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28 Oct 2008

Week 8 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

This week's DVOA ratings are marked by something that seems a little odd these days: stability. Although our top two teams switch places -- and yes, that means the 4-3 Philadelphia Eagles are once again at number one -- the top nine teams overall are the same as a week ago, in a slightly different order. No team in the league moves more than three spots in the rankings either way. We even get some strange results like New England moving down a spot after beating St. Louis, because the Rams' total crapitude in the first four games of the season creates a massive opponent adjustment. You can also see that Tennessee's impressive victory over Indianapolis doesn't even move the Titans closer to the Eagles and Giants, because the opponent adjustments don't see this as a victory over the kind of Colts juggernaut we've known in the past.

Instead of talking about teams in this week's commentary, I wanted to talk about some players -- specifically, wide receivers. Since so many consistently successful franchises have struggled this season, many people may have missed how many consistently successful wide receivers have struggled this season.

Check out this year's DYAR figures for wide receivers, starting from the bottom of the first table. OK, it isn't a big surprise to see Ashley Lelie at the very bottom, with -113 DYAR and an astounding 21 percent catch rate. If Lelie broke his leg next week, he would go into the books with the worst catch rate ever for a receiver with at least 30 passes.

However, some of the other receivers with DYAR below zero are a major shock. The players listed below have never finished a (50+-pass) season with DYAR below zero, with one exception more than a decade ago. I have some subjective thoughts on the future of each player.

Bobby Engram, -69 DYAR (75th)
Career low: -47 DYAR (75th) in 1997
Career low with Seattle: 78 DYAR (46th) in 2001

FO's Seattle crew seems pretty down on our longtime favorite "First Down Machine." Ben Riley said in Audibles at the Line this week that "Bobby Engram's great late career run is over. He looked horrible today, dropping balls, whiffing on blocks and failing to get separation at the line. He's given the Seahawks many great years, but he's 85 percent of the way to finished."

On the other hand, Engram has only played one game this season with Matt Hasselbeck healthy. In that game, Week 5 against the Giants, Engram caught 7-of-10 intended passes for 61 yards and three first downs. That's not amazing -- especially in a game where the Seahawks were getting killed and the Giants didn't care about short completions -- but I would like to see Engram suck with Hasselbeck under center before I am ready to give up on him.

Marvin Harrison, -38 DYAR (70th)
Career low: 88 DYAR (40th) in 1998

It is pretty obvious to everyone that Marvin Harrison never got his speed back after last year's knee injuries. Look, the dude is 36 years old, eventually age had to get him. Harrison doesn't have a single 100-yard game this year, and has only two games over 60 yards. He's slowly getting phased out of the offense -- 26 targets the first three games, 25 in the past four, with just 11 yards and 12 yards the last two games. The healthier the rest of the offense gets, the less important Harrison has been. Can you say "2009 salary cap casualty?"

Braylon Edwards, -32 DYAR (69th)
Career low: 25 DYAR (61st) in 2006

I don't know what has given Braylon Edwards a case of the yips, but as we've pointed out numerous times on Football Outsiders, the dude can't seem to catch anything right now. However, a bad fourth season after a breakout third season does not mean the Edwards is toast or that last year was a fluke. Anquan Boldin had -74 DYAR in his second season -- between 219 DYAR in his rookie year and 221 DYAR in his third season. Plaxico Burress went from 323 DYAR in his third season (sixth in the NFL) to 26 DYAR in his fourth (55th). I'm guessing Edwards will improve in the second half, end with DYAR over zero, and then return to playing at a high level next year. (It helps if he spends the entire offseason with some sort of dropped passes coach.)

Torry Holt, -13 DYAR (68th)
Career low: 60 DYAR (45th) in 1999

Torry Holt has at least 100 DYAR every single season except for his rookie year, but with that exception, his three worst seasons are his three last seasons. He's clearly been slowing down, due in part to nagging knee issues as well as the lack of a weapon on the other side of the field to take some attention away from him. Now he has that teammate -- Donnie Avery -- and it isn't really helping anyway. Last week he caught just three of seven passes even though not one of those passes went more than eight yards through the air. He's not that bad every week, but he might be more useful these days as a Wes Welker/Brandon Stokley-style slot technician, using his intelligence and experience instead of the speed he no longer has.

Roy Williams, -9 DYAR (66th)
Career low: 34 DYAR (57th) in 2004

Who knows what the trade to Dallas will mean for Roy Williams' numbers? For his first couple seasons, all we heard about was that Williams would be amazing once he finally had a teammate who could help take away the attention of the defense. In 2006, he finally had that teammate -- Mike Furrey -- and he was amazing. But for the last year and a half, despite playing opposite the constantly-lauded Calvin Johnson, he hasn't really been that special. Will he do better playing across from Terrell Owens, especially once Tony Romo is healthy again?

Terrell Owens, -2 DYAR (64th)
Career low: 82 DYAR (42nd) in 1999

Speaking of the Cowboys... this poor performance has to be caused by Brad Johnson, right? Not necessarily. Owens only had positive DYAR in three of the six games with Tony Romo at quarterback, and two of those games came in the first two weeks of the season. Since Week 3, Owens has -84 DYAR and a catch rate of 43 percent. Again, we're talking about a guy who is going to be 35 years old at the end of the season. I'm guessing that Owens will play better once Romo is giving him better passes to catch, and he'll have a couple of those signature big T.O. games in the second half of the year. But his days as a top ten wide receiver are probably over.

Bonus coverage: Donald Driver, 13 DYAR (59th)
Career low: 30 DYAR (53rd) in 2000

OK, so Driver isn't below zero right now, but he's still having his worst season since he became a full-time starter in 2002. I haven't watched a lot of Green Bay in recent weeks, so I'm curious to hear from a Packers fan who might have an explanation for why Greg Jennings has so much more value than Driver this season. Does this has to do with how they use the receivers, or how defenses play? Or is Driver just losing it while Jennings blossoms into one of the top five wideouts in the NFL?

* * * * *

One bit of housekeeping: I'm sorry that I've been very poor about answering e-mail questions this season. However, I'm getting a lot of questions each week asking about the formulas for the "DVOA vs. the spread" picks in the Football Outsiders Premium section. I know that sometimes, the picks may look a little different from what you might expect given each team's overall DVOA rating. However, like I say often, football is a game of matchups. The formulas consider a variety of specific DVOA splits, not just total ratings. In addition, the formula for picking games straight-up is different from the formula for picking games against the spread, so the results may sometimes look slightly askew. Our goal is to be as accurate as possible, and I guess I just ask the readers to trust me -- I simply can't answer every question about why a specific game is picked one way rather than the other.

If you have not yet subscribed to Premium and are curious how the system is doing so far this year, here are the results through Week 8. First, against the spread:

  • Green picks: 7-2
  • Yellow picks: 12-9-2
  • Red picks: 42-39-3

Of course, this is the period when I don't expect the system to do that well. The later we get into the season, the better it does, not counting Week 17. Here's how the system is doing with straight-up picks:

  • Green picks: 19-4
  • Yellow picks: 22-12
  • Red picks: 15-13

All individual and team stats pages are now updated, including playoff odds.

Anal readers will be interested to know that the special teams formulas changed slightly this week. Once again, kickers are performing at a rate that blows away historical records. To make special teams numbers for the whole league move much closer to 0%, I've adjusted the baselines for field goals and kickoffs.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through eight weeks of 2008, 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 to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. They also include opponent adjustments, currently at 80 percent strength. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team is playing right now. As of Week 8, we no longer use the "DAVE" formula which considers the 2008 preseason projection as well as actual game data.

As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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

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

1 PHI 38.6% 2 38.6% 1 4-3 18.5% 5 -18.5% 5 1.5% 13
2 NYG 37.2% 1 37.2% 2 6-1 27.2% 1 -6.9% 7 3.0% 8
3 TEN 27.8% 3 27.6% 3 7-0 4.4% 18 -23.9% 3 -0.5% 23
4 BAL 23.3% 7 22.9% 4 4-3 -0.8% 19 -24.0% 2 0.2% 20
5 WAS 20.5% 5 20.4% 5 6-2 19.9% 4 -3.3% 11 -2.7% 27
6 TB 20.3% 8 20.1% 6 5-3 -2.4% 20 -26.6% 1 -3.9% 28
7 PIT 17.6% 4 17.6% 7 5-2 -6.2% 24 -23.4% 4 0.4% 18
8 ARI 16.6% 6 16.9% 8 4-3 18.5% 6 1.9% 15 0.0% 21
9 CHI 14.3% 9 14.2% 9 4-3 5.8% 15 -6.7% 9 1.9% 9
10 CAR 13.7% 12 13.8% 10 6-2 8.9% 13 -4.9% 10 -0.1% 22
11 GB 13.4% 10 13.7% 11 4-3 5.6% 16 -6.7% 8 1.1% 14
12 MIA 13.3% 13 13.6% 12 3-4 20.8% 2 -1.4% 12 -8.9% 31
13 BUF 7.1% 11 6.9% 15 5-2 5.1% 17 1.1% 14 3.1% 6
14 NO 7.1% 15 7.2% 14 4-4 20.4% 3 13.8% 24 0.5% 16
15 IND 7.0% 16 7.4% 13 3-4 10.4% 11 2.7% 16 -0.7% 24
16 ATL 3.9% 14 3.9% 16 4-3 16.1% 9 15.6% 26 3.3% 5
17 SD 2.9% 17 2.7% 17 3-5 16.3% 8 15.3% 25 1.9% 10
18 MIN -2.7% 20 -3.0% 18 3-4 -4.6% 23 -16.9% 6 -15.0% 32
19 JAC -3.9% 21 -4.0% 19 3-4 8.6% 14 13.0% 23 0.4% 17
20 DAL -5.2% 19 -6.0% 20 5-3 12.7% 10 10.2% 19 -7.7% 30
21 NYJ -6.1% 18 -6.3% 21 4-3 -3.0% 21 4.7% 17 1.6% 12
22 DEN -8.2% 23 -8.2% 23 4-3 18.0% 7 23.9% 30 -2.3% 25
23 NE -8.4% 22 -8.1% 22 5-2 -3.5% 22 10.7% 21 5.9% 1
24 HOU -9.4% 27 -8.7% 24 3-4 9.5% 12 23.9% 31 4.9% 2
25 CLE -14.7% 25 -14.2% 25 3-4 -8.9% 26 9.9% 18 4.1% 3
26 SF -16.4% 24 -16.7% 26 2-6 -18.4% 29 1.0% 13 3.1% 7
27 SEA -19.0% 28 -19.2% 27 2-5 -7.5% 25 12.5% 22 1.0% 15
28 OAK -25.4% 26 -25.8% 28 2-5 -18.4% 30 10.3% 20 3.3% 4
29 STL -32.2% 29 -31.3% 29 2-5 -12.9% 27 19.6% 28 0.3% 19
30 DET -41.8% 31 -41.3% 30 0-7 -15.9% 28 27.7% 32 1.7% 11
31 CIN -45.5% 30 -45.8% 31 0-8 -25.7% 31 17.1% 27 -2.7% 26
32 KC -53.1% 32 -53.1% 32 1-6 -25.7% 32 23.3% 29 -4.0% 29

  • 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.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance.  Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).

1 PHI 38.6% 4-3 41.8% 6.1 1 0.3% 20 6.3% 7 13.4% 14
2 NYG 37.2% 6-1 48.7% 6.1 2 -11.2% 30 17.3% 2 31.9% 32
3 TEN 27.8% 7-0 34.4% 5.8 3 -10.5% 29 -2.9% 20 4.5% 4
4 BAL 23.3% 4-3 22.6% 5.3 6 -2.5% 23 4.4% 10 23.7% 25
5 WAS 20.5% 6-2 19.4% 5.4 4 0.7% 17 3.8% 11 3.7% 2
6 TB 20.3% 5-3 22.4% 4.8 10 2.5% 12 -11.9% 30 17.5% 17
7 PIT 17.6% 5-2 21.7% 5.3 7 3.2% 10 1.0% 14 6.4% 5
8 ARI 16.6% 4-3 11.2% 4.5 14 3.4% 8 -6.8% 26 19.8% 20
9 CHI 14.3% 4-3 11.9% 5.3 5 4.9% 6 -3.6% 24 4.2% 3
10 CAR 13.7% 6-2 11.3% 4.9 8 1.1% 16 0.8% 16 19.0% 19
11 GB 13.4% 4-3 14.3% 4.8 9 -4.7% 26 2.4% 12 9.8% 9
12 MIA 13.3% 3-4 17.2% 4.7 13 3.3% 9 -20.2% 32 23.8% 26
13 BUF 7.1% 5-2 6.4% 4.5 15 -6.0% 27 -13.5% 31 14.8% 16
14 NO 7.1% 4-4 8.6% 4.7 12 0.6% 19 -3.2% 22 8.0% 7
15 IND 7.0% 3-4 2.9% 4.7 11 7.8% 3 -9.4% 28 25.0% 29
16 ATL 3.9% 4-3 1.2% 4.0 18 0.7% 18 -2.2% 18 18.8% 18
17 SD 2.9% 3-5 4.0% 4.4 16 -0.9% 22 -11.4% 29 10.7% 11
18 MIN -2.7% 3-4 -8.4% 3.6 21 5.2% 5 6.3% 6 6.9% 6
19 JAC -3.9% 3-4 -4.3% 4.1 17 3.4% 7 -1.7% 17 1.8% 1
20 DAL -5.2% 5-3 -2.6% 3.5 22 2.1% 13 17.4% 1 23.5% 23
21 NYJ -6.1% 4-3 2.7% 3.6 20 -12.5% 31 -3.6% 25 12.5% 12
22 DEN -8.2% 4-3 -4.9% 3.2 24 -7.6% 28 -7.3% 27 26.6% 31
23 NE -8.4% 5-2 2.8% 4.0 19 -12.5% 32 2.3% 13 24.2% 27
24 HOU -9.4% 3-4 -4.2% 3.0 25 -3.2% 24 4.9% 8 14.2% 15
25 CLE -14.7% 3-4 -16.5% 3.3 23 5.5% 4 7.3% 4 23.6% 24
26 SF -16.4% 2-6 -17.6% 3.0 26 1.4% 15 -2.3% 19 10.3% 10
27 SEA -19.0% 2-5 -18.7% 2.5 27 1.6% 14 6.7% 5 25.3% 30
28 OAK -25.4% 2-5 -26.5% 2.4 28 -3.4% 25 -3.1% 21 22.2% 22
29 STL -32.2% 2-5 -35.1% 1.8 29 8.8% 1 0.9% 15 24.9% 28
30 DET -41.8% 0-7 -41.0% 1.7 30 3.0% 11 12.1% 3 12.7% 13
31 CIN -45.5% 0-8 -51.6% 1.0 31 8.8% 2 4.4% 9 9.7% 8
32 KC -53.1% 1-6 -43.9% 0.9 32 -0.3% 21 -3.2% 23 20.7% 21

Worst DVOA Ever Watch

This week, the "Worst DVOA Ever" watch becomes a little smaller. This year's bad teams have improved things a bit, and are no longer challenging teams like the 2000 Cardinals and 1998 Bengals for historical infamy. The Chiefs are still floating around the worst teams ever overall, although it is going to be hard to get near the 2005 San Francisco 49ers.

This year's Bengals don't appear on the list below because they've played eight games, not seven.

2005 SF -61.8%
2005 HOU -55.9%
1999 CLE -55.8%
2000 CIN -55.4%
2000 ARI -53.1%
2008 KC -53.1%
2007 SF -50.0%
2002 CIN -46.3%
2000 CLE -44.8%
1996 STL -44.4%
1998 PHI -44.4%

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 28 Oct 2008

79 comments, Last at 01 Nov 2008, 10:06pm by Mundo


by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:03pm

The Giants beat a good team, cut their defensive DVOA ranking in half in 1 week, yet still get skipped by The Ghosts of DVOA Pasts?

by phillyangst :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 7:15pm

Don't hate... APPRECIATE!!!
And don't forget "DVOA loves Philadelphia".

by Dales :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:41am

Do you know why DVOA loves Philly?

So we don't have to.

/Harris, PhillyCWC- I kid, because I love.
//Just not Philly! ;-)

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:09pm

Hmmm..., Raven are the 2nd best team in the AFC, but just looking at their schedule makes me pretty pessimistic regarding their playoff chances. Unfortunately at least 2 teams will come out of the AFC East and West (probably more), what a shame.

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:09pm

Hmmm..., Ravens are the 2nd best team in the AFC, but just looking at their schedule makes me pretty pessimistic regarding their playoff chances. Unfortunately at least 2 teams will come out of the AFC East and West (probably more), what a shame.

by andrew :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:28pm

Most brutal total schedule strength (as of now):

1 - Dallas
2 - Detroit
3 - Cincinnati
4 - Cleveland
5 - Minnesota

by BucKai :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:36pm

Buc's lose to the Boys & climb while Dallas drops.

Counter-intuitive, until one realizes that on Dallas' only successful drive, over half the yards were penalty gifts from the Buc's.

At least the Buc's D is solid and still has the Chiefs, Lions, Vikings, Raiders and Chargers on the schedule.

Though behind in the division, Carolina still has Green Bay, and the Giants on their plate. I'm fairly confident we can make up the one game in there somewhere.

by JJ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:49pm

The Journal Sentinal did an article on Jennings Oct 15th. http://www2.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=806801

They note that Jennings is having success because defenses are doubling Driver. (and he is a smooth route runner and has an uncanny ability to pick up YAC.)

However, they do mention that teams are starting to shade Jennings, so Driver might get more action.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:17pm

I find it hard to believe that any team in the NFL would scheme to cover Donald Driver and try to force Greg Jennings to beat them. Jennings has been consistently good for several years now. He's been facing #1 coverage for two years.

I can't back this claim with game tape; I'll wager neither can the author of that article.

Chris Horton for defensive rookie of the year.

by Flounder :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:25am

Several years? This is his 3rd year in the league, so unless "several" equals two, you're a bit off.

He was an eye opener in training camp his rookie year, and showed flashes during the season, but got hurt fairly early and wasn't the same once he came back from injury.

Last year Jennings started out a little slow with injuries again but had plenty of big plays the last 10 games. However, it was certainly my impression that Driver typically faced the #1 coverage last year and more double teams than Jennings, so I'm not sure where you're getting that from.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:46am

I agree, Driver definitely faced more double teams and #1 CBs last year, which opened up Greg Jennings for a lot of those single covered sideline bombs for long TDs.

Getting back to the main subject, Driver's decline seems mainly to be related to getting less touches. He's maybe dropped a few more balls this year than previously, but not enough to explain his drop off in stats. I think mainly it has to do with Jennings' continued emergence as a star, with more passes getting diverted his way, and the fact that Rodgers takes fewer risks than Favre. To explain, Driver does a lot of the West Coast Offense dirty work, running passes over the middle. Favre always felt he could jam a ball through any traffic, so he may have been a bit ore willing to force the ball to Driver. Rodgers doesn't force many passes, so he may be looking to the outside a bit more, though I can't be sure about this, because the Packers run basically the same offense as they did with Favre, and Rodgers still makes plenty of throws to the middle of the field.

One final thought is that Rodgers probably hasn't made as many passes as Favre did in a typical year. The past 3 games the coaching staff has been protecting his injured shoulder by not letting him throw many consecutive passes, and by running the ball a bit more than they might otherwise. Less passes to go around.

by S :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:14pm

Building on Arkaein's comment, from what I've seen it seemed as if Rodgers is more comfortable in general with Jennings than he is with any of the Packers other receivers. What others have said about Favre trying to force the ball to Driver could be said about Rodgers and Jennings (especially early in the season). I'd hold up the Tampa game as evidence of this. I don't have the exact numbers, but I'm willing to bet that Jennings had close to as many (if not more) targets than all other Packers receivers combined in that game.

The good news (for the packers)is that Rodgers is starting to spread the ball around a little more, and Driver's targets probably will go up as the season goes along and more targets will lead to more opportunities to accumulate DYAR.

As others have mentioned, though, Driver is dropping the ball more frequently. I have no idea why that is.

by MJK :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 6:59pm

DVOA hates New England this year. Maybe it's bitter because it had Tom Brady on its fantasy team?

Seriously, I guess that's what happens when you get clobbered twice, have three close wins over (what DVOA thinks are) horrible teams, and have one close win and one dominant win over medicore teams at best...

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:16pm

Yeah, the downside to that "easiest schedule in the NFL" thing is that the opponent adjustments will spend all year killing the Pats.

by S :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:25pm

The upside, though, is that their remaining schedule is middle of the pack; so their early schedule may be dilluted somewhat down the line.

by S :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:25pm

The upside, though, is that their remaining schedule is middle of the pack; so their early schedule may be dilluted somewhat down the line.

by S :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:25pm

The upside, though, is that their remaining schedule is middle of the pack; so their early schedule may be dilluted somewhat down the line.

by Jon :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 7:11pm

The 1996 draft class is widely regarded as one of the best ever for wide receivers, if not the best.

A few years ago, NYG fans had to witness the start of the slow decline of Amani Toomer towards his current role as the Troy Brown-memorial designated clutch specialist, and the guy who keeps Hixon and Smith from getting more touches. Glenn, Keyshawn, Horn, and Kennison are out of the league, and Eric Moulds was last spotted on a milk carton or telephone pole near you.

When I read Aaron mention the declines of Harrison and Engram (who did do a very nice job reinventing himself), my thoughts immediately turned to TO, and lo and behold he was mentioned a few paragraphs later. The Roy Williams move seems to be as much for the coming years as for 2008, as Owens obviously will have to succumb to age at some point.

I don't expect Owens to accept a complementary role, but what are the chances that Harrison is willing to take a pay cut and accept a lesser role in the offense, ala Toomer or Muhsin Muhammed?

by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 7:24pm

The Eagles are clearly ranked too high because LJ Smith sucks / Westbrook won't put up 167/2TD's every week / clock management is a foreign concept in Philly. That British guy's blog is way better than this. Dowmn wit captcha, briing bakc raidurjoe!

by Tundrapat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:05pm

You might be on to something - maybe it is the new 'captcha' box that confuses and rejects raiderjoe's valiant and no-doubt ongoing attempts to post his insights.

If so, I second the removal of captcha. Some comments are worth a thousand spams!

by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 7:44pm

There's a lot of 4s and 3s on top of that chart. Making me think we are about to see some good winning streaks or life isn't fair and some pretty pedestrian teams are going to make the play offs over some good teams with terrible luck.

by Tundrapat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:03pm

Sooo, to summarize:

1. The Cowboys (disclosure: not a fan) are last in their division with regards to DVOA.
2. Romo is out until Week 10-11.
3. TO is finally showing his age.

Hm. Out of curiosity, did Jerry Jones' dog get run over as well? And if so, how does that affect their DVOA?

by Temo :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:29pm

1. I doubt Jones cares about that.
2. That's only one more game.
3. His season so far: 2 Good games early, 4 quiet-to-bad games with Romo, and then 2 games where the whole offense stagnated with Brad Johnson at the helm.

So we're basically declaring the end of TO's reign as a "top 10 receiver" over 4 games, after he put up 2 good games.

To give you an idea about how crazy that is, in the 4 games with Romo TO has 191 yards on 15 receptions for 2 TDs.

Here are his numbers for weeks 4-7 of last year: 227 yards on 18 receptions for 2 TDs. And that wasn't even his worst stretch last year (That was week 14-17, which I didn't use b/c he was injured for week 17-- but the other three games were worse than any 3 this year).

My point isn't that Owens isn't getting old. He is. It shows. Anyone who watches the Cowboys closely knows that he's had to basically reinvent his game (not nearly as many slants and hitches, much more Flys, double moves, and skinny posts) because of his age. But to suggest that he's somehow materially worse than last year on the basis of 6 games, 4 games of which he did not have "his quarterback", is not logical.

by shake n bake :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:24pm

It isn't just Marvin that's down (though he's way down) Reggie Wayne is having his worst season in DYAR/DVOA since 2005 (also worse than his 2004 season in both and worse the 2002 in DVOA)

Anthony Gonzalez is playing far worse than last year too.

Only Clark's numbers are up among the Colts top 4 targets.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 11:58am

Honestly, so far it's Peyton that's having a rough year. He has played like a pretty average NFL starter this year, which is WAY off from where he has been for years. Passes we started expecting to be perfect in Indy have been a little high, a little low, etc. and they haven't been catching them. Most of the picks have been on tipped balls. Which makes you wonder how much of the success of the receivers is directly due to Peyton's accuracy since they mostly don't catch stuff that is just close, not perfect.

by Key19 :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:28pm

Not sure how Tampa managed to climb when their offense didn't score a TD against a defense that was ranked 24th last week I believe. Dallas' defense was full of backups as well, but I'm sure DVOA doesn't care about that. Also, Tampa's defense may have committed penalties, but those actually do count for something in real games. Not sure how they are accounted for in DVOA. Also, how can a defense that got beat by a Dallas offense without Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, and Kyle Koiser be #1? I know injuries aren't factored into DVOA, but come on. Dallas' defensive backups outplayed Tampa Bay's starting defense when Tampa's offense was healthy for the first time in weeks and Dallas' offense was more banged up than ever. And don't say "well Dallas' offense is 10th in DVOA while the Bucs offense is 20th" because there is no way in heck that Dallas' offense with the lineup they had on the field on Sunday is 10th. They've scored 3 TDs in 2 games with Brad Johnson compared to 22 in the first 6 games with Romo. Sometimes you gotta look beyond the stats. Dallas scored one less point against the Bucs than they did against the 28th-ranked Rams defense. Is that to say that the Rams defense rivals the Bucs defense? No, but it seems to me to say that the Bucs defense is not exactly #1. I understand why DVOA has them at #1 because they dominated what is supposedly the #10 offense, but the problem is that Dallas' offense has not been even close to #10 in the past two weeks. I'm thinking that maybe DVOA should take into consideration major changes in personnel like backup QBs and such. What happens if Eli Manning gets injured on the first play next week and Dallas defense shuts out the Giants? Does that make Dallas' defense a top 10 squad because they beat up on the #1 offense without their QB? Does the Giants offense drop into the teens? It might due to the system, but it shouldn't. Something needs to be done to account for team-changing injuries, such as the loss of a starting QB or another player the team revolves around (like Adrian Peterson). Maybe the solution is to work variance into the ratings more? I don't know. Just an idea. I'm fairly new to all of this DVOA stuff so if I sound like a raving lunatic I apologize. I try and call them as I see them though.

by Temo :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:34pm

All things considered, I would actually agree that Tampa actually outplayed the Cowboys on Sunday. You can thank ball control (courtesy a very gutsy performance from Marion Barber) and yes, penalties, for the Cowboy's win.

And yes, penalties were all fair and the Buc's fault... but to have 4 of them happen on your only touchdown drive of the game WAS a bit lucky, you have to admit.

And yes, I'm a cowboys fan, and yes, I'm still very happy they won (with all the injuries they had, I wasn't expecting much).

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:22pm

There are a couple of things that can be affecting Tampa Bay's DVOA. One is that the Bucs had a very strong defensive game against Dallas (-35.5%) that more than offset their below-average offensive performance.

Another is that if Tampa Bay's opponents improve as a group, then that will affect their DVOA. For example, when Carolina puts up a solid offensive performance against the Cardinals, the Panthers' offense looks better, which means the Bucs' defensive performance in Week 6 looks even better.

DVOA doesn't work like subjective ratings or polls, where last week's results frequently have a significant impact on this week's rankings. Think of it more like a web, with each game as a strand that connects the teams that played. (For weighted DVOA, think of the more recent games as thicker strands.) A lot of strands are pulling on each team, and not all of them pull in the same direction every week.

by Key19 :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:46pm

In regards to Temo's comments:

I agree. Owens' season is likely a product of him losing a little since last year plus the fact that he supposedly is being covered much more thoroughly this season by defenses. Whether the latter is true or not is a moot point though. The main thing I see is that Patrick Crayton has seemingly taken a significant step back from last season. Nay-sayers will claim that Roy Williams hasn't helped him any, but let's be real here. Roy has been there for only two weeks and Brad Johnson has been the QB for both of those weeks. Let's see what T.O. does when Romo returns and Roy knows the plays and is getting more snaps. The downfall of the Dallas offensive line also plays a role. Romo (when actually on the field) has less time to throw this year. That is a definite factor. Didn't PFP2008 say that T.O. ran the deepest routes of any starting WR in the NFL last year? Not having time to throw the ball will certainly kill a guy who does that. Also, T.O. was two bad calls away from posting 100+ and 2 TDs in Week 1 (I realize it was the Browns, but still). Speaking in DVOA terms, this season (in order of Week) he's faced the 18th, 5th, 8th, 11th, 27th, 15th, 28th, and 1st ranked defenses, with the last two being without Romo. I don't think that's too shabby of a track record. Sure he's down a bit, I'll be the first to admit that. But let's be realistic here. Let's see what he does from Week 11 and on before we go condemning the guy to finish his career with mediocrity.

by Tundrapat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:04pm

Alright, I'll admit that I don't have the best sense of the 'DVOA' and DYAR' mathematics. Having said that - I'm pretty sure that DVOA and DYAR take into account that fact that 'Player X' was facing a stiff, or weak, defense. That's why it's "Defense-Adjusted".

Meaning, 'TO gained X yards in this down-and-distance situation when targeted with the ball, as compared to a league average of other players facing the same defense in the same situation.'

Thus, the argument of "he's faced the 18th, 5th, 8th, 11th, 27th, 15th, 28th, and 1st ranked defenses" holds no weight. Besides which - those defenses average out pretty close to the mean.

Granted - his QB is not the same. The O-line has regressed (or aged). I would never argue that a player's statistical decline is entirely his own doing (there are always 21 other players on the field, 10 of them on his team). But regardless, his stats are decreasing (true). And he is in his mid-30s (true).

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:29pm

"hus, the argument of "he's faced the 18th, 5th, 8th, 11th, 27th, 15th, 28th, and 1st ranked defenses" holds no weight. Besides which - those defenses average out pretty close to the mean."

Except, the opponent adjustment isn't perfect. I'm not even sure its any better than "not sucky". We regularly see good team's overall DVOA go up when they play shitty teams, and then down again when they play good ones, when it should stay the same.

The adjustments aren't perfect, so his comment IS valid.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:21pm

I agree with Temo. We were somewhat lucky in that game, and Tampa outplayed us a little bit.

However as you said, the Cowboys are really banged up. So Tampa really shouldn't get much credit at all for their defense that game. But the problem is, how do you account for the injuries? How much do you drop the Tampa Bay defense because Romo was out? How about Witten or Felix? What about Anthony Henry, who left in the third quarter? And would you count Eli and Romo the same, or does one being out effect their offense more than the other? And what about teams with backup QB's as good as the starter, like Tennessee (Collins is better actually)? As you can see, this raises all sorts of questions that can't be answered really well, and would probably just cause more arguments anyway since they would be subjective. I think its better to just consider them in context and know like any stat they can't show the whole picture.

Really, all stats are like this. The Cowboys probably won't put up nearly as many Points total for the season as the offense could have if they had been healthy. But if they are healthy come playoff time (if the Cowboys get in) then everyone will consider the Cowboys as having one of the best offenses in the league, no matter what the points scored on the season is. Just something to consider.

by Key19 :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:58pm


I would agree that the Bucs on the whole outplayed the Cowboys this week. However, I put a lot of the Bucs' positives on Special Teams. They had great field position all day and simply could not score a TD (or even get in the Red Zone for that matter).

In terms of the penalties, can we really count the personal foul on Cato June as a drive extender? The Cowboys moved from the Bucs 4 to the Bucs 2, and down was not an issue either so the automatic 1st is irrelevant. Also, the Defensive Pass Interference of Philip Buchanon on Roy Williams may have been accepted officially, but Roy caught the pass anyways and had a first down. The penalty gave maybe one yard of difference and the down again was irrelevant because it was already taken care of. The third penalty, which was illegal contact on Aqib Talib, came on first down and moved the ball 5 yards. The penalty occurred on a deep incompletion to Terrell Owens. The Cowboys proceeded to throw yet another deep incompletion to Terrell Owens on their next play. So really, the Bucs only lost 5 yards because of that play since the bonus down was wasted. The horsecollar penalty on Ronde Barber was really the only drive-changing penalty of the four, so I'd hardly say that the Bucs "penalized" themselves out of a win even though that's what Aaron and CO. would like everyone to think from what was written in Audibles at the Line.

So really, did the Bucs defense outplay the Cowboys defense when only one penalty was the difference in the game? No. If anything they were equally dominant, but I still give the edge to the Boys simply because they weren't playing an offensive infirmary like the Bucs defense was.

by Temo :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:16am

That's a good point about the penalties on that drive, but still I don't see the Cowboys as having outplayed the Bucs in that game. And most statistics would back that up (even the traditional ones).

The defense did it's job and we won a gritty game (a combination that as Cowboys fans, we don't often see... it's either a shootout, blow out, or some combination of the two... when's the last time the Cowboys actually won a 14-9 game?).

All in all, it was a weird game where I thought the other team played a BIT better, but the Cowboys won... and I was fine with that, because we hadn't been winning those kinds of games in the past few years. I think it was really a positive sign for this team going forward to be able to pull that game out like that. That last series especially said a lot not even just about the players (who I still hold in high regard) but also of the defensive coaches (who I had lost a lot of faith in the past few weeks).

It was tactically masterful how that last series played out, considering the state of the secondary (where CBs number 4-7 from training camp, including 2 rookies and a 2nd year former 7th round pick were playing with Special Teamer Courtney Brown as the SS). They played just how such a rag tag secondary should play it: lots of quarters coverage with good reads on the QB, a strong pass rush, and sure tackling.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:59pm

How is Chargers ranked 17 but Raiders ranked 28. so what is Chargers come back that one week. Othwrwise Raiders would have more wins than Chargers. Raiders going to write a wrong on Thursday Night Football on Decembers 4 in San Diego.

Charegrs fire defensive cooordinator today. Chargers think thsi will turn seaoson around for them but soon find out wrong.

Guy who wrote about Romo above- why watse time, Cowboys is crap team not going to make playooofs, dont write about them. just crap team. move along.

As for Raiders, team still aheve xcellent shot at 10-6 record. Only 2-5 now, but team coming along finely. lost in Batlimore on Sunday but hard to win on east coact if wast coast team. cant really blame Raiders for lose.

Raiders already passt Chiefs. soon to be passing broncos. brocnos jsut not good team, I said it all summer you guys didn't want to believe me but I was right. broncos are crap team. Raiders passing them like thief in the night in November.

by Tundrapat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:07pm

I appreciate the attempt, but a fake 'raiderjoe' is as painfully obvious as a fake org...um, other things.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:27pm

Is poster drunk?

Mods approved me when websitie changed to new desing.

Why do some of you thing i am fake?

Same guy all the time, I cant switch fake to real to fake to real. alswyas post as Raiderhoe comes from same IP address every time.

go take it up with mods, Tindrapat. Bythe way, Pates going down. No Supe for you.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:50pm

That's a real user account, not someone faking a name. The Outsiders said they were holding the name in reserve for the true raiderjoe. I think this might be the real thing.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 11:53pm

The "Is poster drunk?" intro is a very encouraging sign -- I've seen that before!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:01pm

Hell, I'm going to have to lower my projected wins for the Vikings from 7 or 8, to 4 or 5, if the reports of the Williams tackles being suspended, for diuretic use, prove true.

by Tundrapat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:06pm

And Kluwe will STILL be the punter. Make that 3-4 wins, then.

by chubbypuppy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:37pm

Nobody is doubling Driver. That's ridiculous. Jennings is getting open because he gets in and out of breaks like nobody's business. It's no coincidence that he seems to catch a deep pass at least once a game. He's strong enough to cope with any hand checking, and his body control once the ball is in the air is amazing. Thompson thought he was drafting a possession guy and instead got a home run hitter.

Part of Driver's issue is that Rodgers is always looking to Jennings first. Always. Pretty common for a qb to develop a "crutch".

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 11:46pm

Driver still drew the doubles last year, and I've seen a few on him this year, but yeah, most of that extra coverage is going to Jennings, as it should be.

Also, while I haven't seen every game in several of the ones I have seen, Rodgers looks at Nelson, Martin, and Jones (whichever isn't hurt) before Driver a lot as well. He doesn't always throw to them, but he often checks them before Driver. Several of Drivers catches have been when he was the 3rd or 4th look from Rodgers. I have no way to know if that is the design of the play or if that is just Rodgers progressing through the options that way, but you are right, if Jennings is on the field Rodgers seems to check him all the time even if he isn't the primary on the play.

Rodgers doesn't fire it into double (or solid single) coverage to Driver like Favre did either. Jennings is his go to guy, if Rodgers is going to risk it he tends to go that way, though Nelson has been getting some of those higher risk passes now too (and with the hands Nelson showed in college and is starting to show now I can see why).

Driver has also had more trouble this year defeating the early bump when defense uses it against him. Jennings has not. I've also not seen Driver running a lot of the slant routes. He and Favre were very good at connecting on those. I don't see Driver getting those routes as much (and Rodgers doesn't use that play as much as Favre did, Favre audibled into it a fair bit if it wasn't the called play). For that matter I don't recall seeing him running too many fly routes either. I see him on short hooks and crosses a fair bit out routes as well and I don't know if it's better defensive or just the fact that Driver is 33 now and just slowing down, but he doesn't seem to be as good about getting the yards after the catch this year. He makes the grabs, gets hit and is down.

Driver is still solid, and I expect him to pick up a bit this year. His routes are still crisp and he can still beat some coverage. I actually think he might see a majority of the throws when the Packers start getting the 5 wide out package back in because from what I've seen of the some of the reports of the practice he ends up getting matched on linebackers, thanks to crossing routes and such, a lot on the plays they've been running with it. But since the Pack has only had 4 wideouts healthy all year we've not seen it. I think that because I don't see the line giving Rodgers time to let some of the others routes develop and if you have Driver covered by a linebacker 8-12 yards downfield with the safety cheating towards Jennings I'd generally think you'll exploit that mismatch.

We'll see though. Jennings is taking looks away, Driver and Jennings have both been open on plays before and the ball goes to Jennings most of the time. Driver is also playing a little worse, but he's not a bad #2, and really I think the coaching staff is starting to call plays that have him as the #3 or #4 option. I'll take Driver in that role. :)

by Telamon :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 10:18pm

So, how weak is the NFC West? There's a 0% chance of any team from that division taking a Wild Card spot. Pretty sweet if you're a Cardinals fan...if there are any.

The most surprising thing, though, is the 10.4% chance the Saints have. Talk about a tightly-bunched division. But even with the strength of the NFC South, the best teams have less chance of taking a wild card spot than the 4-3 Iggles.

by jebmak :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 10:38pm

Yes! For the first time ever, Miami is off the "On the Clock" board. 20% chance to win the division also, sweet.

by ammek :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 5:56am

But does anyone else give the Patriots less than a 15% chance of winning that division? I don't wish to reheat the magic beans myth, but they're 5-2 and joint-leader of the division, two games ahead of Miami, with a middling schedule and positive VOA. Those numbers seem weird to me, mediocre DVOA notwithstanding.

by MJK :: Fri, 10/31/2008 - 4:37pm

The fundamental problem with trying to predict future performance using DVOA (or ANY rating system, for that matter) is that all you have to go on is past performance, so you have to assume that performance over the course of the season will be constant. In other words, all we have to go on how good New England is is that they got creamed twice, and all their other wins (most of which were very close) came over bad or at best mediocre teams. So DVOA thinks they haven't played very well, and indeed they haven't.

But what DVOA overlooks is that they've been improving. Both Cassel and their pass rush (their two big issues) have been getting better and better as the season has progressed. Their last two games are their two best games yet. Furthermore, one of those was a win over a team that also is improving (the Rams are not the team they were that started out horribly). Capturing that improvement in a prediction is hard--it's why Aaron starts running weighted DVOA about halfway through the season--but it has real ramifications on who will win the division.

Conversely, one could argue that, to some degree, the Pats division rivals have performed with a certain amount of smoke and mirrors. Miami certainly--does anyone actually think they have a top 5 offense? I know Ronnie Brown is good and healthy, and Pennington is a huge upgrade over any QB whose name rhymes with "sick clown", but a top 5 offense? The "wildcat" has carried them so far, but I think other teams are starting to figure it out. To a lesser degree, I think Buffalo isn't quite as good as they've looked. I'm a Buffalo supporter, and I think they are way better than the pre-season pundits thought, but I don't think they're as good as they've looked--it's a young team that will make mistakes over time as the season goes on, and will run out of special teams trickery to help it in a pinch.

Just intuitively, I think the Patriots will be a slightly better team down the stretch than Buffalo, but a few breaks one way or another could change things, so I give them each about a 35% chance of winning the division. The Jets are improved but not as good, especially with Favre throwing INT's, so I give them only about a 20% chance. I think Miami is about to crash back to earth once their offense stops looking like a top 5 offense.

by terrry stanton (not verified) :: Tue, 10/28/2008 - 11:08pm

philly ranked ahead of giants.. giants off 1 def 7 st 8 philly off 5 def 5 st 13
drive chart net giants 1 philly 2 doesnt add up right philly 4-3 giants 6-1 win loss total should account for something...philly nfc east 4th giants 1st

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 12:07am

Re: etrry stanton

cant really read what posted
bnut will say that giants are better team than Eagles, so not sure what you are complaining about.
Giants have better record, what more do you need to see?

by Dales :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:52am

A Super Bowl win?

/Oh, wait!

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:10am

This conversation must continue.

by terry324 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 12:33am

cant really read what posted

This might be the funniest thing I've ever read.

by Anonymous22 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:13am

kansas city would beat the eagles if played them

by Utvikefan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:19am

The Vikes are only at neg15 in ST? And they are not yet on the worst ST dvoa ever? WOW!

by ammek :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 5:34am

But they are well-primed for 'worst punting DVOA ever'.

by James-London :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:14am

Welcome back Raiderjoe!

Back to DVOA, I'm gratified to see Miami with a positive Offensive ranking for what seems the first time ever. The D is doing its bit, and they have the easiest schedule in the league. I still think 8-8 is the best case, but it's nice to have hope in week 8. Now about those Special Teams...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Dales :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:44am

"If you have not yet subscribed to Premium and are curious how the system is doing so far this year, here are the results through Week 8:

* Green picks: 7-2
* Yellow picks: 12-9-2
* Red picks: 42-39-3

Of course, this is the period when I don't expect the system to do that well. The later we get into the season, the better it does, not counting Week 17. Here's how the system is doing with straight-up picks:

* Green picks: 19-4
* Yellow picks: 22-12
* Red picks: 15-13"

Aaron or anyone who knows, is the first set of green-yellow-red numbers against the spread? I was not clear on that.

by Ben Riley :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 3:30pm

Yes, the first set of numbers is against the spread. Premium: the purchase that pays for itself! You know, if gambling were legal.

by evo34 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:55am

I'll be blunt: more transparency is needed with regard to your ATS pick methodology. I think people who pay for the service deserve to know at least the basics behind the strategy being employed. Certainly the record for 2008 looks fine, but for a system with no documented track record, users need to know what is being used to arrive at the recommendations -- especially if it strays significantly from using DVOA ratings. Right now, it is an incredibly nebulous black box. And frankly, there is no reason for SU picks to differ massively from ATS picks. Think about it: both are predicting the outcome of a football game -- one is factoring in an arbitrary offset determined by a betting line. So to say a team (Buf) has a 58% chance of beating another team (Mia) straight up, but Buf -1 Mia has a less than 50% chance of covering simply defies football history. One point is not worth 8%. This is but one example. At the very least, an explanation of the methodology is deserved.

by mawbrew :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:13am

Does it strike anyone else as surprising that the 4-3 Ravens are so highly regarded by DVOA? Admittedly, I haven't seen them play much this year, but based on what I've read of their games this doesn't seem like an elite team. I'd love to hear why folks think otherwise.

In any event, you would certainly think that their game against Cleveland this week would fall into the 'Green' category (not a premium subscriber so this is just speculation). They've got a DVOA advantage approaching 40% and are getting 2 points (last I checked).

by ammek :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:32am

Agreed. I have only seen the Ravens in Indy, which was not at all representative. But I doubt an elite team could play that badly even during its worst outing. Perhaps this season "elite" is a misleading term, since no team is truly dominating, and we're just a year removed from the Pats' once-in-a-generation run.

One stats-based explanation could be that, unlike last year, this year's "elite" units are on defense. Through Week 8, four defenses have DVOA that is superior to the second-best offense. Their DVOA is almost twice as good as the very best defense of 2007. I guess we've gotten used to "elite" meaning "unstoppable offense" these last few seasons.

And Baltimore basically played to a tie with two of the other elite defensive teams: Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Go former members of AFC Central (Bengals excepted)!!

by Anonymous? (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:10pm

I'm a Ravens fan, and having watched every game (except for the Dolphins game) I think the Ravens are on track to make a post-season appearance, assuming that players expected to return from injuries do actually return from injuries. The main reason is that the defense is still dominant and the offense is improving. Even with three starters in the secondary currently out (Landry and pro-bowlers Rolle and McAlister) the defense is managing to hold opposing teams to three-and-outs and turnovers.

The Ravens have had four fairly easy wins this season, and those don't need much description, except to say that our defense can cover an offensive turnover or two against even a middle-of-the-pack team and still get a win.

As far as the loss to the Steelers, by the end of the fourth quarter, anyone watching the game saw two evenly matched teams going into overtime. I was watching that game at a bar in Virginia with mostly Steelers fans, and the looks on their faces at halftime was priceless. Ravens get the Steelers at home for out second meeting, and if it is as close a game as the first, the Ravens and Steelers could split the conference (assuming neither team loses to the Browns or Bengals).

As far as the loss to the Titans, it was another close game, and try as I might, I can't resist pointing out that a horrible penalty call late in the fourth cost the Ravens the game (that play call was questioned by many across the internet, including FO's Aaron Schatz). In any case, I saw the defense play good enough to overcome the offense's mistakes (just not the ref's mistakes). Whatever, that's all part of football, and I ain't complaining, just remember, the Ravens have come closer to beating the unbeaten than any other team this year.

As far as the Ravens embarrassing defeat (on my birthday dammit!) to the Colts, I think the injuries in our secondary explain how the Colts scored 31, but I'm at a loss to explain how the fifth-best rushing offense failed to score a touchdown on the worst rushing defense in the league. All I can say is I hope this was a fluke game, and since we've been running Ray Rice more, the offense adds some outside running plays to the gameplan, so that the right balance of McGahee/McClain/Rice can be used to poke holes in a D-line's weakest spots. If this game had happened later in the season I doubt that the Colts would have blown out the Ravens.

There are a lot of rookies on this team in key positions that keep improving, the "Suggs Package" that was brought out against the Raiders gives the offense some new weapons, and don't forget, run-defense wins championships! Then again, the rookies could struggle or injuries could keep returning, and the Ravens (who should win their next two games and go 6-3) might end up 8-8. At this point, no one in Baltimore expected the team to be this good, and we're all getting psyched for a team that's exciting to watch!

by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 10/30/2008 - 12:47am

With the Ravens I get the feeling the more we see of Frank Walker and Cory Ivy the less of a chance they have of winning games. Teams will just stop running the ball and pass on the Ravens, because their "good" CBs are old and injured and their reserve CBs just aren't very good.

The offense is kind of intriguing. Leron McClain is officially awesome (3rd in DVOA!), Mason hasn't slowed down a lick, and Heap seems to be improving week by week and getting back to his old self. Flacco has been up and down, and I feel like when he goes against a real defense again he'll make an extremely costly mistake or two that could ruin the game.

The loss of Yanda on the Oline hurts pretty bad, we saw Chester get pushed around a couple times vs. the Raiders. In the long run I think this will make their running attack less potent.

by mawbrew :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:23am

I've got two theories on Edwards struggles this year. They aren't mutually exclusive.

1. All the time he and Anderson missed in training camp/preseason. After the first series of the first exhibition game they didn't practice or play together until a few days before the first regular season game. They were both rusty. I suspect their early struggles cost both of them considerable confidence. Anderson still seems overly cautious and Edwards unsure of himself.

2. Edwards spent some energy this offseason trying to initiate a second entertainment career (TV, movies). His may have thought he had 'arrived' as an NFL star and not been as committed to the work necessary to maintain that status. If that was the case, I suspect he's learned his lesson by now.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:23am

I haven't really been following him, but what your describing sounds like he's playing Superstar Mode in Madden.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:36am

Miami the second best offense? Interesting - i always thought they were carried by their D.

by Bywater Brat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:39am

MIA has the second-ranked offense. Did this just happen because they moved the ball well against the over-rated Bills D? Other than that, I think these rankings are getting somewhere- please quit sapping what's left of my willpower by posting how much money I could make if I bought into Premium (that's cheating anyway).

by ammek :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 9:48am

I think we've all had enough of the Wildcat, but I'd love to see a deep Outsiders article on the rest of Miami's passing offense. (Doug? Bill?) It ranks second in the league despite a QB reputed to have no arm, who joined the team a few weeks before the season began. Its best WR has 26 DPAR. It is getting a career year out of David Martin, whom the Packers were happy to unearth from the deepest depths of their depth chart. And it ranked 26th last season in DVOA. That's quite a transformation. How much of it is scheme? How much Fear of Ronnie?

by tylerdolphin :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 11:53am

Surprisingly, they have not been running as much as I thought they would at the start of the year. I would love to see a FO article going into the details of Miami's offense. I do know one thing though, Chad Pennington has been amazing. Maybe its just the fact that I haven't watched a good QB play for us since Marino retired, but Chad seems to be really really good this year.

The thing with Chad is that he consistently put the offense in 2nd and 4, 3rd and 2 situations. Miami's offense is horrible on 3rd and long, partly because of Pennington's lack of arm strength, but it isn't very often that situation is even faced anymore. The thing with his arm...if the defense is expecting a deeper pass (3rd and long) his arm is a liability, but one other downs he completes a lot of 20+ yard passes when the defense isn't really playing expecting it. He does have a weak arm, but his consistency in gaining successful chunks of yards keeps him out id situations where his physical limitations really hurt him.

Now, lets look at the WRs. The casual football fan doesn't even know who our receptions leader is (Camarillo), and our yardage leader is a guy who everyone assumes to be a bust, unfairly so (Ginn). We signed Wilford in the offseason and he has been inactive all year pretty much. Our 3rd receiver is Bess, an undrafted rookie out of Hawaii. So, our #1 possession guy is a twice cut practice squad player and our #3 is a UFA rookie. Seems like our passing game would be horrible, but Pennington looks to his TEs a LOT. Fasano and Martin have almost equal stats and are huge parts of our passing game. Basically, the passing game works by spreading the ball around between a bunch of average to below average WRs, and some good TEs. One thing I'm surprised at is how little we are using Ronnie Brown out the backfield compared to last year. He is exceptional at this and I'm surprised we have not utilized it more.

That's basically the passing game. I want to say something about Ginn here. He hasn't been all world since he got in Miami, but I think he gets unfairly labeled as a bust too often. Sure, he may not pan out, but he has been okay this year. And most WRs don't break out until their 3rd year.

Also, on a complete tangent here, but the Jets look like they made a bad move by cutting Pennington/trading for #4. The Jets have far more weapons and Favre is doing worse than Pennington.

by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 10/31/2008 - 9:47am

Good stuff, and duly noted. Miami's non-Wildcat passing offense is on the Cover-3 to-do list.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 10:11am

To guy who wrote KC would beat Eagles- not a chance that happen unless Eagles not even try in game and start all bakcups like AJ Feleey and rb they goto from Doplhins. Chiefs going to loose in Eagles atdium real bad. will play there in 2009 but date is not known. good chance game will be in Ocotber and Eagles should win easy maybe 31-13 . chiefs are crap team probably worts in league even lions and Bengals are not as bas as Cheifs.

to mawbrew- Dvoa must took into account that Ravnes beat Raiders very bad in game last week. it;s like when two good college foootball teams play and one wins game 34-9 and team that wins goes up in rankings.

dolphins- offense is good but will it last? lets see and find out

by mawbrew :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 11:43am

Raiderjoe -

I have no doubt that by the end of the season the Raiders will be near the top of the DVOA rankings, led by the next John Elway (I'm not too young to remember him). However, I must note that last week (prior to playing the Ravens) the Raiders were only ranked 26th in DVOA. I'm not sure beating the 26th ranked team in a 32 team league can help your ranking all that much.

Also,m to help my team's playoff chances I'm counting on your assurance that the Raiders will beat both Denver and San Diego. And some others.

by Steven Heston :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 11:50am

You picked Miami to cover the spread of +1 against Buffalo. But then you picked Buffalo to win straight up with 58% probability. That's badly inconsistent.

by Vandal :: Wed, 10/29/2008 - 1:10pm

Seriously, how does one even purchase the Premium?... I've tried about 17 different ways.

by jgrenci@zoomint... :: Thu, 10/30/2008 - 6:28am

I just cliced until I found that option (to subscribe to premium). but speaking of premium, for whoever has it, I have a question. this question is more for Schatz and company but they NEVER respond to me, so I will just ask here. how can Baltimore have a 59% chance of winning straight up, be getting points and not be one of the top five picks against the spread? 59% straight up with 1.5 points, I would guess translates to a roughly 60% chance of covering. the others above them have a greater chance of covering.


by Parker (not verified) :: Thu, 10/30/2008 - 11:07am

Can anyone explain, in a reasonable amount of detail, how the picks get labeled as Red, Yellow or Green. I am most interested in the SU picks as I think I understand the ATS.

Does the labeling of the picks have anything to do with how favored they are? Meaning a pick might be labeled green even though you are getting (-220) because DVOA says one team really is that much of a favorite and it is the mathematically correct play? Or is the Green label independent of the odds?

For example, I would imagine that DVOA likes Philly over Seattle. A lot. But does that mean the pick is labeled Green. I am sure Vegas likes Philly over Seattle as well.

I am trying to decide whether to subscribe or not.

by sm (not verified) :: Thu, 10/30/2008 - 7:14pm

Is Weighted DVOA weighted by the tiniest amount imaginable? The biggest difference for any team between regular and weighted DVOA is the Rams - -32.2 to -31.3. 7 teams have absolutely no difference at all. So how much is the week 1 game downgraded by, like 1%?

by Dales :: Sat, 11/01/2008 - 1:37pm

The weighted DVOA will diverge from total DVOA more and more as the season goes along.

by Mundo (not verified) :: Sat, 11/01/2008 - 10:06pm

These rankings dont mean much really
the eagles are number 1 in these rankings and their barley over .500
come on now???
And then u have Carolina a 6-2 team sitting at # 10
All i gotta say is You are what your record shows u are