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04 Dec 2007

Week 13 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Last night, the New England Patriots were completely and totally outplayed. A win is a win in the standings, but in DVOA, the Patriots took a major hit. Here are the ratings for last night's game, first without opponent adjustments:

BAL 30.2% 2.6% 5.4% 33.0%
NE 2.6% 30.2% -3.4% -31.0%

...and with opponent adjustments:

BAL 37.8% -39.6% 5.4% 82.8%
NE 11.5% 42.5% -3.4% -34.4%

Prior to last night's game, the Patriots had a DVOA above 45% in every single game this year, and the Ravens had a DVOA below 20% in every single game this year. One of the big reasons for the DVOA difference: Forcing a fumble on an interception return is essentially a fluke play, and isn't counted in DVOA.

Some other changes thanks to last night's game:

  • New England's overall DVOA fell nearly 10 percentage points, while Baltimore rose from 24th overall to 17th overall.
  • New England no longer qualifies as the top offense of the DVOA Era, falling behind the 2004 Colts. They still rank as the best overall team of the DVOA Era by a healthy margin.
  • The Patriots no longer have all three units in the top five, with the defense and special teams falling to eighth and seventh, respectively.
  • The Ravens rise to second overall in defense, although the gap between Pittsburgh and Baltimore is larger than the gap between second-place Baltimore and tenth-place San Diego.
  • New England rose from 32nd to 19th in VARIANCE, based on just one game. That's how consistent they were before Monday night.
  • Primarily due to this change in VARIANCE, the Patriots are no longer perfect in "estimated wins," going from 11.0 to 11.3 instead of 12.0.
  • In two games, New England's pythagorean winning percentage has gone from .907 to .887 to .872. Two weeks ago, they had the highest pythagorean winning percentage of any team since the 1969 Minnesota Vikings (.923). They have fallen behind seven teams since the 1970 merger, and numerous teams from before that. Most of those teams are from the seventies, however; the only team to ever have a pythagorean winning percentage above .870 in a 16-game season is the 1985 Bears (.878).

I know a lot of people will want to talk about the specifics of this game. I posted an Extra Point last night with my thoughts, and I would prefer that people use that thread for any arguments specific to that one game (playcalling, timeouts, officiating, etc.). That keeps this thread free to talk about the season in general.

The Patriots' rise in VARIANCE has another strange result: Based on DVOA, the most consistent team of 2007 is now the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, the same team that last year was ridiculously inconsistent, blowing out playoff teams and losing to also-rans. Last year at this time, the Jaguars had six games with DVOA above 40% and three games with DVOA below -40%. This year, the Jaguars have one game with DVOA above 40% and no games with DVOA below -40%. Jacksonville has put up a DVOA rating between 25% and 40% in five of their last six games. (The exception was the loss to New Orleans with Quinn Gray at quarterback, which is their worst game of the year.)

One other note: Cincinnati rises another three spots this week, from 15th to 12th, despite losing to Pittsburgh in a game that was not really close. I'm totally at a loss here. I'll try to look at more splits to figure out why Cincinnati is so high, but it doesn't seem to make any sense.

* * * * *

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 13 weeks of 2007, 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 for opponent and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

To save people some time, we request that you 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 NE 61.4% 1 59.0% 1 12-0 47.0% 1 -9.7% 8 4.7% 7
2 DAL 41.9% 2 43.7% 2 11-1 31.0% 2 -10.0% 7 0.9% 14
3 IND 31.1% 3 24.1% 4 10-2 25.6% 3 -10.6% 6 -5.1% 30
4 PIT 25.1% 5 18.5% 6 9-3 3.3% 14 -24.1% 1 -2.2% 21
5 GB 24.9% 4 26.3% 3 10-2 21.7% 4 -0.6% 15 2.5% 11
6 TB 19.4% 6 20.7% 5 8-4 13.1% 8 -8.1% 9 -1.8% 18
7 SD 16.4% 7 18.5% 7 7-5 5.4% 13 -4.8% 10 6.2% 3
8 JAC 15.8% 8 17.2% 8 8-4 15.3% 6 3.3% 19 3.7% 9
9 MIN 15.2% 10 16.5% 9 6-6 7.6% 10 -3.9% 12 3.8% 8
10 SEA 15.1% 9 13.9% 10 8-4 1.2% 15 -11.1% 4 2.8% 10
11 CLE 7.1% 13 12.6% 11 7-5 13.5% 7 13.7% 30 7.3% 2
12 CIN 5.6% 15 5.1% 12 4-8 16.4% 5 10.1% 25 -0.7% 15
13 PHI 3.4% 12 0.0% 15 5-7 9.6% 9 2.6% 17 -3.6% 27
14 WAS 1.1% 14 0.3% 14 5-7 -4.2% 20 -3.3% 13 2.0% 12
15 NYG 1.0% 11 0.8% 13 8-4 -0.7% 16 -4.0% 11 -2.3% 22
16 TEN -2.8% 17 -6.6% 20 7-5 -10.4% 24 -11.5% 3 -3.9% 28
17 BAL -3.3% 24 -3.5% 17 4-8 -15.0% 27 -14.4% 2 -2.7% 23
18 BUF -4.3% 19 -1.2% 16 6-6 -5.3% 21 4.3% 20 5.3% 5
19 ARI -6.4% 18 -7.4% 21 6-6 -2.1% 18 1.2% 16 -3.1% 24
20 DEN -7.9% 16 -8.9% 22 5-7 5.5% 12 10.0% 24 -3.4% 26
21 CHI -8.9% 25 -5.4% 19 5-7 -19.4% 30 -1.5% 14 9.0% 1
22 NO -10.1% 21 -4.0% 18 5-7 5.8% 11 12.7% 27 -3.2% 25
23 KC -11.7% 23 -9.2% 23 4-8 -20.6% 31 -10.8% 5 -1.9% 19
24 HOU -12.7% 20 -15.9% 25 5-7 -1.1% 17 13.2% 28 1.6% 13
25 NYJ -16.4% 27 -11.7% 24 3-9 -6.3% 22 15.3% 32 5.3% 6
26 DET -17.2% 22 -18.7% 26 6-6 -2.5% 19 9.1% 21 -5.6% 31
27 OAK -23.9% 29 -20.9% 27 4-8 -12.7% 25 9.8% 23 -1.4% 17
28 ATL -24.7% 28 -24.4% 28 3-9 -14.1% 26 9.6% 22 -1.0% 16
29 MIA -25.1% 26 -27.4% 29 0-12 -9.6% 23 13.5% 29 -2.0% 20
30 CAR -27.7% 30 -28.9% 30 5-7 -17.8% 28 2.8% 18 -7.2% 32
31 STL -32.3% 31 -30.8% 31 3-9 -18.1% 29 10.2% 26 -3.9% 29
32 SF -44.7% 32 -45.9% 32 3-9 -34.8% 32 15.3% 31 5.4% 4

  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).

1 NE 61.4% 12-0 59.6% 11.3 1 4.1% 8 -5.1% 19 11.8% 19
2 DAL 41.9% 11-1 42.6% 9.9 2 1.6% 15 -13.5% 22 9.4% 23
3 IND 31.1% 10-2 30.5% 9.5 3 2.4% 11 -14.2% 23 14.3% 12
4 PIT 25.1% 9-3 30.6% 7.5 8 -5.2% 25 13.9% 12 28.5% 1
5 GB 24.9% 10-2 27.0% 8.6 4 1.6% 17 -27.4% 30 9.5% 22
6 TB 19.4% 8-4 21.5% 8.0 6 -5.2% 26 -36.6% 32 16.4% 9
7 SD 16.4% 7-5 11.2% 7.0 11 5.2% 6 -17.2% 25 21.6% 6
8 JAC 15.8% 8-4 14.4% 8.1 5 1.6% 16 -13.1% 21 5.3% 32
9 MIN 15.2% 6-6 15.1% 7.6 7 0.7% 19 -20.1% 28 24.0% 4
10 SEA 15.1% 8-4 22.6% 7.4 9 -9.1% 32 -20.7% 29 11.9% 18
11 CLE 7.1% 7-5 4.1% 6.8 12 2.0% 12 -19.9% 27 7.5% 29
12 CIN 5.6% 4-8 6.2% 7.1 10 6.6% 4 -31.7% 31 7.7% 28
13 PHI 3.4% 5-7 -4.0% 6.6 13 7.3% 2 9.5% 14 13.5% 15
14 WAS 1.1% 5-7 -9.8% 5.9 16 6.6% 3 16.4% 9 9.4% 25
15 NYG 1.0% 8-4 2.7% 6.3 14 -0.6% 20 20.6% 4 6.8% 30
16 TEN -2.8% 7-5 -2.8% 5.9 17 -2.5% 21 6.4% 15 18.8% 7
17 BAL -3.3% 4-8 -8.5% 5.5 18 1.9% 14 15.4% 11 14.3% 13
18 BUF -4.3% 6-6 -15.1% 6.1 15 11.0% 1 -4.5% 18 12.5% 16
19 ARI -6.4% 6-6 1.9% 5.0 23 -7.4% 31 -17.3% 26 27.0% 3
20 DEN -7.9% 5-7 -6.1% 5.4 20 1.6% 18 2.4% 17 28.2% 2
21 CHI -8.9% 5-7 -11.1% 5.3 21 3.1% 10 10.4% 13 7.7% 27
22 NO -10.1% 5-7 -8.1% 5.4 19 -5.5% 27 -12.2% 20 14.6% 11
23 KC -11.7% 4-8 -14.0% 4.6 24 3.7% 9 -14.7% 24 14.1% 14
24 HOU -12.7% 5-7 -11.4% 4.6 25 -4.5% 22 19.5% 6 11.8% 20
25 NYJ -16.4% 3-9 -19.4% 4.3 26 6.0% 5 18.0% 7 12.1% 17
26 DET -17.2% 6-6 -12.5% 5.2 22 1.9% 13 23.8% 3 22.4% 5
27 OAK -23.9% 4-8 -15.9% 3.3 30 -5.2% 24 29.4% 2 14.9% 10
28 ATL -24.7% 3-9 -18.5% 3.8 27 -5.8% 28 6.0% 16 6.2% 31
29 MIA -25.1% 0-12 -32.4% 3.3 29 5.2% 7 19.8% 5 9.0% 26
30 CAR -27.7% 5-7 -19.4% 3.6 28 -7.1% 30 30.8% 1 17.3% 8
31 STL -32.3% 3-9 -26.4% 2.8 31 -4.8% 23 16.4% 8 10.8% 21
32 SF -44.7% 3-9 -37.3% 2.3 32 -6.7% 29 15.8% 10 9.4% 24

Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch

2007 NE 61.4%   2004 IND 47.3%   2005 SF -58.3%   1997 NO -43.8%
1999 STL 48.5%   2007 NE 47.0%   1999 CLE -52.6%   2005 SF -41.9%
2001 STL 45.4%   2002 KC 37.2%   2004 SF -47.9%   2002 HOU -36.5%
1998 DEN 45.2%   1998 DEN 34.3%   2000 CIN -47.4%   2007 SF -34.8%
2004 NE 43.0%   2000 STL 33.3%   2007 SF -44.7%   2004 CHI -34.7%
2007 DAL 41.9%   2000 IND 32.5%   1998 PHI -43.8%   2004 MIA -34.2%
2004 PHI 41.8%   2005 IND 32.3%   2000 ARI -43.6%   1998 PHI -32.7%
2004 PIT 41.4%   2006 IND 32.2%   2002 ARI -42.9%   2006 OAK -32.0%
2005 IND 41.3%   2007 DAL 31.0%   2003 ARI -41.0%   2000 CLE -31.3%
2004 IND 40.5%   2004 KC 29.8%   2000 CLE -39.2%   2001 CAR -30.2%

No, your eyes do not deceive you. There are four teams from 2004 ranked among the top 10 teams after Week 13. I remember writing at some point in late 2004 that the top four teams were all ranked higher than the top team of the previous year (Kansas City). The Patriots had to face the best set of opponents of any team to ever win the Super Bowl (by win-loss record: 40-8, .833).

(The Steelers had it even harder the next year. Their opponents were 51-13, which is a .797 percentage. That's the fourth-highest of any Super Bowl champion, but of course the Steelers had to play an additional game, and 52 of their 53 players had to play all four games on the road.)

Housekeeping: Team stats pages, the DVOA premium database, and the playoff odds are all now updated. Individual stats pages and Loser League will be updated later today. TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: BOTH ARE NOW CURRENT.

For (short) comments on every team, remember to look for DVOA on AOL, every Wednesday. (This will be linked on the FO Goes Mainstream page.)

Readers who bought access to the premium DVOA database, or who are interested in access, might want to know about a new view we've added to the page: "Head to Head Matchups." This page will give you a chance to see different splits for two opponents on the same page. Here is a free sample for everyone, featuring splits for this week's Philadelphia-New York game.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 04 Dec 2007

163 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2007, 12:22pm by mactbone


by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:05pm

The Lions (6-6) are surprisingly close to being as bad as the Dolphins (0-12). Fortunately for Matt Millen, relatively few Lions fans (and even fewer Lions owners) are aware of this.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:07pm

"52 of their 53 players had to play all four games on the road."

I'm not getting this reference

by M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:07pm

"(The Steelers had it even harder the next year. Their opponents were 51-13, which is a .797 percentage. That’s the fourth-highest of any Super Bowl champion, but of course the Steelers had to play an additional game, and 52 of their 53 players had to play all four games on the road.)"


by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:08pm

The Patriots are becoming eerily similar to the 04-05 Colts. Great passing offense, decent running game, very good pass rush, suspect run defense (especially with Colvin/Bob Sanders out). The biggest differences are the Pats superior interior OL and special teams.
Speaking of the Colts, what does their DVOA look like if you take out the SD and KC games? Ditto the Jaggs and Quinn Gray.

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:11pm

Are you telling me a member of the '05 Steelers was from Detroit? Who was it? Jerome Bettis? Wow, no one told me!!

by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:11pm

2: Perhaps you've heard -- Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:11pm

The Eagles are now perfectly average! Go us!

by billsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:12pm

I think the commentators in the Super Bowl mentioned that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.

by Omroth (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:12pm

Haha, 52/53 = awesome.

by purplepretz (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:14pm


"I'm going home...I'm going home"

ad nauseum

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:15pm

Isn't that Jaguars-are-consistently-inconsistent thing the same as last year (or maybe it was two years ago)? Perhaps it has to do with their coach.

by Androo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:16pm

Is the DPAR for last night's game also available? I'm not sure where to look.

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:18pm

Wow, I totally misread the Jaguars thing. So I'm right! And also horribly, horribly wrong.

So...how 'bout that football, everybody? Am I right?

by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:18pm

I'm very confused how the Colts have their offensive DVOA stay almost precisely the same (25.2 to 25.6) after playing a very good offensive game against a fairly good defense and having the best QB performance of the week. Shouldn't that win against Jacksonville count a bit more? Is this mostly because Addai and the running game didn't do as well? Seems very counterintuitive.

by ammek (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:19pm

If you factor in home/road differentials, are the Steelers still the leaders in variance?

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:19pm

I'm not entirely surprised that DVOA rewarded the Bengals for their effort against Pittsburgh. The score wasn't close after Wards second touchdown, but the Bengals really controlled the early part of that game (until the missed FG). Even after that they did a decent job of moving the ball, they just never were able to turn it into points.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:19pm

Geeze, it must suck to be a Bengals fan this year, with a more than 3 game disparity between actual wins and estimated wins. FO should have Estimated Win Playoff Certificates for sale to frustrated fans. Anything to increase revenue streams, Aaron!

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:21pm

The question about last night's game... fluke or trend?
Personally I would be surprised if the Pats didn't bounce back against road-weakened Pitt, division-foes NYJ and Miami and a final game likely only relevant for 16-0 against the NYG. I don't think we'll see a 70+ DVOA again this year though.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:25pm

Re: 14

The Jags defense is actually only #19 in DVOA. A surprise to me too.

by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:25pm


The Jaguars are not consistently inconsistent.

They are consistent. As in, they are not the up-and-down team they were last year. At all.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:32pm

Re: 17

My daughter is a Bengals fan and she would endorse your sentiment 100%. The worst part is that they are starting to look like the pre-Lewis Bengals - miserably underperforming in the meaningful part of the season but playing well enough at the end to provide optimism for next year (when the cycle begins again).

by admin :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:34pm

Hello all. Playoff odds and Premium database now updated. Click on my name for a free sample of the new Premium matchup view.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:35pm

52 of their 53 players had to play all four games on the road

Well done. It took me a minute to figure that one out, but it was worth it.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:36pm

Jerome is from Detroit. So is Larry Foote - who ids himself as from his high school, rather than from Michigan. So that's fifty-one.

by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:37pm

So the Vikings are 2 spots on defense from being top 10 (barely I know, but still) in all categories?

My eyes see it but do not believe it.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:39pm

Apparently, I'm not only slow in figuring out jokes, but in submitting coments, as well.

by Go (to the CFL) Niners! (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:39pm

In the "On the Clock" chart of the Playoff Odds, could you put a big "*" next to the Niners' pick with a footnote explaining how that guaranteed-to-be-excellent pick really belongs to the Patriots?

by MMM (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:39pm


Nice stuff! Would it be possible to add the standard deviation of the total DVOA scores, or a confidence interval. One can somewhat get a sense of these things from the variance ranking, but it would be nice to see exactly how that variance is impacting the average.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:40pm

Just watching the Pats defense the last two games it really doesn't look that good. I'm wondering, is the reason they looked so good before because of the offensive domination allowing the defense to rest and making other teams desperate (therefore desperate plays), does Colvin make that big of a difference, is it more of a slump, or what? Maybe some Pats fans know, but it seems weird. They would have had a bad DVOA last game too if Feeley hadn't thrown those last two INT's. And the Ravens have only scored that many points twice all year.

Well, its comforting as a Cowboy fan to see them play like this. Its nice to get at least somewhat closer in DVOA. All I can say is, keep it up! lol

by Dr. Click Here for Answer (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:44pm

I think you mean 51 of their 53 players.

by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:45pm

This is just a shot in the dark, but Indy was disproportionately effective on 3rd down compared to 1st and 2nd down on Sunday. My guess is that has a lot to do with it. Since a success on 3rd down can immediately neutralize failures on 1st and second in the same set of downs, this is fine when we're just talking about the end result, but DVOA doesn't forget that you only succeeded once out of three tries.

by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:49pm

18: The Pats may have supremely lucked out on that last game as well, as there's a pretty good chance that game will be completely meaningless for the Giants. They can thank the Bears for completely blowing it this week if that is the case. Had the Bears won, it would have been pretty likely that the last game would have been meaningful for the Giants given the other results this week (as two teams that would have been one game back with four to play would have had the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Giants).

I guess after the games he's won for the Bears it was about time that spun around and he helped cost them one (with the sure TD drop).

by STI (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 6:56pm

Here's a question for you: if you assume that each team is entitled to one "mulligan", so to speak, and threw out the most anomalous result each team had, what would the variance look like? [Obviously, the Pats would be first, but I'm curious as to what the rest of the league would look like.]

by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:03pm

An idea on the Bengals - they:

- have played a lot of close games
- have a defense whose value is almost entirely predicated on turnovers
- have had those turnovers come in bunches (6 twice, 4 once)

If those turnovers were evenly distributed, it's possible they would have won more of those close games, and that's what DVOA sees?

by Nick-O (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:07pm

I am curious about how wins and losses are projected for the playoff odds.

Have the FO guys ever explained what the formula is for calculating the probability of a win, or how much of an effect home field advantage has in the formula, or is that an FO state secret?

by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:08pm


In the matchup sample you link, the Weighted DVOA and Variance info for the two teams seems to be backwards.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:11pm

#22, Aaron

If you had put that up earlier in the season I would probably have invested in it (unless you did, in which case my bad).

I will probably purchase the splits next year.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:13pm

#34 - The question about the bengals was not why they are ranked where they are, but how they rose three places this week. Your speculation does not appear to address that.

by ammek (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:14pm

14: Remember that weighting has an effect too. In terms of weighted DVOA, Indy has exchanged a Week 13 narrow win over Jacksonville for a Week 5 blowout of the superior Buccaneers.

by Dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:16pm

"One other note: Cincinnati rises another three spots this week, from 15th to 12th, despite losing to Pittsburgh in a game that was not really close. I’m totally at a loss here. I’ll try to look at more splits to figure out why Cincinnati is so high, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense"

I will tell you why. Cause you and Jaws have your heads up overated Palmers Butt!
When you realize that his 3rd down passing sucks, you will uderstand why their team sucks.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:17pm

Watching NE the last two games reminds me often teams make huge swings in performance either up or down in a season. Often injuries result in downward swings, but the swings seem to happen in both directions.

I think unexpected blowouts re a big indicator of a trend. Huge yards per play differential is the clue I look for. I suppose huge DVOA blowouts would be a better indicator, but either way I think such unexpected games portend a direction.

I'm guessing NE is going to continue to slide. They were outgained 9.1 - 5.8 per play. The week before DVOA suggested that NE was dominant against Philly despite the close score, but I didn't buy that because they were outgained 7.6 - 6.4.

I haven't seen the line yet, but I think Pittsburgh will beat NE because I think the last two games suggest NE has some real problems (particularly on Defence).

by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:20pm

#22 & 36:

Also, the bottom two tables of down & distance splits are both labeled as the PHI O v. the NYG D.

by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:20pm

38 - +3 in turnovers, converted over 40% of third downs and did better-than-average against the #1 defense, while holding a slightly-better-than-average offense under 300 yards (which, for the Bengals defense, is cause for champagne.)

by Dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:21pm

I tel you what. If the Pats have the 8th best defense. Then Defenses in the NFL have gone to hell

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:23pm

#32... I wouldn't go too crazy about the Bears giving one away when 2 of the Giants turnovers was Eli throwing a ball right at Urlacher and Eli letting a pass slip out of his hand. Those were football versions of the unforced error.

At this point, I could see the Giants winning 11 games and being ranked 22nd in overall DVOA. It's weird seeing Philly and Washington ahead of the Giants... I wonder if that is a direct result of the past schedules?

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:23pm

re: my NE comment - those stats were for avg pass play - which make the point as well. Actual yards per play

NE 5.6 Phill 6.2
NE 5.0 Balt 6.3

by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:25pm

29. I know, every week I feel more like "maybe we have a shot at it." I just hope the football gods aren't just toying with my hopes.

by Dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:25pm

by the way, how can the steelers be giving up only 4.9 YPA defensively and yet their rankings against opposing defenses are not all that good? Sounds like we have a problem here.

by Dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:26pm

I mean their rankings against opposing receivers. Excuse the typo above.

by Cyrus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:30pm

I had a classmate in high school named Dutch.

I thought he was a pretty worthless human being too.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:33pm

41: Didn't the Steelers get destroyed by the Jets a couple weeks ago, though? That seems to indicate they have some problems as well.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:35pm


Yeah, I think we have a good shot as well. In the playoff odds Dallas has a 25% chance of winning the SB. Thats only gettting two coin flips in a row right! And I think we have about the same chance of reaching the SB as NE. We'll see, but I think this team will be much better come playoff time than they were when they first played the Pats. And it looks like the Pats may very well be worse. We got a shot!!!!

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:38pm

As for the puzzling rise of Cincinnati:

They rose in part because some of the atrocious teams on their schedule had good games. They've played Baltimore twice. Baltimore just outplayed the greatest team ever assembled and rose seven spots. They also played the Jets, who blew out Miami. (Yes, Miami's bad, but so are the Jets, so that helps their DVOA a lot.)

Also, DVOA thinks the Steelers are awesome so it doesn't really penalize the Bengals that much for losing by two scores.

by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:41pm

One point about Cincinnati, the discrepancy between estimated wins and actual wins can also be attributed to their past schedule, among other factors. Estimated wins assumes a league average schedule, whereas the Bengals have faced the 4th toughest schedule in the league. Each of the top 7 in past schedule all have an estimated wins number that exceeds their actual win total.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:42pm

41. Good point - Pitt was beat but they were outgained 4.4 - 4.0, which given that they played the Jets isn't impressive, they also laid an egg in Ariz.

So maybe my prediction is a little rash. But I do think NE is likely coming back to the pack and Indy and Dall have a great shot at beating them.

by John (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:43pm

"(The Steelers had it even harder the next year. Their opponents were 51-13, which is a .797 percentage. That’s the fourth-highest of any Super Bowl champion, but of course the Steelers had to play an additional game, and 52 of their 53 players had to play all four games on the road.)"

I have to say, as a Steelers fan, the "Did you hear that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?" type jokes were/are a million times lamer than the actual "Jerome Bettis is from Detroit" stories that week. But this one was subtle enough that I laughed out loud. Nice work, Aaron.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:45pm

You would have thought the Packers' defense would have been better this year. Last years rating of -9.0 was pretty good with only 5 teams better than them. It was a big reason they were able to win 8 games.

But it has regressed this year, starting out strong but fading. I haven't researched it but I wonder if their penalty rates have gone way up? I'm guessing it has quite a bit since they do lead the league in big penalties, like PI.

Anyways, it's kind of disappointing they have regressed in this area. Maybe it's because of injuries, but I've sort of noticed it quietly all year.

They really ought to keep playing the ball control offense that has made them good this year. The game plan against Dallas didn't play to their strengths. And they need to start to blitz a bit more. All year they have been too conservative with it, relying on their d-line to create constant pressure with 4 guys.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:46pm

45: Yes, it is pretty much entirely a result of schedule adjustments. The Giants are clearly second in VOA in the NFC East, but in DVOA all three of the trailing teams are roughly even.

That seems about right to me. Especially right now, I would think any matchup between two of those three teams is a pick'em. They're all problematic.

by Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:52pm

Wow, let me get this straight. The Eagles and Redskins have the 2nd and 3rd toughest past schedules, while their division-mates the Giants have only the 20th, despite the fact that they play the same schedule but for two games. The Giants haven't played the Pats yet, but they have played both their games against the Cowboys (the Eagles and 'Skins have each played only one). The two games that are different from the others are against Atlanta and SF; I'm surprised that's enough to make such a huge difference.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:54pm

Regarding New England, does the phrase regression to the mean make sense here?

Regarding the Vikings, they are a team no one wants to see in the playoffs. Look at that variance! You just don't know what you're going to get there.

Same with San Diego and to a point, Pitt. With Pitt though, they've played in some terrible environments this year and their stat pool has to be skewed some because of it. Almost 20% of their data is possibly "bad". But still, they seem liable to snap at any time.

We really are in the 1990's! Green Bay has a good shot of playing TB @ Lambeau for a trip to the NFC Championship and then Dallas if they prevail!

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:56pm

59: Sample size, sample size, sample size. It's one of the problems with evaluating football. I like DVOA because the sample size is huge (total plays) but a lot of deviation is still possible.

But when comparing SOS and such on only a few games, a difference of a couple teams is huge. 17% in this case.

by Cyrus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 7:57pm

I retract my former statement. You aren't a worthless human being.

The other Dutch was though. You're just a ridiculous PIT homer.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:03pm

"Regarding New England, does the phrase regression to the mean make sense here?"

Its hard to say something is regressing to the mean, when the team has only had one game below +49% DVOA. Despite the fact that the Philly game was really close, they were the much better team.

They got outplayed, for the first time this year, by Baltimore.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:12pm

Boy, if I was a Giants fan, I'd be pulling for the Pats to lose before week 17, which means pulling for them to lose next week against the Steelers. I know they look like a near certainty for the playoffs, but I could see the Giants losing two of the next three, and week 17 against the Pats becoming meaningful for both teams. I wonder how their tiebreakers look against Arizona?

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:18pm

I would like to see some of the other top teams play 3 night games in a row (2 on the road) against teams that are trying to make their season against an undefeated team. It should be interesting to see what level of intensity the Steelers, who haven't exactly played any powerhouses this season, bring on the road against a team who now has something to prove.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:20pm


My guess has to do with the Packers going prevent too early against a couple teams, and now Woodson and KGB are out. The teams they've pretty much shut down haven't had good Os to begin with.

by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:25pm

Hard to imagine but the Pats suddenly have things to work on. You have to feel the Pats coaching staff wants a lot better effort in the Steelers game this week. It's probably the Pats starters last chance against a playoff quality team until the playoffs start.

by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:36pm

The "Jerome Bettis is from Detroit" explanation must have set a new record for number of posters giving a response to a single comment within minutes of each other.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:40pm

"I have to say, as a Steelers fan, the “Did you hear that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?� type jokes were/are a million times lamer than the actual “Jerome Bettis is from Detroit� stories that week. But this one was subtle enough that I laughed out loud. Nice work, Aaron."

As a non steelers fan, I have to disagree with you.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:41pm

The most likely outcome of the week 17 game is the Pats sell out to stop the Giants running game, Eli presses and throws 3 bad interceptions, and Randy Moss finds no challenge from the Giants secondary. The Pats pull a Vikings on the Giants, only moreso.

However, if all of the stars perfectly align, last night may have shown the way:

1) A windstorm can help disrupt the Pats passing game. The Meadowlands in December just might unleash such a windstorm.

2) Brady actually can be sacked, if the DL plays well. The Giants defensive line can apply pressure.

3) The soft spot of the Patriots defense is against the run, particularly to the left. If Brandon Jacobs is healthy and the Giants suffer no line injuries in the meantime, they might be able to do something. The Giants are 3rd in ALY around left end.

4) Every so often, Eli plays well. If it just happens to be one of those days...

Nah, not going to happen. Still too many secondary problems. Still no reason to think Jacobs will be healthy. Still no reason to think the Giants can play the type of disciplined game that would be needed. But I can see a tiny sliver of a way it could happen...

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:42pm

A few comments/questions:

1) I don't think NE loses to Pitt, in part because for Pitt, this is not "their Super Bowl" like it was for Baltimore and Philly. In other words, those teams may have been better than they were playing, simply because the season had gotten away from them with losing records. However, the prospect of being the first to knock off the Pats was a great incentive, and they played better than expected but perhaps not better than they should. As for Pitt, they are already playing big games each week, trying to keep playoff position. So, they will not be as mentally rested, or as mentally charged up to play NE. I know this puts lots of faith in players not always going 100%. I do believe, Randy Moss notwithstanding, that players slow down without incentive.

2) The article mentions that the strip of the interception return is counted as random, and therefore not relevant to DVOA. What about late game interceptions? In other words, how different is the DVOA if, on the last play of the game, Boller throws a pick, throws a 50-yard (non scoring) bomb, or throws an interception? And, what do you think should count more. Part of me says that all three results are the same: a long throw that ends in a loss. So, I would think perhaps they would all have the same DVOA impact. Anyone know for sure?

3) Anyone remember me wondering, about 5 weeks ago, weather the pass-happy Patriots were becoming one-dimensional in a bad way? I asked this in the "running up the score" controversy, suggesting that relying on the pass in every situation was a bad choice. Some assured me that NE was working on new wrinkles. Still sure?

4) These last two weeks have been entertaining. NE is clearly still the top dog, but they've lost a bit of the intimidation factor, if one exists on the field.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:48pm


Conference records: Giants 6-4; Cards 3-5.

If it plays out as you're guessing (both teams 9-7), they'd most likely end up tied at a 6-6 conf. record (as the Giants most likely win is @ BUF). The "common games" tiebreaker is next, which the Giants dominate, due to their wins over SF, DET, ATL, and WAS (ARI is 1-3 v. that crowd, with the ATL game to come).

by deltadave (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:51pm

How does the final play of the Pats-Ravens game grade out in DVOA terms. The only success for the offense would have been TD or PI. Anything else was full credit to the defense.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:52pm

I agree completely with Will in #63. The Giants are *far* from being comfortably settled into a playoff spot.

For what it's worth, the Cards finished 3-1 aainst the AFC, and the Giants are 1-1 so far. So if the Giants fall into a tie with Arizona by losing to Buffalo and NE, they would have a better conference record. If the Giants beat Buffalo and lose the rest, and finish tied with Arizona at 9-7...I dunno. Someone smarter than me can figure that one out.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:54pm


IIRC, hail marys are totally discounted.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 8:55pm

I disagree with JasonK. The Giants' most likely win is home against Washington,

by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:02pm


Actually, upon re-reading my post, I'm coming to that opinion, too.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:11pm

The Giants could beat Arizona on the Conference record tiebreaker this weekend by beating the Eagles and Arizona losing to Seattle.

The Giants can actually make the playoffs THIS weekend by having 5 very plausible results happen along with 1 highly unlikely result.

Unless you're expecting a Giants freefall (i.e. 1-3 or 0-4), they're almost totally guaranteed to make the playoffs, barring some serious upsets this weekend. The most likely problem the Giants face is that Minnesota could win 4 straight games (certainly not impossible) and cause the Giants to have to win 3 to stay ahead of them.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:13pm

My last statement referred to the 5th and 6th seeds in the playoffs, the difference between going to Seattle or Tampa Bay. For the Giants, it's a huge difference.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:14pm

I imagine that whether one would rather play Seattle or Tampa as a wild card qualifier depends on how healthy Garcia is. Funny how even two weeks ago I thought my reckless promise with regard to superior scotch whisky looked completely, 110%, safe. Now it feels about 98% safe, which is not a comforting trend.

by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:14pm

"I do believe, Randy Moss notwithstanding, that players slow down without incentive."

I think Randy Moss epitomizes that theory, he doesn't call it into question.

What troubles me about New England is that in their past years, they have been a team with flaws in the beginning/middle of the season, that lost a few close games and been beaten solidly in a few others, but by December they had worked out their issues and somehow the defense rose up to invicible proportions.

This year appears to be the complete opposite. They have appeared invicible, won close games they easily could have lost, but are revealing holes and weaknesses that didn't seem to exist early in the season. I think that portends bad things for the Patriots in the playoffs, and it makes me highly suspicious of this 16-0 talk, even for teams other than Pittsburgh (but certainly including them).

by Gerry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:17pm

Kevin, what scares me is that while 1-3 sounds like a mini-free fall, given who we are playing and the small sample size of games there, it is absolutely possible.

Basically, I look at it as we are almost definitely going to lose to NE (I know it is possible we could win as I talked about above, but very unlikely).

That means to go 1-3, we would just have to go 1-2 in the other three games against Buffalo, Washington and Philly. I don't think we will, but could I see it happening? Yeah, I can.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:19pm

Kevin, I'm not expecting the Giants to go 1-3, but I wouldn't be surprised, either, just as I wouldn't be surprised to see the Vikings do so. December is the best month of the season, ain't it?

by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:50pm

The 3 non-Dallas NFCE teams look nice clustered together in mediocrity.

by citizen jason (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 9:59pm

I'd think that TB is more likely for the Giants, since I'm guessing Seattle is more likely to lose than TB. Seattle does have a *slightly* more difficult schedule: they both have Atlanta and Carolina, but Seattle also has Baltimore and Arizona, while TB has SF and Houston.

Although, obviously, we are talking small degrees of difficulty here ... :)

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 10:05pm

#49: The defense vs types of receivers don't show the percentage of passes that each category gets. Just because the Steelers defense "looks" bad versus tight ends doesn't mean it is bad, because tight ends might rarely get open versus the defense (so most passes, say, might go towards slot WRs and RBs, which would lead to an overall strong performance even though the performance vs #1/#2/TEs doesn't look great). It just means that when tight ends do get open, they tend to produce bigger plays than average.

by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 10:09pm

Surprised in the discussion of NE's possible defensive vulnerability that no one mentioned Jaws' comment before Monday's game -- something along the lines of, "New England's strength on defense has been their offense." So if they're putting up 21 points on their first four drives of the game, it tends to make the other team's offense one-dimensional, which can cover up some defensive shortcomings.

by e (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 10:26pm

I am a Steelers fan but believe that they will lose badly against the Pats. Clearly, the blue print to win against NE is a constant pass rush by the defense and sustained offensive drives (best executed via the run) to confuse and/or sideline Brady. However, the poor PIT O-line play and subpar Parker performances raise doubt about their prospects for sustaining drives (impressive TOP stats notwithstanding), while the Steeler D’s recent dearth of sacks makes me worry about the pass rush. The O-line problems have been well publicized (note that the Steelers actually have suffered two more sacks than they have delivered), but the D's lack of a pass rush have not. While the Steeler's defense ranks high in number of sacks, most of them came early in the season (e.g., first CLE game) and in bunches (e.g., BAL). They registered only 1 sack combined in their second games against CLE and CIN, each with O-lines that are above average but likely weaker than NE's. I wonder how their pass defense has posted such impressive stats (e.g., completion percentage, YPG, etc.) thus far given the low sack numbers. More importantly, I wonder how they can win a game at Foxborough if they are unable to follow what seems to be the only game plan that exploits NE weaknesses...

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 10:45pm

One factor no one has mentioned about NE's apparent decline is the schedule. Not the opponents, but the game times themselves. I have heard coaches, including Belichick, talk about how night games are harder to recover from, and how they disrupt practice the following week. The Pats have had three prime time night games in a row now, which may be a small but non-negligible factor in their recent struggles. They're essentially going through their "Dragon Army" phase of their schedule.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 10:49pm


The Packers defense has regressed because Cullen Jenkins, Al Harris and AJ Hawk have all regressed from last season. Jenkins and Harris have been battling injuries while Harris has also simply slowed down. Hawk isn't being used correctly in my opinion and keeps being asked to compensate for Brady Poppinga and the safeties being worthless in pass coverage.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has also been playing incredibly bland defenses trying to rely on matchups. I say bland in that 9 guys have assignments and the cornerbacks get to freelance. The upside is that the Packers have really cut down on the big plays that plagued them in recent years. The downside is that holes in the defense can be exploited repeatedly. So teams can run to Jenkins side and away from Kampman. Or throw to the TE repeatedly.

I want to think this 10 day layoff will help. I hope.....

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:41am

They’re essentially going through their “Dragon Army� phase of their schedule.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. If they ever have to play a team with the Cowboys offense and the Steelers defense, or get 7 points deducted from their score every five minutes, then it's Dragon Army stuff.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:42am

71: Hail Mary interceptions are counted as incomplete passes in DVOA, providing Aaron remembers to mark up the pbp before processing.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:47am

88: Is that an Ender's Game reference?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 1:05am

I don't think the "DVOA regression" for teams like New England or Green Bay is being attributed to the right factors...there is mention above of night games taking their toll, but I'm more interested in games being played in freezing temperatures and whipping winds vs. in a dome.
Are the Colts or Saints passing offenses adjusted for dome games?

Also, Prospectus makes it clear that fumbles are random, but does it factor in Peyton Manning interceptions (tipped balls lost by scab receivers) vs. Eli Manning interceptions (here you go, want fries with that?)

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 1:22am

93: Fumble recoveries are random.

by Craig (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 1:29am

#30: Nice catch... I was wondering if anyone was going to say something about Larry Foote

#51: I wouldn't call getting beaten in overtime as gettting "destroyed" If you are saying that because the Steelers should have destroyed the Jets and so in relative terms since they did not destroy the Jets and in turn lost they were "destroyed" I guess I can see your point.

Any one notice every time the Steelers have to travel by plane they lose? (0-3) (I think they fly to New Jersey) If they don't take a plane they are perfect (9-0, including home games).

Think Tomlin will schedule a bus trip to Foxboro?

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 2:02am

Ah Ender's Game references... awesome. I should bring that book when I deploy.

by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 2:10am

The Pats have had three prime time night games in a row now, which may be a small but non-negligible factor in their recent struggles.

They've also played five of their last seven games on the road -- a stretch that started with tough road wins in Dallas and Indy.

Belichick said early this morning after the game that he had a very tired football team.

by SkolVikings (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 2:28am

You guys really need to adjust for the Patriots in strength of schedule. Playing the Patriots looks like the only way to be in the top 10, but it's usually only one game save for the NFC East. Playing the Patriots once really doesn't make the schedule as hard as your numbers think it does.

by admin :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 2:36am

Individual stats now updated. Thanks to folks for pointing out issues with the matchup view. We'll fix those.

by Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:10am

I think #53 is right about the rise in the Bengals ranking being driven by Baltimore's insanely strong performance against NE. Note that Cleveland who (like Cincy) have beaten Baltimore twice this year, also rose by two spots in the standings despite losing this week.

by greybeard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:26am

I don't get why the historical DVOA numbers are presented every week as if they have some significant meaning.
DVOA is a zero-sum statistic. It is based on league average FOR THAT SEASON. More than that, it is based on league average for pass offense, pass defense, run offense and defense and special teams play. League average for these categories will vary wildly from year to year and would have almost no correlation if the seasons are separated by 5 years, given that the number of years the players start for teams is quite short and that the coaches and the rules change quite often it is entirely meaningless to compare this year's Patriots to a team of 2000 using DVOA as the metric.
Besides, DVOA is not even an accurate metric. It is better that YPG, YPA and such but it has major shortcomings that cannot be fixed due to the nature of the sports.
It does take into account that not all yards are the same but it fails to account for:
- Injures
- Roster changes during the season
- Coaching philosophies - Martyball vs, run-up the score-
- Variation of the performance of a team during the season
- Mid-season changes due to some teams realizing that they won't be making play-offs.
- Coaching changes during the season
It is the best metric we have but still not that good.

by Thok (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 4:44am

Pretty sure most of Cincinnati's rating is based on

1. DVOA not realizing that Haynseworth was injured for the Cincinnati-Tennessee game (which artificially bumps up their DVOA by about 5 points)

2. A really hard schedule so far. (4th overall and losses to New England, Seattle, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh twice). The New England factor probably bumps them up some more.

3. Nobody else being particularly good. The teams Cincinnati jumped were a Philly team that lost, a Washington team that lost, and a Giants team that struggled against the Bears.

4. Some of the teams that dropped behind them had strong week 5 performances that now are less emphasized (Washington blew out Detroit, the Giants beat the Jets). Cincinnati either loss a bye a blowout by New England, or a loss to KC.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 5:07am

I don’t get why the historical DVOA numbers are presented every week as if they have some significant meaning.

I'm not sure that it's incredibly significant, but it is a point of interest. And you know that there would be multiple requests for such information if Aaron didn't present it.

by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 5:20am

Re 59:

You are forgetting about one other difference in the schedule. The Giants play play the Eagles and the Redskins, while those teams play the Giants.

by enderwiggins (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 5:31am

Wow and enders game reference and football in the same thread, can it get any better?

Full disclosure: unrepentant cowboys homer
Can we get any love for the cowboys here? they are in the top 6 DVOA of the modern era and have nobody named brady or manning on the team.

by SkolVikings (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 6:35am

Re 105:

They play the Giants, but the Giants aren't really any better in DVOA than Washington or Philly. I'm pretty sure these schedule strengths are based more on DVOA than wins-losses, so the Giants 8-4 record shouldn't mean much.

by Dom (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 9:14am

Is -117.2% the largest negative differential between a winning team and a losing team? I mean has another team ever been superior by over 100 DVOA percentage points and still lost?

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 9:20am


You're right on a lot of levels I believe. I like DVOA as it certainly is helpful, but football (and any sport really) is so complex, you can't widdle a team down to a number or a few numbers. As you pointed out; weather, injuries, reffing crews assigned, team strengths per situation, short schedule can all influence greatly where a team "ranks".

And you're right, to compare seasons as a raw number is fairly worthless. However, you can see who performs at a higher level in regards to the state of the league that year. So, you can't say a team is better than another team from another year based on a higher DVOA. However, you could probably say a team performed at a higher level relative to their league that season. And I think this is the way it is intended.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 9:25am

90: Good points. I have felt all year they weren't as good and as everyone raved about their solid defense, I kind of sat there silently and hoped I was missing something. I felt the corner play was pretty good and the line really stepped up in the 4th quarter of games, but overall I wasn't too sure it was that great.

I've felt like they haven't blitzed enough and although blitzing is overused by a lot of teams, it still needs to be used form time to time to give the line a break in generating pressure.

I've heard rumblings, for whatever it's worth (probably nothing!) that AJ Hawk isn't happy with the way he is being used, but he's a team player and doing whatever the organization asks of him.

Maybe this rest will really help them get healthy and have a string stretch to finish things out. For all we know they've just kind of played vanilla and saved things?...

by iapetus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 9:32am

20: Even last year they weren't actually that inconsistent, if I remember rightly. They consistently played well at home and they consistently played badly away.

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:01am

"Forcing a fumble on an interception return is essentially a fluke play, and isn’t counted in DVOA."

It is a fluke play in that it happens rarely. But it also shows poor discipline and coaching.

Reed didn't cover up the ball as he got near the tackler. He was switching it from one hand to the other. That made the fumble much more likely. He was intent on getting the TD instead of being content to get as much yardage and into FG range.

DVOA probably doesn't cover players picking up flags and throwing them out of the endzone, but it still impacts the game.

I guess the good coaching, disciplined play and ability to perform under pressure are the intangibles that DVOA can't reveal.

BBS :)

by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:15am

Actually there was two Steelers from Detroit on that game. I just can't remember the other one...

by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:27am

Last night I reviewed the Ravens/Patriots game and have come up with the true blueprint for beating or at least challenging the Pats. Hold their receivers. I recorded 62 separate and obvious use of the hands by Ravens pass defenders which I would classify as holding or illegal physical contact beyond 5 yds from the line of scrimmage and another 37 which were questionable. Basically on every single pass play the Patriots ran. It appears that the Ravens took a page out of the playbook of the 2001 Patriots and decided to hold, hold and hold. One wonders if a couple of calls early in the game would have stopped it for a different result. Isn't DVR great?

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:35am

So, how good is David Garrard anyway? I was looking at his stats and noticed the TD/INT numbers (11/1) this year looked familiar. Interestingly, almost all of his conventional stats this year (yardage, attempts, completion %) are very similar to Damon Huard's from last year.

Given Huard's poor numbers this year, does that make us more skeptical about Garrard's future? Garrard's 4 years younger than Huard was last year and his FO metrics (DPAR/DVOA) are considerably higher than Huard's last year, which certainly is to his credit.

But I'm curious about QB's that play in (successful) run heavy offenses and put up good numbers. How much of their success is dependent on the attention given the run by opposing defenses?

by Israel (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:39am

#109 - you can’t widdle a team down to a number or a few numbers

I think you mean "whittle." "Widdle" means "pee."

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:49am

Secret of Patriots success: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

by Cyrus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:56am

RE: 114

Thats crazy. I kind of got that feeling while watching the game, but I don't have DVR or anything. And people complained that Brady and his receivers kept looking at the refs for a flag... people will hate on the Patriots for anything.

oh wait, this goes in the other thread. Don't reply to this.

by BigB (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:15pm

There's whole separate thread for bitching about the refs. You should use it. Here's the quote from above, "I know a lot of people will want to talk about the specifics of this game. I posted an Extra Point last night with my thoughts, and I would prefer that people use that thread for any arguments specific to that one game (playcalling, timeouts, officiating, etc.). That keeps this thread free to talk about the season in general."

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:37pm

50, 62:

Thanks for the laugh.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:43pm

#102: DVOA is a zero-sum statistic. It is based on league average FOR THAT SEASON. More than that, it is based on league average for pass offense, pass defense, run offense and defense and special teams play.

Actually, no it's not. If you check the stats from old seasons, you will see that the league's DVOA does not add up to 0% (it tends to be around ±1-2%). I don't know exactly what time period they use as the baseline (2003 on? all of the DVOA era?), but plays are compared to their results over that entire time period. So if your first play is from the 20 and it gains 7 yards against an average defense, you'll get the same DVOA adjustment as any team who did the same in the same situation, regardless of that season's offensive climate.

All DVOA is saying is that this year's Patriots are better at this point than any team as far back as we have numbers, and since all those teams were being compared in the exact same way, that's a valid assertion.

by b-man (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 12:47pm

100: Strange, I thought TB had 41 touchdown passes, the table says 40.

by iapetus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 2:12pm

115: The Jaguars rushing offence was considerably better last year, and I think it's safe to say that neither Garrard nor Leftwich did quite this well out of it. :P

by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 2:18pm

Is that a bigger differential than last year's Bears/Cardinals game? I went looking for an article covering it but I couldn't find actual numbers (other than Edge and Rex's DPAR on the FO fox blog).

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:02pm

Re: #122

Brady does have 41 TD passes. Maybe one of them came on a play DVOA doesn't count?

by Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:16pm

Re: 105

No, I remembered that. According to DVOA, the Giants, Redskins and Eagles are all the same team, so it should make no difference in their strength of schedule.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:39pm

#121, WRD

I have been wondering about this for a bit of time now.

My thoughts run kind of as follows, DVOA is measured according to a baseline of plays drawn from several seasons and in the same amount of success measured by play on the field will be reward with the same DVOA.

Now if you imagine two very bad teams playing against each other, they would produce similar results according to VOA as two average teams, or two very good teams. If there were more good or bad teams in any one season how would this be born out by DVOA?

In my opinion there are an awful lot of bad teams in the league this year, by this I mean between between 20 and 25. I have a sneaking suspicion that this was caused by the massive jump in the cap that meant every team was able to keep most of its free agents. This has meant that there has been very little opportunity for a bad team to improve itself in free agency. Also the last two drafts have offered fairly slim pickings.

I am not sure how much sense this makes and I haven't the time right now to give it any more thought.

by greybeard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:48pm

"So if your first play is from the 20 and it gains 7 yards against an average defense, you’ll get the same DVOA adjustment as any team who did the same in the same situation, regardless of that season’s offensive climate".
Is it an average defense of that particular year? Or historical average defense? I guess since the adjustments are based on who the opponent is, it is the former.
The DVOA explanatation says "Of course, the biggest variable in football is the fact that each team plays a different schedule. By adjusting each play based on the defense's average success in stopping that type of play over the course of a season, we get DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average."

You cannot use a sliding reference to compare things. A yard is a yard everywhere. An average defense in 2007 is not the same as an average defense in 2001.

I understand that the historical DVOA helps us show how dominant a team is on a given year. However, week in and out the commentary on the DVOA extra point by the FO staff gives me the impression is that they are using DVOA as a raw metric, as something that may help to compare teams from different years. I can be emphatic to a Pats homer who would do that, but when FO staff do that that bothers me.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 4:26pm

"Also the last two drafts have offered fairly slim pickings."

Umm? What? The 2006 draft was one of the deepest I've ever seen

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 4:31pm

"So if your first play is from the 20 and it gains 7 yards against an average defense, you’ll get the same DVOA adjustment as any team who did the same in the same situation, regardless of that season’s offensive climate."

Thats not the way I understand it.

You'll get the same VOA as any team that got 7 yards on 1st and 10 from the 20. DVOA definitely adjusts to the offensive climate.

DVOA is not zero sum because certain plays affect 1 team's rating, and not the others (kickoff/punt distances, etc)

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 6:32pm

Re #115 - It's a good observation, but...

Garrard is far more mobile than Huard, and has been in the top 3 in QB rushing DPAR in 2006 and 2007.

Huard also had a future HOF TE who ranked #1 in DPAR and #2 in DVOA.

Also, Garrard won the starting job, Huard got it due to injury and barely held onto it this year.

I expect Garrard will be the unchallenged starter in JAC next year and will do better than Huard has this season.

by thok (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 6:45pm

The real answer to the Giants/NY/Philly schedule question is threefold.

1. The Giants actually have an easier schedule. They get two really bad teams in their optional games (SF and Atlanta), while the other two teams get a conference champion and a team in the race for the last wild card spot. (Tampa and Arizona for Washington, Seattle and New Orleans for Philly).

2. It's only current schedule, so the Giants have a slightly easier time since they played the second Dallas game rather then the New England game.

3. NFL schedules don't really have much of a spread in difficulty. Even the difference between the tough schedule so far (Buffalo) and the easiest (Seattle) is roughly the equivalent of replaceing two games against New England with two games against the 49ers. That isn't that much.

by TED F!@#ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 6:56pm

Am I reading something wrong?

Does the playoff odds report really say Cleveland is winning the AFC 57% of the time?

That has to be a typo, right?

by TED F!@#ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 6:58pm

Turns out I'm an idiot.

WC means Wild Card not Win Conference.


by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 7:09pm

Re: 128

Actually, White Rose was correct. The result of a play is judged against several years worth of data (I'm not sure if it's every year of the DVOA era or just X number of years previous). So teams this year are judged against the same standard as teams from the past. So if you believe in the FO numbers, that historical comparison really does have significant meaning.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 7:14pm

Greybeard, you make a point about how DVOA measures on value over average for a player or team vs. the rest of the league for that year.
Despite all the charting that has been done, I'm not sure there is a way they can pool all of that data and make a valid comparison from year to year. You can't use defense adjustments since teams from 1996 will never play teams from 2005.
Despite knowing this, without using a statistical argument, are there any legitimate assumptions we can make about 1996 vs. 2007?
Is strength and conditioning improving?
Are offensive and defensive gameplanning improving/evolving?
Is technology improving (game films/scouting)?
All things equal, if the 86 Bears had today's advantages, they'd probably compare well to today's teams...but they did not have today's science. I may be in a minority, but I believe if I created a time machine, and brought back a team (say this year's Eagles team, with its 0.00% weighted average)...They would handily beat the '86 Bears. And the '89 Niners, in back to back weeks.
Thoughts from the group?

by greybeard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 7:50pm

That is probably true that there are advances in conditioning, film study, and game planning. And that most likely means that best teams of earlier eras would struggle today regardless of how dominant they were.

I have no problem people saying that 2007 Patriots, at least up until this point in this season, are the best team, ever. Note that I don't believe that to be true, IMO their run offense is not that good, and relies mostly on their pass offense - spread formation and the draw plays, at least in the games I watched them- and their defense overall did not seem to good to me. However, they have been very dominant and it is easy to claim that they are the best ever.
On the other hand this year there are so many bad teams that it is as easy as to claim that they are dominant because the competition is weaker.
I agree with Jimmy, that it became harder for bad teams to improve via free agency due to increased cap number, and I also think that the enormous contracts that the top 5-10 rookies are getting is making it even harder. Vernon Davis is paid more than Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzales. So the bad teams are forced to pay more money for lesser players for most of the time and therefore does not improve as fast as they used to do in the past.

What I don't like is I see a trend in these discussion boards to assume as the DVOA as an absolute metric on how good a team is. I don't think DVOA is a good enough metric even to separate teams in a single season, unless the difference is significant, since as I mentioned my earlier post that it does not factor a lot of things that plays a role in a teams success, I find it hard to believe it can be used to find which team is best ever.

DVOA is a normative metric. It is based on your opponents. Therefore your opponents define how good DVOA you have as much as you do. 96 Packers had an entirely different set of opponents than 2007 Patriots. So using DVOA to compare them seems wrong to me.
Since I am not a native of this country, I started watching football more or less in 2001 after I moved to US . So I have no idea how good 96 Packers, or 85 Bears or 73 Dolphins are. I am a 49ers fan -unfortunate as it is- and have no beef with Patriots. I am engineer though and it saddens me to see people taking an analytical tool and making it something else.

by Frankie (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 8:00pm

#114 wins the thread. Hilarious! Wait....you were joking, right? Lets do some math. Brady had 38 pass attempts, got sacked 3 times, and scrambled 2 times. That's 43 pass plays. According to your "analysis", you counted 99 obvious and/or questionable holding calls on the Ravens. That equates to 2.3 holds per pass play. Hmmm.....

by Dunbar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 8:10pm

Add me to the ranks of posters cheering that Ender's Game reference. That was sweet.

Although, as a Steelers' fan, the Dragon Army comparisons for the Patriots kind of scare me. Ender and Bean always came up with some sort of bizarre gambit to confuse their opposition. I'm just hoping Wes Welker doesn't come out rocketing around the field on the end of a cable or something.

by Waverly (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 8:56pm

Although I agree the Steelers have a reasonable chance (but less than 50%) of beating the Patriots, I think people are unfairly dismissing the chances of the Jets and the Dolphins of doing so.

Sure, the chances are small, but given how the past few weeks have supported the "any given Sunday" theory, I really think the probability of a team other than the Steelers winning against the Patriots is significantly larger than people think.

by Bob Coluccio (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 8:57pm

Can we get any love for the cowboys here?

Uh, no.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 11:20pm

Just in case anyone else is using them, it looks like the matchups by down and distance are actually offense vs. offense and defense vs. defense, or at least the total pass and rush numbers are.

by Dutch (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 12:14am

#115 You can't go by F.O. Quarterback rankings. If you did that, then the steelers should consider cutting Ben Roethlisberger at the end of the year.
I also question the defense vs diff types of receivers category. The Steelers only give up 4.8 YPa defensively , yet the suck against opposing receivers acc to F.O. stats.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 12:33am

By way of continuing my earlier thoughts which were cruelly interrupted by having things to do (like my job).

What I am getting at is that when I looked around the league at the start of the season I could only think of six or so teams I was sure would be good and maybe another six who had promise. The remaining 20 teams had areas of their rosters where they clearly sucked. If you have a blatant hole on either side of the ball you are going to be very bad. Except that this year there are numerous other teams with the same problem. Maybe as the season has played out there has been a bit of shuffling between the groupings, but after the rash of injuries at the start of the season I can't ever remember a season with quite so many bad teams. I think I was correct about the mechanism that caused such a situation (which is in my earlier post), but if these bad teams play each other they are going to produce the same statistical results as average teams playing against each other. Obviously when these bad teams play the few good teams they get thoroughly stomped on. Where DVOA has a problem with this is that is has to assume a standard distribution of talent within each league year. By this I mean that it has no way of adjusting if the overall league talent level was low with the exception of a few good teams.

If I am correct about there being a bunch of crappy teams I am guessing it would give the good teams abnormally good ratings. Because it is (obviously) impossible for teams from the different DVOA years to play each other and each other's opponents it seems wrong to then compare teams over the period. Try as it might DVOA cannot compare teams from different years as they can't play the same opponents.

What it does very well is tell us how dominant a team is in the season it is playing in (for example this year's Pats are very dominant). Does it adjust for the very high coaching turnover over the last few years - which often closely precedes roster turnover - or the lack of roster parity caused by the cap hike not being accompanied by leaps in either the base salaries or franchise tags (or both), or even a couple of duff drafts in a row. All these things could reduce parity and have a distorting effect on talent levels and then DVOA, I suspect that there is no way to account for them though.

Again I am not sure if I am just chasing my tail here.

I have just reviewed my post ans I think I may have set a record for tha amount of times one post contains the word 'teams'.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 1:12am


I agree with you. I don't think that if you brought back Babe Ruth or Wilt Chamberlain and had them in their respective sports today that they would be very good. Athletes keep getting bigger, faster, and stronger as time goes by and athletes of old just couldn't compete very well. Now if you were to say they had all of the same conditions as athletes of today, then I'm not sure.


Yeah I hope he was making that up.

143, Yeah I wouldn't put too much stock in player ratings. A huge amount of it is the players around you. That's what makes it so difficult to analyze induvidual players in football, everyone's performance effects everyone else's performance (god that sentence looks bad), which is way different than a sport like baseball where its mostly induvidual.

by kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 3:06am

The Jaguars consistency really just belies their inconsistency. I mean, if they were inconsistent this year, then they would be consistently inconsistent, which is really pretty consistent when you think about it- you can always rely on Jacksonville to be inconsistent. By becoming consistent, they are now inconsistently inconsistent, which means Jacksonville is so inconsistent that you can't even rely on them to be inconsistent with any consistency.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 3:34am


You just blew my mind.

by Skins Fan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 4:02am

The thing that I haven't seen anyone mention (unless I missed it, I didn't read every comment) is the weather in Baltimore on Monday night.

There are three things that you absolutely must do to beat the Patriots: cover the long pass, be able to rush the passer, and have a good run game. No team has been able to effectively do all three throughout the whole game except Baltimore. The reason? Winds were gusting over 20 MPH during the game. This took away the long ball without the Ravens having to do hardly anything. Early in the game it was obvious that Brady's balls were sailing on him and changing their trajectory mid-flight (strangely this didn't occur as frequently for Boller...maybe his strong arm allowed him to throw a tighter spiral). Throw that in with the Raven's excellent pass rush and their rushing performance, and you get a close game.

The thing that was surprising to me is the Patriot's run defense. It looked pretty average, especially during the second half. And it isn't like the Ravens have a stud running back - he's been average all season. Maybe the Patriot's age on defense is finally catching up to them.

Add that all up, and things look pretty good for the Steelers to pull off an upset next week in traditionally windy Heinz Field.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 4:54am

Add that all up, and things look pretty good for the Steelers to pull off an upset next week in traditionally windy Heinz Field.

It really would be an upset, since the game is scheduled for Foxboro. Of course, it's December there, too.

The more important question is whether a Steeler running game that's struggled for the past few weeks can untrack itself.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 5:00am

102, 121:

DVOA is mostly zero-sum, but not entirely. It's not zero-sum on field goals. (There are possibly some other things like that as well.) Special teams are not punished or rewarded for the accuracy or inaccuracy of opposing kickers.

Other than that, though, DVOA really can't compare teams from year to year. It's like each year is a separate 32-team conference that has no out of conference games. So you can't tell whether the 2004 teams are better than the 2007 teams or anything like that. But in a way, I think we care about who dominates the competition from their time, not how the '72 Dolphins would stack up against the '01 Rams. (They'd probably get obliterated.)

by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 5:02am

148: I think it's nearly impossible for the Steelers to pull of an upset next week in traditionally windy Heinz Field, considering the game is being played in Foxboro.

Oh, and Dutch - give it a rest. You're embarrassing the rest of us Steeler fans. Roethlisberger is ranked 12th in DPAR (a counting stat) and 10th in DVOA (a rate stat), which is hardly cutworthy.

In the most traditional counting stat, yards, Roethlisberger is ranked 13th. In the most traditional rate stat, completion percentage, Roethlisberger is ranked 6th. In QB Rating, which is basically a rate stat, he's ranked 4th - but neither completion percentage nor QB Rating take into account sacks - and the only QB to be sacked more than Roethlisberger is Jon "The Human Punching Bag" Kitna.

So FO's rankings are in the same neighborhood as conventional rankings, with the FO rate stats slightly lower because they take into consideration sacks - where his score suffers mostly because of the permiability of the Steeler O-line, and partly because he often doesn't realize that sometimes it's best to chuck the ball into the stands instead of waiting another three seconds for someone, anyone, to come open. But the canard that FO stats somehow position him in the same tier as the likes of the Cleo Lemons and David Carrs of the league? Please.

by MG (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 12:57pm

With regards to the Steelers, I think everyone is forgetting that they lost to the Jets and barely beat the Dolphins at home. In fact, they peaked after thrashing the Ravens at home. Since then, they haven't been especially impressive. That puts these two teams in a very similar place... not playing their best. --MG

by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 1:10pm

I also question the defense vs diff types of receivers category. The Steelers only give up 4.8 YPa defensively , yet the suck against opposing receivers acc to F.O. stats.

Actually, they only suck against tight ends. Against #1 WRs, they're average, and against other WRs, they're 7th in the NFL. And they're best in the league against passes to RBs. You really aren't making any sense.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 1:35pm

Re: 153

Is anyone really surprised that Dutch isn't making any sense? I mean, you do realize who you were responding to, right?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 3:23pm

weather may have mentioned earlier in the thread, but I agree with you.
The Pats are not built for December on offense anymore (owing to the loss of Sammy Morris and retirement of C Dillon)
Although Kevin Faulk has been very good at choosing a direction and hammering through.
And whatever the real factors are, the defense is not exactly December smashmouth either, although there was sign of life on the late game run-blitzing in Baltimore.
With the almost certain homefield advantage through the playoffs, would it seem the Pats have shot themselves in the foot?
A home playoff game at 0 degrees against a Jacksonville or Tennessee could be a bad thing.
But I'm hoping this weekend will prove me wrong.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 4:06pm

With the almost certain homefield advantage through the playoffs, would it seem the Pats have shot themselves in the foot?
Why would you think this? With the lone exception of 2004 (Corey Dillon's last healthy season), the Patriots have always entered the playoffs with an average-or-below running attack.

Check what New England's rushing DVOA has been:

2001: -9.8%
2003: -9.3%
2004: 10.5%
2005: -9.1%
2006: 3.8%

This season, their rush DVOA is 20.4%. No doubt, it's helped greatly by other teams' focus on the passing game. But even if you believe 75% of that value is due to the passing game, it's still better than every other Patriots' playoff season except 2004.

by bear goggles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 6:08pm

Somebody else mentioned "does Colvin make that big a difference?" I think the answer may be yes. Vrabel can rush the passer, but taking away NE's only fast linebacker is likely to make a HUGE difference down the stretch, and probably already is. I didn't see the Baltimore game, but I think they're vulnerable. Wouldn't surprise me if they lost to the rejuvenated Colts or Cowboys.

Of course, it could just be a slump, also. Great teams have them.

by Charger Charlie (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 6:40pm

Charger charlie in the hizz-ouse!

The AFC west championship is wrapped up. We'll be the 4 seed and will play New England on the road if we win the wild card. I like LT's chances to run for 165 with 3 TDs against that overrated defensive line.

Richard Seymour = last years highest paid defensive NFL player = vastly overrated

by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 7:46pm

good looks, Starshatterer.
From the offensive side, I was thinking they had a much better chance at success if they play this year's offense in a dome or in good weather. I must have forgotten that Ant. Smith was running into piles for a few years.
This is my first year as an FO believer. Before I bought the Prospectus, my gut feeling with Dillon was that even though he couldn't break a 50 yard run anymore, you could guarantee a first down on 3rd and short (also owing to balance from the passing game)

Oh well. I'll take it for what it's worth, and I won't hold you hostage to those stats as a guarantee of success. But don't be wrong! (please?)

by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 8:01pm

Charger Charlie, How about being the #4 seed against a #5 Jacksonville team, which will probably have a better record? That might be the best game of the first round.
And then, of course, there's always the Norv factor.

by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 9:57pm

Is anyone really surprised that Dutch isn’t making any sense? I mean, you do realize who you were responding to, right?

Yeah, now that you mention it, I shouldn't really be surprised at all.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 10:43pm

#143: See #86. The Steelers defense is the top pass defense in the NFL by DVOA. You're completely misunderstanding the way that splits work. Which, given your misunderstanding of the quarterback rating as well, isn't surprising - why you would think the Steelers would cut the 10th best QB in the NFL is beyond me.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2007 - 12:22pm

Re 112:
Yeah, intangibles by the very nature of their existence can't be measured - it's part of the definition.

Re 114:
How were you able to see the receivers on every play - I don't remember a wider camera angle than usual being used that night.

Re 144:
It only measures what is on the field. If teams were all scoring 20 passing TDs when prior to this year they were scoring 30 TDs then passing DVOA would be down across the league. I think in that scenario, depending on the cause of lower DVOA the defensive DVOA would be lower as well since they would be playing below average offenses, etc.

I don't know why you or anyone else would want to measure what goes on off the field, all that stuff will show up on the field if it's relevant. For example, Norv is not a good coach, the Chargers are worse this year - DVOA adjusts for coaching changes!

Re 146:

Re 150:
I think it does adjust because the Average is constant across seasons - it's calculated using all the seasons DVOA has data for. Eventually Averaging all the seasons together may not work, but at least back to 1991 and the first real FA it has to be the same game with minor changes during specific years - like 2004's great passing numbers.