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26 Sep 2006

Week 4 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Once again this week, we provide two sets of ratings -- in two entirely separate tables. The first table has VOA through the first three 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. We have a name for this now. One of the hardest parts of doing statistical analysis is naming your new statistics so that they make sense. A lot of people have criticized us because DVOA, DPAR, ALY, etc. just turns into a bunch of alphabet soup. My typical response to "Why did you name it DVOA" is "Well, I can't just name it 'Dave.'"

Anyway, here we are with a new statistic, and nobody can come up with a good name, so this time I really am naming it Dave.

No, seriously. It's called DAVE: DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early. For those curious, the formula this week is 67 percent projection, 33 percent 2006 VOA. The separate pages for offense, defense, and special teams will be all be updated soon, as will individual pages.

UPDATE: Commentary is finally available on FOXSports.com.

I look forward to the deluge of hate mail from New Orleans. Hey, statistics can't measure emotion, but for the other 31 teams, it's still more accurate to combine the first three games with the preseason projection. Honestly, it probably is more accurate for New Orleans too.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through Week 3 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 SD 83.8% 2 90.3% 2-0 31.3% 2 -48.9% 2 3.6% 7
2 BAL 65.7% 1 82.1% 3-0 -0.3% 15 -59.8% 1 6.2% 3
3 CHI 49.6% 3 60.1% 3-0 13.4% 6 -22.2% 6 14.0% 1
4 PHI 45.4% 6 37.6% 2-1 39.2% 1 -5.4% 15 0.7% 17
5 NO 34.9% 11 33.3% 3-0 1.9% 13 -29.5% 3 3.5% 8
6 CIN 25.3% 4 29.4% 3-0 0.6% 14 -21.4% 8 3.3% 10
7 JAC 18.9% 5 23.0% 2-1 -1.9% 17 -25.6% 4 -4.9% 26
8 SEA 18.8% 8 17.6% 3-0 -0.6% 16 -22.0% 7 -2.5% 21
9 STL 18.1% 12 25.6% 2-1 -1.9% 18 -17.5% 9 2.5% 13
10 IND 14.1% 13 15.8% 3-0 25.2% 3 15.9% 29 4.8% 4
11 BUF 12.7% 9 7.0% 1-2 3.6% 10 -2.4% 17 6.8% 2
12 NYJ 11.8% 15 12.1% 2-1 20.4% 4 4.6% 20 -4.1% 24
13 WAS 7.3% 21 8.9% 1-2 12.1% 7 7.1% 23 2.3% 14
14 DAL 3.6% 16 1.6% 1-1 3.3% 11 -8.5% 13 -8.2% 30
15 NE -0.6% 14 -2.6% 2-1 9.9% 8 14.0% 27 3.4% 9
16 NYG -2.5% 18 3.0% 1-2 14.7% 5 16.2% 30 -0.9% 18
17 PIT -3.8% 20 -12.5% 1-2 -20.3% 28 -23.8% 5 -7.3% 28
18 SF -5.2% 10 -9.1% 1-2 6.7% 9 14.9% 28 3.0% 11
19 MIN -5.8% 17 -8.8% 2-1 -11.6% 23 -8.9% 11 -3.1% 23
20 ATL -10.2% 7 -0.8% 2-1 -8.0% 20 -14.2% 10 -16.4% 32
21 KC -10.3% 19 -8.3% 0-2 -20.1% 27 -8.6% 12 1.2% 16
22 CAR -11.4% 23 -13.3% 1-2 -15.7% 24 -2.6% 16 1.7% 15
23 DEN -15.2% 24 -13.4% 2-1 -8.0% 21 -0.3% 18 -7.4% 29
24 MIA -18.4% 26 -4.9% 1-2 -19.7% 26 -5.7% 14 -4.4% 25
25 DET -20.6% 28 -23.8% 0-3 -2.6% 19 8.8% 25 -9.2% 31
26 GB -22.5% 22 -20.2% 1-2 -8.5% 22 7.0% 22 -7.0% 27
27 ARI -30.5% 25 -24.3% 1-2 -15.8% 25 11.9% 26 -2.8% 22
28 CLE -31.1% 27 -37.4% 0-3 -26.3% 29 8.6% 24 3.8% 6
29 TB -40.6% 30 -42.0% 0-3 -35.2% 31 4.4% 19 -1.0% 19
30 HOU -46.9% 29 -39.3% 0-3 2.5% 12 52.2% 32 2.7% 12
31 TEN -55.2% 31 -49.6% 0-3 -31.5% 30 21.6% 31 -2.1% 20
32 OAK -76.5% 32 -91.9% 0-2 -73.7% 32 6.9% 21 4.0% 5

1 SD 42.7% 2 2-0 21.8% 2 -19.9% 2 0.9% 11
2 SEA 33.3% 1 3-0 21.6% 3 -13.0% 4 -1.3% 22
3 CHI 24.6% 5 3-0 3.2% 9 -16.5% 3 4.8% 1
4 PHI 23.7% 6 2-1 16.6% 4 -5.3% 10 1.9% 6
5 IND 23.6% 4 3-0 29.3% 1 5.2% 27 -0.5% 19
6 BAL 22.3% 7 3-0 -2.8% 16 -23.7% 1 1.4% 8
7 CIN 21.7% 3 3-0 15.5% 5 -5.3% 9 0.9% 12
8 JAC 9.6% 9 2-1 1.5% 11 -9.5% 5 -1.3% 23
9 PIT 9.6% 10 1-2 3.1% 10 -8.6% 6 -2.0% 25
10 DEN 7.6% 11 2-1 10.4% 7 -0.5% 18 -3.3% 29
11 WAS 5.0% 17 1-2 1.5% 12 -1.2% 16 2.3% 4
12 NE 4.8% 12 2-1 13.2% 6 8.6% 30 0.3% 14
13 CAR 4.0% 14 1-2 1.1% 13 -3.0% 13 -0.1% 16
14 ATL 2.7% 8 2-1 -1.1% 15 -8.4% 7 -4.6% 31
15 KC 1.9% 13 0-2 -4.4% 18 -6.6% 8 -0.3% 17
16 NYG 1.0% 15 1-2 5.3% 8 3.9% 24 -0.5% 18
17 DAL 0.1% 16 1-1 -1.0% 14 -3.3% 12 -2.2% 26
18 MIA -6.0% 18 1-2 -11.6% 26 -4.2% 11 1.4% 9
19 NO -8.7% 31 3-0 -10.1% 25 -0.2% 19 1.2% 10
20 STL -9.8% 26 2-1 -8.0% 21 1.2% 20 -0.7% 20
21 BUF -10.7% 20 1-2 -11.9% 28 3.0% 22 4.2% 2
22 DET -12.2% 22 0-3 -3.5% 17 5.1% 26 -3.6% 30
23 NYJ -13.3% 27 2-1 -5.5% 19 8.1% 29 0.2% 15
24 MIN -14.3% 23 2-1 -14.3% 29 -1.7% 14 -1.7% 24
25 CLE -15.8% 21 0-3 -16.4% 30 1.4% 21 2.0% 5
26 GB -16.0% 25 1-2 -8.9% 22 3.8% 23 -3.3% 28
27 TB -17.5% 19 0-3 -17.0% 31 -0.7% 17 -1.3% 21
28 SF -18.2% 24 1-2 -9.2% 23 6.5% 28 -2.5% 27
29 ARI -21.4% 28 1-2 -11.8% 27 5.0% 25 -4.7% 32
30 TEN -22.9% 29 0-3 -9.4% 24 13.8% 31 0.3% 13
31 HOU -29.2% 32 0-3 -7.6% 20 23.1% 32 1.4% 7
32 OAK -32.0% 30 0-2 -35.8% 32 -1.5% 15 2.3% 3

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 26 Sep 2006

186 comments, Last at 29 Sep 2006, 2:30pm by DavidH


by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:37pm

It's nice to see the 49ers are no longer the worst team in the NFL. You got to love DVOA if you are a fan of a team that gets glossed over on Sunday's.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:38pm

I hope you're feeling better after your sick day, Aaron. And now that we have a Dave statistic, do we get a HAL?

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:40pm

I like that name.


by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:40pm

Also, I'm pretty sure this is not the right place for a post like this, but it's hard to believe any team could have beaten NO on Monday night.

by masocc (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:43pm

This whole DVOA thing is a bunch of carp. You math geeks, with your numbers just don't understand REAL football. I mean, come on! Shirley the Raidahs MUST ranking and stats should have improved after their performance this weekend.

by masocc (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:44pm

Underbus, you're not thinking clearly. ANY team could've beaten NO on Monday...

If they had ROBO-PUNTER!

by Ogre (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:45pm


by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:47pm

Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.

by Not Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:50pm

Denver is clearly ranked too low because your baised against teams that beat the Patriots. Ranking teams based on number of DUIs is way better than this. Dave is a stoopid name for a rating system anyway.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:50pm

I'm going to go "Yay, Dave!" Because 9th is more palatable than 17th....

by Pitts fan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:55pm

The Steelers are clearly ranked too low because without Roethlisburger under center they are a waaaayyyy better team. ESPN is way better than this. You guys are stoopid nerds! Batch 4eva!

by PMD (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:56pm

For the teams that had a bye this week, and thus have played only two games, it appears that this week's formula (two parts projection, one part VOA) is applied. Shouldn't last week's formula
(80/20 split) be applied instead?

by sm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 9:58pm

Wait a minute, if there are no opponent adjustments, then the teams with a bye in Week 3 (San Diego, Oakland, Dallas, and Kansas City) should still have the same DAVE as last week, using the 80/20 ratio, right? I mean, if 80/20 is the correct ratio to use with 2 weeks worth of results, shouldn't these 4 teams still be using 80/20, since they still only have 2 weeks of results?

by sm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:00pm

Ah, somebody beat me to it. Well then, I'll ask this - Does the "pre-season" portion of the rating now have a new "QB injury" rating or whatever it's called for Tampa Bay, the way Kansas City and Oakland got one before?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:01pm

I think the only thing that leaps off the screen for me regarding Dave is that he apparently has concluded that ten teams are worse than the Lions. How much does Dave drink, and does he go in drive-throughs naked?

by admin :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:07pm

The rating is based on "weeks ago" rather than "weeks of ratings," which is why the teams on bye change.

by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:14pm

Cincinnati dropped from 44.7% in Week 2 to 25.3% now and won on the road. Recovering 5 of 6 fumbles sure is helpful.

by Jesse (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:19pm

RE: 9

I would like to point out that ranking teams based on number of DUIs is an objective ranking, rather than the template-required subjective ranking. :-P

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:26pm

I'm still amazed at how good the DAVE rating actually looks. If I was asked to rank teams right now, the only one I'd place differently is San Diego, and I can easily believe that stats know more about San Diego than I do, considering they just demolished Oakland and Tennessee.

That Baltimore game next week is going to be huge, though.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:38pm

FO just keeps looking better in my eyes. Anyone who is brave enough to rank the Bills at 11 deserves a medal of some sort.

by admin :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:39pm

Comment 14 has a good point, so I've gone back and adjusted Tampa Bay for a rookie quarterback the rest of the season. Don't know how many more weeks I'll fiddle with the projection part of DAVE, but this change makes sense.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:40pm

I assume that San Diego (which means "a whale's vagina") is going to drop once the D in DVOA kicks in. Correct?

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:40pm

i looked through DAVE and didn't have a WTF? moment. good job (i think).

by jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:47pm

these DVOA rankings are useless

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:51pm

So, what you're really saying is that DAVE is just short for DVOAAVE...

Plus, #8 stole my joke.

by Kevin Nowell (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:57pm

When do you expect to add home field adjustments to your DVOA ratings? Its alot easier to pass in the RCA dome than in the frozen tundra of Lambeau field. It would seem to me that that would have a rather large effect. Maybe not on the overall rating but teams that play in domes or in sunny Miami would have their offensive DVOA too high and their defensive DVOA too low. Without that things like the quarterback rankings are pretty meaningless.

by Jon Fuge everybody (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:57pm

So the Saints draft Reggie Bush and their defense improves. How did this happen?

re:18 - haha

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:57pm

Wait, is DAVE opponent ajusted, or should it be VAVE?

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 10:59pm

I'm also curious. Is DAVE opponent adjusted?

by admin :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:01pm

The 2006 performance is not, the preseason projection is. And starting next week, the 2006 performance will be opponent-adjusted also.

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:06pm

30: Cool. Thanks for the quick reply.

by paytonrules (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:09pm

I'm surprised Minn dropped - it sure looked like they outplayed the Bears despite the loss.

by sm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:13pm

Re:16 "The rating is based on “weeks ago� rather than “weeks of ratings,� which is why the teams on bye change."

But doesn't that seem incorrect? If we're not doing opponent adjustments yet, then our estimate of San Diego's quality so far should be exactly the same as it was a week ago. (And the same holds true for Oakland, Dallas, and Kansas City, obviously.) Our confidence in the pre-season projections should certainly go down a little each week, but that's only because we have more and more information about the current season each week. We shouldn't put more weight in San Diego's two games now just because it's a week later.

by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:21pm

Falcons are 2-1 and ranked 14th by DAVE.
Playin' with fire there buddy.

by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:23pm

Here's my perspective on DAVE: It's not a better measure of the teams as we've seen them so far than the adjusted-VOA, it's a predictor of how they'll be when the year is over. So, right now, the Pittsburgh's offense is below average, and I don't just mean playing below-average, I mean the pieces as a unit are below-average right now. However, the preseason projection says that the offense won't be as bad as it has been for the whole season, so the Steelers offensive DVOA should be better at the end of the season. Similarly, DAVE gives a lower offensive DVOA to Philly because the preseason projection says that against an average schedule of defenses, the offense will not perform like they have against Houston and San Francisco. Of course, the projection could be wrong, and if the performance doesn't return to the projection, it will be reflected in DAVE as the projection becomes less important.

Is that a good way to explain the purpose of DAVE, Aaron? To combine what we know with what is expected and arrive at a happy median weighted mean?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:41pm

I don't know what Aaron's stats say, but my take on the Vikings loss was that it was essentially a stand-off, much like their two wins. They lost, though,
and since DVOA (as opposed to VOA) doesn't kick in for another week, they don't get any credit for having played a top ranked team close. If they beat Buffalo on Sunday, they'll have defeated the teams rated 11 and 13 in total VOA for week three, while playing the number 3 team in total VOA for week three to a standoff, and it'll be interesting to see where 2006 DVOA places them.

It'll also be interesting to see the Vikings in relation to the Lions, in regards to DAVE as the Lions prepare to go into the Metrodome for week five, if DAVE is still being provided. If Vikings remain three slots lower than the Lions at that point, in terms of DAVE, well, I'll be looking for some DAVE supporters to put their money where their mouth is.

I do think that special teams rankings tend to be overlooked in evaluating VOA, DVOA, and DAVE, and once one considers this, moving the Vikings downward doesn't seem too off-base.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:43pm

I think I can take a stab at #35. The porpuse is to combine what we know about the 2006 season with what we know about how the 2005 season ended and how each team was affected in the offseason (signing/losing free agents, coaching changes, age, experience, players returning from injury and rookies).

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:51pm

In the second table, shouldn't that be "Total DAVE," "Offense DAVE," "Defense DAVE," and "Special DAVE"?

by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:56pm

#26: In PFP 2006 it is mentioned that an individual stadium-specific special teams adjustment has been made for Miami and San Francisco in addition to Denver. The adjustment is probably something that didn't become clear until analyzing all data from 1997-2005. Also, special teams has a number of elements that are almost completely opponent-independent. If you are going to look at something like whether teams pass better in the RCA Dome than Lambeau Field, you need to have a lot of data to decide that it is due to the stadium and not due to Al Harris or the Colts defense.

I have nothing to do with the Football Outsiders staff, but those are my thoughts on why stadium-adjustments only exist for special teams so far.

However, it should be possible to say that adjustments to offensive VOA due to stadium effects are small, because if it had a large effect on play above the ability of the football players, it would show up even in limited data sets, just as field goals are obviously easier to kick in Denver, which I believe you can get evidence of by comparing the field goal percentage of away team kickers in Denver compared to the league-average percentage for a single season.

by emcee fleshy (atl) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:08am

Drew Brees doesn't care about Atlanta people.

by dan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:18am

If it weren't for the existing baseball statistic(s), I would suggest that DIPS might be better than DAVE. DVOA Including PreSeason. Or DIPP, I guess... DVOA Including Preseason Projections.

Of course, that seems like a suggestion better suited to last week's discussion... whoops.

by HAL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:19am

Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? I'm sure we can work this out.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:19am

27: I think that it's more Gary Gibbs and the massive personnel moves on defense that improved NOLA's defense. That and going against the Falcons passing offense.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:24am

Miami's defense is clearly ranked too high because they let Kerry Collins complete 58% of his passes despite 18-30% of his passes being completions if they'd been catchable. Throwing darts is way better than this. K3RR3 C0771N5 iZ tEH $$$CUK!1!

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:38am

Interesting that DAVE has NFC teams in 3 of the top 4 slots. Are we seeing a conference change this year? I don't have stats on conference vs conference records. Anyone?

by thad (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:57am

nfc 4
afc 3

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 1:25am

45--I don't think so. The only two good teams from last year in the NFC got better, and Philly came back, but out of the top 10, 7 are AFC. On the other hand, the AFC is also home to the three worst teams, according to Dave. But still, out of those 7, Denver, Pitt, Cincinatti, Indy, San Diego, and Jacksonville will continue to be good if not great teams for the foreseeable future (I omitted Baltimore because of the old QB situation). Plus you gotta figure NE will rise back to top-10 status at some point.

by Chuck (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 1:45am

Actually, the rankings look to be about right.

One thing that does stand out to me is the seemingly too-low placement of the Minnesota Vikings. The vikings beat the Redskins and the Panthers in their first two games (both of these teams are ranked above the Vikings) and came within a field goal of taking the Bears into Overtime -- the Bears are the #3 ranked team. (!) I believe the Vikings deserve to be higher.

It's cool what Aaron is doing -- I'm surprised that the folks running the SportsBooks in Las Vegas haven't bought the whole web site, and put Aaron under payroll.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:18am

In the second table, shouldn’t that be “Total DAVE,� “Offense DAVE,� “Defense DAVE,� and “Special DAVE�?

Defensive DAVE was my nickname when we played street football in middle school. (long arms and cat-like reflexes)

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:24am

So DAVE is designed to predict DVOA for the entire season, but what would the mix be if it were trying to predict DVOA over the next 14 weeks?

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:38am

What I love is how true suckiness in one year can totally overwhelm a good performance in the other year. Well I don't love it, actually, but look at Indy's 2006 ST ranking (4) and their DAVE ranking (19). How bad was last year's team? Waaaaaaayyy bad.

Buffalo, by contrast is 2 and 2. Way to go, Bills.

Even worse, though, is Indy's 2006 D: 29 this year, it was (IIRC) 8th last year, and combined they're... 27th. That 29th only counts for 33% and the 8th counts for 67%. Meaning that 29th is monstrously bad. Not quite sure how they can turn the switch on or off like last weekend vs Jax, but maybe they better leave it on all day each Sunday. Just in case they need it.

by MarkV (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:05am

THANKS for the insult to the Broncos.

As a Donkeys fan, I actually was very pleased this week to see Denver quite poorly in the VOA and mediocre in the DAVE rankings. It really pissed me off when a ok win over the Pats jumped the Broncos up like crazy all over other power rankings. Thanks footballoutsiders for presenting such a solid and fair view, devoid of atleast a good portion of the supernatural hype surrounding sports journalism.

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:19am

So DVOA says the Lions outplayed the Packers Sunday? Detroit moves up three slots, GB down four (down one in DAVE) - and that's without adjusting for the poor opposition. I'm surprised, especially given that Favre topped all QBs in DPAR and the Pack's special teams finally showed signs of life. Can you give us a breakdown? Is it the running game?

And wow that Texans' defense is bad!

by Rageon (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:23am

Am I the only one who thinks Denver's defensive DVOA seems low? I thought they played St. Louis very well on defense, and they only gave up the points they did because of the great field position given away by Jake Plummer. They held KC to 6 points, and New England to 7. Other than the touchdown drive by the Pats, their defense was pretty much in control of that game, I thought. And for that, their ranking drops 3 spots? Based on the three games, I can't spot anything that would lead me to believe the Broncos defense is the 18th best in football. What am I missing?

by DavidK44 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:27am

I guess DVOA's adjustment for scoring lots of points in garbage time isn't nearly as strong enough; Giants with the 8th best offense in the league...I love it, thank god for garbage time and racking up ridiculously good numbers then.

Have you guys done DVOA by run/pass for this year yet? I'm confident the Giants split is something like 5th best run defense, 33rd worst pass defense (even Georgia has a better one). It truly shows no matter how you good you are at stopping the run, it don't mean nothing if the QB has 8 seconds to spot a guy who is standing wide open 25 yards downfield.

Also helps explain the 4th quarter - teams try to run up the middle, and it's the only thing we can do well defensively.

by Peremptor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:43am

I'm sure this has been asked before but is there a section of the site where you can see individual game DVOA scores for all teams? That would be pretty awesome :).

by MarkV (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:27am

I agree with 54 on Denvers defence rating although I have two possible rationalities.

1) sacks, interceptions, Forced Fumbles: Denver has been tragically low on each.

2) I think that they are going to be a team that does poorly until harder teams weigh more significantly into their schedule. The mentality seems to be that a close win is a win, and a big win is a win. Thus I think that they will have some losses to bad teams (Stl etc) and won't dominate a great deal in any of their games, but should be able to actualize a fair number of wins.

by mattman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 5:29am

Interesting looking at the top of the rankings. Philly and Indy are your greatest shows on turf, with elite offenses and defenses that are respectively mediocre and bad. Everyone else in the top 10 is doing it with defense, with only the Chargers and Bears showing much life offensively. The Bengals offensive VOA, in particular, is almost shockingly low.

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 7:51am

Shouldn't DAVE be VAVE - given that there's no defense adjustment yet?

I'd have preferred VIP: VOA Including Projections.

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 7:59am

Yikes, Green Bay is on course for the worst rushing DVOA of all time - a title held by last year's Cardinals. I'm guessing the formulae didn't appreciate the three fumbles, two first downs and 50-odd total yards vs Detroit. What's the worst single-game rushing DVOA total?

by Darrel Michaud (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:51am

We got a bit of New Orleans hate mail saying we're biased towards the Falcons and Vick.


by JZ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 10:58am

Even if the Vikings aren't as good as their record, and their ranking is sensible, doesn't this mean the Bears should take a hit after last week's game? The defense was still strong, but both the passing game and running game struggled... and we haven't adjusted for the Vikes D yet.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:01am

They did take a hit. The offense went from 21.5% to 13.4%, implying something like a -2.5% VOA on offense for that game.

by max (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:02am

This whole DAVE thing is a waste of time.

By next week we will have 25% of the season in the books. Then you can throw out last years numbers as an indication of this year, for sure.

I made a point BEFORE this season started that some teams, the Rams defense for one, changed over so much. Your 2006 projections, however, did a poor job of taking that into account.

Now you want to use those same lousy projections to influence the current rankings. BAD IDEA.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:13am

max #64:

Rams VOA for defense by week.

Week 1: -40.5%
Week 2: +9.3%
Week 3: -21.3%

That's a lot of variance there. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Rams play closer to their +10.6% projection in many more games, as they did in Week 2.

by jw1328 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:28am

Do the projections for the Saints take into account that they had nine road games and that for the seven home games they probably had a smaller home field advantage?

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:36am

Re #56
Yes. It's called PFP 2007, to be released next summer. The current edition, PFP 2006, contains offensive and defensive DVOA for each team for each game in the 2005 season.

by milo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:36am

It would be surprising to see the Rams play closer to their +10.6% projection. You see, they now have Haslett and Venturi coaching the defense. Bad move. Watch the season progress and notice that the middle of the defense takes itself out of the play. Watch Gore's run in week 2 to see the MLB run himself right out of the play. Watch the tackle's techhnique disappear. (True story: after being chewed out for letting the O-line get under them on short yardage plays, the Saints' tackles once actually dove onto the ground on a goal line play in order to get under the O-line).
Saints D will be much improved without H and V, as seen on Monday night. And what about the improvement on the Saints O, get up to the line, run the motions and snap the ball crisply, haven't seen that in years. Oh, and collapse the whole side of the defense for a running play, nice.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:46am

For defense, negative values are good, positive are bad. So unless I am misinterpreting your post, I think you should be saying that it would NOT be surprising to see the Rams play closer to their +10.6% projection.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:58am

I don't really know what it means (if anything), but here are the 3 teams with the most positive difference between VOA and DAVE and the 3 teams with most negative difference between VOA and DAVE. You may be able to think of it as the teams playing the most above / below expectation (but I'm not really sure about that):

1. NO ... 43.60%
2. BAL ... 43.40%
3. SD ... 41.10%

30. TB ... -23.10%
31. TEN ... -32.30%
32. OAK ... -44.50%

1. NYJ ... 25.90%
2. PHI ... 22.60%
3. SF ... 15.90%

30. SEA ... -22.20%
31. PIT ... -23.40%
32. OAK ... -37.90%

1. BAL ... -36.10%
2. NO ... -29.30%
3. SD ... -48.90%

30. IND ... 10.70%
31. NYG ... 12.30%
32. HOU ... 28.10%

Special Teams
1. CHI ... 9.20%
2. SF ... 5.50%
3. IND ... 5.30%

30. DET ... -5.60%
31. DAL ... -6.00%
32. ATL ... -11.80%

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:01pm

48 -

The current numbers don't reflect opponent adjustment yet. The Vikings low ranking is really in large part of them not having really dominated any team just yet. They'll probably get a couple of spots bump when opponents are added in, depending on how they do the next few games.

It just currently considers a 3 point win over the Panthers about as meaningful as a 3 point win over the Texans. When its adjusted, it won't.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:05pm

Wow, I should learn to proof-read.

3. SD ... -29.00%

32. HOU ... 29.10%

With San Diego, I read the Defensive VOA column instead of the difference column.

by milo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:07pm

69, you're right. Point obviously is that the paid pundits who think Haslett is going to be an improvement are wrong.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:13pm

The DAVE ranking looks pretty solid to me. Personally, I would know Seattle down a few spots (to like 5th), I'd flip Washington (to 17th) and Dallas (to 11th), and I'd bump Minny up a few spots (to like the 20-18 range). But that's really just nip-picking. It's nice to see Oakland has finally taken their rightful place.

Re: 61

People complaining about NO being ranked 19th are morons. I bet if you had told Saints fans before the season that their team would be solidly middle-of-the-pack this year, they would have been ecstatic.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:13pm

Wait, people thought Haslett was going to be an improvement? Didn't they see his performance in New Orleands. I guess it falls under the peter principal where a failed head coach makes a good coordinator.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:15pm

*Personally, I would move Seattle down...*

I suck at being coherent today.

by admin :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:20pm

Just to let everyone know, my ESPN News bit was cancelled today because of the T.O. situation, so I'll try to take the extra time to put together a mailbag answering some of the DVOA questions from the past couple of weeks.

by bartleby (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:25pm

Will the defense stats be broken down into passing and rushing at some point?

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:29pm

They are. They're on the "TEAM OFFENSE/TEAM DEFENSE" pages.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:31pm

Re: 34

Nah, when you have got the worst special teams in the league, it's hard to be any better than 15th in the league overall. FGs, FG protection, and punt protection have been miserable so far. Actually, kickoff coverage and kickoff returns have been pretty good, but not so good as to offset the abject failures in the other parts of the game.

by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:39pm

Re 64:

Max, I think the point of DAVE is that, while specific teams may have seen a lot of turnover and so the projections for them will be bad, they do a better job for MOST teams than just looking at VOA from games 1-3. I think the preseason projections missed horribly on one or two teams last year, but they did better on most teams than most prognosticators. If you're right, and they do a lousy job this year, Aaron will re-tune the formula to make them better, or de-emphasize them. That's the beauty of statistics--the more information you have, the better your predictors become, usually. But there will always be outliers.

by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:42pm

Re: 21, isn't there an argument for a reverse adjustment for the Jets? The projected DVOA presumably was influenced heavily by the offensive performance last year under wee Brooks and the expectation of damaged goods at QB this year. I would be suprised if the system would project the Jets to be 31st in DVOA with close to a pre-injury Pennington at QB.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 12:45pm

The projected DVOA presumably was influenced heavily by the offensive performance last year under wee Brooks and the expectation of damaged goods at QB this year

No, not really. Pennington was used as the starting QB for the Jets. He does have an injury history, though, which can't be ignored: while they're playing well now, they've got worse odds for having a healthy QB throughout the season than the average team.

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 1:22pm

Why is DAVE so down on Arizona's special teams? They ranked in the high 20s last year, 22nd through three games this year.....

This isn't a criticism or a quibble; I'm just interested to know what it is that the numbers don't like.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 1:37pm

The only thing that kept them afloat last year was Rackers' godlike FG performance. Most likely it's just regression to the mean - projecting Rackers to be 'average Rackers' rather than 'godlike Rackers' would make the Cardinals special teams god-awful.

Their kickoff/punt coverage and kick returns and punt returns were bad last year. Looks pretty similar this year, although the kickoff coverage looks better. So far.

by Fred (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:00pm

Oakland is clearly ranked too low because weve won 3 titles. Everyone's ranking system is way better than this. ALL YOU SMUCKS FEAR TEH RAIDERS!!!!!!

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:12pm

Oakland is clearly ranked too high because OSU, USC, and Auburn are clearly better.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:33pm

#87 wins. I don't know what you win, but if there was a prize, you would win it.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:40pm

Yeah! I win a big fat Box-O-Nothin', hurray for me!

by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 2:45pm

Any word on the FOX rankings w/ comments? Or have those been TO'd as well?

by Lou (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:31pm

So are the DAVE rankings going to be the FOX rankings all year or will DVOA be the main ranking once the D kicks in next week?

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:49pm

I'm sorry. DAVE? I'm afraid I can't do that.

At first I thought Aaron meant it was my fault ... but I've only charted half of one Saints' game this season ...

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 3:51pm

I've got a general question, when DVOA becomes available, will the DVOA numbers for the first 3 weeks be retro-adjusted? And will those numbers be available somewhere? I forget how it usually works.

by Erik Smith (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:08pm

Has anyone noticed that the Eagles are #1 in Rushing Offense?

I'm an Eagles fan, but I'm not crazy. I watched that Giants game. #1 in rushing? Not by a long shot.

#1 in stiff-arming weak SF safeties, maybe.

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:10pm

Pat (and generally), I understand the probability of Rackers regressing to the mean. But in that case, why don't the "god-awful" coverage and return teams regress towards the mean, too? Is there a significant difference in the (downward) performance of a field-goal kicker from one season to the next, vis-à-vis a kick return unit (which is, in theory, likely to undergo personnel changes)?

by Kevin Nowell (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:13pm

Late response to the response to my comment about field adjustments.

Even if it would be hard to get specific field adjustments, you could have adjustments for the type of field and playing conditions:
Outside no precipitation/wind
Outside rain/low wind
Outside no precipitation/high winds
Outside snow/high wind

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:20pm

95: Racker's performance in 2005 was considerabally better than it was in any other year of his carreer, and thus likely to decline. The performance of the Cardinals coverage teams wasn't considerabally worse than other years, and thus not likely to improve.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:39pm

I’m an Eagles fan, but I’m not crazy. I watched that Giants game. #1 in rushing? Not by a long shot.

They only played 1/3 of the season against the Giants. The other 2/3 of the season so far, they've rushed extremely well. However, those were against defenses that are going to be very bad against the run. The Giants, however, are very likely going to be one of the best in the league against the run.

For comparison, in the Seahawks versus the Giants, Shaun Alexander rushed 20 times for 47 yards that game, and Morris 15 times for 18 yards. They ended up just barely over 100 yards total for the team.

No one runs well against the Giants.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:54pm

Re: 98

And as someone pointed out earlier (I'm too lazy to try to track down the specific post to give due credit), that may be one of the reasons for NY's 4th quarter proficiency. By that time, teams are trying to run out the clock and that plays into the Giants' largest strength.

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 5:09pm

Is anyone else starting to freak out because there's no commentary yet? I think I'm addicted. Can we start a support group?

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 5:25pm

I'm procrastinating, wondering why the 'Sports Bet' ad uses a photo of Brady Poppinga for its 'Who'll score next' tagline (answer: whichever tight end Poppinga's meant to be covering?), posting comments about the Cardinals' special teams for chrissakes....

I'll join the support group.

by max (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 5:42pm


The Rams DC last 2 years was Larry Marmie. That guy was totally incompetent. How did Haslett do in Pittsburgh as a DC? That's the real comparison.

by Zounds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 5:48pm

I am with Zip at #100. Sickdays are no excuse...

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 6:03pm


I'm not criticizing Aaron, he can take all the sick days he wants. But I reserve the right to freak out when FO content is late, because I'm dependent like that.

by Zounds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 6:20pm

It isn't that I am criticizing him, I just know that when I am out on a sick day, the things that are due are still due.

by queequeg (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 6:45pm

it's interesting to see how the nfc west is kinda close, with seattle and st. louis almost interchangable in the raw numbers. i had thought that many were overstating the lack of challenge to the seahawks from the teams therein, but i think the divisional games could end up being pretty tight later in the year, maybe with the rams sneaking away with the divisional title.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 6:54pm

The new name makes me think of when Jim from the Office (in the commentary) says that he believes that DVD stands for the guy who invented it, "Digital Video Dave".

by admin :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 7:17pm

Actually, the editing of the commentary over at FOX was delayed by all the T.O. michigas. It's finally up here:


Meanwhile, all team stats pages, individual stats pages, and -- for the first time in 2006 -- adjusted line yards stats are now updated.

Speaking of delays, Scramble will be delayed until tomorrow.

by kleph (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:28pm

And this is me, telling you with words, thanks for getting it done for us all.

by brad (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:38pm


by Peder (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:39pm

Aaron, please pass the word to the Fox people that they have the wrong logo for the Ravens.

by Erik Smith (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:41pm

98, 99: Thank you both for responding. I always enjoy what you add to these threads.

I'm still stinging from that Eagles collapse against NY. Our beloved Andy is one of the least likely to run late in a game to consolidate a lead (last in the league in 2005 at 43% according to PFP).

Here's why I'm still surprised by the #1 ranking. I don't expect it to hold up. I've always felt that the Eagles running game is a counter-punch, opportunistically called. It's not a traditional #1 running game, to be sure.

Using the available stats at NFL.com that includes McNabb's 5 kneel-downs and 6 scrambles, the Eagles are tied for 20th in rushing attempts per game with Indianapolis. (They're at best 21st in attempts when you remove Manning's 3 kneel-downs and 2 rushing plays).

DVOA will most likely straighten things out for us next week. 'Cause here's what my birds did over the last 3 weeks on the ground:

Week 1 (vs. HST) 26-123 / 4.73 (QB-adjusted)
Week 2 (vs. NYG) 26-76 / 2.92 (QB-adjusted)
Week 3 (vs. SF) 14-149 / 10.64 (QB-adjusted)

In all cases they had 2nd half leads:
Week 1 (17 pass, 19 run)
Week 2 (14 pass, 14 run)
Week 3 (10 pass, 7 run)

Andy's at least willing to call the run almost half the time now when leading in the 2nd half.

Maybe their week 2 rushing performance against the great Giants run defense was a good performance. It still felt like it cost them the game, and that's going to sting for a while.

I'm just happy to have McNabb back being McNabb. But our last pre-season game is this Monday night.

by Malene, cph (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:49pm

...and though the withdrawal symptoms hit a bit of a whining note there, we still appreciate the hard work.

And truly without a hint of sarcasm: I love the rare moments around here when - FOX and ESPN deals aside - personal stuff happens that reminds me of the first months, when article deadlines were at the mercy of Mirinae Fays sleeping patterns.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 8:58pm

Should we tell Brad there were only 14 games this week, or would that spoil his mood?

by Don M (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 9:11pm

Thanks are in order for the whole site, and the whole concept, sure you're getting paid for it, but instead of paying FO for something wonderful like the DVOA and the wonderful commentary you guys provide.

by brad (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 9:26pm

Brain fart! I still only missed two on the sheet (maybe I should count the games lol)My mood is cool because I won the football pool this week!

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 9:33pm

Anybody else looking at the individual DVOA/DPARs?

Bottom of the Barrel WRs (PAR/PAR RANK/VOA/VOA RANK):
80-R.Smith DEN -2.1/75/-30.3%/74
87-A.Lelie ATL -2.3/76/-43.7%/77
89-R.Ferguson GB -2.7/77/-49.8%/78
86-H.Ward PIT -3.9/78/-37.3%/76
84-R.White ATL -6.1/79/-112.3%/79

Wow, two names I never expected there.

Some crazy stuff with the TEs too:
86-T.Heap BAL -1.9/37/-24.3%/30
85-J.Wiggins MIN -2.1/38/-40.6%/37
84-B.Troupe TEN -2.3/39/-39.8%/36
81-R.McMichael MIA -2.5/40/-45.4%/39
88-T.Scheffler DEN -4.1/41/-82.6%/42
85-V.Davis SF -5.4/42/-86.8%/43
47-C.Cooley WAS -6.1/43/-69.1%/41

You can't blame Arizona's line for Edge's troubles if you believe in ALY. Arizona is currently ranked 13th.

Apparently Indy's DLine has lost it so far. Last against the rund and 20th against the pass. Only five sacks and they played Houston?

BTW, Houston allows 50 yards a drive right now. That's crazy.

How many of these numbers are predictive and how many a result of small sample size? Are we really going to see the end of Rod Smith? Will Roddy White be the worst wide reciever ever? Some great stuff so far.

by milo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 10:09pm

max 102:

Don't say you weren't warned.

"You hear a lot about attention to detail," cornerback Fred Thomas said. "All coaches preach that. The difference I see this year, and in past years here, is preaching attention to detail doesn't do you any good if you're not paying attention. If you're not getting the message, what good is talking about details?"

Haslett has no doubt the experience and X/O knowledge to coach in the NFL. He had the talent with the Saints to be really good, but all we got was 7-9, 9-7, 8-8, 8-8, 3-13 after an admittedly exciting first year. And those teams had more talent than the first year team left to Haz by Ditka.

Read the top quote from Freddy Thomas again, it explains in a nutshell what the performance of the Saints looked like for the last 5 years. That's on the coaches. That's what I saw sitting in the stands.

What I saw Monday night on the teevee was a TEAM. And my slab now has an elevation of 150' instead of -6' so while last year I started the season listening to Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan on the intertubes and watched the 'hawks on the tube, the last 4 games of last year and this year I get to go to see the Seahawks. And the best part about the Seahawks? They play like a TEAM. Best TEAM I ever saw.

Which is all pretty silly on a comment string about DVOA and the numbers...

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 10:11pm

Well, I don't believe in ALY at all. Edge bumped up the Colts' ALY for years too.

ALY is the worst FO stat. It rewards lines that have Mike Anderson style backs running behind them and punishes lines that have Tatum Bell style backs behind them.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 10:16pm

I’m just happy to have McNabb back being McNabb. But our last pre-season game is this Monday night.

You have way too much faith in Dallas. Philly's first test against a playoff-caliber team is against Jacksonville, not against Dallas.

by John Gach (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 10:59pm

I just read the Fox blog associated with Aaron Schatz's commentary on Fox and now realize just how many readers have no comprehension at all of what FO is trying to do, despite the posted explanations.

Several weeks ago Mr. Schatz mentioned that the point is [to paraphrase] to try to detect the Platonic form, the essence of a team, despite the minuscule sample size of games and the noise generated by sheer good & bad luck (fumble recoveries, etc.).

I don't recall there being any discussion of his mission statement, but it struck me as both profoundly significant and exactly correct. The statistical tools are a means not an end: they are necessary to pry beneath the surface phenomena with all their randomnesses in an attempt to assess the goodness of teams relative to each other. To put it another way, FO constructs each week an ideal type of each team, one that doesn't -- and isn't meant to -- correspond to any specific, actual performance on the field; rather, the inferred ideal type expresses a probability of future performance based on what is already known to have happened.

If teams played 16,000 games a season instead of 16 (and played every other team about the same number of times), then we'd know by the end of the season with near certainty just how good New Orleans or any other team was in that year, for the teams's actual records would closely correspond to their DVOA. In the latter half of such a 16,000 game season, we would already know that in 10 games against each other team x will with great likelihood win 7 (or 3 or 8) against team y. This is exactly how chess rankings work: a player with a rating of 2500 will win 75% of the games played against a player rated 2300. In tournament chess one doesn't need a DVOA-type projection system, because one already knows the probable outcome. Of course, this doesn't tell us which games the team or player will win, only that with great likelihood they will win a given percentage of contests.

The driving principle is quite similar to the theoretical rationale for clinical trials in medicine -- except that in clinical trials one tries to get as large a data set as possible, which can't be done in football. Even so, the results of clinical trials are still expressed probabilistically, often with considerable room left for chance or the null hypothesis as the best explanation of the results.

So, why do so many non-FO-initiated readers not "get" it? Is it the general innumeracy of the population? Is it the emotional bias of rooting for a particular team that clouds judgement and substitutes hope for reality? Or is it the distraction of the surface phenomena (i.e., the actual games) that debars people from comprehending the different reality of underlying patterns? Or some combination of all?

by Dave Brude (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:29pm

One thing I noticed is that run defenses are awesome so far with the average team posting a a -10% DVOA against the run. I imagine that has got to change at some point.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/27/2006 - 11:31pm

121: The problem most people have understanding the system is the belief that the better team always wins. Of course, this is easy to disprove, but any such evidence will be ignored.

by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 12:15am

58: Five fumbles, four picks, and 11 sacks will do that...

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 12:29am

122, you can see that in conventional stats too. It's because LJ, Shaun, LT2, Edge and Cadillac, to name a few, have underperformed early, while Portis was injured. Kill off six of the top seven or eight backs in the league like that and you'll get a leaguewide "trend." The same thing happened to quarterbacks from 2004 to 2005. McNabb and Culpepper went from career years to injury seasons from hell, and Manning regressed to the mean, and it had a huge effect on the leaguewide passing efficiency, simply because of those few players.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 12:56am


the numbers haven't been adjusted for strength of schedule yet, and its only 3 games into the season. that's probably a big reason why the rankings that include the preseason projections are a bit more correlated than just looking at 3 games worth.


This year, the defense had been the story … until they gave up 27 points to the G-Men in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game.

Come on now, that's hardly fair considering two of those touchdowns were from (1) a pick-6, and (2) an interception in the Seahawks' own territory, not to mention a(n ill advised) prevent defense call when the score was already run up.

by Peter (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:02am

Yar, delayed scramble! This was going to be the first week I ask for fantasy advice... I have a lot of awful matchup problems (Dallas Clark v. Jets, or Gates v. Ravens? In another league, Desmond Clark v. Seahawks or Gates? I'm leaning towards the first Clark, and not the second.)

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:07am

Come on Aaron, silly typo I know, but in the commentary for the Jets, I think that media-shy QB you're referring to has an E in his name, unless Sean Payton is moonlighting as the indy QB. (now wouldn't that be a trick, coach of one 3-0 team, and QB on another! His only REAL challenge comes when they're both 18-0 and meet in the SB. Okay, back to planet Earth now....)

Also, I love Bob Sanders, and he was injured when they drafted him(!), so if his career blows up due to injuries, it's not ilke it's a surprise. Indy tends to draft college players who were projected to be higher picks, but who dropped on draft day due to injury. So they think they get a first round talent in the third round (for example), only they have to wait 8-16 games to realize the potential. And with their roster and track record of success, they have the luxury of waiting. Worked for Sanders (2nd Rd draft choice made it to the Pro Bowl pretty quickly) but as you point out, the injuries are a concern. They are a different team when he's in there, though. I believe his rookie season proved that when their D turned around in the second half of the season, when he started playing and lowering the hammer against opponents' run games.

by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:11am

121: The unexamined life is not a life worth living, yet most do it that way. We've chosen to focus our thought not only on life at large but also on football, and FO jumps off the screen as a place where other thinking fans share ideas. Besides, most "hardcore casual" (hardcore but non-thinking) fans have had been deprived of insightful resources over the years, relying on on-air commentators and so-called "experts." If you hear "team A won because they rushed the football 35 times" enough times, sooner or later you're going to believe it. Try bringing up some of your thoughts at a sports bar on Sunday. Most fans there won't have it.

127: You would bench Gates vs. anyone? I benched Braylon Edwards vs. Baltimore last week and got burnt for it. I'd say stick with Gates.

by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:14am

Speaking of fantasy, who here believes Minnesota's D is going to be as good as 11th all year, and Washington's D as 23rd? Minny is the only decent FA Defense in a very deep league, and I'm 50/50 on dropping Washington for them long-term. Thoughts?

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:25am

130: If we're talking fantasy, I have to tell people that I just traded Colston for Shaun Alexander.

by chrisv (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 6:09am

Good to see my team (san diego) finally get on top. I hope that this year you guys will not adjust the formulas for the sole reason of ensuring that san diego is not ranked first (as you did last year).

by skins fan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 6:50am

Love my redskins but feel a little embarrassed and confused that we rank #11 right now. I do confess that I haven't delved deeply into all the "FO stats". And hey, The Skins DID play well against the Texans but it just don't feel right that these wacky stats suggest that we are a better team than ALL 21 teams below us. Trust me - Any Skin's fan will tell you that, so far, the 2006 skins are more of a nightmare than a potential playoff contender

by Not saying (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 7:50am

Re: 132

I would say the reason really wasn't about San Diego, and had everything to do with Indy.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 7:52am

Aaron - Babelfish might not be the best French teacher :

Laissez rouler les emails...

The second verb has to be the infinitive, not the second person plural/formal. Of coruse, "let...roll" doesn't really work either, but it's OK for government (or sports) work.

by Not saying (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 7:55am

Re: Pats comment

"One of our readers put it best in a Football Outsiders discussion thread: the Patriots are rock, the Broncos are paper, the Colts are scissors."

I remember it with Broncos as rock, Pats as scissors, and Colts as paper. Then someone pointed out it was interesting who was chosen as paper.

by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 10:08am

Rock beats everything. Good ol' rock.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 10:21am

Re: 121

I really think you're just failing to see the forest through the trees. Most the time the simplest, most obvious, reason is the correct one. There are a lot of very stupid people out there.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 10:37am

Re 127:
Dez Clark's going to be out or very limited. In fact, I thought he was already listed as out. The talk in Chicago is that Gabe Reid will fill some of Clark's role in catching and Gilmore will get more time as a blocker.

by admin :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 11:32am

Denver makes sense as paper because Champ Bailey covers everything. The Patriots physically destroy the Colts (well, except last year) so they get to be rock.

re: 134, actually the reason had nothing to do with Indianapolis and had everything to do with Houston and San Francisco.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 11:44am

And Indy slices up the defense with their passing, so Scissors works.

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 11:55am


Here is my take. There are two problems to consider: the tendency of sports fans to succumb to tribal thinking, and the inherent false consciousness of power rankings. Of the two, the false consciousness of power rankings is, in my opinion, the bigger problem. Team #N is listed as better than Team #N+1, but what does that mean? At best, it means that, if Team #N played Team #N+1 on a neutral site, Team #N has a 50%+epsilon chance of winning. This ignores that football teams are aggregates of the players on the field, and that games may exhibit the rock-paper-scissors phenomenon on a large scale.

I'd also like to warn against the tendency to write off everyone who posts as a dullard. Most of the time, you're talking about people who only see the rankings and not the methodology behind them. As a result, you're mostly hearing from people who react as fans to a ranking they interpret as the result of arbitrary numeric manipulation. You'd be amazed how quickly these same people would pick up DVOA if you recast it as a way to predict point spreads or fantasy numbers. I personally know someone who both failed basic math in community college and learned about Black-Scholes option pricing to help him in his fantasy league.

by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 12:43pm

You have way too much faith in Dallas. Philly’s first test against a playoff-caliber team is against Jacksonville, not against Dallas.

Dallas is, as Aaron said a while back, basically league-average. Compared to Houston and San Francisco, that's not a playoff game, but it's at least a geniune NFL team.

by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 12:46pm

Re 140 and 141:

I said something similar in the other thread, too. It seems to me that the Colts offense is the most scissor like--cutting through almost anything, which by default means the Pats have to be Rock and the Broncos Paper. I like Aaron's statement that the Broncos cover everything, so they get to be paper, too.

by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 12:50pm

But where do the Steelers fit in? Is there something out there that beats paper and scissors, but not rock (especially in the playoffs)?

In other news, apparently Chad Johnson just told the Boston sports media to tell Rodney Harrison that he was "going to knock his helmet off" this week, among other things...

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 1:01pm

Dallas is, as Aaron said a while back, basically league-average. Compared to Houston and San Francisco, that’s not a playoff game, but it’s at least a geniune NFL team.

True - but they've already faced a league-average team in the Giants, and pretty much showed themselves to be significantly better than them (only to lose, granted, but that doesn't wipe out their performance in the first three quarters).

Jacksonville'll be the first team they face that's actually on par with them. Win or lose isn't the issue (though 'win' would be nice) - it's how well they play against them. If they beat up the Jaguars like they did the Giants, they'll win the game more often than they'll lose it.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 1:06pm

I still have a problem with the Patriots ratings. Not the ranking, but how the rating is.

The offence has been GOD AWFUL. The defence has actually been pretty decent, but DVOA seems to point otherwise, saying the offence has been good, and the defence has been awful. I've always liked DVOA, but when the analysis tool doesnt match with what has been blatantly obvious, I doubt the analysis tool.

by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 1:51pm


I had the same thought, but then it got me thinking. Maybe DVOA is helping us to see beyond our fan biases. After the slew of injuries last year, we're used to seeing a horrible defense being bailed out by what was one of the top offenses in the league last year. Now seeing the defense playing much better, so it seems to us like it's been "decent", but has it really been? They've given up 10, 17, and 17 points in their three games, which averages out to a little over two TD's per game. That seems pretty average to me if I take away my Patriots bias. Maybe it's slightly better than average (I think the average defense gives up something like 17 points in a game), but now consider what it hasn't done. They haven't caused a single turnover in 3 games, and haven't seemed to get many sacks. Now add in the fact that they let the Jets get back into a game they had no business getting back into, couldn't stop the Broncos running attack at all, and let all three opponents escape 3rd and longs deep in their own end time and time again (except for the one safety against Buffalo). A good defense would have shut down the Bills and Jets completely, and given the Pats a better chance to beat the Broncos. Had they held the Broncos even once inside their 10 after Miller pinned them there several times, the outcome on Sunday could have been different. Even the Patriot players have talked about how their defense needs to be better.

On the other hand, the offense over the last two games has seemed awful to us because we're spoiled--we're used to seeing the best QB in the league zip passes any time he wants to some of the most reliable recievers in the league, and make amazing comebacks. The passing game has descended from elite to averge, but it's only average, not GOD AWFUL. It hasn't racked up yards or points, but it also hasn't turned the ball over except once that I can think of, and it's consistently gotten enough field position so that the Patriots haven't had to punt from deep in their only end much (once in the Broncos game and once in the Jets game come to mind, but that's it). But (in the first two games at least) the running game has been very good. The running offense took out both the Jets and the Bills, controlling the clock and piling up 1st downs, which DVOA rewards (rightly, because it helps win games a team should win). Ask the Steelers or the '01 Patriots if a good running game is as valuable as a good passing game. Good passing games let you get back into games you're out of, but good running games keep the opponent from doing the same. The run game was stuffed in the Broncos game, which is mainly why the Pats lost, but the passing offense came more to life and got the Pats back into the game when they had no business getting back in. It wasn't spectacular, but I'm willing to believe that combining Good running and average passing in two games with good passing and poor running in one game works out to above average.

When the analysis tool doesn't match with what I think is blatantly obvious, maybe I need to re-assess my opinion of blatantly obvious.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 1:55pm

I can't wait until the rush D vs. pass D and the pass D vs. individual defenders come out.

I'm guessing the Patriots are in the top third vs. the run, and in the bottom five vs. the pass. That matches up nicely with what I see on the field. Opponents are converting something like 47% of third downs against New England. That's death for a DVOA ranking.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 1:58pm

And by "defenders" in my above post, I mean "receivers".

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:27pm


Close, basically. NE's 4th worst vs the pass, but only the 12th best rush defense. That's primarily because there are some ridiculous rush defenses currently - some of that's probably due to lack of adjustment, some of it's probably due to teams playing over their head.

It's always tough to judge teams by 'rank' - right now there are a lot of good defenses out there, so it's not really a knock on NE to have them 'only' ranked at 12th. Their current rush defense DVOA, last year, would've ranked them in the top 5.

I have to say though, if Detroit's rush defense is half as good as they look now, Atlanta's in a huge heap of trouble when they come there in November. Detroit's pass defense is crap, but they completely shut down Shaun Alexander, Thomas Jones, and Ahman Green - and in two of those cases, the game was very close, and so it wasn't a case of teams just throwing away rushes to grind out the clock.

What the hell is going on with Detroit's rush defense? -45.3%??

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:31pm


Both the Bills game, and the Jets game, were only close because of Offensive turnovers translating directly to points.

The passing game hasnt been average. Its been awful. God awful. I think that, in that denver game, that one last drive, for the TD, is having way too much effect on the offensive VOA for this game. Denver shut them down all day. Those 7 points were because of a soft zone, not because the patriots were playing well.

Take a look at the PAR numbers for Brady. It actually makes him look like he was good this week. He wasnt. I think 60%+ of his passes involved serious adjustment for the reciever to catch. (how many diving catches were there in that game? 15-20?)

The patriots offense had the ball 12 times. They went 3 and out 3 of them. THey went 5 and out 3 of them. They went 6 and out twice. Thats 8 out of 12 drives ended in 6 or less plays. They turned the ball over twice on downs.Of the 4 drives of more than 6 plays, 2 of them were in the 4th quarter, in essentially junk time. That doesnt sound like an above average offence to me.

Denver, on the other hand had the ball 11 times (not counting kneel at end). They had two 3 and outs, one 4, Three 5 and outs. They had 5 drives that were productive. (of more than 7 plays, or a score). Holding the opponent to 1 or less first downs on more than half their drives seems pretty good to me.

It just seems blatantly obvious ot me that the Pats D is playing well, and then getting beat towards the end of each half. Combining this with the offence being completely innefective means that the defence is spending a lot of time on the field, and the offense isnt.

Look at the Jets game. The defence gives up a big flukey play (crotchery-matrix-td). The offence comes out. My thought would be to run a long drive, try to eat up the clock, and slow the game back down. Brady throws his first pass 40 yards downfield, and gets picked off. Defence back on the field. It has just seemed that the Offense keeps putting the defence in bad positions when it matters, and then puts together a 10 play junk drive later in the game that stacks VOA.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:38pm

A 10-play drive down 17 at the beginning of the 4th quarter is in no way junk.

The second drive, a 60-play drive, with 3:36 remaining down 10, was close to junk. But the first one absolutely was not.

The game was still well within reach there - the only reason it really went out of reach was that Denver got a pair of first downs, and New England couldn't get anything on the next drive.

by Ralph (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:42pm

Marv Levy's "reach" pick of Donte Whitner was just named Rookie of the Month.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:43pm

153. I disagree. The reason it was out of reach was the drive in between those two, where the Pats came in, Brady threw three straight incompletions (all 35+ yard attempts) and then they punted. For some reason, the Patriots have this failed belief that Brady throws the deep ball well. Hes the best quarterback I've ever seen at less than 20yds, yet they insist on trying to have him throw deep, in situations when they shouldnt, when its obviously his weakness.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:50pm

It has just seemed that the Offense keeps putting the defence in bad positions when it matters

OK, I can't speak to the "when it matters" part, but according to the drive stats, the offense has actually been leaving the defense with very good field position, and the defense has been leaving the offense with very bad field position:

offense - 24.33 (29th)
defense - 23.97 (2nd)

OK, that isn't ALL the offense/defense's fault, special teams are involved. But part of this is definitely turnovers:

offense - .121 (13th)
defense - .033 (32nd)

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 2:53pm

The reason it was out of reach was the drive in between those two, where the Pats came in, Brady threw three straight incompletions (all 35+ yard attempts) and then they punted.

I'm guessing you misread this line:

and New England couldn’t get anything on the next drive..

That's the drive you're talking about. The Patriots probably could've afforded a burned drive if they hadn't allowed Denver to get two first downs previously. They also likely wouldn't've been in such horrid field position.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:02pm

To expand on 156, part of the bad/good field position is due to the yardage allowed/gained. I don't wanna quote yards/drive, because that is dependent on field position. So I took yards/drive and divided by the average yards available to the offense (100 - [starting field position]) to get the % of possible yards gained or allowed. The average is 39.7%:

NE offense 42.3% (11th)
NE defense 43.3% (21st)

I know I said I wouldn't quote yds/drive, but here is that also, just to show that this measure actually makes the defense look slightly better:

offense 32.0 (7th)
defense 32.93 (29th)

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:04pm

Whats worse though, being down 10 points, with 9 minutes left in the game, and your defence giving up 2 first downs (and forcing a punt in 5 plays), or going three and out, down 10, with 6 minutes left.

I contend the latter.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:05pm

This NE offense is reminding me of the debate about the Chicago defense last week. The Chicago D was not great on a per play basis, because they gave up quite a few first downs, didn't get a lot of turnovers, etc. But they were keeping the opponent off the score board due to the 1st downs being spread out instead of all stacked together in one or two long drives.

The NE offense seems to be doing something similar. On a per-play or per-down-set basis, they're not bad, but they have had a lot of middle distance drives where they get a couple first downs that make their stats better, but don't end up getting as many points as you might expect.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:12pm

158, how much of that is scewed by the 14 play 60 yard junk drive at the end, etc.

My point is, averages are useless here. Look at the drives. The patriots offence was good on maybe 2 or 3 drives, and awful on the rest.

The average starting field position isnt that useful either. They started their first drive on the 1, which definitely offsets things, and look at the special teams: The patriots had higher punt distances, longer returns, etc.

My point is, forget comparing the offence to the defence. DVOA says the offense played a good game. Anyone who watched that game knows otherwise.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:14pm


Thats exactly my point. The patriots offence looks better on paper here than it really is.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:21pm


I know you were just making a point, but what the hell, out of curiosity I took out that 60 yard junk drive, and now NE's offense is at 41.2% (12th). And they drop to 31.13 (9th) in yds/dr.

Looking at the drives again, I agree, NE did not play well on offense against Denver.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:23pm

Whats worse though, being down 10 points, with 9 minutes left in the game, and your defence giving up 2 first downs (and forcing a punt in 5 plays), or going three and out, down 10, with 6 minutes left.

I think you're neglecting the fact that by giving up that 1st down (one, not two, my mistake) it cost them an extra minute of time, plus it pinned them at the 8 yard line. Had they held Denver to under 10 yards originally, they would've gotten a punt back at their own 30-40 yard line.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:37pm

159, 164:

You should ask the guy linked in my name for info about this.

(sorry if this is a duplicate, the first one is not showing up on my comp)

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:45pm

164 Pat, you're missing the fact that an offence going 3 and out is giving up yards (whatever the average NFL drive is...like 30 yards I think), and in this situation, and minimum of 2+ minutes to get the ball back. In light of that, the defence taking an extra minute to get the ball back doesnt seem bad to me.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:50pm

I want to add that I don't think NE's defense played that well against Denver either.

Denver, on the other hand had the ball 11 times (not counting kneel at end). They had two 3 and outs, one 4, Three 5 and outs. They had 5 drives that were productive. (of more than 7 plays, or a score). Holding the opponent to 1 or less first downs on more than half their drives seems pretty good to me.

Yeah, they had three 5 and outs, but two of them gained as many yards as the "productive" drives you mentioned.

Drives you count as good for NE's D:
start DEN21 - 5 plays, 45 yd, 2:17 TOP, punt to NE21
start DEN14 - 5 plays, 37 yd, 3:35 TOP, punt to NE8 (this one in 4th quarter)

Drives you count as productive for Denver:
start DEN20 - 7 plays, 38 yd, 4:01 TOP, punt to NE1
start DEN5 - 8 plays, 37 yd, 3:36 TOP, punt to NE18

Plus there is another 4th quarter drive where they earned a 1st down and bled some clock. I'd say there's really only 3 drives where Denver would be unhappy with their offense.

That said, likes like VOA for this game rates the NE offense at slightly better than average, and the defense as putrid. I'm with you, Rich, on disagreeing with that rating. Seems like they both were a little below average.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 3:58pm

DavidH, IIRC

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:00pm

DavidH, IIRC, one of those 5 play drives involved a 35 yard pass interference penalty where Asante Samuel beat a reciever, adn then got called for pass interference when the reciever ran into his back.

grr...stray bracket.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:11pm

164 Pat, you’re missing the fact that an offence going 3 and out is giving up yards (whatever the average NFL drive is…like 30 yards I think), and in this situation, and minimum of 2+ minutes to get the ball back

I'm not saying the offense going 3 and out wasn't bad. But the defense did give up basically the same number of yards (about 25) versus a 3 and out, and roughly the same amount of time (about a minute and a half).

Which means that both of those drives were basically equally bad performances by the offense and the defense.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:14pm

If anyone wants a decent laugh, you should chart the Pass Offense numbers. SD, NYJ, CHI, IND, & PHI are pretty much equal in the top tier (I'm not sure what's more surprising the Jets or Bears). The there's a decent drop off (23.60%) to the 2nd tier of NYG-through-CIN (a difference of 27.00% between them). There's a little drop down (11.20%) to DEN-through-TEN (a difference of 26.20% between them). And then it falls off the face of the Earth down to OAK (63.20% below TEN). The distance between TEN & OAK is the same distance between TEN & NE.


by John Gach (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:00pm

Re #142 & #138
I think Whiskey's note more or less rebuts Wanker 19's notion that people cling to false beliefs simply because they're stupid. No doubt some are, but that hardly explains the power rankings by the non-FO football punditry, which often make as much sense as some of the notes I read yesterday on the Fox blog.

Whiskey's "false consciousness" (a good Hegelian / Existentialist / Marxist term: perhaps we'll resurrect it from the dead) is relevant to more than power rankings. For example, until I read the FO analysis of the 2004 Ogden/Freeney matchup, I thought for sure, just from watching the game, that Freeney had completely overwhelmed Ogden (which is how the announcers also reported it). The nearly play-by-play analysis by Michael David Smith showed that actually Ogden had a pretty decent game, though he was beaten several times for sacks by Freeney's speed rush. Most of us tend to be overly swayed by outstanding individual plays, because that's how the mind works: it ignores unmemorable redundancy, only sending to long-term memory storage the highlights.

I'd say that was Sartre was right when he wrote that, regarding football, false consciousness is the human condition. As FO readers know, the bare stats alone do not suffice for getting beneath the surface phenomena to a structural understanding of the teams and games. Unadjusted for strength of opponent, setting, luck, etc., the stats are about as useful for relative comparison as most power rankings.

So, after thinking about it in light of Whiskey's comments, I now surmise that what the Fox Bloggers miss is the concatenation of ideas that underlie FO statistical analyses. Those ideas are now derived from a much larger data set than the performance results of a single season and reveal numerous long-term trends and probabilities that are often counter-intuitive (meaning you'd almost never guess the underlying reality just from watching the games). I think that's what the average readers don't "get."

Or rather, that's the first thing they don't comprehend. The second is the distinction between ideal types (Aaron Schatz's Platonic forms) and actual games. Games exist, essences don't. The ideal types that result from FO calculations are what I think of as second order probabilities. They don't -- and can't -- predict actual performance, but they do predict the probability of a certain kind of performance. This was made very clear in Pro Football Prospectus, where each team was assigned a probability for being this year anything from a completely lousy team to a Super Bowl contender.

For most people these are not obvious concepts. No wonder they remain shrouded in superstition about football.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:10pm

I’d say that was Sartre was right when he wrote that, regarding football, false consciousness is the human condition.

Camus can do, but Sartre is smartre.

by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:19pm

Without getting into as much detail as you guys, my main point about New England is that for the past year or even two years, their offense has been exceptional and their defense average or way below average (mainly due to injuries, but still). So seeing both offense and defense play at (or below) average means that we PRECEIVE that the offense is being worse than maybe it actually is, and the defense better.

Re Brady and the deep ball. I think everyone knows that Brady excels more at the short and medium passes more than at the long ball. However, that's the problem--everyone knows that. So teams pack the short and medium zones and it makes life more difficult. You HAVE to throw deep on occasion in order to loosen up the running game and the short passing game. I agree that McDaniels seems a little TOO enamoured with the deep ball, but not to say, Al Davis standards. And if you're going to try to score on a deep, 35+ yard strike, what better time to try it than when down by 10, deep in your own end, with the clock running down?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:19pm

I think Whiskey’s note more or less rebuts Wanker79’s notion that people cling to false beliefs simply because they’re stupid. No doubt some are, but that hardly explains the power rankings by the non-FO football punditry, which often make as much sense as some of the notes I read yesterday on the Fox blog.

I think you give the typical power-ranking pundit too much credit for intelligence. ;-)

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:22pm

Camus can do, but Sartre is smartre
Yeah, well, Scooby Doo can doo-doo, but Jimmy Carter is smarter.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:29pm

Brady has said that this past off-season he worked with his long-time throwing coach and made subtle changes to his mechanics in order to throw a better deep ball. I'm not sure that it hasn't made him less accurate on the short and medium throws.

I, for one, would like to see the Patriots run the no-huddle from Go until clock-killing time. The best thing to say about their skill position players is that they can line up in many different formations and use their entire playbook without changing personnel. Graham and Watson could line up tight, split, h-back, fullback, or wing. Brown can play any WR position. Getting Brady into a rhythym and keeping the defense guessing would probably be successful for the offense.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:49pm

174, I got no problem trying it at that point. But not 3 downs in a row, thats ridiculous. You need to move the chains, theres still 6 minutes left at that point.

by John Gach (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:49pm

It's reasonable to assume that the pundits-for-pay are at least average in intelligence.

The ability to perceive underlying patterns is also the hallmark of great players. In his hey-day one of the things that made the undersized Ray Lewis a joy to watch was his ability to outthink the offense, to know what they were going to do before they did it. Such structural understanding is rare in young people, since it's an ability that doesn't usually mature (if it ever does) until after age 40. So the relatively young, like the Lewis of five years ago, either 1) develop the ability to intuit patterns beneath surface phenomena earlier than most folks or 2) compensate for the developmental lack by studying film so that they can just perceptually recognize the probable play from formations and from their knowledge of a particular team's tendencies. The latter takes a lot of study time.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:50pm

"No one runs well against the Giants."

Other than uncovered wide receivers, that is.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:52pm

Re: 180


by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 6:07pm

#178: Well, be fair, it was only two downs in a row. The third down they realized "oh crap, it's third down! we should get another first down!"

by Erik Smith (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 6:19pm

148: The patriots offense had the ball 12 times. They went 3 and out 3 of them.

Last year, the Eagles called that the first quarter. And that was WITH McNabb. Your Patriots will be fine. I'm not saying to expect home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but you'll be just fine.

by Greenwell (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 12:37am

Didn't there used to be run and pass DVOAs for offense and defense?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 10:46am

Re: 184

You have to go to the "Just the Stats" page (one of the tabs at the top of the site), and look at Team Offense and Team Defense.

And on a similar note, why do I have to be on the "Just the Stats" homepage before the hover-over menu will appear?!? Shouldn't the menu pop up regardless of what page I'm on?

by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 2:30pm

my hover over appears everywhere