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19 Sep 2006

Week 3 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

UPDATE: Commentary is now found here on FOXSports.com.

This week, we provide two sets of ratings -- in two entirely separate tables. The first table is the same one we've always done in the early weeks, simply VOA through the first two games, no opponent adjustments of course. The only differences between "NON-ADJ VOA" and "TOTAL VOA" are fumble luck and the weather/altitude effects on special teams.

The second table is the new rating that combines early-season performance with the preseason projection. This is still a work in progress, and I haven't yet settled on a final formula to use for each week, or figured out in what week I can shift from this formula to 2006 numbers only so that a) the numbers are as accurate as possible and b) there isn't a sudden, jarring change for 10 teams at once. Also, I have no idea what to name this thing. I thought of "Weighted DVOA" but I think it's confusing to have that be this formula and the late-season formula that drops early games. I thought of "Power DVOA," like power ranking, but that's easy to confuse with the running statistic for short-yardage downs, which we call "power situations." I could just call it "FOX Rating" like I do in those boxes to the left but that seems silly. On my worksheets I'm calling it ESW for Early-Season Weighted, but the last thing we need around here is another acronym. Anyway, I'll take your suggestions in the comments.

There's one other big change in this formula. While using the preseason projection makes our rankings of all 32 teams far more accurate if we're trying to predict how they'll do the rest of the year, the fact is that we know some things now that we didn't know two weeks ago when we did the rankings. That's important considering the number of personnel variables that I added to the projection system this off-season. So instead of using the actual DVOA projections, what I'm using here are the DVOA projections adjusted for what we know now. There are three teams that this really affects: First, we drop the offensive projection for Kansas City and Oakland by changing the variables for QB experience and "starting QB health/backup quality." Second, we drop the offensive projection for Washington; the offensive coordinator variable was 3 because it's the same offensive coordinator as the last two years, but at this point it's clear that the titles in Washington are totally meaningless. Not only has Al Saunders installed his offense, but the team is having a heck of a time learning the thing. This is not an isolated incident, which is why the offensive projection penalizes a team with a new offensive coordinator, and we've adjusted Washington accordingly.

On the other hand, none of the "facts on the ground" have changed in Denver, so the projection used in the formula is the same as it was in the preseason, and the Broncos rank seventh in offense on the second table despite their early struggles.

For those curious, the formula this week is 80 percent projection, 20 percent 2006 VOA. Home-field adjustments are still not in here yet. I really will add them this year, I promise. The separate pages for offense, defense, and special teams have now been changed from 2005 to 2006. Individual stats are updated as well.

Two more notes: I didn't stick up the Saturday game previews because I was otherwise occupied. Sorry about that. Also, we've reprogrammed Loser League to be more efficient with the new server, so check tomorrow's Scramble for information about how to check your team's performance in Weeks 1-2.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through Week 2 of 2006, 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 VOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season.

There are no opponent adjustments for the first three weeks of the season, which is why offense and defense are "VOA" and not "DVOA."

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

1 BAL 84.3% 1 103.6% 2-0 -1.5% 14 -82.3% 1 3.5% 9
2 SD 83.8% 3 90.3% 2-0 31.3% 2 -48.9% 2 3.6% 8
3 CHI 62.6% 2 70.3% 2-0 21.5% 4 -23.6% 7 17.5% 1
4 CIN 44.7% 8 45.3% 2-0 15.5% 8 -27.1% 6 2.1% 14
5 JAC 41.7% 11 47.5% 2-0 -3.0% 15 -44.1% 3 0.6% 17
6 PHI 40.9% 5 27.6% 1-1 36.2% 1 -3.1% 16 1.6% 15
7 ATL 31.5% 4 37.4% 2-0 12.1% 9 -32.2% 5 -12.8% 31
8 SEA 23.7% 14 19.9% 2-0 -7.1% 16 -34.9% 4 -4.1% 21
9 BUF 23.6% 15 21.8% 1-1 0.5% 13 -13.9% 11 9.2% 2
10 SF 20.8% 13 14.2% 1-1 18.9% 5 2.1% 19 4.0% 7
11 NO 18.3% 9 21.9% 2-0 -7.2% 17 -19.5% 8 6.0% 3
12 STL 10.8% 6 18.6% 1-1 -7.4% 18 -15.6% 10 2.7% 11
13 IND 9.4% 21 11.8% 2-0 30.5% 3 26.0% 30 4.9% 4
14 NE 8.4% 17 5.4% 2-0 10.7% 10 4.5% 22 2.3% 12
15 NYJ 7.2% 7 2.7% 1-1 18.2% 6 3.0% 20 -8.0% 26
16 DAL 3.6% 24 1.6% 1-1 3.3% 11 -8.5% 14 -8.2% 27
17 MIN -0.6% 16 -1.1% 2-0 -8.4% 19 -12.0% 12 -4.3% 22
18 NYG -8.2% 10 1.0% 1-1 17.7% 7 19.6% 29 -6.3% 25
19 KC -10.3% 25 -8.3% 0-2 -20.1% 23 -8.6% 13 1.2% 16
20 PIT -15.5% 12 -23.2% 1-1 -26.0% 26 -19.5% 9 -9.0% 28
21 WAS -26.0% 19 -19.5% 0-2 -20.6% 24 8.5% 25 3.1% 10
22 GB -28.7% 31 -27.9% 0-2 -15.8% 21 -1.7% 17 -14.6% 32
23 CAR -28.8% 29 -26.8% 0-2 -26.6% 27 2.0% 18 -0.2% 18
24 DEN -30.2% 26 -27.2% 1-1 -26.7% 28 -5.9% 15 -9.4% 29
25 ARI -31.0% 18 -19.1% 1-1 -13.2% 20 12.7% 28 -5.1% 23
26 MIA -32.8% 20 -18.3% 0-2 -24.9% 25 3.9% 21 -3.9% 19
27 CLE -38.3% 23 -42.8% 0-2 -31.2% 29 12.0% 27 4.8% 5
28 DET -40.4% 22 -44.7% 0-2 -19.1% 22 10.3% 26 -11.1% 30
29 HOU -43.5% 27 -35.8% 0-2 1.9% 12 47.5% 32 2.2% 13
30 TB -54.2% 32 -65.4% 0-2 -44.2% 31 4.6% 23 -5.4% 24
31 TEN -74.0% 28 -62.7% 0-2 -34.2% 30 35.8% 31 -4.0% 20
32 OAK -76.5% 30 -91.9% 0-2 -73.7% 32 6.9% 24 4.0% 6

1 SEA 37.2% 1 2-0 24.8% 2 -13.7% 4 -1.4% 22
2 SD 34.3% 3 2-0 19.9% 4 -14.0% 3 0.4% 11
3 CIN 24.8% 4 2-0 21.4% 3 -3.2% 11 0.2% 13
4 IND 24.6% 2 2-0 31.2% 1 5.1% 26 -1.5% 25
5 CHI 22.1% 8 2-0 2.7% 11 -15.7% 2 3.6% 2
6 PHI 18.4% 9 1-1 11.4% 6 -4.8% 8 2.2% 5
7 BAL 17.2% 15 2-0 -3.6% 16 -20.9% 1 -0.1% 14
8 ATL 13.6% 10 2-0 4.3% 9 -10.9% 5 -1.5% 24
9 JAC 12.3% 14 2-0 2.0% 13 -9.9% 6 0.5% 9
10 PIT 10.0% 7 1-1 6.6% 8 -4.7% 9 -1.3% 21
11 DEN 9.2% 6 1-1 10.4% 7 -1.7% 16 -2.9% 29
12 NE 7.8% 12 2-0 14.0% 5 5.7% 28 -0.6% 16
13 KC 4.4% 5 0-2 -1.2% 14 -6.2% 7 -0.6% 15
14 CAR 3.7% 11 0-2 2.4% 12 -2.2% 14 -0.8% 17
15 NYG 0.5% 16 1-1 4.0% 10 2.0% 22 -1.4% 23
16 DAL -0.6% 20 1-1 -1.9% 15 -2.2% 13 -1.0% 19
17 WAS -2.1% 13 0-2 -7.2% 19 -2.6% 12 2.5% 4
18 MIA -6.3% 18 0-2 -11.0% 26 -2.0% 15 2.6% 3
19 TB -10.3% 19 0-2 -9.7% 21 -1.7% 17 -2.2% 27
20 BUF -13.3% 28 1-1 -15.7% 31 1.8% 21 4.2% 1
21 CLE -14.1% 23 0-2 -15.4% 30 0.6% 19 1.9% 7
22 DET -14.4% 21 0-2 -7.0% 18 4.6% 25 -2.8% 28
23 MIN -15.0% 26 2-0 -14.2% 28 -0.8% 18 -1.7% 26
24 SF -15.7% 30 1-1 -10.0% 22 2.2% 23 -3.5% 30
25 GB -15.9% 24 0-2 -10.5% 25 1.4% 20 -4.0% 31
26 STL -16.9% 27 1-1 -10.3% 23 5.4% 27 -1.3% 20
27 NYJ -19.3% 31 1-1 -11.1% 27 8.5% 30 0.3% 12
28 ARI -19.6% 25 1-1 -10.4% 24 3.7% 24 -5.5% 32
29 TEN -20.1% 22 0-2 -5.5% 17 15.0% 31 0.4% 10
30 OAK -23.0% 17 0-2 -28.2% 32 -3.2% 10 2.0% 6
31 NO -23.0% 32 2-0 -14.4% 29 7.8% 29 -0.9% 18
32 HOU -24.9% 29 0-2 -9.7% 20 16.2% 32 1.0% 8

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 19 Sep 2006

227 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2006, 3:39pm by Chuck


by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:42pm

PHI: Number one offense in VOA after two weeks.

Bring it on, Bill Barnwell. Congratulations that your team won, but ha ha on being wrong about PHI's pass offense. :)

Sigh. The 14% VOA adjustment for fumble recovery is little consolation, however.

by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:43pm

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that ranking New Orleans at #31 will get you at least a few angry emails. I hope at least one person has the balls to use the line "Football Outsiders doesn't care about black people."

by Jersey (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:43pm

Nice to see the Eagles higher than the giants.. a small consolation price for that atroucious loss and Keare's season-ending injury

by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:44pm

Wow, NO must be really low on that preseason ranking...

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:49pm

I just dont understand how the Pat's offence grades out as significantly better than their D so far.

The offence has been god-awful, while the defence has been about mediocre. (other than 2 fluke plays)

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:50pm

The Giants have now had consecutive weeks where their VOA differential for the game (fairly assessed, IMO) doesn't match the game result. I can't imagine this happens often. Anyone know if any team has had a longer streak?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:50pm

sorry, I take that back. The run game has been good. The passing offence has been god awful.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:52pm

So instead of using the actual DVOA projections, what I’m using here are the DVOA projections adjusted for what we know now. There are three teams that this really affects

Okay, but why isn't Carolina getting dropped by the formula due to the absence of Steve Smith?

by DanT (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:53pm

I feal really bad for Aaron having to explain why the Eagles, after dominating New York for 45 minutes, are ranked higher than a team that had to get unbelievably lucky to beat them.

I'm assuming the FOMBC will apply to either the Giants or possibly the Vikings next week.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:54pm

Okay, but why isn’t Carolina getting dropped by the formula due to the absence of Steve Smith?

There might not be variables for "WR health". Green and Brooks getting injured tells you that they're not that healthy. :)

by K. Derek7 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:55pm

In what week do opponent adjustments start taking effect?

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:55pm

Anyone know if any team has had a longer streak?

Dear God, yes. Atlanta, last year. Took 8 freaking weeks before their luck started to right itself.

by admin :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:56pm

Re: 8. Yes, I thought of that after I did the numbers but by that point I was already halfway through things. (The variable is "lose big WR" not "WR health" but clearly this is having an impact on Carolina.) Depending on the medical reports this week, I'll take that into account next week. But it wouldn't do more than drop the Panthers in line with the Giants and Cowboys. For those curious, Deion Branch was already taken into account on the original preseason projections.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:56pm

I just dont understand how the Pat’s offence grades out as significantly better than their D so far

Remember that this is value over average. There have been a lot of offensive stink-fests so far this season.

by Spike (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:58pm

The guy who called first is clearly ranked too high because he just slaps a few keys and Say It! Stealing music or kicking puppies is way better than this. My well-reasoned use of copy-and-pasting paired with creative diatribe is self-evidently superior. Arrrrrr, matey!

Good to see the bizarro-Seahawks turn everyone around with defense and lousy offensive line play. If this continues against stouter foes than DET and ARI, anyone know of historical comparisons for that level of turnaround on both sides of the ball for a SB-level team?

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:59pm

Dear God, yes. Atlanta, last year. Took 8 freaking weeks before their luck started to right itself.

Atlanta was inordinately lucky early last year, but I can't imagine they had a lower VOA than Minnesota in Week 4.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:01pm

I just noticed the "Top 5 Offenses - Through Week 2" over to the left.

4. Chi*
5. SF*

*Not Misprints

That right there brings the funnay.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:05pm

Oh, and I nearly forgot: Wooo! The Oakland Raiders offense as graded by VOA now finally meets my opinion of it - the worst offense I have ever seen in my entire life.

Yeah, some of that is due to Baltimore's defense. But unless Baltimore exudes waves of "you must be inept... you must be inept..." they didn't cause Brooks's pair-o-fumbles at the beginning of the game.

Mark my words: the Raiders are going to surpass the 49ers -40% offensive DVOA this year. And that's with actual offensive talent on the team. That's incredible. My brain simply cannot comprehend how bad the Raiders coaching staff and front office is.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:07pm

hahahaahaha not misprints...

this place sometimes still feels the same.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:07pm


Please, dear God, not the FOMBC! I'm going to try to ward it off with a preventive "The Giants don't deserve to be ranked any higher than this! Really!"

Between losing a game we should have won, and wining a game we should have lost, it pretty much evens out. The luck factors drop us two spots, which isn't that much. Though I suspect we'll make it up once the opponent adjustments come into play.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:07pm

Indy's defense looks pretty shaky here. With the 20% weighting, clearly the Giants game--primarily rushing D I assume--is dragging them down. But the highly rated Philly D also let up a bunch of points to NYG. Hmmm.

Plus Indy totally stomped lowly HOU until the reserves stepped in in the 4th quarter, which I guess hurts them statistically, as well... handing David Carr a 120+ rating day, despite the circumstances.

Looks like another year of bend, don't break. The trick is all in how much they bend.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:09pm

You know what make Oaklands offensive numbers even funnier...they have a +15.4% adjustment. That means that they've been lucky to be as bad as they've been.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:12pm

I mentioned this elsewhere, but it's appropriate here too as well:

Why would anyone complain about the Giants ranking? Yeah, they won. So what? Tons of teams win luckily. Some of them even win luckily all the way through the Super Bowl. But is any Giants fan in the world really honestly not worried about their secondary right now?

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:14pm

So, on the subject of Oakland: under the VOA formula, is it possible to have a rating lower than -100%? I'd imagine that you can - if a play that's expected to gain, say, two and a half yards actually loses five, that seems like it should be -125% or something similar - but I want to know for sure if I have that to look forward to this year.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:15pm


It's no worse than it was last year.

In other words, it's a huge problem, and yes, I'm very worried.

by Eric (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:15pm

"New Orleans is clearly ranked too high because Reggie Bush is so overrated. ESPN's power ranking is way better than this. Houston is cleerly the best team in the NFL and just had a few bad brakes that made them lose early."

How's that?

Nice job as always and as confusing as ever. I'm glad to see my 9ers actually starting to show a marked improvement.

by Stinky Landlubber Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:16pm

Ahoy Mateys!

At last SF seem to be emerging from the cesspool grouping them with OAK and HOU. Despite having a young, unproven QB, new OC and only 1 WR.

Gore for President!

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:17pm

I think so. V+ is linear, isn't it? VOA is just "(actual V+ - average V+)/(average V+)", I think. So if a team fumbles every single snap - and that's not far off from what Oakland's doing, dear God - that'd be well over -100%.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:19pm

In other words, it’s a huge problem, and yes, I’m very worried.

Exactly. Which is why I can't understand how someone could possibly want New York ranked higher. Their offense looked pretty good - the running game shone against Indy, the passing game looked good late against Philly - but the defense just looks... bad. That's Minnesota, 2004, and an average ranking.

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:19pm

Oh, good.

And, re: 27, the "new OC" seems to be working out in the Niners' favor. Not so much for the Packers, but I suspect that horse is going to be soundly beaten by the end of the season.

Shiver me timbers!

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:20pm

Okay, my bad, no opponent adjustments yet. Which, of course for Indy, will just make things stranger when they kick in. Esp. if the Jags game ends something like last year's low-scoring 10-3 brawl in Week 2 (Which ESPN helpfully told me last night was the only game of 2005 to have a scoreless first half!) The Jags' O is kind of inscrutable. They seem to be working pretty well, but it's tough to say what exactly is their strength. I guess that's why their non-fox O rating is average.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:20pm

You know what make Oaklands offensive numbers even funnier…they have a +15.4% adjustment. That means that they’ve been lucky to be as bad as they’ve been.

I think the adjustment goes the other way (7 total fumbles in OAK games, 5 recovered by the other team), but a -76% VOA is still off-the-charts bad.

But is any Giants fan in the world really honestly not worried about their secondary right now?

I'd be worried about the offensive line (8 sacks?), the lack of a pass rush, and Voltron too.

by paytonrules (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:20pm

How much of that #1 for ST on the Bears is due to Robbie Goulds sudden ability to kick touchbacks?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:24pm

Yeah, you're right Travis. I was just about to correct myself on that. Oakland is actually the unluckiest team in the league, with Philly right on their heels.

In case anyone is interested, here are the luck modifiers for each team:

BAL 19.30%
SD 6.50%
CHI 7.70%
CIN 0.60%
JAC 5.80%
PHI -13.30%
ATL 5.90%
SEA -3.80%
BUF -1.80%
SF -6.60%
NO 3.60%
STL 7.80%
IND 2.40%
NE -3.00%
NYJ -4.50%
DAL -2.00%
MIN -0.50%
NYG 9.20%
KC 2.00%
PIT -7.70%
WAS 6.50%
GB 0.80%
CAR 2.00%
DEN 3.00%
ARI 11.90%
MIA 14.50%
CLE -4.50%
DET -4.30%
HOU 7.70%
TB -11.20%
TEN 11.30%
OAK -15.40%

by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:29pm

33: I don't think I saw a Robbie Gould kickoff at Penn State that didn't go out of the back of the end zone. He's got a leg on him.

by Bruce (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:29pm

So Aaron, is what you are saying with the two tables is that the first is how teams "are" and the second is how they are going to be come January? ... Man how lame is that if you are NO and HOU to be below OAK. Talk about your nadirs ... wooooo.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:29pm

But is any Giants fan in the world really honestly not worried about their secondary right now?

Probably no more so that I am worried about Philly's secondary. Did anyone else find it ironic that the Eagles' achilles heel was Rod Hood's bruised heel.

*I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. I'll go away now.*

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:40pm

How much of that #1 for ST on the Bears is due to Robbie Goulds sudden ability to kick touchbacks?

I think Robbie Gould's sudden ability to kick touchbacks had to do with the 68 degree weather and the 7 mph tailwind. Gamebook

Kickoff distance when defending the south goal: 58, 61, 65 (Hanson had a 68 yarder).

Kickoff distance when defending the north goal: 70, 70, 70, 70 (Hanson also had a touchback).

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:40pm

Correction: Hanson's kickoff wasn't a touchback, but it reached the end zone.

by The Skeptic (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:42pm

Clearly you need to introduce a variable for Art Shell being a moron.

Seriously, though I think maybe 4th quarter performance should be waited more heavily in DVOA...the eagles should be penalized for falling apart compeltely; clutch teams tend to be more consistently clutch (e.g., Jaguars, Pats) whereas the iggles choking faculties are the reason they havent and wont win the super bowl during mcnabb's tenure.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:42pm

In order to the ease the pain of RaidahNation, maybe Aaron can release DVOA estimates for the 2010 season.

by Bencoder (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:44pm

The DVOA Pre-season data is best-worst about +40% to -40%. The actual VOA after week 2 is about +80% to -80%. Quite a spread!

So much for NFL parity so far.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:47pm

Oh my god you did not just start talking about clutch in a statistical discussion.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 6:54pm

ignore it. please.

by WalterJonesMVP (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:01pm

Blended DVOA?

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:18pm

Soo, when is actual DVOA available? I assume it's when every team is linked by opponents.

And could you run DVOA by adjusting the first two weeks against your predictions?

by Zug Zug (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:18pm


I am a Giants fan and I am not worried about our secondary. Unless it rains, cardboard kind of wilts then.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:19pm

Bobman #21:

But the highly rated Philly D also let up a bunch of points to NYG.

The Philly D gave up perhaps 20 points to the Giants, which is respectable, but not great. The Giants were then lucky and recovered their own fumble pushed forward into the endzone on a play that started at midfield, and they recovered an Eagles fumble in easy FG territory and turned that into a touchdown. Its hard to blame the Philly D for Westbrook fumbling in Field Goal range, or for a fumble squirting forward 30 yards into the endzone.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:22pm

Well, obviously, the Bears matchup with the Vikings in Minny this Sunday will put my theory to a significant test, that Aaron's pre-season projected wins for the Vikings seriously miscalculated how horrid their coaching was last year, even compared to a completely new coaching staff this year. On the other hand, the Vikings lost another significant player for the season on Sunday, starting de Erasmus James. In about one month now the Vikings have lost two starters (DE and SS) on defense, their number one nickelback, and their first round draft pick linebacker, to season ending injuries, and it seems to me that Aaron was basing a good part of his Vikings projection on expected injuries. I think, however, that might have pertained more to an expected injury to Brad Johnson.

I'd like to know what value Aaron assigns to expected injuries when projecting wins, and how he develops an injury expectation. If he has developed a formula to consistently predict injuries with some accuracy, well, that would be a tremendously valuable ability for projecting a team's wins, and I'd certainly keep it proprietary.

I certainly had fears that the injury bug would get the Vikings on the defensive line and quarterback, and to some degree those fears are being borne out, and those fears are accentuated by the injuries elsewhere. Those fears were simply a gut feeling based on players' past injury histories, which really is hard to translate into a specific impact on wins and losses. I have more confidence now than I did a month ago regarding their depth at defensive line, however, so I haven't yet conceded defeat to Aaron's formulas, even though I'd like to see them all in detail.

by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:24pm

Didnt know where to post, but I just heard that Volek was traded to San Diego for a 6th rounder. WTF is going on in Tenessee, and what did Volek do to get run out of town?

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:34pm

Nice. I guess as a Seahawks fan I should hope for rain then?

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:34pm

Alex Smith! Alex Smith!

I was looking at the upcoming SF-Philly matchup. Right now the Eagles are favored by 6 in SF, which shows a lot more respect for SF than was shown last year.

McNabb should get his numbers pretty easily. But if Philly has a decimated secondary again, I think San Fran can put up the points to make this game competitive. I'm a little worried about how much room Gore will have after the Giants weren't able to do much. They need Vernon Davis or Eric Johnson to be a threat to open up the field for the other receivers and Gore.

The Niners have been competitive at home the last couple years so hopefully they can pull it out.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:35pm

I know "clutchness" is a phantom element in discussing performance measured via statistics, yet it is undeniably true that choking is a painfully obvious element in the last round of golf tournaments, especially major tournaments, and that some players are obviously more prone to choking than other players. Are we to presume that choking does not exist in football, or merely that choking is randomly distributed, or that choking simply is unmeasureable?

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:38pm

what did Volek do to get run out of town?

Probably complained about being demoted from starter to third-stringer in favor of Kerry Collins (how's that working out, Jeff Fisher?) until he was blue in the face.

by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:41pm


but what got him demoted? Hes obviously serviceable. Theres got to be something seriously wrong there that they felt Kerry Collins with having never seen the playbook was a better option than Volek, whos been #2 for years

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 7:47pm

I think that, except in a few rare instances, it's too difficult to distinguish actual chokes from the statistical noise.

Case in point: everyone's favorite whipping boy, the Colts. Early playoff exits in each of the last 3 years, but all 3 defeats were at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champions, and all were decided, in part, by some improbable events (WR fumbles vs. NE, the entire final 5 minutes vs. Pittsburgh). Did they choke? Did they get lose to superior teams? Did they just lose out on a few breaks against their equals? I think you can make the case for any of the possiblities; I don't see the evidence for any of them as definitive. (ok, the Vanderjagt kick vs. Pittsburgh was a definite choke).

by Justus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:02pm

"choking is a painfully obvious element"

It is also painfully obvious that the world is flat and the sun revolves around the earth :)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:05pm

Yeah, that's kind of what I think, George. Whereas is golf, especially in the advent of super slo-mo, you can physically observe changes in a golfer's fine motor movements as pressure mounts, and the decisions made by the golfer are more discrete, a football player's behavior is so much more difficult to observe discretely.

Of course, since clutchness is really hard, if not impossible, to establish in hitting a baseball as well, maybe it's opposite, choking, is simply less prevalent when muscle movement is more reactionary. We've certainly seen baseball careers succumb to pretty obvious choking in throwing the ball, like when a pitcher suddenly can't come close to the strike zone anymore, or a 2nd baseman all of a sudden can't make the relatively simply throw to first base, but I don't know if we've ever seen it demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt to be mostly situational, except in perhaps some cases where a guy was good middle reliever, but gagged completely when asked to close out games.

by Malene, cph (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:09pm

re: 57: ah, come on.

I'm pretty sure anyone involved in sports on a higher level knows about that one person on your team that folds when it matters. I know I was that girl. And I certainly felt it as "painfully obvious" when I was going to the line for a penalty throw. Everything tightened up etc.

If I say that I believe that certain individual players deal with pressure in ways significantly better or worse than average, it doesn't mean I believe in UFOs or Voodoo or denounce DVOA.

However, I agree that it's ridiculous to call an entire team "chokers", esp. when referring to ever-changing groups of individuals.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:10pm

But if Philly has a decimated secondary again, I think San Fran can put up the points to make this game competitive.

Nope. The reason New York took advantage is that Toomer and Burress are really big: 6'3", 200, and 6'5", 230, and the backup corners for Philly are really short and very light. They were being played off the line because it's better to hope that Manning screws up than give up an almost certain TD on one play.

The 49ers, however, have a 6'1", 200 lb guy, and a 6'2", 190 pound guy. Not as horrible a matchup for Philly. San Francisco might be able to get a few large plays, but the short underneath route that New York rode to victory will be gone.

and that some players are obviously more prone to choking than other players.

Here's the thing about "clutchness" "choking" etc., whatever.

Most people don't understand the difference between a clutch play and a clutch player. Adam Vinatieri making a kick in the Super Bowl. Clutch play? Yes.

But in order to find a clutch player, you have to have a method of measuring 'clutchness', and then show that it's predictive. Without a predictive nature, it's just noise, and you're cherry picking ('Brett Favre is undefeated at home under 34 degrees when not playing an African American quarterback wearing the number 7').

With only 16 games a season, there's basically no way to identify a clutch player. There aren't enough opportunities.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:11pm

#53: "Clutch" itself is a self-serving sample created to prove certain players' "clutch-ness." Even then, the most generous samples are so small that they're basically useless. The much, much, much more rational explanation is that bad players play poorly consistently, and good players play well consistently. Then, every once in a while, they're in a situation which people generally consider "clutch."

Usually, people will say "well, he's reliable" or "man, he sucks." Sometimes, however, a player is overrated by the general populace. If he succeeds, he's suddenly "clutch" based on a few tests. If he fails, he's a "choker," based on the same small number of tests.

The biggest football discussion on this is probably Vanderjagt vs. Vinateiri. PFP did a good job of showing that, in "clutch" situations, they were very close in "clutch" situations (75% and 79%, respectively). The main thing was that Vanderjagt is a generally erratic kicker, so when he missed, he's a choker (despite his average distance on these kicks being well above average). Vinateiri had a close percentage (which was very pedestrian, comparatively), but had so many attempts that he was able to collect enough successes to get a reputation.

Clutch is a crutch (See what I did there? Eh?) used by analysts either too lazy or uncurious to do anything other than parrot talking points.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:13pm

(ok, the Vanderjagt kick vs. Pittsburgh was a definite choke).

I disagree. He'd been honking kicks all year. Hell, he'd been honking kicks all his career. Some of them went through, but for the past couple of years, every once in a while, Vanderjagt just completely and utterly screws up. If he's lucky, the kick still goes through. Sometimes it's in pressure situations. Sometimes not.

He probably is the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL, but he's definitely not the most consistent.

by Ralph (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:14pm

ESW seems kind of... pointless? Seems like it is just a way to make your preseason projections look more correct than they were.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:15pm

Incidentally, regarding golf, is it proven anywhere that a pressure effect exists? Is there a measure for it, and is it predictive?

You can always find an outlier in statistics through any measure if you look enough, but the determination of whether or not it's real is if it's repeatable in an independent data set.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:16pm

ESW seems kind of… pointless?

It'd be pointless if it wasn't for the fact that historically, that weighting does better at predicting the end of the season than the current VOA does.

Wait until the end of the season, come back, and look, and see which one's more accurate. :)

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:21pm

I'm kind of surprised New England grades so poorly on defense, too. Their defense gave up only 10 points against Buffalo (remember, one TD was a fumble run back, so it wasn't on the defense), and, as Rich pointed out, minus two blown plays, they played very well against the Jets and gave up only 3 points. In both games the run defense was stifling. I thought the impact of giving up just a couple of big plays was smaller than apparently it is, but maybe this will shake itself out as the season goes on (assuming it doesn't become a habit).

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:29pm

Somewhat ironically, a large number of plays that do a good job of prolonging your drive (and therefore raise your chances of getting points) are worth a great deal, whereas a couple 3-play TD drives from short or ridiculously long over a couple games will be worth less. The former is much more predictive of future success than the latter.

Not sure if that applies to the NE games, but that's what it sounds like.

by Molloy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:35pm

RE: the Volek situation, I've read that he was replaced because he performed badly in the preseason.

Indy's D is ranked 30th/26th? Damn. Looks like the Jags might have a shot come Sunday.

by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:36pm

Fnor, but thats not what happened with NE, there were a couple of 3 play drives for TDs, but no sustained drives.

The Jets were utterly shut down except on 2 plays, and buffalo wasnt very different.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:38pm

For the new stat name I vote for EVOA, for "Estimated Value Over Average". EDVOA might actually be more accurate, but gets a bit long. "Est DVOA" could also work.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:39pm

Justus, when the golfers themselves tell us their fine motor movement changed in response to the emotions felt in the last few holes in a golf tournament, and the changes can be observed on tape, and many players endeavor to develop a simpler swing that will be more easily repeatable when under emotional duress, it's pretty irrational to propose that the theory of people choking is akin to the theory that the earth is flat. Is it really your contention that emotional stress plays no role in regards to the ability to repeat a very specific muscle movement, or that every human being is the same in this regard?

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:44pm

Rich pointed out, minus two blown plays, they played very well against the Jets and gave up only 3 points.

Might giving up the occasional big pass play be a consequence of the New England style of defense? Last year, they were worst in the NFL in allowing 40+ yard pass plays, and in 2004, they finished tied for 2nd worst (though far behind KC).

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:46pm

re: Eagles vs 49ers

"The 49ers, however, have a 6′1″, 200 lb guy, and a 6′2″, 190 pound guy. Not as horrible a matchup for Philly. San Francisco might be able to get a few large plays, but the short underneath route that New York rode to victory will be gone."

What about if they line up Vernon Davis out wide or in the slot? He's as fast as a wideout and 6-3, 255 lbs, and Eric Johnson is about the same size as well.

by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:47pm

Heres the drivechart for the Jets

TOP/field Pos/Plays/Yards/Result

1:54|NYJ 29|6|17|Punt
3:21|NYJ 22|6|31|Punt
4:20|NYJ 20|9|34|Punt
2:58|NYJ 20|6|34|Punt
0:55|NYJ 36|4|4|Punt
0:14|NYJ 22|1|-1|End of Half
3:35|NYJ 22|6|24|Downs
2:42|NYJ 28|4|72|Touchdown
3:27|NYJ 19|7|81|Touchdown
5:18|NE 49|10|25|Field Goal
1:00|NYJ 9|7|36 Interception

The two drives with touchdowns involved broken plays, the first one a 71 yard Jerico Crotchery get-hit-by-2-defenders-in-the-air-and-never-touch-the-ground-mess, the second one a 46 yard Laverneus Coles greased-deaf-guy impression.

I just can't see anything in there other than those two plays where the D didnt play well

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:48pm

MJK (#65 )--

Slight correction: against Buffalo, the run defense was stifling in the second half. Buffalo scored its 10 offensive points after respectable drives, and the drive the ended with the failed fourth-down conversion was also quite respectable, up to that point.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:49pm

#69: I didn't see the game. He seemed shocked that they had bad VOA. I was pointing out that talking about points won't give you any coherent VOA argument.

#71: That doesn't tell you anything. What's to say that the nervous twitches don't help the player? As for player practice, players also wear the same socks on certain days or snap against certain walls. What players believe, especially about something that no-one's bothered to quantify, measure or analyze, doesn't tell us anything. Or that the twitches are relevant at all? You're presupposing:
-A player would normally perform normally on that specific trial
-Any subtle movement has an effect on the strike
-This subtle movement will always be detrimental
-This movement will not only be detrimental, but dispositive of the result of the play

Those are gigantic suppositions, all more or less required for this notion of "clutch" to have any validity.

I think this is a good example of what I believe clutch really is: a cypher through which people justify presupposed views of an player or event.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 8:59pm

Pat, I don't know whether anyone has ever tried to prove a pressure effect on golf scores, and with weather and hole placement variables, it may be tough to do. Just a gut feeling on what I've observed (and may be completely inaccurate) in major golf tournaments, however, is that the low score on the last day more often than not comes from someone who isn't among the leaders, where the most emotional tension is felt, but from someone who really does not have a chance to win. This isn't dispositive, even if it were established, however, in that the wind earlier in the day, before the leaders go out, tends to be less strong, and golfers without a chance to win have the incentive to play more aggressively on a difficult golf course.

Like I said above, however, to believe that choking as a phenomena does not exist, one has to believe that tension does not affect muscle movement significantly, or that there is no consistent significant difference in how different humans react to these situations.

by Erik Smith (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:01pm

#3. Fumble luck will do that. NYG recovered 4 out of 4, to Plax's glee and Westbrook's pain.

Despite suffering the 8 sacks, Eli's grateful to them for pouncing on his TWO fumbles.

I just hope the Eagles can make something good out of the loss. I'll be at the game this week, and they better not screw it up. They should take note that SF has been able to move the ball this year.

by Yosi Scharf (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:05pm

re #72:

The Patriots' tendency to give up big pass plays last year was far less because of any style of defense than a tendency to sign people off the street and have them start at cornerback or safety. Almost all of those plays were during the middle of the season stretch that the entire starting secondary was injured. In 2003, the Patriots did not give up a big pass play after the first game until the Superbowl after both starting safeties were injured.

by Willsy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:11pm


Will, I totally agree with you re choking and I know of clubs and coaches who have developed strategies and coaching systems that have really helped to mitigate ( but not eliminate) it's effect. I am a Vikings fan and while I am delighted with the two wins I agree the leaching away of talent is going to hurt but the main factor that you have observed that I totally agree with is that the team just looks more cohesive and organized. I dont think we have been particularly lucky (in fact Williamson's drops are making us unlucky) but seem to be more persistant. This weekend is going to be fascinating as it is likely we again wont get much given to us on offense but so far it has been a thrill seeing the men in purple playing near their potential. Hopefully they wont choke! I thought the DVOA numbers are probably quite accurate as we havent been fantastic but solidly respectable and taken our chances.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:14pm

Gee, I dunno, Fnor, I suppose it is possible that the fact that no living top quality golfer on earth has ever proposed that having a nervous, inconsistent, twitch has improved his golf score, may not tell us anything about the value of nervous, inconsistent twitches. How likely is that, however? I suppose it is possible that it is only chance that the most effective players have their swing change the least, but how likely is that?

I'll ask you; is it your assertion that nervous tension plays no role in the ability of humans to repeat a specific muscle movement, or that humans have no signifigant difference in how nervous tension affects their ability to repeat a muscle movement?

by Drew C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:17pm

Is the 80/20 split in the second table arbitrary, or was it determined by finding the mix that produced the highest correlation coefficient with results for the rest of the season?

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:21pm

What about if they line up Vernon Davis out wide or in the slot? He’s as fast as a wideout and 6-3, 255 lbs

But he's not actually a wide receiver: in two games, he's had 4 catches for 6 yards, along with one 31-yard catch, and that was a short pass that Davis got a bunch of yards on. They don't throw it to him deep, very likely because he's not a wide receiver, and adjusting to the ball is probably not one of his strengths yet.

Philly handled Shockey extremely well (last year, too - the game where he got a bunch of yards in, it was only because they threw to him a bajillion times) during the last game, even late.

I don't think that's a problem. You just don't use tight ends the same way as wide receivers, and I don't think they'll end up putting a corner on Vernon Davis. :)

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:23pm

or that there is no consistent significant difference in how different humans react to these situations.

Or that the reaction isn't controllable, which is, I think, more likely.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 9:36pm

68: The problem with that theory is that it's demonstrably not true. Volek was 25/39 for 320 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. QB rating around 87, which is typical for him.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:02pm

"I’m kind of surprised New England grades so poorly on defense, too. Their defense gave up only 10 points against Buffalo (remember, one TD was a fumble run back, so it wasn’t on the defense), and, as Rich pointed out, minus two blown plays, they played very well against the Jets and gave up only 3 points. In both games the run defense was stifling. I thought the impact of giving up just a couple of big plays was smaller than apparently it is, but maybe this will shake itself out as the season goes on (assuming it doesn’t become a habit)." - MJK #66,

Unless I am mistaken, the rating still contains a large preseason weighting, and FO had NE's D at #27. Don;t get me started on how idiotic that is, but I think that is why.

#72, "Might giving up the occasional big pass play be a consequence of the New England style of defense? Last year, they were worst in the NFL in allowing 40+ yard pass plays, and in 2004, they finished tied for 2nd worst (though far behind KC)."

The two aren't related at all. NE's long pass plays allowed last year were due to terrible coverage. Multiple times each game uncovered receivers were streaking down the field. It was brutal. OTOH, I have to assume that you didn't see the highlights of the NE/NY game because the two plays that occured have about a .02% chance of happening again this season.

If Hail Mary and Immaculate Reception type plays keep happening, then I will conceed the issue. For now, I feel very safe in assuming that the secondary and the overall D itself is much better than people think.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:03pm

So when did this website turn to golf? I think you have to remember in football everybody, and both teams, will be dealing with a pressure-packed situation. So a "clutch" player is one who does better than the others on the football field, and vice versa for an un-clutch one.

Good to see SF fans get all excited because their QB played 2 terrible defenses (St.L away is a totally different team than at home). Under A.Reid, the Egles have played consistently well away compared to at home, 20 losses at home and 22 losses away (which, by the way, seems to be a trend for Philly teams). 6 points seems to show a lot of credit for SF.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:09pm

Pat, is it your contention that the ability of different humans to repeat a muscle movement under stress does not resemble the typical bell-shaped curve? Or, which I think more likely, that when we are talking about professional athletes, they lie so far out on the tail that the differences are difficult, if not impossible to measure?

Think of how different humans in general react to the same environmental stimuli. To put forth the most extreme examples of the effects of stress, imagine two individuals in the same combat unit, right next to each other, exposed to the same stimuli. One can continue his duties, while the other cannot. Is it your proposition that this outcome was entirely random, that (and this is horrible to contemplate) if their recent memories were erased, and they were exposed to the same stimuli again, that their outcomes would be as likely to reverse as they would be to repeat?

On a thankfully far less momentous basis, controllability is not essential to the existence of choking. It is only necessary that different humans have a non-random response to stress. How unlikely is that?

by Molloy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:17pm

85: You and I may know that, but Jeff Fisher disagreed, for some reason. Thing is, Collins didn't look so bad on paper. He finished 11th in DPAR last year, and had okay numbers trad-statwise. I didn't expect him to tank as badly as he has.

by Matt C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:19pm

Re 83: Vernon Davis missed most of a quarter in week one with a hip contusion and then was not as effective on his return (though he fumbled before that) and the niners used a great deal of max protect against the Rams; so don't count him out yet. I'm pretty sure I'd pay him plenty of attention. I still think that Bryant and Battle will make a few plays downfield, its not all about size (don't Philly have some injury problems in their secondary?). All in all, I am reasonably confident that th niners will be able to put some points on the eagles, I'm more worried about Westbrook and Stallworth, as the niners don't have much speed on defense.

re 87: I'd like to respond to your post but it's so badly written. I'd end up having to guess at what you are trying to say. Never mind, keep trying!!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:20pm

Kevin, I only used golf because the individual is easier to isolate, and the movement involves zero reaction to the movement of others. I suspect that different NFL players have their movements and decision making affected by stress in different amounts, because I suspect that different humans' reaction to stress is non-random, although I think that NFL players are so far out on the tail, and their behavior is so intertwined, it becomes really tough to seperate them. I thus would be very, very, cautious about labeling a NFL player a choker.

....unless, of course, he was kicker who hadn't missed a kick all year, and then pushed one off to the right in the closing minutes of the NFC Championship Game, thus rendering a 15-1 regular season a forever painful memory....nope...my emotions don't affect my behavior....not at all.....

by admin :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:21pm

Man, 90 comments? I have no idea how I'll find the time to go through and answer questions, but I'll try at some point. Meanwhile, the offense, defense, and special teams sheets are now all switched from 2005 to 2006. We're having some technical problems with the thing that kicks out the position sheets, so those are slightly delayed.

By the way, PLEASE don't paste super ultra long URL links right into your comments. It messes with the width of the page.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:24pm

74: by my count, the Jets got 9 first downs, and there were 8 sets of downs where the Patriots forced a stop, which would be a slightly above avearge VOA for the Jets, not counting the three sets of downs where the Jets scored.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:25pm

Willsy, I wouldn't call Williamson's drops bad luck. Some guys just don't catch as consistently. Hopefully, he'll cure this, and the Vikings will thus gain the full benefit of his speed.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:28pm

I wouldn't contend that "clutch" doesn't exist, but often the perceived "clutch" play of players is due to random luck and small sample size, the label is inconsistently applied, and it's also unfairly applied to quarterbacks.

Is Brian Dawkins a "choker" because his team is 1-4 in games beyond the NFC Championship game? A different question. Suppose that a kicker goes 1/3 in a close Superbowl. Is he a choker?

Suppose Brady and Montana were contemporaries, and played five superbowls each, all against each other. If one of them goes 4-1, which is highly likely even if they're perfectly equal, "clutcher?" Is the other one a choker?

Let's just admit that we don't have nearly enough information to prove that players perform significantly better or worse under "pressure", even if we can define what "pressure" means. (Usually we'll selectively define it such that players we've already labeled as "clutch" come out that way.)

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:32pm

Apologies for the ungrammatical sentence in the previous post.

A question on the DVOA rankings.

Is it possible that the Raiders will break the system like the Niners and Texans did last year? If someone beats them in a reasonably convincing 21-7 game, will their DVOA plummet because the Raiders were so bad before?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:34pm

I would agree with that yaguar, except I think it very unlikely that anyone's performance actually consistently improves as the stakes rise within the context of athletic competition at the highest level, while it is much more likely that some individuals have their performances degraded. In other words, choking is more likely than coming through in the clutch.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:38pm

For The Pats D ranking (which is 22nd based soley on thier two games this season), it's not based on how many points they gave up, it's based on how many successful plays. Remember they couldn't stop the Bills running game, and the Jets were able to move the ball without resorting to lucky plays. And the final interception would be counted as a hail mary in Aaron's ratings, and has a much smaller penalty than a regular interception does.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 10:42pm

I feel bad for Niners fans. when opponent adjustment comes into play, they're going to be hit hard. But hey, I suppose ride the wave while its good.

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 11:14pm

I propose the use of the word "clutchiness" to describe the tendency to label certain players as either a "clutch player" or a "choker" based on anecdotal evidence rather than statistics. As in, "The only Patriots games I've ever watched have been their Super Bowls, but that Vinatieri is one clutch kicker!"

by asg (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 11:30pm

Is it me, or does this sentence from the Jax entry:

The three worst defenses so far this year all reside in the AFC South. This week we'll see how the Edge-less Colts fare against the one AFC South defense that does not.

... make no sense whatsoever?

by admin :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 11:36pm

The funny thing is that I just sent a fix to the FOX guys and the subject line in the e-mail said "my comment that makes no sense." That will be fixed, as will the Panthers logo.

The answer to comment 82 is the latter, sort of, but it's really a lot more complicated than that, which is why I'm not even finish developing the formula yet. But it is not arbitary.

by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 11:39pm

I don't know which thread to put this in, but the Falcons have just signed Morten Andersen to a one-year contract - link under my name. Only 76 points away from the scoring record!

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/19/2006 - 11:55pm

Who dey, who dey, who dey think they gonna hit that appendix?

Umm... except that his appendix isn't there anymore for them to hit, right?

by Nick (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:12am

@87 Good to see Eagles fans get all cocky because their QB played 2 terrible defenses (NYG away is a totally different team than at home).
Hate to point this out to you, but the Eagles have played worse defensive teams than the 9ers have this year.

by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:16am

104: Good point, but that's still a great line...

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:17am

Re: 104

True, he no longer has an appendix per se. But the radio announcers noted late in the game (after I turned off the TV, but before I turned off the radio, so we're talking last five minutes or so) that Ben took a shot from a defender where his appendix would have been, if he still had it. I still have my own appendix, so I can't be sure, but I have a feeling that's a spot you wouldn't want a guy to stick his helmet 10 days after your appendix was taken out. So it's possible the Bengals might go after that spot. It's still legal to hit a QB in his missing appendix, isn't it?

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:21am


Minor note. Al Harris had little responsbility on Joe Horn's "big day" which amounted to a 57 yard pass play when the defensive alignment had Brady Popping(!) covering Horn at the line of scrimmage with help from Manuel which is like not having any help at all.

As for game 1, MM's big catches were against Woodson who couldn't handle the man's strength/height.

Harris has not been perfect, but he is NOT anywhere NEAR the problem with the Packer defense. As I have written far too much the top 3 reasons the defense stinks are:

1. Marquand Manuel
2. Nick Collins
3. Brady Poppinga

None of these players has cover skills. Manuel is absurdly slow. Collins has no ball awareness. Poppinga just looks lost.

After two games I have to wonder what EXACTLY the Packer coaching staff saw in practice that led them to believe these guys are capable of playing regularly in the NFL. Unless, of course, the backups are that much WORSE which is pretty hard to imagine.

Anyway, if you don't believe me check out Bob McGinn's column at the Journal-Sentinel. The guy does a fantastic breakdown of each game. He would fit in well around here.

by peachy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:45am

"Evil three-headed beast of mediocrity" might be the most brilliant line I've seen anywhere all week... and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that my boys in Jax have (at the moment) the easiest remaining schedule, including six games against the (so far) feeblest NFL defenses. I'm actually looking forward to the game next week, which I rarely do...

by D (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:45am

The Bears rank first in passing DVOA. (Shudders)...
I know it's early in the season and that is certain to change, but it feels like I'm in the Twilight Zone. The fact that Grossman, David Carr, Alex Smith, Damon Huard, Mike Vick, J.P. Lossman, and Jon Kitna all have higher passer ratings than Carson Palmer doesn't help either.
I think Lovie Smith has shown he's not a one year wonder like Dick Jauron and deserves a contract extension.

by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:49am

Besides being absurdly slow, wasn't Manuel the safety who bit on play action in the Bears game on the TD pass to Berrian? I'm pretty sure it was him. I guess you can add "play recognition" to his weaknesses.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:59am

I'll address comment #1 in Scramble. That being said, you couldn't just write FIRST!!! like everyone else?

by DGL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:04am


Somewhere, that's notable.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:05am

And miss the chance to mock a Giants fan for being wrong? (C'mon! I can't mock the Giants for anything else given that they won!)

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:16am

Hate to point this out to you, but the Eagles have played worse defensive teams than the 9ers have this year.

Only slightly. The Giants are below average. The Texans are well below average. But both the Cardinals and Rams are below average, too. So it's mainly the difference between the Texans and the Cardinals/Rams, which isn't that big.

And Philly's offense looked far better versus them than the 49ers offense did.

Still, though, the big difference is that Philly's defense is a fair amount stronger than the 49ers is. And Philly has played significantly better offenses than the 49ers have.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:18am

Is everyone forgetting the 49ers nearly upset the Seahawks last year at Candlestick?

Also, 2 games is a pretty small sample size to start judging teams. Didn't Aaron not post DVOA until Week 5 last season because of this?

Players aren't the same year-year = teams aren't the same year-year. I think the first 4 weeks are pretty much where we start to get a feel for how teams are playing.... but things even change from Week 4 to Week 17. That's why we are glued to the television on Sunday's instead of simulating seasons on Madden.

That said, after glancing at the Week 4 DVOAs from last season, it seems 4 is a good sample size to start to see some playoff team separation.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:25am

Well being in the Bay Area and being subjected to Niners and Raiders game every week is a lot less painful this year.

The Niners historically bad offense wasn't funny (except in the 'wind game' at Chicago) because it was just a bunch of young and undertalented players. But the Raiders historically bad offense is hilarious. Randy Moss is being a relatively good team player so far, so we even have more to look forward to.

And then the Niners are fun to watch... Gore is one of my new favorite players. Despite the ill-timed comment about his going out of bounds to early, in my view he is very tough, possibly too tough, he initiates a lot of contact, gets beat up a ton, and he's a little guy.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:31am

Will Allen:

All you need to know about "Clutchness" and "Choking" is that AJ Feeley grades out closely similar to Tom Brady in the Clutch to Choke ratio when you examine Clutch (4th Quarter/OT comeback) and Choke (4th Quarter/OT loss or potential loss due to QB actions) opportunities.

People don't think of Brady that way because his team has bailed him out of bad Choking situations he helped to create by tossing picks. See the first Miami game in 2005, or the 2003 Texans game, for example. The Texans game featured two interceptions and two fumbles by Brady that were almost enough to give the game away. Its hard to give him "Clutch" points for helping to pull the game out in the end when his late game "Choking" put them in the situation to begin with.

I would suspect that most NFL QB's are actually pretty similar in this regard in terms of what they have accomplished when the opportunity has arisen. How else to explain the presence of just terrible QB's like Jake Plummer and Aaron Brooks up near the top of the 4th Quarter comeback?

by tim (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:32am

Don't like the vikes much, huh? 8-8? Try 10-6 and a wildcard, easily. Vikng "D" will be a top 10 unit all this year and the avg "O" will get just enough done. Like numbers? Crunch the "D" numbers the last half of '05 and ooops, what do ya know, not bad,eh? Yeah, I'd laugh if they lucked into the superbowl but this team has a good core of personnel that could peak next year and certainly are a little better than "8-8" this year! I'll bet you're one of those guys that think the Lions will have a better record, why do I bother with sports idiots like you....

by Nick (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:53am

@Pat I understand that. I just thought it was an odd insult to the 49ers fans, when the exact same thing could be said about the Eagles. Truth be told I expect the Eagles to win next week; I just hope the 9ers can continue to look like an improving young team that keep it close and beat the spread (and if they get a little lucky maybe steal the victory)

by MDD (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:54am

Minnesota is clearly ranked too low because Vikng “D� will be a top 10 unit all this year and the avg “O� will get just enough done. . Crunching the “D� numbers the last half of ‘05 is way better than this. Yeah, I’d laugh if they lucked into the superbowl but this team has a good core of personnel that could peak next year and certainly are a little better than “8-8″ this year! I’ll bet you’re one of those guys that think the Lions will have a better record, why do I bother with sports idiots like you….

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:56am

Can someone tell me why mediots on ESPN (Golic and Salisbury) are jumping on David Akers for "starting a fight" on the Giants sideline? It doesn't even look like they looked at what really happened.

Will Allen:
Williamson had a 46% catch rate last season... but he looked pretty consistent from what I saw Week 1.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:07am

For the life of me, I can't figure it out. Even some Philly fans are apparently convinced that Akers "launched" himself at the coach.

Wha? Excuse me? The guy was blocked in the back, into the sidelines, and a quarter second later, he's crashing into a guy. If Akers' mind moves so fast that in the split second between him trying to tackle the guy rushing for a touchdown and crashing into the person, he realized what had happened and decided to maliciously attack someone, man, I want him designing plays for the Eagles.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:14am

54,55,68 About Billy Volek

Not 100% sure what he did to lose the starter's position after filling in for McNair pretty well in the past, but I suspect it has something to do with Jeff Fisher's last kid being born WITHOUT one of those little moustaches....

Seriously, though, a team that is hurting at QB trades away a serviceable backup/potential "place-holder starter" for a draft choice... he must have committed some kind of unforgiveable crime.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:37am

Nice to see Vikings fans can be as irrational as anyone else's, but then I never really doubted it.

Matthew, I am nearly as suspicious regarding catch percentages as a means of evaluating wide receiver performance as I am of using adjusted sack totals as a means of evaluating offensive line play. I don't know yet whether Williamson will be an above average receiver or not, but if he consistently drops like he did in the Redskins game, then he obviously won't.

As to quarterbacks choking, I don't know if it can be measured, but I'm pretty sure that seperating fourth quarter play has problems. Look, particularly in the playoffs, or against good teams in general, stinking the joint out in the first half is not really compensated for by playing well in the fourth quarter. I am just suspicious when people make the blank assertion that stress has no effect on human performance, or that stress affects different individuals in a random manner.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:39am

Yaxley (107), I had my gallbladder out 4 days after Ben had his appendix removed in a similar (though non-emergency) operation. I'm no pro athlete, but right about now I could handle a punch or two in the gut--not a helmet followed by 250 lbs of linebacker, but still a hard hit. Every day there is some improvement. In a week, I figure I'll be 99% fine and if Ben didn't hurt anything extra yesterday, he should be ahead of me on the healing curve.

That's a big "if" though. Just reaching for overthrown passes from my 5 year-old as recently as Saturday (9 days post-op) really strained my insides. Today (Tues night) that same reach did not bother me much at all--very minor twinge, but I made several stretched-out catches insted of pulling up short like I did just a couple days ago. But if I had Mike Pete pounding me, the story would be different. Plus I did no heavy-duty drugs past the third day and these guys have effective pain-killers (better than Advil).

Bottom line, I am afraid that once he brushes the rust off, he's likely to be fine. I still find the fractured sinus the most amazing thing to recover from. I wonder what happens inside his head if he gets a cold....

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:42am

Re: Volek
Could it be that he just sucks?

I'm sick of the myth that these young QBs are diamonds in the rough. If Volek was so great, he'd be worth more than a 6th round pick.

The past couple of years the same things were said about Ramsey... and he just isn't that good. Eventually those young QBs get passed up by better players... Vince Young put up Volek-like numbers.

That's my cynical take on these things, but the only QB that seems to be worth the hype of the Ramsey's and Volek's of the world is backing up in Jacksonville.

After thumbing through PFP 2006 I've thought of McCown, Craig Nall, and Matt Schuab, so that leaves Schuab as the second "close to starter" backup in the league.

Even if you read Volek's PFP blurb it doesn't heap much praise on him.... and wasn't he the primary QB on a team that ended up with a low draft pick?

Yeah... I extended my rant a little but it's been 6 seasons since Dilfer won a Super Bowl. Those young QBs need to look at Brad Johnson, Mark Brunell, Rich Gannon as people to try to emulate, if they can (it's called accuracy)... and yes I mean the Brunell of 2005.

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:52am

The Titans problems go well beyond the QB position, and have for a good while now. Volek's got a career 60% completion percentage and a 2-1 TD:INT ratio, neither of which is half bad for a backup who started relatively often. His traditional stats for 2004 were solid - 61%, 18 TDs in 10 games played to 10 INTs, and 7 yards per attempt. He was better than McNair in all categories but rushing and INTs, and he had 10 in 10 games to McNair's 9 in 8. He beat Collins in DVOA and DPAR that year, too, as well as in all traditional stats except raw yards and number of TDs. And while he didn't exactly light it up in the preseason this year, he didn't seem to have lost much, either. Switching that for an aging QB who doesn't know the offense and is in no position to take the reins for more than a season if Young doesn't pan out right away...there has to be something else there.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:54am

Even if Akers did launch himself at the coach... I still think what Jacobs and Pettigout did was wrong and deserves a league fine.

Push him down once as retaliation for the lunge. But you don't have to take him down a second time, rip off his helmet and try to kick him.

I was reminded of Sal Palontonio's report before the game (which I heard about 4 times)... where Jeremy Shockey said, "We will do... whatever it takes... whatever it takes" to win. I really don't like Sal because his Eagles bias is like King's Giants bias... but if what Shockey said is true seemed like they were going after Akers.

Another plausible answer would be that Jacobs is on steroids... judging by his rageful after-TD extracurriculars against Indy (joking, joking, joking).

by Stillio (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:04am

"...the Jaguars have the easiest remaining schedule in the league..."

Please don't start that again. It's not the Jaguar's fault that Was, Mia and KC have seemingly gone into the toilet. It's also not their fault that Hou and Ten still reside in the AFC South. And I'm pretty sure that Philly's suddenly discovered weakness for big WR and putting teams away is not a Jaguar conspiracy.

Please, do not start this 'weakest schedule' nonsense again. I do not want to hear the 2006 Jaguars called the weakest 12-4 team since the 2005 Jaguars. :(

by Pat F. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:05am

Stat name suggestion:

Preseason(-incorporating) Value Over Average -- PVOA?

Or perhaps PiVOA if you want more distinction...

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:15am

Hey, I started the year saying the most likely outcome for the Vikings this year was 9 wins, and now the FO projection is raised from 5.9 wins to 8, although I'm not sure if that only kicks in if they upset the Bears on Sunday. In any case, where I thought Aaron's projected wins calculation was most off-base in regards to the Vikings was the (going from memory) 30% chance assigned to four wins or less. Well, the first seven games look to be even more a killer, with the Bills looking tougher than I thought at home, to go with a road game in Seattle, and a home contest with the Patriots, and of course the Bears Sunday. Getting two wins right off the bat makes the likelihood of four or less pretty slim, and if they manage to steal one from the Bears (which I am NOT predicting like I did the first two wins), then I'll up my win projection to ten.

by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:16am

#34: A luck modifier? First I thought you were talking about VOA not adjusting for luck, then I realized you were talking about the difference between the VOA and non-adjusted VOA. It is funny that you can use VOA, which is about trying to separate skill from situation, and use it to also measure how lucky a team is. If Aaron ever makes a "Misc. DVOA Stats" page that should be the first thing to go in there.

This also allows it to be easily said which teams in the DVOA era had the best completely random luck and the worst.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:21am

I think the biggest early season question/surprise is just how bad might the Broncos' offense be? It can't possibly be anywhere near as bad as it appears right now, can it?

by Peter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:28am

Well, on the Vinatieri thing, there's an article in the Prospectus that shows he's had an amazing number of opportunities to win games with his kicks, and has an excellent percentage in them. I hope this isn't copyright infringement or anything, but in terms of raw percentage on "clutch" field goals, the list goes: Paul Edinger, Jeff Reed, Olindo Mare, John Carney, Rian Lindell. Jim Armstrong wrote the article, and he sums it up: "Vinatieri deserves his reputation as the best clutch field goal kicker in league history--and may always have that distinction since it is unlikely that another kicker will ever get so many opportunities, let alone convert them"

As for the QB/other player discussion, I agree that it's far harder to sum up "clutchness" than "choking." Usually the players most labeled "clutch" are also the BEST players... so doing better is difficult, if they perform up to par they're plenty "clutch." We can far more easily single out players who fail when the pressure is on, like Peyton. Or maybe Donovan McNabb.
(Yar har har, let the flames begin.)

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:35am


I don't think Volek is part of your myth that he's a young QB diamond in the rough. He's 30 years old.

by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:12am

"Getting two wins right off the bat makes the likelihood of four or less pretty slim . . . ."

Will, I think the likelihood of this happening is nearly zero. Considering that the Vikings still have all 4 games with the Lions and Packers remaining, it would take a pretty remarkable series of events (e.g., season-ending injury to Brad Johnson, Steve Hutchinson and several defensive starters in addition to those already lost for the year, rehiring of Mike Tice and Ted Cottrell, Love Boat II, etc.) for the Vikings to fail to win at least 3 more games.

I never bought into the 5.9 win projection for the Vikings. Going into the season, I figured the Vikings would be good for 8 or 9 wins, with a chance to win 10 games and secure a wild card spot. Nothing that has happened thus far makes me change my opinion. Indeed, the Vikings are in excellent shape to make the playoffs. Consider the following:

-Several projected playoff contenders in the NFC are 0-2 (Carolina, Tampa Bay, Washington), and the Vikings have a head-to-head tie-breaker advantage over Carolina and Washington.

-Teams in the NFC East and South (which collectively contain 7 teams-all but New Orleans-that were thought of as playoff contenders going into the season)
will be beating up on each other in addition to teams within their respective divisions, while the Vikings have those four games against Green Bay and Detroit in addition to winnable games against San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis.

-NFC East teams (who play the AFC South, with two excellent teams) and NFC South teams (who play the brutal AFC North, with three very good teams) seem to have more difficult nonconference opponents than do the Vikings (who play the AFC East, which other than New England consists of three less than imposing teams).

In light of all that, I think it is unlikely that both the NFC South and NFC East will have a wild card team this year. Assuming that the second place team in the NFC West will not be good enough, either, I think one wild card will come from the NFC North, meaning that the Vikings (or the Bears, if the Vikings win the division) should claim a wild card spot.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 8:45am

Pat, I see you're trying to invoke the FOMBC on us poor Giants fans - but it's not going to work, you bastard! The Giants were completely dominated, and were extremely lucky to even be in the game at the end, much less win it outright. Lost amidst the fumble discussion is the boneheaded penalties the Giants continued to make. Just before Burress's TD catch, the Giants also had consecutive offensive holding and falst start penalties that helped turn 2nd-and-1 into 3rd and 11.

Take that, you jerk!

by Random Giants Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:22am

Wow, I can't believe how stupid this was! Like I'm going to let some pocket-protector wearing, number crunching, Patriots watching (go Yankees!), calculator marrying, computer loving NERD like this Aaron Schatz (put an I in the middle and you'll get his name right!!) tell me that my Giants are worse than the Eagles. We WON!

See, what you nerds don't understand, since you never played the game, is that it takes being a real man to recover fumbles and come back that big. Nerdboy doesn't get that cause he's a nerd and probably played with computers instead of footballs! Nerd! This stuff is stooopid! Giants rul!

by DanT (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:24am

Huh, that perfectly legitimate post from a real Giants fan certainly seems like it begs the FOMBC to strike. Smite them Aaron!

by Jerry Giants fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:37am

What is the predictive value of these stats when on the Fox board you have KC ranked ahead of so many superior teams. Clearly, without their two starting tackles from last year and with Damon Huard now at QB, they are are not a good team at all.

It seems that having Phila. as the number 6 team in the league when they can only beat the Texans, the 30th worst team in the league, means that something has to be clearly off in your evaluation system.

It seem clear that there is no more predictive value to your stats than to any other power rating system.

by AhhhFresh (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:39am

I'm surprised at the spread between what I would, subjectively, consider the 3 best defenses through the first 2 games... Baltimore at -82.3%, -48.8% for the Bolts, and -23.6% for the Bears. From a fan standpoint, they all seem to have dominated relatively equally... and I certainly wouldn't have guessed that the Bears' D is actually ranked 7th.

by Jerry Giants fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:56am

The Colts are ranked 13 on your "actual" board. The Giants are ranked at 15. Philadelphia is ranked at 6 and Houston at 32.
The Colts beat the Giants and the Texans.
The Giants lost to Colts and beat Eagles
The Eagles beat Texans and lost to Giants
The Texans lost to Eagles and Colts.
Any sane person would rank Colts as best and Texans as worst. How you can rank the Eagles as a better team than the Colts baffles me. The Colts beat the Giants the Giants beat the Eagles. The Colts dominated the Texans, while the Eagles played well, they clearly did not dominate the Texans. The discrepancy in the ranking between the Eagles and Colts serves to indicate that your statistics focus too much on how "pretty" a win is rather than the fact of the win.
I know there is a big difference in viewing your rankings on the fox board, but the same sort of discrepancy appears in the difference between the Eagle and Giant rankings. The Giants have played better games against two tougher teams than the Eagles have, yet the Giants are ranked significantly lower. Why should the Eagles get so much credit for beating an inferior team and the Giants no credit for beating a clearly superior team, according to your rankings and for playing a close game against another clearly superior team?

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:59am

Ok, I'm not going to panic... not going to panic... There's still time for the Giants fans among the regulars to pop up and help cancel out the FOMBC... we're still far, far from Atlanta 2005 levels... and maybe #s 139 & 141 were really treacherous Eagles fans posting under pseudonyms - I wouldn't put it past them for a second...

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:15am

Oh, wait - DanT, did you write 139? My irony detector's out of whack this morning; I totally didn't pick up on that.

Anyway, if so, you're a very, very bad person.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:24am

#144: Poor, poor Giants fans....

by DGL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:25am

Unsportsmanlike Trolling, Failure to Adhere to Zlionsfan Template, #139, GiantsFan. Fifteen-yard penalty and loss of down.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:28am

The coordination between posts 138 and 139 was absolutely amazing. It must be some kind of setup.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:40am

New Orleans is clearly ranked too low because Football Outsiders (along with CNN and Fox News) doesn't care about Black people! My random, homer-laden system way better than this. You guys reelly liek all teh otha teamz better!!!!1!ONE!!!Eleven!

Seriously, though, I have to wonder whether Atlanta's pass defense is improved because Delhomme w/o Smith is not good and Simms has reverted to his SimmShady days, or because they've gotten better? I mean, Atlanta pretty much knew that neither Carolina nor Tampa could throw on anyone with any success, so they sold out against the run, forced third and long, and were able to defend against feeble pass offenses. Then again, they could crush my boys' souls on Monday night and make me go into a blind rage on Peachtree Street.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:45am

did you mean 139 and 140?

Unsportsmanlike trolling, DanT.

Funny though.

by Harry (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:47am


Well, I guess there aren't a lot of Sains fans here. But I agree that ranking the Saints below the Raiders struck me as the single most absurd result of the weighted DVOA. I think last years results are weighted too heavily, especially when you consider the turnover that now happens every year. Any team that swaps Aaron Brooks for Drew Brees should get an immediate 5 position bump.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:57am

It's just too much change in a year, I'm guessing. New quarterback, coming off an injury that takes time to recover, new coach, new offensive coordinator...

In any situation like that, it's possible to have everything click and have a great year, but there's no way to know it beforehand.

It's amazing how many people don't realize that the reason for the weighting in the second table isn't arbitrary. It produces the results that predict the rest of the season best.

But still, the worst thing about the Saints right now is the fact that their offense is still seriously sub-par (-7.2% DVOA), and the two offenses they've faced are well known for self-destruction, which makes their defensive ranking a little questionable.

by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:03am

#142: I too am interested in an explanation or analysis of that difference.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:03am


All these concerns will be addressed in a few weeks once there is enough data to switch from VOA to DVOA (i.e., to weight results by quality of opposition). As it is right now, we all know that the teams that have played the Texans, Raiders, Browns, Bucs, Packers, et al., will get a downward adjustment in their ranking. But there isn't quite enough data to make any of it definite.

And, as a (hopefully) reasonable Giants fan, I'm perfectly OK with admitting that Philly thoroughly outperformed my team on Sunday, but lost due to a combination of injuries, poor coaching decisions, luck, good opportunistic play by the Giants down the stretch, and a well-timed kick in the nuts.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:09am

What hath FO wrought?

I forsee a karmic arms race brewing, where fans intentionally disparage their own teams (as well as the lineage/sexual orientation/personal hygeine of various FO writers) while singing the praises of their rivals in an attempt to invoke the dreaded curse. Eventually, these reverse-trolls will become indistinguishable from the real trolls, such that the boards will become no more than a massive collection of poorly-spelled insults and nigerian email scams.

Woe, woe, woe to DanT for bringing us to this point...

by DanT (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:09am

It's highly possible #139 was posted by a (ridiculously handsome) Eagles fan. Very, very likely.

#141, however, is the real deal. It begins!

#147 - That penalty felt oddly enjoyable though. Maybe I shouldn't blame Trent Cole too much.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:14am

but lost due to a combination of injuries, poor coaching decisions, luck, good opportunistic play by the Giants down the stretch, and a well-timed kick in the nuts.

Nice try, but the FOMBC has been awoken, and it will require more sacrifices to be appeased. Bwah hah hah.

I am just suspicious when people make the blank assertion that stress has no effect on human performance, or that stress affects different individuals in a random manner.

That's not the assertion that I was making, actually. What I was saying was that stress might not have a repeatably controllable affect on people. That is, it's entirely possible that it's not that stress affects certain people differently. It's that some people don't experience the same stress as others, and whether or not pressure bothers someone might be relatively uncontrollable.

As I said before, the only way to prove "clutch" or something like that is predictability - does Adam Vinatieri respond better than his average (relative to others) in future clutch situations, for instance. Otherwise you're just cherrypicking outliers.

I think it's definitely true that some people play better under stress at times than others - Michael Jordan when sick in the playoffs, McNabb with a broken foot at one point, etc. But that doesn't mean that that is controllable, and isn't a result of being in the right mindset at the right time. The only way to show that is predictability.

by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:18am

"Clearly you need to introduce a variable for Art Shell being a moron"
That's not a variable, that's a constant.

by Riceloft (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:20am

Its good to know that the Browns are slightly better than they've looked.

I place about 1/3 of the blame for our offense on our OC Maurice Carthon. His play calling has sucked. In week one, we had two 3rd and short plays where we tried the same ill-conceived play. We lined up FB Terrelle Smith (more on him later) and rookie FB Lawrence Vickers in the backfield. We then tried to run outside the right tackle with them in a sweep. Err, what? Slow FBs + outside running = no head of steam = no gain. Jerome Harrison should’ve been given the ball on these plays, not Vickers.

The personnel packages Carthon uses are questionable. Kellen Winslow was only in on 2 3rd Down plays this past week. Jerome Harrison, who looked good in preseason and was supposed to be our 3rd down/change of pace back, has seen little action. Dennis Northcutt, while a good punt returner and slot receiver, is NOT a #2 WR. He can’t beat most starting corners in this league. I’d be much happier with Edwards and Travis Wilson starting (or even Josh Cribbs) until Joe J. comes back.

Then there’s the O-line and our “smash-mouth� FB Terrelle Smith. Smith blows. Last week on running plays he looked something like this:
Whiffed block
Met defender at the hole. Defender didn’t move.
Met defender on the outside, defender sheds block, makes tackle
Met defender at the hole, ended up on the ground.

Most runs with Smith were variations of that. It doesn’t help that the O-line wasn’t getting much/any push.

Finally, some blame (but not much) can be placed on our inexperienced QB. He can’t catch the passes he throws, though. I think we had something like 6 dropped passes last week, one of which skipped into the hands of the Cinci D.

I won’t continue my rant into the defense..

by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:24am

I'm calling shenanigans on 139. That post screams "Fake!" I'd bet the Washington coaches' payroll that it was posted by a regular reader (probably an Eagles fan), not a troll, to invoke the dreaded FOMBC. Well, it's not going to work.

Nice try.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:31am

SJM (#160 )--

Well, DanT more-or-less admitted that in post #156.

As an experiment, we should see if there's a reverse FOMBC, where fake-trolling to invoke the FOMBC on a rival team, rebounds against your own.

The 49ers are tough at home. We shall see...

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:41am

Re: Indy

It will be interesting to see what happens. They have had a LOT of injuries in camp and preseason this year, mostly on defense. Doss is still out and Freeney hasn't looked right and left the game last week. Last year they had quite a few on offense and their offense started the year flat, but then caught fire. So we'll see.

However, the Colts match up bad against the Jags. Their offense breaks down against excellent inside pressure and their corners and safeties could moonlight as Oompa Loompas. So I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Jacksonville win this meeting and have them ended up splitting for the season.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:50am

Ah, heck, it's at Seattle. I wasn't expecting them to win anyway.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:53am


You shouldn't triffle with the Football Gods like that.

BTW, did anyone else notice the that the Saints have sold out all of their season tickets and that Morten Anderson will be returning to the Dome on Monday night as a Falcon?

Could it be the Apocalypse? I hope there are some dinosaurs...

by GBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:24pm

Re: 162
Yes, the Colts have had their fair share of injuries so far, but Doss isn't necessarily one of them. He sat out game 1 but was active for game 2 and played on special teams. I believe he has just flat out lost his starting position to Bethea, but we'll see. It also appears the Colts have turned to the dark side regarding the weekly injury list, listing everyone with any pain whatsoever every week and then having most of those guys play. I believe Polian got a reprimand last year for leaving somebody off the list and I suspect this is his way of responding. that said, Freeney has not looked 100% in the first two games and did limp off and into the locker room in the 4th quarter. Nobody seems to know what to think about Vinatieri at this point.

by admin :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:30pm

Hey guys. Individual stats are now updated for QB, RB, WR, TE. We'll do adjusted line yards for the first time next week.

by Diane (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:41pm

re: When the Saints go marching (back) in to the Superdome

I'm already cringing at the thought of the ESPN talking heads spouting George Will-type prose over the importance of the Saints once again playing in the Superdome, and how it signifies the resiliency of the city of New Orleans.

The fans that will pack the Dome next Monday night aren't the ones who have been displaced from their homes ... they aren't the ones from the Ninth Ward .... they aren't the ones who had to spend DAYS in the Dome as the place of last resort when Katrina hit.

The people in the stands are the ones who have some economic means to them .. the ones who most likely got through Katrina relatively unscathed due to their living far enough inland to not be impacted by the levee breaches.

Yes, its great that the Dome was repaired and the great game of football can once again be played in it, but let's not gloss over the hard realities that JUST OUTSIDE the Dome, there are still tens of thousands of people who haven't seen their former residence in 13 months, and probably never will again.

by DanT (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:42pm

Sophandros, you make some good points. However, remember, I'm an Eagles fan! The football gods are still punishing me for the team not making Norm Van Brocklin coach in 1961.

Or, am I secretly a 49ers fan hoping to pull a super-duper reverse double jinks FOMBC switcheroo on the football gods?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:24pm

Oh, I agree, Pat, it is a really difficult thing to asess, and thus to use predictively, particularly when individual performances are as intertwined as they are in team sports, or even just head to head competition. That's why I think golf would be interesting to study; it is so much easier to isolate individual performance.
A free throw shooting study might be interesting as well.

In any case, as I said, I would be very doubtful that anyone's performance predictably rises substantially (being clutch) in conditions that typically induce stress, but I have an easier time believing that a non-trivial amount of people have their performance predictably decline substantially (choking) in conditions that typically induce stress.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:30pm

Re: 158

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:33pm

Apologies if this was mentioned previously, but I didn't feel like sifting thorugh 150 posts. Also, it's unrelated to DVOA.

In some versions of NBA Live (as memory serves), you can give players primary and secondary positions (like SF/PF, etc.), and change them around. Can you not do this is Madden? It would fix that problem with Chris Cooley.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:36pm

Seattle is clearly ranked too high because they barely beat the Lions in Week 1.

Nothing more is needed, really. We'll see how this plays out over time...

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:44pm

Re 167:
I'm in total agreement. I might try to watch some of the game but I have a feeling I'll be muting it if I watch it.

by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:15pm

I refuse to believe that #139 is actually a serious post. No, just cannot be an actual serious repeating of exactly some of the stuff Atlanta fans said last year. Nope.

by MNRX (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:11pm

164: nope

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:47pm

Just in response to the Jets comment on the FOX rankings- the complete lack of push from the offensive line is definitely troubling, but after reviewing the game, it's actually not Ferguson or Mangold. The rookies ended up playing quite well on Sunday. Ferguson was matched up against Richard Seymour for most of the game and, with the exception of one series in the third quarter, pretty much handled him. Mangold might have been even more effective, but he chose the wrong time to have a slipup- he got knocked backwards on the 4th and 1 attempt. By in large, the rookies played much better than I thought. The problem is that there were disasters going on all around them. Katnik was so bad that the team had to pull him in the second quarter and replace him with Adrian Jones, and Jones wasn't much of an improvement. And on the right side, both Brandon Moore and Anthony Clement got whipped on almost every snap. (Why the team kept running right is beyond me.) Basically, it looks like the Jets added two quality pieces, but that they need to go ahead and upgrade the other three spots before they get any return on this year's draft.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:58pm

Re: 164
Morten Andersen is a dinosaur.

Re: 149
From what I saw, with John Abraham, the Falcons defense is that good. When he was out against the Bucs, it sounded more like Simms was that bad.

Either way, I think the points to watch on Monday night are:

1) How well does Lawyer Milloy tackle Reggie Bush on passes in the flat? Last year, getting the ball to a RB in the flat hurt us almost as badly as letting the RB run up the midddle. This year, those RBs are getting whacked by Milloy as soon as they touch the ball. DeShaun Foster and Mike Alstott aren't Reggie Bush, though.

2) Can the Saints LBs stop the Atlanta running game?

3) Does John Abraham play? If he does, does he play like he did in the Carolina game? If he doesn't, will there be any pass rush against Drew Brees at all?

I think for the Saints to win, they need favorable answers for all three questions. Certainly, as a co-division leader, they won't be overlooked by the Falcons. Why, Mora the Younger was thinking about the Saints at the post-game conference after the Bucs game!

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:08pm

Re: Seattle's Comment

This week we'll see if the front seven holds against a team with an actual professional offensive line.

I think you may have to wait until Week 4 (@ CHI) to answer that question.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:10pm

175: I was trying to see who else reads MTTS.

177: What's funny is that I ran into Morten at a well known establishment in Buckhead and he said that he would play this year. Interesting.

I predict a shootout for this game, but we'll see.

167: Many of the people who work in the Dome were not the wealthiest people in NOLA. However, when you think about it, how is having the middle and upper class at an NFL game any different from what it was like before Katrina? It IS progress that enough people care to keep some sense of normalcy in the city, where everything is extremely effed up.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:35pm

Re: 179

Many of the people who work in the Dome were not the wealthiest people in NOLA. However, when you think about it, how is having the middle and upper class at an NFL game any different from what it was like before Katrina? It IS progress that enough people care to keep some sense of normalcy in the city, where everything is extremely effed up.

I think the point was that the idiotic self-important talking heads are going to be falling all over themselves trying to point out how important it is to have football (and by association, football commentators) back in the New Orleans. And how much time do you really think they are going to devote to the scores of poor people that still don't have a home? My guess would be not much.

by Diane (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:58pm

re: 179

Yes, that was what I was driving at in my original post ... thanks!

by DD Ohio (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:08pm

Stat name suggestion:

Law and Order: DVOA

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:20pm

180: True. Point taken.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:21pm

I remember when I used to check these threads and there wouldn't already be 150+ posts....sigh... how is a working man supposed to keep up with all these? :D

The Pats are about where I expected them...relatively average right now.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:34pm

The genius over at CBS Sportsline has NE ranked...wait for it...wait for it...# 2?!?

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:59pm

Yep, Pats about where I expected as well. Middle of the pack, slightly above in offense and slightly below in defense. Both the Bills and Jets offenses had enough success that I'm not willing to write off their 22nd placing as the result of the 2 long TD's by the Jets. I think they'll improve, but they're rated OK for now.

Hey Sean, on the Seymour comment. Got any charting data on that, by any chance? "Pretty much handled him except for one series" was definitely not my impression of how Seymour played.

by (slightly less) Grouchy (than usual) Bills Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:00pm

Aaron, did I read that right? JP Losman and Willis McGahee are both above average? How can this be?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:07pm

As to the Pats defence, I looked at the rankings, and their VOA was something like +30.1% against the Pass, and -27.3% against the RUN, so I dont think you can say that those two huge passing plays didnt have much affect.

I dont want to discount those plays as not meaning anything, but I'm curious as to see what the numbers would be without them.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:10pm

Just read the Fox Sports column. Minor correction: Pacman Jones' tackle came on Michael Turner's 75(!) yard run, not a 15 yard one.

Query: are there stats published for how often a team goes in what direction? I don't remember them being in PFP or appearing on here. After Sunday's TEN-SD game, Jeff Fisher commented that the Chargers were a right-handed offense, and that's why they attacked the right side of the Titans' defense. I, on the other hand, suspected it was due to the non-sucky portions of Tennessee being concentrated on the left side (Haynesworth, Bulluck, Pacman) and the sheer craptacularness (craptacularity?) of Reynaldo Hill.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:13pm

Wanker79 (#185 )--

That Prisco? I think he's just trying to jinx the Pats.

I could see the Patriots with a subjective ranking anywhere from +/-4 from their DVOA ranking, depending on how enamored you are with running/stopping the run. But #2?

Then again, one of the babble-heads (Schlereth?) from "NFL Live" had them at #4, so who knows.

by admin :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:14pm

Note: To try to answer some of the questions about the low rating of the New Orleans Saints, I have made a post on the new FO FOX Blog. Click my name for link.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:15pm

Volek Alert!!! See the link at my name, but looks like I was right to suggest something "personal" between Volek and Fisher in post 124 above. Okay, so maybe I went too far in suggesting it had to do with Mrs. Fisher (assuming there is one).

But what kind of lie would cause JF to evict the putative starting QB.

"Billy, are these your undies I found at the foot of my bed?"

"Billy, did you piss in this beer?"

"Billy, do you love me? You know what I mean...."

"Billy, does this NFL-Logo sweatshirt make my ass look big?"

Fisher, usually pretty restrained and gentlemanly, isn't telling what the lie was.

Also, post 139 rules! Aaron, I did not know you married a calculator! (great idea for a Halloween costume, BTW--easy to make, plus I can introduce my wife as a 12-C with a straight face. "I upgraded from a 10-B." Too many jokes about how everybody and their uncle has worked on a 12-C before....)

by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:28pm

Aaron: If you're reading this, Chad Pennington is missing from the passing chart on the QB stats page. He shows up on the rushing chart, though. Must be a glitch somewhere.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 7:27pm

186: taking a look at the pbp for that game, Seymour is listed as being involved in four plays. Twice for pressuring Pennington, once for a sack and once for tackling Barlow after a gain of five yards. two plays in the first quarer, one in the second and one in the third.

by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 8:05pm


He was doubled most of the game, so thats not too bad.

I just heard on the radio that the Raiders traded Jerry Porter for a high round pick to the Lions.

you have to be kidding me.

by owl jolsen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:29pm

I think the Saints will do well against Atlanta. If you look at the game the Falcons played on Sunday and not just ESPN highlight reels you'll see that Atlanta did have a little trouble. Atlanta only scored when their offense was put in the red zone, once on a very weak pass interference call and the other set up by their defense ala Simms. After that it looked it looke like a soccer game a lot of running around and no scoring. Atlanta produced 382 yds of offense vs Tampa 351 yds. Tampa was actually in the red zone more often than Atlanta. The difference in that game was Tampa is just a mess.

by jimmo (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:23am

re 195: I sure hope that's a joke. Lions talked to the Raiders about Porter, but there hasn't been a word here (Detroit) about an actual deal being done.

by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:38am


They were talking about it like it was a done deal on WEEI, but that doesnt really mean anything. It doesnt make any sense to me, although it would probably be the best use of a high pick for them in a while

by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:08am

122, 123, & 129:

David Akers has apologized to the Giants' assistant he tried to hit (see link and scroll down). This probably doesn't excuse Jacobs and Petitgout's beating on him, but it does destroy the theory that Akers had no control over where he was going.

Oddly enough, that Giants assistant was former starting FB Charles Way, who now works for the team in player development.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:52am

#199 - Holy crap - Charles Way?!! Wow, that brings back memories. I loved Charles Way - nasty, nasty blocker, and a decent runner, too, if I remember correctly; I'm really happy to hear he's still with the Giants.

Nevertheless, I think that Akers is still the last person who needs to apologize for anything in that incident.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:58am

but it does destroy the theory that Akers had no control over where he was going.

Um. What? Where did you get that idea from?

You've never apologized to someone you've run into, even if it was an accident?

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 11:16am

RE 194: The true measure of Seymour's worth isn't going to be found looking for his name in the play-by-play. Instead, look to see how many tackles Wilfork, Bruschi and Wilson had on running plays, since you can guarantee at least two linemen, and often times two and a chip, on Seymour on any running play to the left of Center.

Watching the game, I'd say his performance was good, not dominating. To say that Ferguson handled him for the most part isn't entirely true. Wilson and the JAG guard, with some help from the tight end, contained him for most of the day. The Jets choose to single block Warren on the other end, and he responded with a monster day.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 11:41am


It sounds like he appologized because feely asked him to, not because he felt he was wrong.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 11:51am

Where in the world are you getting that from? The only thing in that article about it is:

Feely said Eagles K David Akers called Sunday night to ask Feely to apologize to former Giant Charles Way, with whom Akers collided near the Giants bench on the opening kickoff before Luke Petitgout and Brandon Jacobs started pummeling Akers. Akers also called Way to apologize.

None of which leads me to believe that Feely asked Akers to apologize in any way. Sounds like it was all Akers.

by Burgher (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:11pm

r.e. entry 158. Variable would be correct, its called a "dummy variable"

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:57pm

Pat (and anyone else arguing that Akers didn't hit the Giants coach on purpose):

See link in my name. It shows the play in question. Akers was pushed from behind, yes, but he took three steps and on the third launched himself at the coach. I think he had enough time to slow himself down more, and he certainly didn't have to leave his feet like he did.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:21pm

I've seen the play. Many times. I've pointed out that it's on YouTube before, too.

I think everyone who's arguing that Akers hit the Giants coach on purpose is suffering from the delusion of inferring things from slow motion that aren't actually there in reality.

Think about what you're suggesting. Akers did not know he was going to be blocked in the back. He had no clue whatsoever. In the brief moment between being hit and hitting the Giants coach, he would've had to realize what had happened, turn his head to see who he was headed towards, and made a decision to attack the Giants coach. All in basically no time whatsoever.

Or, we could take my suggestion, and suppose that he was hit from the back, knocked off balance, and just flailed into a coach in a way that looked worse than it was.

Considering your suggestion requires Akers to be some sort of a super-genius with an extremely fast reaction time, I'll stick with mine.

Haven't you ever been hit in the back before and knocked completely off balance? Who cares that he took three steps? I've been knocked in the back and taken like 6 or 7 steps trying to regain my balance before falling to the ground.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:04pm

Pat, I'm an Eagles fan, and Akers is one of my favorite Eagles. I would like for your interpretation to be true. But I simply cannot see it the way you're trying to spin it.

Three steps is enough time to make a decision. He probably could not avoid hitting the guy, but I can't see his launch on the last step as anything but intentional. I don't believe I've ever seen someone stumbling forward off-balance jump. Especially as it didn't look like Akers was off-balance before the launch.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:12pm

Actually, it did. Look at the position of his feet and his torso, and consider his momentum. He was falling, no matter what.

Akers didn't knock the coach down. He didn't even hit the coach with anything except his hands, though you have to look closely to realize that. But keep that in mind: you're suggesting he launched himself at the coach, intending to... what? Make him take a step backwards? Because that's all that happened.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:30pm

After further review, it looks like not only was Akers balanced prior to launching, but he took a half-step in order to set himself for launch.

It might have been a knee-jerk "someone hit me, so I'm going to hit someone" response.

That video is inconclusive as to whether Akers hit the guy with anything but his hands and arms. He doesn't appear to hit the coach particularly hard, but then the coach appears to be considerably larger than his assailant.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:38pm

Watch the frame after the coordinator goes backwards. Akers' hands are up. While before the hit it looks like he leads with his shoulder, afterwards it's clear that he lead with his hands - it's just the camera angle that fooled you..

I don't agree with you that he was balanced. He had too much momentum to stop on a dime like that - he was likely pitching forward.

This is all stupid anyway. We've only got one camera angle, so there's not much you can tell. It could look like he's launching himself in one angle, and look like he's falling in another.

Without any conclusive evidence either way (and it is inconclusive, no matter what) you have to assume it was uncontrolled.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 9:45pm

It does look like he went in hands-first, which supports the idea that he wasn't actually trying to level the guy. Nevertheless, I can't reconcile his footwork and "trajectory" with an off-balance fall into the coach after being shoved from behind.

It may be that the launch may have been an effort to regain his balance. I don't know that I've ever stumbled in such a way that a leap would correct my balance, but hey, I'm not a judo black belt.

by Angus Young (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:08pm

What many of you don't seem to understand is the "luck" factor being applied does not "right" itself.

The law of averages does not circumvent the law of independent variables. You know - like flipping a coin or playing roulette.

To say Atlanta was lucky - and was due to get "unlucky" undermines some of the meaningful analysis done on this site.

One could say that Atlanta was healthy and then was unhealthy to better explain their demise last year.

Anyway - I am looking forward to the preseason projections and any other subjective influences leaving the statistical - actual rankings in the future.

by DWS (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:32pm

Seymour knocked down a pass, in addition to the other stats that were mentioned. He was double teamed most of the time, and had his blocker on roller skates when he was one on one. Further, he got into the backfield whenever needed to help provide QB pressure.

A solid game from Seymour, IMO. He frequently dragged blockers all over the place, not needing to get around them but simply bulling thru them to the QB.

What may confuse some Jets viewers is the fact that the Pats DL wait around at the line of scrimmage on run plays, instead of rushing a gap. They take on the block and hold their ground, which Seymour did. They only get upfield when they perceive that it is a passing down. It might appear that Seymour is not winning a battle by holding his ground at the LOS, but that is all he needs to do on a run play, is keep O-Linemen off of the LBs, who make the tackle while Seymour does the work.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:44pm

To say Atlanta was lucky - and was due to get “unlucky�

That's not exactly the idea.

Atlanta was lucky. They were due to get unlucky... that is, unluckier than they were early in the season. Not unluckier than average.

If you flip a coin 10 times, and get 8 heads and 2 tails, you're getting heads at a 80% rate. In your next 10 coinflips, you're "due" to get unlucky - because you're projected to get 5 heads and 5 tails, which is much worse than you'd do if you expected an 80% rate on those 10 coinflips rather than a 50% rate.

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:21am

Re; 213 and 215

It depends on the time period you are measuring. If I flip a coin and get 8 out of 10 heads, I do know with certainty that at some point in the future, if I can keep flipping my coin for an infinite amount of time, I will experience a set of 10 flips that end up with less than 5 heads. I have to, it's the only way to get the average back down to 5 out of 10. The key is that it is only a certainty if I have infinite time(and a fair coin). 8 out of 10 heads says nothing about the next coin flip, the next 10 flips, or even the next 1000.

So, yes, if the Falcons have been lucky, it is reasonable to say that their luck will change. I don't really like the wording of "due" since it implies a time limit on when the luck will change and no one knows when it will really change.

That being said, as a practical matter, one can look at things like rates of fumble recoveries and say gee no one has ever recovered more than 70% of fumbles in a season, the Falcons are at 90%, they can't keep that up all year. While not absolutely correct in a statistical sense, it's a bet I'd be willing to make.

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 3:04am

2-of-8 on field goals should guarantee a 32.

What did Green Bay's ST do to get lower than the Falcons?

by Sam! (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 8:43am

Jacksonville is rated higher than Indianapolis in VOA and has played better competition (16-DAL & 20-PIT vs. 18-NYG & 29-HOU) - and yet nobody seems to think Jacksonville has a shot at beating Indy. What is the basis for that?

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 10:20am

What did Green Bay’s ST do to get lower than the Falcons?

Punt return for a TD.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:11pm

Jay B, Pat, JasonK, etc.:

How many football games have you guys watched in your life?

Surely you won't tell me you never noticed players getting blocked out of bound or running out of bounds on a play and just creaming some poor cameraman, ref, coach, cheerleader, etc. along the sidelines who happened to be in their path?

Did they all do it on purpose to try to injure the person they collided with?

Have you never noticed how long it takes a player to stop running full speed when they run out of bounds or are blocked out of bounds? You know, you've seen the footage of players running headlong out of bound and leaping over the bench or the gatorade table or crashing into the wall because they are unable to control their momentum.

So tell me, how was Akers supposed to stop on a dime?

Give the apparent propensity of the Giants for attacking opposing players who run into their bench and then trying to beat the crap out of them on the sidelines in a team on man melee, perhaps the better question is whether or not Brandon Jacobs planned his cheapshot hit ahead of time?

Have we already forgotten this incident?

Manning was hit running out of bounds by Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and the officials threw a flag for a late hit. Several Giants surrounded Trotter; linebacker Barrett Green shoved the palm of his hand into Trotter's facemask. Green got a penalty and was ejected.

And why weren't Jacobs and Petitgout ejected this time for far worse behavior? Green at least picked on someone his own size.

When something happens again and again, its not just happenstance and accident and misunderstanding.

by Capt Ahab (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 4:30pm

Re: 216.

Sorry but no matter how much time you're given (even an infinite ammount) the coin will not develop a memory of what has happened in the past.

Your fair coin has a 50% chance of each outcome on every try regardless of recent or distant past. Infinite time doesn't create certainty, it's just a mathematical construct to help us say what is or is not statistcally likely to occurr.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 5:34pm

Infinite time doesn’t create certainty

Actually, it does. In a set of 10 coin flips, the chance of getting less than 5 heads is 38%. The chance of not getting less than 5 heads on N tries of 10 coin flips is P=(1-0.38)^N. The limit of infinite time is N going to infinity, which gives P(lim n->inf) = 0. Which means it is a certainty.

I had a feeling someone would try to argue against TBW's comment because it could be misread that he's arguing that the coin has a memory. But he's not. He's just saying that regardless of the past performance of the coin, it will still flip heads less than half of the time at some point. Which is true.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 7:30pm

Andrew (#220):

Who are you arguing with? Certainly not Pat, who I think agrees with you 100%.

Myself, I don't see what the relevance of all those other games is. That the majority of "incidental" collisions aren't intentional doesn't mean that this one wasn't.

I specifically said I didn't think Akers could avoid hitting the coach. That doesn't mean he had to launch himself at the guy.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 8:18pm

Wow Pat, I just checked out all the YouTube clips, I have no idea what the heck you're talking about. He clearly launched himself on purpose. Not that it's a big deal, but it's pretty obvious.

by dbt (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 5:00am

BTW, I just re-watched the first half of the Bears Lions game, and the Bears #7 ranking makes a lot more sense. Plenty of deep runs and, later, first downs, but all these drives petered out on penalties or turnovers except the 1st one of the 2nd half.

I hope they have a solid gameplan for minnesota.

by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 1:14pm

About Akers, the guy is a kicker, he was pushed in the back, and ended up running into a former NFL fullback who was coaching on the sidelines and looking right at him. Even if it was intentional, he wasn't going to do much harm, and the way the Giants tried to gang-wrestle him afterwards was completely unnecessary and inappropriate.

The players should leave any unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to the officials to decide. This isn't hockey.

by Chuck (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 3:39pm

Sam (re: Post #218)...

Actually, I was thinking the same thing. Jacksonville has a substantially higher DVOA than Indy, yet Indy is getting 9 points or so... maybe 9-and-a-half (your milage may vary) -- yet it happens to be true that Jax's opponents have had higher DVOA's than Indy's -- I suspect that there is a bet here on the side of Jax plus however many points you can get over Indy.

I'm actually taking Jax to win outright in my pool, but the stakes are very small, it's a family pool with less than $1,000 in it (25 people), and the winner buys steaks and beer for everybody anyhow, so it's no big thing to get risky...

But your observations is mirrored here, I can tell you that much.

I also like Pittsburgh over Cincinnati -- have you seen the inuured list for Cincy...? That is one banged-up football team... I've seen lists of 5-6 starters (both Offense & Defense) for Concy as OUT or questionable -- most of the questionables didn't practice during the week, however.

I like Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, plus points, as a parley. I'm not saying bet the house on it, but I am saying maybe 3-5% of your bankroll. I believe there is a play there... flame away at me if you like.

Nice post, Sam (#218).