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23 Oct 2007

Week 7 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Once again, the Patriots and Colts are 1-2 in this week's DVOA ratings, and the difference between them comes down basically to one unit: special teams. The Colts didn't actually have such a great offensive game against Jacksonville, so their offensive lead over the Patriots is very slim. The Patriots didn't have the best defensive game against Miami, so their defensive lead over the Colts is very slim. At this point, it is clear that the aberration was last year's Colts defense in the regular season, not in the postseason. The Colts are sixth in defense. SIXTH! Who would have ever thought?

Look specifically at special teams, and you can see that the Pats are better in kickoff returns, while the Colts are better in punt returns. The biggest difference between these two teams is that New England is far superior on kickoffs, with better coverage and a kicker who can knock it out of the end zone at times. Irony is a bitch, isn't it?

* * * * * *

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through seven 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.

Opponent adjustments are currently set at 70% and will increase each week until they are full strength after Week 10.

DAVE is an early-season formula that combines early-season performance with our preseason projection to get a more accurate picture of how well teams will play over the course of the entire season. (DAVE stands for "DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early.") In this week's DAVE ratings, for teams with six games, the preseason projection counts for 7.5 percent, and the current DVOA counts for 92.5 percent. For teams with five games, the split is 19/81. In addition, the weight of Weeks 1-3 has been lowered slightly.

This will be the last week for DAVE. Beginning next week, we will no longer consider preseason projections, and we will re-introduce the usual WEIGHTED DVOA formula that drops the importance of early games.

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 63.0% 1 62.2% 1 68.1% 7-0 43.4% 2 -14.4% 5 5.2% 7
2 IND 56.4% 2 56.9% 2 53.6% 6-0 44.0% 1 -13.5% 6 -1.0% 16
3 DAL 35.4% 4 34.4% 3 35.1% 6-1 24.1% 3 -11.7% 7 -0.3% 13
4 PIT 30.6% 3 27.2% 4 39.6% 4-2 10.4% 8 -21.4% 3 -1.2% 17
5 TB 18.9% 5 18.4% 5 13.2% 4-3 19.0% 4 -1.8% 13 -2.0% 19
6 TEN 17.0% 10 17.4% 7 13.4% 4-2 -1.2% 17 -24.1% 2 -5.9% 30
7 GB 16.7% 6 15.6% 9 16.5% 5-1 8.6% 10 -9.1% 8 -1.0% 15
8 JAC 16.6% 7 17.6% 6 11.4% 4-2 11.7% 6 -1.7% 14 3.2% 9
9 SD 13.8% 13 16.5% 8 11.2% 3-3 8.0% 11 0.6% 16 6.5% 5
10 SEA 13.8% 14 13.4% 11 20.1% 4-3 -0.9% 16 -5.3% 10 9.4% 1
11 WAS 13.5% 9 14.7% 10 12.5% 4-2 -13.0% 26 -24.3% 1 2.2% 12
12 NYG 9.8% 12 11.9% 12 12.2% 5-2 11.7% 7 -3.7% 12 -5.6% 28
13 PHI 8.6% 11 6.2% 13 13.2% 2-4 10.1% 9 -1.2% 15 -2.7% 22
14 BAL 3.0% 8 3.5% 14 14.3% 4-3 -11.2% 25 -15.8% 4 -1.6% 18
15 MIN 2.7% 15 2.0% 15 4.0% 2-4 -4.1% 20 -4.3% 11 2.5% 10
16 CIN -2.1% 19 -3.0% 16 -0.5% 2-4 13.4% 5 9.0% 22 -6.5% 31
17 ARI -3.4% 17 -3.7% 17 3.2% 3-4 -1.3% 18 1.7% 17 -0.4% 14
18 CLE -5.1% 18 -3.9% 18 -10.4% 3-3 3.7% 14 15.8% 30 7.0% 4
19 HOU -7.6% 16 -9.8% 20 -10.4% 3-4 -4.9% 21 9.8% 25 7.1% 3
20 KC -9.2% 21 -8.2% 19 -2.3% 4-3 -16.0% 28 -9.0% 9 -2.2% 20
21 DEN -10.2% 24 -13.0% 23 -10.8% 3-3 7.1% 12 12.8% 29 -4.5% 27
22 CAR -11.7% 20 -10.7% 22 3.2% 4-2 -2.6% 19 5.3% 19 -3.7% 23
23 BUF -13.6% 22 -10.5% 21 -20.2% 2-4 -17.0% 29 6.0% 20 9.3% 2
24 DET -14.9% 23 -14.5% 24 -9.1% 4-2 -0.1% 15 9.0% 23 -5.8% 29
25 CHI -21.7% 27 -21.0% 26 -25.5% 3-4 -22.7% 30 3.7% 18 4.7% 8
26 NO -22.6% 28 -20.0% 25 -33.0% 2-4 -8.2% 23 10.1% 26 -4.2% 25
27 ATL -25.3% 25 -24.8% 27 -21.1% 1-6 -9.4% 24 12.0% 28 -3.9% 24
28 MIA -25.5% 26 -26.6% 28 -30.0% 0-7 6.3% 13 29.3% 32 -2.5% 21
29 NYJ -29.3% 30 -28.4% 29 -30.6% 1-6 -7.2% 22 28.4% 31 6.3% 6
30 OAK -33.9% 31 -32.8% 30 -23.6% 2-4 -15.8% 27 9.6% 24 -8.4% 32
31 STL -38.9% 29 -38.4% 31 -42.7% 0-7 -27.2% 31 7.4% 21 -4.3% 26
32 SF -45.2% 32 -46.8% 32 -43.5% 2-4 -36.7% 32 10.8% 27 2.3% 11

  • 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.
  • 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. (Note: This is based on 2007 performance only. In other words, DVOA, not DAVE.)
  • 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 63.0% 7-0 6.9 2 -3.8% 25 5.9% 8 3.4% 30
2 IND 56.4% 6-0 7.0 1 1.7% 14 2.9% 13 6.6% 23
3 DAL 35.4% 6-1 5.3 3 -3.5% 22 1.7% 16 7.9% 19
4 PIT 30.6% 4-2 4.3 8 -9.1% 30 -1.9% 20 32.1% 1
5 TB 18.9% 4-3 4.4 6 -0.1% 18 -12.3% 29 29.8% 2
6 TEN 17.0% 4-2 4.3 7 5.2% 6 -1.9% 19 5.3% 24
7 GB 16.7% 5-1 4.7 4 3.8% 10 -13.0% 30 4.5% 27
8 JAC 16.6% 4-2 4.5 5 3.0% 11 5.3% 12 4.5% 28
9 SD 13.8% 3-3 4.2 9 0.7% 16 2.2% 15 19.2% 7
10 SEA 13.8% 4-3 4.0 12 -9.0% 29 -15.5% 32 23.5% 4
11 WAS 13.5% 4-2 4.0 14 -1.2% 19 12.1% 3 7.6% 21
12 NYG 9.8% 5-2 4.1 11 -3.7% 23 5.3% 11 10.1% 15
13 PHI 8.6% 2-4 4.2 10 -3.7% 24 12.4% 2 15.1% 11
14 BAL 3.0% 4-3 3.4 19 -19.7% 32 19.5% 1 4.9% 25
15 MIN 2.7% 2-4 3.8 15 -2.7% 21 -7.1% 25 3.8% 29
16 CIN -2.1% 2-4 4.0 13 5.2% 7 -5.6% 24 2.6% 32
17 ARI -3.4% 3-4 3.1 22 -5.0% 27 -13.5% 31 29.1% 3
18 CLE -5.1% 3-3 3.6 16 5.0% 9 -10.3% 27 11.0% 13
19 HOU -7.6% 3-4 3.0 23 2.6% 12 5.7% 9 8.9% 18
20 KC -9.2% 4-3 3.6 17 -4.6% 26 0.6% 17 10.7% 14
21 DEN -10.2% 3-3 2.9 24 10.0% 2 -5.1% 23 19.6% 6
22 CAR -11.7% 4-2 3.3 20 -11.3% 31 9.1% 5 16.8% 9
23 BUF -13.6% 2-4 3.2 21 13.2% 1 2.7% 14 13.0% 12
24 DET -14.9% 4-2 3.5 18 -1.7% 20 5.6% 10 20.0% 5
25 CHI -21.7% 3-4 2.3 26 7.6% 4 -2.8% 21 6.6% 22
26 NO -22.6% 2-4 2.5 25 9.9% 3 -12.2% 28 9.2% 17
27 ATL -25.3% 1-6 1.9 28 0.6% 17 -1.5% 18 4.7% 26
28 MIA -25.5% 0-7 2.0 27 5.2% 8 6.3% 7 7.6% 20
29 NYJ -29.3% 1-6 1.7 29 6.2% 5 11.8% 4 2.9% 31
30 OAK -33.9% 2-4 1.3 31 -7.3% 28 8.3% 6 16.5% 10
31 STL -38.9% 0-7 1.3 30 1.5% 15 -4.7% 22 18.3% 8
32 SF -45.2% 2-4 1.2 32 2.1% 13 -8.2% 26 9.4% 16

Best DVOA Ever Watch

1999 STL 64.8% 2007 NE 63.0% 2000 STL 53.6% 2000 STL 45.5%
2007 NE 63.0% 1996 GB 55.9% 2007 IND 44.0% 2000 IND 44.9%
2007 IND 56.4% 1999 STL 55.9% 2007 NE 43.4% 2007 NE 43.4%
1996 GB 55.9% 2006 CHI 47.4% 2000 IND 40.3% 2004 IND 37.8%
1998 DEN 45.5% 1998 DEN 43.6% 1999 WAS 39.1% 1999 WAS 36.5%
2006 CHI 45.0% 2001 STL 43.4% 2004 IND 38.6% 1998 DEN 35.0%
2001 STL 43.4% 2005 IND 40.8% 1999 STL 36.1% 2006 IND 34.8%
2005 IND 40.8% 1999 JAC 39.9% 1998 DEN 35.0% 2002 KC 34.4%
1997 SF 40.4% 2002 TB 38.6% 2002 KC 34.4% 2002 SF 34.3%
2000 MIA 40.2% 1997 SF 38.5% 2002 SF 32.4% 2004 KC 31.6%

Yes, the Patriots are now the best team in DVOA history through seven games -- and yet, they could lose that title by next week if the Colts destroy the Panthers. (Check out the difference between Carolina's non-adjusted VOA and DVOA, by the way. Hello, strength of schedule adjustments! Baltimore has a similar issue.)

One place where the Pats are definitely better than the Colts this year is point differential, thanks in large part to their easier schedule so far. Let's look at one more list, the top Pythagorean winning percentages in the NFL since 1950:

Year Team W-L PF PA Pyth
1969 MIN 12-2 379 133 .923
1962 GB 13-1 415 148 .920
1968 BAL 13-1 402 144 .919
1976 PIT 10-4 342 138 .896
1970 MIN 12-2 335 143 .883
2007 NE 7-0 279 120 .881
1968 DAL 12-2 431 186 .880
1975 LARM 12-2 312 135 .879
1985 CHI 15-1 456 198 .878
1975 PIT 12-2 373 162 .878

Right now the Pats would have the best Pythagorean winning percentage since the liberalization of passing rules and expansion to the 16-game schedule in 1978. The biggest stumbling block to that record is, of course, Indianapolis.

We're stuck in this strange situation where the press is over-hyping the "everyone is ignoring the Colts" angle -- but that doesn't stop most everyone from predicting a New England victory in two weeks. Don't be so sure. If I were setting the Vegas line right now based solely on DVOA, the Colts would be the favored by a point or two. The Pats are better, but not better enough to be considered favorites given home-field advantage.

There's no question that this game is going to destroy the hype meter. These aren't just two great teams. These aren't just two teams with a long-standing, bitter rivalry. These are two teams who each have a chance to be considered the greatest team in NFL history -- as long as that team can beat the other during the regular season and probably then again in the postseason. These are also two teams who make otherwise intelligent fans turn into completely irrational idiots, and with that in mind, we've created a special discussion thread on our message board for this game, two weeks ahead of time. Please do us a favor. Unless we run articles specifically related to the actual on-field strategy of this game, please keep discussion of Patriots-Colts in the thread on the board. (Apologies to the Redskins and Panthers, who could mess up the story by actually winning next week.)

Meanwhile, around the rest of the league... perhaps the strangest element in this week's ratings is the ascencion of the Seattle special teams to number one. Seattle fans are used to having bad special teams. The Seahawks finished between 18th and 20th for three straight seasons from 2003 through 2005. Then they improved to seventh last year, and this year they are number one.

Oddly, the one guy having a bad year is the guy who was such a big part of last year's improvement: punter Ryan Plackemeier, who is currently 31st in raw punt value, costing the Seahawks 3.8 points worth of field position. Good punt coverage improves the Seahawks to 20th. In every other category of special teams, they are sixth or higher. Josh Brown is a machine this year. Only Jay Feeley has been better on field goals, and only Neil Rackers and Stephen Gostkowski have been better on kickoffs. Seattle is also getting good returns from Josh Wilson and Nate Burleson.

The rest of the FO staff couldn't figure out why our two Seahawks fans, Doug Farrar and Ben Riley, were so negative in our Audibles e-mails after Seattle's ass-whupping of St. Louis this week. The reason is that it is hard to notice when you win a game with special teams. This week, Seattle came very close to breaking that "top 10 special teams games" list from PFP 2006, getting an estimated 12.2 points above average from the special teams. Brown hit all four field goals, including three from 43 yards or more, and his kickoffs averaged 68 yards. Plackemeier had his best game of the year, as not one of his five punts was returned. Nate Burleson had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The only problem was the punt Burleson misplayed, which turned into an 80-yard punt for Donnie Jones of the Rams.

For all our talk about the Seahawks being the best team in a bad division, DVOA does not believe they are a bad team. They are part of a pack of reasonably good teams ranked between fifth and 13th. The top teams in the NFC are pretty much all in that pack: Tampa Bay, Green Bay, and the three NFC East teams that are not Dallas. Honestly, how many games can the Eagles play where they are slightly above-average and lose by a small margin?

One more note on special teams: I ran out of time today to address the "how to squibs to Devin Hester affect Chicago's DVOA" question, so I'll do that one in a separate article later this week.

* * * * * *

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

Individual stats pages, offensive line, and defensive front seven are all now updated through Week 7, along with these three pages:

The Playoff Odds Report now also lists the chances of the Patriots or Colts going undefeated, or the Rams or Dolphins going winless.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 Oct 2007

180 comments, Last at 29 Oct 2007, 4:31am by Scott


by Kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:20pm

How on Earth is Philly's offense rated so highly? Did the one-game explosion against Detroit skew their numbers so drastically? Are all the conventional statistics plus my eyes truly that misleading?

by Athelas (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:21pm

Wow-I guess people really want to see this week's DVOA--it took me 12 tries to access this site.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:21pm

Watching the Bucs (last week) it's hard to believe they have the fourth best offense in the NFL.

by John Kim (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:25pm

I think "Ugly" defines the Titans and the Redskins quite nicely right now, in everything BUT their defenses.


by rageon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:26pm

How is Philly ever rated so highly. I've gotten to the point where I'm highly suspect of DVOA as it relates to Philly, based on both this year and last. I have no objective evidence to back this up, other than saying DVOA is always high on them...and yet they don't win games.

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:28pm

Forget about the upcoming Colts-Patriots game, let's talk about the week 11 matchup between SF and St. Louis, who are 32 and 31 in DVOA. The winner (in this case the loser of the game) has the inside track for the coveted 32nd position in DVOA, and possibly worst DVOA ever. Surprisingly the 0-7 Dolphins are only in 28th.

Actually, I'm surprised SF's defense is rated so low. They've looked really good when I watch except for one week where Bulger played well before he and Steven Jackson got injured. Even this week the Giants scored 24 of their points off of turnovers, there's only so much a defense can do.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:28pm

Baltimore's past vs future schedule strength DVOA differential is now a staggering 39.2%. Damn.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:29pm

"And yet, they could lose that title by next week if the Colts destroy the Panthers. "

I don't get how the colts would get a big boost if they destroy a mediocre team that has played poorly against bad opponents?

I mean yeah, if the Colts destroy the Panthers, and Washington holds NE close, the colts should gain ground/pass NE. But if they both blow out their opponents, NE should gain even more ground because CAR sucks, and WAS doesn't.

by DCrowe (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:29pm

The Lions beat the Bucs and yet they drop in the ratings while the Bucs stay the same? I understand that this isn't an NCAA style opinion pole - I am just surprised the numbers graded out this way. The optimist in me was hoping that the Lions were actually showing improvement.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:29pm

"At this point, it is clear that the aberration was last year’s Colts defense in the regular season, not in the postseason."

I don't think this is necessarily true. The Colts have made a lot of changes on defense. It could well be a case of "addition by subtraction", which is a phrase that I'm normally not a big fan of, but it seems to apply in the case of guys like Nick Harper and Jason David.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:31pm

1,5: A simple answer is that Philly's had a lot of sustained drives that have broken down in the red zone. DVOA sees a team that has a lot of good drives, and assumes those drives will start to turn into 7 points instead of 3 points.

by Toxikfetus (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:32pm


That's just the nature of Philadelphia sports teams. They find the most creatively absurd ways to give away games.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:32pm

Well, rageon, this Sunday something has to give, as this is the battle between teams with high estimated wins to actual wins ratio, the Eagles and Vikings. A tie would be perfect.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:35pm

So, the Giants have the second-worst kickoff unit in the NFL, at -9.8 DVOA. Who's behind them? The Jay Feely-led Dolphins. We're movin' on up!

Who am I kidding. Special teams will cost us at least one game this year, maybe two. They always do.

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:36pm

Seattle won by special teams. Something I knew, but didn't know. I knew they had a good special teams day, but I figured it was just the Rams...3 of the Seahawks' all-time longest kick or punt returns have come against the Rams in the past 4 years. Two for TDs. I figured opponent adjustments would account for quite a bit of it.

But yeah, the negativity after the game was warranted. The most discouraging 33-6 win I've ever watched. Still...16th on offense? It's so miserable to watch them on offense, it really feels like there's only 4 or 5 other teams having a tougher time. When 16th feels like the worst it can get, that's marginally encouraging.

Regarding their woes, could maybe one of you Outsiders give a look at Chris Spencer's performances this year? Might not be worth an Every Play Counts, or anything, maybe a remark or two during the next audibles (2 weeks from now) But I think they are missing Robbie Tobeck far more than they are missing Steve Hutchinson.

by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:38pm

Re: 2

I would love to see a chart of the traffic of this site, along with the times of various articles being available. I'm willing to be there's a particularly huge spike shortly after the posting of DVOA.

by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:39pm

Ha! Jackson is still a better QB than Grossman going by DPar. I hope Grossman didn't go MC Hammer with his money.

by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:40pm

I know that all fumbles-lost or not- hurt your offensive DVOA. Do unforced fumbles get credited to the opposing team's defense, or is it simply marked as a strike against the offense and a bit of a null play on defense?

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:40pm

"Irony is a bitch, isn’t it?" -- Aaron

Wow, did I click on coldhardfootballfacts instead of FO? What's with the hostility?

And, are you insinuating the Colts would have been better off with Vander-shank kicking off? Remember, they had a second kicker back in those days because Vandershank couldn't kick deep, AND he missed playoff field goals.

by vanya (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:45pm

#8, The Colts could still do better than the Pats over 7 games, they've only played 6 so far.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:45pm

Purds, I read that comment as written in humor, not hostility.

Because it is funny, after all.

by Conor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:45pm

re: 19

He is simply saying it is ironic because the Colts signed the Patriots K who has a reputation as one of the best and most clutch kickers in the history of the league and the main reason the Pats rank higher than the Colts is because of the guy they got to replace Vinatieri.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:46pm

Ha! Jackson is still a better QB than Grossman going by DPar. I hope Grossman didn’t go MC Hammer with his money.

I see a "Surreal Life" appearance in somebody's near future...

And Benson can join him on the show and talk about how they weren't given a chance to succeed. I sneaked a look at Cedric's DPAR just now, and holy Toledo! I didn't necessarily expect him to make me forget Sweetness, but Loser League Champion? Wow.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:46pm

One thing I don't get is how the run defense and pass defense rankings translates into overall defensive ranking. I mean, the Vikings #11 defensive rank strikes me as about right, although perhaps not fully accounting for the Vikings bad offense (the #20 ranking for the Vikings offense seems too high), but how does that #11 ranking work, given the Vikings have the #26 pass offense, even if the run defense ranks so high? Is the run defense still that ridiculously good? Or is the pass ranking missing something? I mean, the Vikings have still only yielded 8 passing tds in six games, which strikes me as pretty good, especially since they have only given up 1 rushing td.

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:46pm

San Francisco is clearly ranked too low because............No, I've got nothing.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:47pm

I think Minnesota would be wise to not overuse Peterson but splitting carries with Taylor is nuts. Look at the massive spread in DPAR and DVOA.

Peterson DPAR 15.5, DVOA 22.4
Taylor DPAR 2.6, DVOA .4

Peterson also has way better number receiving.

I'd love to see a breakdown of the offence with Peterson on the field vs it with him on the sidelines. I think he changes the game the way Moss used to. I remember when Moss went down with an injury for 4-5 games in Minnesota the offence gained 100 yards less per game with him out.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:49pm

"and only one of his kickoffs averaged 68 yards"


by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:50pm

#14... It could be worse. If they didn't down so many Feagles punts inside the 10 yard line, they'd somehow be ranked 39th on special teams.

#6... The Niners defense didn't look good to me. Brandon Jacobs, the top ranked RB for this week, ran through that defense far too easily on MOST of his carries.

As a matter of fact, Jacobs made his debut at 6th among the RBs due in part to his 70% success rating. The only back better per play is Marion Barber.

The top 13 RBs feature 3 sets of teammates... Addai/Keith (IND), Morris/Maroney(NE), and Jacobs/Ward(NYG).

by D (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:53pm

Joey Harrington currently has a higher DPAR and DVOA than Donovan McNabb, Drew Brees, and Steve McNair. Crazy stuff.

by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:54pm

Wow hope no other team notices the obvious when going against the Vikings, if you are going to run, run right at Ray Edwards (check the d-line rankings).

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 6:58pm

I haven't watched the SF-NYG game yet, I have it taped and I'll go through it later.

In their other games they've looked pretty good against the run, and have done a great job against WRs except for Isaac Bruce in the game I mentioned earlier. Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress also had statistically mediocre games after being on a roll in the four previous games.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:00pm

I'm sure that this isn't going to go over well with our Indy brethren, but Indy's D wasn't nearly as good as some want to make it out to be yesterday, or even how traditional stats and DVOA treat the game as well. They were largely just the beneficiaries of some of the worst quarterbacking one will ever see.

I have to admit that I didn't watch all that much of the first half, so some of this may be a tad bit off, but I don't expect it to be by much. Anyway, there are a few plays that I want to highlight:

* On Bob Sanders' int, the WR nearest looked open because Sanders was playing the ball instead of running to where the WR was, but no one was anywhere near Gray and he had plenty of time to find the underneath guy who looked open to me.

* On the other int, the WR would have been able to waltz into the EZ had the pass been where it was supposed to be. He blew right past the CB and the one safety on the field was nowhere near the play. Instead the ball was underthrown by about 10 yards (if not more) and on a line, so the WR had no chance a play of any kind. Easy completion for big yardage most of the time - and not just with Brady/Manning throwing the ball.

* On the drive after the tipped Manning int, there were two plays that I can remember. 1) A WR was free on a slant pattern - he had inside position and no one was in the throwing lane - but despite the WR only being 7 yards downfield the ball was still off by 4 yards. 2) The play either just before of after that one, Gray dumped it into a guy who had two guys right on him despite the WR in the zone beyond that one being completely free.

There were several more, but those are the only ones that I can remember the plays clearly.

The other negative that seemed exploitable was Indy's selling out to stop the run. Jax came in with a decent plan to pass on 1st down to take advantage of this selling out, and they would have been more successful had they any real threats at WR. Once the human misfire took over and Indy extended their lead, it was all over.

When I say "selling out" I don't mean just bringing Sanders into the box, which was a no-brainer. I mean that (IMHO) Indy has to adjust the entire defense more than normal based on whether they want to stop the run or the pass. Whenever Jax caught them guessing run with a pass, the QB had all day to throw the ball.

I can say unequvically that if Indy covers like that against NE that the Pats will slap a 40-spot on the board.

Indy's defense is still quite a bit better than they have been in a while. They have maintained the swarming aggressiveness that they picked up in the playoffs last year. Their tackling has improved immensely, and their run D is obviously a lot better as well. I just wasn't impressed at all with their pass coverage.

Now, that said, I was very impressed with Indy's running game. I knew that it was improved, but I didn't realize just how improved it is. They took it to a good Jax front and just mauled 'em. That Kenton or Toby Keith kid looks like a decent player, not just a product of the system. Unless my eyes deceived me, I saw a lot more power running from Indy rather than just stretch-stretch-stretch.

NE is going to have to get their tackling issues taken care of because Indy will be hard to keep under 30 points themselves.

Where Indy may catch a huge break is if Watson misses this game. Welker is a bad matchup for them, but Welker and Watson is a matchup *nightmare*.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:03pm

“and only one of his kickoffs averaged 68 yards�


What Aaron meant is that over many realizations of this football season, that particular kickoff averaged 68 yards.

by SoulardX (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:03pm

SF beats the STL yet isn't ranked below them? Intersting and proof that STL outplayed SF in week 2.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:04pm

30. Jin - I think you might have that backward - the chart says a run listed at left tackle is run at the right defensive end. The Vikings are low in runs to right tackle and right end - which is Udeze's side of the field.

With such a small sample I don't one could make much of it either way. But I have noticed most of the successful runs against the Vikings have been run at the offence's right side so the stats don't surprise me.

by Chas (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:05pm

Well, at least the Bears have a couple of really nice tight ends.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:06pm

I don't think Indy's defense matches up well with the Pats offense either, oswiek, although that isn't harsh criticism. I do think Peyton Manning has the potential, however, to control vast amounts of the clock against the Pats defense. It'll be fun to watch.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:06pm


I just checked the WR stats and I see a significant bump in Welker's DVOA. However, then I noticed that the date at the top was as of week 6. Did I miss a correction on last week's data?

by david (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:10pm

Woo! -15.1 past schedule/future schedule differential for the Broncos! The long road back to mediocrity begins now!

by Lou (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:10pm


Yeah I think Indys defense is being slightly overated for decimating a jaguars team helmed by Quinn Gray. DVOA sees a good jaguars offence and doesn't know Garrard was knocked out of that game.

by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:15pm

#35: You sure that FO doesn't change that for the D-line rankings? Because that would mean Udeze is the most worthless DE in the league.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:26pm

Jin - from the site, chart two defensive lines:

These runs are from the perspective of the OFFENSE, so a run listed as LEFT TACKLE is actually at the RIGHT defensive end.

The sample size is very small so a few big runs will really sku the sample.

As for Udeze being the most useless DE in the league - he's certainly been a disappointment in his career to this point.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:33pm

I KNEW Indy should have kept Vanderjagt! It's not about winning games, it's about winning the all-important Week 7 Rankings. Oh, Bill Polian, why will you never listen to me!!

by MarkB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:46pm

Another good week on the 49ers 1st round draft choice watch. A bottom 5-10 finish should turn into a defensive stud. For the Pats, that is. Thank you very much for the encouraging ratings.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:52pm

Of course the rankings artificially increase the Colts because of Gray. He was a nightmare.

I was seriously hoping they would put Matt Jones out there. He'd at least hit the target of the pass I think.

by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:55pm

Well the thought with Udeze was that he didnt rush the passer at all last year but he was good against the run (he had a bunch of tackles for loss). So that's why I find this strange, I would thing Ray Edwards would be blindly rushing the passer (more like trying) and be a liability against the run.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:57pm

jimm, Udeze was pretty good in hurries last year, and I think he has been pretty solid overall this year as well. No, he isn't a Pro Bowler, and he was probably drafted too high, but that doesn't mean he sucks.

by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:01pm

It would be interesting to have access to the week-by-week breakdown of DVOA. Maybe that is included in the premium package. The Lions dropped a spot despite a signature win over a supposedly top team, but I think their offense and defense ranks flip flopped which shows that DVOA was very responsive to the game.

Despite the pedestrian conventional stats, the Lions were spectacular on offense, scoring on 5 of 7 possessions (not counting game-ending kneel downs). Unfortunately seven possessions has to be close to a season low for an NFL team. If the Lions keep playing the bend-break-and-pray defense, Martz's troops aren't going to get enough time on the field to really release the hounds.

When Tampa had the ball, the Bucs dominated from a DVOA perspective. In the game they had 9 and 7 minute drives that resulted in no points. The mistakes that finish those drives have big DVOA penalties, but all of the plays leading to that point are very, very positive from a DVOA perspective. An earlier poster questioned Tampa's offense being rated so highly, but they were very successful in this game. Again, big DVOA penalties for the turnovers but otherwise a thoroughly dominating performance.

All that said, Detroit is clearly ranked too low because Ford Field is magic. Jon Kitna/Roy Williams predictions are way better than this. Look out for Megatron and K. Jones as Detroit's schedule transitions to all carpet after this week at the Bears. (Anybody who failed to heed my warnings about trading for Jones in fantasy is going to be sorry.)

I'd do chat-acceptable spelling as well but haven't cracked the code yet.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:04pm

Will - I didn't say he sucked - Jin suggested that - I just said he's been a disappointment. Coming off a year at USC where he had 19 sacks I was hoping for a double digit sacker. I'd be interested to see what the average DE in the back end of the first round tends to do sack wise. Certainly the Vikings haven't had much luck in that department since Doleman.

I've actually thought he's looked about average this year.

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:05pm

Yeah, Bobman. I guess you and I (and other Colt fans) are just going to have to settle with a SB win instead of the DVOA lead, once the Colts made that idiotic move to change kickers. Oh, the irony of it all.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:10pm

"I KNEW Indy should have kept Vanderjagt! It’s not about winning games, it’s about winning the all-important Week 7 Rankings. Oh, Bill Polian, why will you never listen to me!!"

I assume this is directed towards my comment, but I fail to see what relevence rankings has on what I said. I made a couple pure football observations about some shoddy coverage that was obscured by even shoddier QBing. I only referenced DVOA in order to make it relevent to this article. Had the game been the Sunday Night game, I would have just made the observations and left it at that.

But make no mistake, Indy was not very good in the secondary on the plays that I watched. I'm sure that they will play differently against NE, but I am *very* optimistic about NE's chances in their upcoming matchup after seeing that game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:12pm

I have no objective evidence to back this up, other than saying DVOA is always high on them…and yet they don’t win games.

Except, like, y'know, eleven last year.

The Eagles offense is above average, until it gets to the 20s, where it's completely unable to move.

by admin :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:17pm

1) The WR page mistakenly didn't have its date updated. It does represent through Week 7.

2) As long as we're talking about irony being a bitch, chew on this: The Jaguars were absolutely correct that David Garrard would be better as their starting quarterback, and yet they may miss the playoffs specifically because they cut Byron Leftwich. Man, did Quinn Gray suck last night. How can an NFL quarterback throw five feet over the receiver's head on a quick slant?

3) Weird sentence about Josh Brown fixed. I think I wrote two things and edited them together wrong.

This discussion thread simply does not have enough Seattle special teams talk in it.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:17pm

My reaction to the "irony is a bitch" line was a wry smile and nodding my head. Because it's a true line, after all, and it's funny if you can step away from Colt-fandom for a moment. That said, I imagine that the average Colt fan reader of this site couldn't care less that the Pats are ranked higher in week 7 DVOA. I know I don't care.

The Pats are set to play my two favorite teams in the next two weeks. This is a truly scary prospect. The 'skins game provides an interesting test case for the Pats, as they will finally face an elite defense. I've already accepted the likelihood that the Washington offense won't be able to keep up, but it will be interesting to see how much NE is slowed down.

RE: 45,

My dream is that some team gets all the QB-turned-WRs (Wallace, Jones, Randle-El, etc) together, and runs an offense where they all swarm around with an empty backfield, and a different guy takes the snap each play to run an option. It wouldn't work at all, but it would be fun to watch.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:18pm

I'm sure Aaron has played around with various weightings of red zone success in determining overall quality, but it would be interesting to hear some comments from him about what he has discovered.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:24pm

I'm about where I was last year with the Vikings quarterbacking; so frustrated that I almost want Childress to alternate qbs with each series, just to give the opposing d-coordinator more to prepare for. Hell, throw Bollinger into the mix too!

Better yet, just draw straws with each possesssion, providing a truly random choice among all three.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:24pm

Bobman, Purds
Indy's kickoffs have improved with Vinatieri, it's just that the Patriots' kickoffs have improved more with Gostkowski. So, both teams made good moves.

by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:31pm

Re: #51

Not that you should not be super optimistic about NE's passing game against anyone, but how can you make a characterization about an entire "game" after only watching a few "plays"?

Anyway, for all this talk I am seeing out of NE fans about the unstoppability of their offense and how their D can stop the Colts O. Over the last three meetings, here is the number of points the Colts O has put up on NE: 40, 27, 38.

As Will Allen said, it will be very interesting to see how NE fares against an offense as dedicated to controlling the clock as they have been.

Also - the original poster wasn't directing his comments at you, but at the line "Irony is a bitch" that was part of the original article.

Re: #54

Is there any reason why the Jags chose to cut Leftwich rather than extract a draft pick of any value from another team? Better locker room harmony?

by Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:33pm

re: 53 Aaron, I asked in the quick reads thread, but since you brought it up here, what was Gray's DPAR last night? Was it truly as abysmal as it seemed?

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:38pm

Will - on the plus side - Brian Robison leads the league in sacks by rookies.

In general I think Spielman/Childress/et al, have done a very good job drafting. Every player taken through round 4 either starts or plays a very significant role. I think that bodes very well for the future of this team.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:41pm


I watched more than "a few plays". I only listed a few plays because those were the ones that best illustrated my point.

As I said, I bounced around for much of the first half, but I watched almost all the second. There was plenty of time to formulate an educated opinion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:44pm

To me, one of New England's weaknesses is older linebackers, which isn't to say they aren't good, just no longer tremendously athletic as a group. This seems like something that Manning will be able to continue to exploit, and chew up a lot of time. I'm sure Brady and Co, will come out like they are behind six points with 1 minute left in the game; I wouldn't be surprised to see them go hurry up on their first possessions. If the Colts withstand the initial onslaught, I think the momentum may shift their way.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:49pm

I'm quite happy with their last two drafts, jimm. It is the 2005 draft which haunts this team; not a single real producer, and Williamson and James on the cusp of first round busthood. The fact that Studwell survived that debacle tells me that the people who are gone had more to do with it.

by jtp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:49pm

40, others:
Yeah, Garrard was knocked out of the game. But he still played most of the 1st half and was just 8 of 12 for 72 yards with 0 scoring drives. Gray was much worse than Garrard, but it isn't like Garrard was getting anything done when he was in there.

by vanya (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:53pm

I think the number of FO readers who truly care about Seattle's special teams is probably a single digit number. Seattle must be the single least charismatic "good" team over the past 5 years. Outside their fan base they seem to elicit a yawn from everyone. Even in Boston you can't generate interest in Hasslebeck, and he's a BC grad and a local who's had a more succesful pro career than Flutie. Funny.

Anyway, Baltimore is ranked too high just because they really look like a team going nowhere. At least DVOA predicts the Dolphins have a shot at beating the Jets. Plus, if the NY media is too be believed (and they probably aren't) the whole Jets team will dog it the rest of the year just to get Mangini fired.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:57pm

Computer broke again. The Raiders are much better than the Saints, Falcons, Jets, Lions, Bills, Texans, Falcons, Dolphins, and Browns.
Computer already has Rams and 49ers below Raiders so that makes 11 teams worse than the Raiders.
Therefore Raiders 20th best team right now. But move up to teens by midseason, should move up to dirty dozen by Thanksgiving.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:01pm

"40, others:
Yeah, Garrard was knocked out of the game. But he still played most of the 1st half and was just 8 of 12 for 72 yards with 0 scoring drives. Gray was much worse than Garrard, but it isn’t like Garrard was getting anything done when he was in there. "

Garrard was knocked out less than 3 minutes into the 2nd quarter, in the middle of his third drive. In two of those drives the Jags went from around their 25 to Indy territory.

Sure he wasn't exactly blowing anyone's doors off, but he was doing pretty well.

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:01pm

I enjoy watching the Seahawks play. They run the closest thing to the old Walsh offense in SF which I miss dearly especially considering the current state of the 49ers.

When the Seahawks offense was rolling two years ago, it was a thing of beauty. They just dropped receivers into the system and let Hasselbeck find the open guy. Throw in a great year by Alexander and you get one of the best offenses of the last decade. Remember, this team greatly outplayed Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl despite losing.

This is probably Holmgren's last year in Seattle, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future. Seattle will probably win the west this year and could conceivably make the Super Bowl if Deion Branch and DJ Hackett play well when they return. However, the team is getting old and things could get really bad if they don't make a good coaching hire--like the 49ers in 2003 onwards under Dennis Erickson.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:09pm

Will - I think 2005 was such a disaster because tried to address need instead of taking the best player available. Lost Moss - take the fastest receiver, no pass rush grab a DE that can rush the passer. In both cases the players lacked any stats in college to backup the reputations.

by Peder (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:10pm

60, 62; Until the Vikings prove that they can draft a QB (or get one in free agency), I'll keep my confidence on hold.

by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:17pm

Blatant attempt to get an Extra Points article incoming...

At this point, both the NFC East and the AFC South strike me as historically good (at least within the quote-unquote DVOA era). Can we get some historical perspective going on?

by Sergio (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:24pm

Dead last in defensive DVOA. THAT I can believe.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 Miami Dolphins! Now featuring the oldest front seven in the league...

In related news, I can believe they're not dead last in overall DVOA too. With Brown out for the year, however, those '04 49ers better look out...

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:29pm


I don't really disagree with your points, but those plays don't exactly mean the Colts D is bad. Agreed, that was probably not a great play by Sanders on the INT but a weak play by Gray. Agreed, the other INT was underthrown, but Gray was pressured on that play (as Manning was pressured on the lon pass that he underthrew but completed to Wayne down the left sideline). Agreed, Manning wasn't otherworldy last night. Pressure on the QB makes a huge difference.

However, I'd rather give up 7, get some sacks, and take advantage of mistakes, then give up 40+ points and 370+ yards rushing, as the Colts did last year at this point.

Every offense makes mistakes. (In the long term, do you really think it's in Brady or NE's best interest to throw into double coverage deep?) However, not every defense takes advantage of those mistakes. I hope the Colts can be more opportunistic this year.

And, actually, I DO think Brady should continue to throw deep into double coverage for Moss. Or, at least in situations like his second throw--I didn't hear any sports casters talk about how brilliant the decision was. Well, they said it was brilliant because Moss caught it. I thought it was brilliant because it was third and 18, and if it gets picked, the DB likely is going to fall down with Moss, and the ball will be turned over on the 20. If the pass goes incomplete, then NE punts to the 20 (or slightly better). So, on that one, at least, I think Brady made a great decision, even if Moss hadn't made the great catch.

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:32pm

If you really want to stir the pot, instead of linking Simmons every week, how about this one from Easterbrook:


Linked on my name also, as I know nothing about HTML

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:34pm

If you really want to stir the pot, read the Easterbrook article (linked on my name).

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:35pm

I can't link to the new Easterbook article. Anyone know why not? It would stir the pot considerably.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:42pm

Purds (#74 )--

WordPress has already been broken, at least once today.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:46pm


Sanders' int *was* a great play. My point about that play was that Gray still had no one near him and another WR was coming free underneath. Poorly worded I guess.

I am really not disparaging Indy. I am just pointing out that most QBs would have led that Jax team to 17-21 points. Indy's offense looks better than it ever has and I really have hard time seeing NE holding them under 30 unless they have some stuff saved that hasn't been necessary to use so far.

With regard to Brady's tosses, I'm sure that NE went into tha game thinking that Moss had some advantage on jump balls, because Brady hasn't thrown a deep pass like that all year. I wouldn't call either great decisions, and one of them was actually a poor throw that allowed would could have been an easier back-of-the-EZ TD become a harder catch.

Believe me, I am just as quick to point out NE's flaws. If you don't believe me, just peruse patsfans.com and check out my history. I'm just an equal opportunity critiquor. ;)

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:55pm

I am going to disagree with you on the second pass to Moss. I think it was a sound decision, and I don't see why teams don't do this on third and very long. Throw the hail mary if you're at midfield, and you have leaping WR's (Chad J., Moss, etc.). Take the chance. If you try something else and it fails, you're punting anyways. (I don't mean the hail mary should be the only option on a thrid and long from midfield, but if the primary route it closed down, why not have a deep option?)

by Ian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:06pm

Should we discredit NE's victory over SD because they were still adjusting to a new coaching system at the time? How about their victory against Dallas because DAL was missing several key members of their secondary? Should the Colts get a boost because they beat Tampa with 5 starters out. Or should they be penalized because Tampa was missing a couple key players?

Unless you go and adjust every game for 'circumstance', you can't really pick and choose these kinds of things to tweak the rankings.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that the Jags would score 20 points on the Colts if they had another QB on the field, since there's absolutely no rational way to justify that statement. The Colts were selling out against the run was good coaching. It's exactly the same thing the Pats would do. They were facing a power running team and a ball control QB who doens't throw deep. Isnt that what NE does? they take away the other team's most potent weapon. The Pats have had an up and down running game and I don't see the Colts taking that appraoch agianst them. In fact, I'm sure they'd prefer to allow the Pats to run than throw deep in one on one matchups.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:29pm

Re: #74

Did FO actually put in a specific filter to stop that URL from being posted anywhere? Heh :) And yeah -- I think Starshatterer has hit on one of the reasons :)

by STARTER997 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:47pm

I know what a "bye week" is, but why is the word "bye" used?

by Nat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:59pm

We called that "P for K" on my street.

I have a similar question about end-of-half Hail Mary plays. Are they really more likely to be a pick-6 (or strip-sack-6) than a defensive penalty or TD? Are they really more likely to cause injury than a typical play? If not, why do teams kneel when they are near mid-field at the end of the half? Don't they have any play (hook and lateral, or other gadget plays) that gives a chance to score?

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:25pm


first off, the reason I put my post in this thread had less to do with rankings and more to do with the fact that this is most likely to be the liveliest discussion area on the site.

Second, I don't see how you can possibly contest the fact that Gray's play was a huge benefit to Indy. Garrard had led three drives, two of which went into Indy territory (the second one being the one he was inured on) before leaving the game. He was moving the ball. Besides that, the disparity between the two QBs was enormous. Gray was terrible.

My comments on the game were based on how the guys who were *not* inured played. The OL was fine for the most part and the WRs got open. The QB just didn't hit them. FOr better or for worse, btoh Indy and NE are going to be judged by greatness, not solely effectiveness, and Indy's secondary, with the exception of Sanders, really didn't play well at all.

How can I say they would have put up more points with a better QB? Well, the second int is most likely a TD with a good QB throwing it, and there were at least 6-7 other plays that would have gotten 10+ yards than Gray did nothing with. Would Indy have tightened in the red zone? Possibly. Would they have played differently had they felt threatened at all by the pass? Probably. But they certainly weren't selling out to stop the run all second half with a 22-7 most of the time.

BTW, your other examples really aren't that relevent. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would gladly disregard any defensive success that NE has against a backup QB who plays that atrociously.

I just call 'em like I see 'em.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:27pm

On the first Brady to Moss bomb, it looked like Brady was throwing to a spot, knowing Moss would get to that spot and jump for it. I'm sure it's something they've practiced quite a bit. For the second one, well it worked the first time, why not try again? After all, the worst that could happen would be the equivalent of a punt.
I suspect they won't try it against Washington because the Redskins have a better secondary.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:31pm

Some interesting facts that may only interest me:

The AFC is +4%, the NFC -4%.

The team most playing above the average for its division standing, based on 2006 conference standings: The Cowboys, playing +35%. (Thank you, St. Louis). The team playing furthest under? Rams, -38.5%. (Thank you, Dallas).

The 2006 NFC conference position playing the strongest right now? 4th place, +3.5%

Most "average" division? AFC East, at -1.4%.

Most competitive division? NFC East, with a deviation of 5.4% (compare to AFC East, at 18.8%).

The 2006 bottom teams of every AFC division, have a higher DVOA than the NFC West (-18.0% v -18.4%). Replacing the Dolphins with the even worse Jets would tip this by .9%, but that should be small consolation.

My first impression is that "parity" reigns supreme in the NFC, and the AFC is consistent. The only teams playing out of position in their divisions in the AFC are Pittsburgh (3rd place team playing +30.6; should be in first), and the Jets, whose -29.3% does put them at the bottom of the AFC East instead of second. All other AFC teams are strictly ordered in division based on their 2006 standings. In the NFC? The ordering looks nothing at all like 2006, except for the worst division in football. East: 2431. North: 2341. South: 4213. West: 1423.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:33pm

78: If we're going to discount any of the NE games, it would be against buffalo, because that was the game where the opposing QB got injured early in the game. Although, I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm pretty sure Trent Edwards is a better QB than Quentin Gray.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:34pm

BTW, FTR, I have the following concerns about NE:

* At this point, they won't field a good enough RB crew to keep Indy honest. I love Kevin Faulk, but any time you go into a game with him as your primary runner you are asking for trouble. This could change as Maroney appears to be getting better, but NE isn't good enough to beat Indy without any threat of the run.

* NE's LBs have continued to look mediocre in pass coverage. I was hoping that the addition of AD and a rotation of Brushchi/Seau would cover this up, but teams are still able to get open in the middle of the field too much for my taste.

* NE always seems to get good sack numbers, but I don't see enough consistency in the pass rush. They will go entire drives without getting anywhere near the QB.

* No matter how bad the offense, NE has allowed at least on long TD drive every game, most of which came long before garbage time.

* Green seems to be starting to show signs of cracking at DE. I was really hoping to see Seymour's return for the Indy game, but it is looking less and less likely.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:38pm

Oh, since we're supposed to discuss Seattle's special teams, has Seattle had a new focus on that area since the super bowl? After all, I remember reading in the 2006 PFP that it the Seahawks punter cost them the game (was it 4 punts for touchbacks, or more?) Did they get a new special teams coach? Are more starters playing on special teams now?

by afrasso (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:54pm

I've noticed cracks in NE's defense this year too... though it's hard to tell since they have so few plays where the game is still close. But I was surprised NE's defensive rating changed so much after Miami. They were up 42-7 in the fourth quarter, and then let up some long time killing drives.

I'm curious, what happens to the Pats' DVOA on defense (and offense, for that matter) when we only consider plays when the teams are within 21 points or so? Is it a big difference?

by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:08am

I think the NE Hail Moss play vs. Sean Taylor playing superdeep CF will be an interesting matchup. WAS' defense being #1 is kinda funny to a WAS fan like me, b/c their secondary (outside Taylor) continues to have absolutely the worst hands I've ever seen, and I've been watching f'ball for a long time now.

Anyway, Taylor vs. Moss on a (double covered) deep ball is a pretty fair fight, so I'm looking forward to it.

On the other hand, WAS offensive play calling vs. NE defense is a nightmare waiting to happen, unless old Gibbs comes back with some of that SB magic pixie dust and actually finds his balls again (mixed metaphor alert). You wouldn't know it from Gibbs 2.0, but this is the same guy who after Joe Theismann goes out with the ugliest star player injury in MNF history calls a bomb on Schroeder's first throw ever on the very next play. Oh, Coach Joe, where have your balls gone?

by skins fan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:31am

#89 Oh, Coach Joe, where have your balls gone?

Is a shame that the Redskins Offense really sputtered in the NFC Divisional loss to Tampa a few years ago. I truly believe Joe LOST his "moxy" on that fateful day. I have been screaming (but nobody can here me from dowm here in Australia) for Joe to grap the clipboard & start calling the plays

Players respond to LEADERS on the battlefield - not assistants in the booth

Perfect summation of the Redskins dropped interceptions. Carlos Rogers could have the WORST hand in football.

Pity about the injury situation on the O-Line - Skins actually looked settled this year to give the Giants & Cowboys a scare.

Skins are SET for 2008 though

Sorry to go off topic people

by Will (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:41am

re: 88

DVOA has a garbage time adjuster, no?

by Ben Riley :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 1:22am

As one dork in law school used to say, "Professor Schatz, I'm flummoxed." The Seattle special teams are best in the NFL, even after they were 75% for the loss against the Saints? Even after two blocked punts because of long-snapper issues? And Plack's regression to sub-replacement level punter?

I guess Bruce DeHaven, the new special teams coach, is doing something right. But I am still very, very surprised. (Pleasantly so.)

by Troy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 1:50am

As a diehard Seattle fan it is extremely frustrating to watch my offensive unit struggle like it has this season. Alexander says "if you watch the tapes, you have to conclude that I'm still pretty good." Well, I watch the game every week and see Shaun fall over blades of grass, the rubber pellets in the turf, when a fly farts in a ten yard vicinity of him, or anything but an actual tackle. Given, our offensive line is not what is was, but our RB needs to shoulder a good portion of this blame. Hasselbeck is playing well enough to be a top tier QB this year however, Seattle's receivers refuse to get open and the O-line is not blocking well. Defensively we are Jekyl and Hyde. Good one week, atrocious the next. E.G. the Saints game.

I am surprised a bit about the special teams unit. After cutting a long snapper because of erratic play we bring in a guy whose first play results in 6 points for the other guys. But I will give the nod to the special teams units for the best of the 3 squads Seattle is fielding. (4 if you include the coaching staff - Holmgren lost the N.O. game all on his own with his horrible decisions in the last 1 and half minutes of the game.)

Thank goodness we have a good kicker!

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:07am

Well, let's look at those Seattle special teams, one aspect at a time:

* No. 2 in the league in field goals and extra points. (Surprised? Kickers only get noticed when they miss. Or they're Rob Bironas.)
* No. 2 in the league in kickoffs.
* No. 6 in the league in kickoff returns.
* Tied for No. 4 in punt returns.

So thus far, they've been an elite team in every aspect of special teams except punting. They're 20th in punting, but only at -1.1 points. I assume this means that when they do actually get the punt off, they're really, really good at coverage.

(Checks ESPN.com)

Well, they're OK in coverage, allowing 8.3 yards per punt return, which is 12th ... but their real strength is pinning opponents deep. They've downed 17 punts inside the 20, and let only two get into the end zone for a touchback. That +15 differential is the best in the league.

by justin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:08am

vince beat me to it

by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:14am

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m highly suspect of DVOA as it relates to Philly, based on both this year and last.

Maybe you missed something, but last year, they won the NFC East (which had two other playoff teams) and had it clinched in time to rest their starters for the last game of the regular season. Oh, and this is despite losing their starting QB after 10 games. Seriously, you're using last year to argue that DVOA loves the Eagles too much?

I have no objective evidence to back this up, other than saying DVOA is always high on them…and yet they don’t win games.

From 1996-2006, the Eagles accumulated 100.3 estimated wins. They had 99.5 wins in that time (one tie counted as half a win). So, they've won 0.8 fewer games than expected over the last 11 years. Yeah, DVOA is clearly way too high on them. Something's got to be wrong with it if it says that the Eagles should have won almost 1 more game than they actually did over the last 11 years.

As for the slow start this year, I think these two statistics pretty much tell the story:

Andy Reid (before the bye week):


Andy Reid (after the bye week):


by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:16am

"They were up 42-7 in the fourth quarter, and then let up some long time killing drives"

Belichick took the blame for that. He said that, based on the score, he just assumed Miami would start throwing the ball. So the Pats played virtually the entire second half in nickle prevent defense. The Dolphins just kept running and running and running. Belichick said he should have switched back to a base defense, but didn't. He said the matchups against the run were terrible for the Pats in that defense.

by justin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:31am

One more thing about punting

"Our special teams metric includes five separate measurements: field goals (and extra points), net punting, punt returns, net kickoffs, and kick returns."

Correct me if I'm wrong but lets examine two situations.

Situation 1
Punt from x year line, and pin the ball on the 4

Situation 2
Punt from the same x yard line, but it drops into the enzone for a touchback.

Situation 1 is the optimal case here, but
as far as I have always known, Situation 2 always leads to a higher punt length ( and thus higher average). Anywhere i look they have no such stat as net punt.

So does FO account for the fact that pinning a punt inside the 20 in most cases will shorten your average punts, or is it ignored

by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:33am

While I definitely understand the Lions are not an elite team, I'm having a little trouble understanding how both their DVOA and prior strength of schedule are so low. They have wins over the 5, 15, 25, and 30 teams, and losses to the 11 and 13 teams (both stomps). Did they actually lose both their Vikings and Bucs victories on a DVOA-basis?
It would seem misleading that a team with 4 games against the top 15 would have the 20th ranked schedule. While I understand that this is not what DVOA schedule strength is supposed to demonstrate, a true strength of schedule should reflect that a single game is a discrete event. Playing the Pats or the Colts may make your strength of schedule much more difficult, but it still only counts as one loss. Playing a steady diet of slightly above average teams is going to be more difficult in reality than playing the Colts, Pats and a steady diet of slightly below average teams.
On an unrelated note, I wonder how the personal foul penalty on 4th down late in the game affected DVOA. Had it not occurred, the Lions would have won 23-7. That at least would have seemed more convincing to the regular media. Then FO could bash the Lions showing how they actually lost a game on a DVOA basis that they won 23-7.
After such an inspiring win, lets get a little more Lions talk going. Even if it's only to say DVOA proves the Lions again got lucky.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:43am

"Anywhere i look they have no such stat as net punt."

What? Look harder. NFL.com lists it. So does ESPN.com. So does SI.com. So does FOXsports.com.

by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:08am

If Chicago can clime 2 DVOA positions every week, we'll be 6th for the playoffs.

Maybe that was Lovie Smiths plan all along. Just to lull the rest of the NFL into a false sense of security.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:54am

Oswlek #51 Not directed at you at all. When I wrote it there was ONE comment on my screen. I hit send and 43 others popped up. Wordpress... gotta love it.

Nope, my comment was mainly directed at Vanderjagt, whom I defended staunchly for 3 years here, and then finally saw the light. Amen, brothers, I been healed. So have my team's KOs.

When I write, I like to basically speak in my head, but have no idea how Oswlek should be pronounced... a little help here?

RE your and Purds's discussion, I think far too few Hail Mary's are thrown in the pros and would like to see at least one in every game with a 10 pt differential or less, more or less for the reason Purds laid out. A pro DB is probably smart enough to knock it down and eliminate the "punt effect" unlike a college guy, but in the endzone, they may think that catching is safest regardless. So the downside is a touchback anyway, unless Devin Hester is playing DB. The upside is a TD, long gain, PI call, etc.

This may be a Colt fan thing as Indy seems to have a fair amount of HMs thrown against it (Buffalo in 2000 comes to mind) and hasn't thrown one to my memory since the 1995 AFCCG vs Pitt. Maybe with their improved pass rush the past few years (and larger winning margins) this has gone by the wayside, but it seems to me we were burned by this a few times a season 5-7 years ago, and I resented it.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 4:04am

#100 Vince, well, if you're gonna get technical on us.....

Next thing you know you'll tell me that the daily newspaper runs a standings graphic indicating wins and losses. Preposterous! Maybe in YOUR part of King County, but not mine.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 6:10am

If you'd said to me at the beginning of the season that after 7 games the Miami offense would have been 13th in DVOA (6.3%) I'd have bitten your hand off and assumed a 4-3 or 5-2 record.

Of course, 32nd (29.3%) in defensive DVOA comes as a bit of a suprise.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:12am

And having read it, I now understand why there's no XP to TMQ this week.

That thread would be appalling.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:31am

James, you're right. I'm a Colt fan with minimal excess love for NE, and I thought TMQ had just stepped over the edge. He went from writing amusing pieces peppered with some stats, some appreciation of FO, some claim to being above the fray (while also dropping his moralizations, and various pet peeve rants) to a 100% goofy opinion piece and he assumes everyone else agrees with him.

Don't get me wrong, I found it highly amusing. But the content would be expected on a Colt fan site, not an international "news organization." Then again Page 2 also inexplicably hosts Simmons, so maybe it's just karmic balance.... True Karmic Balance would be Houston making the playoffs and beating them both on the road!

Maybe it's an anomaly for TMQ. When Indy wins (ahem, I mean "if" of course), I hope he's not all smug and self-satisfied. Like Simmons would be.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:44am

"Stepped" over the edge? That was a full speed leap, like Chad Johnson into the Dawg Pound (and about as ill-advised).

When (err, "if") the Pats win, I expect to see a homily about how Evil triumphed, and all right-thinking people will back the Colts to return the favor in Foxborough.

As for Simmons, he isn't just self-satisfied. He has enough satisfaction to account for every American between Boston and L.A. who isn't a Patriots or Red Sox fan.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 8:21am

This is going to get annoying. We are probably at the point where most of the world has the Giants overrated (due to their record, gained mostly against crappy teams), while DVOA has them a little bit underrated (by at least one position-- they are a better team than Washington).

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 8:42am

Having just read TMQ my initial impression is that his tongue is firmly in his cheek and the whole piece has been written with the intention of causing outrage.

Maybe he's just upset the FO seems to have stopped linking to him in Extra Points and is trying to generate some traffic. It's certainly the first time for months that I've bothered to look at his column.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 8:50am

Why don't we let TMQ take on Simmons instead of playing the game? 4 15 minute quarters of repartee and ponitifcation. Winner takes all.

Herm Edwards could umpire.

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 9:08am

#110 James, a better match up would be for Herm to take on both Easterbrook and Simmons.

My money's on Herm....it would be worth it just to watch Simmons and Easterbrooks' heads explode in confusion 10 minutes into the first quarter.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 9:29am

Re: 99

As #48 noted, TB probably had a very high DVOA for that game. They had a huge advantage in 1st downs (27 vs. 17) and a crazy advantage in number of offensive plays (77 vs. 47). DVOA doesn't penalize them too much for the fumbles (both lost) since it assumes only a 50% loss rate.

But watching the game, I never felt TB was in control (and they certainly never were on the scoreboard). They weren't dominating the LOS. Their first downs weren't resulting in points. Garcia's 4th quarter fumble (at the Lions 1) hurt TB badly, but even if they get the TD there, the Lions are still ahead. And the Lions marched the length of the field for the clinching TD after that anyway).

Based on what I've seen in the NFL this year there are at least 15 other offensive units that scare me more than TB.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 9:44am

Looking at the Ravens' future schedule, it is bad but really doesn't seem too brutal: Steelers twice, Indy, the Pats, Cleveland and Cincy at home, @ SD, Miami and Seattle. Hard to believe that's the hardest schedule by >7% DVOA over #2 (Philly).

Anyway, I wonder how their 39%+ DVOA differential between past and future schedules matches up historically for near-mid-season. I would suspect that if it is not a record, it's pretty close.

by goathead (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 9:55am

The world will see what the giants are made of after their bye week. They should be 6-2 heading into the bye, but it wouldn't surprise me if they lose the next 3 games. Likely to be similar to last year, with everyone heaping praise on the G's mid season, followed by an epic and painful collapse. Ideally the ending (re: Coughlin) will be different this time.

by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 10:29am

113. Are you being serious? That is a very difficult schedule. The Ravens play by DVOA ranking:


As the 14th ranked team I would say the Ravens would be fortunate to win more than 3 of those games.

by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 10:31am

Can anyone explain why DVOA likes the Colts running game so much? It's certainly seemed solid this year, but I wouldn't have thought it was as head and shoulders above the rest as DVOA has it currently...

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 10:55am

Oh, I totally agree it's a very tough schedule. All I am saying is that looking at it, it doesn't seem as prohibitive as I initially thought it would based on DVOA differential. Three of their 4 toughest games (Indy, NE and one Pitt) are at home, for instance. On the other hand, SD is probably going to be tougher than current DVOA suggests.

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 10:58am

I have no problem with FO not putting the TMQ in the extra points link, but then why keep linking Simmons? If you want to combat the Patriots-lovers bias beliefs, then put someone other than a Boston homer in the XP section. Trust me, if NE wins versus Indy, Simmons will gloat to no end. If NE loses, he'll likely pull another Super Bowl moment and not even say anything -- use the weekly columnn to propound on the virtues of the upcoming NBA season or some other trivial thing, just so that he doesn't have to say anything bad about NE.

by Brad (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:02am

This is, of course, completely unrelated to anything anyone else has been discussing here in this thread, but I think its pretty interesting that the Pats and Colts each have a better chance of going 16-0 then the Rams and Dolphins have of going 0-16. Its lucky for the Rams and Dolphins that they get to play the Jets and Niners. :)

by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:17am

118: Purds, when was the last time they linked to Simmons? I'm sure his column doesn't get a link every week like TMQ at least.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:18am

Can anyone explain why DVOA likes the Colts running game so much?
DVOA is usually pleased by success rate.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:27am

I can only hope Easterbrook wrote that piece with tongue in cheek. If not, he's gone stark raving mad, can be counted on to be institutionalized by the time the playoffs roll around. Sheesh, what a loon....

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:27am

Bill Simmons has received one link from FO this season (when Aaron Schatz was Simmons' interview-subject). They need to link him three more times to catch up with their TMQ linkage.

I'd just as soon they link neither Easterbrook nor Simmons again, until one of those two recovers a bit of sanity. So maybe next season.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:34am

They didn't link to TMQ last week either, but I think we're missing the big question here. Why not link to Gallo's weekly NFL wrap up? It's funnier than anything Simmons or TMQ have written in years, and much less biased.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 11:49am


"DVOA has a garbage time adjuster, no?"

Yeah, but I really don't think it kicks in until late in the 4th quarter.

Unfortunately, with respect to NE, excluding the cowboys game, the last 30 minutes of every game has been garbage time.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:10pm

Since they seemed pretty well received last week (regardless of whether or not my conclusions were agreed with), here is the graph of the Conference Comparison (Divisional Comparison to follow).

Click my name.

I'd still argue that if you switch one of the top 2 AFC teams with it's NFC counterpart that the two conferences neither has a huge advantage over the other (although the AFC as a whole is still a bit better). Since that's not how reality works, the AFC's superiority increases a bit more, but I still don't think its anywhere close to as big of a difference as common wisdom would have us believe.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:16pm

And here's the Divisional Comparison.

Click my name. (BTW, does anyone know the syntax for url tags?)

It looks like the two best divisions are clearly the AFC South and NFC East. I'd give the edge to the AFC South since the difference between Indy and Dallas is larger than the difference between Philly and Houston (with the other 4 pretty much a wash).

by b-man (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:17pm

Hopefully FO won't mind but I put together some charts using the weekly DVOA rankings tables. I did this last year and some people seemed to like 'em. These won't be all that accurate since the values will have changed due to opponent adjustments since the charts were published.
Calculated Game DVOA through Week 7

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:24pm


Oswlek #51 Not directed at you at all. When I wrote it there was ONE comment on my screen. I hit send and 43 others popped up. Wordpress… gotta love it.

Nope, my comment was mainly directed at Vanderjagt, whom I defended staunchly for 3 years here, and then finally saw the light. Amen, brothers, I been healed. So have my team’s KOs.

When I write, I like to basically speak in my head, but have no idea how Oswlek should be pronounced… a little help here?

RE your and Purds’s discussion, I think far too few Hail Mary’s are thrown in the pros and would like to see at least one in every game with a 10 pt differential or less, more or less for the reason Purds laid out. A pro DB is probably smart enough to knock it down and eliminate the “punt effect� unlike a college guy, but in the endzone, they may think that catching is safest regardless. So the downside is a touchback anyway, unless Devin Hester is playing DB. The upside is a TD, long gain, PI call, etc.

This may be a Colt fan thing as Indy seems to have a fair amount of HMs thrown against it (Buffalo in 2000 comes to mind) and hasn’t thrown one to my memory since the 1995 AFCCG vs Pitt. Maybe with their improved pass rush the past few years (and larger winning margins) this has gone by the wayside, but it seems to me we were burned by this a few times a season 5-7 years ago, and I resented it.

I apologize for my misunderstanding.

ahz'-wih-lek. I think, anyway.

The craziest hail mary game I have ever seen was NE vs. Jax in the late 90's. Brunell completed three hail marys - two for TDs and one that the receiver was tackled on the one yard line as time expired, before finally bowing out in overtime. I had never seen anything like it and hope I never see anything like it again.

With regard to Brady's decision making, I can buy the 3rd down one for the reasons Purds laid out. My main criticism on the first one was that it was what could have been a regular deep ball turned into a hail mary by a poor throw. That is a huge advantage with Moss, though. His hands are incredible and his ball skills are up there as well. Twice this year I have seen him make a play where he let a CB believe that he proper inside coverage and then stopped on a dime, jumped up and caught the ball on his inside shoulder. With him around, you know that a hail mary will most likely end up incomplete at worst.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:25pm


A bunch of the graphs aren't loading properly for me, NE in particular. Anyone else having any problems?

jacksonville is scary consistent... well, except for the post-garrard game.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:31pm

"My main criticism on the first one was that it was what could have been a regular deep ball turned into a hail mary by a poor throw."

The commentators were saying how the throw was perfect. Ugh. He underthrew Moss by about 5 yards.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:34pm

Re: 130

I'm having the same problem.

BTW, the funniest thing about those graphs is that the Pittsburgh graph falls off the bottom for the Arizona loss.

by b-man (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:35pm

130: Woops! Forgot to use binary transfer.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 12:42pm


I'd suspect that the year the Colts broke DVOA the differential between past and future opponents would have been pretty big, simply because each team would have had a huge hit to their DVOA from playing the Colts. Thats just a total blind guess mind.

For the weekly irreverent writer link, personally I think FO should link to Mike Carlson's Friday Morning QB. Pretty Easterbrookish in style, but much less annoying, and with the added bonus of spelling words like "colour" correctly! :p Slightly less bizarre than Rundown is mind.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 1:03pm

I don't imagine there are too many Jacksonville fans here (or apparently anywhere else for that matter), but beyond the Indy loss, what are the implications of Garrard being out for several games? I would think their playoff chances take a big hit if he ends up missing much time. Or is his backup actually better than the Colts game suggests?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 1:12pm

Friday Morning TE is pretty good. NFLUK needs a better way to browse the archives, though.

by chris clark (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:01pm


Thanks for the graphs. Lots of neat stuff in there. FWIW, but not to stir the pot, NEs trajectory is downward; INDs is upward. (And for the stat I was interested in, DENs total roughly follows their defensive performance.)

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:12pm

Bit o'news: Seymour is at practice today.

by chris clark (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:23pm

127: In the meaningless stats dept, all but the bottom 3 AFC teams beat the bottom 6 NFC teams. I think your general comments about the AFC/NFC hold at some level in the sense that there are plenty of NFC teams that could beat a randomly selected AFC team. However, I think the perception gets strongly skewed by the top teams. Currently, the best teams in the AFC are generally ahead of their counterparts in the NFC, even SD is nearly tied with SEA for best team in an otherwise pitiful division. That's because their isn't a lot of interest in how say BUF might match up against CAR unless that game is actually being played. There is considerably more interest in how NE/IND/PIT match up against DAL/TB/GB. Since most of those matchups favor the AFC, the perception is that the AFC is the better conference, even if the NFC east is the most competitive division.

by DangerGnat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:44pm

Pittsburgh is clearly ranked too high because Ben Rusty Boogers can't even throw an accurate pass to the OTHER team. Vegas oddsmakers are way better than this. You'ya'll will see when the Stealers loss three in a row to ... well, nevermind, they soooo can't not loose in the play offs.

by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:50pm

Anybody else happen to notice that the Pats are favored by 17 this Sunday? I'm glad I don't know any bookies (anymore), 'cause there's just so many reasons why that number is too big. (Good WAS D-line, look-ahead game for NE, "only" 50% DVOA differential, I could go on and on...)

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:53pm

Are you sure you want to finally put the 2-4 Eagles ahead of the 5-2 Giants that have won 5 straight games, and 4 in a row by double digits?

The Eagles beat the Jets and they ran up the score on the Lions... What is so impressive about that?

The Redskins beat Miami in OT ( at home), and beat Arizona on a missed field goal. Not to mention the Giants beat them by a touchdown in Washington.

The Giants had one abberation against a decent Green Bay team, and besides that their only loss was a 10 point road loss in Dallas. How come Pittsburgh and Dallas are allowed an aberration, but the Giants are still behind an inferior Redskins team they beat?

If you ignore all else... How come the Giants have more estimated wins than the Redskins, but they are still ranked behind them?

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 2:58pm

#114... The Giants collapse last year was the direct result of injuries. This team is VERY healthy (crossed fingers and toes while knocking on wood) in comparison with Giants' teams of the past 5 years.

So unless you're telling me Bob Whitfield, Tim Carter, and William Joseph are going to be starting soon, I don't expect a freefall this year. BTW, Coughlin should get more heat for starting Bob Whitfield as long as he did. Their current o-line could've started every game after week 11. Instead, they allowed Whitfield to play horribly and collect headbutt penalties for 5 and a half weeks.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:13pm


As much as I think that spread is huge, they destroyed Dallas, and Dallas is a better team than Washington. Washington has a very good defense, but they're going to spend the entire day on the field. The Washington offense is just going to get them killed.

Also, the game is not ONLY a 50% DVOA difference. The game is in NE, which adds another 17%. So we're looking at a 67% advantage, which means the spread should be about 13 points. I don't think 17 is that bad.

NE's defensive DVOA is currently getting killed by teams running on them in obvious passing situations that DVOA doesn't know are obvious passing situations: like every play in the 2nd half. They were graded out as a positive Defense (bad) for Miami, when in the first half, when the game mattered, their drives looked like this:

Plays Yards Result
5 - 2 - Fumble
9 - 79 - TD
3 - 3 - Punt
4 - 11 - Punt
3 - 0 - Punt
5 - 11 - Punt
That doesn't look like bad defense to me.

I thought the Pittsburgh/Denver line was way too low last week, and thought it should have been Pittsburgh -11 or so. I'm not entirely convinced that the NE/WAS spread is a bad one.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:22pm


Also, to note.

Using the 17% Home field Advantage number

NE (63%) - Miami (-25% + 17%) = 71%

NE (63% + 17%) - WAS (13%) = 67%

If the spread was reasonable for Miami, it should be reasonable for Washington.

by Al 45 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:22pm

re: 141 and 144

You also have to take into account the spread is created to equalize betting. If they set the spread at 10, do you think anyone would bet on Washington? They keep upping it, basically saying, "Well, you like the Pats, but do you still like them at 17?"

With the way the Patriots have been abusing teams, Vegas has to set the lines a bit higher as the Pats are 7-0 against the spread (even with some very high spreads) and they're probably getting an influx of people betting on the Pats.

It wouldn't exactly shock me to see the spread go up.

by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:28pm

One of the factors DVOA compares is score differential. So, giving up runs when up by a bunch isn't really all that negative DVOA-wise, since most teams will give up those kinds of runs.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 3:37pm

147:"So, giving up runs when up by a bunch isn’t really all that negative DVOA-wise, since most teams will give up those kinds of runs."

Right, but I don't think theres a very large sample size to compare things against for the category "up by 20+ in the 3rd quarter", and playing "average" during that time significantly hurts the Pats DVOA.

IIRC (Aaron, PLEASE correct me here if I'm wrong) DVOA essentially uses buckets to compare stats. IE, compare against all plays where team is up by 7-14 points in the 4th quarter, etc. We dont KNOW what those buckets are though, and thats very important information. If the bucket just says "Up 14+ points in the 3rd quarter", and the Patriots in Miami (up 35) are being compared to teams that are up by 14 points, thats kind of strange, because they're not all that similar situations. In one case the game is still close, in the other, its a blowout.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 4:20pm

Re 148:
Every single play run in the NFL gets a "success value" based on this system, and then that number gets compared to the average success values of plays in similar situations for all players, adjusted for a number of variables. These include down and distance, field location, time remaining in game, and current scoring lead or deficit.

You could take that to mean that the scoring lead/deficit is part of the situation, meaning you need to know what the definition of similar is.

by Don Booza (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 4:29pm

148. You have previously argued that NE was not running up the score against Miami because, while they had a huge lead, there was lots of time left, meaning a comeback by the Fins was certainly possible. (This is position that I agree with by the way.)

However, now you seem to want DVOA to discount any bad results the Pats defense had in the 2nd half, because the game was a quote "blowout". Hmmm. Seems to me you can't have it both ways.

Which leads to another DVOA question. For arguments sake, let's say NE continued to pulverize the Dolphins in the 2nd half, racking up 7 sacks, 3 int's, and a return TD. How much impact should these good results by the NE defense have on their DVOA?

If the answer is they would be given full credit for good plays during the second half of a "blowout", then shouldnt they also be held accountable for bad play?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 4:30pm

right, mactbone, which is what I was trying to say.

We need to know what "similar" means with respect to DVOA, and where the cutoffs are.

"And then that number gets compared to the average success values of plays in similar situations...adjusted for...time remaining in game, and current scoring lead or deficit."

My question about that is exactly how granular are these comparisons? What are the buckets?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 4:42pm

"If the answer is they would be given full credit for good plays during the second half of a “blowout�, then shouldnt they also be held accountable for bad play?"

No, what I'm saying is that DVOA judges them against teams in "similar situations" and without knowing what makes a situation "similiar" theres no way to judge whether or not its behaving.

Is a team thats up by 35 with 25 minutes left being judged the same as a team thats up by 17? My guess would be yes, because teams aren't very often up by 35 with 25 minutes left.

Another thing is that DVOA judges teams by success rate. Long drives with lots of slightly successful plays are worth more than quick strikes. If you're down by 35 points though, thats not the case.

Miami's first drive in the second half marched down the field, going 60 yards in 15 plays. Here's the problem, Miami is down 35 points and they just chewed 9 minutes off the clock to get into the redzone ONCE. DVOA hates that drive, but IMO, its a complete failure by Miami. Even if Miami scores there (which they didn't), and NE goes 3 and out, they've essentially wasted the entire 3rd quarter getting 7 points, when they're down 45.

I guess my issue here is that there are very few "similar" situations to that game, which means DVOA is most likely comparing those drives to drives that aren't really the same situation. I can only think of a half dozen games in the last 4 or 5 years where a team has been up by 30+ points at the half.

by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 4:59pm

It's interesting to see the high variance numbers appearing mostly from about 16th in total DVOA and up.

The J-E-T-S Mangeniuses are really terrible though.

ATL's defense is awful at home, middling on the road, while their offense is good on the road and bad at home...

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 5:11pm

I thought the Patriots were playing bad on defense in the second half. That is they were in a nickel-defense designed to prevent big passing plays and the Dolphins were running the ball, so the Patriots defense wasn't designed to stop the plays the Dolphins were running. It's more bad scheme than bad execution, but it still looks bad to DVOA, and it should.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 5:12pm


In a word (okay, two): special teams. The Giants are missing gimme FGs, shanking extra points, and letting teams consistently run kickoffs back to at least the 30-yard line. The only bright spot in that whole shebang is over 40 years old.

If you take away that one unit (which has a deep history of giving the Giants a couple losses each and every year), the Giants are eighth, behind Green Bay and a few percentage points ahead of Washington and Philly.


I do think Washington is a little high, but I'm frankly quite scared of the Eagles rematch: most of their losses have been close; the one that wasn't, against the Giants, was mostly Winston Justice's fault; and I'd say the unholy whomping they put on the 4-2 Lions was impressive.

I want to be optimistic about the rest of this season, but this is the fourth straight year the Giants have been 5-2, and every time they've faded down the stretch. If they can go 2-1 in the three games after the bye (Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota), then and only then I'll have confidence in this team.

by Al 45 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 5:23pm

re: 154

It’s more bad scheme than bad execution,

Well, I'd say it's also extremely poor tackling. They definitely weren't in the correct defense based upon what Miami was running, but there was no excuse for their poor tackling which, by the way, was a continuation of the poor tackling they had against Dallas.

They sure as hell better tackle better when they play the Colts.

by Kellerman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 5:35pm

Cincinnati is clearly ranked too low because they're the most consistent team in the league! Ranking according to least variance is way better than this! Who dey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Hey, when the antispam word is doofus, you just have to post appropriately)

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 6:02pm

Re 152:
You're only thinking that the score has to be similar but the time has to be almost exactly the same. Presumably it's a sliding scale - so maybe teams aren't up by 35 with 25 minutes left, but that team could be compared to a team up 28 with 15 minutes left, up 21 with 35 minutes left, etc.

by BigB (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 6:03pm

Doesn't that mean the Pats run D would only be compared to itself and Miami's run successes would be "neutral" events?

by Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 6:26pm

159: Only if you assume buckets are all finite. It seems more likely that at some point it would be something like 17+ or 21+ or 24+ (or whatever) instead of 17-20,21-24,24-28,28-31,31-35, out to infinity.
Well we don't really know whether it is a sliding scale or not (and perhaps on of the staff could give us their exalted wisdom ;)). However, even if we assume it is a sliding scale it becomes problematic the smaller the sample is. First, we don't really know how analogous a 35 point lead in the early 3rd quarter is to (say) a 21 point lead with 10 minutes left. Presuming some linear relationship exists seems to be a big assumption to make. Pounding the ball with 4 minutes left down 15 is suicidal. Doing so down 35 mid-3rd quarter is just ill-advised.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 6:26pm


"Presumably it’s a sliding scale - so maybe teams aren’t up by 35 with 25 minutes left, but that team could be compared to a team up 28 with 15 minutes left, up 21 with 35 minutes left, etc."

I don't think it is. (Again, Aaron, correct me if I'm wrong). I think Aaron has said its done by buckets, and not by a curve.


Linebackers are better tacklers than CBs, so playing in the right scheme should help a little. I'm sure Bill is running tackling drills this week though.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 6:30pm

"Doesn’t that mean the Pats run D would only be compared to itself and Miami’s run successes would be “neutral� events?"

And "Neutral" is 15% worse than the Pats Defensive DVOA.


Jake, Thanks. Thats pretty much what I'm trying to say.

Like Aaron said in a previous article, we've never seen a team win consistently by so many points. I'm thinking theres not many "similar" situations.

by Ian (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:03pm

I'm a bit confused on the RB rankings. I don't want to be accused of being a Steeler homer, but it seems that Willie Parker is being slighted to some degree by your model. I'm not suggesting that he should be rated at the top of the list, but I think a ranking in the mid-30s is a bit low.

How are things like long runs evaluated? Is a successful run (given your parameters by down) a binary award? For example, on a 3rd and 2, if one run gains 3 yards and another gains 30, how do these two affect DPAR?

by Nat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:10pm

"Miami is down 35 points and they just chewed 9 minutes off the clock to get into the redzone ONCE. [Defensive] DVOA hates that drive, but IMO, it's a complete failure by Miami."

So true.

But no amount of comparing the Patriots' play to the right "bucket" of similar situations will help. It's not the over average in DVOA that's the problem here. It's the value in DVOA.

We've solve the problem for kneeldowns by excluding them from the DVOA calculation. The two-minute drill is handled by the fact that most teams run them or defend them with the same objectives- so we're comparing apples to apples.

But when one team sees the situation as an exercise in clock management while another team would see it as normal play, DVOA gets confused.

by Scott (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:25pm

163, if you've watched the games this season, do you really think Willie Parker should be ranked any higher? He has done very little to provide a consistent (that's the key word) running game for the Steelers. I'm stunned that Davenport doesn't get more carries. Look at Parker's success rate, he gets a ton of bad plays (many 1 yard or no gain plays on 1st down) this year, and he's not breaking big runs that make it to the endzone.

If things continue like this for the rest of the season, Ben Roethlisberger deserves to be the 3rd AFC QB in the Pro Bowl. He's doing an incredible job with horrific pass protection, injured wideouts, an inconsistent running game, and trying to perform with a new HC/OC/QB coach.

by Ian (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 7:46pm

165, I have watched the games, albeit by Slingbox for the most part. I know Parker has had a lot of 'failed' runs so far this season. Of course the O line hasn't helped, but those are the breaks.

It just seems to me that there aren't 35 other running backs I'd rather have. Willie has put up some good numbers, some in garbage time which is true of a lot of RBs. I just think that a runner like Parker is undervalued with this model.

Now, don't get me started on the old Erric Pegram vs Bam Morris debate. I was definitely on the other side in the mid-90s!

by Sean D (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 8:50pm

I like how the Chargers didn't play a game this weekend and their estimated wins jumped from 3.3 to 4.2. Also, after week 4 their estimated wins was only 1.4. So basically they played their last two games well enough that they should have one 3 of their last 2. Haha!

by Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 9:32pm

167: Are we supposed to be impressed? The Colts are an estimated 7-0 and they have only played 6 games.

by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/24/2007 - 10:18pm

167 and 168:
If you'd read the explanation, then you'd know how their estimated wins is higher than the number of games they've played:

"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."

So, the Chargers have an estimated win/loss record of 4.2-2.8, while they had an estimated record of 1.4-2.6 in week 4. The rise in estimated wins is partly due to opponent adjustments (their performance in earlier games looks more impressive now than it did then, at least to DVOA), and partly because they were projected to have played 3 more games (and won about 2.8 of them) by now.

by BigB (not verified) :: Thu, 10/25/2007 - 9:57am

I know it's very early but it is fascinating that the Patriots and the Colts are currently 2nd and 3rd best DVOAs ever. Assuming no surprises this weekend, isn't it an almost lock that if the Patriots win the Nov.4 game then they will surpass the Green Bay numbers. I'm not sure the Colts would surpass the Packers but you'd almost have to think they would as well if they were to win.

Adds validity to the thought that we're probably in the midst of an epic NFL season.

Of course, Brady and/or Manning could get hurt next week...

by BigB (not verified) :: Thu, 10/25/2007 - 11:15am

RE:170...I, of course, meant to reference the Rams rather than GB.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 10/25/2007 - 3:08pm


I'm curious to see what happens to the DVOAs if one of the two blows the other one out.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 10/25/2007 - 7:19pm

RE: 29

Not so much.

When I coined the term "Captain Checkdown" for McNair on this site a few years ago, I never knew he'd get this bad.

I'd take Joey Harrington over Steve McNair at this point.

by Al 45 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/26/2007 - 2:04pm

Re: Easterbrook's hideous TMQ this week.

In it, he says about the Colts:

Through prior years of postseason frustration, they never complained or pointed the finger outside their team.

Other than Polian's constant crying to the league about this rule and that rule, I'm sure that's true.

Oh, wait, this from today's Herald:

Indianapolis general manager Bill Polian and the Colts are complaining, again. This time, it’s about a schedule that has them playing a road game this Sunday at Carolina on a short week following a road Monday night game in Jacksonville. After the Panthers, of course, the Colts return home for Armageddon Day against the Patriots on Nov. 4.

Coach Tony Dungy said the team lodged a complaint with the league. Shocker!

“It’s harder, it definitely is,� said Dungy.

Of course, fans in New England are well aware of this routine by now. They’ve seen Polian go to the league over injury timeouts (Willie McGinest in 2003), illegal contact in the secondary (2003 AFC title game) and poor field conditions (divisional round in 2004). Just add another log to the fire.

I'm sure, any minute now, Gregg Easterbrook will say he was wrong about the Colts not complaining. Just to be safe though, I'll go ahead and refrain from holding my breath.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Fri, 10/26/2007 - 2:32pm

RE: 174,

Complaining about the schedule is pretty silly IMO. Complaining about non-enforcement of illegal contact was obviously done out of self-interest, but you can't really say that it was unreasonable.

The other two (faking injuries and allowing your home field to be in terrible shape) are perfectly reasonable things for teams to complain about. Check the link in my name for a long diatribe from Polian about the faking injury thing, where he goes all the way back to his Bills days.

All of that said, yes, Easterbrook was throwing around hyperbole wildly in that piece, and he wasn't about to let a few pesky facts get in the way. Certainly, the Colts have complained (or, if you prefer, pointed fingers) over the last few years. I would just say that most of it has been reasonable.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/26/2007 - 3:56pm

So far this year (giving a 17% home-field advantage), VOA/DVOA is 60-27 and DAVE is 58-29 (ignoring Week 1). Not bad especially when you consider VOA/DVOA had another 7 games within 15% and DAVE had another 14 games within 15% (the next closest game was almost 20% off, that's why I broke it off at 15%).

I don't know if it's particularly interesting, but there have been more home-favored upsets than away-favored upsets (5 away DVOA-dogs have won as opposed to 3 home DVOA-dogs; 10 away DAVE-dogs have won as opposed to 4 home DAVE-dogs). Maybe that points to an early lean for a lighter HFA?

by Don Booza (not verified) :: Fri, 10/26/2007 - 5:22pm

174 (and any other Easterbrook complainers) Come on guys, don’t you realize Easterbrook's column was all part of the master plan? Bellichick is such a genius.

If the Patriot players are half as sensitive as their fan base, they will be foaming at the mouth and ready to kill any horseshoe jersey that stands in their way.

by Scott (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 4:31am

07 Patriots = 98 Vikings
07 Colts = 98 Broncos

The Patriots have a record-setting (by way of running up scores) scoring machine with Randy Moss on offense, a QB having the best year of his career (like Cunningham did), and their defense was pretty good, though not an elite one that season.

The Colts, with their 05-06 teams already very similar to the 96-97 Broncos, are the defending champs, starting off the season again with a long undefeated mark, and are pretty great on both sides of the ball themselves.

I say we have a repeat of that 98 season. They beat the Pats this week, but NE still goes 15-1 while Indy falters later in the year and ends up 14-2. Then taking a page from the book of the 98 Falcons, they beat the Pats in the AFC-C in Foxboro in overtime, and obviously repeat as champions after disposing of some NFC team.