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15 Nov 2005

Any Given Sunday: Packers over Falcons

by Ned Macey

Atlanta entered the week as the only team from last year's NFC Divisional round to sport a winning record. The only question about the 6-2 Falcons seemed to be whether or not they could secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the woeful Packers in town, a win was a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Packers found a secret weapon in Samkon Gado and exposed the Falcons for the second-rate squad they really are.

In analyzing the NFL, most people focus too much on quarterbacks. A good quarterback certainly helps, but if Kyle Orton's team is 6-3 and Donovan McNabb's team is 4-5, it clearly only means so much. No middle ground seems to exist in evaluating Michael Vick, with half the world decrying him as a glorified running back and the other half forging his bust for Canton. So much focus on Vick leaves the rest of the Falcons rarely analyzed. What the loss to the Packers shows is that no matter what Vick does, the Falcons defense will leave them fighting for a Wild Card.

Whatever you think of Vick, he is basically the same player this year that he was a year ago. He has a quarterback rating of 76.9 this year compared to 78.1 a year ago. He is completing a slightly higher percentage of passes for fewer yards per attempt. He is gaining a little less on each individual scramble, but he is also taking fewer sacks. No major growth or regression has occurred from last season.

Since the statistics at Football Outsiders show Vick to be a substandard quarterback, the overall ranking of the Falcons is fairly low. No amount of data can convince either side of the Vick debate that it's wrong, so for today we are just going to ignore his contribution, which by statistical measurement remains consistently mediocre.

A year ago, the Falcons ranked 19th in DVOA, our innovative stat that ranks each team on a per play basis (and is further explained here). That ranking seems low for an 11-5 team, but they only outscored their opponents by three points on the season, a differential much more indicative of a .500 team.

It's also important to remember that last year's NFC consisted of Philadelphia and the 15 dwarves. At the point when the Falcons clinched their playoff position after Week 15, they were ranked just 16th in the entire league -- but this was still good enough to be third in the conference behind Philadelphia and the surging Carolina Panthers.

This season, the rest of the NFC has improved. Atlanta's offense has stayed strong thanks to the impressive work of Warrick Dunn and an underrated offensive line. On defense, however, the team is among the worst in the league.

A season ago, the importation of Rod Coleman helped elevate the Falcons from the 26th best defense to the 16th best according to DVOA. This year, the defense has regressed to 25th overall, including an abysmal 29th against the run.

Despite the improvement of the defense last season, the Falcons turned over four members of their front seven in the off-season, due mostly to the aging of such players as Ed Jasper and Chris Draft. Of their replacements, only linebacker Ed Hartwell was a proven commodity. He came in and played well early, but since his injury in Week 5, the Falcons have been weakened, with fifth-round pick Michael Boley forced into the line-up. The Falcons have been particularly susceptible to runs at the left side of their line, which featured Jonathan Babineaux and Chad Lavalais on Sunday.

This deficiency was exploited against the Packers by the most unlikely of players, Samkon Gado. A career back-up at Division I-AA Liberty University, Gado was cut by the Chiefs in the pre-season before eventually landing on the Packers practice squad. Injuries to the Packers' top three running backs left them with their fifth starter in nine games.

What was impressive about Gado's performance was that he was running behind a line that until Sunday had been inept. After anchoring one of the league's best offensive lines the past few seasons, guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera were allowed to leave in free agency. Without them, a Packers line that ranked in the top 12 in the league the past three seasons in our adjusted line yards statistic has fallen into the mid-twenties this season. The combination of injured running backs and shoddy line play left the Packers entering their game against Atlanta as the second worst rushing offense in football.

The decline in rushing offense is the only major difference between this year's Packers team and last year's division-winning squad. A season ago, the Packers were not a great team, feasting on a weak NFC to compile a 10-6 record. They ranked 21st in DVOA in large part due to a defense that ranked 29th. This season with new defensive coordinator Jim Bates, the Packers defense has improved slightly to 21st.

Brett Favre, playing without Javon Walker, has led a passing offense that still ranks 9th in the league after ranking 8th a year ago. Favre's play has been denigrated because of his very high interception total, but with no help in the running game, he is frequently put in impossible situations. According to our statistic DPAR, which measures points contributed above a replacement-level player, Favre is the 6th most productive quarterback in football. That ranking would be his highest since 2001.

The other major difference between this year and last year is a change in luck. To date this year, they have lost five games by seven points or less. They lost only two such games a year ago. Thanks to their humiliation of the Saints in Week 5, they had actually outscored their opponents even before the victory over Atlanta. While it gives little consolation, the Packers were likely the best 1-7 team in history.

With all of those close losses and such a deficiency in the running game, it is clear that any semblance of a running game would have had the Packers contending in the NFC North. The Packers' best hope for establishing the running game is Gado, which may be the most surprising story of the NFL season. Gado is different than the average NFL player not just because he spent his first nine years in Nigeria but also because rather than majoring in "general studies," he earned a pre-med degree. His medical career is on hold for now, as he will likely finish the season as Green Bay's starting running back.

Gado's story is an exceptional one, but given that he struggled for 62 yards on 26 carries against Pittsburgh the week before, his performance is likely the result of Atlanta's deficient run defense. The 62-yard effort was sadly the highest output by a Packers running back before Sunday's outburst. Even in Sunday's game, Gado's failure to secure the ball could have cost the Packers dearly. Gado fumbled twice and was fortunate to have both recovered by teammates.

Fumble recoveries are for the most part random occurrences that tend to even out over time. Before the Packers game, Atlanta's defense had recovered an amazing nine out of 10 fumbles by opposing offenses. Such luck had helped mask how deficient the Falcons defense had become. This random occurrence can have a major impact on an individual game. Gado's first fumble this week came on the Packers' first touchdown drive. His second fumble came in Green Bay's own territory on a drive that led to an eventual field goal. Had Atlanta recovered either fumble, they could very easily have won the game.

Atlanta's bad luck did not end on fumbles. The final margin in the game was provided by an exceptional performance from Packers kicker Ryan Longwell. For the game, Longwell hit four field goals, including one each from 46, 51, and 53 yards. On average, kickers hit only 62 percent of all 46-yard field goals, 53 percent of 51-yard field goals, 49 percent of 53-yard field goals. For Longwell to hit all three is both an amazing individual performance and bad luck for the Falcons. Before this game, Longwell had hit only seven of 11 field goals on the season, including three of six from over 40 yards.

After this game, the Falcons rank 19th and the Packers 20th in overall DVOA. By weighted DVOA, which considers only the most recent eight games, the Packers are actually ahead of the Falcons. Of course, all the statistics in the world do not change the fact that the Packers are 2-7 while the Falcons are 6-3.

The Packers have virtually no hope of making the playoffs, but they are well-positioned to play the role of spoiler. They finish with six of their final seven games against teams within two games of first place, including four within the division. A 6-10 season would be Favre's first losing season, but after a 1-7 start, it would be a promising conclusion that could bring Favre back for one more year.

Going forward, Atlanta's road to the playoffs will be strewn with potholes. They close with five of seven games against teams with winning records and four of seven on the road. The only seemingly sure victory they have is when they host the Saints. The NFC features eight teams with a winning record, meaning the days of the 8-8 Wild Card are over. The Falcons will need at least 10 wins to qualify for a playoff spot. With their difficult remaining schedule and suspect defense, it is far from assured that they will get there, an unthinkable prospect just a few days ago.

Each Tuesday in Any Given Sunday, Ned Macey looks at the biggest upset of the previous weekend. The NFL sells itself on the idea that any team can win any given game, but we use these upsets as a tool to explore what trends and subtle aspects of each team are revealed in a single game.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 15 Nov 2005

80 comments, Last at 22 Nov 2005, 1:01pm by Sid


by MCS (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:39pm

exposed the Falcons for the second-rate squad they really are.

ouch. That's cold.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:52pm


And yet, so true. So very true.

by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:56pm

exposed the Falcons for the second-rate squad they really are.

Uh oh. That's going to bring on The Wrath of Hot-lanta, Part Deux. And yet it is funny and true at the same time.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:09pm

you like apples?

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:12pm

Excellent article, as always. (It must have felt really good to write.)

by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:32pm

Great article.

With no obvious ulterior motive outside of to educate.

At all.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:36pm

FO has gotta be careful not to feed the trolls, though. Until the comments section is updated to handle the potential throng of people that the FOX connection will eventually bring up, you don't want to go too overboard with the "I told you so's"..

by TBW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:43pm

DVOA sucks. The Packers beat the Falcons for crying out loud and they're only rated 20th ;)

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:43pm

As always, watch for orcs and trolls.

I would like to suggest that we (readers and FO staff alike) lay off the angry Falcons fans. I haven't seen anything egregious, but there's been lots of not-so-good-natured ribbing and a handful of backhanded insults recently, which will only serve to make matters worse. Delete/ignore the really offensive troll posts, and answer the merely abrasive ones with as much civility as possible. Enmity begets enmity, and so forth.

by solarjetman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:50pm

One thing that deserves mentioning about last year's Falcons is that two of their losses were 27-0 to the Bucs and 56-10 to the Chiefs, neither of which was a juggernaut in 2004. Then they lost two meaningless games at the end of the year.

Now anyone who's been reading this site regularly knows that DVOA does not, cannot, and should not account for blowouts and "garbage games". But nearly all subjective ratings of the Falcons last year did so and it's hard to discount them.

That plus an easy schedule doomed the Falcons' DVOA rating last year; this year it appears to be the combination of an easy schedule and the fumble thing.

As for the trolls, after attacking the Falcons' DVOA rating based on wins and losses, to see them lose at home to a 1-7 team that looked better than 1-7 due to DVOA...that's gotta sting a bit.

by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:51pm

Looks like Vick forgot to bring his intangibles (a.k.a. recovering fumbles and making opposing kickers miss).

But you have to admit that his PA bootleg where he hid the ball before he ran on the Falcons' second TD was sweet.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:52pm

Choosing Longwell for my second half Loser League team was a sure sign that he would start making more field goals. (Come to think of it, if I chose some Cowboys on my team, I probably wouldn't have had to sweat it out last night.)

by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:58pm

Not only should you guys be cautious not to feed the trolls, but if Atlanta is a "second-rate squad" and Green Bay has been outperforming their record, your choice of profiling this match up looks suspect. According to your own rankings Minnesota beating the New York Giants was a bigger upset, but instead you picked on the team who's fans have been harassing your site. Even excluding Vick from the discussion, the article does come off like an "I told you so".

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 3:58pm

On average, kickers hit only 62 percent of all 46-yard field goals, 53 percent of 51-yard field goals, 49 percent of 53-yard field goals.

Is the sample size here large enough to make generalizations? It's hardly intuitive that 51 yard field goals are easier than 46 yarders.

Also, I wouldn't call it all luck that Longwell made all 3 long kicks, as he has been much better than average over his career. He may have been 3 for 6 before this week over 40 yards, but last year he was 8 out of 11 (and the year before, 7 out of 10).

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:03pm

oops, I misread the fieldgoal stats...even after pasting them in my msg! Please ignore the first part of my post.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:10pm

Nice piece, with a lot to chew on. Anybody know off-hand how much the success rate improves on 45 yard-plus field goals when the attempts are indoors? Also, the irony of Favre having a really good year as the protests mount regarding Favre hagiology is fun to see.

This Monday's Vikings/Packers contest will be about as interesting a game between 2-7 and 4-5 squads can be. It is is an extremely hard fought rivalry, and Lambeau is one of two road games where the normally hideous road performance of the Vikings improves, the other being Detroit. My bet would be that the Packers win by three or four points, coming from behind in the second half.

The key will be how well the Packers interior offensive line performs against Kevin and Pat Williams, who are really starting to play well. The Vikings offense cannot do much on the road these days, so the Vikings must prevent the Packers from running, and force Favre into at least two interceptions.

by MCS (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:14pm


Earlier today, I composed a comment that questioned Ned's conclusions regarding Longwell. Then I reread AGS and saw that he called Longwell's game an "amazing individual performance" that was unlucky for Atlanta. At no point does he say that Longwell got lucky.

Note that Longwell was 2/3 from 50+ this season and although 1/3 from 40-49, he made his last kick from 40-49 (against Pitt).

By all appearances, Longwell's struggles this season appear to be behind him. Time will tell.

by Just Another Falcons Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:16pm

Not having seen the game, if Babineaux was lined up at LDE, that means that Kerney was flipped over to RDE. For whatever reason, Kerney plays much better as a LDE and the Falcons really miss Brady Smith at RDE.

Also, where was Rod Coleman Sunday? He apparently started, but has a great big goose-egg in the stats. Given that he only had an assist in the Miami game, one wonders if he was replaced with an alien during the bye week.

by A.J. Stanson (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:16pm

This is very bitter. So what, some people don't understand stats. Get over it.

I hope the Falcons win the Super Bowl, just so you can eat this.

by Countertorque (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:17pm

RE:9 and 13

Sing it.

I have been a little suprised at how much righteous indignation the staff has been showing in response to the comments. Did we all just now learn that the net is full of morons? Do you think Dr. Z gets anything different (I'd guess it's probably a lot worse)? He manages to remain civil about it.

by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:33pm

Do you think Dr. Z gets anything different (I’d guess it’s probably a lot worse)? He manages to remain civil about it.

the difference is, though, that Dr. Z gets all that in email, only ruining *his* day, as opposed to a site full of readers having to scroll through a 700-page comments thread.

that said, if the current server load is in any way shape or form related to Atlanta, i think the double-reverse-told-you-so has likely been called into play.

by Christina (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:37pm

Just one thing I'd like to point out before this goes too far: there was argument in the game discussion thread as to which game the FO staff would do for AGS. Originally, they were not going to do this game, because of the risk of sounding I-told-you-so-ish, but several people requested that this game be the one discussed in this article.

However, I do think there were other games that could be more interesting, such as Minnesota/NY Giants, or even Seattle/St. Louis. With that last one, the Rams swept the Seahawks last season, and now the Seahawks swept the Rams. The reason for this reversal might make an interesting article.

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:38pm

I don't see any lack of civility from the FO staff, but I-Told-You-So's are still dangerous to over-do. Gotta take the high road when you can.

Although as for the suggestion above that the Vikings victory over New York would have been better for an AGS column, I disagree. While the Vikings had a big day on special teams and defense, it doesn't seem to me like either performance is really indicitive of an actual difference in the percieved strength of either squad (just maybe that the Giants ST aren't really as good as they have been). On the other hand, pointing out why the strength of two teams really is quite different from the percieved is good material.

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:40pm


Fair point. I guess I took it to mean that if it were unlucky for Atl, it was lucky for GB. I didn't consider the possibility that what was unlucky for Atl was that they faced a good kicker.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:46pm

One quibble. I think last year's Carolina Panthers were the best 1-7 team in history.

Second, I think that this was a much better game for "Any Given Sunday". I don't think it was so much an "I told you so" directed at Falcons fans as much as it was an "I told you so" directed at doubters of DVOA. Basically the FOs are saying "You said the Falcons would win running away based on your stats. We said we actually liked the Packers based on our stats. Count it as a win for progressive statistics."

It strikes me as the same thing as when they remind everyone that DVOA predicted Carolina and Green Bay would turn it around at midseason last year, or that San Diego would be very good before the season even started. And I think it's very justified. I like seeing DVOA get the credit that it's due.

by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:48pm

I hope the Falcons win the Super Bowl, just so you can eat this.

So we have nothing to worry about.

A lot of this is just in response to all those Falcons fans who posted on their team MBs to have their fans come over here and start flaming us. It was very poor taste.

I'm not saying we should keep up with the "I told you so"s though. I don't really plan on mentioning it outside of a law of averages angle anymore. My first sentence is my last "told you so". =P

by admin :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:52pm

Yes, the original plan was to do the Vikings over the Giants, because I did not want to further antagonize the Atlanta folks. Ned did this game because so many readers requested it.

I think I've mentioned this a few times, but we're angry at the Atlanta trolls because they were far more inconsiderate than trolls of the past. Prior controversial rankings had led mostly to hate mail, not discussion takeover. The dealbreaker was the posting on the official Falcons message board telling people to specifically post about the Falcons in our "Falcons-free" thread. This is not simply a case of "people don't understand stats."

That being said, I do worry that we've made the site uncomfortable for the intelligent, thoughtful Atlanta fans who have been reading us for some time. Just because the folks who frequent the Falcons message board are rude does not mean that all Falcons fans agree with their actions.

Therefore, I will reiterate the comment made by VarlosZ. We've talked about this a lot, I've explained our actions a few times, and now we can put this behind us and stop rooting against Atlanta. Unless you happen to be a Carolina or Tampa Bay fan. Or a fan of a team that might win an NFC wild card.

by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:55pm

I'm guessing that Ned enjoyed writing this.
Nicely written, and not offensive at all, unless having your teams' deficiencies spelt out for you is offensive.

DVOA 42 Atlanta fans 3, and it wasn't as close as the score suggests.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:04pm

I like the Packers/Atlanta game for AGS for precisely the DVOA-minded reasons and the I-told-you-so factor. But as for the spirit that, on AGS, some team can come in on the road and knock off a superior team, the Vikings/Giants game would be the pick. But what can be said about that game? That was a pretty fluky win if I've ever seen one. When a team gains 50% of their total offense of the final drive to win the game, well, what can you say? An NFL benchmark of a punt, kickoff and INT returned for TDs is not going to be a regular occurance and I doubt DVOA pays it much mind.

by stereochemistry (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:08pm

"I hope the Falcons win the Super Bowl, just so you can eat this."

Should that happen, I have absolutely no doubt that DVOA will more accurately show WHY it happened (stunning improvement in run defense compared to season average being my best guess) than Atlanta fans, national media, or normal game statistics.

Carolina's rise to the SB two years ago didn't discount DVOA's rankings or ratings...it merely showed the areas that the Panthers improved in at the right time to turn their season around...winning because they fixed their mistakes, instead of winning in spite of them.

by CoreyG (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:08pm

I would have liked to have seen some commentary on Atlanta losing 2 fumbles in their own territory resulting in 2 TD scoring drives for GB totaling 23 yards I think. Not much their (or anybody's) defense can do about that situation. Aside from the opening drive for a TD, GB was held to 4 field goals, 3 of them being rather long. That doesn't strike me as that bad of a defensive performance when you look at the results, but I guess stat-wise it says something different.

As an aside, how does dvoa deal with stats that don't directly result in scores? I'm sure it's been answered a million times already but I don't have patience for searches :(

by Fizzman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:20pm

DVOA compares any given play to all of the other similar plays - similar down and distance, similar score and time of game. It pays no mind as to whether the drive eventually ended in a score, only whether this particular play was more or less successful than most in similar situations. Success is measured as a percentage of the yards needed for 1st down, or scoring. I.e., a 3rd down play is successful if it gains 100% of the yards for a first down, or a score results, while a 1st down play is successful if it gains 60% of the yards for a first down.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:21pm

Well, the Giants/Vikings game had an element of FO predictions coming true as well. I doubt anyone was predicting that it would happen quite like that, but FO had been saying:

1) If Eli stays this inaccurate, he will inevitably start throwing more INTs.

2) It's unlikely that the Giants special teams are really this good.

Again, I doubt anyone was predicting that these two statistical anomalies would reverse so suddenly and completely in one game. But some regression to the mean was predictable.

Both games were reasonable AGS choices, that provided plenty to discuss. Let's not make too big a deal out of which one was picked.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:27pm

Well, the MN/NY contest was surprising, but it would not have made for as good a column. As a service, I'll give a rundown.

The Vikings interior o-line still really stinks on the road.

As FO predicted, Manning the Youngest is going to have his down days.

The Vikings interior d-line is improving.

Michael Strahan is good.

Koren Robinson is a good kick returner, Mewelde Moore can be elusive, and it is good idea to actually cover kicks.

Antonio Pierce was a better free-agent signing than Sam Cowart, although Cowart isn't terrible.

Brad Johnson doesn't throw a lot of stupid passes, even when pressured.

Tiki Barber is good.

The Vikings receivers don't help out the Vikings quarterbacks very often with above-average catches (the Wiggins grab in the last minute and a half excepted,) which is quite a change for Vikings fans who remember having Randy Moss and Cris Carter on the field at the same time.

I don't think I'd stand outside next to Mike Tice during a thunderstorm, because, A.) He's very tall, and B.) Very unusual things seem to happen to him.

That is all.

by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:28pm

#29 - Fluky is the word (also, "cover-your-eyes-awful" and "you've-got-to-be-kidding-me-with-this.") I mean, how much can meaningfully be said about a game where the winning team at one point has two TDs despite six yards of total offense? Beyond "these things happen every so often, now here's the number for you local suicide hotline," of course...

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 5:43pm

They could have done the Chi/SF game and changed the column name to Any Given Windsday. Okay, that was bad. I like the column, though, cause it pointed out places where Atl struggles (run defense) and succeeds (O line at run blocking). Both of which are overshadowed in traditional analysis of the Falcons by Vick's value or lack thereof.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 6:03pm

Re #27: Therefore, I will reiterate the comment made by VarlosZ. We’ve talked about this a lot, I’ve explained our actions a few times, and now we can put this behind us and stop rooting against Atlanta. Unless you happen to be a Carolina or Tampa Bay fan. Or a fan of a team that might win an NFC wild card.

What about the Saints, huh? Football Outsiders has a clear Anti-New Orleans bias!

by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 6:17pm

Do you what we do to people who make awful puns like that around here, B? [menacing voice]

That's right - nothing! (And by our standards, that was only a moderately windy day...)

by Parker (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 6:19pm

Will, did you see that Sid Hartman wrote that the Vikings could still win the division and that if they did, Tice would likely be coach of the year?

That guy is a hoot.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 6:20pm

Great article. Definitely a smart move to remove Vick from the discussion at the get go. It definitely didn't come off as I told you so. If it were an I told you so piece it would have been...AGS:Karma's a Bitch.

The reality is that all of the factors that were masking deficiencies in Atalanta by producing wins took a break on Sunday. Many of the issues that were producing losses in Green Bay joined them on vacation. I can't think of a better subject for an Any Given Sunday article. Sometimes your MoJo just runs out at the wrong time and someone else is out there to capitalize on it.

by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 6:43pm

I don't agree that nothing can be learned from the Min/NYG match up. For instance:

-How variable is special teams performance? And should we expect a team that has excelled in ST to play worse overall when their ST comes back to earth?

-Is Min a serious contender for the NFC North? Chi has been winning a number of close games and Min has played better recently. How lucky has Chi’s offense been? You mentioned previously how successful they have been in the red-zone as compared to the rest of the field. Should we expect their red-zone performance to begin to realign itself with their regular offense? Can Chi survive such a collapse?

-Were Manning's struggles an indication that his completion percentage implies his TD/Int ratio will change for the worse? What is Manning's future? And has he actually improved from last year, or just faced weaker defenses?

With the Min/NYG match up you have two potential contenders, one of which (NYG) a week ago looked like a Superbowl contender. With GB/Atl you have one team without a shot of making the playoffs and another that will have to struggle for a wildcard birth.
It would seem most readers of this site already knew the theories that led to Atl's inflated record, because I read them about 200 times in last weeks comment thread, but with NYG new ideas can be explored, ideas that will be relevant to the outcome of this season.

Perhaps, in the future, The Outsiders might be wise to ignore their most vocal readers, people who had stake (because they participated in last week's flame war) in seeing an article deriding the Falcons and who risk none of the consequences that may come from printing just such an article.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 6:49pm

Yeah, ol' Sidney is frequently a source of many laughs. On the other hand, if the Vikings manage to win in Lambeau on Monday (which I would not bet on), while the Bears lose to Dallas, I'd give them at least a 50% chance of winning the division. We likely would then witness the somewhat infrequent occurence of a division-winning coach losing his job.

If Big Mike were to then win Coach of the Year honors, the strange, strange, coaching career of Ticey would reach it's ultimate peak of weirdness.

We'd never hear the end of it from Sidney or Peter King, of course. so this CANNOT be rooted for.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:01pm

I would have liked to have seen some commentary on Atlanta losing 2 fumbles in their own territory resulting in 2 TD scoring drives for GB totaling 23 yards I think. Not much their (or anybody’s) defense can do about that situation. Aside from the opening drive for a TD, GB was held to 4 field goals, 3 of them being rather long. That doesn’t strike me as that bad of a defensive performance when you look at the results, but I guess stat-wise it says something different.

DVOA takes such things into account -- I wouldn't be surprised if Atlanta's defensive VOA for that game isn't too bad , at least before the opponent adjustment.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:29pm

What I can't figure out about the Giant's game is--didn't DVOA last week claim that the Giants had the best special teams in the league? Something like +15% DOVA? What about their previous special teams games masked the apparent horridness that ledd them to give up two TD's, or what about last Sunday changed their special teams to become horrid?

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 8:28pm

I have a Vick question, actually a general player question. Do you calculate variance for players? It might be informative on some of these love them/hate them players to find out if it has something to do with the fact that some players really are occasionally great, while some are just consistently good.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 9:11pm


The Giants have been without injured coverage specialist David Tyree for the past couple weeks; Tyree was an alternate to the Pro Bowl last year and is often cited as the big reason in the improvements in special teams over the Jim Fassel era. However, that doesn't explain the complete meltdown that was the Giants special teams last game, such as Feely's missed 28-yard FG (which was a cover-your-eyes-horrible shock).

Perhaps special teams are even less predictive from week to week than we had thought; perhaps Tyree really is that valuable; perhaps it really was just a horrible case of overconfidence/trap: there were scads of "trap game!" warnings before the 49ers matchup, while everyone in the media was taking a W for granted this past week.

Any way, it was ugly.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 9:36pm

Re #41: Perhaps, in the future, The Outsiders might be wise to ignore their most vocal readers, people who had stake (because they participated in last week’s flame war) in seeing an article deriding the Falcons and who risk none of the consequences that may come from printing just such an article.

You're making a serious mistake if you think that all of the less vocal readers would have rather read a Min/NYG comparison. And no, I didn't have a stake in the Atlanta thing. I didn't even venture into EITHER of the DVOA commentary threads last week. In fact, the only Atlanta post I saw was someone in the EPC discussion asking for an analysis of Atlanta's offensive line, which I calmly gave to him.

I think this article makes a much more compelling read than the Minny/NYG one. It seems like such a fluke game. I don't think you can really draw many conclusions from the game, other than that Eli was bound to start throwing INTs. It's not like Minny is going to get 3 return TDs ever again this season. The game, in my opinion, holds very little that is predictive of future performance, other than the INTs by Manning and the return of NYG's special teams to earth- both points which Aaron had already made before the game. I don't see what else they could have added, other than "Yup, Aaron was right. Manning threw picks and NYG's special teams returned to earth, and that's why they lost".

Besides, from a conventional standpoint, this game was a much bigger upset. Green Bay was 1-7 and Atlanta was 6-2, a 5 game difference in records. Meanwhile, Minny was 3-5 and NY was 6-2, a mere 3 game difference. According to Vegas, they were both huge underdogs (GB by 9, Minny by 10), and Green Bay blew out the highly favored Falcons while Minny just barely squeaked by the Giants. And in addition, Atlanta/GB had the game preview, so this sort of serves as a nice complement to that. Sort of a before and after, if you will.

You think they made the wrong choice. I think they made the right choice. I know I don't have any stake in the arguement, and I suspect that you have some reason to prefer hearing about Minny or NY. Either way, you have to admit that there were two perfectly legitimate choices for this article this week, and he chose one of them. So what's the big deal?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 9:44pm

Koren Robinson is a good enough kick returner alone to make it worthwhile to take a chance on him straight out of rehab. If he starts contributing as a receiver, which he did with long reception against the Giants, the Vikings will have a reasonable chance to win the division. I've not heard anything yet on OG Fonoti's chances of getting on the field. If he does, and plays anything close to how he did with the Chargers last year, the Vikings interior o-line will improve greatly, which I think would just about make them a lock to win the division, assuming no more serious injuries on defense, where their depth has reached it's breaking point, particularly on the line. It goes without saying that Johnson must stay on the field, as non-fabulous as he is, which certainly cannot be assumed.

Meanwhile, the Bears have a much tougher schedule facing them, and if Olin Kreutz keeps breaking his fellow offensive linemen's jaws, the Vikings chances can only improve.

The Lions variable in QB play is so large that it is hard to guess how they'll finish, but if I had to wager my life, I'd say their QB play will be mediocre at best, and thus they will not win more than three additional games. Now watch them go and beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday.

I don't think the Packers are appreciably worse than the other teams (and DVOA says they are better than all but the Bears), but passing three teams that are, respectively, two, two, and four games ahead with seven to play is a lot to ask. But if Samwise Gamgee can carry Frodo up the slope of Mount Doom, I suppose it isn't impossible for him to come from behind in the NFC North.

Learned from next Monday's game, much will be, yes......wait....I think I'm channeling Yoda, not Gandalf....

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 10:19pm

I have written this multiple times elsewhere but since folks continue to allude to Ryan Longwell "struggling" I will once again explain.

The Packers dumped Bryan Barker for BJ Sander as their punter. Sander is the new holder on kicks. He has not adapted well to his new role.

With one exception Longwell's misses can be attributed to a Sander mishap.

Ryan Longwell has been and continues to be one of the most reliable kickers in the league. The Packers won four games last year thanks to his trusty right leg. If the young man fielding the snap can get the ball in the right place at the right time odds are Longwell will seal the deal.

Personally, I don't think GB is out of it.

Chicago's next five games are crazy. Detroit's is almost as bad. MN has their "tough" games at home (Pitt, St. Louis).

GB plays home against MN, at Philly, at Chicago, home Detroit, at Baltimore.

Fortune has a way of correcting itself. Ferguson is coming off the DL. Surprisingly adequate defense, possible semblance of a running game, veteran QB who can make plays.

Until GB is mathematically eliminated and I see it in print in multiple papers I won't ignore them.

I want to. Desperately. I live for the day when the Cheeseheads just GO AWAY.

But for now, I silently hope for Chicago to somehow FIND A WAY to put the ball in the end zone. Regularly.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 11:50pm

Also, I wouldn’t call it all luck that Longwell made all 3 long kicks, as he has been much better than average over his career. He may have been 3 for 6 before this week over 40 yards, but last year he was 8 out of 11 (and the year before, 7 out of 10).

Just a bit of a comment on this: while Longwell, or whoever you like, may be better than average, just realize that even the best kicker is not going to be radically better at 50+ yard field goals.

By saying "it's not luck", you're essentially saying he had a better than 50% chance of making all three field goals. That would mean that he would need to hit 46+ yard field goals at better than a 79% rate.

It's not luck that he hit at least 1 of the 3. It definitely is luck that he hit all of the three. No kicker is that good - not even in a dome.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:26am

Freak, I think it'd be great fun to have the Bears and the Vikings play for the division on the last weekend of the regular season, and I'd be fine with either team. I share your distaste for the Pack, mostly due to just being tired of them.

I really don't think the Favreoites could recover from a loss on Monday. It'd put them three and a half behind The Horned Heads, no better than four behind The Ursine Ones, with an 0-3 divisional record, and only six games left. They aren't good enough to win the last six games of the year, which would just about be required.

I expect Green Bay will play with great desperation Monday, which is why I don't think the Vikings will win. I'll be rootin' hard, however.

by Paul (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:31am

Re 35: Ask any Steeler fan about the game vs Houston Dec 8, 2002. Houston had 47 total yards offense. 47. Pittsburgh had 422. A 300 yard day by Maddox (30 comp, 57 att). Zeroue had 11 carries for 69 yards. Final score 24-6, Houston! 3 Defensive TDs, two off ints by Maddox, one off a fumble, plus a FG after a punt fumble. Complete domination by the Steelers D. But the Houston D was opportunistic, including sacks when they couldn't get the turnover. NYG fans can definitely complain, but they don't have the market on the "what the hell just happened?" game. There may be other candidates, but NYG-MIN is definitely not #1, but belongs on the long list. Even the PIT-JAX game this year where Maddox gave Steelers fans everywhere a tremendous let down and calls for Maddox's head does not begin to compare with the PIT-HOU game. Oh, to have seen an AGS on that game.

by AZ,falcon928 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:47am

My original intention of logging on to the site today was to eat a moderate amount of crow, due to the loss. And to see if any of the questions I had asked were answered. Imagine my suprise at finding an article written in poor taste due to bitterness. You complain that Your website got flamed..Correct in some ways incorrect in others. You had quite a few fans on the site that were out of line..But the majority of us asked honest questions. I Asked my questions with due respect, and not once did I step out of line and use profanity. and not once did I insult You. You claim to be the better man, If so than why did You stoop to such a low level? Why would You have taken it so personally if it did not strike a nerve? I still feel Your system is flawed and that it should not be used for a sports web page power ranking..But now I feel that You are not a professional either. If a few fans can get You to do playground antics, what does that say about You? We showed up out of loyalty.....Maybe one day You will understand that.

Yours Truly
A Troll

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 1:02am

#53, this statement truly astounds me...

"I still feel Your system is flawed and that it should not be used for a sports web page power ranking"

....uh....so what, and why not? Personally, I've never found any analysis engaged in by human beings to be flawless. As to your second proposition, last I checked it is still a mostly free country. If FOX decides it wants to use a shaman who tosses chicken bones to rank teams, I fail to see what concern it is of yours. There aren't enough sports websites for you to visit as an alternative?

Now, if you have evidence that another power ranking system has better predictive power as to whether team A will defeat team B, or vice versa, which to me is the only value of power rankings, lemme know; I'd like to check it out!

by admin :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 1:27am

Note to AZFalcon: check bylines on each article. There are a dozen guys on the FO staff.

by AZ,falcon928 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 1:37am

….uh….so what, and why not? Personally, I’ve never found any analysis engaged in by human beings to be flawless. As to your second proposition, last I checked it is still a mostly free country. If FOX decides it wants to use a shaman who tosses chicken bones to rank teams, I fail to see what concern it is of yours. There aren’t enough sports websites for you to visit as an alternative?

Now, if you have evidence that another power ranking system has better predictive power as to whether team A will defeat team B, or vice versa, which to me is the only value of power rankings, lemme know; I’d like to check it out! (end quote)

I have a funny hunch You don't see a lot of things, A better prediction..How about by someone who has played ball before..and not flag. Numerical variables
will never show the complete picture. Perhaps the all knowing host of the site can come up with a program to see what system works better...His computer version..Or good ol fashion pickums. And than later You can read back and realize I don't care what You think..I was saying my statement to Ned. Or will that astound You also..Don't want to give Your heart to many shocks.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 2:07am

Post 56:

Speaking as someone who played Big Ten football (a very long time ago) I enjoy the differing perspective on the game.

If you find the viewpoints expressed here to be unsettling or disturbing be GLAD.

We ALL need to have our personal opinions challenged. It helps us understand whether our views can be defended effectively. If we can make a cogent argument on our own behalf that's quite an achievement.

If not, then maybe we need to re-consider our stance on the subject at hand.

However, if all you want is to read happy-happy, joy-joy comments about your favorite team then I am sure there are other Internet sites that would provide you more reading pleasure.

by AZ,falcon928 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 2:15am

Sheeesh..I got caught up in the childish antics..I know now You are to blind to see my point and I am to blind to see Yours. My last comment was out of anger...Mr allen Pizzed me off. So cheer because I will no longer beat this dead horse. And will leave this site forever. But do me a small favor...Go and play some ball it might just open Your eyes a small bit.
Life involves so much more than stats..and so does football.

by dave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 2:21am

OK, let's explore AZfalcon's conjecture about "what system works better, his computer version or good ol fashioned pickums".

According to Sean McCormick's guest column, "The Evolving Predictive Powers of DVOA", in 2003, picking winners based on relative DVOA won 59% of the time (compared to 50% for a "pickum"). In 2004, after the DVOA formula was updated, picking winners based on relative DVOA won 67% of the time.

I don't know if anyone's had the chance to check the first 10 weeks of 2005 - Sean's column only looks at weeks 2-4 of 2005, for which DVOA was 50/50, but in the early part of the season DVOA tends to fluctuate sharply (see Broncos, Denver).

Interesting subject for an article: How well do various internet "power rankings" do at picking winners?

by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:28am

Well, crow does go down hard... :)

With regards to AZFalcon, yes, there are intangible variables in football. But also in every other aspect of life. And you can model virtually every aspect of life in mathematical form, with varying degrees of success; that's why we were able to fly to the moon without actually having flown before. Math analysis works, whether you like it or not...

I get you *may be* angry about your team's loss. Hey, I'm a Phins fan - I know the drill - but DVOA or FO has nothing to do with it. The Atlanta Falcons lost to the Green Bay Packers, not to Football Outsiders...

I just think this whole thing has been very, very weird. I know it's hard to come to grips with the fact that your team might not be as good as you think it is, but don't blaim statistical analysis. Or a site that points it out...

I have my doubts about posting this... But it's done with the best of wills, I promise.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:08am

Re #59: I was actually wondering that yesterday, and started charting the win/loss records of every team in every position in every power ranking I could find. For instance, I'd say "the team ranked #1 by ESPN.com was 11-5 on the season, while the team ranked #1 by FO was 12-4", and go on through all 32 teams. Then I figured that with only 10 weeks in this season, the sample size would be too small, so I was seeing if I could find any archived power rankings from last season. Then I realized that I should probably be writing that music theory paper instead of looking up 2 year old power rankings. I'll let you all know the results if I ever finish it.

by pcs (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:44am

#62: It didn't strike me as insulting Gado's name. It struck me more as a play on the fact of our own ignorance, that some fans had never heard of this man and would confuse him with a literary character (a character who, despite his diminutive size and humble origins, proved himself one of the toughest bastards in Middle-earth). It reminded me of the way Jerry Burns couldn't remember Vikings punter Bucky Scribner's name, so he just called him "Cookie Gilchrist."

by m (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:46am

Touche... I was mistaken and hereby issue my sincerest apology.

by admin :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 10:52am

Sorry, comment deleted there by accident.

by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:15am

Kibbles (#61): Actually, I was coming at it from another angle: If you use the various power rankings to predict winners each week (straight win/loss, not against the spread, picking the higher-ranked team to beat the lower-ranked team each time), how would each ranking do? We know that in 2004 DVOA was 140-65, for a 67% success. How well did Dr. Z, ESPN, etc. do?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:35am

Precisely, Dave; that is the only use a power ranking has for me.

As for AZfalcon, it always amuses me the degree to which anonymous (hey, I'm not Will Allen of the NYG!)people on the internet presume to know the personal details of other anonymous people on the internet. Also, AZfalcon is waaaaaaay tooooo easily made angry. In the words of Warren Oates in "Stripes", lighten up, Francis.

Well, if AZfalcon hasn't left us forever, maybe he can yet endeavor to inform me: What is notable about asserting that an analytical method has flaws? Why "should not" FOX use whatever they see fit for their power ranking?

by Parker (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:46am

Now I am totally confused as to the complaints of the Falcons fans about last weeks DVOA article.

Overall, DVOA had the Falcons ranked a bit lower than more traditional rankings might have had them. 17th, I believe. The system was basically saying 'this team is not as good as you might think they are by looking at their record.' That got some Atlanta fans riled up. Funny, they immediately go out and lose to a 1-7 team, providing a certain amount of support for the idea that 'this team is not as good as you might think'.

A second set of Falcon fans (or at least one guy) objected to Aarons assertion that 'luck' might be a root cause for why DVOA ranked the team lower than their record would indicate. In specifics, he mentioned a high number of defensive fumble recoveries (9 of 10) and (I think) a high number of recoveries of their own fumbles. Since DVOA pretty much ignores who actually recovers the fumble (since it considers the recovery aspect to be a random event tending toward 50/50), this would in part explain the lower DVOA ranking. He further conjectures that as Atlantas fumble recovery rates more back toward the norm, they will start to see that in their record. Some (or at least one) Atlanta fan didn't like the idea that some of Atlanta's wins were being labeled 'lucky'. Funny, Atlanta fumbles 6 times, recovers 3 and loses 3. A 50/50 split. Meanwhile, GB fumbles twice but Atlanta fails to recover either of them. Anyone watching the game could tell you that if a couple more of those fumbles had been recovered by Atlanta, the games outcome would likely have been different.

So no matter the issue, either with the DVOA rank or Aarons explanation of why it might be so low, the actual game ends up supporting DVOA and it's methodology very strongly. I'm not real fond of I Told You So's and thought the AGS article did a good job of explaining what happened with a little bit of reference to last weeks controversy. Well done. But let's at least recognise that the results of the game are a HUGE I told you so just sitting there waiting to be shoved under someone's nose.

I applaud the Outsiders restraint.

(Apology if I have misrepresented anyones position from last week)

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:10pm

#25 I concur with Kibbles' quibble. (Sorry, that was just too fun to pass up.)

by Bruce Strang (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:12pm

Re: #9

Sorry for the thread highjack, but I think something needs to be said.

Eight-and-a-half months ago, my wife gave birth to a boy with Down Syndrome. I teach at a university, and I guess we do live in an ivory tower atmosphere, because everyone that I've met has been extremely supportive, and neither my wife nor I have seen any examples of the blatant discrimination that people with Down Syndrome face - until this morning.

I can't tell you how conflicted the picture on the link in post #9 made me feel. At once, angry, later more reflective. In the end, it just makes me pretty sad, thinking of the reflexive discrimination my son is going to have to face in this world.

In one sense, it's good though, as the poster makes me realize that in this case the ivory tower doesn't do much to prepare Sean or me for the rotten parts of the world, and I've received a real wake up call.

In any event, I am respectfully requesting that the original poster seek to remove that link. Failing that, Aaron, could your staff please block it? It has no place here; please remember too that lots of people with Down Syndrome are sports fanatics, and several that I've met are wild about sports statistics. Some may even post on Football Outsiders, and I'd hate to think of their reaction to this kind of ridicule.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:57pm

Hey, I think it would be neat if Green Bay came back from 1-7 and took the NFC North title. Of course, coming back from 1-8 would have been even better.

Currently, they're 0-2 in the division. They get Minnesota and Detroit at home and two games against the Bears. The remaining games are at Philadelphia, at Baltimore, and concluding the season with Seattle.

Sweep the divisional opponents, split with Philadelphia/Baltimore, and catch Seattle resting its starters on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and you're looking at 8-8.

The Vikings are 4-5 (2-1 in division) with games against Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore in addition to their conference foes. 2-2 against these guys and 2-1 in-division gets them to 8-8 (4-2 in division). They do get the Bears in the Hefty Bag Dome for the season-ending game.

Da Bears are in trouble. They get the Panthers, the Buccaneers, the Steelers, and the Falcons. They don't play the Lions anymore, they won't get weather advantages in the home-and-home with the Packers, and they have to finish the season in a dome. They could easily go 1-3 out of division and 0-3 in division to finish 7-9. Even if you give them wins against both the Buccaneers and Falcons, they need to beat the Packers at least once to avoid tie-breaking heartbreak.

The Lions ...well, do I need to do the Lions? They're currently 4-4, 1-3 in division. They get Dallas, Atlanta, Cincinnati, NewSan OrleansAntonio, and Pittsburgh, as well as a home game against Minnesota and a trip to Green Bay. They could have 1 win for the rest of the season. In best circumstances, it's hard to see going better than 2-3 against the nondivisional foes and 1-1 in division for a final record of 7-9. To have a shot at the playoffs, they need to win the remaining divisional games and hope the Bears collapse.

On reflection, it's conceivable that all 4 NFC North teams could finish at 7-9. Just figure that Detroit beats the Vikings and Seattle shows up to play in Green Bay on New Year's Day. Now that's parity!

by admin :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 1:32pm

Sorry, yeah, the pic in 9 was uncalled for, removed.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 1:43pm

Actually, Kibbles, the Universe has an anti-Saints bias.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 1:50pm

Yeah, Falcon Fan, that's what makes Monday's game about as goood as it can get between 2-7 and 4-5 clubs. Toss in the fact that Vikings vs. Packers games are almost always close, and it should be fun.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 2:06pm

I wouldn't presume to tell Aaron what to do to further refine DVOA, and I know it may never get there, but if the day ever comes that the Outsiders can say "Team A's DVOA of x% and team B's DVOA of y% allows us to conclude that A has a 67% probability of defeating B", with these pronouncements bearing out over four or five seasons, that will will really be a tremendous accomplishment.

by B-spectacled (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:34pm

Re: #41

John - I took a look at Eli's performances so far and can only conclude that they are consistently inconsistent compared to the opponent. Before I make any further comment, please keep in mind my opinion is based on looking at fantasy points (i know, this is not good & its a TD biased league) versus the Weighted DVOA (WDVOA) and Pass D rankings of his opponent.

If you plot fantasy points versus WDVOA, you'll see random flatness - a lot of average points with a couple peaks. Basically the same can be said of fantasy points vs PassD, although it's a tiny bit more clear to see the expected trend of better performance against worse teams. (my EXTREMELY simple stats give a poor correlation coefficient)

So, up to this point, it seems that Eli doesn't care who he plays, he'll play however *he* feels like playing. Maybe the NYG should get him a "sleep number" bed.

I did the same with Peyton, and there is a clearer trend with less points vs good teams, but not staggering versus all the bad teams he's played. It's either Peyton is not as great, or maybe IND let up towards the end of some of those contests. This wkend's matchup vs CIN should give a clue for the rest of his year. FO's DPAR & DVOA for Peyton is much higher than Eli, however.

As TMQ kind-of says, a deep understanding of these statistics provides a clearer view into the NFL -- however, I have no idea what they mean.

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:14pm

The really strange thing about my fellow Atlantan's defensiveness is that the AJC and even Jim Mora Jr. agree with FO's basic view of the Falcons. Mora's been saying since the beginning of the year that there are a ton of things that need to be fixed. What NFL team announces after a -win- that they're going to spend an entire week working on tackling?

The odd thing about my fellow stat-heads' defensiveness is that they're basically right, so why be defensive?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 8:17pm

Re #65: I thought about doing it that way, but I decided to do it my way, because then I'll be able to see not only which power rankings are better, but which power rankings are better in certain places. Maybe objective rankings are better at identifying the middle-of-the-pack teams, while DVOA picks up on the top and bottom 10 with ease. I dunno, and I was curious.

by special treatment (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 8:55pm


Every time that Vick is hit, the other team gets a 15 yard penalty. Every game I see with vick, he constantly gets unfair protection from the refs. None of the hits on him are ever late, the refs are protecting him and it is because he is fragile but the NFL has
hyped him ten times more than any other player in NFL history compared to his actual achievements.
I am so sick of watching him soak up 15 yard penalties for timely hits, because the NFL wants him safe and sound. My quarterback gets slaughtered,
hit out of bounds, hit late, hit in the face, but he is not a glamour guy and doesn't ever get a flag.
If vick wasn't selling jerseys like hotcakes to the Atlanta metropolitan area, and if he wasn't considered hot property by the NFL, these 15 yard penalties would not occur, because the hits are all within two steps, usually less than one step.
This is not a criticism of vick, or an attack on vick, this is about the NFL protecting their interests, this is the truth about the NFL telling refs to protect the q.b. before Falcons games, through Mike Pierilla, their pigeon boy.
Again it is not vick's fault that the NFL unfairly favours him, its about money. I'm sure that I will be criticized for making up conspiracies, but the NFL is deliberate in everything they do, and it always is to further their marketing interests.
It would be naive to think that vick is just another Q.B. to the NFL pocketbook, and that he is not watched more carefully by the refs and their yellow hanky.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 9:16pm


The irrational conspiracy theorist types can be found over the Extra Points thread called "Window is Closing".

Enough trolling about the Falcons (I could understand a franchise with a history, but the Falcons!?!?!?) for one lifetime.

by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:01pm

First off, I agree with the decision to do this as the Any Given Sunday piece. It was as deserving as any other game, if not more.

RE: 27

I've rooted against Atlanta for several seasons because of Atlanta fans in general. I'm not going to stop now. :D

RE: 48

It's going to be a chore for Minny to catch the Bears. They're not "a lock" by any means.

RE: 58

No one will miss you.

RE: 77

There's no argument. Everyone knows Vick gets special treatment. That's just the way it is.