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08 Nov 2005

Week 10 DVOA Ratings, Shot to Hell Version

by Aaron Schatz

Among the issues discussed in this week's FOXSports.com commentary, now posted here on FOXSports.com:

  • Carolina is Cincinnati
  • Indianapolis will not go 16-0
  • The Kansas City defender nobody knows
  • Green Bay's biggest problem

Individual pages for offense, defense, and special teams are now updated, players stats will be updated later tonight or tomorrow. Remember, FOXSports.com ratings are the weighted DVOA, not the full-season DVOA. The tables are still in order by regular DVOA, I'm trying to decide if I should change that.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings for 2005, 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 based on strength of opponent as well as to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. Opponent adjustments are currently set at 90% and will be at full strength after Week 10. SPECIAL DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season. NON-ADJ TOTAL VOA does not include these adjustments.

1 IND 33.8% 1 52.9% 8-0 25.0% 3 -14.9% 5 -6.1% 31
2 CIN 32.5% 2 48.8% 7-2 22.6% 5 -10.0% 7 -0.1% 19
3 NYG 31.2% 3 45.4% 6-2 11.2% 9 -4.7% 14 15.2% 1
4 SD 29.8% 4 19.9% 5-4 28.0% 2 -0.1% 19 1.8% 13
5 SEA 29.0% 6 38.3% 6-2 29.4% 1 -0.5% 18 -0.9% 22
6 JAC 26.9% 5 18.1% 5-3 1.1% 16 -25.0% 1 0.8% 15
7 DEN 25.7% 7 25.5% 6-2 23.4% 4 -5.6% 11 -3.4% 26
8 DAL 24.1% 9 29.1% 5-3 3.2% 14 -17.9% 3 2.9% 9
9 PIT 22.4% 8 31.0% 6-2 5.5% 12 -17.5% 4 -0.6% 21
10 WAS 18.7% 11 -1.3% 5-3 8.6% 11 -13.6% 6 -3.5% 27
11 KC 17.2% 10 8.9% 5-3 13.1% 7 -1.6% 16 2.5% 10
12 CHI 10.4% 12 11.8% 5-3 -14.8% 25 -21.6% 2 3.5% 7
13 CAR 8.1% 14 27.3% 6-2 2.5% 15 -4.8% 12 0.7% 17
14 OAK 6.6% 13 12.1% 3-5 12.5% 8 5.7% 20 -0.1% 20
15 NE 6.5% 16 -12.7% 4-4 20.8% 6 15.9% 29 1.6% 14
16 MIA 2.8% 15 -6.7% 3-5 -12.2% 24 -9.0% 8 6.0% 5
17 ATL -0.1% 18 18.9% 6-2 9.7% 10 8.5% 25 -1.3% 25
18 PHI -0.5% 19 -4.0% 4-4 3.8% 13 -2.8% 15 -7.1% 32
19 BAL -5.5% 20 -17.1% 2-6 -12.0% 23 -4.8% 13 1.8% 12
20 TB -6.2% 17 13.2% 5-3 -15.8% 26 -8.8% 9 0.8% 16
21 GB -11.3% 23 -13.0% 1-7 1.0% 17 7.2% 24 -5.1% 28
22 CLE -12.7% 25 -17.5% 3-5 -5.4% 20 9.3% 26 2.0% 11
23 BUF -15.0% 22 2.0% 3-5 -18.6% 27 6.4% 23 10.0% 2
24 DET -17.1% 21 -17.1% 3-5 -20.0% 29 -8.7% 10 -5.7% 30
25 TEN -18.6% 24 -14.4% 2-7 -7.7% 21 14.8% 27 3.8% 6
26 MIN -19.7% 30 -33.0% 3-5 -2.8% 19 15.6% 28 -1.3% 24
27 STL -21.2% 26 -19.8% 4-4 -1.1% 18 20.7% 30 0.6% 18
28 NYJ -21.8% 27 -24.2% 2-6 -22.4% 31 -1.5% 17 -1.0% 23
29 NO -22.8% 29 -24.5% 2-7 -11.5% 22 6.0% 21 -5.4% 29
30 ARI -24.8% 28 -24.9% 2-6 -22.0% 30 6.0% 22 3.2% 8
31 HOU -43.5% 31 -59.4% 1-7 -18.7% 28 31.4% 32 6.6% 3
32 SF -70.2% 32 -76.9% 2-6 -51.0% 32 25.3% 31 6.1% 4

  • 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.
  • WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. This is the statistic used for the FOXSports.com Power Rankings.
  • 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 least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).

1 IND 33.8% 8-0 7.7 1 33.6% 1 -17.3% 31 6.7% 9 3.0% 32
2 CIN 32.5% 7-2 6.6 4 32.2% 2 -5.7% 28 3.3% 12 22.4% 13
3 NYG 31.2% 6-2 6.2 5 30.5% 4 -5.1% 24 9.4% 7 27.0% 7
4 SD 29.8% 5-4 7.1 3 30.3% 5 12.4% 3 12.8% 1 10.7% 26
5 SEA 29.0% 6-2 7.4 2 31.2% 3 -5.6% 27 -15.9% 31 9.4% 29
6 JAC 26.9% 5-3 6.2 8 24.4% 7 7.1% 8 -20.0% 32 27.5% 6
7 DEN 25.7% 6-2 6.2 7 29.3% 6 16.6% 1 5.2% 10 25.4% 9
8 DAL 24.1% 5-3 6.2 6 23.8% 8 2.5% 13 7.8% 8 22.4% 14
9 PIT 22.4% 6-2 6.1 9 19.4% 9 2.1% 14 1.1% 15 22.8% 11
10 WAS 18.7% 5-3 5.8 10 19.1% 10 8.3% 6 4.9% 11 29.3% 5
11 KC 17.2% 5-3 5.8 11 17.0% 11 8.5% 5 11.4% 4 6.9% 30
12 CHI 10.4% 5-3 5.2 14 10.0% 13 -5.4% 26 -11.0% 30 34.0% 4
13 CAR 8.1% 6-2 5.3 13 10.1% 12 -11.6% 30 -3.9% 23 10.5% 27
14 OAK 6.6% 3-5 5.1 15 8.5% 14 7.6% 7 12.4% 3 11.6% 24
15 NE 6.5% 4-4 5.6 12 6.0% 15 13.9% 2 -8.1% 27 10.7% 25
16 MIA 2.8% 3-5 5.0 16 -0.3% 17 -1.9% 19 -2.3% 22 19.8% 17
17 ATL -0.1% 6-2 4.7 17 -0.2% 16 -5.2% 25 -4.6% 24 14.1% 22
18 PHI -0.5% 4-4 4.3 18 -0.8% 18 6.5% 10 9.6% 6 22.0% 15
19 BAL -5.5% 2-6 4.0 21 -5.1% 19 3.6% 12 2.5% 13 13.7% 23
20 TB -6.2% 5-3 4.1 20 -7.8% 20 -18.0% 32 -0.3% 19 21.1% 16
21 GB -11.3% 1-7 2.6 29 -9.8% 21 -1.9% 20 0.9% 16 23.5% 10
22 CLE -12.7% 3-5 4.2 19 -12.9% 22 -2.4% 22 11.1% 5 17.3% 20
23 BUF -15.0% 3-5 3.2 24 -17.6% 24 -9.8% 29 12.6% 2 26.7% 8
24 DET -17.1% 3-5 3.7 23 -19.1% 27 -3.3% 23 0.0% 18 46.4% 2
25 TEN -18.6% 2-7 3.1 26 -16.4% 23 -1.4% 17 0.8% 17 22.7% 12
26 MIN -19.7% 3-5 3.9 22 -18.6% 26 -0.8% 16 -0.5% 20 19.5% 18
27 STL -21.2% 4-4 3.2 25 -18.5% 25 -1.9% 21 -10.9% 29 14.5% 21
28 NYJ -21.8% 2-6 2.8 28 -20.4% 28 6.2% 11 2.3% 14 10.3% 28
29 NO -22.8% 2-7 3.1 27 -25.5% 30 -1.6% 18 -5.2% 25 42.1% 3
30 ARI -24.8% 2-6 2.4 30 -24.2% 29 1.4% 15 -9.1% 28 6.8% 31
31 HOU -43.5% 1-7 1.5 31 -40.5% 31 12.3% 4 -7.8% 26 18.9% 19
32 SF -70.2% 2-6 0.5 32 -72.9% 32 6.9% 9 -1.6% 21 65.4% 1

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Nov 2005

653 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2006, 9:53am by sharif masawudu


by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:20pm

F-u Zip. That asshole has been on me - insulting me since I have been on the board - so stay out of.

To go back 2003 - when we had a totally different coach, system, team as a way to to analyze current and future non-vick performances would be below Aaron I would like to think.

It would actually be better if he admitted the brain fart rather than trying to suggest that Doug Johnson performance in 2003 has anything to do with the Falcons today.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:21pm

296 - explains your love of the French.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:26pm

#301. Why would he admit anything? He's advertising himself, and while I could respect a person who would admit that ther is a major flaw in his system, and thatymaybe they shouldn't be used soley for Power Rankings, it's obvious why he won't. The real losers are Fox Sports.

I put much more weight into the analysts that played the game and watch the games than what any computer will spit out.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:31pm

The admission would be that he actually meant to say Schaub

The alternative - him intending to say Doug Johnson in reference to his 2003 performance under Dan reeves would be completely irrelevant today.

Schaubs passer rating is better than Vicks - so does he think Vick is better or Schaub?

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:34pm

Listen guys - you will be glad to hear that I will be taking a break for a while.

Let's see how the Falcons do?

For those that were civil - I enjoyed it.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:37pm

But you know what is really funny, Dirk? That record of 3-11 and 0-3 shows you how important Vick is to the Atlanta Falcons, though we know they are a much better team than 2 years ago. However, if you were to computerize Vick's stats, he would rank way below many QBs in this league. However, if you WATCH the games, you realize that Vick is one of the biggest difference makers in all of the NFL. This alone proves than any Computer Based ranking in accordance to the NFL has MAJOR FLAWS. What's funny is that Aaron's noting of that record basically admits that Vick is a big difference maker, while his computer would suggest completely the opposite.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:42pm

I have a theory about why DVAO might underrepresent the winning capability of Atlanta, especially if you think that it is also doing the same for Denver and Pittsburgh. It's easy to see a correlation between those 3 teams, they all have extremely strong running games, they run well in the beginning of games and when behind, not just when winning in the second half, and they run consistantly and run well even when defenses know they are likely to run and key their defenses to stop them. There may be some undervaluation of successful running plays, especially in the situations I mentioned. I realize there are correlations with winning and future performance that determine the valuations, but I'd suggest a reviewing of the valuations of the success of those teams' running games to see if you could increase their value and also increase correlation with success.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:42pm

Regarding the Falcon's ability to recover fumbles, there might be more than just lucky bounces at work here. If I remember correctly, DVOA views fumbles differently depending on where the ball is fumbled. For example, fumble the ball on a sack is more likely to be recovered by the defense because the defense has more people facing the ball than the offense. However, when Vick fumbles, he's likely to be scrambling, outside the pocket, and closer to the line of scrimmage. This would give the offense a better chance of recovery. So my suggestion would be to count all of Vicks' fumbles as running back fumbles and not QB sack-related fumbles. In fact, we should just regard everything Vick does as if he were a running back who occasionaly drops back for an option pass. Hmmm, I wonder who has more passing touchdowns, Vick or Tomlinson.

by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:43pm

Re: #262

Se7en, what on earth is wrong with Aaron's comments? Both teams have a winning record, but only because they've played so many bad teams. Both teams are ranked in the middle of pack. That's all he's saying. Do you disagree with any of this?

by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:45pm


It seems to most you are only here to insult those who believe in this system. Remember that your feelings of disgust for this site stem from something you believe in, Falcons football team, being called into question. The strong feelings this site gives you are the same feelings that your posts are giving the posters on the site.

How about going through all the teams ranked ahead of Atl in DVOA and explain why in fact Atlanta is better than them? Make good points and people would have a lot more to talk about/discuss.

Aaron is revered around here for good reason. Plenty of guys who are trying to "talk sense" in to you are guys who came to the site as skeptics(myself included).

The best way to convince people that you know what you are talking about. Make a statement based on a set of facts, then when future events coincide people will think twice about doubting you.

I was drawn into posting on the site by an article Aaron wrote about the Skins comparing them to past teams who got off to a good start under questionable circumstances. I argued vehemently that DVOA was not giving the skins enough credit. While I was right about the skins DVOA improving, I was wrong about their quality of play in the phases that matter most improving. Their winning percentage decreased because of the very things Aaron pointed too. Though maybe they improved enough from their level in the first 3 games to make it to the playoffs.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:47pm

#309. He has a team with a worse record in a worse division ranked higher. 'Nough said.

BTW... Aaron's Doug Johnson comment tells me he has nothing to say on why his system is majorly flawed. He's trying to be funny, but he doesn't have to, his Power Rankings are already hilarious!

by MTR (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:49pm

Dirk Dugan, where do you think Atlanta should be ranked? 10th? 5th? 1st?

by MTR (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:52pm

Se7en_Dust, same question to you. You've been taking shots at these rankings - give me your alternative.

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:01pm

Re 304,

I still think you're misunderstanding the reference. What he's say is that the "3-11 when Vick doesn't play" stat is mostly due to Doug Johnson. As you rightly point out, Doug Johnson is no longer with the team. The coaching staff is also different, as is the offensive system. It's a circuitous route, but where it gets us is here -- when someone says "the Falcons are 29-15-1 when Vick plays and 3-11 when he does not", it doesn't mean anything. Yet that tends to be one of the first points people make when touting Mike Vick's awesomeness.

I can say with confidence that he did not mean to say Schaub. He meant what he wrote, and it's a valid point.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:02pm

Vick's TD/TO ratio is 5/8. 5 TDs, 6 INTs, 2 lost fumbles. If you add in his rushing TDs, it's 8/8.

I don't care how much you think he changes the game for Atlanta. A 1:1 TD/TO ratio is not good. No amount of rushing, defense-changing, or anything else changes the fact that giving the ball back to the defense is bad.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:02pm

#304 I disagree with your logic here. I don't know who brought it up, but some people are pointing to Atlanta's career record of 17-4 with Vick versus 3-11 without. Who has played QB in the vast majority of those 14 games without Vick? Matt Schaub? No, it's Doug Johnson. You can't penalize Aaron for addressing this statistic that other people are bringing up (in the email he reads, likely). Alternatively, if Doug Johnson isn't relevant, then neither is most of the 17-4 record. Because, after all, that was in the past, too. (Except for the 6-2 of this year.)

Aaron wrote about Doug Johnson intentionally, and it does nothing to harm his credibility. He is most definitely in touch with today's NFL.

Like you, I am eager to watch Atlanta in the 2nd half of the year. (However, I suspect that we have different expectations on how successful they'll be.)


by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:08pm

By the way - with regard to post 199 and another statement by Aaron on his excuse page:

The law of averages does dictate that a coin flip will render heads or tails 50% of the time - AS THE SAMPLE SIZE APPROACHES INFINITY.

At the samples sizes we are talking about here one must only consider the law of independent variables which states that if the Falcons recovered a fumble five times in a row (where both teams had a 50/50 chance or recovering) that it is NOT LESS likely they will recover the next.

Here I am just playing by your rules, ignoring the notion that Atlanta has an advantage which some recent post addressed quite well.

For those that play black jack - where perfect strategy only renders a small edge to the house - we all know how streaky a game it can be. You can win massively or lose massively for stretches at a time. So if the model is attempting to normalize - I would contend that is a flaw. The law of independent variables applies.

What happened before has no bearing on the future.

Now I must leave you.

BTW - my goal was never to insult those who like the system - only those they try to justify a wrong result by bashing the Falcons.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:10pm

Drew - are you Aaron?

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:12pm

I want to point out that comparing DVOA numbers of the Falcons vs. their opponents, it looks like DVOA would predict the Falcons to be 6-2. I don't know where it was said, but I remember Aaron claiming that the home field advantage was about 17 pts of DVOA. So, if you take the ratings of Atlanta and their opponents each week, add 15 to the home team, and compare, here is what you get (+ means Atl is favored, - means opp. is):

Opp, pred, actual result
Phi +17% W
@Sea -43% L
@ Buf +2% W
Min +7% W
NE +10% L
@NO +10% W
NYJ +39% W
@Mia -16% W

Predicted record: 6-2
Actual record: 6-2

Atlanta lost vs. NE when DVOA thought they would win, and won vs. Mia when DVOA thought they would lose.

Point is, they can be ranked in the middle of the pack, have a good record, and still have it make sense because their schedule has been so bad.

Let's look at what DVOA predicts for their future schedule:

GB +28 W
TB +23 W
@Det 0 tie
@Car -25 L
NO +40 W
@Chi -27 L
@Tb -11 L
Car +7 W

So the final record should be 10-6 or 11-5 according to DVOA, despite being ranked 17th.

Maths were done in my head, so sorry if I made mistakes.

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:13pm


"F-u Zip. That asshole has been on me - insulting me since I have been on the board - so stay out of."

Oh, you can flame other people all you want, and I couldn't care less. But if you're going to throw around "Are you French?" as an insult, then I'm going to call you an asshole for that, and I'm probably going to be right.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:14pm

Wow! Having a slow morning at work & I actually read the 240 posts made since my last one yesterday afternoon. Dirk, my good man, you have definitely set a whole bunch of records for this site, the most important of which is probably most graphic transition from newbie flamer to informed participant. I give you props for the amount you seem to have taken in in less than 18 hours. I would, however, like to ask you to reconsider something you said in #256, to whit:

"The last 80% of my posts have been good willed. There are some exceptions I grant you where I am responding to the one and half rude posters that I am still currently dealing with."

As several of your correspondents have pointed out, this site is dedicated to people trying to have a moderately intelligent discussion of the many very complex factors involved in this sport where 22 large men throw themselves around trying to control one relatively small ball. You have made truly admirable progress in one short period towards this, but you will be badly hamstrung if you insist on taking 20% of your time responding to rude posters with commensurate rudeness. In fact why respond at all, unless maybe with good humor? Otherwise you are either continuing the ill will of others or generating new ill will for yourself. Please keep in mind that this is a public place; lots of other people try to read these threads, and most of us are looking for intelligent content. Before you make another post in response to the "rude posters that I am still currently dealing with" please consider if the rest of us really need to see that. I find that the regulars here can be quite funny, erudite & extremely knowledgeable about the game. I enjoy reading what they have to say. You seem to have come a long way towards that in a short time, Dirk, and I hope you continue.

by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:21pm

#317 Dirk:

Hope you're going to be sticking around and reading. In regard to your question: yes, it's true that probability doesn't dictate that the Falcons will probably go below the mean, it does indicate that they'll probably move toward the mean in a more or less random stat like fumble recoveries.

The point is that even average would be worse than what they're getting now. So expecting them to remain above average going forward is problematic; they may not end up at average for the whole season, but it's more likely than not that they'll be closer to average than they are now, due to regression toward the mean.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:22pm

#319. Think an 11-5 team is middle of the pack? Especially one that won 11 last season? The fact is, this is the NFL, when any team can win on any given week.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:23pm

Hey Putnamp in #100 (if you're still here somewhere), sorry but no. I don't actually get to watch much live football on TV (praise the lord for TiVo!), and I basically never get to leave the house to do so (little kids, wife hates sports). But glad to know there are other 'Hawks fans within shouting distance. I'm in the East Bay fwiw.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:26pm

Let me apologize in advance if I am just adding more fuel to the fire here.

In the Washington-Philly game, Chris Cooley was streaking downfield with guard Derrick Dockery trailing him. Cooley fumbled, but Dockery dove on the ball. Washington recovered and proceeded to score on the drive.

Dockery made a smart play by following Cooley (not to mention how impressive it is that a 330-pound guard could keep up). He made a smart play by diving on the loose ball. Coaches and bobbleheads praised him for it, and rightfully so.

But! Imagine what would happen in these two slightly different scenarios:

Dockery pancakes a linebacker early in the run, and Cooley leaves him in the dust. In this case, Dockery would be too far behind the play to recover the ball when it was loose. Or ..

When the ball pops out, it bounces towards the end zone instead of backwards. In this case, there's a mob of Eagles diving on it before Dockery has a chance to make a play.

In either case, Dockery would be unable to recover the ball through no fault of his own.

What's my point? Although recovering an individual fumble is a skillful play, it was by chance that Dockery happened to be in position to make that play.

So when we say that a team is "lucky" to recover a high percentage of fumbles, we don't mean they're standing around picking their noses when the ball bounces into their arms. The luck is that they happened to be in the right place to make a play when an unexpected event occurs. It still requires skill to actually recover the ball, but when they have an opportunity to apply that skill is out of their control.

(Sorry about the long-winded post.)

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:26pm

316 -

I brought it up Vick record from 2004/05 - 17-4.


It was because Aaron's time frame on the excuse page was for the last season and a half.

That is the time period he dictated using the 2004 data as basis for a 2005 predictive model.

He never considered 2003 data - so why he brings it up now is uncanny.

At best - he made a meaningless comment.

However, most of the Atlanta board is abuzz with the Johnson reference being presummed as an obvious error.

by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:29pm


"The fact is, this is the NFL, when any team can win on any given week."

Hmm, maybe this indicates that just looking at wins and losses isn't the best way of determining which teams are the best, since the sample size is so small and, for example, Miami can play Atlanta close (or beat Denver - what is it with those guys)?

If only there were some system that looked at every play of the game to increase the sample size and factor out some of the random variations that happen in every football game...

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:29pm

Dirk, you're dead wrong. The system isn't penalizing the Falcons for recovering fumbles. It is adjusting. Their performance was BETTER than average, due to something that the system currently sees as random - recovered fumbles.

You can expect that over any given interval, coin flips will average out to 50% - you're right, what happened before is irrelevant*. But the point here is for these statistics to be predictive. The simplest way to make a prediction is to simply multiply everyone's Win/Loss record by 2. If you were to use this sort of methodology in predicting the weather, you would in fact be right more often than wrong, unless you lived in Seattle, in which case, your life sucks if you got stuck predicting Pac. NW weather.

But nobody wants a system that just blatantly extrapolates based on the results of last week's games. How boring would it be to come to this website and see a system that simply ranks people by what their playoff seeding would be? The solution is to look back at your previous sample information, and figure out what's relevant, and what isn't. What indicates success on a week-to-week basis, and what doesn't?

A team that is very fortunate in recovering fumbles is just that - fortunate. There is no way to know when that fortune will run out, and it would be just as erroneous to assume it will continue until proven otherwise (the gambler's fallacy) as it would to assume the opposite. So you find some numerical value (let's call it your Magic Cookie Rating, because who doesn't like cookies?) that accounts for everything the team has accomplished, and you then adjust it accordingly. If your team performs with a Magic Cookie Rating of 10.0, which we'll say is Pretty Good, but they've recovered every single fumble that's come their way, then you may look to see how many fumbles they've had. Gosh, they've seen 40 fumbles in 8 games. That's astronomical. And they've recovered all 40? Wow. So you assume that in the future, they'll see the same amount of fumbles, but they'll recover an average amount. That means next Sunday they'll see 5 more fumbles, but they'll recover 2.5 of them. Extend this through the rest of the season and you're looking at another 40 fumbles, but only 20 recovered. The team is still at a .750 fumble recovery rate, but they were on pace for 1.000. So if everything else is the same, you would expect them to be a 10.0 Magic Cookie team through the second half, with a slight downward adjustment for the decrease in recovered fumbles.

I hope I'm not coming across condescending, but I can only assume that either (a) you really don't understand this, or (b) you probably do, but you're starting to realize that your emotions are running higher than your logic in support of your Favorite Team(tm), and you're beginning to see that maybe the Atlanta rating is about fair... which I think it is, given that the NFC is still an overall weaker conference (my team is from the NFC too, so we're even).

* Strangely, this is one of the most fundamental tenets of statistics. I fail to understand why people feel the need to announce this rule to the very heavens every time they engage in a discussion of this nature - and it's not just you, or anyone on this site, I see it everywhere, and it's astounding how proud people are of knowing this.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:29pm

that it is NOT LESS likely they will recover the next.

It is less likely for them to recover the next fumble than it was for them to recover the first five.

In other words, if you flip a coin 5 times, and get 5 heads, your chance of getting a heads on the next flip is 50%, not 100%.

But if you didn't a priori know that the coin flip was 50/50, you would be forced to predict that your chance of getting a head is 100%, not 50%.

Since your chance of getting a heads is actually 50%, your chance of getting a heads on the next flip is lower than you would expect, given the data.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:30pm

320 -

Never knew calling someone French was so insulting - so far today just flamed you and Andrew, - technically you flamed me on a comment not directed to you.

Hmm I ask if someone is French - you call me an Asshole.

Go get your mommy to powder you bum.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:32pm

Strangely, this is one of the most fundamental tenets of statistics.

Not really. You can have correlated sequences as well. In fact, that's probably the one thing that hasn't been studied very well at all in football - how trend-y the data is. That is, does a running back's success depend on his previous success? "Tempo" and "getting in rhythm" suggests that it might.

But yes, I agree, for some inane reason everyone seems to want to trumpet the gambler's fallacy to the heavens. Very weird.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:34pm

321- I have no problem with that if Andrew and the like were equally chastised by the more civil of you.

by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:40pm

Maybe with the recent political situation being as it has, with people attacking the French because they did not join the coalition of the willing, a French person would feel insulted if you used someone's 'Frenchness' as an insult.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:44pm


I disagree that it's not fundamental. Ask anyone who's in their very first statistics classes. It's one of the first things taught to them.

A little additional context:

I've been engaged off and on in a discussion over a video game (World of Warcraft) that, at times, determines what rewards you get from certain accomplishments on a random system. There is a static set of things that are each given some arbitrary probability, and the game randomly selects from that set. What's happening, though, is that when groups of 40 people (called raids) get together and run through the hardest dungeons in the game, they're finding that the treasure they get drops at very, very streaky rates. Several people have reported seeing the same monster drop the same things 5 times in a row. Given the average percentages of these specific items dropping, this sequence of events has a probability of (1/32)^5.

Still, some people insist the system is random, so there is a large amount of discussion that gets revived every week. Without fail, someone announces with great pride and a touch of Eureka! that drop rates from one week to the next are unrelated, because that's what Statistics is all about (or something).

It's a dry shame that there aren't more intelligent people discussing it, but the fact is that many of the people playing these games are in high school or college, and they're just learning basic Statistics. It would numb your brain to see some of the circular discussions that take place there - the kind of thing we try so hard to avoid here (and believe me, the FO community does a great job of it). Dirk, even at his least cooperative, strikes me as very polite for the average internet denizen.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:44pm

322 -

You are correct -

However, the term normalized was used. That could imply that the model seeks to drive the number down to whatever the initial calculated probality of fumble recovery was.

If it is simply saying - going forward it does not assume that the Falcons will recover at a higher rate then any other team - then I am fine with that - though I probably would not use the term "normalize".

By the way - I don't know that Aaron used the term normalize - may have been another poster - so don't feel you need to put to much effort into defending the term.

by MTR (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:45pm

Dirk, come on. You asked if he was French because of his accent? Use of French words? Clearly you meant it as an insult - kinda a bizarre one, but an insult.

The arguments seem to boil down to Atlanta fans saying their team is 6-2 and should be ranked higher. DVOA fans come back and say DVOA agrees Atlanta should be 6-2 but only because their opponents have been so terrible. What's the pro-Atlanta reply?

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:47pm

Never knew calling someone French was so insulting

It's not. It's like calling someone a Jew. Why would anyone be upset to be called a jew? It's just an ethnic group. It might be upsetting to Jews to think that being "one of them" is so bad it's a valid insult...

Here, let me try it in a way you might understand:

"Are you from Georgia??"

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:49pm

329 - symantics - each of the first 5 flips had a 50% percent chance - the 6 one has the same.

What happened before has no bearing on what happens next.

People much smarter than you and I - have phrased the point as I did.

Furthermore - you knew exactly what I was saying.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:50pm


Andrew can be a stubborn guy (takes one to know one, for what it's worth), and several of us had a discussion with him just last week over the merits of Seattle's second-half schedule, and the likelihood that they would see homefield advantage. Still, stubborn as I thought he was, the discussion never became uncivil on either side. If we can do it, so can you.

But come on, it's the internet - it's a near-proven fact that anywhere you go, people will not only disagree with you, as they often do in real life, they also won't hesitate to say as much, as they often don't in real life.

Just be willing to discuss, and to know when the other guy isn't. You don't get points for having nothing but witty retorts for everyone who passionately disagrees.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:54pm

My goodness.

With the number of posts here, you'd think that a Manning/Brady debate erupted.

I'll say that the Falcons and their bandwagoning, annoying, fickle "fans" suck. But I'm a bitter Saints fan living in Atlanta who may not be the most unbiased. :)

Regarding Dirk, Se7en (wow, clever guy! watch out!) and the rest of you lot who clearly don't understand mathematics, it's OK to have your SUBJECTIVE opinion about an OBJECTIVE rating. However, nothing is the be-all, end-all.

But Dirk, in particular, unless your name is Arthur Blank, Jim Mora, Ron Mexico, Warrick Dunn, et al, please don't EVER use the word "we" when refering to the Falcons. You don't play for them and you don't own them. You do not affect anything on the field or in the front office. You like them and you follow them like a whore follows Ghenghis's army, but when it comes down to it YOU are not THEM.

/pet peeve

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:55pm

#327. And any system that does not factor in some of the human elements of a human game will forever be flawed. I do think that the DVOA coud be made into a better system that could be used to help predict games, and help develop Power Rankings (key word being "help"), but it should never be a sole determinant.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:55pm

Inre: 273

Obiously you are correct...no one messes with the Dirkster. For the record, I'm totally calm. If you percieve backing up an argument with stats rather than generalities and limited observations the sign of someone who has reached the boiling point, it must be hard. I have watched every snap (except for the first half of the SD game) of Steeler football this season, and the model has them pegged pretty well thus far. Do I think the Steelers will play like this in the last half of the season? I sure as hell hope not. That being said I have two hopes:

1) The Steeler's staff is using an objective system (just like they do here at FO) to assess the real strengths and weaknesses the team has. Use this assessment to address the weaknesses and exploit the strengths.

2) The Steeler's staff then uses the same system to examine their upcoming opponent's strengths and weaknesses. Gameplan to exploit these. That's it.

Anyone who cannot understand that stats (in any field) are an adjunct to your own judgement and knowledge (there are plenty of things any model will fail to capture) should refrain from commenting on them. You feel gypped by the Falcons ranking here, I have a feeling the disappoinment will be greater when the Falcons get into the playoffs and have their ass blown off in the first round.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:57pm

Think an 11-5 team is middle of the pack? Especially one that won 11 last season? The fact is, this is the NFL, when any team can win on any given week.
I believe you've answered your own question. If in the NFL any team can win on any given Sunday, a team can be middle of the road and finish 11-5. For an example of this phenomenon, look at Chicago in 2001.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:58pm

#340. It's a pet peeve you'll have to live with. I know it can be annoying, but many fans do it and will continue to do so. Fans do consider themselves to be part of the team after following them for so long.

My quarrel is that the DVOA is the sole basis of the Power Rankings.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:59pm

"Are you French?"

Wow. Just wow.

I think perhaps, what is needed is a way to make our new friends from FOX feel more comfortable. I would suggest beginning with a name change- instead of Football Outsiders, how about Freedom Outsiders? And then when Aaron is using sarcasm that floats over the head of his new readership, he could start working in lines like, "That Michael Vick, he's no Zidane Zidane now, is he?" And the masses would be happy.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:59pm


You're displaying a very telling lack of understanding of DVOA when you assume that DVOA can't be made to adapt for "human" aspects of a game. It's undergone several changes each season to become more and more comprehensive. Don't just assume that because it's done in mathematical terms that it can't evolve. The problem is, the changes don't come overnight, because we only see a new set of sample data once a week, and even that for a limited number of weeks.

Don't worry, the computers aren't going to suck the soul out of our beloved game.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:02pm

329 - you are confusing independent and dependent variables in your comment.

The Patriots winning 8 games in a row comprises a combination of dependant and independant variables - what the models strives to sort through.

The fumble recovery probablity by itself is a known probability based on an independant variable.

You are confusing the two.

by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:03pm

I disagree with fans not being able to say "we".

Without the support of their fans no owner has a viable product. If you have ever bought a ticket, or licensed team merchandise you are a contributor to the franchise and therefore part of the franchise. YOu can in fact say "we" when referring to your favorite team.

Saying "we" invites criticism but some fans are correct in saying so.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:03pm

And before anyone gets hung up on the fact that you can't turn "emotions" into mathematical constructs - the point of argument here is "Power Rankings". Power Rankings are by their very definition mathematical. You can't complain that a mathematical system of ranking teams can't account for emotions, so instead people should use a mathematical system to rank teams.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:03pm


just to throw some fuel on the fire - and this is just my opinion. Lets set the wayback machine for 2001. I see a team that went 13-3. A team that overacheived and has tremendous luck with recovering fumbles. I see a team that got killed in the playoffs. I see the Chicago Bears. I have not looked at the numbers but I am pretty sure that they would have had a similar ranking to what we are seeing for the Falcons this year. There was no way, by statistical performance, that the Bears were that good, but they won. And then 2002 happened.

It is not unheard of for teams that are statistically mediocre to put together a winning season. Would I have ranked the 2001 Bears as an elite team? Nope. Despite the fact that they are my team, I knew that they had significant luck to win as many as they did, and I was happy about it. This is the reality with the Falcons of this year. They are winning. But they are not doing so with superfantastic stats. They are not an elite team this year, BUT they are a winning team, and in the end that is what matters.

Dirk doesn't like the way (or perhaps the reasoning) for the ranking. It doesn't matter, as they are winning and have a very good chance of being a playoff team. Make no mistake, however, they aren't playing like the elite team some people believe they are, and I have a feeling that some of the things that have gone atlanta's way will start to turn, just like they did for the 2001 Bears.

as an aside - I did note that people were projecting Chicago to beat Atlanta and Carolina but not Tampa and I was wondering why? I could see any of those games going either way.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:03pm

340 - who the hell are you?

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:04pm

I think perhaps, what is needed is a way to make our new friends from FOX feel more comfortable. I would suggest beginning with a name change- instead of Football Outsiders, how about Freedom Outsiders? And then when Aaron is using sarcasm that floats over the head of his new readership, he could start working in lines like, “That Michael Vick, he’s no Zidane Zidane now, is he?� And the masses would be happy.


Of course, if we were French (OK, I'm part French), we'd be rioting right now..

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:04pm

#343. Oh contraire! With the way parity is in the NFL, any team can win on any given Sunday. What separates the best from the rest is the ability to win most of the games during a season. The cream rises to the top, and the better teams will end up winning the most of the games. Some are simply more dominant than others. But the level in talent is much, much better than any other level. You'll repeatedly hear coaches say just how hard it is to win an NFL game.

There are some years that the ball bounces one team's way more than others. Teams get good breaks and bad breaks. Chemistry plays a huge role in the NFL as well. My point in referencing that Atlanta won 11 games last year is simply to show you that this IS NOT a team coming out of nowhere. This team was good last year, and it's not just about a few lucky bounces that they are winning this season. Back to back winning seasons are not considered flukes.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:06pm

Ask anyone who’s in their very first statistics classes. It’s one of the first things taught to them.

It's not fundamental to statistics. It's fundamental to Poisson statistics. But you can have sequence-dependent statistics.

I'm not talking about gambler's fallacy stuff. What I'm talking about is something like "is a running back more likely to be consistently successful in a game where he starts out consistently successful?" Fumble recoveries are random because the ball bounces randomly (hell, that's one of the reasons why the ball is shaped like that).

329 - symantics - each of the first 5 flips had a 50% percent chance - the 6 one has the same.

It's not semantics at all. It's exactly what "regression to the mean" means.

each of the first 5 flips had a 50% percent chance

Only if you decree "all coin flips have a 50% chance." If, instead, you measure it, you'll get a different answer. If you flip a coin 10 times, and get 7 heads, 3 tails, you might say you've got a 70% chance of getting a head. You then flip 100 times, and you'll likely get between 40-60% heads.

At which point, you can state "I was less likely to get heads in the second trial" or, "it regressed to the mean."

In this case, the measurement is early-season performance of a team. The team will regress to the mean in the later season because expectations were unreasonably high based on a statistical fluctuation.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:07pm

336 - been there - done that.

granted it could get lost in all these posts.

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:07pm

You like them and you follow them like a whore follows Ghenghis’s army

Ahahahaha... alright, all is forgiven, the internet is funny again.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:14pm

#346. Oh I know it won't suck the soul out. But it needs some serious work. Injuries aren't factored in right? Then how can you truly make a Power Ranking with them? Who actually here thinks Carolina is not as good as Chicago? Or that Carolina isn't a top 10 team at that?

I just see way to many flaws at this stage to make any Power Rankings on it. There are too many factors not figured in to these equations, and honestly, there are so many factors that go into every football game, that, can mathematics even determine greatness on the football field? Personally, I don't think so.

With a lot more work, the DVOA could become a more useful resource in prediciting games. But I'll maintain that there is much more to the game of football than stats, and these computer rankings should never be used to make hard Power Rankings.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:16pm

Wow -


Why are you making this point?

We are not running out and testing a football a trillion times to see how it bounces. Rather an analogy is made to a coin flip and is chugged into the equation.

Your "a priori" point has no practical use to the conversation.

The bottom line is - the model assumes a probablity at the begining of the year for fumble recoveries - if someone beats the odds - the model treats future recoveries the same way.

That is the point - you can not argue with it.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:17pm

(1) I have an idea as to why the Falcons' DVOA is consistently lower than their winning percentage. Not surprisingly, it has to do with Mike Vick. (Full disclosure: I'm an Eagles fan who lives in Atlanta; I've seen all the Falcons games this year, as well as all the Eagles games. The Falcons are my "2nd" team behind the Eagles.) I don't think it's merely luck.

Basically, IMHO although teams should have a balanced attack to keep defenses honest, passing the ball generally leads to more points than running the ball.

By any objective measure, Vick is not a good passing QB. However, I believe his presense greatly enhances the running games and makes it one of the best in the league, even though it's an unconventional attack. (Warrick Dunn is an excellent RB, but not one of the bestin the league without Vick, IMHO.)

Accordingly, I think that because they're not a good passing team and they rely on their "DVD" rushing combo (enhanced mostly by Vick), they have trouble blowing teams out that they should blow out, considering the record and reputation. In other words, they control a lot of games that they win by a closer margin (win-wise and statistically) than otherwise because they have trouble passing the ball. I think it has to do with Vick's effect on the running game and his lackluster passing. (No surprise!)

Also, when the Falcons fall behind, they seem to have a tendency to get blown out occasionally because they try to pass and they can't. Since a higher proportion of their plays are passes rather than runs, their DVOA takes a bigger hit than it would if they were a better passing team.

So to summarize: although most teams' (including the Steelers) running game allows them to pass the ball and score points, the Falcons running game *is* their offense. Hence, since passing leads to more points than running, their stats look worse than their record.

Frankly, as a Falcons fan, I'm not comfortable with that arrangement. It is unstable and relies too much on the fortunes of one player.

(2) Dirk Dugan: I don't understand why you are making such a big deal about Aaron's comments (or excuses, if you prefer).I don't want to put words in his mouth, but it seems he was speculating as to why the Falcons consistently outperform DVOA. I can see why you would disagree with his comments, bit the level of protestation seems out of proporation with the comment. Finally,

(3) The Falcons did not *dominate* the game against the Eagles. They dominated most of the 1st quarter, which won them the game, but after the initial adrenaline rush by the Falcons and after Jim Johnson adjusted for Trotter's not playing, I think the Eagles actually *slightly* out-played the Falcons in the last 3 quarters, which was not enough to overome their lousy 1st quarter (which was a harbinger, as it turns out).

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:18pm

329 - you are confusing independent and dependent variables in your comment.

I guarantee you, I'm not confusing anything.

Let me try to explain again. Let's imagine we're in the National Coinflip League, and we've got a team, oh, I dunno, the Atlanta Calfons. Each game's decided by a coinflip.

At the end of the season, the Calfons are on a tear! They're 70-30. NCL announcers everywhere are saying the Calfons have swagger and confidence, and man, they're a team. Plus, they're saying their coinflipper, uh, Mr. Jon Iowa, just changes the whole game. I mean, their winning record is 0.700.

Critics point to that nasty statistics thing. Some wacko website is saying hey, next year, the Calfons should only be a 0.500 team, because that's all their in-game performance predicts. They say they got lucky. Fans don't care, though. They love their Calfons!

Next season rolls around, and the Calfons are highly ranked. Why wouldn't they be? They were winning at a 70% clip last year!

Then, this year, it all breaks down, as the Calfons finish 55-45 and miss the playoffs. Then all the talking heads start talking about how the team's lost their "chemistry". I mean, they finished with a 20% worse record than last year. That same wacko website is still saying - hey, they're playing like a 0.500 team. So expect that they could be even worse next year.

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:21pm

Well, I just wrote long response to post 318, but it seems to not be showing up. The short answer is no. I don't feel like rehashing the rest of it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:21pm


Actually, studies were done to "decree" the probalities of the fumble.

We are not running out and testing a football a trillion times to see how it bounces. Rather an analogy is made to a coin flip and is chugged into the equation.

Yah. Because you don't need to do that. The players do that all the time. In the National Coinflip League example, all you'd have to do is study the average coinflip.

You then also plot one coinflip result versus the next coinflip result, and see if your results populate the XY plane. This is the definition of a random variable.

It's (essentially) been done. Fumbles are random.

by Xian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:21pm

Re: #357But I’ll maintain that there is much more to the game of football than stats, and these computer rankings should never be used to make hard Power Rankings.

There's obviously more to football than statistics.

But come on. "Power Rankings" are pretty much just meant to be for, uh, fun, or comparison, or "lookit, this dingus on the interweb is dumb!" or something. I don't even know what you mean when you say "hard Power Rankings", but I doubt that any power rankings can ever truly be "hard".

I mean, what do you expect out of power rankings in general? Are there any that you can link to that feel are exactly right (or "hard")? Or do you randomly cruise the web and argue against all power rankings of any flavor, because they don't take [factor x] into consideration? Are Dr. Z's power rankings wrong because he includes too many literary references in them? Peter King's Fine Fifteen too homey and softball-flavored for you?

Explain what you're looking for and maybe then we can have some sort of meaningful conversation. Or you can just keep tossing off your time-worn football cliches. Your choice.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:25pm

With a lot more work, the DVOA could become a more useful resource in prediciting games. But I’ll maintain that there is much more to the game of football than stats, and these computer rankings should never be used to make hard Power Rankings.

DVOA was never intended to be used as a predictive tool. You realistically can't. The best you can do is say "Assuming this team plays in the future exactly as they've played in the past, this is how good they are."

and why not use them for Power Rankings? 99.9% of other power rankings over the internet are just one writers opinions. This is just a different way of arriving to those conclusions. It doesn't make them "right". It's not like power rankings have any sort of real bearing on the actual NFL anyway. Just because Tom Jackson shows up every Sunday and says the Broncos are the best team in the NFL doesn't mean they necessarily are.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:27pm


Trotter's not playing the Falcons game is not an excuse. Period. Things like that happen and players get hurt, etc.

To pull a Rumsfield:

Did the Falcons beat the Eagles on MNF in week 1? Abssolutely.

Did they dominate? Nope.

Will they beat the Eagles if they play them again? I don't think so!

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:29pm

Oh, and Dirk, can you stop the ALL CAPS stuff please? It's difficult to read, distracting, and impolite. Posts allow use of HTML tags for italics for emphasis. It's much easier.


In other words, they control a lot of games that they win by a closer margin (win-wise and statistically) than otherwise because they have trouble passing the ball.

Bingo! I'll buy that explanation for a dollar! That's a statistical effect similar to an astronomical problem called Malmquist bias. Bad teams will tend to win more games than they should, because fluctuating upwards is more important than fluctuating downwards. You don't see the downward fluctuations (well, you do, it's called Tampa Bay beating the utter crap out of the Falcons last year) but you do see the upwards ones.

Now, why would this affect the Falcons more? For the reason you stated - because the Falcons are a predominantly running team. The game is shorter, and therefore fluctuates more.

I have no idea if this is true or not, but hey, it's a solid theory.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:29pm

I propose a simple rule for using "we" in reference to your favorite team: you have to have done something to assist them in winning.

I'd put the bare minimum at, showed up to a game and cheered (or booed, for Philly fans) at appropriate times.

by Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:31pm

How is Miami Ranked over Atlanta when they got beat? These rankings are garbage, Aikman's efficiency ratings are much better.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:32pm

Dirk Dugan hates stats so much he makes them up. Why does he keep saying Miami had zero first downs against Atlanta? They had 11.

Interesting about the sacks. Does that hold over multiple years, or was it a one-off thing? And if it holds, does it mean anything, or is it shoe size and intelligence recast into football?

It wasn't true in 2004. NFL sack leaders:

Atlanta 48
Philadelphia 47
Tampa Bay 45 (missed playoffs)
Buffalo 45 (missed playoffs)
New England 45
Indianapolis 45
Pittsburgh 41
Kansas City 41 (missed playoffs)
Green Bay 40
Washington 40 (missed playoffs)

So, 4 of the top 10 sack teams last year missed the playoffs.

by ian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:33pm

Re: #307

I'm not sure what a 'power running game' is supposed to mean, but i'm going to guess that it is either a willingness to rush 'three-yards and a cloud of dust' on first & second down, or it is the ability to average 5 or 6 yards per carry.

I'm also not sure if Denver, Pittsburg, or Atlanta fall into either of those two categories.

But let's say they do... is it right to say that in the first quarter of a game, a 3 yard carry on 1st down is, for the purposes of a winning play, a failure? And a 3 yard carry on 2nd & 7 is a success? But a 3 yard carry on 3rd & 4 obviously isn't.

If that is right, then a team that has a commitment to the run - either as a fundemental offense, or when trying to control the clock while stoking a lead - might have a higher percentage of its plays be third downs.

It will also have losing plays on first down more than a team that gains 4 yards per carry on first downs. (except in the 4th quarter while holding a lead or trailing where 3 yards on first down would be a win)

(This isn't simply a running back success rate thing, as it will involve the o-line and play calling as well as being applicable to dink-and-dump passing offenses, but the gist of it comes from the RBSR.)

If a team is operating under a '3 yards and a cloud of dust' offensive philosophy, then it looks like the play level "trees" evaluation that DVOA gives will lag behind a "forest" level eval that measures consistency of play per game (this is the Variance stat, right?), because you would figure that the tactic would only be successful against lesser teams and eventually a good defense will punish a poor performing offense.

On the other hand, if 'power running game' means 5-6 yds/rush average, then the percentage of play to play wins goes up and third downs as a percentage of total plays goes down (because you are getting a new set of downs in 2 plays instead of 3).

This would seem to pump up the 'tree' level measurements (more winning plays as a percentage of total plays & fewer third downs as a percentage of total plays) but could be less evident in terms of the 'forest' measurement. (Maybe this is because if a play caller's confidence is broken early in a game, either by trailing early or facing a stout defense, they tend to not to go to the low risk/low reward plays and instead try to 'get more' by abandoning the run and commmitting to the pass? Is a passing offense somehow inherently less successfull than a rushing offense, particularly on a team that has a 5+ yd/carry average?)

I think that the point of this might be that if the play by play of a game, or a season of games, shows a team that is in 3rd down 25% of their plays AND the down and distance is 3rd & 3 or greater in the 1st - 3rd quarters, then they could be vulnerable to offensive DVOA that isn't representative of their record.

Does that sound like Denver, Pittsburg, or Atlanta? I don't know, since I don't look at the play by play of every game and don't plan on it, but maybe the FO guys can see something in the glame logs that validates or invalidates this idea.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:33pm

340 - who the hell are you?

Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father: prepare to die.

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:37pm

these computer rankings should never be used to make hard Power Rankings.

Why not? Aren't power rankings just a subjective list of how someone would rank teams from worst to the best?

Here's how I see it -- the internet is full of power rankings, and I read quite a few of them in my spare time. The only one that every makes me reconsider what I think about the NFL is footballoutsiders, because when their power ranking disagrees with common sense I know there's a lot of statistical analysis behind it.

The FO power rankings/dvoa rankings are often different from the rest of internet, which is why they're a hell of a lot more interesting...

by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:39pm

One of the more amusing things in sports is how, whenever some mathematical/computer system ranking teams in some way differs with how people's perceive teams to be ranked based on observation, people get all up in arms, andsay there is a huge problem with the computer. Whether it's DVOA here, college football ( don't turn this into a debate on BCS, please), or anything else. One main reason why people use any of these systems is the belief that they will tell us something a little different from what we perceive by observation. Otherwise they would contribute very little - anyone can rank the teams in the NFL in order of who has the best record. So we create a system based on objective criteria. When it tells us something we didn't expect, does it make sense to say the system must be wrong? Remember, the reason for creating the system is largely because we think that what we perceive based on observation may not be correct.

I hope this is somewhat coherent. In short, it's silly to get all upset when a system set up because we realize perception is not perfect, produces results at odds with what we perceive.

by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:41pm

I should note that I had no personal role in desiging this or any other statistical sports model, and I hope my use of the word "we" ("we create a system") did not confuse or offend anyone

by Brad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:46pm

I can't believe Doug Johnson gets you riled up so much, Dirk.

Atlanta is 3-11 when Vick doesn't start. When did most of those games happen? The 2003 season. Who was the starting QB in Vick's absence? Doug Johnson. Hence, Doug Johnson is not as good as Vick.

You're right, that's an irrelevant factoid as long as no one mentions Atlanta's winning percentage with/without Vick.

We clear?

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:47pm

"With a lot more work, the DVOA could become a more useful resource in prediciting games. But I’ll maintain that there is much more to the game of football than stats, and these computer rankings should never be used to make hard Power Rankings."


Last year, DVOA correctly picked the winner 67% of the time. That's about as accurate a predictive tool as you're going to get. So far this year, it's down around 61%, but getting steadily more accurate with each passing week, as you would expect with a larger sample size. The last two weeks, the teams with the higher DVOA went 21-7.

Perhaps you should do five minutes worth of research before floating your theories.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:52pm

Re 366: Pat, that's really interesting. Now, if I understand this correctly, then a slightly *above* average team with high variance would underperform expectation: when they fluctuate up, they win big instead of winning close, but when they fluctuate down, they lose close instead of winning close. Is that right, or am I missing the point?

And I'm very curious -- how does this show up in astronomony?

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:56pm

Brad - Vick's winning precentage is not irrelvant - 2003 is.

And most certainly Doug Johnson is.

For the tenth time - Aaron dictated the relevance of 2004 - not 2003.

Are you clear.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:58pm

#378 Except that Aaron was referencing the 29-15 record being sent to him, NOT your 17-4 record. In that context, it is relevant.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:59pm

Richie - I don't hate states - you are coming late to that conversation - I meant third down conversions.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:02pm

#376. You have what is regarded as the #1 or #2 team in the NFC by people who played the game as a below average team in the Power Rankings. Perhaps you should re-read what I said.

If you pick teams with the best winning percentage most of the time you'll get most of them right. So far on the year I am at 62%. It is no mystery that it gets easier and easier to pick winners as the season goes along, because you can get a better feel for the teams later in the season.

So why would I use a Computer Ranking system if I'm doing just as well as by watching the games?

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:13pm

362 - more word games.

The model has a fixed predermined probability for a fumble - whether studies were done to determine that fixed variable - or if Aaron just typed it in - it has nothing to do with the point I was making.

What ever that number is - it is fixed - and if you guys represented the model correctly to me - then that fixed probability applies regardless of the "a priori" percentages.

That is why your earlier post was unnecessarily arguing an irrelevant point. My observation is based on what others on the board told me about the model.

It does not reset the future probality of a fumble recovery based on what has happened in the past.

If it does - it shouldn't. However - I think that certain teams do have advantages as far as recovery (a different topic some have already semi-agreed with). And certainly some have said location of the fumble is accounted for.

Check this post for typos for me if you dont mind.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:13pm

Good question, Se7en. If DVOA is so worthless in your gambling endeavors, why the heck are you here?

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:15pm

Sean: Yup. Which is why if you go back and look at the early season Estimated Wins, you'll see that good teams with low variance are higher than good teams with high variance, and bad teams with low variance are worse than bad teams with high variance. I pointed that out to Aaron a while ago. :)

And I’m very curious — how does this show up in astronomony?

You can only see things that are bright enough for you to see. So if you've got a kind of object (like, supernovae) which fluctuate in brightness, when you look for supernovae at the absolute edge of where you can see them, you'll only be seeing the bright ones.

So when you plot the number of supernovae versus distance, it'll look like the number is lower than you would expect at far distances because you only see the bright ones, and not the dim (or normal) ones.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:16pm

#381. For the most part? I love good debate. Secondaly, I think it is an interesting system, just horribly flawed. Teams like Pittsburgh, Carolina, Denver, and Atlanta deserve higher rankings IMO, from watching the games.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:17pm

379 - I am the only one that used the 17-4 number. Aaron is stating the commonly stated number. Someone else put back in my face - that I was the one who brought up the winning percentage - so why was I complaining? Hence the reemergence of the 17-4 number.

You guys gang up on me so much - I end up arguing against other peoples points used against me in other conversatios - not to mention crossed and skipped posts whereby I continually have to answer the same question.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:17pm

Who said you should use a computer system to pick games? You pulled that out of the air on your own.

Although it must be said, seeing as you are picking up on all the subtleties of the game that a mathematical system can't hope to get, shouldn't you be doing better than 62%? Correct me if I'm wrong, but your entire argument is based on the notion that you, as a football watcher, are picking up on things that DVOA is not, and that you have a better grasp on the realities of the NFL landscape as a result. And yet you're not doing any better? How can that be?

by Mshray (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:18pm

Dirk, if you reread my earlier post directed to you I believe the worst thing I implied was that you started out here last night sounding like 'a newbie flamer'. I tried to be very positive, careful to offer encouragement to you, and I expressed the hope that you (and indirectly anyone else reading that) would try to focus on engaging in "funny, erudite & extremely knowledgeable" commentary. I specifically avoided accusing you of any rudeness on your own part.

What I specifically did ask you directly is whether or not you really need to contribute any rudeness to this board, even if you perceive it to be in response to someone else's. It was my hope that you might agree that ad hominem remarks are always unnecessary & that two wrongs (or more properly two 'flames') don't make a right. It was my hope that you would realize that writing things such things as "Go get your mommy to powder you (sic) bum" and "who the hell are you?" have the adverse effect of making it harder for the rest of us to take you seriously. And someone who shows up for the first time on a message board & makes well over 60 posts in under 24 hours must strongly desire to be taken seriously by the community. Trolls come & go, but you sound like you might stick around & have something to contribute here. So, it is my hope that you might - to use a common sports cliche - play up to your best competition not play down to your worst. It's entirely your choice, but you really can't do both.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:18pm

Pat: Just to clear up the hypothesis, it is that fumble recoveries are random, not fumbles in and of themselves. Some players are more prone to putting the ball on the carpet, and some teams are better at forcing players to do this. This is stable (or relatively so) from year to year. How many are lost and how many aren't is the 50/50 proposition.

As you've pointed out, like a coin, fumble recoveries are presumed to be iid (independant identically distributed) random variables. If we take each fumble lost to be a -1 and each fumble recovered to be a +1 we can build out the distribution for an arbitrary number of fumbles (in this case the number of fumbles in games where atlanta has played). We can then compute how far from the mean (0 in this case) Atlanta is and what their probability of recovering at a lower rate is for the rest of the season. If they are recovering at an outsized rate, the probability of recovering at a lower rate than this (not the mean, the probability of recovering at a lower rate than the mean is always 50% for iid variables), through the rest of the season.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:20pm

369 - or 5 of 7 made it.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:22pm

389 - that actually was what I was trying to say.

by Bob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:22pm

Seven you mentioned earlier that football games really only come down to a few big plays, and consequently got called an idiot for it. Well find comfort that a football player, you know guys that actually play the game, not a number cruncher agrees with you.

"You can call it swagger, whatever you want to call it," Brooking said.

"When you look at games, it comes down to three to five plays a game. I don't care of it's a blowout or a one-point game. We're making those plays right now. I believe with all my heart we have a great football team. I love where we're at as a football team."

Falcons fans on here are wasting their time though. The guys on here are going to say the Falcons won by sheer luck, until they finally have a losing season, and then proudly proclaim they were right all along, even if the Falcons have 3-4 winning seasons in a row. Just enjoy the weekly laugh we get out of these guys.

by Justus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:23pm

I am sad because FO used to be a great site. The content is still great but since going on Fox the threads have become worthless trash, the same as every other football forum on the web.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:24pm

#387. You guys keep forgetting that I'm knocking it's use as a stand sill for the POWER RANKINGS moreso than it's predicting. About predicting, if it's so great, with all it's number crunching and such, why can't it do better than little ol' me?

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:29pm

It's not word games. If you don't understand the difference, say "I don't think there's a difference" but it's demeaning to dismiss something like that.

What ever that number is - it is fixed - and if you guys represented the model correctly to me - then that fixed probability applies regardless of the “a priori� percentages.

I don't think you understand the idea, then.

First, you measure the likelihood to recover a fumble based on large-number statistics. This is like flipping a coin a million times to measure its probabilities, or going out and dropping a football a million times. It gets you far, far past the square root(N) problem.

Since that likelihood is independent of the team (which your studies showed), you can use the same likelihood for all teams.

In the early season, there will be very few statistics, and so fumbles will fluctuate a lot. The model is correcting for the fact that fumbles follow Poisson statistics. It's exactly the same as my National Coinflip League example above, where a 100-game season isn't enough to make a 70-30 split unlikely. So a statistician would look at the Calfons, and say "there's nothing impressive about this team. It's just a 2 sigma fluctuation from the mean. Next season, I expect them to be 0.500."

The San Diego/Philadelphia game is a great example. That game literally was won by luck - the ball happened to bounce into Matt Ware's hands. Therefore, the fact that Philadelphia beat San Diego is not predictive for their performance for the rest of the season.

To explain a bit more: on average, if Philadelphia beats San Diego by 7 points, the next game they play them, on average, they'll beat them by about 3.5 points. So if Philly's win had been predictive, then you could say, for the next game, that Philly will likely win by 3.5. But since it was random, you can't say that.

However - I think that certain teams do have advantages as far as recovery

Facts don't back you up, sorry. There have been studies trying to find teams which can reliably recover fumbles. There aren't any. Search for "fumble" here.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:31pm

388 - Again -

You see that I am ganged up on - words twisted - circular arguements envoked in an effort to frustrate.

In many ways I have already extended an olive branch - when I see someone treating my viewpoints with respect rather then - "Dirk does not like Stat" or worse - is a "Ignarameous" (sic) then maybe I will show a thicker skin.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:33pm

About predicting, if it’s so great, with all it’s number crunching and such, why can’t it do better than little ol’ me?

Because the human brain is a very, very good pattern matching algorithm.

Unfortunately, it's also ridiculously, ridiculously bad at describing the patterns it recognizes. It's also easily biased.

This argument is akin to saying "why are we bothering with speech recognition, anyway?"

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:34pm

Dirk: It's ignoramus. One who is ignorant.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:35pm

#386 Sure, because you keep making the same erroneous objection. Sorry, man.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:44pm

"Teams like Pittsburgh, Carolina, Denver, and Atlanta deserve higher rankings IMO, from watching the games."

The intial DVOA rankings came out after week two. Since that time, here is how your teams have done:

Pittsburgh has gone 2-1 in games against teams with lower DVOAs and 2-1 against teams with higher DVOAs. In two of the three games against higher DVOA teams, the differences were 1 and 3, respectively, which is to say that the Steelers were essentially playing teams that were roughly equal in ability.

Carolina has gone 5-1 against teams with lower DVOAs. They haven't played anyone with a higher DVOA.

Denver has gone 3-0 against teams with lower DVOAs and 2-1 against teams with higher DVOAs. It should be noted that the two wins happened in weeks 3 and 4, when Denver was still ranked low from their Miami disaster.

Atlanta has gone 3-1 against teams with lower DVOAs and 2-0 against teams with higher DVOAs. One of Atlanta's two wins was in week three, DVOA's first week. Since then, Atlanta has only played one team that DVOA thought they should lose to- last week against Miami. Against the lower DVOA teams, they got beaten by a team they were 11 ranks higher than- New England.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:52pm


The actual percentage is entered by Aaron - I am sure he used studies - but again irrelevant.

Maybe you don't know what my point is or even care - just stating statistical fact.

According to your example - if the Atlanta Falcon recovered the ball 70% of the time - then their likely hood going forward should be reset to 70% - we both know that should not be the case - yet you continue on with this charade.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:56pm


Think an 11-5 team is middle of the pack?

That was the entire point of my post. Yes, an 11-5 team can be middle of the pack if those 11 wins come against a soft schedule. Which they will in Atlanta's case. Which of these 11 (theoretical) wins are impressive?

so far
Philly - not particularly, but ok
Buffalo - no
Minnesota - no
New Orleans - no
NY Jets - no
Miami - no

Green Bay - no
Tampa Bay - not with Sims at QB
Detroit - no
New Orleans again - no
Carolina - yes

One and a half good wins is not impressive.

by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 7:01pm

398 - Pat - I guess the joke went over your head.

Notice the "(sic)" by my intentional misspelling of ignoramus.

by Joon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 7:03pm

dirk, please please shut up about doug johnson. aaron has to put up the rankings on fox sports every week, and he has to come up with something to say about every team. sometimes he includes analysis, sometimes it is a throwaway joke. he is both an analyst and a writer, and what you see on foxsports is his writing. what you see on the FO version of the page is his analysis.

so when he says that vick is better than doug johnson, he is mostly making a joke about the claims that vick is great because his W/L record is great. and it is a valid criticism, because almost all of the non-vick games in the vick era were started by johnson (or schaub when the entire first team was resting). so that is just not a very useful statistic. that is aaron's point. he did not claim that doug johnson is on the falcons now. there is no "factual error."

you are obviously correct when you say that doug johnson's performance on the 2003 falcons has nothing to do with the team now. that is also, amazingly, exactly aaron's point--because doug johnson '03 is so irrelevant, it is silly to keep pointing to the falcons' W/L record with johnson as evidence of how great vick is. aaron's comment is *not* about the 2005 falcons! mostly it is a joke, but what it has to say seriously is not that the 2005 falcons are good or bad, but that the people who keep harping about vick's W/L relative to the team W/L without vick are just making noise.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 7:10pm

I asked politely regarding the use of caps. I usually give one warning before I completely ignore people. This is it.

According to your example - if the Atlanta Falcon recovered the ball 70% of the time - then their likely hood going forward should be reset to 70% - we both know that should not be the case - yet you continue on with this charade.

If fumble recoveries have been measured to be random (let's say 50% just for now), it's entirely possible that small-number results show a recovery rate of 70%. Poisson fluctuations on even 100 results is still +/-10%.

But if you know the mean, and you know it's a random process (IID), you predict using the mean, not the measured results. That's what regression to the mean means.

You wouldn't set it to 70%. You'd set it to the measured mean.

by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 7:56pm


I think a lot of the harsh treatment you're getting from some people is a reaction to your initial posts. Your apology post mired in the middle of this miserable mess was a great gesture (it improved my opinion of you, which I'm certain will help you sleep better tonight), but like TO, you apology doesn't totally wipe what you said before away. When people respond harshly, remember the attitude you came in here with and maybe give them the benifit of the doubt.

I hope you stick around. I look forward to seeing you participate in some discussions in which you're not so personally vested. ;^)

Overall, I think a lot of the heat in here comes from a problem with perspective. Primarily, Aaron's original comments which you so strongly disputed. I didn't necessarily see it as Aaron saying that as a way to prove that the DVOA rating is correct, but rather as an explination of some of the reasons why the system created the rating that it did.

Can the DVOA system be improved? Undoubtably, and no one will contest that. But when his system puts out a certain rating, I don't think it's too crazy for him to state why it gave that rating. Obviously if it's a lower rating, it will be something that reflects negatively on the team. But I look at it more of an indictment of the rating rather than the team.

Maybe it would be helpful for you to try to see it from that perspective as well. It's up to you.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 8:03pm

Sean, you're analyzing those teams on paper. Have you watched them play?

I also see no where in DVOA where "Potential" is analyzed. Of ocurse it would be hard to do so. Many teams improve throughout the season, while many digress. Potential is important, because certain teams have the ability to play at a much higher level. Thus the DVOA is more "reactionary" than "predictive."

#402. If a team goes to the NFCCG one year, and is leading their conference in wins half way through the next season, I'd say that's impressive. But what's more impressive is when the team is winning games when it's not playing anywhere near the level it is capable of. I wouldn't worry about margin of victory like the old BCS used to, because it has no factor on the next game.

by ian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 8:28pm

One of the issues here seems to be the desire to make comparisons between teams that have not yet met in games or will never meet in games, yet have comparable records.

Look at the NFC - there are 4 teams with 6-2 records, but so far, there has only been one game between those four - ATL @ SEA in week 2.

Based on head to head match ups, the only comparison we can make is that SEA won a game against ATL.

Looking at the schedule, we see the NYG @ SEA is in week 12, that ATL @ CAR is in week 13 and CAR @ ATL is in week 17. So, during the regular season, there will never be a SEA vs CAR, NYG vs ATL, or NYG vs CAR matchup.

When it all comes down to the end of the season, lets pretend that all four teams have the same record. Who is better?

Because ATL and CAR are in the same division, you will know pretty clearly who is a better team, since they have played head to head twice and share 11 common opponants. (11/13 teams; about 85% shared schedule)

Because the NFC West plays the NFC East, you can say which of SEA and NYG is better based on their head to head match up and their 6 common opponants, but since they play their division rivals twice, splits are possible. (about 46% shared schedule)

Because ATL and SEA are last season's division champs, they have a head to head meeting and 2 shared opponants. (about 23% shared schedule)

The remaining matchups (ATL vs NYG; CAR vs NYG; CAR vs SEA) all lack head to head matchups and have 2 common opponants. (about 15% shared schedule)

Wins and losses have dramatically different weights when comparing teams because of the schedule. If, for example CAR lost both games to ATL but won more games against their 11 common opponants, you might listen to an arguement that CAR just had bad games against ATL and is actually a better team.

But if CAR lost to the two common opponants it shares with NYG and the Giants won over both those teams, that doesn't necessarily end the conversation, since both teams played 11 other opponants unique to their particular schedule.

This happens by design, and over the course of a 16 week schedule, a given football team only plays 13 different opponants, meaning they only play about 42% of the league.

Because the NFL essentially plays two seasons, the regular season (which is NOT a round robin season) can be looked at as a filter used to seed the playoff season (which is a single elimination season), and but the actual W-L records are meaningless except for that seeding process and the scheduling of the next season.

To make comparisons about teams that aren't in the same division during the regular, you have to build a model. The fantasy leagues build models centered around individual performance, the NFL stats are yard and point centric, the FO model is play-drive-variation centric (if I understand it correctly), Tunesmith's beatpath system is a basic who-beat-who model (once again, if I understand it correctly), Aikman has a system that I always forget to look at.

Most of the other "power rankings" are just gut feel or opinion, which isn't to say they aren't informed, just not built on a model.

The NFL doesn't care about having the ability to make comparisons during the regular season, or else they would have a round robin schedule. Parity is what is important to them, so the schedule tries to not let any one team be too good. When it fails it fails because entire divisions are bad, or entire divisions are good. This year, playing the NFC North is like playing the Devil Rays for a third of the season. Oh well, next year maybe they will improve, and in any case a different division will play them.

It seems to me that Power Rankings, no matter who is doing them, aren't meaningful unless they are being used in conjunction with gambling, fan joy, or sports media talk jocks.

Good models can be meaningful though, if a sufficiently representative model is used to shape a teams preparation for a game, like a post above suggests Pittsburg, or in evaluating talent in the free agent market and I think that has a lot to do with the origins of the Football Prospectus.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 8:34pm

Okay guys, you're right. The Falcons are a top 1 NFC team, even though they lost to the Seahawks, who then lost to the Redskins. They are so great because they have swagger, they play with grit, and they have great team chemistry. Additionally, Michael Vick makes them change their entire game plan - it's not as simple as having a spotter, you basically have to have super-powered laser beams mounted along the rim of the stadium to stop him. Who's gonna hold the laser beams? Your kicker? Try again.

Go ahead and tell your friends on "The Atlanta Board" (there's a singular atlanta board? not the 40000 boards there are for every other NFL team?) that you showed those FO wingnuts what's what. What a bunch of losers. They never even played the game, how can they possibly fathom its intricacies? You have to have at least played college ball to see the forest for the trees! All those numbers must've gotten them confused.

I hate Rob Neyer, too.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 8:42pm

Seriously, though - if you disapprove of DVOA so much, you don't have to be here. You're welcome to discuss it with the people who have the patience, but frankly it's amazing to me that you can recognize how circular this conversation is, but not pause to think that maybe the throng of intelligent football fans you're arguing with may be on to something, and perhaps you should look - just *look* - at your own frame of reference, to see if maybe you've misjudged somewhere.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:02pm

#410. There are throngs that disagree as well. I'm here because I love discussing football. I'm sorry if my view doesn't sit well with you or the masses here. You can join hands and sing the happy praises of DVOA if you want to.

I think there are not just flaws, but major flaws with it. It has no business as being the foundation of a Power Ranking. It is, however, an interesting system, and one that I may decide to study in the future, or contribute suggestions to.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:07pm

Not to flog a dead horse (and this dead horse has been rotting for some time), but se7en, your comment reveals a fundamental misunderstanding as to what the DVOA rankings are. You said that they need to incorporate some measurement for potential. This is the definition of potential-with a possibility of doing or becoming something in the future. Only here's the thing- DVOA doesn't have anything to do with the future. What DVOA measures is what has transpired in the past. DVOA logs every play that has already happened and grades them. That's all it does. As a result, your complaint is essentially frivolous.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:09pm

You have yet to qualify why it has "no business .. being the foundation of a Power Ranking" - why not? Is there an ethical dilemma here? It looks pretty accurate to me.

You also say it doesn't just have flaws, it has major flaws. Are the flaws so major because one team - your Falcons - are misranked? What if it ranked the 49ers as 22nd, but the Falcons were 5th? I bet we wouldn't see you here pounding away at the flaws in the system. Certainly not still, at least. What makes the flaws so major? Do you disagree with the other rankings? Do you see any more great injustices? How would you rank these teams? I'm anxious how you'd rank the Falcons, specifically.

If you'd like a system that's founded entirely on victories and losses, you can always check out beatpaths.com...

I seem to recall someone did an analysis of how well DVOA held up to both win/loss prediction and gambling lines not too long ago. If my memory serves me correctly, I bet you'd be pretty surprised at how well it worked (get it? bet? Christ, I'm turning into my father.. :/). Anyone have a link to that one?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:11pm

Of course there's only one Atlanta board. How many fans do you think the Falcons actually have? And how many of them are literate, or have internet access?

By the way, I only read the last two comments in the thread. 410 posts in just over a day? Wow, you'd think someone dared compare [controversy-generating QB names deleted]. Without wasting time reading through all this, let me try to summarize and see how close I can get.

Good Atlanta fan: why is Atlanta ranked so low? Is it (possible reason)? Should the formula be tweaked to account for (reason)?

Helpful reader: Yes it's accounted for/No it isn't because (reason previously discussed). Maybe it's because (other reason). Don't worry because (reason for hope) or worry about (way Atlanta is winning more than trend/stat normally indicates).

Bad Atlanta fan: U suck and ur sighte sux falcons roolz vick is the gratest accuracy is overrated they win with him that all that matters he a winner and shut up about herpes

Reader: [wastes time trying to talk to bad fan reasonably, or wastes time trading insults]

Repeat ad nauseam.

Am I close?

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:13pm

#409 You forgot to add that they have the potential to play even better!


by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:13pm


If a team goes to the NFCCG one year, and is leading their conference in wins half way through the next season, I’d say that’s impressive.

Going to the NFCCG last year has absolutely no bearing on this year's rating. But if you want to look at last year, we can. If I do the same thing I did earlier, we see that the Falcons did better in the middle of the season than DVOA would predict:

team, W/L, DVOA adv after HFA adjustment (+ means pred. win, - means pred loss)
@SF W +28
St.L W +39
Ari W +34
@Car W -24 But what’s more impressive is when the team is winning games when it’s not playing anywhere near the level it is capable of.

I'm not sure if you mean they are playing so-so and winning anyway, or that they are playing well and can be even better. If it's the first, then you pretty much made everyone else's argument against yourself. If it's the second, then I just don't agree that they are playing well. They have won TWO games by more than one score, which seems like a dangerous trend, and they haven't beaten a good team yet. Miami is the highest rated team, and you are claiming they should be rated in the bottom half of the league, just below the Falcons.

I wouldn’t worry about margin of victory like the old BCS used to, because it has no factor on the next game.

When I said "impressive" I meant beating a good team, not winning by an impressive margin. Sorry for the confusion. And while margin of victory is not too important, it is good to be able to win by more than one score, to give yourself a little room for error. See SD vs. Philly.


And I just want to add that I hope this turns out like the Redskins thread did. James and others were arguing that the Redskins needed to be much higher after they had won some close games, but were still middle of the pack in DVOA. Then the Redskins lost a couple close games despite playing well and raising their DVOA, and everyone was happy in the end.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:14pm

"Am I close?"

Frighteningly. There's a psychology thesis somewhere in here.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:15pm

hmm that list got screwed up somehow. Just trust me that it shows the Falcons winning 3 more games than DVOA would predict.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:26pm

Problem here is that everyone runs back to the DVOA as an argument, when I said it's a flawed system to begin with.

People have argues that teams get lucky every year, but to have back to back winning seasons, much more than luck is involved.

The Falcons reached the NFCCG game last year. They have a 6-2 record this year. People have brought up Chicago of a few years past as an example, and this is my counter for that argument. It's more than luck. Having watched every single game, I see that the team is not playing up to it's full potential right now. But they still finding ways to win. The DVOA has no way of representing factors such as this.

Each game has it's own specifics that aren't factored into the DVOA's equations. Sheesh.

by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:27pm

"I think there are not just flaws, but major flaws with it. . . . It is, however, an interesting system, and one that I may decide to study in the future, or contribute suggestions to."

Okay, Se7en, here's where you lose me (and most people here, I'd bet). You can't claim that there are flaws in the system and then turn around and say you "may" study it in the future.

Just because you don't agree with the results isn't enough to say it's bad. If you're interested in constructive criticism, then you're in the right place. If, on the other hand, your argument is: "I am always right. This ranking disagrees with my subjective opinion. Therefore, this ranking is worthless," then you should probably save your time and ours and not get involved in a flame war, because you're not going to convince anybody here of anything with that line of "argument."

Anybody have something to say about one of the other 31 teams?

by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:29pm

Oh, one more thing. If the team isn't "playing up to its potential," that means that their on-field performance isn't as good as they might be in a perfect world, right?

So an accurate accounting of their on-field performance this year would be either:

A) higher than, or
B) lower than

your opinion of their potential? (Hint: it's not A.)

by Jon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:31pm

Oh my god I started reading this post today and it seems as if I have regressed into kindergarten. It took me the better part of the evening to read the flames and realize that certain people on the board were refusing to listen to anything written by anyone else. We cant have a nice intelligent discussion about football, which its plain to see we all love unless we can begin to get along and not be so nasty.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:33pm

By the way, putnamp: You forgot to mention that Vick is so powerful, that even when he turns over the ball to the defense, he changes the way the whole game is played by taking out the opposing offense with his laserbeam eyes. So clearly, his turnovers don't matter.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:34pm


I was stunned to see the Seahawks at #3. And a little worried :) I prefer the slightly-more-under-the-radar #5 they have here.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:37pm

#420. I haven't done a detailed study of DVOA, but I can look at the results and tell you there are flaws. GIGO. I see that there is "Garbage Out," which means there must be "Garbage In."

It's my opinion that it is majorly flawed. I see soem teams that are ranked too high and others ranked too low, not just Atlanta. My opinion on this is mainly because Aaron uses this as his basis for Power Rankings. There are not enough factors nor game specific elements included in the DVOA to create a Power Ranking system upon them.

That is what I'm saying. I'm not trying to change anyone's opinions. But those are my thoughts. Almost everyone who has argued against me has ran back quoting stats from the DVOA rankings, but no one has argued anything GAME SPECIFIC. I can go into plenty of detail of every single game that Atlanta has played and determine whether the win was "impressive" or not using my eyes.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:39pm

#423. Nobody said Vick was Superman. At least I didn't. But his stats do not reflect his impact on the game. Of course you have to watch Falcon games to know that.

by Jon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:42pm

#425. There in lies the reason why the system is accurate. Your eyes are not numbers, they are subjective. Numbers can never be subjective. This is not anything that can be manipulated or swayed, numbers are numbers, they are absolute.

If your eyes say the win was impressive and the numbers disagree, you will think the win is impressive and others will disagree. But if a team wins impressively by numbers, ie Wash vs. SF no one in the world can say that the game was anything but impressive.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:42pm

There are not enough factors nor game specific elements included in the DVOA to create a Power Ranking system upon them.

I'm guessing you don't realize that every single play - every single one goes into creating a DVOA rating.

There... aren't really any other game specific elements available.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:44pm

Problem here is that everyone runs back to the DVOA as an argument, when I said it’s a flawed system to begin with.

That's a pretty good point. I orginally brought up DVOA because I was trying to show that Atlanta's 6-2 record wasn't necessarily inconcistent with them being ranked so "low" at 17. If you were to assume for a second that DVOA was generally pretty accurate, you would still end up with the Falcons at 6-2 because of their bad schedule. In other words, their record alone says absolutely nothing bad about DVOA.

Now, it doesn't quite work so well for last year, and my guess is that a little of that is because the Falcons got so utterly detroyed by KC and TB. Those games probably skewed their numbers a bit. Of course, teams that get blown out like that don't seem like great teams to me, and they lost in the playoffs against the first good team they faced.

Also, you keep bringing up them making it to the NFCCG as a point in their favor, which it is. But it's not nearly as strong as it seems when you first hear it. When the Championship Game is brought up, it makes one think they did well in the playoffs to get to it. But basically all it says about last year's Atlanta team is that they had a good enough record to get a bye and a home playoff game against St. Louis. It's not like they beat any good teams once they were in the playoffs. So it says a lot about their regular season, but it implies something good about a postseason that wasn't impressive in the least.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:45pm

If a team goes to the NFCCG one year, and is leading their conference in wins half way through the next season, I’d say that’s impressive.

In 1992, the Miami Dolphins went to the AFCCG. The next year they started off 9-2, tied for the conference lead in wins at that point. They proceeded to miss the playoffs that year. That was impressive.

(I am a Dolphins fan, yet not convinced that Miami is better than Atlanta this year. I subscribe to the theory that the win over Denver is still really helping Miami's rating.)

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:50pm

Of course you have to watch Falcon games to know that.

Wow! It's a good thing I have a television, then.

But his stats do not reflect his impact on the game.

I'm going to guess that his turnover stats do reflect his impact on the game. Unless he runs so fast he can go back in time and fix handing over the ball to the other team.

Whatever else Vick does on the field, he turns the ball over too much. So does Brett Favre, just to put things in perspective.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:55pm

I would also like to point out that Atlanta played St. Louis to get into the NFC Championship Game.

Not saying Atlanta wouldn't've gotten there had they played anyone else, but St. Louis was an absolutely horrendous team last year. The only reason they made it into the playoffs was because I think they spent their entire year studying how to beat the other teams in the NFC West.

Seriously. St. Louis was awful. They could've replaced their entire secondary with waiver wire players and they probably would've tackled better.

Talking about something a team got to due to beating St. Louis is not what I consider a positive.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:01pm

Almost everyone who has argued against me has ran back quoting stats from the DVOA rankings, but no one has argued anything GAME SPECIFIC. I can go into plenty of detail of every single game that Atlanta has played and determine whether the win was “impressive� or not using my eyes.

They only game I have seen in its entirety is the Falcons-Eagles, and I wasn't too impressed there. Yeah, the Eagles only got 10 points, but my eyes determined that it wasn't impressive defense by the Falcons - it was crappy execution by the Eagles. And on offense, Atlanta was not very impressive either, considering one of the Eagles' more important defensive players was ejected just before the start, and they had no time to game plan for his absence.

As for the other games:
Seattle - didn't see that, haven't seen Seattle play. I'm guessing it wasn't impressive since they lost.
Buffalo - ditto, except they won. I'll hopefully see Buffalo play next week, though, and then I'll at least know if beating them 24-16 is any kind of accomplishment.
Minnesota - this team has looked putrid most of the season. Congratulations on not taking a dump against them.
New England - just saw a little of this. Schaub looked good. The Atlanta defense was a little disappointing.
New Orleans - Another crappy team, from what I've seen. I just looked at the box score. Outgained by 200 yards? Out-TOP-ed by 7 minutes? Allowed 6.6 yds/rush? I didn't see this game, but I can't figure out how Atlanta won. Looks like it was A) good punting B) a fumble and C) a missed FG by NO.
NY Jets - The Jets have been scrappy this year, although was this the first game after losing Pennington? If it is, then this win counts for nothing. If it's not, then this is a decent win. Nothing special, but at least they put them away, something the Chargers couldn't do last week.
Miami- Miami's an inconcsistent team, which means sometimes they play better than you would expect, and this was on the road. But still, 17-10 is nothing to write home about. Looks like a pretty sloppy game.

OK, so I went through each game, and I don't see much to get excited about here. It's a bunch of ho hum wins against bad teams, for the most part. The Eagles game was a good showing, and holding close to Seattle counts for something.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:02pm

oops Fixed?

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:03pm

Oh, nothing to fix.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:38pm

NY Jets - The Jets have been scrappy this year, although was this the first game after losing Pennington? If it is, then this win counts for nothing. If it’s not, then this is a decent win.
Jets lost Pennington in Week 3. After that, they lost to the Jags, Baltimore, beat Tampa Bay and lost to Buffalo before losing to the Falcons. I don't know what this means, but it indicates that beating the Jets shouldn't be a big challenge. Of course by beating the Jets, Atlanta helped themselves in potential tiebreakers against Tampa Bay.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:40pm

Hmmm Apparantly I need to go back to webdesign class and learn how to use italics again. Sorry about the wierd formatting.

by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:48pm

1. The Falcons are 6-2.

2. DVOA says they should be 6-2.

3. It will improve if they beat someone good.

4. The Falcons are the equivalent of a a high school student with a 3.5 GPA at a crappy school that hasn't taken the SAT yet. Since they are untested the DVOA is not sure where to rank them amongst their other more well tested students.

As Rosenhaus would say....Next Question!!!!

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:04pm

Baltimore at #19 surprises me. But I guess once you get past the true bottom echelon teams (SF and HOU), the next 10 or so mid-crappy teams can be put in about any order.

City of Tampa at #20 is a little surprising too. But as they seem to be tanking lately, it may be right.

Just thought I'd throw out some names besides Atlanta.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:10pm


Week 2. Winning teams on Monday Night that have to travel the following week hardly ever win a game. If you don't believe go do some research. Falcons are sluggish in the 1st half, but dominate the 2nd half, but couldn't quite complete the comeback.

Week 3. The Falcons play with 3 CBs. One hurts his shoulder at the end of the first quarter. The other 2? Just signed and on the team less than a week. The win against Buffalo, in Buffalo, becomes impressive.

Against New Orleans: The Falcons reshuffle the entire LB unit. Vick plays a horrible game on a bum knee.

Other Team Specifics... Atlanta is starting 4 rookies most games. Think they'll get better as the season progresses? I do. They already are showing signs.

These are what I mean by game specifics. The Falcons have not been dominant by any means and they have ugly wins. But the potential to be dominant is right there.

As far as Pittsburgh is concerned, they are much more worthy of a higher ranking. Big Ben gets hurt and they lose in OT when their QB had an absolute horrible team. They weren't playing a bad team at that either. They beat GB at Lambeau with Charlie Batch for God's sake. And GB has not been getting blown out.

These are what I'm talking about with Game Specifics.

#438. Why in hell is Chicago higher in the Power Rankings? DVOA should not be used as the basis of Power Rankings!

That's just my opinion. You guys are fine to disagree with me all day.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:25pm

Why in hell is Chicago higher in the Power Rankings?
Chicago has onee of best defensse in the league, is really good on special teams and has an offense that's almost decent. 12th place doesn't seem like a stretch to me. Maybe they should be a little lower, but they have a better chance of winning thier division than the Falcons do.

by Jon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:44pm

Se7en your post is all based upon your opinion and not statistic. Secondly the potential to be dominant is in any and every team in the NFL. There is no team in the NFL to be counted out ever or that could not make a few changes and be dominant.

Secondly, rookie's dont have any prior actions to go on before now, no reputation, so rookies would lower the dvoa also I would believe. I began reading these boards extremely skeptic as well but now I really believe in what DVOA is doing. By the end of the season falcons fans will have a much better picture of the talent and abilities of their team.

by ian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:49pm

re: #433 DavidH - the Falcons almost won the game against a Seahawks team that wasn't sure if they were the 2004 vintage or not ( see post 234 for specific details).

re #440 Se7en - take a look at that post as well ( #234 ) because dominant in the second half isn't what the box score says, and isn't really what I remember from watching the game. (Granted it was week 2)

That the homer portion of the post.

The semi-objective portion of the post:

re #440 Se7en - It sounds like the argument you are making is that DVOA, because it tries to be a tangible measure, doesn't measure the intangibles - travel schedule, rookies learning the game, those same rookies 'hitting the wall' after week 10, injuries & playing through the pain, etc - and that is, in your opinion unacceptable to be used as part of a power ranking.

Is that right?

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:55pm

Jon: You need to go back to counting class. Anyways, DVOA isn't based at all on reputation or past performance (that is, what happened in previous years). The Power rankings are based at least partly on what happened last year, but with each week the influence of the previous year is diminished. I think by now the rankings are based only on what happened this year, as it should be.

by dave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:57pm

So, Se7en, if DVOA should not be used as the basis of power rankings, why don't you come up with a methodology for power rankings. You can put it up on a web site along with a message board, and we can all go there and discuss how accurate or inaccurate your rankings are.

by admin :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:02am

Hello everyone. In an effort to balance our desire to welcome new readers with our desire to keep the discussions as intelligent and friendly as they were in the past, we've created a second "Atlanta-Free" thread this week. Please click the link below on "The Outsiders" if you wish to discuss the other 31 teams.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:10am

#443. Thank you... that is a lot of what I am saying. Football is a sport where intangibles play a huge factor.

As far as Chicago is concerned, if Atlanta's SOS is a joke, Chicago's is even moreso. And they have a worse record. That's another reason I think DVOA is a poor basis for a POWER RANKING. Not only that, but teams that have been there before, like Atlanta and Pittsburgh last year, are more proven commodities. I'd even say Carolina is more proven, being that they are 2 years removed from a Super Bowl, but were just horribly injury riddled last season. And those guys finished strong.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:11am

My 0.02 --

It seems like the main disconnect here is that Se7en and others seem to want DVOA to do something it's not really designed to do. It breaks down what has happened. That's all. It doesn't judge the talent level of a rookie who played badly today, but who you just know is going to kick ass at some point. It doesn't forgive Vick for playing a bad game because he had a hurt knee. It doesn't consider "potential to be dominant." But personally, I consider it much more interesting than the standard rankings which just consolidate the standings into one big list. I can do that on my own.

As far as forecasting the future, it can be very useful, IF circumstances don't radically change. The classic example is Pittsburgh getting dinged for the game where Maddox stunk it up. He's not playing now, but that doesn't mean the game never took place. It did, it counts in the standings, and it counts in DVOA. But since he's not playing anymore, you can factor that into your evaluation of their rating.

As the disclaimer says, "any statistical formula is not a replacement for your own judgment, just a tool to use in analyzing performance." If I were Aaron, I'd put that sentence in 96 point bold type in next week's edition. Perhaps put it in a popup window with an "I accept this agreement" button to check before reading the article.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:16am

#446. Perhaps your time would have been better spent trying to fix the flaw in your system. The center of my argument was Atlanta, because I am a fan, but was not specific to just Atlanta.

Or perhaps YOU should actually explain how a team that is 18-9 in it's last 27 games ranks in the bottom half of your rankings, without the sarcastic remarks? But Alas, it's so much easier to take a shot and create another page.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:20am

#448. I understand that. But it has no business being used as a Power Ranking and being explained as one with only a plethora of uninformed, unimaginative comments by the resident so-called "expert."

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:26am

Ha ha... Another burning car wreck thread... I actually read all 400+ posts. You know, Seven and Dirk, just a suggestion, I'd guess that your comments about DVOA would be better received if you'd simply add some non-Atlanta examples to your arguments. It's not that you don't both have points. It's that they're buried in slams and homer-sounding repetition of things that may be true but are not relevent to what DVOA was created to accomplish.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:31am

On Atlanta QB win-loss record, DVOA, etc.

Several different numbers are being tossed about here.

Ron Mexico:
2002 - 8-5-1, 1-1 playoffs
2003 - 3-1
2004 - 11-3, 1-1 playoffs
2005 - 5-1
Total - 27-10-1, 2-2
2002 Avg. 25.75 pts. per game
2003 Avg. 19.5 pts. per game
2004 Avg. 22.38 pts. per game
2005 Avg. 22.33 pts. per game

The Immortal Doug Johnson:
2002 - 1-1
2003 - 1-7
Total - 2-8
2002 Avg. 11.5 pts. per game
2003 Avg. 17.63 pts. per game

The Even More Immortal Kurt Kittner:
2003 - 1-3
2003 Avg. 20.0 pts. per game

Matt Schaub:
2004 - 0-2
2005 - 1-1
Total - 1-3
2004 Avg. 19.5 pts. per game
2005 Avg. 29.5 pts. per game

Vick is 17-5 from 2004 on.

It appears that Atlanta as a whole sucked in 2003, not just Atlanta without Vick. Vick lead games involved 6 fewer points per game scored by Atlanta than 2002, and 3 fewer than 2004-5. In games where Vick takes most of the snaps since 2003, Atlanta averages 22.3 points. In games with Schaub, the average is 24.25 points.

So Vick is objectively worth 2 points less than Schaub just by looking at how the team performs in actual games.

Vick has clearly regressed from 2002, since in games since then, the team averages about 22 points scoring, vs. 26 points in 2002.

The Falcons have had seven 250+ yard games in 60 games since 2002. Vick 4 of them in 42 games (3 in 2002), Schaub has 1 in 4 games, Johnson has 2 in 10 games, including the only 300+ yard game.

There have been 59 touchdown passes by Atlanta since 2002. Vick has 43 of them in 42 games, the back-ups have 16 in 18 games. No difference!

There have been 57 interceptions by Atlanta. 32 by Vick, 25 by the back-ups. There have been 61 fumbles with 27 lost. 41 fumbles by Vick with 20 lost. The back-ups have 7 fumbles, all lost. So 84 turnovers total, 52 by Vick in 42 games, 32 by the backups in 18 games. However Vick has the good fortune of 21 additional fumbles being recovered, while the back-ups got zip. Ignoring the recoveries, Vick has 1.74 turnover opportunities per game, the back-ups 1.78 per game.

So here is one factor in winning with Vick, losing with the replacements - half of Ron Mexico's fumbles are recovered by Atlanta, while 0, ZERO, of the fumbles by the replacements are. Since DVOA does not consider fumble recovery, only fumble production, Vick-Falcons get penalized.

Interestingly, Dunn and Duckett lose most of their fumbles. Dunn lost 14 of 22, Duckett 4 of 5.

Now to defense.

Defense with Vick and without. Points against:

2002 - 19.44 with, 15 without
2003 - 23.5 with, 27.33 without
2004 - 20.44 with, 27 without
2005 - 17 with, 20.5 without

So for some reason, the defense gives up around 4 more points per game when Vick is off the field on offense. Is this possibly related to Vick's running yards giving Atlanta a bit better field position? It isn't related to passing yards. Vick has 70% of the games and 70% of the passing yards of Atlanta since 2002.

Now to rushing TDs. Vick has 15, the replacements 2. Dunn has 17 with Vick, 5 with the replacements. Duckett has 18 with Vick, 9 with the replacements. So there are 50 rushing TDs in 42 Vick games and 16 rushing TDs in 18 Vickless games. The running backs lose production slightly without Vick.

Overall, raw numbers confirm DPAR that Vick as a passer is no better than a scrub off the bench. OTOH, Vick as a running/scrambling QB brings the oddity of an enormous number of recovered fumbles - far more than would be expected, and of course Vick's additional yards and scores with his legs.

I suspect that Atlanta's "funny" rating in DVOA comes from the recovery of these Vick fumbles by Atlanta and their inordinate recovery of opponents fumbles.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:31am

it has no business being used as a Power Ranking

Why? It's not like we're in a BCS situation. At the end of the day, Power Rankings mean nothing. The opinions of writers, fans and even coaches and players don't really matter. It gets settled on the field eventually. A low DVOA ranking is not suddenly going to deny the Falcons a trip to the playoffs. Power rankings aren't a holy grail.

Try the link I've included. These power rankings might be closer to what you're looking for. As an added bonus, they rate Atlanta #1 in the NFC. They also seem to think pretty highly of the NFC South in general.

by Vince (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:55am

Interestingly, Dunn and Duckett lose most of their fumbles. Dunn lost 14 of 22, Duckett 4 of 5.

That's interesting. I wonder if that has something to do with zone blocking -- maybe zone linemen are at the LOS, not downfield with Dunn and Duckett?

Something else just occurred to me about Vick's fumbles. Usually, when a RB fumbles, there are 9 other players in position to recover it: His teammates, minus the QB, who usually hands the ball off and clears out of the way. But when Vick runs and fumbles (including short sacks, where he tries to run and gets caught), he's got all teammates as either blockers or receivers, and they're all potentially available to recover a fumble. Maybe having a running QB really is like having an extra player on the field.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:57am

Re #453: Any ranking system that ranks New England as highly as 8th place is obviously flawed. I'm just glad that this isn't college football where playoff seedings are based on something so arbitrary.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:59am

Re 454: You stole my idea. I think we should rate Vick as a running back first and a QB second, as opposed to the other way around.

by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 1:07am

Se7en...maybe he created the new thread because he's tired of you repeating the exact same point 50 times in this one? And everyone else repeating the exact same counterpoint 50 more times?

by ian (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 1:36am

Someone suggested an aggregate ranking of teams so I did one.

I took six rankings - the ESPN, the Fox, Dr. Z's, the Aikman (an aggregate of offensive & defensive scores), the DVOA, and the Beatpath - and simply averaged the ranking per team and then averaged it. Pretty basic.

here are the results:

6 SD
10 ATL
11 PIT
12 NE
13 WAS
14 KC
15 CHI
16 PHI
17 OAK
18 BUF
19 TB
20 STL
21 BAL
22 MIA
23 CLE
24 DET
25 NO
26 MIN
27 TEN
28 ARI
29 NYJ
30 GB
31 SF
32 HOU

Then I realized that I was counting the DVOA twice, since it is represented in the FOX, so I took out the pure DVOA ranks:

9 SD
10 JAC
11 PIT
12 CHI
13 NE
14 KC
15 WAS
16 PHI
17 TB
18 BUF
19 OAK
20 STL
21 MIA
22 BAL
23 DET
24 CLE
25 NO
26 TEN
27 ARI
28 MIN
29 NYJ
30 GB
31 SF
32 HOU

by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 1:47am

Its very hard to win in the playoffs if you cannot stop the run. Since 1999 there have been 42 teams that gave up 4.5 yards per carry or more.
18 made the playoffs
their aggregate record was 9-18
3 made it to the conference championship and lost.
On the other hand, there have been 91 teams since 1999 that gave up 4 y/run or less.
34 made the playoffs.
Aggregate record was 41-29
15 made the conference championship
9 made the super bowl
5 won it all.
Doesn't it seem intuitive that if a team has a hard time stopping the run they will probably not do so well against other good teams?
Right now Atlanta is giving up 4.6 yards per carry. That sucks. Yeah they are 6-2 but with 0 wins against a team with a winning record. Personally i think dvoa is giving them way too much credit.

by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:15am

re 449,
thats too easy.
In their last 24 regular season games they are 2-2 against teams with winning records. Their schedule is a joke.

by dd (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:42am

Is anyone still here?? My eyes are bleeding from reading all those posts. I don't visit this site for a couple days and look at the mess!

Anyway, I'm not trying to help pile on or gang up on a couple of people without whom this thread would be a lot shorter, but I did want to comment. You guys have repeatedly mentioned that DVOA is flawed and should not be used, but I have yet to see you provide ANY evidence of what the flaws are, or any suggestions of how to make the rankings better. The best you can offer is "The Falcons should be ranked higher". That is an opinion, and if you go look at most of the rankings that are based on the writers opinion, you will find the Falcons ranked higher.

I myself am a Carolina fan. I first started visiting this site in 2003, and I was frustrated when Carolina didn't seem to be getting enough "respect" for its record. I had to take a look at the facts though, and realize that Carolina was a damn lucky team in 2003. Luckily for ME, as a fan, they actually started playing very well late in the year, and were given proper "respect" in the playoffs.

I have no problem with how Carolina is ranked here, even though most other power rankings have them higher. The fact is they have wins against bad teams and the fact that they have five in a row means nothing. I'm confident as the season moves on they will move up in the rankings, especially if they can get the Atlanta monkey off their backs. The beauty is all I have to do is wait and find out, the games will be decided on the field.

by Kachunk (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 4:54am

Dirk--were you on the field for the Falcons last Sunday? If not, I'd request you stop using the royal "we." I understand that you have so much of your ego invested in this team that you have to post every five minutes to argue that the rankings are wrong, but the fact of the matter is, that you're not a part of the team, and nothing you say or do has an effect on their W/L.

The proper pronoun is "they." Try using it. [/pet peeve rant]

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:33pm

Ah, someone else agrees with me regarding "we".

Se7en, you say that FO needs to actually watch games (funny, that's the argument that anti-sabermaticians use). You act as if it's an either/or proposition when it isn't (those of us who understand logic call this a false dichotomy). If you understood the system that you criticize, then you'd know that it is based on analyzing EVERY PLAY OF EVERY GAME. Thus, every play is "watched". Additionally, FO utilizes game charters, who watch the games.

Basically, the metrics on this site are for analytical purposes. There are football people (at least one assistant coach for an NFL team, IIRC) who believe that DVOA is valid. Last time I checked, they, like the rest of us, watch the games.

With regards to your precious Falcons, I've been forced to watch them for the last two seasons. I'll be in the GA Dome on Dec 12. From what I've seen, the Falcons are an average team that gets a lot of hype because of Vick. The passing game leaves a lot to be desired, and the running game can be stopped. The defense is very shaky, to say the least. Blank, however, is probably the best owner in the NFL right now, and I think that he, McKay, and Mora all understand that they are a couple of seasons away.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 1:16pm

I stopped reading somewhere around post 330, so please forgive me if this point has already been made.

Mike Vick has a great record as a starting QB because he almost always plays against weak competition through an easy schedule. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but Atlanta has NEVER had back to back winning seasons, right?

Traditionally, when a team has a down season, they usually get an easier schedule the following year, whereas the division winners get games against other division winners the following season making for a much harder "expected" schedule.

Well, coming off of a losing record in 2001, Vick was playing an easy schedule in 2002 when he led the dirty birds to the playoffs through the wild card.

The next year, 2003, the Falcons should have had a somewhat harder schedule, something to really test Vick to see what he was made of. However, he got hurt in the preseason, and only played in the last 4 games. His Falcons finished with a horrible record and were rewarded with a cake schedule for 2004.

In '04, the Falcons walked all over that cake schedule, and triumphed in an injury riddled division, and cruised into the playoffs as the #2 seed in the NFC, having never really played many hard opponents. They enjoyed their bye week, and beat up on an 8-8 team at home in round 2 of the playoffs, only to have their collective asses handed to them in the Conference Title game, as expected.

Zoom ahead to 2005. As Division winner in '04, Atlanta was given games against other divison winners, Seattle, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and New England. Before this season started, that looked like a daunting set of 4 games. After 9 weeks, I think we can all agree that only Seattle should pose any real threat of a challenging contest. When you factor in the remaining 6 games against the balance of the pitiful NFC North, and QB-deficient AFC East, I think you can see that Atlanta's schedule is MUCH easier than it was supposed to be.

This is a team that can afford to play sloppy and still win 11 or 12 games. That may make them look like juggernauts in October, but it will embarass them in January.

I honestly hope Atlanta wins the division again this year, and draws games against the Colts, Steelers, Seahawks, and Broncos next year - just so Mike Vick can finally experience a challenging regular season schedule.

by Skeeter Harrison (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:08pm

Well, Ryan. I think it's ridiculous that you neatly dismiss the Eagles and Patriots as if they are second-rate organizations. There's plenty of football left, and you just might be dead wrong. To add to the ridiculous is your ludicrous comment that "Mike Vick has a great record as a starting QB because he almost always plays against weak competition through an easy schedule." What kind of narrow-minded, simplistic conclusion is that? What's with the Falcons-bashing? Are you a Dolphins fan?

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:12pm


Vick does play against weaker schedules every other year. You do realize that the Falcons are the only team never to have consecutive winning seasons, right? That trend has continued during Vick's career, though I think that it will end this year. However, if you look at it objectively (I know, virtually impossible for a Falcons fan), don't expect a lot of playoff success, esp. with this current defense and passing offense.

by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:13pm

This thread is probably (hopefully) dead, but...

Ryan, you're overemphasizing strength of schedule. Since the NFL went to the 8 division format, only 2 games are strength-of-schedule based. The other 14 come from the following breakdown:

6 vs the other 3 teams in your division
4 vs one division in the other conference
4 vs one division in the same conference


2 strength of schedule.

So everyone will have to play two division winners based on playing entire other conferences. If you won your division (I believe) your SoS games are against other div winners; if you were 2nd your SoS games are against other 2nd place division teams, etc.

However given the nfl turnaround rate, playing other "div winners" may not be hard (see Green Bay) and playing other "3rd-4th division" teams may be hard (KC, Washington,Cincy,Carolina).

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:17pm


Winning teams on Monday Night that have to travel the following week hardly ever win a game. If you don’t believe go do some research.

It appears you're just making stuff up in the hopes we won't check to see if you're right.

Excluding Atlanta's game against Seattle since that would be a circular argument, here are the teams who have won on MNF, then played on the road the next week. Each line shows the week of the MNF game, the team that won, what their result was the next week (W/L), and who they played the next week. I compiled this by hand, so there may be a few mistakes, but you'll see that the numbers in the end are drastic enough that being off by a few games makes no difference.

2 nyg L @sd
3 den W @jac
4 car W @ari
6 ind W @hou
8 pit W @GB

2 phi W @det
6 stl L @mia
7 cin L @ten
8 nyj L @buf
12 gb L @phi

3 den W @det
4 gb W @sea
5 ind L @car
6 stl W @gb
7 kc W @buf
8 mia L @ind
10 phi W @nyg
14 stl W @sea
15 phi L @sf
16 gb W @den

1 ne W @nyj
3 tb W @cin
4 bal W @cle
5 gb W @ne
6 sf L @no
7 pit W @bal
8 phi W @chi
11 stl L @was
13 oak W @sd
15 ten W @jac

1 den W @ari
2 gb W @car
8 oak L @sea
11 tb W @cin
13 mia L @sf
14 stl W @car

record of "Winning teams on Monday Night that have to travel the following week" since 2001: 24-12 (.667)
record of all other road teams since 2001: 452-655-1 (.408)

So the teams you claim do badly have actually done WAY, WAY better than average over the last 4 1/2 years.

Go Falcons.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:23pm

#468 Maybe it was travel across the country, but I wasn't making anything up. I either read it or heard it on TV.

by Skeeter Harrison (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:33pm

Regarding James, Comment Number 438. Yours is an excellent analogy, summing up the faulty ranking in a succinct way. As the season progresses, and if Atlanta beats a couple of higher ranked teams, the DVOA will reflect that. Personally, I am looking forward to the Atlanta-Carolina series. Those two games should settle a lot of questions.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:56pm

Maybe it was travel across the country, but I wasn’t making anything up. I either read it or heard it on TV.

Well, maybe you shouldn't be condescendingly throwing stuff around as fact if you're not sure what the actual fact was or where you heard it. I mean, look at what you wrote:

Winning teams on Monday Night that have to travel the following week hardly ever win a game. If you don’t believe go do some research.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 4:13pm

I really don't care about the Falcons one way or the other. But it seems to me that given their consistent success when Vick plays, it is certainly possible that he is bringing something to the team that isn't being measured by DVOA.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 4:22pm

RE:#472 Dennis

Aaron has acknowledged as much and in fact asked for ideas and suggestions on what that 'something' might be and how to measure it.

But just because Atlanta seems to be off from it's actual abilities doesn't mean that the whole of DVOA is worthless and should be scrapped (as our friend Se7en_Dust has suggested).

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 4:35pm


Wait, you mean like that consistent 27-0 blowout versus Tampa Bay last year?

Or the 56-10 blowout versus Kansas City?

Or the 6-3 win over Arizona?

There are absolutely games that Atlanta only wins because of Vick, but there are a non-significant number of games that they lose because of him, too. And games that they win in spite of him. Like the Arizona game (and yes, I know that Vick's run basically won the Arizona game for them, but had the defense not played a perfect game - and Arizona not been incompetent on offense - they would've lost).

I'm not trying to say that Vick's awful. Just that people seem to have very selective memory about him. Sort of like Deuce McAllister.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:15pm

OK, here are the facts.
Michael Vick has started 43 career regular season games.

14 times, he's faced a team that finished their season OVER .500, or in 2005, is currently over .500 through week 9.
-In those 14 games, the Falcons are 5-8-1, being outscored 415-341

3 times, he's faced a team that finished the regular season with a .500 record, or in 2005, is currently .500 through week 9.
-In those 3 games, the Falcons are 3-0, outscoring their opponents 72-48.

26 times, he's faced a team that finished the regular season with a record UNDER .500, or in 2005, is currently under .500 through week 9.
-In those 26 games, the Falcons are 21-5, outscoring their opponents 608-446.

If you want to just look at Vick's 29 career wins against his 13 career losses, it stacks up like this:
The 29 teams that lost to Vick have a combined record of 170-246.
The 13 teams that beat Vick have a combined record of 115-85.

Vick is NOT that great. He gains a lot of credibility by consistently beating lesser opponents, and rarely beating the better teams in the league. This will bite Atlanta in January.


by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:18pm

#471. a.) Go do the research on the "across country travel" and get back to me. b.) My mistake. No one's being condescending. Don't take it so personal.

#473. a.) Why doesn't Aaron acknowledge this in his Power Rankings instead of taking sarcastic shots at Atlanta to attempt to verify the low rating?
b.) Show me exactly where I said any of that before you accuse me of it.

#474. I personally don't have selective memory of Vick. I know he's had some horrible games. What's different with this Atlanta team (2004-2005) and the 2002 version: Atlanta was 9-6-1 and never won a game that included a bad game from Vick. Atlanta has won several games in which Vick has had some putrid games. It speaks volumes about the progress the entire team has made. Atlanta used to get blown out, a lot of the time, when Vick didn't start.

Regardless of schedule, you don't win 11 games (especially with a new system on both sides of the ball) unless you are doing a lot right. If you are not a good team, you will not win 11 games in a season. That was my parity argument.

by Nolan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:38pm

Offtopic, but have you guys considered using Slashcode (the code that runs slashdot.org) for FO? What with lots of FOX readers coming here, a comment moderation system might be in order so that we can increase the signal/noise ratio....

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:44pm

Re 477

I hope you're not implying that any of the posts in this thread haven't been constructive.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:45pm

God save me for getting into this, but...

Re: #467
If you are not a good team, you will not win 11 games in a season.

Sorry to disappoint you, but a team that has a 50/50 chance of winning each game will have an 11-5 season 10.5% of the time. Which while not huge is a looooong way from "you will not".

(And for the record, such a team would have a 22.7% chance of a 10-6 season).

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:45pm

Se7en_Dust (#476)

#471. a.) Go do the research on the “across country travel� and get back to me. b.) My mistake. No one’s being condescending. Don’t take it so personal.
No, you do the research. You made the assertion, DavidH proved you wrong. Your turn.

#473. a.) Why doesn’t Aaron acknowledge this in his Power Rankings instead of taking sarcastic shots at Atlanta to attempt to verify the low rating?
b.) Show me exactly where I said any of that before you accuse me of it.
Aaron does explicitly state in the Power Rankings every week that they are a statistical tool intended to supplement, not replace judgement. You want him to specifically say "I think I'm wrong about Atlanta" just because you disagree with him? And as to the sarcastic shots, that's something you see in lots of different Power Rankings. People trying to come up with short blurbs about 32 different teams are sometimes going to resort to sarcasm.

Regardless of schedule, you don’t win 11 games (especially with a new system on both sides of the ball) unless you are doing a lot right. If you are not a good team, you will not win 11 games in a season. That was my parity argument.
I would say that it is possible for a mediocre team to win 11 games, by virtue of a weak schedule and/or lucky bounces (I'm not saying this is how the Falcons are doing it, only that it's possible). Heck, a barely above-average Chicago team in 2001 won 13 games, then got destroyed when they ran into the Eagles (who were weaker then than in subsequent years) in the playoffs. Unless of course you define a "good" team as one that wins at least 11 games, in which case this is a circular argument.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:45pm


That "Re:" should have been Re: 476, not 467.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:52pm

Jay B:

Absolutely. And getting into the playoffs - even to the NFC Championship Game - isn't a guarantee of success, either. Switch Minnesota and St. Louis last year, and I'm not sure Atlanta makes it to the championship game.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:03pm

A few more examples...

A team with a 51% chance to win each game will have an 11-5 season 12.0% of the time, with a 53% chance to win each game will have an 11-5 season 15.6% of the time, and a team with a 55% chance to win each game will have an 11-5 season 19.7% of the time.

And note that a team with a 55% chance to win each game will have a most-likely record of 9-7 (well, 8.8-7.2, to be precise), which qualifies as mediocre in my book.

So just on pure chance, a mediocre team can indeed go 11-5, and would do so almost 20% of the time.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:07pm

#480. a.) I don't have to do the research, because I know it's true. b.)NO, he doesn't have to state that he disagrees, but any comment that would suggest why there is such a big discrepancy would be much better if he wanted to any sort of validation. c.) (Includes #479.) I can understand that for a team that has been down, that there is a slight chance for a winning record for a mediocre team. However, the circumstances surrounding the Falcons suggest that there is more than just luck and "happenstance" involved. The team had a winning record in 2002 (9-6-1). The following year, the starting QB was out for 12 games. Many teams would not recover from this, and it was obviously blatent that Atlanta was not a good enough team with the backup QB, finishing 5-11. However, in the 4 games in which he returned, including a coaching change, the team was 3-1. That team also beat the Carolina Panther team that went to the Super Bowl that season. The following season, Atlanta accumulated an 11-5 record, lsoing the last 2 games in which Vick only played 1 half. (Left healthy and leading in the Seattle game.) This season they are currently 6-2. History suggests that, with the normal starting QB, this is not a fluke team that is just getting some lucky bounces this season.

It was not my intention to argue only Atlanta. I do believe Pittsburgh and Carolina are ranked too low. I beleive Chicago is ranked too high with a worse record than Atlanta and Carolina. Has Chicago has not beaten anyone with a winning record have they? If they have I am mistaken. Oakland's ranking seems too high as well. It is my opinion that just because you've played good teams and lost, doesn;t mean you would have beaten the mediocre teams had you played them, and this system may be giving too much credit for playing a winning team close or not annihilating a mediocre team.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:08pm

#483. How would a team have a 55% chance of winning any game? Isn't it always 50/50?

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:19pm

How would a team have a 55% chance of winning any game? Isn’t it always 50/50?

I hope you meant that as a joke. If you actually believe that every single game is a coin-flip, then you've been prolonging this argument for no reason. If no team is any better than another, why have rankings at all?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:23pm

No, it wouldn't always be 50/50.

An event with two outcomes is only 50/50 if the outcomes are equally-likely. There's nothing magical about there being two possible outcomes that makes the outcomes equally likely.

For example, pretend I have a plain old 6-sided die. There are two outcomes -- if a 6 is rolled, you get season tickets on the 50 yard line. If anything else is rolled, you get your eyes picked out by peregrine falcons. Those outcomes are not equally likely and so are not 50/50
(they are, in fact, 16.6/83.4).

The "if there are N possible outcomes to some event, each outcome has a 1/N probability" is, sadly, an all-too-common misconception.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:30pm

If anything else is rolled, you get your eyes picked out by peregrine falcons.

Whew, that's a relief. For second there I thought you were going to say saker falcons.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:34pm

I don’t have to do the research, because I know it’s true.

Teams that have Michael Vick at quarterback only win games because of luck and a weak schedule.

I don't have to do the research on this, because I know it's true.

I agree that registration would be nice.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:37pm

#480. a.) I don’t have to do the research, because I know it’s true.

The fact that the actual evidence is listed in the thread above (and shows your statement to be blatantly false) kinda disagrees with you.

No offense, but at this point, why should anyone take anything you say seriously? You've refused to admit that something that you claimed was true, without any proof or evidence to back it up, was wrong - even when someone actually bothered to dig up the proof/evidence that you are wrong.

If you won't admit that you're wrong even when presented with the actual facts, that kinda makes it pointless to discuss anything, doesn't it?

No offense - it just seems you're being a little aggressively stubborn about something that you are in fact wrong about.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:38pm

DavidH: You forgot about his laserbeam vision.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:48pm

Okay, got that. But you must admit, that there is no way that every team has a 55% chance of winning each game, especially if the team is mediocre. If the team was mediocre, I can imagine that the chances of winning each game would be closer to around 50, if not less, am I correct? So to say a mediocre team has a chance of going 11-5 20% of the time would be rather high.

But wouldn't you agree, that under the circumstances regarding Atlanta, that there is more than lucky bounces involved? What would the odds be for that mediocre team to win back to back winning seasons or even 3 out of 4? Either way, under the circumstances, you have to believe that there is a lot more than luck involved.

#490. No I said my bad. I should have said "travel across country." And if you look at the evidence you'll see that is correct, but it goes back even further years. I know it's true because I either read or heard it from an analyst who had done the research, and I don't need to prove it for myself. I'm not making things up. If you don't believe it, spend your time digging it up.

Intangibles play a huge factor in the NFL. Luck, chemistry, injuries, whatever else. The DVOA cannot possibly include such things (maybe they can? I dunno, but I doubt it). That's why IMO, no Power Rankings should be centered around it.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:55pm

None of the Vick-backers have even attempted to reply to post #475. Can any of the Falcon faithful explain this away with a logical arguement?

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:00pm

#493. I've argued this with too many hardheads over the last couple of seasons. It's too easy, man. What is the Falcons record without him?

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:06pm

I think Power Rankings are generally a pointless exercise. However, I'd rather have Power Rankings based on a totally impartial, objective system that doesn't pay the slightest attention to intangibles than one based on the whims, biases and wild-ass guesses of some schmoe who may or may not have ever played football, and who may or may not be qualified to write his own name.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:10pm

RE:#476 a) I guess you'd prefer if he put a big disclaimer everywhere about how DVOA is still a work in progress. Well, he put it in the 'About Our Stats' section of the site that he encourages everyone to read. And I think most of us feel comfortable enough with it that we don't feel he has to disclaimer it everywhere just for folks who disagree with the methodology. I don't see the fact that he didn't put 'We're still adjusting DVOA and are always looking for ways to improve it' in the one place you read as a major failing on his part.

b) Yeah, you never said it explicitly, but you did say:

#262 "This alone makes DVOA more of a comedy than anything."

- So you feel we should keep using DVOA so you can have a laugh?

#297 "Common Sense, folks. It what humans have and computers don’t."

- Yep, and if that's your criteria for a good rating system, then you'll never, ever like DVOA.

#341 "any system that does not factor in some of the human elements of a human game will forever be flawed"

- Not a big vote of confidence here.

#357 "can mathematics even determine greatness on the football field? Personally, I don’t think so."

- Can't be done ever?

#411 "I think there are not just flaws, but major flaws with it."

- Fundamental problems mean fundamental changes, right?

#419 "[DVOA is] a flawed system to begin with."

- There we are with fundamental flaws again.

#425 "I haven’t done a detailed study of DVOA, but I can look at the results and tell you there are flaws. GIGO. I see that there is “Garbage Out,� which means there must be “Garbage In.�

It’s my opinion that it is majorly flawed."

- Well, at least you admit here that you don't really know anything about the system your criticising. It just happens to disagree with your subjective opinions. Why? Apparently it doesn't matter why. It's just wrong because it doesn't measure subjective qualities which are by definition incapable of being measured (+1 DVOA for a good rookie! Unless he's not a good rookie, and then -1).

Maybe if you took the time to read about DVOA it would help you understand why the ratings have come out the way they are and you wouldn't have to rely on the argument "DVOA is worthless because it disagrees with me."

And finally, remember that at the end of every Fox Power Ranking article Aaron says basically that this is meant to help you form your own opinion, and not REPLACE your own opionion.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:16pm

Thanks Ray, you just proved that I didn't say it was worthless and should be scrapped. I said it was flawed, it was a comedy (when used as Power Rankings), that it was an interesting system. You convieniently left that one out though didn't ya?

Look folks, just because I disagree with you, doesn't mean you have to be uncivil and take your potshots. I'm here to debate my side of the argument, you can do the same in a decent manner. If not, you aren't worth my time.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:18pm

#495. By that statement, are you saying that it is your opinion that intangibles are not a huge part of football, and wins and losses?

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:18pm


If the title of the article had said, "DVOA rankings" instead of "Power Rankings," would that satisfy you? That seems to be a recurring beef that you're expressing -- that no Power Rankings should ever use DVOA, and to do otherwise is somehow sacrilege. It's like the time Kramer wanted to put cucumber on a pizza.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:19pm


Simply talking about the Falcons' record without Vick doesn't answer my question.
"Why is Vick so great if he can't beat anyone but the sub-par teams?"
I don't care what the Falcons' record was without him. I'm asking a direct question about why the Falcons don't win games against winning teams WITH Vick. Maybe the fans just don't notice it because it so rarely happens (playing a winning team).

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:34pm

#499. It's my main argument. I didn't say that they couldn't be used, but that DVOA should not be the foundation. But Fox Sports uses them as a Power Ranking.

#500. Football is a team sport. I'm sure it would be convienent for you to not talk about Atlanta's record without Vick, because it would destroy your argument. Only a great player can turn a losing team into a team that wins approxinately 66% of the time.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:34pm

RE:#497 Looks like I'm caught by semantics. Sorry, I should have said, "as Se7en_Dust seems to favor." I've really seen nothing up until now to suggest that you in any way care about what DVOA is trying to accomplish because you believe the fundamental methodology is flawed and unworthy. Your only suggestions for improvment are based around subjectivities that by definition cannot be measured objectively. If you really feel that the only way it can be improved is an impossibility, then why should I assume you will ever feel it has any worth? And if it never has any worth, why stick with it? That's how you're coming across.

by ian (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:34pm

Can I suggest a different focus on the question of intangibles, and maybe lower the ATL fervor?

The Rams are at the Seahawks this week. They lost at home in Mike Martz's last game as an on the field coach, they have Bulger and Holt back from injury, and Joe Vitt is, possibly, a better coach for the STL personnel than Martz at this time.

Seattle has a history of underperforming or failing to meet expectations in games like this - games filled with intangible advantage to the opposition, but where the 'numbers' say 'on paper' they are clearly the better team.

Every Power ranking I can find has Seattle many ranks above St. Louis, and the DVOA has SEA 50.2% better than STL.

Does anyone think this matchup encompasses the same kind of un-accounted for intangibles that the ATL position in the power rankings does, and if so, could it be a less flammable palce to discuss them?

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:38pm

RE:#501 Or a very bad player can turn a team that wins into one that doesn't (remember Doug Johnson?) Unfortuantely, I seem to recall the Doug Johnson point being thrown out because he's not with the team anymore. But at the same time we should consider past wins with Vick because he's that good, right?

And you still haven't answered Ryan's question. Can't dodge it forever. ;^)

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:55pm

Re 501,

I know it's your main argument. What I'm trying to understand is why. I understand that you think DVOA sucks. Fine.

I guess I'm harping on a slightly different point than some of the others are. You've stated your reasons for thinking DVOA is "flawed" and "comical." I disagree, but hey, reasonable people can disagree. What I still don't understand is why you insist that power rankings are somehow above the use of DVOA. Why? Most power rankings are little more than someone's opinion, formed from watching maybe 5 games a week tops, colored by their desire to jock Brett Favre, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning. What's so special about that? It certainly doesn't tell me anything I don't already know.

Personally, I enjoy these ratings because they are devoid of personal biases. They take data and spit out a number. Often, it simply confirms what you already believe. Sometimes, it gives a result you don't expect. It provokes thought instead of the same old crap.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 8:01pm

#502. I'm in no way saying it doesn't have any worth. I guess it depends on what you want to get out of it. It remains my opinion, that it is faulty for anyone to use them as a Power Ranking, a la Fox Sports.

#503. Excellent example. I'd also like to add that some teams simply match up better against others dependant upon how each team is built. Another example would be Indy vs. NE. In previous years, Indy was a powerhouse but always had trouble with NE. This season it appears that Indy has taken another step while obviously the injury problems are hurting the Pats.

#504. As a fan, I'll tell you exactly. Doug Johnson was bad. But Matt Schaub isn't. But there were also a lot of players on the team that just quit. There was little depth and speed as well. McKay has really transformed the team in two years. Vick's intangibles make him great. The team believes it can win any game that he plays in, but this team is also beginning to gain confidence without Vick, which can be attributed to how they play without him now.

The team was 2-10 without Vick in 2003 and 3-1 with him. The 2-10 version was team that got their butts handed to them A LOT. They were a completely different team with #7 behind center. A bad player can bring a good team down, but a good team will not exert such a poor level of play as did Atlanta in 2003.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 8:03pm

No I said my bad. I should have said “travel across country.� And if you look at the evidence you’ll see that is correct, but it goes back even further years. I know it’s true because I either read or heard it from an analyst who had done the research, and I don’t need to prove it for myself. I’m not making things up. If you don’t believe it, spend your time digging it up.

You sound almost as confident right there as you did here:

Winning teams on Monday Night that have to travel the following week hardly ever win a game. If you don’t believe go do some research.

And if you look at my list above, you'll find four games where a team traveled 3 time zones. The teams went 1-3, but none of the 3 losses were upsets according to DVOA ratings. In other words, they performed exactly as you would expect if you didn't know they had just played a MNF game and travelled cross country. So for the last 4 years, the MNF/travel thing seems to be irrelevant.

Small sample size, sure. If you want to show a larger sample, go ahead.

(Why am I still doing this?)

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 8:09pm

I’d also like to add that some teams simply match up better against others dependant upon how each team is built. Another example would be Indy vs. NE. In previous years, Indy was a powerhouse but always had trouble with NE. This season it appears that Indy has taken another step while obviously the injury problems are hurting the Pats.

OK... that's true. But you didn't really say anything about how/why NE matched up well with Indy, you just said "Indy has trouble with NE."

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 8:11pm

#505. I didn't say that Power Rankings are above them, just that they should not be the sole bass of one as Fox Sports uses them. I say that because intangibles play a HUGE factor in the game of football.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 9:04pm

It’s like the time Kramer wanted to put cucumber on a pizza.

Oh my God, that's such a perfect explanation for this thread.

I know it’s true because I either read or heard it from an analyst who had done the research, and I don’t need to prove it for myself.

But why should we trust your memory? Why should we trust this unnamed analyst, who might be Joe Theismann, after all?

Honestly, there are so many things that people think are intangibles and are so important to football. The vast majority of them turn out to be bunk.

"Clutch hitting" in baseball is the best example. People went on talking about it for years. They still do, as if it's something real. It isn't. That's been shown.

If you want us to believe a certain "intangible" exists, prove it. Quantify it. That's why we're here. For instance, I can tell you that there is some evidence that warm-weather/dome teams do not do as well later in the year when playing open-air teams in the north, especially at night.

That's a quantifiable intangible.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 10:09pm

I just want to cleasr something up about Indy/NE in 2003-2004. In those years, Indy wasn't a "powerhouse" who didn't match up well with New England. They were a very good team that was inferior to New England. The losses had nothing to do with Bellicheck or Brady's supposed mastery over Manning or some intangibles. It was due to the fact that from players 1-53, the Pats had more talent on thier roster.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 10:11pm

Se7en_Dust (#497):

#495. By that statement, are you saying that it is your opinion that intangibles are not a huge part of football, and wins and losses?
No. Just that I don't trust the people who create subjective Power Rankings to correctly account for intangibles. None of them. Therefore I'd rather have rankings that are based on an empirically-founded system that analyzes every single play of every game. That at least has the potential to inform, or as others have said, provoke thought.

Look, you have made it abundantly clear that you don't agree with the way DVOA ranks teams. Great. Unless you can come up with a reasonable argument for why you're right, you're wasting your time and ours by belittling it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 11:35pm

I'm one who believes that intangibles don't play a big role in wins and losses. I'll state that right now. Mainly because he hasn't specified what intangibles he's talking about.

This reads like Mike Tanier's last Too Deep Zone. "Hey, my team's winning! They've got intangibles!" "Oh no, my team's not winning. They must not have intangibles."

In fact, I'll go so far as to say I don't believe intangibles have any role in wins or losses. Why? Because an "intangible" in this parlance basically means "something you can't understand". I don't think there's a lot in football you can't understand. Otherwise they wouldn't bother doing film study.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 11:49pm

So we need a Swagger index? I guess the best way to measure it would be to rate teams by how they are over/under performing thier DVOA.

by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 11:52pm

I think there's a lot in football that we can't understand, as fans. Or as mathematical-model-creators.

"Intangibles" is just another word for "things we haven't figured out how to quantify yet".

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:15am

If I could quantify coaching, chemistry, and clutch play I would. But I'm not the type of person that believes everything can be represented mathematically anyway.

As far as Power Rankings are concerned, I like to watch the games, and then listen to what a lot of the analysts who played the game say. They, like me, do believe in intangibles. That's what I base my personal rankings on, not that they matter at all. No one's does anyway, because it's eventually all played out on the field.

Having those rankings, though, gives us plenty to talk about. And while I don't believe the DVOA gives enough credit in certain areas (recovering fumbles for one) and that there are certain factors (defensive schemes) that have a great effect on some of the statistics (i.e. quote from USA Today: "The Falcons aren't as concerned with yardage totals, completion percentages and per-carry averages."), it's possible that maybe, just maybe, looking at these rankings can give us some idea of which teams have good intangibles and which teams have bad ones.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:16am

“Intangibles� is just another word for “things we haven’t figured out how to quantify yet�.

Yah, I know. But it's a poor use of the word.

But still, the main problem is the fact that saying DVOA is limited because there are too many intangibles is akin to saying DVOA is limited because... it just is.

I'm all for the Swagger index. I'll be the first to give Atlanta Swagger +1. Of doom.

by Skeeter Harrison (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:20am

Hey, Ryan (Post Number 475) Back at You. Those are pretty impressive stats. Your logic is fine, except you're leaving out a boat-load of intangibles while relying on your iron-clad statistics.
When Jim Mora took over at the beginning of last year, everything changed. He brought a different system, new players (thanks to a new general manager) and an entirely different atmosphere. Since that time, Mike Vick has been adjusting. He's a young player and still improving. He's learning Mora's system and learning how to perform at his best within it. Vick didn't choose the Falcons' schedule; he didn't pick Atlanta's defensive players; he doesn't call the plays. What he does do is play hard week-to-week, and as you know, he has a good winning percentage as a starting NFL quarterback. Sit back and see what he does the rest of this season. We all know he's talented, but he's still maturing along with Mora. Both the coach and team are very young. You might be surprised at how the Falcons (and Vick) perform in the second half of the season. I say they go better than .500 against .500+ teams. What do you think?

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:21am

But I’m not the type of person that believes everything can be represented mathematically anyway.

Gee, I never guessed.

clutch play

You do realize that, at least in baseball, clutch play has been proven to not exist? Like, not at all. Not in the least.



(recovering fumbles for one)

Yah, I agree. I mean, Atlanta's clearly got telekinetic powers that force a fumble to magically bounce into their hands.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:29am

#519. If you want to continue with the smart alec comments then I will no longer respond to your posts.

My definition of clutch: when the game is on the line, the ability to come through or play at your very best most of the time. I beleive in it, and I've seen it.

Coaching: Can it be quantified? I doubt it, but it makes a huge impact in the game.

Chemistry: Look at the Eagles. Less disturbance and closer knit teams seem to play better than the opposite. Ask any coach. It makes a difference.

As far as recovering fumbles, defenses that swarm to the ball will recover more fumbles. Some defenses swarm much better than others. Some defenses focus on forcing and recovering fumbles. It's not just blind luck because Aaron says so.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:38am

"Both the coach and team are very young. You might be surprised at how the Falcons (and Vick) perform in the second half of the season. I say they go better than .500 against .500+ teams. What do you think?"
I count 5 upcoming games against 500+ teams for the Falcons. Two each agianst the Panthers and Bucs and one against the Bears. The Bears game is in Chicago at night in December, which does not bode well for the Falcons. I expect the Falcons to lose that game. The other four games will decide the NFC South, and they have a couple interseting trends. The Falcons with Vick as QB have struggled against Tampa and done well against Carolina. I expect the Falcons will end up with a record of 2-2 in those games, which would mean the Falcons end up with a losing record against 500+ teams (again). If that happens, will you be here to eat some crow? I will be here so you can rub it in my face if the Falcons go 3-2 or better in those games.

by Taylor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:41am

To say that Atlanta isn't great because they don't blow out their opponents is absurd. Atlanta leads the league in rushing meaning they wear the other team down and own the TOP battle.

The DVOA rating system is a joke and it means nothing.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:44am

Re 520: Funny, the Eagles last year, with those same players (plus Freddie Mitchell) played pretety well together and had lots of success. Did they lose thier chemistry in the off-season? What I've observed in the past is that winning causes good chemistry, not the other way around. And it makes sense, it's easier to like your co-workers when you keep winning games, but when things start going badly, that's when the bad feelings show up and problems start.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:47am

#523. Pay any attention to the circus in the offseason? I'm not saying it is THE reason they have lost 4 games, but I am saying it plays at least some part.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:49am

Re 522: Please draw your attention to post #87. If you have trouble finding it, I'll summarize for you: "Atlanta averages 30:21 in time of possession this year, that ranks them 16th in the league. Behind such dominating teams as Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Arizona and Buffalo."
Also, other teams that are good rushing teams (Denver, Pittsburg, Indy) don't have much trouble blowing out weaker opponents.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:56am

Re 524: And I say the cause of all the off-season troubles for the Eagles was because they lost the superbowl. If the Eagles had won, TO would have had no reason to throw his QB under the bus for messing up the two-minute drill. In Addition everybody would remember how well TO played coming back from his leg injury. He would have gotten his contract renegotiated, cause there's no way the Eagles could cut a player who did that, and everybody would be happy. It wouldn't have helped with the Eagles injury situations, though.

by Taylor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:59am

I'm pretty sure the only games we didn't own the TOP battle are the 2 games we lost. BTW, are you JohnnyBuc, "B?" You have the lame Buc homerism of him and you haven't shown your face around the Falcons message boards since your awesome team lost to the Jets.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:07am

527: The team who wins a football game generally has higher TOP, unless the teams got a lot of turnovers or has a quick-strike offense, so saying the Falcons have higher TOP in games they win is confusing cause and effect. Oh, and that's the first time I've been accused of being a Bucs fan, take that one back. I am a proud and unapologetic Patriots fan.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:07am

#526. If T.O. wasn't on the team, there would have been no problem. A team that goes to the Super Bowl is a winning team. They got there without him. So T.O. is a player that affects chemistry. A team with good chemistry will hold together through bad stretches. Good teammates will help create good chemistry.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:18am

Falcons TOP through thier 8 games this season: I don't really know what it means, but they're 2-2 in games when they don't win TOP, and 4-0 when they do.
33:51 W
23:25 L
29:11 W
32:37 W
27:35 L
26:34 W
33:22 W
36:15 W

by JMM (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:21am

Re: "swagger", "chemistry", "coaching" and other "intangibles"

These real influences on the game are precisely the reason why a statically based rating system, such as DVOA, has value. Strength is measured. Speed is measured. Can “heart� be measured? No. How much does each play a role in winning and losing? No way to tell. But it doesn’t matter. The point to using stats is to predict what will happen, not why or how. (How and why are helpful but not necessary.)

To say that something can’t be quantified misses the point. The outcomes can. In the case of DVOA, the outcomes are play by play specific goals. These values don’t care if a team used intangibles or strength or scheme. They got the yards or they didn’t.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:21am

Se7en_Dust, are you saying because the Eagles made the SB without T.O., he's bad for chemistry? That's plain crazy talk.

Seriously, you're wasting everyone's time here if all you're going to do is spout cliches. This site is about trying to gain a deeper understanding of football primarily through statistical analysis. If you think that's a pointless endeavor, fine, time to go now. Otherwise, why are you here, anyway? Unless you want to propose some way to measure chemistry or other intangibles, you might as well save your (metaphorical) breath.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:24am

Re 529: But TO was on the Eagles team in 2004 (12-1 regular season record in games he started), surely he was a bad chemistry influence in those games (I remember instances where he was fighting with teammates/coaches on the sidelines, plus who knows what went on behind closed doors). So did the Eagles manage to win with bad chemistry?
On the other hand we have the Patriots, who are clearly the gold standard for chemistry. They also ar 4-4. How are they losing with good chemistry? And the Eagles have discarded TO, which means they must have good chemistry again, will they start winning?

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:34am

#531. Very good points. My point was to say that team can statistically look bad, even very bad at times, and still win due to many factors. The vice versa is also true.

#532. No you misinterpreted me. He's a bad teammate that negatively affects chemistry.

#533. Points taken. I think that winning keeps the bad apples from blowing up, but a team with good chemistry won't fall apart doing a bad stretch, or even after a crucial loss.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:38am

534: Do you agree that chemistry only shows up when a team is losing (either a crucial game or a bad stretch of games)? Becuase if that's the case we have a cause and effect problem. I say losing caused bad chemistry and you say bad chemistry causes losing. Can you point to a team that is currently winning but has bad chemistry and will therefore blow up after a crucial loss?

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:40am

They got there without him. So T.O. is a player that affects chemistry.

Sorry, but if I misinterpreted this, then I still don't know what it means.

Eh, this is pointless.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:45am

#535. I think chemistry can help teams win. Teammates that are closer play harder for each other. Winning can bring players closer, and keep bad teammates from creating problems. I think that teams with good chemistry can avoid tailspins as well.

When a team is winning, you don't see chemistry as being a problem. I mean, they're winning! I'd say a good example of good chemistry on a team that's not winning is New England. There are a couple of games that they could have easily lost, but they pulled through and won, and you don't hear of problems coming from the locker room. So I don't think losing causes bad chemistry UNLESS you have bad teammates.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:48am

#536. All I meant was that the Eagles were in that position before and actually got to the Super Bowl without him. And they didn't have offseason problems before he got there.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:52am

Things like swagger and intangibles cause a team to play to a certain level. That certain level is then translated to statistics, which get translated into the DVOA.

There are intangibles in football, I agree. It's why you can't say "This team is definitively better". None of these stats are set in stone and any team playing any other team might have a good performance and beat the other. But its those intangibles that cause the good performance (or bad one) and thus would affect that teams ranking in a positive light.

DVOA is not a predictive tool. The above doesn't say "The Falcons are a worse team then the Panthers". It says "On a play by play basis, the Panthers this year have played better then the Falcons".

If they play and Michael Vick brings his "intangibles" and they win the game, the Falcons will get a clear boost in their ratings.

Something worth considering also - This is saying how the Falcons HAVE played. They have an easy schedule. Just because the Falcons haven't played as consistantly well as some other teams - it could be because they haven't needed to.

When they face a quality opponent when they need to play consistantly better, they could step up their game. but against some of the poor competition they've played where all they needed was to win, they've done that.

I know this is going to be taken out of context as me saying "The Falcons are just doing enough to get by" but plenty of the teams once they get a lead in the NFL move to more conservative offenses, which could be leading to Atlanta's ranking.

I haven't watched enough Falcons games or know their stats enough to necessarily confirm that - but if the Falcons are in a position where they've been in the lead most of the time for most of the year, that could very well explain why they have a low ranking - minimize risk, minimize mistakes when ahead.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:55am

"So I don’t think losing causes bad chemistry UNLESS you have bad teammates."
Name a team with bad teammates for which losing will cause problems. Since all teams eventually lose, we'll see the chemistry manefest when it happens. That is, as long as the bad teammates are still on the team.

by james (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:56am

Don't good chemistry and swagger cause superior play. These numbers are measured by DVOA. Think of teams with lesser talent that are performing well as a team and these teams probably are the teams with good chemistry and swagger.

Exceptions exist. I've written a couple of time about middle of the pack 11-5 teams that seem to do well in the playoffs. Atlanta this year could be one of those teams. I think what these teams do best is feed off of breaks. Every team gets alot of breaks throughout the season. These teams seem to live off of the breaks. Pats 01, Panthers 03, Falcons 04, and now maybe Falcons 05. Give them one break and they will take advantage.

Taking advantage of breaks is a skill. We all need to give Atlanta credit for that. They get a break and they will take advantage. These teams are tough because you ahve to absolutely drive the stake through their heart to beat them. Because the ball bounces funny these teams are always in the game.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:02am

541: I'll give Atlanta credit for taking advantage of breaks. Anyways, the Falcons have 5 games upcoming against potential playoff teams (three if you don't count Tampa. I think Tampa is rapidly falling into disarray with Chris Simms as QB and a broken Cadillac). In those games we'll get to find out who the real Falcons are.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:07am

Taking advantage of breaks is a skill? I'm not so sure about that.

by james (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:18am

re myself 541,

didn't finish my thought
What DVOA does not take into account is % of breaks converted.

How many teams drop interceptions, miss the quarteback on a sure sack, get out hustled to fumbles, etc. Atlanta seems to take advantage of breaks when given the opportunity. That is a skill. DVOA by definition does not account for these skills.

I am a big fan of DVOA. However, there has to be some explanation for these 16th ranked 11-5 teams that always seem to do well in the playoffs.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:28am

2001 Pats- Faced a warm weather team in the snow at night, then went up against Kordell Stewart and Kurt Warner, two Cinderella stories who turned back into pumpkins.
2003 Panthers - Offense finally figured out how to properly used Steve Smith & Muslin Muhammaed (or however you spell his name).
2004 Falcons - Faced the 2004 Rams (30th ranked DVOA) A team that was only capable of beating NFC West teams.
These 11-5 teams who do well in the playoffs can be explained by a combination of good luck and great coaching.

by Optical (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:30am

I for one would like to thank Dirk for coming to FO and posting. While a lot was lost in almost 550 posts at this point, hopefully you will continue to visit and read the analysis.

by james (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:37am

Jay B.,

Sure it is. I think it has more to do with focus than anything. I think we all see examples right under our nose. Its that one team on the schedule of your team who has a good record but seems entirely beatable.

Once the game starts as a fan you start to say to yourself "whatever we do we can't %^$% up or they are gonna win". I think the Falcons are one of these teams.

They might be middle of the pack performance wise, but they make you beat them. Make a mistake and you can't win. There are plenty of teams ahead of the Falcons performance wise that can't say the same. Chargers, Raiders, Jax, Skins, Bears, all seem entirely capable of killing themselves and not recovering. Atlanta is not that kind of team.

To beat them you have to do what Philly did last year. It has to be a massacre. With that funny shaped ball and a team that may not be pretty but doesnt kill itself and takes advantage of all your mistakes they have a solid formula.

Both sides of this argument are right. Atlanta needs the other teams help to win. But they take advantage of that help and make plays. Without help Atlanta isn't going to win anything. That's what DVOA states.

Dirk and seven watch Atlanta's games and see them play with guts and make big time plays.

The rest of us(DVOA faithful) see the results and are less than impressed with their method to victory.

Each side has a correct evaluation.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:55am

James, I don't follow the Falcons closely, so I haven't seen them play much since Week 1, but it seems to me that their tendency to capitalize on opponents' mistakes might be as much luck as it is skill.

I'm thinking of the blocked FG for a TD that happened in the Philly/SD game a few weeks ago (hey, I said I don't follow Atlanta!). The Eagles certainly took advantage of a break there, right? It took some skill, but quite a bit of luck too, to block the kick in the first place. Beyond that, it was all luck, no skill. The ball bounced directly into the hands of Matt Ware who had to do nothing but run straight ahead until he got to the end zone. This is an extreme example (that didn't even happen to the Falcons), but only a few such instances, even less outrageous, can make it look like a team has a knack for this sort of thing, when in fact they've just gotten some lucky bounces.

by Joon (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:51am

hopeless now, but i'll go ahead and attempt to respond to ryan's dissection of vick's W% vs good and bad teams.

basically the argument is that the teams that vick has beaten are overall a little under .500, and the teams he has lost to are overall a little over .500. why should we be at all surprised at this? i would expect this to be true of any data set with a significant number of samples, be it QB W%, team W%, or what have you. that's how it works. when two good teams play, one always wins and the other loses. when a good team plays a bad team, usually the good team wins and the bad team loses. aggregate enough of those data points, and you have post #475.

vicks' 5-8-1 record against .500+ teams and 3-0 record against .500 teams tell us basically nothing, and not just because QB W% is one of the dumbest stats ever (way dumber, even, than pitcher W/L in baseball). somebody look up daunte culpepper's W/L breakdown, or mcnabb's, or manning's. (i'm attempting to think of QBs with .600ish winning percentages.) i'm sure you'll find something very similar. no matter who you are, you'll beat bad teams more often than you'll beat good ones.

the criticism that you really want to be leveling against vick is that he doesn't play well enough, not that his W/L is somehow lacking in certain situations. okay, he beats bad teams, but not by much--why not? he beats good teams only sometimes--is it because of bad games by him specifically? (usually yes, at least recently, but the defense hasn't been very good in most of these losses either.)

by Flux (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:09am

Best... thread... ever...

The only thing that would have made it better was if I'd read it in the day, when I wouldn't have had to muffle my laughter and occasional se73n du5t inspired "banging head on the desk" so as not to wake up my girlfriend.

And just for future reference, can we all agree not to expect a drop of objectivity or logic from anyone who refers to a given professional sports team as, "we?" It seems like it would save substial arguing time, though it would admittedly lower the amusement factor of the threads.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:10am

I suspect that Joon has a point, way back in post #549. ;-)

So let's look at two acknowledged good QBs on good teams, having successful seasons: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, in their 2003 and 2004 seasons. (We'll count only regular season games, and throw out the Colts' 2004 season ender, where Manning took about 3 snaps.)

2003 Brady/Patriots:
Against 9-7 or better teams: 7-0 (1.000)
Against 8-8 or less: 7-2 (.778)
2004 Brady/Patriots:
Against 9-7 or better: 7-1 (.875)
Against 8-8 or less: 7-1 (.875)

2003 Manning/Colts:
Against 9-7 or better: 3-2 (.600)
Against 8-8 or less: 9-1 (.900)
2004 Manning/Colts:
Against 9-7 or better:4-2 (.667)
Against 8-8 or less: 8-1 (.800)

So it would seem that VIck's and the Falcons' sub-standard (for them) performance against good teams was not unusual. (Although Brady and the Pats continue to be statistically weird.)

by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:25am

I tried to read through all of this but got bored around post 225 or so, but Aaron, if you're still interested in possible upgrades to help the falcons ratings, what about something with sustaining drives? Atlanta and Pitt are run heavy and seemingly underrated (that seems to be the argument running through here, but it was tough to pick up), so while each *play* isn't a big contribution, each *drive* is better.

Possibly, i dunno, i haven't seen a single game this season cos I live in the UK and I'm a student, so i can't afford sky to get some games, and can't pick up channel 5 to see others. Which is awesome.

Also, something about the "luck" of recovering fumbles. It is luck, to some degree, but the best team in recent years at recovering fumbles has probably been the Rams with Lovie Smith as D-Coordinator, and with them it was a skill. Typically they'd have so many players crowding round a player being tackled that they'd outnumber the opposition players, and thus have more chance of one of their players grabbing the ball. Are the falcons anything like this? Do they tend to have more people around the ball than the average D (or O i guess)?

Of course, that is a completely subjective thing which can't possibly be put into a mathematical model. Useful aren't I?

by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:29am


Here's McNabb's breakdown by year:

Winning teams
1999 - 2-2
2000 - 3-5
2001 - 3-4 (scrubs 1-0)
2002 - 3-3 (scrubs 1-1)
2003 - 5-3
2004 - 3-2
Total 19-19

500 Teams
1999 - 0-1
2000 - 1-1
2001 - 1-1
2002 - 0-0
2003 - 1-0
2004 - 2-0 (scrubs 0-2)
Total 5-3

Losing Teams
1999 - 0-1
2000 - 8-0
2001 - 8-1
2002 - 5-1 (scrubs 4-0)
2003 - 7-2
2004 - 10-0
Total 38-5

The numbers aren't greatly different from Vick. What is different is the number of winning teams McNabb has faced - 38 of 89 (43%), versus 14 of 43 for Vick (33%).

If Vick had faced 43% winning teams as well, and won 36% of the time as he has shown, he'd have 6 wins in 18 opportunities. Giving him his 3 wins agains the 500 teams, this leaves him with 18 wins against 22 losers. Vick would then be 27-16. Not quite as impressive, is it?

Is Vick's schedule easy? From 1999-2004, 83 teams had winning records (44%), 22 were 500 (12%), 84 had losing records (44%).

Vick has 25% fewer games against winning teams than might be expected and he has 36% more games against losing teams than might be expected. Its easy to win against such competition!

BTW, the Scrubs went 1-1 against winning teams in 2002, 1-5 in 2003, 0-2 against 500 teams in 2003, and 1-3 against losing teams in 2003, 0-1 against winning teams in 2004, and 0-1 against 500 teams in 2004.

So from 2002 to 2004 the Falcons Scrubs played 9 games against winning teams, 4 against losing teams, 3 against 500 teams. Is anyone shocked that they would mostly lose against such a schedule? Vick has had it easy by passing off 41% of the games the Falcons have played against winners in his tenure to the Scrubs!

by james (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:05pm

jay b.,

Like I said they take advantage of mistakes. The Saints kicker kicks it low they are there to block it. They put the burden of not making a mistake on the other team.

By no means am I saying the Falcons are a good team. To me, good is when you make your own opportunities. The Falcons live off of opponents mistakes. This gets them the W's, but doesn't get them over the hump.

by Skeeter Harrison (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 12:58pm

Re: 521. Hey B, I will come back (for sure) the day after the Falcons play the Bears in Chicago. They play on Sunday night, the week before Christmas. As I said in post No. 518, the Falcons are young (just like their coach), and in his second year, they are developing a winning culture in Atlanta. I say they are an improving team, and will go 3-2 against the +.500 teams left on the schedule. Further, I say Michael Vick excels in the spotlight that will be on him Sunday night, December 18, at Soldier Field. I say the Falcons beat the Bears. Do we have a date?

by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:36pm

I love the 77-78 Yankees
I love the 90-92 Pirates
I love the 2002 sf giants
I love the Kobe Shaq Lakers
I love it when teams with bad chemistry,
players who can't stand each other, win.

by james (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:45pm

How come none of those teams played football?

by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:54pm

they wanted more money?
I loved the 95 Cowboys.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:55pm

If you hadn't noticed, Skeeter has a blog. It's linked in his name. So we can all go there and talk crap if the Falcons do badly at Chicago.

Actually, I'm looking closer now, and I wouldn't call it a blog. More like a roundup of Falcons-related news stories. But you can make comments.

by Bob (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 3:31pm

I think this site just reached joke level big time. So the leader of it can't handle criticism, so he has to crawl in a little corner with his buddies and make a Atlanta-Free Ranking??? That is the funniest thing I've seen in a while. And then calls them LHC.. hah me make a funny! Dude grow up. Trust me most of the Atlanta fans find the polls more humorous then anything, it's a fad and we'll all be gone in a week. If it makes you feel better though more power to you! Tell you what just Rank them 32nd for the rest of the year and call them LSM (Little Sissy Men) You know you want to! Get on those silly Atlanta fans!

by Ryan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 3:36pm

RE: #553 Thank you Andrew, that's kind of what I was trying to say in post #464. Vick has always played against the lesser teams, more so than usual. The one year he would have had a harder schedule (2003), he got hurt, and missed out on most of those games. Then the next year, he got back in to plsy the easy games. Had Vick started the 2003 season, and played against the 6 winning teams, and won some of those games, he would be facing a little less criticism from me.
RE: #551 In looking at Brady and Manning's record, they usually played winning teams quite often (including against each other), and still performed well against winning teams (winning no less than 60% of their games against winning teams each year).
Vick doesn't have a winning record against winning teams (38%), yet Manning and Brady both do. What a susprise.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 3:48pm

RE: #560 This is what I think is hilarious. Atlanta fans actually think Aaron cares so much about only them that he intentionally places them lower on the scales, just as a slap in the face. I can promise you that Aaron is completely indifferent to what Atlanta fans think about his DVOA rankings. I'm sure he didn't just look at his spreadsheet, and just arbritrarily subtract 20 percentage points in an effort to anger only the Atlanta faithful.
Atlanta is represented according to their performance on the field, as measured by statistics - just like every other team. If the Falcons fans don't like it, they should encourage their team to quit playing so sloppy against weak opponents, and actually play up to their "elite" level. I can assure you that if they were playing like an "elite" team, the stats would reflect it somewhere. When the stats reflect an "elite" status, they'll be shown as such in the rankings.
Until then, get over yourself, and quit believing the hype that Vick is the greatest QB ever. I would say that Aaron was dead on when he said that "without a doubt, this proves that Vick is a better QB than Doug Johnson." I also think it's a fair assumption that when it comes to pure quarterbacking skill:

Schaub > Chandler > Vick > Johnson

by Just Another Falcons Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 4:36pm

Can't say that I understand the love for Chicago on this board. Playing Detroit twice has to be good for your defensive DVOA.

Actually, Chicago has played the following offenses (# = offensive DVOA):

#11 (L), #29 x2 (Wx2) #5 (L), #20 (L), #19 (W), #23 (W), #22 (W).

That seems indicative of a defense that does well against poor offenses, but may be overrated.

By comparison, the deservedly-maligned Falcons defense has played the following offenses

#13 (W), #1 (L), #27 (W), #19 (W), #6 (L), #22 (W), #31 (W), #24 (W).

One could argue that it may take a better offense to beat the Falcons than it does to beat the Bears (Cleveland, anyone?).

Also, given that the Falcons have some cold-weather experience in recent years (pounding GB, losing twice to Philadelphia), I might think twice about taking the Bears in that game, especially since Kyle Orton isn't Tom Brady, Matt Hasselback, or even the healthy version of Donovan McNabb that the Falcons dealt with in game one of this season.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:05pm

#554. Actually the blocked FG was not luck at all. Falcon coaches watched film and saw that the RG seemd to get a little low in his stance, so they designed a play where Boley, an extremely athletic player, was to jump over him. (I know this because I listen to the press conferences.) It worked. Ever FG blocking unit in the NFL will have guys sent wide to recover the kick if it is blocked. It's why Matt Ware on Philly's block and Demorrio Williams on Atlanta's were right there to pick the ball up.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:06pm

#562. LOL. You're so way off base, it's funny. ROTFLMAO.

by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:12pm

Se7en: Regardless of whether blocked FGs are or are not luck, statistical studies done by the FO gang has concluded that they are not predictive. Because the purpose of DVOA is to analyze past plays with the intent of predicting future results, blocked FGs serve no purpose within the system and thus have no value.

Similarly, when the defense allows the opposing team to get into field goal range and the opposing team misses the field goal, it harms the opposing team's special teams rating (because teams with certain former tOSU kickers may be more likely to miss field goals than teams with veteran/good kickers), but does not help the defense's rating at all. Why? Because a kicker missing a field goal attempt against a team is not predictive of other kickers missing future field goals, or even the same kicker necessarily missing future field goals from the same distance and weather conditions.

Thus, teams that have a lot of wins where there are a number of non-predictive plays (missing/blocked FGs, fumble recovery rates that are dramatically different from observed means, etc.) will be rated lower in DVOA than common sense might indicate. Are these teams necessarily bad? Probably not. But, given what information the system has to work with, DVOA would suggest that teams with abnormally high fumble recovery rates or abnormally high rates of opponents missing FGs will eventually return to league-average performance in these areas.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:20pm

#566. Thanks for explaining that. Can't remember what # it was or who said it, but some teams are just better at making the big play as in fumble recoveries. The Falcons are one, because they preach a swarming defense. Also because of the scheme, they allow short yardage plays and wait for the chance to make a big play. Perhaps, because this is how they play and the DVOA doesn't reward them for it, can explain why they are so low in the rankings.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:35pm

Also, some teams just have a swagger, and they know how to win with their bend-don't-break defense and their grit.

by Ray (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:38pm

Does anyone know a defense where they try to NOT 'swarm'? From pretty much every quote I've heard, every defence always says they're trying to 'swarm' to the ball. Sure maybe some teams do a better job on defence than others, but which teams specifically don't try the 'swarm' to the ball style of defense?

by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:39pm

Ryan #561:

Here's Brady over 2001-2004

Winning Teams
2001 - 5-2
2002 - 3-6
2003 - 10-0
2004 - 8-1
Total - 26-9

500 Teams
2001 - 0-1
2002 - 3-1
2003 - 0-0
2004 - 2-0
Total - 5-2

Losing Teams
2001 - 9-0
2002 - 3-0
2003 - 7-2
2004 - 7-1
Total - 26-3

His numbers for victories over winning teams should become more normalized with this years losses to Carolina, San Diego, Denver, and Indianapolis.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:55pm

#569. Some defenses' styles are better at causing turnovers. Ed Donatel's defenses have historically been that way. And yes, some teams are just so much better at swarming to the ball.

#570. How many teammates does Brady have?

by anewton (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:04pm

re 552 and the rest of the 'probablity' type posts, I think either I totally misunderstand proablity or everyone else writing on this thread does, because a coin has come up heads 999 times in a row does not in any way shape or means mean it is then more likely to come up tails more often in the next 999 times to balance the equasion, the coin is more probable to balance out tails and heads by all means but the overall average would still be in favour of heads for a very long time. The key to the atlanta argument centres around the question of fumbles and the recovery of such being 'truely' randomn, now here's a question, can they in fact be trained for in recovery. well here's a thought just maybe mora and co in atlanta are on to something. maybe if a team trains in a specific way then they can influence that probability of recovering in thier favour and maybe fumble recovery is in fact NOT truely random and thats where the flaw in the model is in assuming these things ARE random just as If you flip a coin die or football in a specific way you can influence the outcome, normally the non influenced outcome is 50/50, but if its influenced by the participant the figures can be caused to go out of the window.

by b-man (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:10pm

I think we are getting some good stuff for DVOA improvements:

1) Swarm factor - a hive like ability for the entire defense to converge on a single spot (preferably where the ball is).
2) Swagger Factor - a certain hop in the step or wink in the eye when things are going well or about to.
3) Alien QB Factor - part Elastic Man, part Flash yet somewhat brittle.
4) Football Magnet Factor - ability to recover fumbles at an almost sixth sense rate.
5) Intangible factor - everything good that remains after accounting for swagger.
Should be trivial to put some weights on these and parse from the play-by-play data.
Aaron, make it so!

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:34pm

Wow, how is it that Atlanta has almost entirely avoided playing good teams for 5 years? I watch the Atlanta games as often as possible, hoping to see Vick amaze me, and I see a mediocre team that somewhat consistantly beats other mediocre and bad teams. #19 seems slightly low, maybe #15 would be good, not a difference worth 500 posts.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:34pm

That cracked me up

by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:35pm

i was refering to b-man's post

by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:44pm

ok i am lost.
Are we argueing
1. that the Falcons are better at forcing turnovers?
2. That the Falcons are better at forcing fumbles?
3. That the Falcons are better at recovering fumbles?
Its become a bit confusing to me.
Regardless so far this year the Falcons have forced 14 fumbles and recovered 9.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 23 forced fumbles.
Atlanta is 9th
Don't these seem like very small numbers?
I mean who cares if its all skill or all luck. The Falcons have recovered 9 fumbles and lost 5. There has to be another reason they are 6-2

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 7:05pm

Re 558: What about the 98 Vikings? That is, unless bad chemistry caused them to miss that fieldgoal.

by Parker (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 7:43pm

Please. Don't. Stop.

by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 7:43pm

re 578,
ummmmm...did the 98 vikings have bad chemistry? I really don't recall, maybe Chris Carter spazzing out every so often.
With the Cowboys I was referring to Aikman and Switzer not even speaking at the end of the season.
Bad Chemistry or not, the 98 Vikings were a blast to watch no doubt.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:15pm

Still all the ha has and chip shots, but nobody wanted to address #484.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:18pm

Chris Carter and Randy Moss as teammates seems like a good recepie for bad chemistry for me, although maybe things didn't get really bad till Culpepper was the QB and Tice was the coach.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:26pm

Re 581: Okay, say, for example we have two teams, team A and team B. Both teams lost to Team C, who is the top ranked team, and both teams beat Team D, who is the lowest ranked. Team A lost to Team C by 21 points and beat team D by 3 points. Team B lost to team C by 3 points and beat team D by 21 points. Would you then say that Team B is better than team A?
Now, remember that the DVOA breakdown doesn't look at only the plays that result in points, but looks at all plays and rates them as either a success or failure, compared to similar plays by other teams. That is why Chicago is rated higher than Atlanta. Of course no rating system is perfect, but fortunately the two teams will play eachother on Dec 18th. Maybe then we can get a definative answer.

by Nostradamus (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 8:51pm

I foresee forums due to necessity in this sites future.

by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 9:31pm

re 484
are you saying that a great team does not crush opponents?
I mean just off the top of my head i think the
85 bears
89 Niners
91 redskins
94 Niners
96 packers
98 Bronco's
99 Rams
generally beat the holy snot out of people
I guess this is my question.
Suppose the Rankings are wrong, I mean way way off. Fine, why did the Falcons lose to games?
I do not want to hear about a lost turnover
I do not want to hear about injuries.
I do not want to hear about a bad call.
I want to know why the Falcons didn't just crush Seattle and New England.
I mean San Diego crushed New England, why not Alanta?
And Seattle, good god, thats an accident waiting to happen. Talk about failing in clutch situations. How many times have the Seahawks done that?
Now the Falcons are 1-0 in games won by 20 points or more.
Compare them to the 2000 Ravens.
The 2000 ravens had an offense that was painful to watch, two qb's that no one, Falcon fan or not, would take over Vick,
and they were 5-0 in games of 20 or more.
Or the 98 Bronco's. Gave up 309 points, worst scoring defense for a SB champion. 4-0
I culd see the Falcons making the playoffs, sure.
Where do you see them ending up?

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 10:09pm

My definition of clutch: when the game is on the line, the ability to come through or play at your very best most of the time. I beleive in it, and I’ve seen it.

Of course a "clutch play" exists. You just defined it. The question is whether or not a "clutch player" exists - that is, whether or not certain players play better when the game is on the line than other people, and whether or not those players continue to do so.

This is not something you can "see", because you'll be biased - people only remember successful comebacks. This is something that can be quantified, and has to be quantified.

That's why I pointed out in baseball, you're welcome to believe that clutch players exist, but you're wrong. It's been proven. At least in baseball, it's just an artifact of fans and so-called analysts who want to push a story line.

So here's another question: why don't Vick apologists start crowing about his 2002 statistics? I mean, go back and look at DPAR in 2002. Vick was good - not just good, great. And it's not like he didn't rush that year, either.

I mean, again, I don't care what you think about Vick, whether or not you think his laserbeam vision can burn holes in defenders, or whatever, but he's not as good as he was in 2002. If Vick of 2002 just magically shows up this year, I cannot believe anyone would think the Falcons wouldn't be doing better.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:09pm

Still no one is addressing #484 specifically c. That's what I'd like to see soemone address.

#586. The only people that are talking about supernatural powers for Vick are you and the others that want to downplay his effect on the team. Statistically, he was much better in 2002. But now he's learning a more complicated system and he still has a way to go. However, how he impacts the game CANNOT be entirely shown by his statistics. He is the reason Atlanta leads the NFL in rushing. And that is saying something if your team isn't known to even have an average passing attack. Let me reiterate before my comments are taken out of context: he still has a lot of improving to do.

But I want someone to tell me why Atlanta seems to have winning years every single season Vick has been at the helm. I don't wanna hear easy schedule, because Atlanta's had 'em before and sucked. Other teams have 'em, too. You play whoever is put on the schedule, and whether you win by 1 or 30, it's still a win. Those that want to believe Atlanta wins by blind luck, EXPLAIN #484 c to me.

Don't even post to me if ya can't explain it.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:29pm

Okay, I'm still not sure what post 484 is trying to say, but I think the argument is that because the Falcons went 11-5 last year and are now 6-2, that they must be a good team. I'll address that.
In 2004, the NFC was a very weak conference. There was one team, the Eagles, who were clearly the best team in that conference. Atlanta went 11-5, Green Bay went 10-6, nobody else even had a winning record. I think it's safe to say that with a little luck, a mediocre team like the eagles could go 11-5 in that situation, and that is what happened. Now, in 2005, again against weak opponents they've gone 6-2. I don't see how this proves they are a good team. All it proves is they are better than the teams they beat. And if we look at margin of victory, yargage totals, other factors it appears that they re not much better. Now maybe the Falcons are just playing possum, keeping the games close so they won't give thier future opponents anything to look at on tape. But I'm not putting any faith in Atlanta based on what could happen, all I have to go on is what has happened, and I'm not impressed.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:43pm

Nah, there just sooo lucky. I mean to win EVERY single season that Vick leads them. The stars align just right for them to luck up into playing these so called "weak" teams ever year and the ball just bounces there way in each of their games...

I mean what are the odds, mathematicians, of the same mediocre team winning every single season that a particular QB is at the helm? What are the odds that THE SAME MEDIOCRE team would win 67% of the games he starts over a 4 year span? What are the odds that THE SAME TEAM get lucky that much over a 4 year span?

Is there any haterade left??? Later.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:45pm

Okay, if Vick is so good, why do the Falcons keep losing to the Iggles in the playoffs?

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 11:54pm

The key to post #484 is the 2003 season. The Falcons were 2-10 without Vick, then closed the season 3-1 with Vick, including a victory over the Super Bowl-bound Panthers. Yet if you look at his DVOA of -19.9%, it's good enough for 35th in the 2003 QB rankings. Who's #36? The much-maligned Doug Johnson, the replacement for Vick during most of that season. And, it should be noted, both QBs have similar adjustments upward from their VOA to their DVOA, suggesting that their strength of schedule was similarly difficult.

(Note: Vick and Johnson both lead the Falcons against Tampa Bay that year; Johnson lost 31-10 at home, Vick won 30-28 in Tampa)

So, how do we explain this? Is it explainable by statistical means?

by B (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 12:00am

591: Uhhh, no. The reason is pretty easy to find with statistics, it's the value Vick's runnig brought to the games. If you had his Rushing DVOA to his passing DVOA, it brings him up to around Tom Brady (2002 version) levels.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 12:15am


Until this year, the Eagles have been better than the Falcons. I don't believe even the most rabid Falcon fan thinks we're the best team in the NFL yet. However, we would like to think that the Falcons are heading in that direction.

by B (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 12:18am

See, we really can agree on something. The Falcons arn't the best team in the NFL.

by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 12:22am

The Falcons aren't considered bad by DVOA, either this year or last. They're considered an average team with an easy schedule. They've picked up ONE more win this year then the Estimated Wins assumed. That's hardly a confusing statistical fallacy.

It could be indicitive of any number of things -

It could be the Strength of Schedule factor is too strong and is hurting them too much.

It could be the adjustment for fumbles that's hurting them too much (and statistically, its going to say that they'll go back to 50%. It doesn't mean they necessarily will).

It could be that when they're winning, they get more conservative and it hurts their overall rating.

It could be they're playing sporadically - They're playing very well in first and fourth quarter, but very poorly in second and third for example - evening out to an "average" ranking.

Look at Denver for example - Denver was being hurt by playing poorly in the second half. But in the second half of a lot of their games, they'd been blow outs. They didn't need to play well, they just needed to play conservatively and maintain the lead.

Against the Eagles, they jumped out to a heavy lead, coasted for a bit, let the Eagles back in, then turned on their offense again and jumped back into a sizable lead.

The Falcons have been winning games, but they've been winning them by low amounts against bad teams.

The unweighted VOA has the Falcons as the 10th best team in the league in between San Diego and Jacksonville - that's where the stats have them before adjusting for things like fumbles and opponent strength.

The pure VOA generally matches up better with what you see when you watch the team. The DVOA is saying "Yeah, you saw them win and they won decently. Just remember, that was the Saints" "That was the Dolphins" "They can't always wind up doing that." - DVOA for teams like the Falcons is pessimistic while for teams like the Chargers and Raiders, its optimistic.

On just looking at pure VOA in the conference, it has the teams ranked in order

1) Giants
2) Seattle
3) Dallas
4) Carolina
5) Atlanta
6) Tampa Bay
7) Chicago
8) Washington

Lowest win-loss record of the teams listed? 5-3. and there's a substantial drop off between Chicago and Washington, and the Bucs have been spiralling down since losing Griese.

by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 12:37am

#590. I guess Peyton Manning isn't very good. I guess Donovan McNabb isn't very good. I guess Dan Marino wasn't very good.

How many players are on an NFL team? You're pointless. Keep drinkin' the haterade. You still can't answer #484 c. Until then, see ya later.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 1:29am


I don't think a QB's DVOA for passing and running are directly summable. Surely you would need to weight the DVOAs by the number of attempts for each before summing if you wanted to create a "QB total DVOA".

For 2003,

(110 passes (-19.9 DVOA) + 32 runs (45.1 DVOA))/142 total plays

= -5.27 DVOA

That moves Vick into Patrick Ramsey/Jay Fieldler territory as a total 2003 QB (23rd/24th in DVOA). That's not enough to explain the change in team performance to my mind.

Of the possible suggestions, I would definitely agree that running a conservative offense with a lead would apply, and furthermore apply to both the Reeves and Mora teams.

I might also suggest that there may be a greater role for intangibles in a sport with the high level of teamwork present in pro football than a more individually oriented game such as baseball. Of course, the difficult thing about intangibles is that they are so danged hard to quantitate.

I would be inclined to agree more closely with the VOA rankings at this point in time than the DVOA.

by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 2:09am

re 496
this is my answer, but let me preface it by saying that few people will agree with me.
First go back and read post 160.
Now in 2002 with Vick as a starter the falcons had 211 incompletions, fewer than the League average.
they forced 229 incompletions, higher then average.
they made the playoffs.
In 2003 in the first 12 games the Falcons threw almost 14.5 inc per game, higher than the League average.
Vick comes back, they throw 12.75 per game, and go 3-1
the NFL average was over 13, not a huge difference, but hey, they got shelled by the Colts.
in 2004 they threw 178 incompletions, lower than the NFL average.
The Falcons threw 78 fewer incompletions than their opponents and went 11-5.
This year, as I said, the trend continues. With Vick, the falcons do not make a lot of negative plays.
Does than answer your question?

by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 2:13am

sorry i meant 596.

by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 2:16am

Now in 2002 with Vick as a starter the falcons had 211 incompletions, fewer than the League average.
they forced 229 incompletions, higher then average.
they made the playoffs.
In 2003 in the first 12 games the Falcons threw almost 14.5 inc per game, higher than the League average.
Vick comes back, they throw 12.75 per game, and go 3-1

That could very very easily just mean they don't throw the ball a lot.