Kyle Shannahan has discovered the joys of lowering your variance at the cost of lowering your efficiency. He was happy to plow ahead at 2.4 yards per carry, because he knew his defense had the game in hand.

*sigh*

He may never be the same coach again.

Maybe, maybe it was an aberration, caused by having his 4th and 5th best tackles out there while playing Aaron Donald & Co.

37 He won the game.  Pretty…

He won the game.  Pretty sure he'll take 0.5 yards per play on offense and a win if he could.  I wouldn't read anything into his tactics against the Rams.

Actually, scratch that.  I might read something into that: flexibility.  And it could bode well for the 49ers come playoff time.

47 Exactly.  I don't want him…

Exactly.  I don't want him to become one of those infuriating coaches who'll run it into the line three times and punt, then shrug and say, "but we won."  That too easily becomes "we won because we ran it into the line three times and punted," and yeoogughhhhh.

17 I have a question for…

I have a question for Patriot fans. Who is legitimately a great player on this defense, ie someone who would be great on another defense. I can come up with stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, and maybe Dante hightower, though if I'm being honest I wouldn't feel that confident in the latter two. This isn't letting like the 2013 Seahawks or the 2015 broncos where I can name a number of players on both teams.

It's so strange to see this team be as dominant as it is given I don't really think the personnel is that awesome. And if you read my previous posts, you know I'm not in the camp that this is all a mirage from an easy schedule. 

 

20 Not a Pats fan, but Danny…

Not a Pats fan, but Danny Shelton has looked really good. Not sure if he'd be great on another team since the only other one he's played for was the Hue Jackson Browns, but this season he at least has looked like a guy who was picked in the top half of the first round

68 He was quite good in…

He was quite good in Cleveland, although somewhat inconsistent and seemingly constantly banged up. I thought he clearly had at least Pro Bowl potential (does that count as "legitimately great"?), that the Pats successfully developed it seems.

It's always fun as a Browns semi-fan to remember that just 2 years ago they had both him and Collins along with Myles "leading the NFL in sacks and on pace to break the single-season record" Garrett on the same dang line. Now two of them are pillars of one of the best defenses of all time... in Foxboro. This team, it is not run well.

21 Let's see... Gilmore is 1st…

Let's see...

Gilmore is 1st team all-pro and stands out the most.  The McCourty twins are both good, though Devin stands out a bit more.  JC Jackson is a very good rookie CB.

Hightower is a bit injury-prone, but would play pretty much anywhere well.  Jamie Collins appears to have his head on straight and has been the best player on the defense thus far this season.  And Kyle Van Noy is playing very well, too.  The LB corps is very strong.

The D-line doesn't have standouts, though it's very solid and maintains its position well.  Chase Winovich is breaking out as a rookie pass rusher.  He's getting so many snaps that Michael Bennett is getting pissed off.  (Just got himself a 1-week suspension for yelling at his position coach.  His time has mostly passed.)  The rest of the line includes guys like Lawrence Guy (solid), Danny Shelton (having a good season), and Deatrich Wise (good).  

Any Belichick defense lives and dies with its LB play.  The return of Collins and the development of KVN are key parts of how this defense has gotten so good.  

 

30 Elite Talent

Gilmore & Collins are the only classic elite talents on this defense right now (though Chase Winovich is making his case as a rookie) - how Collins struggled in Cleveland is beyond me, the guy has HOF-level physical talent. The rest of it is classic BB in that the defense is characterized by a lack of average or less players rather than any particular great player. Some of the players listed above are all types of players that crappy GM's fall in love with (e.g. Van Noy, JC Jackson, Hightower, Wise, either McCourty), all of these players are quite good, in proper roles, and motivated, but I think it's wrong to think any of these players are individually great.

The key argument here is that defenses tend to be defined more by the worst player on the field then the best (especially in the secondary), and there just aren't any week spots on this team. By the same token though most great pass rushes have an elite edge rusher to define them - BB's 6 man games that he plays up front really do substitute depth for excellence pretty well up front. The way to attack this kind of defense is man-blocking schemes running right at it - but given that that seems to be something of a lost art in the NFL these days I don't see who is going to probe that weakness to aggressively.

 

31 Indeed. Belichick seems to…

In reply to by sbond101

Indeed. Belichick seems to have focused on the fact that few teams invest in oline play aggressively, and constructed a defense with that in mind.

64 Buffalo is another example…

In reply to by sbond101

Buffalo is another example of a defense having success made up of depth and no stars. NE has depth and Gilmore, which is unfair. The Titans are another good defense without any big-name stars. I think this is by far a better way to build a consistent defense, at least one with a weekly floor of being average. 

You see the problems with defenses have when they're built around star players. Jacksonville loses Ramsey, and they're 25th in DVOA. The Rams are up and down. The Ravens paid a lot for Earl Thomas, it hasn't helped when there are other weaknesses to exploit. 

69 the Ravens

the Ravens really don't seem to be as clever as they used to be when it comes to managing personnel.  Used to be that Ozzie could not make any mistakes.  

Though I do have to give them credit for Lamar Jackson's development.  His jump from rookie to sophomore season has been quite remarkable.

32 Defense is so scheme…

Defense is so scheme dependent.  You can kind of see which players the league would consider great in any scheme by looking at salary.  Only Gilmore is at the top of the market.  Collins has the physical talent but consistency is not there.

I don’t think it’s strange at all that they are playing this way.  There may only be one “great” player but there are a bunch of very good ones, including the ones already mentioned.  As previously pointed out, its also about the floor, particularly in the secondary.  Nobody has a sign on them that says “target me”.

ETA:  I'm really curious to see how they do against KC!

33 I thinks K.C.'s offense has…

I thinks K.C.'s offense has become so dependent on their qb extending plays, until something pops up that allows his incredible arm to exploit, that it just isn't sustainable.

53 Trials

This experiment was run twice in 2018 & I believe the results will be similar to the second iteration of the experiment in the 2018 playoffs; No pair of corners (with or without saftey help) on the planet can cover Watkins & Hill on deep long-developing patterns - either the pass rush gets there and it's 3-out, or it doesn't and it's a big play. Mahomes is great at playing hero-ball late in the game as the defense tires so they'll be in it with a punchers chance - but I don't believe the blocking will hold up until then, and they definitely can't sustain drives. I'd be shocked if it doesn't play out in a similar way as before - Pats build a lead and then it becomes a thrill ride to see if they can do enough against the late game bombs that are definitely coming.

78 It really wasn't only off…

It really wasn't only off-script and bomb type plays; the Chiefs absolutely dominated on screen passes and short passes to RBs last season (hello Andy Reid). 

Eliminating Mahomes mobility, along with their top two receivers has naturally hurt them. But if they all recover I fully expect the firework to recommence. There's just too much well-coached talent.

36 Depth

As previously pointed out, its also about the floor, particularly in the secondary.

To me, this is the biggest difference between this year and the last couple.  The secondary depth is enviable.  Gilmore can hold his own 1 on 1 with any receiver in the league, and dominate most.  Now you add Jason McCourty, a very underated former ST cover guy Johnathan Jones, and a 2nd year UDFA (don't know how that happened -- maybe off-field issues) JC Jackson, and the cornerbacks go 4-deep with starting-caliber players.  They have a highly-regarded 2nd round rookie CB who can't make the active roster because he doesn't play teams.  Safeties Devin McCourty, Pat Chung, and Duron Harmon are all + cover guys who can lock down the tight end when they're not supporting the run.  Hightower, Collins, and Van Noy are all very good athletes who can cover running backs to some extent.  The flexibility of personnel leads to an unlimited variety of coverages.

Put it all together, and nobody is getting open quickly, allowing the pressure to get home.  Yes, Kansas City, Houston, and Philly will test them, but as of now, I'd have to say that this is as good as any Patriots defense as I've witnessed in my lifetime -- and I fondly remember Haynes and Clayborn covering WRs.

 

62 Off-Field Issues Indeed

In reply to by dryheat

Jackson had some legal issues, don't remember exactly what. Pretty sure charges were dismissed.

50 The defense lacks much in…

The defense lacks much in the way of top-flight talent, but the more revealing question is this:

 

How many players on the New England defense wouldn't be solid starters on other teams?  I can't think of any.

56 I'm probably going to come…

I'm probably going to come off as a major contrarian here, but I don't think any other team who's head coach wasn't Bill belichick would be able to come close to replicating this result. In particular, many of the players people have mentioned I have seen on other teams... J. McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins (apparently Hall of Fame level talent yet belichick was willing to get rid of him for a price that seems laughable), and Patrick Chung.

 

To address another person's point above, I don't know how much of it is scheme. I've heard so many top analysts and even former players mention that every team uses a lot of the same coverage concepts. 

 

To  me, belichick just is able to motivate and coach proper technique and deploys his personnel in very limited roles for what they're good at.

That's what makes me think this result says a lot more about the head coach than the personnel

60 I'm probably going to come…

I'm probably going to come off as a major contrarian here, but I don't think any other team who's head coach wasn't Bill belichick would be able to come close to replicating this result.

I think that's definitely true of the secondary, and if you had to call anything a weak point on the team, that'd probably be it: the secondary's old. They're the oldest secondary in the league, by quite a lot depending on how you measure it. Scheme can paper over a lot there - which is what's happening - but Father Time always wins.

61 You think another coach gets…

You think another coach gets the same mileage out of this dline? I think you hand this dline in its current level of talent to another team, they probably finish last in RAP. The linebackers I might agree given that its not a huge surprise that the Browns mismanaged Jamie Collins. 

81 Really don't get your…

Really don't get your negative opinion on the line? If you look at the players on the line that played for other teams, they graded well there, too. Shelton's a former first round draft pick (again: Cleveland Browns), Guy, and Simon were all pretty well-graded by lots of metrics in part-time roles for other teams, and they've still got part-time roles at New England. Obviously Bennett's a former Pro Bowler although *that's* not going so well. And Winovich was widely expected to be a good New England lineman in draft projections.

And for the guys that have only been Patriots, it's a reasonable assumption to make that if they're seeing more time than players who graded well on other teams, they'd probably grade well on other teams too.

84 Ok, Danny Shelton I can get…

Ok, Danny Shelton I can get behind. But the rest you are mentioning were part time players and a rookie 3rd round pick. That's a lot of small sample / unproven talent and expecting it to be good? I think that's called wishful thinking. If instead they were awful, would anyone be surprised??? Look...they were relying on part timers and rookies for real results...how stupid. 

91 They are players who played…

They are players who played well in part time roles, and who are still playing those part time roles. It's not a surprise they're continuing to play well. If NE had brought them in and pushed them to full time starter and they struggled, sure. But that's not what happened.

The point is more that many of the players on the defensive line are players who played well elsewhere (or were on the Browns). So asking if another coach could get good performance out of them is a bit silly: other coaches *have*. Just not the Browns. 

 

 

82 It's not injury risk I'm…

It's not injury risk I'm talking about, it's just athleticism. Yes, obviously, they've got younger defensive backs who are likely faster/more athletic than the starters but, well, the starters are starters for a reason. But it's not like it's a huge knock to say "I'm not sure if the secondary can keep up with a team with multiple high-level WRs, a high-level QB and high-level play design." I mean, jeez, if you have to pick a place a weakness, you'd obviously pick that.

 

92 I'd Pick the D-Line

Sure there's a reason the old guys are starting. But the dropoff from everyone except Gilmore, who is not old, isn't particularly big. Those young guns can, and do step in frequently and I don't think it will hurt the Pats to lose one or two starters in the backfield. Next season I fully expect the McCourty's to be gone, probably retired, and Chung to come off the bench. Belichick has done a great job finding starter talent at corner at the bottom of the draft or as UDFAs and it's played a big role in the team success over the past couple of years.

For me, the d-line is where they lack premier talent and where Belichick's schemes are concealing weaknesses. At least against the six teams they've faced so far.

Maybe, though the d-line is better than I think (it's certainly better than I expected) seeing as how they can only a handful of plays for Bennett.

 

93 I'd Pick the D-Line

Sure there's a reason the old guys are starting. But the dropoff from everyone except Gilmore, who is not old, isn't particularly big. Those young guns can, and do step in frequently and I don't think it will hurt the Pats to lose one or two starters in the backfield. Next season I fully expect the McCourty's to be gone, probably retired, and Chung to come off the bench. Belichick has done a great job finding starter talent at corner at the bottom of the draft or as UDFAs and it's played a big role in the team success over the past couple of years.

For me, the d-line is where they lack premier talent and where Belichick's schemes are concealing weaknesses. At least against the six teams they've faced so far.

Maybe, though the d-line is better than I think (it's certainly better than I expected) seeing as how they can only a handful of plays for Bennett.

 

66 Scheme Team

Hightower would start on any team in the league, I think, but I agree that the overall talent level is lower than the results would indicate. Part of it is that Belichick has somewhat different criteria for players than most other GMs; in particular, he seems to put a higher premium on football intelligence and work ethic than on sheer physical ability (also a result of the usual draft position for NE). When Belichick misses on a draft choice, it's almost always because he took someone who didn't have enough athleticism for the job. The infamous reach in the second round for safety Jordan Richards is a case in point - Belichick saw a really smart guy who loved football, unfortunately Richards wasn't quick enough to cover NFL receivers. It goes the other way too: Collins came into the league raw and without a position but had all the athleticism in the world so Belichick molded him to his scheme. When Collins started freelancing though, Belichick immediately cut bait and shipped him off to Cleveland where he was misused (he's not a great at getting off blocks from linemen but the Browns had him with a hand in the dirt; Collins is much better as a roving LB).

After that, Belichick's scheme puts guys in positions to succeed. You rarely find players regularly required to do things that are outside of their skill set. (Chung's first stint with the Pats was an exception: he was used more as a free safety and got burned by WRs. That misuse was largely due to necessity, however; the Pats had some busts and injuries at the position). Finally, Belichick favors roster depth over stars - usually the Pats can handle a couple of major injuries to starters without too much drop off.

77 RE:  scheme Belichick…

RE:  scheme

Belichick typically insists his interior DLine 2-gap and his edge players set the edge against the run.  Its why Danny Shelton got benched a bunch last year and didn't have his option picked up and they only signed him on the cheap this year.  It's why he's not willing to pay market rate for Chandler Jones.  He wants his Dline to squeeze the QB, not race to the QB.  That’s not typical in the league.  Belichick’s scheme is why Richard Seymour isn't a shoe-in for the hall of fame (no sacks) and why Chris Long went to Philly to play for Schwarz and his wide nine after 1 year with the Pats.  There was a highlight segment of a game last year, forget which one, where Belichick schemes against type, telling the players “just keep getting up the field”.  They're staring at him like: “is this a trick?  Is he really telling us to do this?”

To me, that’s scheme.  No different than the Shanahans favoring the outside zone run.

87 Thanks for the Info

I don't disagree with any of this. What I'm seeing though is a Pats D this season that is playing with more aggression than any Pats D in recent memory. Whether that's talent, scheme or the quality of opponent is unclear to me. Probably all of the above.

Here's an excellent All-22 breakdown of the D in action against the Giants that illustrates my point. The Pats just swarm to the ball.

https://www.patspulpit.com/2019/10/17/20914391/film-room-defense-new-england-patriots-giants-analysis-nfl-week-6

Daniel Jones really has that gunslinger mentality. From the tape, it seems that he could have easily had 4 or 5 more interceptions. Dude has no problem forcing the ball into tight (or nonexistent) windows. Hard to blame the Pats for those few successful throws Jones did make – you put a ball up for grabs and sometimes the receiver is going to catch it, especially when he has talent (Golden Tate). Give Jones a few more good wideouts and he’ll put up numbers, although he has to hone his risk assessment. Still, I think the Giants did get something there, maybe a Favre-lite.

22 The 10 teams in the NFC that…

The 10 teams in the NFC that have a .500 or better record are a combined 15 and 2 against the AFC this year with those two losses being the Lion and the Chiefs and Dallas and the Jets both extremely tight games one of which was against one of the better AFC squads

27 so far

The Pats have played the Redskins and the Giants.

The Chiefs have played the Lions. 

The Ravens have played the Cardinals.

The common theme there are the weakness of the opponents.

The Texans are the only divisional leader that's had a tough time vs. NFC, with losses to Carolina and New Orleans.

Seems like the NFL decided the top interconference matchups for the Pats and Chiefs will be during sweeps.  

 

 

29 NFC North defenses are crazy

has there ever been a season with 4 Teams of one division in the top 10 of defensive DOVA?

at the moment DET is ranked 12th, but it seems possible that they could close the gap

35 Detroit is a really solid team

And Patricia and company have that team playing HARD. The Lions were seriously hitting people on Monday night. The only legit weakness on that team is the offensive line. And the pass protection stats are more of Stafford's ability to get the ball out then actual technical proficiency in my estimation. Not a good unit overall. The linebackers are also not 'great' but not terrible.

38 Yeah, last year Patricia &…

Yeah, last year Patricia & co. took a lot of shit from the football-watching public, and Detroit fans especially...calling him a joke, a fraud, a know-nothing, etc.  I hope they realize that he's a pretty damn good coach.

46 I dunno...I've watched them…

I dunno...I've watched them three times now, and they certainly appear to be a more competitive team than I've seen in some time.  Other than conditioned pessimism, I don't know why you'd assume they'll miss the playoffs this year.

49 I watch a lot of NFC North…

I watch a lot of NFC North games and agree that the Lions look way, way better than they did under Caldwell, but it is entirely reasonable to be pessimistic about their playoff chances because the NFC is quite deep this year, and the NFC North in particular. Seattle/SF will likely pick up one wild card slot, leaving the Lions to duke it out with MIN, CHI, and NOR/CAR for the last spot.

If the refs call it properly on Monday Night, they are 1/2 game back in the division with a home game left against Green Bay. Instead, they are 4th and will probably need to go 4-1 in the division to catch up. Even if the Bears fade to 7-9 as I expect, their defense is matchup nightmare for Detroit. They might pull it off, but it won't be easy.

51 Yea agree with that.  As I…

Yea agree with that.  As I said below, if they prove unable to beat the Vikings at home this week, it’s pretty much over.  Their remaining non-division games don’t look too daunting, but  being in a tough division is.

57 It's kind of interesting how…

It's kind of interesting how the Vikings and Lions lost mirror image close games in Lambeau, with officiating oddities (the Lions much more so) playing a significant part. The Vikings fell behind 21 points quickly, then clawed back, despite a td negated by a penalty that wasn't called during the play, and that at least one former official, Blandino, thought was pretty questionable. I look at that sort of call as being as random as the bounce of a ball, which is why I'm against singling out PI penalties for video review. In any case, absent Cousins throwing a moron ball on the 5 in the closing minutes (by, oh, I dunno, giving another handoff to a guy averaging about 6 yards a carry), the Vikings could have easily won.

The Lions outplayed the Pack early, and Rodgers brought them back with some brilliant stuff, but absent just the first phantom call, I'm pretty sure the Lions win.

Either team would be much better off uf they had prevailed against the Packers, but they didn't, which really raises the stakes for both this weekend.

58 There is some evidence that…

There is some evidence that calls are influenced by the venue, home vs away. In that case this is not an entirely random event. I'm actually in favor of replay if it means getting the call right. However I'm not in favor of a farce replay system that we currently have.

59 There is some evidence that…

There is some evidence that calls are influenced by the venue, home vs away. In that case this is not an entirely random event. I'm actually in favor of replay if it means getting the call right. However I'm not in favor of a farce replay system that we currently have.

39 "The weakness of the team is…

"The weakness of the team is the O line".  This seems to be a common refrain, seemingly across 90% of NFL teams these days.

What's behind this, I wonder?  Possible explanations:

1) the weakest link in a 5 man unit is the perceived (actual?) strength of the entire unit

2) the O line needs more practice together than other units to perform well, and with reduced practice time rules, it takes until mid-season before O lines can start to gel (sometimes delayed by injuries)

3) the best athletes have been selected through college ball into the D line, such that the average talent level of an O lineman is weaker now than was historically the case, while the average talent level of the D linemen is stronger, leading to a general imbalance (which could have, as one side effect, a general reduction in the effectiveness of running the ball, especially in short yardage situations)

85 I think you can scheme 1…

I think you can scheme 1 weak point. But you need 2 strong points or no other weakpoints. Most teams just don't have the tackle-guard combo on one side they can rely on to give their weak point help

72 I would also add: 4) Fans…

I would also add:

4) Fans have too high standards as to what average OL play is like. An average OL is going to give up several pressures over the course of a game, and that's something you just have to live with.

5) Fans also will try to deflect blame from their QB or RB struggling by putting it on the OL. Sometimes the OL is to blame, but often it's the fault of the QB or RB themselves.

73 There is also wide variation…

There is also wide variation in how coaching staffs account for the talent they have to work with. On one end of the spectrum you have New England, squeezing whatever juice exists out of the lemon, and on the other, just to pick one of the more notorious historical examples, you have whatever team which hired Mike Martz. He was going to call his 5 out on routes, 7 step drops, no matter who was in front of the qb. When those were good to great players, it almost always worked out, until they ran into a playoff team that was coached well. Short of that, disaster eventually ensued.

 

41 They gave up 3 sacks Monday,…

They gave up 3 sacks Monday, but overall this season the offensive line’s pass protection has been okay (12th in adjusted sack rate....towards the middle of pack as far as pressures given up), especially the interior line (both tackles are okay, but not great).  It’s their run blocking that’s the real weakness.  Kerryon Johnson has had to fight and claw for every yard he’s gotten this year.  This is reflected in the Lion’s 28th ranked run offense DVOA (compared to 4th ranked pass offense).  This is major problem for a team that is relatively run-heavy on offense.

If there’s another team weakness to point out, it’s that their run defense has been disappointing.  Snacks hasn’t been living up to his new contract thus far.  The linebackers are fine at run defense and blitzing, but are a liability in coverage.  Otherwise, the team is above average or better in most other aspects.  

Agree with you about Patricia.  Even if his in-game decision making is to, put it charitably, questionable, there isn’t much to complain about as far as game-planning and the team’s focus and preparation.  They’ll need it.  This week’s game against Minnesota is a must-win.  If they start 0-2 in the division, they may has well start booking vacations for January.

40 NE Special Teams

As someone who has been jealous of NE's extraordinary special teams for two decades now, is their current ranking entirely due to the Gostkowski injury, or are there other problems I'm not seeing in my brief glimpses on TV? Last year was another poor showing for them, relatively speaking.

2010: +4.7% (8th)
2011: +4.1% (5th)
2012: +4.4% (4th)
2013: +6.7% (2nd)
2014: +5.7% (5th)
2015: +3.9% (5th)
2016: +2.3% (8th)
2017: +6.3% (3rd)
2018: +0.1% (16th)
2019: -1.2% (21st)

43 It's not at all related to…

In reply to by Independent George

It's not at all related to Gostkowski's absence.  He missed at least one kick per game while he was in there.  Mike Nugent has simply continued that trend.  Placekicking, on the whole, has been unreliable this year once you leave Baltimore.  In fact, I've just made the decision that I'm teaching my 11-year-old soccer player how to kick oblong balls as well.

52 I suspect Gostowski was…

I suspect Gostowski was battling injury from the beginning of the season.  He tried to kick through it, put eventually they put him on IR when they realized he wasn't reliable while healing.  Note, I don't know this is the case, this is just my suspicion.

48 They have an ugly % in XP…

In reply to by Independent George

They have an ugly % in XP made: 79.2%, which is less than the already so-so of the FG (81.8%).

For the rest, they are fine (two blocked punts, one muffed punt return). 

Fun story: Gostkwoski never missed an XP in his entire career, until AFCCG in Denver (2015 season, the first with the new rule).

That ultimately costed the game and probably messed up his brain.

After that he was:

2016: 93.9% (missed also an XP in SB LI)

2017: 95.7% (missed also an XP and a FG in SB LII)

2018: 98% (back to normal, but missed a FG at XP distance in SB LIII)

2019: 73.3% (IR) 

55 Gostkwoski

Gostkwoski really hasn't been the kicker he was in the first 10 years of his career in 2+ of the last 3+ years, and I think injury has been a part of that. I was really surprised not to see the Pats bring another kicker into camp (either through the draft or as a free agent - given they drafted a punter in the 5th round because they wanted one) to compete with him - there definately paying for that now. The rest of the special teams is excellent as always.

67 Beyond Placekicker

In reply to by Independent George

The Pats lost a special-team standout for the season and are breaking in some new guys. It's not just the kicker.

80 A frequently overlooked…

A frequently overlooked factor. I don't know about the Pats, but a lot of teams automatically try to use their punter for holding, and if they have a new punter, especially one just out of college, he may have never done it before. Surprise, surprise, some guys who have never been a holder before aren't very good at it, especially starting out. Kind of weird to have a 180 million dollar payroll, with so much hanging on the performance of a novice.

83 NE uses the punter.  And…

NE uses the punter.  And they have a new, rookie punter.  And he's had problems with even basic stuff like pointing the laces in the right direction.  (Lord knows what other things that we can't tell he's not doing right.)

71 Niners

They are playing so well that they have an estimated 6 wins in 5 games? Maybe Jimmy Jesus really is divine.

74 Since the purpose of the…

In reply to by EasyLikeSunday…

Since the purpose of the table is to compare teams, the staggered bye week is taken out of the equation.  That makes team-to-team comparisons meaningful, even if it does imply that SF in this instance should have won on its bye week.

86 strongest 4th place team ever

If the NFC North ends the year with a ~6% DVOA team in 4th place would that be the strongest 4th place team ever? If I counted right, the Lions would be the best team in 3 divisions.

89 Perhaps the comments are…

Perhaps the comments are fixed? 80+ and still page one, new comments showing in yellow, latest comment showing in article header.