Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» 2017 Adjusted Games Lost

Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

02 Jan 2007

Final 2006 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Baltimore is the number one team in the NFL for 2006, according to the Football Outsiders DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) system. Nearly every statistical indicator points to the Ravens as the Super Bowl favorite. They are number one both in total DVOA and in weighted DVOA. They finished the season with the most Pythagorean wins, projected from points scored and allowed. Since Brian Billick took over the playcalling duties in Week 8, the Ravens rank in the top ten in offense, defense, and special teams.

Once again, Week 17 games are not adjusted for teams that sat their starters, although this was a much smaller issue than in years past. Carolina-New Orleans was probably the only game affected by the "sit the starters" problem.

The FOXSports.com commentary is now online, featuring reasons for optimism and pessimism for each of the 20 non-playoff teams. A couple of interesting notes from the final ratings that didn't make it into the FOXSports.com commentary:

  • Although the top teams in DVOA for 2006 were generally ranked in the teens in 2005, New Orleans is the only team ranked 20th or lower last year and 14th or higher this year.
  • Thanks to results at the end of the year that actually made some sense -- close losses to good New England and Kansas City teams -- the 2006 Jaguars do not end up with the highest VARIANCE in DVOA history. They end up fourth, behind the 2005 49ers, 2003 Bills, and 2003 49ers.
  • Oakland does not end up with the worst offense of the DVOA era. The current bottom five: 2005 49ers (-39.8%), 2002 Texans (-37.8%), 2004 Bears (-36.5%), 2006 Raiders (-35.5%), and 1997 Saints (-35.2%).
  • Chicago's 7.6% special teams ends up as the third best of the DVOA era, behind the 2002 Saints (10.0%) and 1998 Cowboys (7.8%).
  • The Colts' offensive DVOA of 33.8% is the second best of the DVOA era, behind the 2004 Colts (39.9%) and just ahead of the 2002 Chiefs (33.3%). Out of the top 10 offenses of the DVOA era, four are the Colts, five are Vermeil or Martz Rams/Chiefs teams, and the other one is the 1998 Broncos.
  • The Ravens defense is not quite as impressive as the Colts offense or Bears special teams, seventh in the DVOA era. Three of the top seven defenses of the DVOA era are the Ravens, although the 2002 Bucs are the best (-33.6%).
  • The two New York teams both end up with DVOA ratings that disagree with both their actual win-loss records and Pythagorean wins. I'm not quite sure what's up with the Giants, but I address some of the issues with the Jets in this week's commentary.
  • Pittsburgh ends the year ranked 12th in DVOA, which isn't that ridiculous for a defending Super Bowl champion. Their season sure would have looked different if they had just mixed those wins up instead of starting 2-6 and ending 6-2.

All stats pages are now updated with (unofficial) 2006 final totals. That includes the team stats, the individual stats, adjusted line yards, and the drive stats. I'm waiting to hear from Mike Harris on the Playoff Odds Report. We hope to have some other cool fun stuff for you later this week. We'll have our usual playoff previews chock full of stats. I'm planning on going through the game charting stats and posting some interesting things about the playoff teams over on the FO FOX blog. And I'll be doing an online chat Wednesday at 1pm Eastern on BaseballProspectus.com, taking your questions on the playoffs as well as the off-season needs of the 20 teams that fell short.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings for the 2006 regular season, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted based on strength of opponent as well as to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season.

WEIGHTED DVOA is based on a formula which discounts games more than eight weeks ago in order to get a more accurate picture of how teams are playing now. This is the formula used for the rankings at FOXSports.com. LAST YEAR represents rank in 2005.

To save people some time, we remind everyone to put their angry troll hatred into the official zlionsfan angry troll hatred Mad Libs form:

<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 31.9% 2 19 13-3 35.8% 1 2.8% 14 -25.6% 1 3.5% 4
2 SD 29.9% 1 6 14-2 26.0% 3 24.4% 2 -1.1% 14 4.4% 3
3 PHI 24.2% 4 18 10-6 17.2% 6 19.9% 3 -6.2% 11 -1.9% 22
4 CHI 24.0% 3 14 13-3 12.3% 7 -3.9% 18 -20.3% 2 7.6% 1
5 NE 23.3% 5 12 12-4 27.5% 2 12.2% 7 -8.4% 8 2.6% 8
6 JAC 21.9% 6 10 8-8 19.2% 5 4.4% 12 -17.7% 3 -0.2% 20
7 IND 19.4% 7 1 12-4 21.6% 4 33.8% 1 11.3% 27 -3.1% 26
8 NO 10.8% 8 30 10-6 11.6% 8 13.7% 5 3.6% 19 0.7% 14
9 NYG 10.8% 10 8 8-8 5.6% 14 8.7% 9 -1.7% 13 0.4% 16
10 DAL 10.2% 9 15 9-7 8.3% 10 10.3% 8 -0.1% 16 -0.2% 19
11 CIN 8.7% 11 9 8-8 7.7% 11 14.6% 4 7.3% 25 1.4% 12
12 PIT 7.8% 12 3 8-8 8.6% 9 5.4% 11 -6.6% 10 -4.2% 30
13 KC 4.0% 13 4 9-7 1.5% 16 5.5% 10 2.7% 18 1.2% 13
14 CAR 2.8% 14 11 8-8 7.4% 12 -4.2% 19 -9.9% 5 -2.8% 24
15 GB -1.4% 20 23 8-8 6.5% 13 -6.3% 20 -8.9% 6 -3.9% 29
16 BUF -2.7% 15 28 7-9 0.4% 18 -8.6% 24 -0.2% 15 5.8% 2
17 MIA -3.6% 17 13 6-10 0.7% 17 -11.8% 28 -8.9% 7 -0.7% 21
18 DEN -3.7% 16 2 9-7 -9.6% 21 -8.1% 23 -3.7% 12 0.7% 15
19 NYJ -4.7% 19 27 10-6 0.3% 19 2.7% 15 10.7% 26 3.2% 5
20 STL -5.2% 24 29 8-8 -11.5% 23 12.3% 6 13.1% 29 -4.4% 31
21 ATL -8.2% 21 17 7-9 -11.5% 24 -2.5% 17 2.3% 17 -3.4% 27
22 MIN -8.7% 18 21 6-10 -11.1% 22 -15.7% 29 -10.5% 4 -3.5% 28
23 WAS -11.5% 22 7 5-11 -16.4% 27 4.1% 13 17.4% 32 1.7% 11
24 TEN -12.7% 23 25 8-8 2.6% 15 -8.9% 25 6.2% 24 2.4% 9
25 SEA -13.5% 25 5 9-7 -14.7% 26 -11.6% 27 4.5% 20 2.6% 7
26 ARI -18.1% 29 22 5-11 -7.3% 20 -7.3% 21 6.0% 23 -4.8% 32
27 DET -19.5% 30 26 3-13 -17.3% 28 -8.9% 26 13.4% 30 2.7% 6
28 HOU -19.9% 28 31 6-10 -13.2% 25 -2.3% 16 15.5% 31 -2.1% 23
29 SF -20.3% 31 32 7-9 -17.6% 29 -8.0% 22 12.3% 28 0.1% 18
30 CLE -20.9% 26 24 4-12 -25.6% 31 -18.2% 31 5.0% 21 2.3% 10
31 TB -22.8% 27 16 4-12 -22.3% 30 -17.9% 30 5.0% 22 0.1% 17
32 OAK -30.2% 32 20 2-14 -25.6% 32 -35.5% 32 -8.3% 9 -3.0% 25

  • NON-ADJ VOA shows what the rating looks like without adjustments for strength of schedule, luck recovering fumbles, or weather and altitude on special teams.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close.  It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles.  Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • 2006 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent the number of wins projected from the team's points scored and allowed, as described here.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).

RANK 2006
1 BAL 31.9% 13-3 35.0% 12.0 2 -2.6% 25 12.7 1 16.9% 12
2 SD 29.9% 14-2 36.0% 12.0 1 -6.6% 30 12.1 4 8.8% 29
3 PHI 24.2% 10-6 20.0% 11.6 3 -0.7% 18 9.8 8 13.3% 21
4 CHI 24.0% 13-3 30.3% 10.8 5 -7.3% 31 12.4 2 28.5% 2
5 NE 23.3% 12-4 25.9% 11.0 4 -0.9% 19 12.2 3 18.7% 7
6 JAC 21.9% 8-8 19.2% 9.6 7 2.0% 11 10.8 5 30.1% 1
7 IND 19.4% 12-4 16.8% 10.6 6 1.8% 12 9.6 9 17.2% 11
8 NO 10.8% 10-6 12.0% 9.1 8 -1.1% 22 10.3 6 16.3% 16
9 NYG 10.8% 8-8 7.3% 9.0 9 3.0% 8 7.8 16 12.5% 24
10 DAL 10.2% 9-7 10.1% 8.6 10 0.0% 17 9.8 7 17.9% 9
11 CIN 8.7% 8-8 5.6% 8.6 11 3.9% 5 9.1 10 9.6% 27
12 PIT 7.8% 8-8 4.0% 8.6 12 2.5% 10 9.1 11 17.3% 10
13 KC 4.0% 9-7 3.7% 8.5 13 -1.2% 24 8.5 13 19.1% 6
14 CAR 2.8% 8-8 1.0% 7.9 15 0.4% 14 6.9 21 13.7% 20
15 GB -1.4% 8-8 -3.0% 7.6 18 -1.1% 23 6.2 23 23.2% 3
16 BUF -2.7% 7-9 -8.3% 7.8 16 5.9% 2 7.7 17 15.8% 17
RANK 2006
17 MIA -3.6% 6-10 -0.6% 7.2 21 2.9% 9 7.2 19 13.1% 23
18 DEN -3.7% 9-7 -3.1% 7.1 22 1.3% 13 8.4 14 16.5% 15
19 NYJ -4.7% 10-6 -1.8% 7.6 17 -0.9% 20 8.7 12 15.3% 18
20 STL -5.2% 8-8 3.7% 7.4 20 -7.4% 32 7.6 18 16.6% 14
21 ATL -8.2% 7-9 -3.0% 7.4 19 0.3% 16 6.9 20 18.5% 8
22 MIN -8.7% 6-10 -5.0% 7.9 14 -3.0% 27 6.6 22 8.0% 32
23 WAS -11.5% 5-11 -14.8% 6.8 23 4.2% 4 6.1 24 9.5% 28
24 TEN -12.7% 8-8 -16.1% 6.8 24 9.4% 1 6.0 25 16.7% 13
25 SEA -13.5% 9-7 -9.3% 6.2 25 -6.5% 29 7.8 15 10.4% 25
26 ARI -18.1% 5-11 -10.7% 6.2 27 -5.1% 28 6.0 26 19.5% 5
27 DET -19.5% 3-13 -20.3% 5.8 29 -0.9% 21 5.6 27 8.7% 30
28 HOU -19.9% 6-10 -18.8% 5.9 28 3.3% 7 5.1 28 14.0% 19
29 SF -20.3% 7-9 -19.9% 6.2 26 -2.8% 26 5.1 29 20.0% 4
30 CLE -20.9% 4-12 -25.9% 4.8 31 3.4% 6 4.4 30 13.2% 22
31 TB -22.8% 4-12 -29.3% 5.1 30 4.5% 3 3.6 31 8.3% 31
32 OAK -30.2% 2-14 -36.1% 3.9 32 0.4% 15 2.7 32 10.0% 26

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Jan 2007

126 comments, Last at 28 Feb 2012, 12:17pm by Robert20Morin


by Dave Brude (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:51pm

First! Glad to see my Niners didn't finish dead last this season and seemed to improve somewhat as the season went on.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:52pm

Green Bay improved that much in the last month? I figured it was just playing really bad teams.

One of the unnoticed roster changes that had an enormous impact at a team level was Green Bay putting Cullen Jenkins at defensive end. After the Monday Night game against Seattle when Alexander ran for 500 yards Mike McCarthy said "enough of this sh*t" and made KGB a pass rushing specialist.

by Setzer (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:58pm

I can't figure out the Giants either. Is it their high ratings from earlier in the year? Or is it because of their brutal schedule?

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:58pm

Agreed, another key for Niners fans is that the estimated wins are even higher--at 26th.

Now we need the front office to execute in the offseason. SF is about 40 million under the cap next year and has 8 first day draft picks. The most important thing is to get more depth on defense. When Walt Harris and Shawntae Spencer went down, the backups were horrendous. Also teams could go 3 or 4 wide and pick on these backups in other situations. Also some decent linebackers besides Brandon Moore and a pass rusher from the defensive end spot would be really nice.

On offense the team desparately needs some more WRs and a good RT to replace Kwame Harris. The rest of the offense seems to be progressing nicely assuming Alex Smith continues to progress as he did from last year to this year.

All of these would be great adds but if the team addresses half of them sufficiently, I think SF moves up to about 15th in expected wins. That would be a nice jump from 26th, and probably would make them a contender for the NFC West crown.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:00pm

Wow, the missed FG and XP against the Titans wasn't enough to drop the Pats special teams out of the top 10. It was however, enough to drop Gostkowski to 28th in FG/XP rating. Ugh.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:07pm


I'm not sure if thats fair, really. I'm gonna give Gostkowski a flyer on that one because of the the field conditions, and the Titan's kicker also missing one.

Aaron, Whats more predictive as far as superbowls go, DVOA, or Weighted DVOA?

I'm just curious to see whether NE/SD are the only threats to Baltimore, or if they have to worry about NE/SD/Philly/Chicago

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:08pm

I have mixed emotions about Philly. They finished as the #1 team in the NFC in W-DVOA, but that only landed then the #6 spot overall.

As a Philly fan who's been a defender of the conference, that is very bittersweet. I was kinda hoping that there were so many 7-8 teams fighting for the final playoff spot because the conference was a whole bunch of decent teams with few really good teams but also few really bad teams. But the bottom 10 consists of 7 NFC teams...yikes :-/

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:11pm

I know this has been answered somewhere before, but I'm lazy. A link answer is fine (thanks). How does final weighted DVOA correlate to next years wins and DVOA?

Arizona. Best weighted DVOA in the NFC West.

by KurtisM (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:13pm

Putting on my cheap hat...

Amazon is currently listing PFP2k6 for $12.89; any idea if this special offer starts later in the week?

by kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:18pm

It's interesting that of the teams in the playoffs, the team that faced the hardest schedule was...the Colts and the Giants. I don't think much about the Giants' chances, but the Colts...could they be vaguely decent? I know the whole Guts/Stomps rule (and btw, this would be a GREAT time to bring that back and analyze the contenders based on that info; I figure that SD would get the nod), but the Colts have beaten some very good teams.


I wonder - can the Bears make an offer to Jeff George and get him in uniform 2 weeks before their game?

by admin :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:19pm

Nope, looks like that super sweet cheapo PFP deal from last week is gone at Amazon. Alas. I'll remove that above.

by rollo (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:24pm

Well its a small consolation that the playoffless Jags are 6th in the league according to DVOA. Now if we only we could abduct Manning and Wayne...

by b-man (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:34pm

Updated DVOA charts calculated from FO data:
DVOA Charts Week 17

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:41pm

The difference in DVOA to WDVOA is striking for the Bears, and I just realized who it reminds me of. The 2003 KC Chiefs. Not only that, but both teams won a lot of games thanks to special teams touchdowns. Not a good sign for Bears fans.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:44pm

An article on Amazon's ever-annoying variable pricing can be found below:

by TomG (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:49pm

What is the record of previous teams who have entered the playoffs with the best DVOA etc. stats? How confident should we Ravens fans feel?

by JAT (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:51pm

Re #10

I'm not the most objective observer, but I'm thinking along the same lines as you, kal ... despite the Colts obvious deficiencies in run defense and STs. They were something like 4-1 against other playoff teams. It's a mistake to overlook them. While they can certainly lose to any of the teams that are left, there's not a one of them that they can't beat, home or away.

by Robert Zepeda (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:54pm

the chargers lost 2 games, each by 3 points, to playoff teams (KC and BAL). Baltimore lost more games and each loss was by non-playoff teams (CAR, DEN, CIN)

by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:55pm

16: I wouldn't feel too confident, because a lot can happen in a one-and-done tournament, and they are first by the slimmest of margins. But here is how the recent #1 DVOA teams have done:

2005: Indy, lost divisional round
2004: NE, won Super Bowl
2003: KC, lost divisional round
2002: Tampa, won Super Bowl
2001: St. Louis, lost Super Bowl
2000: Tennessee, lost divisional round
1999: St. Louis, won Super Bowl
1998: Denver, won Super Bowl

by kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:56pm

#15: Variable pricing of that nature is called something else typically in the retail industry - a SALE PRICE. That guy is getting mad because he went to the store one day, they had a certain price, and then it went up a while later. He didn't put it away on layaway or put money down or 'ask the shopkeeper to keep it behind the counter'. He's just grousing for its own sake.

#16: Best DVOA has sometimes been really good at predicting playoff/superbowl success (the Pats are a good example, as were the Eagles) and sometimes really bad (the Colts last year were not the best thing ever). In general, it does what it does in the regular season; it predicts decently when there are big discrepancies in DVOA between two teams, but not so much when the teams are close.

by Xian (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:58pm

New Orleans is the only team ranked 20th or lower last year and 14th or higher this year.

And, of course, before anyone goes crazy and has to use the zlionsfan form, it has been pointed out again and again on FO that the 2005 Saints season should in no way be taken as anything predictive, what with Katrina making a hash of the season.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:59pm

Despite coming into the playoffs as a "hot" team, the Eagles have a huge different between DVOA and WDVOA.
Looking at the games in which Garcia played in, they were thrashed by the two AFC teams they played, the Titans and the Colts.
Then they beat the mediocre Panthers (in the midst of a 4 game losing streak) and Redskins (finished the season 2-6) by a combined 5 points.
The 36-22 win vs the Giants (finished the season 2-6) was a much closer game than the score indicates, and the only convincing win of this stretch was against the slumping Cowboys (who finished the season 1-3), a team which even the Lions could beat in Dallas.
The last game of the season was played by the backups against a Falcons (finished the season 2-7) team who fired their coach the next day.
I think the Eagles late season success is primarily due to the fact they they played only mediocre teams who were in the midst of a serious slump. The Bears are probably slumping even worse than any of these teams, but the Eagles would play the Saints in the second round if they beat the Giants.

by Are-Tee (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:03pm

"I can’t figure out the Giants either. Is it their high ratings from earlier in the year? Or is it because of their brutal schedule?"

No schedule that includes 12 games against NFC teams can seriously be called "brutal".

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:14pm

jonnyblazin has a point on the Eagles' closing sked. The flip-side is Trent Green's post-concussion performances--people like to point out how poorly he has played, but a lot of good D's there in their past six games, so his QB rating in the 60/70 range should be taken with a grain of salt. And Philly's hot streak might be a bit illusory.

Is this the most miserable week of all for NFL fans? Is it, like at least Thursday yet? Jeez, we all know the matchups, the histories, the players, the yada yada yada; can't they just play already? (Espcially with LJ probably needing pain meds just to walk to the john after 416 rushes. The less rest he has, the more I like it.)

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:15pm

RE 23
It can if you're in the NFC.

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:16pm

Well, as a Charger fan I really like the looks of these rankings after taking into account how much time key starters on defense missed during the year.

by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:17pm

6: Well DVOA has only existed for eight years, so it's kind of a small sample size for Superbowls. A team from the top 3 in total DVOA has won the superbowl every year but the 2001 Pats, and half of them (2004 Pats, 2002 Bucs, 1999 Rams, 1998 Broncos) were #1 for the regular season.

Superbowl losers finished 5th, 7th, 11th, 1st (the 2001 Rams, against the #12 Pats), 2nd, 17th, 6th, and 5th, for an average of 6.75.

So based on what we've seen so far, total DVOA makes it a really, really, really good bet that one of the Chargers, Ravens, or Eagles will win it all, most likely over a team from the upper-middle of the pack, like New Orleans or Dallas.

I hadn't looked at the weighted before, but here goes:
Winners finished 4th, 1st, 3rd, 9th, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, 5th, for an average of 3.875, suggesting that it correlates, but probably not as much as total DVOA does. Again, the fluky team is the 9th ranked 2001 Pats.

Losers finished 1st, 6th, 11th, 1st, 2nd, 20th, 9th, and 4th, for an average of 6.75. Obviously that's pretty badly skewed by the 2003 Panthers, but even without them it's 4.85, higher than the winners.

So from this superficial ranking analysis on a small sample size, it seems like weighted DVOA might help pick champs (if Chicago and New England fans want some hope, that's where it lies), but definitely not as well as total DVOA. Assuming there are no 2001 Pats lurking (Saints maybe?), the top 3 should feel pretty good about themselves.

by Zonker (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:17pm

Wow, DVOA really hates the Niners. Last season we had a historically bad overall value but still had enough wins on a tough enough schedule to get the 6th pick, this year we're 29th in DVOA and picking 11th.

Hmm....actually, it seems more like the W-L record that hates the Niners. What chance to get a draft order based on impartial weighted statistical indicators of overall performance?

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:20pm

re: 18
"the chargers lost 2 games, each by 3 points, to playoff teams (KC and BAL). Baltimore lost more games and each loss was by non-playoff teams (CAR, DEN, CIN)"

So if Baltimore wins 100% of their games (3-0) vs playoff teams and SD wins 50% of their games (2-2) vs playoff teams, it would seem as though Baltimore would have a much better chance to get to the super bowl, seeing as how they are only going to face playoff teams, right? Is that the point you are trying to make?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:29pm

"and the only convincing win of this stretch was against the slumping Cowboys (who finished the season 1-3), a team which even the Lions could beat in Dallas."

To be fair, the Lions played thier last 5 games pretty tough, losing to NE by 7, Min by 10, GB by 8, and then Chicago by 5. Theyre not a great team, no, but they seemed to be playing teams tough in the end.

by Paul (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:36pm

AFC playoff teams vs. NFC...21-3
NFC playoff teams vs. AFC...11-13

by chris clark (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:42pm


Can anyone explain why the VOA and DVOA charts have this funnel shape, more variation earlier in the season than later? The WDVOA charts don't have it. Somehow, I really doubt that teams got more consistent. It looks like it has to be a statistical artifact. However, I'm surprised that would show up in VOA, which should be a straight-forward measurement. If it were DVOA and WDVOA, which include opponent adjustments, I would have attributed it to the adjustments getting better. But, VOA and DVOA just makes no sense to me.

by gorgon (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:50pm

Another interesting stat for Baltimore is sack differential, at +43.

The book Dominance by Eddie Epstein mentions that only 4 teams since 1950 have had a sack differential of at least +40 since 1950. One is the 1991 Redskins(41). Anyone know the other 3 teams, and how their season ended up? Have any teams since that book was published(2001) had a sack differential of at least 40?

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:53pm

AFC division winners: #1 (BAL), #2 (NE), #3 (SD), and #4 (IND) in W-DVOA. Good luck to the Jets and Chiefs, ##19 and 16 respectively in W-DVOA.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:11pm

32: It's not that teams are getting more consistent, it's that the DVOA ratings take into account more games as the season goes on. So the variance gets smoothed out; hence the funnel shape.

by chris clark (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:37pm

:35 Thanks! Perfect explanantion. Then is WDVOA not weighted DVOA, but instead weekly DVOA or something?

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:45pm

Teams with extreme outlier units (+/-15 from 2 units w/i 5):
Bears Offense #18 v. Defense #2 and ST #1
Colts: Offense #1 v. Defense #27 and ST #26
Steelers: ST #30 v. Offense #11 and Defense #10
Rams: Offense #2 v. Defense #29 and ST #31
Vikings: Defense #4 v. Offense #29 and ST #28
Lions: ST #6 v. Offense #26 and Defense #30

You Are Who You Were Awards (DVOA year-on-year rankings):
TEN #24 v. #25
NYG #9 v. #8
MIN #22 v. #21

You Aren't Who You Were Last Year (DVOA year-on-year rankings):
NO, +22: #8 v. #30
SEA, -20: #25 v. #5
BAL, +18: #1 v. #19
DEN, -16: #18 v. #2
WSH, -16: #23 v. #7

You Aren't Who You Were This Year (DVOA v. W-DVOA disparity):
TEN, +9 (#24 v. #15-W)
ARI, +6 (#26 v. #20-W)
NYG, -5 (#9 v. #14-W)
WSH, -5 (#22 v. #27-W)

by Sam! (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:47pm

Did you see Quinn Gray's DVOA for the game? Over 50%! Long live Quinn Gray!

by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:53pm

If you combine St. Louis's offense with Oakland's defense, you get the New England Patriots.

If you combine St. Louis's defense with Oakland's offense, hilarity ensues.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:11pm

Chris C #36:

From the explanation above: WEIGHTED DVOA is based on a formula which discounts games more than eight weeks ago in order to get a more accurate picture of how teams are playing now.

"Recent" DVOA might be a more accurate moniker.

doktarr, LMAO. Hilarity ensues indeed. Will that be a sitcom next fall? Starring Art Shell as the grumpy upstairs neighbor and Al Davis as the flamboyant, clueless landlord. This week, on a very special "St L'Oakland, Tui decides that he's had enough and runs away from home."

by Robert Zepeda (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:15pm


The Ravens lost 3 games and they lost those games to teams that weren't good enough to make the playoffs.

the point was the Chargers only lost 2 games and just BARELY.

Broncos beat the Ravens but the Chargers beat the Broncos twice. Yea the Chargers lost early to the Ravens, but it was by 3 points and it was before Rivers was allowed to throw.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:21pm

I'm impressed, I was expecting another article that would take the time to crap on the Seahawks for their decline this year. I was beginning to wonder if Andrew had taken up editing for guys :p

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:27pm

#23... The Giants schedule was "brutal" because they are the only team in the playoffs that has played a game against all of the other playoff teams in their conference. In fact, they played 8 games against teams that are in the playoffs. 7 of those teams are top 10 in DVOA.

The next closest teams are DAL, IND, and PHI with 6 games against playoff teams.

by Trevor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:39pm

does this mean i should re-up on my Cardinals tickets? is this a golden shower of hope??? i'd like to sit down there where they give out t-shirts....

by mixaboy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:39pm

to #42

you cannot say that the Chargers only lost because of Martyball...because the Ravens were still playing Fossilball back then :P

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 9:41pm

re: 27
"So based on what we’ve seen so far, total DVOA makes it a really, really, really good bet that one of the Chargers, Ravens, or Eagles will win it all".
But the Eagles difference in total DVOA to the Bears and the Patriots is negligible. Judging teams strictly based on rank sometimes ignores the fact the differences between consecutively ranked teams varies quite a bit.
For instance, the difference in WDVOA between Balt and NE (8.3%) is much greater than the differences between NE and SD. SD, IND, and JAC are all 8.3% from NE, whereas only NE is 8.3% away from Balt.

by admin :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 10:32pm
by SK (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 10:37pm

Why are injuries so overlooked? The Giants were absolutely decimated by injuries in both offense and defense. Saying that all teams have injuries is like telling someone with elephantaises that all teenagers get acne.The Jets are better this year than last - note that last year they lost both the starting and secondary QBs and this year were relativley injury free. Sure some teams (eg.Eagles) are lucky in having a backup that can fill in or even do better, but that is a rare case.
In real estate the three most important items are location, location,location. In football, more so than any other sports, it's injuries, injuries, injuries.

by Moridin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 11:13pm

I'm not sure how the Vikings are going to deal with their personel issues, but I can say that with the AFC West and NFC East next year, I highly doubt anyone in the NFC North is going to end up with 24th or above easy schedule. That's not going to make next year all that fun to watch (well, the Viking games anyway), unless the offense becomes at least average and the defense doesn't regress as much.

by jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 11:52pm

Re: strength of sked, is it possible that the 3 winningest teams (SD, CHI, BAL) are ranked as having the weakest schedules in part because they BEAT so many of their opponents?

Others may say what they want about SOS, but does anybody REALLY want to play SD or BAL? (CHI a weaker team for reasons noted by others)

Go Bolts!

by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka J Dawg (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 11:59pm

That's right. Philadelphia Eagles- best team in the NFC.
You also like how my boy Alex Smith knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs.

High five!

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:02am

Oh, the Titans finished at #1 in SOS, but only at 9.4%, down from where they'd been earlier in the year when it looked like they could threaten the 2004 Browns' DVOA record of 13.2%. But, they did still end up with 10 games against the Top 10 teams in DVOA (4-6). Reason for optimism: Titans didn't lose to team outside Top 10 in DVOA with Vince Young as starting QB.

by Sporran (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:24am

Re: 48
Some teams (eg. Eagles) manage their salary cap well so that they can build quality depth so that when they have injuries they have backups that can do well or even better.

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:36am

The commentary for Cincinnati was priceless. Quote:

Reasons for pessimism: Hello dad, I'm in jail. Hi dad, I'm calling you from jail. Hi dad, happy birthday, I'm in jail. Jail, jail, hi dad. I'm in jail, I like it here. It's nice, I like it. Hello dad, I'm in jail.


by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:39am

I have to admit I'm surprised that the Colts WDVOA is higher then their DVOA. I know they had some lucky wins early on that DVOA didn't like, but I find it hard to believe that they improved while going 3-4 down the stretch, including being destroyed by the Jags and losing to the Texans. Was the offense in the Eagles and Bengals game really that good?

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 1:56am

Re: 53

Was it a Dodgers exec who said, "Luck is the residue of good design?"

by Murr (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:02am

Re: 54

Without a doubt, this Was(Not Was) my favorite part of the article.

by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:11am

56: Branch Rickey perhaps?

by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:13am


Yes - it was Branch Rickey. Although "good" is not part of the quote - the quote is "Luck is the residue of design."

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:22am

johnnyblazin #22:

Then they beat the mediocre Panthers (in the midst of a 4 game losing streak) and Redskins (finished the season 2-6) by a combined 5 points.
The 36-22 win vs the Giants (finished the season 2-6) was a much closer game than the score indicates

I wonder if you watched these games. Neither the Redskins nor Giants games were really close contests. The Eagles lead the Redskins 21-3 and simply ran out the clock and kept the Redskins out of the endzone almost every time they had the ball. Yes they let the Redskins get some more points, but only by the slow method of methodically running the ball down the field (and thus also helping to run out the clock on themselves). The Giants game only appeared close momentarily in the 4th quarter because Garcia lost his cool for a couple of plays. Once he calmed down, he quickly got the Eagles back to completely dominating the Giants defense. The Giants offense wasn't able to do anything all day long unless they were given the ball within 40 yards of the endzone. Until the last desperation drive of the game after the Eli Manning pick-6, the Giants had just one drive longer than 39 yards for the entire game, and that ended in a field goal. Neither of these games were seriously in doubt at halftime as to which team was playing much better and thus most likely to win. The main question was of the final margin of victory by the Eagles, not whether they would win at that point.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 3:02am

Interestingly, the Bears and Eagles had the most wins by 14+ points this year with 7 each.

Patriots, Cowboys, and Saints had 6, Chargers and Ravens 5, Colts and Giants 4, Jets 3, Seahawks and Chiefs 2.

Among non-playoff teams with multiple such victories, the Jaguars had 5, Steelers and Bengals 4, Dolphins and Bills 3, Panthers, Packers, and Rams 2.

Without 4 such victories, an at least normal split of close games + bigger losses at 50-50 will not produce a 10 win season, which is the normal benchmark for playoff contention.

In the past couple of years, most of the teams in the Championship round have been the top teams in 14+ point wins. 2005 saw the Seahawks, Panthers, and Steelers with 6, the Broncos with 5, and only the Colts with more at 9. 2004 saw the Patriots with 8, the Colts with 7, and the Eagles with 6, while the Bills were on the outside looking in with 6 such late season wins, but way too many close losses, and the Packers had 5. 2003 was an odd year, but 2002 saw the Bucs at 8, the Eagles and Raiders at 7, and the next closest were the Jets, Colts, Falcons, and Packers at 4.

Surely there is something to this predictor.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 3:02am

re: 60
The Eagles were beating the Redskins game 21-16 at the end of the third quarter. Yeah, that's a real blowout.
First Downs: Washington 20, Eagles 14.
Yards: Washington 415, Eagles 253.
TOs committed: Eagles 1, Washington 2.
M. Lewis had an 84yd INT return. Aside from that bit of luck (the return yardage, not the INT), the Eagles were outplayed.

The Giants were beating the Eagles 22-21 with 7:00 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.
First downs: Giants 22, Eagles 21
Yards: Eagles 382, Giants 358
TOs committed: Eagles 2, Giants 4.
Its nice that you were completely confident that the Eagles would pull out these games, but the overall stats and the fact that both these games were very close in the 4th quarter suggest that the Eagles played two teams who were playing awful football at best even.

by Igor (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 3:02am

Can you expand on LeCharles Bentley's struggle to recover from his injury in training camp? Is it really that bad that he could miss the following season as well?

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 3:45am

I'm shocked and dismayed that the Art Shell/Tom Walsh/John Shoop Oakland Raiders failed to catch the San Francisco mark for offensive futility.
Something in the Bay Area...

by RobinFiveWords (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 4:12am

Holy crap, a Was Not Was reference.

by Raj (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 4:48am

Igor, Bentley suffered staph infection during rehab and reports indicate that he could miss all or part of 2007. Link enclosed.

by Brett (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 5:12am

In the last few weeks of the season, DVOA needs some way of distinguishing and weighting games based on which teams have something to play for, and which teams don't. The Bears haven't played a meaningful game in weeks and, not coincidentally, have seen their DVOA ranking plummet from #2 to #7.

I know they've played stinky, but when there is absolutely nothing on the line, a team can't be expected to have the same intensity as one fighting for their playoff lives. They've also been playing 2nd and 3rd string guys (Devon Hester in the secondary anyone?) who wouldn't be in there otherwise.

by Gordon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 6:26am

Man, somebody did the NFC North dirty. Eight games against the AFC West and the NFC East? Those are two tough divisions to play. (Yes, yes, badmouth the NFC East all you want, it still put three teams in the playoffs, more than any other division.) I also think the NFC West got over: the AFC North and NFC South (which was supposed to be almost as competitive as the NFC East this year, but then fell apart; now it looks a lot like the NFC North). Plus, all NFC West teams get 6 games against the other NFC West teams. I'll be surprised if a good number of the 10 easiest schedules don't belong to the NFC West.

And now that the season DVOA stats are out, I repeat my call for an article on what was responsible for the huge shifts of certain teams from last year to this one. For instance, how did Tampay Bay go from 16 to 31?

Also, can someone explain how the Eagles' special teams suck on XP/FG? They have a rating of -5.1, with Akers going 48-48 on XPs and 18-23 on FGs. The Bengals, in contrast, are at +2.2, with Graham going 40-42 and 25-30. I'm assuming Akers shanked some close FGs and Graham missed some long ones, but the differing lengths in 10 combined FGs doesn't seem like it's worth a 7.3-point spread. As another comparison, Robbie Gould was 47-47, 32-36, for 8.8 points.

It is also interesting to note that with all the talk of Devin Hester, the Bears' kickoff return ST rating is a pedestrian 3.4 (versus NE's league-leading 16.6), although their punt return rating is a much healthier 11.7. Apparently Robbie Gould deserved to go to the Pro Bowl after all, as their XP/FG rating was 8.8, while their kickoff rating was 18.9 (some of which I'm sure is coverage, but still).

by hector (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 8:17am

The Fox commentary was fantastic, thanks for that.

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 8:54am

Minnesota's offensive showing produced this reaction from Brad Childress

Although Childress could be trying not to tip his hand to other teams, he reiterated his statement from Sunday that Jackson and Bollinger are his quarterbacks. Childress said the Vikings are not thinking about looking for a free-agent quarterback.

Also, Brad Johnson, under contract until 2008 and whom Childress would like to have back in a mentoring role, is apparently going to ask for a release so he can pursue a starting job elsewhere.

by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 9:06am

Re: 67

It also factors in *made* FGs. If Akers' successes were closer than Graham's, that will also pull his rating down.





So Graham's two 50 yarders give him 3 points and his two 50 yard misses cost him less than Aker's one honk in the red zone.

Gould was Robo-Kicker. Only Scobee had more 40 yarders made, and he kicked 7 fewer from the 30s.

by Gordon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 9:35am

Re: 70

Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. Where did you get that data from?

by JSap (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 10:58am

Re: 66
I agree - the Eagles dropped out of the top 10 in defensive DVOA based on a game in which the starters barely played.
I am also surprised that the Cowboys defensive DVOA just barely dropped in a game in which Detroit scored 39 points...

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:28am

Re 67:
Hester started returning kicks in week 11 or 12 and only has 20 returns, compared to his 47 on punts.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:38am

"In the past couple of years, most of the teams in the Championship round have been the top teams in 14+ point wins. "

They've also been the top teams in wins, period. I'd bet that wins is a better predictor than 14+ point wins, at that point.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:49am

johnnyblazin #62:

The Eagles were beating the Redskins game 21-16 at the end of the third quarter. Yeah, that’s a real blowout.

The Eagles punted once from Field Goal range, and took three kneeldowns from Field Goal range to end the game. There is no question that if they had wanted/needed more points, they could have had them. The Redskins had more yards because they gave up a defensive touchdown to the Eagles and gave the Eagles a short field touchdown with another interception. When you do those sort of things (or give up one play offensive drive touchdowns), you tend to force your opponent to have a higher time of possession.

If you looked at other statistics besides yards and first downs, you see Eagles dominance. Eagles had 2 redzone possessions and made 2 touchdowns, so 14 out of 14 possible points were achieved. The Redskins had 4 and made 1 interception returned for a touchdown and 3 field goals. So they achieved a 2 points out of 28 possible points.

The Redskins were sacked twice, the Eagles none. The Redkins were intercepted twice, the Eagles none. The Redskins barely completed over 50% of their passes, while the Eagles completed over 66%. The Redskins had 11 penalties giving the Eagles 68 yards, while the Eagles had 2 giving the Redskins 20 yards. The Eagles had return yardage of 218, while the Redskins had 89. Including all of that additional yardage, the Eagles actually had 25 more total yards in the game, while possessing the ball just 60% of the time that the Redskins did. Every minute the Eagles had the ball, they gained 24.7 yards. Every minute the Redskins had it, they gained 13.88 yards.

M. Lewis had an 84yd INT return. Aside from that bit of luck (the return yardage, not the INT), the Eagles were outplayed.

There is nothing lucky about running 84 yards to the endzone when no one is in front of you. All you have to do is not trip over your own shoelaces. You are confusing the luck of the Redskins calling that sort of play and having an interception happen on it, with the most likely results once an interception occurs where you have 84 yards to the endzone and no opponents in sight.

The Giants were beating the Eagles 22-21 with 7:00 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.

Yes, because Garcia lost his cool and made a couple dumb mistakes. The Eagles were good enough to overcome those mistakes that had cost them their 5 point lead and a probable 3-7 additional points and still win by 14 points.

Again, key stats like fumbles recovered, interceptions, and red zone offense all made the Eagles heavily favored. Additionally, the Giants failed on their 2-point conversion attempt, while the Eagles made both (one being nullifed by an unrelated penalty).

but the overall stats and the fact that both these games were very close in the 4th quarter suggest that the Eagles played two teams who were playing awful football at best even.

The Giants and Redskins are not "awful" football teams. The Giants are the #9 team overall in DVOA and #14 team in weighted DVOA. The Redskins do have a very bad defense, but are otherwise a competent team. If their defense is able to put together a decent game (even bad units have good days), they can actually look pretty good.

Both teams played well at home against the Eagles, but lost games were they clearly did not play well enough.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:52am

Rich Conley #74:

They’ve also been the top teams in wins, period. I’d bet that wins is a better predictor than 14+ point wins, at that point.

This goes back to guts and stomps.

by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:53am

Clickable graphs updated, bang my name for it.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:55am


Andrew, I thought that we'd decided that Guts/Stomps correlated much closer to strenght of schedule than anything else, and wasnt really that predictive.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:59am

Actually, 14+point wins sounds like Guts/Stomps. I'd guess that most 14+ point wins are stomps, and that that's where that fits in.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:00pm

Heh, I gotta read faster.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:00pm

Heh, I gotta read faster.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:07pm

Rich Conley #74:

I’d bet that wins is a better predictor

One of the most interesting things about this season is that with the Bears roughly 50% shot at being the NFC representative in the Super Bowl (about 50% of #1 NFC seeds have advanced since 1978), the NFC has a very good chance of being represented by a 9 or 10 win team for the first time since the 49ers in 1988 and the Rams in 1979.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:31pm

In the last few weeks of the season, DVOA needs some way of distinguishing and weighting games based on which teams have something to play for, and which teams don’t.

Aaron has tried to do this in the past, but (with one or two exceptions), removing 'meaningless games' from the equation hurts the correlation of DVOA to performance instead of helping it.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:47pm


The thing about "Guts vs Stomps" is I think Rich hit it on the head. Wouldn't teams like Chicago with an easy schedule naturally get more stomps then teams like Baltimore or San Diego?

I remember the original article, but I don't really believe it's that terribly predictive - It just states that good teams will usually play well, despite their competition, and bad teams will usually play bad, and when the two meet, then it'll probably create a stomp.

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 1:31pm

Re: 67

Man, somebody did the NFC North dirty. Eight games against the AFC West and the NFC East? Those are two tough divisions to play. (Yes, yes, badmouth the NFC East all you want, it still put three teams in the playoffs, more than any other division.) I also think the NFC West got over: the AFC North and NFC South (which was supposed to be almost as competitive as the NFC East this year, but then fell apart; now it looks a lot like the NFC North).

AFC North DVOA Rank

Ravens 1
Bengals 11
Steelers 12
Browns 30

NFC South DVOA Rank

Saints 9
Panthers 14
Falcons 21
Bucs 31

The interdivisional schedules are set by formula and are known forever into the future (until the next league realignment). So nobody was "done dirty" or "got over." In other words, the schedule wasn't set intentionally.

Besides, who says playing the AFC North is a cupcake? Probably it means 1-3 or 0-4 for most teams in the NFC West.

Granted, the NFC South looks weak right now, but who knows how strong it could be next year? Carolina will probably improve, and it's hard to imagine the Bucs will continue to suck this much. Also, just remember last August serious commentators had Carolina and Miami as Super Bowl contenders and the Ravens on the golf course.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:00pm

84: Good teams with easy schedules will get more Stomps, and they'll get more wins, and they're more likely to get a bye. Stomps are more predictive than wins, but less predictive than statistics that take strentgh of schedule into consideration.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:17pm

Crushinator #84:

Re Guts/Stomps:

14+ point wins are Stomps + Dominates.

In theory, every team has 16 opportunities to make these two types of wins.

Wins by 14+ point are the only truly convincing wins, because too many one-score games are decided by one random play or bad ref call or one bad decision.

Wouldn’t teams like Chicago with an easy schedule naturally get more stomps then teams like Baltimore or San Diego?

The Ravens did not play a particularly strong schedule win-wise. Only 4 teams/games on the Ravens schedule had winning records, same as the Eagles and Saints. The Chargers and Colts faced 6, the Patriots 5, while the Bears faced 3. The Giants had 8. In part, this comes from just 12 teams having winning records this year, while 8 were at 8-8 and 12 more were losers. I think it is amazing that 15 teams had 7 to 9 wins this year.

by Jimbo (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:29pm

Of course, 3 of the Ravens' opponents (Pittsbugh twice and Tennessee) would have winning records were it not for their losses to the Ravens.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 2:40pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the point that it's the ratio of Guts/Stomps that is important, not the total number?

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 3:34pm

Incidentally, this:

Wins by 14+ point are the only truly convincing wins, because too many one-score games are decided by one random play or bad ref call or one bad decision.

is mostly true. I'd say 9+ point wins rather than 14+ point wins. 9 points is a two-score margin. 14 points is a two-TD margin, but in a win by 9 points, you can't just delete one play, leave the rest of the game as it is, and change the result of the game (*delete*, which means if you've got an INT return for a TD, the INT never happens, but the team's drive mysteriously stops).

And it's very true that if you look at divisional rematches, for scores decided by less than 9 points, there's no correlation between the point differential in the two games, whereas for 9+ point wins, there is.

by Gordon (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 4:33pm

Re: 85

Yes, I am aware that nearly all games are set well in advance of the season, and that a lot can change in the offseason. (Based on last year, I thought Cincinnati would challenge for the AFC Championship this year. Oops.) It happened that I was looking at the schedules for different teams, and thought "Damn, the NFC North has a brutal schedule next year," and then I wondered if anyone had a comparatively easy schedule. It's not specifically to say that the AFC North is easy to beat, just that that particular combination of inter-divisional games, combined with the intra-divisional games, makes me think that the NFC West, on the whole, has some easy schedules compared to other divisions. It's largely an idle thought, and anything can happen. I didn't mean for it to be taken very seriously.

by Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 5:03pm

I did some analysis of past Super Bowl winners and participants FO stats and here were the main trends.

Super Bowl Champs:
DVOA above 20% and top three in league (2001 Patriots lone exception); Both defense and special teams better than 0% (no exceptions); Estimated Wins over 11 and top four in the league (2001 Patriots lone exception); Pythagorean Wins over 10.5 and top seven in league (no exceptions); Pythagorean Wins is the top indicator, as five of the last eight champions finished first in the league with the other three finishing 2,5, and 7.

The Seahawks, Jets, and Cheifs DVOA are all too low to even consider contenders, while the Cowboys, Giants, and Saints are low enough that I am willing to throw them out. The Colts defense, at 11.3%, will keep them from a title. The Bears 10.8 estimated wins are not quite up to Super Bowl Champion standards. The Eagles 9.8 pythagorean wins would be even lower than the 2001 Patriots. That leaves the Chargers and Ravens. While I love the Chargers, I think their defense and its -1.1% DVOA is not good enough, as only the 1998 Broncos won it with a worse defense. Also, the Ravens are first in pythagorean wins.

Participants in general followed these trends: A DVOA above 20%, unless their variance is at 12% or lower, meaning teams had better be either good or consistent. (no exceptions); A defense better than 0%. (no exceptions); Estimated wins above 11 in the top five in the league (2003 Panthers, 2001 Patriots, and 2000 Giants exceptions); Pythagorean wins in the top seven in the league (2003 Panthers the lone exception)

If a team really needs either a great DVOA or an extremely low variance, then we can eliminate the Jets, Cheifs, Cowboys, Giants, and Saints. The Seahawks and Colts can be eliminated for having a below average defense. That leaves the Ravens, Chargers, Eagles, Bears, and Patriots the teams to make it. If the Ravens win it all, they will have to beat either the Eagles or Bears in the Super Bowl. While neither team fits the bill perfectly, I think the Eagles fit the typical Super Bowl loser a little better, being a team that wins with their offense and survives with their defense instead of vice versa.

Ravens over Eagles. You heard it here first.

by Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 5:28pm

I think this talk of DVOA is funny when it should be clear to any intelligent person that the NFL is rigged. And please, don't just ignorantly dismiss me as a conspiracy nut. I can give you several reasons that point to corruption in America's game.

1) Post 9/11 Patriots dynasty. The first superbowl they won was an Americana-themed game from its very logo. If that didn't coincide with the flags on cars and pop culture patriotism, i'm crazy.

2) Post-Katrina Saints. That home opener versus Atlanta was EXTREMELY questionable. Not only was Bush attending, but it marked their first home game in a newly rebuilt stadium and city. Why did the Texans pass on Reggie Bush again? A rookie coach? A new QB in a new system? C'mon now.

3) Last Year's Superbowl. If that game wasn't almost totally swung toward the Steelers by the refs, I must have been watching something else. What a perfect way to end Bettis's storybook season, among all the other underlying stories.

4) Observe the way playoff matchups are created. Sure, there's a story in every game, but understand that everything is about ratings on TV, and that compromises its legitimacy. The "mastermind coach rivalry" of Bellichick/Mangini. The Division rivalry of that game as well as the Eagles/Giants.

5) Sports of all kinds on which betting takes place have been rigged throughout history. The world series has been rigged several times, and people tend to forget the millions and millions in UNDERGROUND money that is made on the league, and the millions at stake games don't excite and generate TV ratings.

6) All it really would take would be one or two players in skill positions purposely not playing well. And with with the millions they make, i'm sure they would like to preserve their posh lifestyle and be guaranteed a spot in the hall of fame. There could be secret contract incentives to drop balls when told to do so, and so on.

7) The Eagles wasting time against the Patriots in the superbowl. Who screws up clock management with potential for a game winning drive. The Eagles showed no signs of a true attempt at scoring.

I know this will offend those who have made their lives revolve around the sports world, or those who lack an open mind capable of taking in a new perspective and at least considering it. But nonetheless, I'd appreciate some feedback.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 5:30pm


I'm an Eagles fan and I don't disagree at all with your analysis. I think the Ravens do have the best shot right now, and leading the league in Pythagorean Wins is a tremendous indicator for the Super Bowl. Since 1990, 10 of 16 Super Bowl winners were the Pythagorean Win leader. And 4 of the 6 to miss did so becuase of thier kicker missing or the other kicker making a field goal (1990 Bills, 1998 Vikings, 2001 Rams, 2005 Colts) - the other two were the choke jobs put on by the 1992 and 1995 49ers. For the Ravens, especially getting to probably host the Colts to reach the AFC Championship, while the Chargers probably get the Patriots makes their road easier. I'd go so far as to say that if Matt Stover doesn't screw them, they are almost guaranteed of winning the Super Bowl.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 6:17pm

Allen, I just wanted to thank you for putting a nice little "don't waste your time" flag in your first paragraph. I'm a pretty slow reader, so you probably gave me back a few minutes of my life that I may have missed. You rule.

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 7:13pm

I read through waiting for a good punch line but all I got was this:
"I’d appreciate some feedback."

That's not even remotely funny, Allen, but maybe it wasn't supposed to be, so maybe I should share this with you:
George Mason to Final Four
Tigers upset Yankees
Boise State stuns Oklahoma State
Democrats take back Congress

I call it The Litte Trains that Could Conspiracy Theory...brought to you by Microsoft, GE and Exxon. Whaddaya think?

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 7:39pm

Speaking of next year's schedules, it looks like there's a good chance the NFC West might very well produce a playoff team with a losing record next year. God I hope Seattle can shore up it's o-line and it's pass defense :[

by james (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 7:57pm

Looking back over DVOA earlier in the year I found a nice correlation between

qb rank in dvoa and variance

Most SB winners had a top 5 qb dvoa and a middle of the pack variance. With variance being used to find the contenders and dvoa qb used to elimanate down to 1.

So I pick colts/saints to go the superbowl.

Chargers are too consistent
NE is too inconsistent

Bears too inconsistent
Philly is closer to the middle than dallas and has a better dvoa.

So you have to think the winners of Saints/Dallas and Colts/Ravens will go to the sb.

by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka J Dawg (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 8:15pm

Allen sounds like a weirdo.

Lay off the pipe, Allen.

by Phil (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 10:26pm

Halfway through Allen's post I thought it had to be a joke. When I got to the end and realized he was serious, it was even funnier.

by David Brude (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 10:52pm

Boise State was not a "stunner". At least not to me. The finish of the game was stunning but they were ranked higher by the computers and it was pretty obvious they could hang.

by shaun (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:13am

the only reason the chargers defense is so low is because of all the injuries they faced throughout the season but mostly, the four-game suspension of merriman. shame on the rankings for not taking that into account. with merriman back and castillo back, who is i think the best player on the chargers defense and the best 3-4 DE in the NFL, watch out for their defense because they are all going to be back healthy for the playoffs.

by shaun (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:16am

us chargers fans are not worried at all about the defense because we know the defense was injured for most of the year, and now that they are healthy we know what they can do, which is dominate.

by Kyle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:33am

Re: 103
Yeah, shame the rankings for not adjusting their percentages to reflect how handicapped the Chargers were when their "Pro Bowl" linebacker got suspended midseason, meaning after multiple games had already been played, for steroid use.

I guess DVOA should also adjust the Chargers ranking downward, to accurately demonstrate what Merriman's contributions would be this year if he weren't injecting anabolics into his rear end in twelve week on/off cycles?

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 4:08am

Kyle, Kyle, Kyle,

All we know is that he tested positive, we don't know what he actually did to cause that to happen. I hear you can test positive just because you shook Mark McGwire's hand or watched Barry Bonds on TV.

Almost had you there, didn't I? God, sometimes I am so funny I hurt myself laughing.

Either way, the 'roid warriors are back and have to be dealt with by the other 11 teams. As much as they battered my Colts last year, it was still a close game and I'd gladly face them again so long as they left their little friend with "21" on his shirt at home. (Actually, it was Turner who stuck a fork in Indy's comeback vs SD last year, but you get the point.)

by langsty (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 5:20am

I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned (or noticed?) that GB has the 6th ranked defense in DVOA. I knew they'd improved, but I didn't know they were that good. Wonder if it's too early to glom onto the Packers bandwagon for next year.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:01pm

106: Chicago's defense looks to be in a position to regress next year and Grossman obviously isn't the QB of the future, the Lions still have Millen, and Minnesota needs a real QB, so I think the Packers have a real good chance of winning the NFC North next year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:13pm

Well, as I have expected since the first loss to Green Bay, it is time for me to eat crow in a nice DVOA-reduction sauce. Aaron's preseason win projection for the Vikings of 5.9 was spot-on, and my 9 win projection was wildly off. To give myself a break, I'll note that the Vikings came in at 7.9 estimated wins, so Aaron's projection was not as good as it may appear (he gave the Vikings a 30% chance of winning four or less), and mine wasn't as off as it may appear.

If I had been told that the Vikings would have a #4 DVOA defense at season's end, and still only have six wins, given their schedule, I would have thought it very, very, dubious. Clearly, the biggest error I made was underrating the effect of Koren Robinson's alcoholic relapse, which, given Troy Williamson's bust status, robbed the Vikings of any credible threat at wr. Combine that with a qb who can't throw anymore, and there just wasn't any way to score points with any consistency. They may have even survived this, and competed for a playoff spot in week seventeen, if their special teams had only been average, which they were well short of. My lesson is to avoid underrating the effects of losing a playmaker before the season even starts, on a team which doesn't have many. I do wonder how often a team has had a top five DVOA defense combined with a bottom five DVOA special teams unit.

For next year, the Vikings are fooing themselves if they think they can maintain this year's defensive performance without adding an edge pass rusher. Maybe Erasmus James can be that guy, but they sure can't count on it. On offense, it is a crap shoot. They sure can't be confident that their qb play will be replacement level, and they desperately need wide receivers. I don't think they have a current wr who could be a #2 guy on any but perhaps three or four other teams in the league. They have a lot of cap room, but I doubt there are going to be any outstanding free agent wrs out there. Given their much tougher schedule next year, I think getting to eight wins would be an optimistic goal.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:14pm

meaning after multiple games had already been played, for steroid use.

He tested positive in the preseason. The regular-season tests he all passed.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:19pm

Gosh, I think if Favre plays, the Packers have an excellent chance to win the division. If he doesn't, then the best qb in the division may be John Kitna, and the NFC North is really a mess.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:24pm

#108: Estimated wins aren't adjusted for opponent - the preseason win expectation is. I'm guessing a decent part of the estimated wins for Minnesota being high, though, is their extremely low variance (high variance = bad) - but Minnesota's DVOA isn't the kind that you want to not be fluctuating much around. Variance flips around (becomes good) for very very bad teams, but I'm guessing for a team like Minnesota it doesn't do anything, and so that estimated wins measure is likely too high.

The real comparison is with Minnesota's final DVOA vs their projected DVOA - their offense came out as bad as expected (-15.7%, -16.4% predicted), but their defense was significantly better (-10.5%, 1.9% predicted). And their defense is expected to improve again next year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:50pm

Pat, my biggest disagreement with Aaron's preseason projection was not so much the 5.9 wins, but more the 30% chance of getting 4 wins or less. Now, given the final tally of 6 wins, one may be tempted to say that the Vikings really did have that high of a chance of getting four or less, but I think they had a much better chance of getting eight than they did four. Yes, they avoided ot with the Redskins when the Redskin's kicker missed a longish field goal on the final play, and they benefitted from Fox having a brain cramp in the Panthers' game, resulting in a crazy turnover, but I also think the 49er, Dolphins, second Packers, and first Bears games easily could have turned out differently with just a modicum of luck. Heck, even the second Bears game was winnable.

What I think is interesting about this year's Vikings teams being slightly lower in final DVOA rankings than last year's is that this year's team was much more competitive, which maybe just relects a much lower variability. Last year's team was very lucky to get nine wins, and this year's team was somewhat unlucky to get only six, which is consistent with my belief that the difference between 6-10 and 9-7, or even 10-6 frequently isn't all that great.

I hope DVOA is right about next year's defense, but I'd sure feel better if they added a pass rusher. Like I said, my first impression is that eight wins is optimistic, given their holes on offense, and next year's schedule.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 1:55pm

I forgot; the Vikings easily could have won the Bills game as well, which was lost as a result of multiple wr drops. Of course, that was their most glaring weakness, so maybe it wasn't so winnable after all (sigh).

by Scott C. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 3:49pm

on Merriman and Kyle who knows nothing about the NFL's system or the case:
Yeah, shame the rankings for not adjusting their percentages to reflect how handicapped the Chargers were when their “Pro Bowl� linebacker got suspended midseason, meaning after multiple games had already been played, for steroid use.

I guess DVOA should also adjust the Chargers ranking downward, to accurately demonstrate what Merriman’s contributions would be this year if he weren’t injecting anabolics into his rear end in twelve week on/off cycles?

#1, he tested positive in AUGUST. He did not test positive in JULY. He has not tested positive since that lone date in August. Therefore, he was not on steroids in the regular season. Possibly something going on in the off season, but .. (next point)

#2 Nandrolone lasts in the system for 12 ish weeks if injected. Furthermore, it is a class of steroid that causes MASSIVE muscle loss if you go off of it. Look it up. You go off it, and you lose weight within a week, significant muscle weight.

So, Merriman's story is plausible, that it got into his system some other way. He did not lose weight after AUGUST, or after his suspension, and is tested very heavily and frequently now due to the positive test. (a couple times a week at least).

You know jack squat about the case, or the effects of Nandrolone. He tested positive, and the NFL policy is 4 week suspension no matter what, plus more frequent testing. After that, another positive test would mean 8 weeks, then a third a year long ban, then a fourth = no more NFL.

Since Merriman has remained as large, and effective of a player through all this, its pretty clear Nandrolone had nothing to do with his performance.

But for people like you, ignorance is bliss, right?

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 5:50pm

#112: I think the 4 or less wins had more to do with the expectation of the competition they faced (remember, Detroit was expected to be mediocre - a serious improvement compared to where they finished).

In fact, I'd say the entire difference in that projection was probably that Detroit was predicted to not entirely suck. If there was even a chance at a Detroit split or sweep, Minnesota would've been 5-11 or 4-12.

This whole "no, Detroit really is the black pit of hell" thing screws up projections all the time.

by chris clark (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 7:10pm

:37 In terms of teams being not who we thought they were, I recall wondering (as a DEN fan) around week 8 (whenever DAVE was ending), how DEN was going to fair because their DVOA was ~15th, a real drop-off from their DAVE numbers @ ~10th. Ending the season @ ~18th (not even the top half, much less the top 10), shows that DVOA was predicting something. Out of curiousity, I looked at the weekly charts, DEN's weekly DVOA peaked at week 9 (against PIT) and headed down since. I looked at some other teams and NE has been trending rather consistently up, SD's has been trending mildly down since an early season peak. I don't recall others.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 8:59pm

re: 114
"So, Merriman’s story is plausible, that it got into his system some other way."
And what is that story, again? That a supplement that he was taking was contaminated, and he couldn't reveal the name of that supplement because he was going to file a lawsuit against the company. Then he 'misplaced' that bottle, so he can't go forward with that lawsuit. So why can't he name the supplement? If it really was contaminated, he has every right to name to name it publically. And don't forget he came up with this story only after he hired a new agent.
And lets not forget the fact that in the time between the end of his college season and the combine, he gained 20 pounds of muscle in just a few short months.
And his head is enormous!
Do you think O.J. is innocent too?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 10:58am

I've been looking at this data for too long putting these charts together, so I really haven't done anything with them yet. But in case anyone was interested, here are charts for all the DVOA Splits with the playoff teams relative to the rest of the league.

The one thing that jumped out at me is that if anyone passes on San Diego in the Red Zone, whoever is calling plays deserves to lose their job.

by Matt K. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 12:41pm

The bottom line in regards to Merriman is that he is a cheater...He is a cheater for the same reason that Bonds has an asterisk next to his home run records and Mark McGwire won't get into the Hall of Fame...To think that he believed he should be MVP is a joke, Lights Out got lit up...6 votes out of 50...I loved him at Maryland, and thought he was a great player, but I have lost all respect that I had for him. Scott C, you know nothing about medicine... You cant accidentally ingest nandrolone or any muscle enhancing steroid, it has to enter your bloodstream, because the stomach breaks it down...If he cant handle it with the "real" players, get off the field

by Jim Maron (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 1:53pm

Matt K - I'm sure Merriman won't lose any sleep over your loss of respect. You are living in lah lah land. Merriman is living in a real world, a violent world where those willing to destroy there bodies and do whatever it takes to be the best are rewarded with millions of dollars and a significantly shortened life expectency.

6'4" 275 pound men that run 4.5's don't exist naturally.

Real players? What the hell is that? As Jack Nicholson's character said to Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men - "You can't handle the truth"

by Matt K. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 2:39pm

Real players are the hundreds of other players who dont need to use clearly stated illegal substances to enhance their game...The "truth" of the matter is that LT is a phenom, thats why he is paid millions...Urlacher is a phenom, same money...Peyton Manning is a phenom, with similar results...Dont make Merriman into a charity case, hes not playing pro bono...God knows I dont want my kids to look at a player with a "Cheat to Win" mantra as a hero...I just never understood how anyone can justify what Merriman did, Chargers fan or not...he cheated, end of story...let him play next year clean, see if he puts up the same numbers, and than we'll talk...You're right players like that dont exist naturally, thats why they train their whole lives and we pay them millions of dollars to hurt themselves...Hell, we did the same thing for the guys who made Jackass so not much of an argument to that point...You play football, thats your job...if you do something at your job that goes STRONGLY against company policy, YOU GET FIRED!!!! Thank God the NFL is more lax than any other job EVER, or you guys would be looking for a new linebacker next season. Next Question!!!

by Aristophanes (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 6:50pm

Darrant? Maybe you'd do a better job respecting his family if you spelled his name correctly.

by Kyle (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:27pm

Re #114:
Well I'm glad the president of the Shawne Merriman fan club got so offended at my joke and took it personally, throwing insults around. I'm also amused to see your knowledge on the subject of anabolic steroids as well; just goes to show how bad an influence people like Shawne Merriman truly are!

All kidding aside... you don't take steroids for longer than twelve weeks before cycling off of them for at least an equal amount of time. The widely known and often joked about side effects of introducing artificial testosterone to your body DO indeed occur if the drug is continued for a long enough time period, or if you do not properly treat those effects with estrogen blockers (just a small example). Thus, most that take Nandralone, Dianabol, Sustanon what have you cycle off of them for a period of time. Which is why I mentioned "twelve week on/off" cycles.

And on the issue of weight dropping, a person's weight does indeed drop after cycling off steroids. The losses, however, are not "massive" as you so describe them. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, most steroid users take anabolics in cycles, not one shot "OH GEE WHIZ LEMME SEE WHAT THIS DOES!" deals. Thus, with his weight not dropping significantly months after his initial test, instead of the horrendous "my perfectly legal supplement was tainted with artifical testosterone!" theory, what about the much more plausible theory, that being he cycled back on again and simply has not been caught this time around?

For an actual testimony on anabolics:

by Kyle (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:29pm

Hm, I made a typo. Or word-o.

The losses after discontinuing steroid use are indeed massive if a new cycle is not started in due time. Jumping on a new twelve week adventure of needles and roid rage, however, erases these losses and even pushes you further than your initial run did.

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