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18 Nov 2009

Week 10 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The Colts climb to number two in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after their narrow victory over New England Sunday night, but the Patriots remain on top for the third straight week. What's important is that both teams are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the NFL pack.

I'm sure some of our more devoted readers have been wondering where DVOA ratings have been all day. I spent the weekend visiting friends in Denver, and had to fly back today. There was so much I wanted to write about in this week's ratings that I just couldn't get it done before I had to get on an airplane, so you all had to wait for my return to Boston before you got new ratings. Sorry about that. The silver lining is that you get the first 2009 appearance of that old Football Outsiders favorite: the week-to-week DVOA graph. Hooray! By the way, I want to give a shout out to the Football Outsiders home office for the past few days, Starbucks on the corner of 136th and Colorado Avenue in Thornton. Thanks for the hospitality!

OK, so back to football... With 10 weeks finished, we're in a very good place to get a picture of what this season looks like. Every team has now played the same number of games, all the bye weeks are over, and this is the first week where DVOA includes full-strength opponent adjustments. If we look at the league, what we see is that 2009 is very similar to 2007. Early on, the big story was the reversal of fortune for so many of the league's defenses, with teams like Denver and New Orleans suddenly getting good while some teams (hello, Tennessee) collapsed. However, as things have settled in, it looks like this season is all about offense. Why? Because defenses are so densely packed together. Like in 2007, there are no truly great or truly awful defenses this season. After this week's games, Green Bay has the best defense in the league at -14.0% DVOA. Last year, that would have been sixth. With so many good defenses and no great ones, the rankings are getting scrambled every week. The teams ranked second through fourth last week all dropped to sixth or lower. Baltimore rose from tenth to fourth even though its dominant performance on Monday night gets its DVOA rating blunted by opponent adjustments.

The bad defenses are also rated fairly close together, but oddly their rankings are staying a lot more consistent. The top 13 defenses this week are the same as last week, but not one of those teams is ranked in the same place. On the other hand, the defenses ranked 26th through 32nd all stayed in exactly the same place.

Because defense has such a low standard deviation this year, the good and bad teams are being determined almost entirely by offense. This is probably not a shock to you if you've watched any Raiders or Browns games. The top three teams in offensive DVOA are the top three teams overall. Only one team in the top eight does not have an offense in the top eight: Philadelphia, which is 14th on offense but third on both defense and special teams. Things look the same on the bottom. The bottom three teams overall have the bottom three offenses and the bottom eight teams overall have the bottom eight offenses, although not in exact order.

Sunday night, I wrote in Audibles after the Patriots-Colts game that right now I would take either team over the New Orleans Saints. Looking at the week-to-week results for each team hammers this point home. New England has only one game this year with a DVOA below zero: the narrow Week 1 victory over Buffalo. Indianapolis has only one game this year with a DVOA below zero: the narrow Week 1 victory over Jacksonville. Each team has single-game DVOA of at least 30% in six of the eight games since, including both teams ending up with DVOA above 30% for Sunday night's 35-34 instant classic. (For the record, New England had the higher rating for the game, 55% to 36%.) Here are the week-to-week graphs for both Indianapolis and New England. I apologize if they seem a little blurry, for some reason I'm having trouble saving them clearly in Excel 2007.

New Orleans, on the other hand, has clearly slowed down in the past few weeks. Yes, there are reasons why the game with St. Louis was close, starting with no Darren Sharper, but here's the math: New Orleans had DVOA above 35% in all four wins before its Week 5 bye. New Orleans hasn't had DVOA above 25% in any of the five wins since.

At this point, the Saints are essentially tied with 5-4 Philadelphia for third in DVOA. Oh, Philadelphia. Always so frustrating to us. The Eagles went and had their worst DVOA of the year against San Diego. So why are they still so high in the ratings? Three good games. The Eagles are ranked 31st in consistency, and while they haven't had any really awful losses, you can really see the power of three specific blowouts when you look at the week-to-week graph.

Ah, but the Eagles have nothing on this year's most inconsistent team. That's because this year's most inconsistent team is threatening to set a new record for DVOA variance. What's strange is that the team doesn't seem inconsistent because its three best games all came in a row, right after six straight losses. Oh, Tennessee Titans, whatever will we do with you? Among the remarkable facts about Tennessee's recent three-game winning streak is that their biggest win of the season came against Jacksonville, the same team that dealt the Titans their second-worst loss of the year just four weeks earlier. Here's a look at Tennessee's completely absurd week-to-week graph as well as a table of the teams since 1994 that had the biggest DVOA variance as of Week 10.

Highest DVOA Variance as of Week 10, 1994-2009
Year Team Variance Explanation
2005 SF 51.3% Won twice but also lost games 28-3, 42-3, and 52-17.
2003 SF 48.9% 4-5 including a 49-7 win and a 35-7 loss.
2001 WAS 47.6% Lost first five games, won next five games.
2003 BUF 47.0% Beat Patriots 31-0 on opening day, then lost 30-3 to Jets and 38-5 to Chiefs.
2009 TEN 46.7% Lost first six games, won next three games.
1997 DET 36.4% Won four by more than a touchdown, lost three by more than a touchdown.
1998 NYJ 35.2% 28-3 and 44-6 wins, but 30-10 loss to Rams before Rams were good.
2002 SD 34.8% Six wins balanced by 26-9 and 44-13 losses (latter to Jets, see below).
2006 JAC 34.5% You may remember this season driving FO mildly insane.
2002 NYJ 33.7% Lost Weeks 2-4 by combined score 102-13; later beat San Diego 44-13.

* * * * *

Another astonishing result from this week's ratings: Minnesota has now passed Cleveland as the number one special teams unit of 2009. The Vikings special teams could end up as the first-ever worst-to-first unit in DVOA history. They're also on pace to blow away the record for best-ever year-to-year improvement in special teams DVOA. Good thing I had the list of "most improved special teams" already prepared after last year's Oakland Raiders and their phenomenal turnaround. Let's run it again, only we'll add the Vikings to the list:

Biggest Year-to-Year Improvement in Special Teams, 1994-2009
Team Year ST DVOA
MIN 2009 -6.5% 9.8% 16.3%
SEA 1998 -9.8% 3.3% 13.1%
NYJ 1997 -6.8% 5.6% 12.4%
CHI 1998 -8.2% 2.4% 10.7%
OAK 2008 -4.6% 5.8% 10.3%
CHI 2006 -2.6% 7.6% 10.2%
NO 2002 0.7% 10.0% 9.3%
CIN 2003 -8.1% 1.2% 9.2%
BUF 2004 -1.7% 7.5% 9.2%
KC 1997 -3.2% 5.9% 9.1%

So what happened? Well, we know the biggest reason why the Vikings special teams improved this year. His name is Percy Harvin. But Harvin can only explain so much. A great return man needs blockers. The coverage teams have also improved on both kickoffs and punts. I asked Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com's NFC North blogger, for his thoughts on what improved with the Vikings special teams. He gave me four reasons besides Harvin:

  • New coordinator in Brian Murphy. He's put his own spin on the coverage and blocking schemes. They seem more sound.
  • They have several new special teams-only players, including Kenny Onatolu, who came from the CFL. He is always around the ball.
  • Two of their draftees, Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford, are very good special teams players.
  • Their special teams captain of two years ago, Heath Farwell, has come back after missing 2008 because of an ACL.

Those all sound like good reasons why a team would improve on special teams, and it gives us a chance to draw attention to some players who otherwise wouldn't get any. Honestly, who among you had heard of Kenny Onatolu? The Farwell return, by the way, reminds me of a complaint I have about the Madden video games. I know there are people from EA Sports who read FO, so listen up guys: Next year, you need to add two new ratings to Madden. First, you need to have a separate rating for "special teams awareness." There needs to be some sort of rating that makes guys like Farwell, Kaseem Osgood, Matt Slater, and David Tyree valuable in the game as long as you keep them in the proper role. It's strange that a guy like Tyree doesn't have a tackle rating better than other wide receivers -- a special teams awareness rating would solve that problem. Second, you need a long-snapper rating, and you need to put the proper long-snapper on each team. How much programming would it take to add long-snapper as a position? I can't imagine it would take much, and then you don't end up with weird roster decisions like the one made for this year's Denver roster. The Madden people decided for some reason to stick Lonie Paxton on the Broncos, I guess because the Broncos spent money on him, but he serves no clear function in the game because there's no special rating for long-snapping. Having separate long-snappers would also give extra roster value to guys who long-snap and play other positions, like Zak DeOssie and Jay Alford, or Dave Moore back in the day.

OK, enough digression. All individual and team stats pages are now updated, along with playoff odds. We'll have updated Premium stats probably tomorrow, along with the first update for Loser League Part II. Enjoy the new ratings.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through ten weeks of 2009, 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. 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 well the team is playing right now. 

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 NE 39.8% 1 42.5% 1 6-3 33.2% 1 -2.5% 12 4.0% 5
2 IND 34.5% 4 35.9% 2 9-0 26.6% 2 -7.5% 7 0.4% 17
3 NO 30.4% 3 27.9% 4 9-0 26.4% 3 -6.5% 9 -2.5% 27
4 PHI 30.4% 2 28.5% 3 5-4 13.0% 14 -11.5% 3 5.9% 3
5 BAL 27.4% 6 27.2% 5 5-4 18.0% 6 -9.9% 4 -0.5% 21
6 MIN 25.0% 7 26.3% 6 8-1 17.9% 8 2.7% 17 9.8% 1
7 PIT 21.4% 8 24.0% 7 6-3 18.5% 5 -9.7% 5 -6.8% 31
8 DAL 21.1% 5 22.5% 8 6-3 20.3% 4 3.2% 19 4.0% 6
9 GB 20.3% 9 19.8% 10 5-4 14.1% 13 -14.0% 1 -7.9% 32
10 ARI 19.6% 11 19.9% 9 6-3 17.7% 9 -0.9% 15 1.1% 12
11 CIN 18.6% 13 19.5% 11 7-2 17.9% 7 -2.3% 13 -1.7% 23
12 DEN 13.2% 10 12.3% 12 6-3 10.2% 17 -7.4% 8 -4.4% 28
13 MIA 10.2% 12 11.8% 13 4-5 10.2% 16 3.0% 18 3.0% 8
14 NYG 9.8% 14 8.6% 15 5-4 8.5% 18 -3.4% 10 -2.2% 24
15 HOU 9.2% 16 11.3% 14 5-4 15.5% 11 9.4% 23 3.1% 7
16 SD 5.3% 18 8.1% 16 6-3 17.3% 10 11.7% 25 -0.3% 19
17 ATL 4.6% 15 3.0% 17 5-4 12.5% 15 8.6% 22 0.7% 14
18 JAC 2.7% 20 2.3% 18 5-4 15.3% 12 13.2% 28 0.6% 16
19 NYJ 1.3% 17 -1.9% 20 4-5 -8.1% 22 -8.2% 6 1.2% 11
20 SF -0.8% 19 -1.0% 19 4-5 -12.9% 24 -13.0% 2 -0.9% 22
21 WAS -6.5% 22 -6.8% 22 3-6 -8.5% 23 -2.2% 14 -0.3% 18
22 CAR -9.0% 23 -5.3% 21 4-5 -5.9% 21 -3.1% 11 -6.1% 30
23 SEA -10.6% 21 -11.9% 23 3-6 -5.7% 20 5.9% 20 1.0% 13
24 TEN -12.7% 26 -13.0% 24 3-6 2.1% 19 12.3% 26 -2.4% 26
25 CHI -17.8% 24 -18.9% 25 4-5 -16.5% 27 6.9% 21 5.6% 4
26 BUF -22.0% 25 -24.9% 26 3-6 -21.1% 28 1.7% 16 0.7% 15
27 KC -32.1% 27 -33.2% 28 2-7 -21.7% 29 12.5% 27 2.0% 10
28 TB -32.8% 28 -33.2% 27 1-8 -15.1% 26 20.4% 31 2.8% 9
29 STL -37.5% 30 -36.1% 29 1-8 -13.6% 25 21.5% 32 -2.4% 25
30 CLE -42.7% 29 -43.9% 30 1-8 -36.1% 31 16.1% 29 9.4% 2
31 OAK -49.1% 31 -50.8% 31 2-7 -39.1% 32 9.5% 24 -0.5% 20
32 DET -54.7% 32 -54.6% 32 1-8 -29.0% 30 20.2% 30 -5.5% 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 NE 39.8% 6-3 35.4% 6.9 3 2.4% 11 3.8% 15 17.9% 24
2 IND 34.5% 9-0 39.4% 6.9 2 2.0% 12 3.2% 16 11.0% 14
3 NO 30.4% 9-0 35.3% 7.2 1 -6.7% 29 -2.6% 22 5.8% 3
4 PHI 30.4% 5-4 38.3% 5.6 10 -6.3% 28 3.9% 14 27.4% 31
5 BAL 27.4% 5-4 31.7% 6.4 6 0.3% 17 -4.0% 24 8.3% 6
6 MIN 25.0% 8-1 32.1% 6.8 4 -10.1% 31 -1.2% 20 5.0% 1
7 PIT 21.4% 6-3 27.4% 6.2 7 -4.7% 27 -6.4% 28 11.5% 16
8 DAL 21.1% 6-3 21.3% 6.1 8 -0.6% 18 2.3% 17 10.4% 12
9 GB 20.3% 5-4 31.6% 5.4 12 -9.6% 30 -2.6% 21 15.5% 22
10 ARI 19.6% 6-3 21.8% 6.7 5 0.7% 16 -16.3% 31 19.1% 25
11 CIN 18.6% 7-2 16.2% 6.0 9 8.0% 4 -24.5% 32 21.9% 28
12 DEN 13.2% 6-3 13.8% 5.5 11 3.5% 10 -5.6% 27 13.2% 18
13 MIA 10.2% 4-5 4.9% 5.1 14 6.2% 5 4.9% 10 8.7% 8
14 NYG 9.8% 5-4 8.9% 4.7 18 -1.4% 23 13.1% 2 19.3% 26
15 HOU 9.2% 5-4 10.9% 5.4 13 -0.8% 20 4.4% 12 8.9% 9
16 SD 5.3% 6-3 5.3% 5.0 15 -1.8% 24 -6.9% 29 8.3% 7
17 ATL 4.6% 5-4 6.9% 4.9 17 5.8% 6 -2.6% 23 11.2% 15
18 JAC 2.7% 5-4 2.6% 5.0 16 -4.1% 26 4.7% 11 22.4% 30
19 NYJ 1.3% 4-5 9.8% 4.4 19 1.9% 13 5.6% 8 13.6% 19
20 SF -0.8% 4-5 -5.9% 4.2 20 1.4% 14 -5.0% 26 9.4% 11
21 WAS -6.5% 3-6 1.3% 4.1 21 -10.8% 32 11.5% 3 9.2% 10
22 CAR -9.0% 4-5 -17.7% 3.7 23 4.9% 8 13.9% 1 22.2% 29
23 SEA -10.6% 3-6 -12.1% 3.1 26 -1.3% 22 -4.9% 25 14.8% 20
24 TEN -12.7% 3-6 -22.9% 3.9 22 8.9% 3 5.1% 9 46.7% 32
25 CHI -17.8% 4-5 -14.9% 3.5 24 -2.4% 25 6.0% 7 10.5% 13
26 BUF -22.0% 3-6 -20.4% 3.3 25 -0.6% 19 10.2% 4 15.1% 21
27 KC -32.1% 2-7 -24.2% 2.2 27 -0.8% 21 1.2% 18 5.6% 2
28 TB -32.8% 1-8 -31.7% 2.1 29 9.4% 2 8.6% 6 12.9% 17
29 STL -37.5% 1-8 -39.9% 2.2 28 4.0% 9 1.1% 19 6.2% 4
30 CLE -42.7% 1-8 -53.9% 1.6 30 11.4% 1 -14.7% 30 20.3% 27
31 OAK -49.1% 2-7 -49.1% 1.3 31 1.0% 15 8.7% 5 15.8% 23
32 DET -54.7% 1-8 -57.7% 1.3 32 5.0% 7 4.1% 13 7.6% 5

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 18 Nov 2009

246 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2009, 3:28pm by RickD


by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:21am

Heh, get to be first for once. Have to agree with DVOA that the Saints are defnitely not looking as good these days.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:29am

hopw can Raiders be ranked lower than Browns? browns are worst team in football, . Cleveladn browns redifining defintion of words suck and crappy.

by Megamanic :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:40am

Jamarcus Russell is redefining definition of Sucky & Crappy - look at the latest edition of the illustrated dictionary :)

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:40am

Not so fast, Raiderjoe. There's a game this weekend that just might determine who the worst team in football is.

Maybe we'll be lucky, and instead of showing the actual game, they'll show us one of the Browns-Lions championship games from the '50s.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:22am

I'm actually trying to organize some co-workers to go to a bar specifically to watch Browns-Lions. Anyone else in the Indy area interested? It's going to be epic!

by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:57pm

I'm in the Indy area, but I'd have to break a commitment.

What makes you think that any self-respecting bar would be showing Browns v. Lions? I went to a bar to watch the first (and also epically bad) half of the Browns v. Ravens, but that's a different kettle of fish.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:29pm

A lot of bars these days will play every game, even if it's just on a small TV on the side. The bar I'm thinking of (BW3, Speedway) usually has all of the games on.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:41am

Yes, but they're redefining suck and crappy against the hardest schedule in football so far. Oakland has faced a league-average schedule and managed only one more win.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:47am

im in ur skedul
ruinin your dvoa

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:52am

Raiders lose bunch of close games and beat Eagles rela bad and eagles way at top of DOVA charts. What heppend to DAVE? Is the DAVE list some other area of website?
On other hand Browns get blown out a lot of times and only win was 6-3 vs Bills (crap team). Raiders more impressivde than browns. Browns going to finish 2-14. Should beat KC Chiefs becuause that another crap tema.
Raiders going to go at least 7-9. tough game at Dal;as and Pitt. Also Raiders goigng to show Browns who is boss on Decemenber 27 game

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:56am

It is kind of depressing to me to read a Raiderjoe soaked in realism, reduced to arguing that his beloved is not as wretched as the Browns. Come back, Old Raiderjoe, we hardly knew ye!

by Dean :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:37am

Jamarcus Russell will do that.

by Jerry :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:49am

As the season goes on, the preseason rankings that are used for DAVE count for less and less, until we reach the point where there's enough this-season data and DAVE goes away.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:50pm

Exactly how did the Raiders beat the Eagles REAL BAD? Seems to me that was a close game, though you're more likely to say the Eagles played poorly in that one game than the Raiders played well.

by are-tee :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:42pm

NY (or NJ) teams have combined for 2 wins in the past 5 weeks; both were huge blowouts of Raiders.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:45am

Unbelievably enough, I agree that the Browns subjectively look worse. Considerably worse, even. I thought the '07 Rams were the worst-looking team I would ever see, but the '09 Browns may be worse.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:07am

I kind of agree, though I don't think they look as bad as last year's Lions. They're definitely funnier, though, because the focus of the sucking is on offense. Ludicrous turnovers are just inherently more amusing than a complete inability to tackle or cover, with the added bonus of not inducing CC Brown flashbacks.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:16pm

As a Broncos fan, I may be so inured to awful defense that it affects me less when watching.

I used to have a formula (well, I still have it, but I don't use it) for predicting playoff success (sort of a homeless man's DVOA--not even poor man's) and I abandoned it because of two things in 2007:
1. The Giants were ranked, I believe, 24th in the league and won the Super Bowl.
2. The Rams were so unbelievably low that they were ruining all of the averages. As I recall, there were 23 teams above the mean total score (the Giants were the highest below the mean, that I remember for sure) and it was all because of the Rams. And I thought they looked every bit as bad as my formula said. I even tried to work out the formula for the theoretical rating of the '76 Buccaneers and the '07 Rams were about equal. However, no one else seemed to think they were even the worst team in the league that season, much less historically bad.

And I discovered this website, Football Outsiders, that had DVOA, which did everything I was trying to do but much better (even though DVOA is not trying to predict the playoffs).

The point is, the '07 Rams really stick in my mind as unbelievably bad.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:05am

I don't think that's unbelieveable at all. I'm with you on this one. The Raiders are terrible, but they do at least have one quality win. The Browns only win was so embarassing that it's used as a point to emphasize how bad they are. This Browns team is just atrocious.

We're definitely choosing between levels of badness here, but if the two were to meet on a neutral field, I'd pick the Raiders to win. At least they will get to settle it on the field, albeit in Cleveland.

by Phil O'sopher (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:42pm

Browns won't beat KC or any tema.

I appreciate the confidence that they will help the Raiders, but you know they won't.

Browns don't win another game all year, Browns don't score another offensive touchdown all year, Browns are worse than the expansion Bucs in the 70's. Browns are worse than the Detroit winless Lions.

6-3 vs Buffalo will be the lasting memeory of a year pooped out and flushed down the toilet. Mangini awful> O coordinator Daboll Awful> Randy "inept recluse live in NY and London" Lerner is the main issue for the team. Why don't you hire someone to run the football biz and let him HIRE the coach.....???? I know you love to hire the coach and then hire his boss, then fire his boss, then fire the coach, the hire another coach, then fire them too....sheesh...head hurts.

Raiderjoe......you are right, even JaBustcuss would be the Browns best player...sad sad sad sad sad sad... Raiders by 15 points over the Brown in te pants

by loki13 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:56pm

Woah, nellie.

"Browns are worse than the expansion Bucs in the 70's."

You take that statement back. First, teams today are bigger, stronger, faster, and, um, steroidy-er. So it's hard to make comparisons.

But while I would be the first to admit the Browns' putridness has hit historical levels from simply watching them, the following observations must be made:

1. The Browns have actually won a game. My inescapable logic allows me to conclude that 1 > 0.

2. The Browns' season is not yet over. While their odor might drive away future opponents from playing the, their is still the (miniscule) possibility for improvement.

3. It's trendy, and easy, to say that "current event X is the BEST/WORST evah!" But that is rarely true (not always- sometimes you are witnessing history- but rarely). You, sir, have no knowledge of how truly bad the Creamsicles were. Consider the following:

a) They went defeated. That's 0-14.
b) They did not score until their fourth game, and it was a defensive score. Overall, they scored less than a pimply high-school guy at a nunnery. Or JaMarcus throwing to TO.
c) Their roster was so bad, that only four *starters* remained at the end of the season.
d) Their offense was so bad (so, um, offensive) that their defense played the equivalent of two seasons.
e) They lost to the other expansion team (FO's fave- the Seasquawks) in what can only be described as the gotterdamerung of pathetic play- at home.
f) Discounting the Seasquawk game and a urprisingly sprited performance agains the Fins, the average margin of their games was: 31.3 - 8. (Taking into account the close games? 29.4 - 9)
g) They wore the creamsicles. Not even the new & improved creamsicles. And the winking pirate (they couldn't have anything to Raider-like or ol' Al would've come and kicked their orange behinds).

Any questions? Are we clear? The Brownies are earth-shatteringly bad. But they're not the '76 Bucs.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:00pm

Teams of today are not steroidier than teams of the 70s. Otherwise, spot on. People forget history that's more than about 3 years old.

by Dan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:41pm

Josh Cribbs.

by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:32am

Interesting that the difference between NO and NE in total DVOA is almost totally down to special teams. Of course, NE has a big edge in weighted DVOA, but we'll see if that remains when the defense starts to get healthy and when/if the offense gets over its recent turnover binge.

Also fun to see that NO's blowout of the then-undefeated Giants now appears to be the first game of the Saints' decline. Oh, how 5 weeks changes perspectives.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:36am

also Raiders offense deifintiely better than Browms offens.e Browns cant even score. Guy on mike and Mike, one of Mikes the smaller one say 2009 Browns worst offense since 1933 Reds team which get kicked out of league for being so bad.
if compare players Raiders have beter at every psiitons except left tackle. Rssell beter than quinn, Gradkowski better than Andersin, all Raiders baxckcs better than browns one. Harson and lewis not even see field if on Raiders. Raiders bvetter wrs than Browns. massoqoi maybe good somesay but not yet. stukey sucky. nobody else there. Raiders tight end great up and cominger and blow Browns TE otu of water. Raiders lg, C, lg, rg, rt better than browns guys at same positons. Browns win at left tackle only. Also Raiders punter better

by Nathan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:50am

After watching MNF I'm gonna have to agree with you. To my eyes this Browns team is the most inept offensive NFL team I have ever seen. They just have nobody even remotely dangerous on offense and yes, I include Josh Cribbs in that assessment.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:47am

I think it's a close call (eyeball-wise) between this Browns team and the '06 Raiders, myself.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:58am


2006 Raiders give up less points than Clots who go on to win Super bowl.
worst temas in 2000s
2008- Lions
2007- dolphins or ramms,
2006- bucs
2005- texans
2003- cardimals
2001- panthers
2000- Chargers

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:14am

2005's an interesting one. Obviously the Texans were awful, and had the lowest win total in the league, but DVOA thinks that year's 49ers were worse, by a huge margin. On the one hand, that's a pretty clear indicator that on a play by play basis the 49ers really were worse. On the other hand, that year's Texans set new standards in finding ways to lose (note the Rams game, in particular). DVOA sees that as bad luck, but having watched most of their games I'm not so sure. I think at some point, a team that simply doesn't believe it can win really is a worse team than PBP makes it appear.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:09am

Well, the strength of that 2006 Clots wasn't their defense. I beleive they had the worst regular-season defense of any Super Bowl winner.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:02pm

Raiderjoe, he said "offensive team." Perhaps you have some special understanding of the game that I lack, but I don't think points allowed is usually considered a good measure of an offense. They had a good defense, maybe even very good when you consider the offense they had to play with.

by jebmak :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 11:41am

Fewer points. If you can count it, it is fewer.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:14am

Guess you're lucky enough to have never seen the Eagles play when Bobby Hoying was QB. THAT was inept offense at it's finest.

by M :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:43pm

Worst Offenses in last 20 years (mix of DVOA + eyeballing of pts, yds, TOs)

1990 Patriots (pre-DVOA)
1991 Buccaneers (pre-DVOA)
1991 Colts (pre-DVOA)
1992 Patriots (pre-DVOA)
1992 Seahawks (pre-DVOA)
1995 Jets
1997 Saints (DVOA shows Chargers to be almost as bad)
1998 Eagles (DVOA not as bad as others listed here or other 1998 teams)
2000 Browns (DVOA shows Falcons to be worse)
2002 Texans
2004 Bears
2005 49ers
2006 Raiders
2007 49ers
2009 Browns
2009 Raiders

by bear goggles (not verified) :: Fri, 11/20/2009 - 1:22am

If your wide receivers can't start for the Raiders, that has to qualify as "historically badd"

by Eddo :: Fri, 11/20/2009 - 3:44am

Or it just qualifies as "slow". :P

by Jay Cutler (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:39am

Interesting that the 8 worst teams all have the 8 worst offenses

by Alexander :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:55am

Bears ST is the only bright part of the team this year for sure. Its not 2006 Hester, but at least it is somewhat exciting.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:34pm

Okay, that's just depressing. Picturing dedicated fans who finally get excited when the kicking teams trot onto the field...oy vey.

by Dan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:43pm

The offense is exciting, especially in the red zone. You never know what's going to happen!

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:02am

I would be really interested to see the Packers week-to-week. Three of their four losses came against the 7th and 8th best offenses (6th and 11th overall, respectively), while they have big wins over the three teams they should have big wins over, a great win against Dallas (4th best offense, 8th overall), and pretty much only one game that is a fluke (Tampa). I would imagine their chart is up and down, but it would still be interesting to see.

Since the Tampa loss was not really a bad defensive effort, I imagine they still look pretty good from a performance standpoint even if their W-L does not make sense ;[

Oh, to be a Packers fan!

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:46am

Yeah, the Packers are an interesting chart. Up and down the first four games, then two really good games, a slightly-below-average game, and a terrible game.

The Tampa Bay loss actually was a bad loss: special teams killed the Packers.

This is one of those times when the premium subscription comes in handy; you can look up any team's week-by-week DVOA for a given season.

by t.d. :: Sat, 11/21/2009 - 3:16am

I thought Green Bay-Dallas was a toss up going in. The Texans strike me as the team with the most excruciating 'could have been' season so far. They lost two games on the opponents' one-yard line, and were a missed field goal from overtime against the Colts. So close to 8-1 and being one of the stories of the year

by t.d. :: Sat, 11/21/2009 - 3:44am


by Nall23 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:07am

The playoff odds currently give Denver a 2 to 1 chance of taking the division. Anyone else think that San Diego is a slight favorite for the crown at this point? My reasoning is two-fold: First, the injury to Orton will either likely keep him out or limit his productivity. Additionally, the Broncos defense appears to be regressing to the mean. In regards to the Chargers, the offensive line appears to be more healthy than the beginning of the year, which is assisting them in establishing a running game (small sample size with the recent Philly game, admittedly). The defense (particularly Merriman) looks improved and more healthy since the beginning of the year.

I clearly still have plenty of questions about this team (and there is always the risk of getting Norved), but I think they take the division. Huge game this weekend in Denver. Now if they can only find a pass defense.......

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:42am

Of course San Diego will win the division--even with the Norv factor continually draining the team psyche. They are more than a "slight favorite". Yes, the O Line is coming around and LT finally appears to be fully capable of planting and cutting. Merriman has gotten healthy as well. They will easily outdistance Denver, especially now that Orton is hurt. However, if anything happens to Rivers, then as it is with any team, they will be in trouble. No matter that they have a Hall of Fame running back, no matter their defense, Rivers is coming into his own now and the guy is a definite winner. The NFL is all about the quarterback. And, once again, DVOA cannot quantify "clutch". Philip Rivers is one of about 6 or 7 guys in the entire League that regularly get it done when it matters. Not even Turner can screw him up although Turner could screw up a round steel ball...

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:20am

Of course San Diego will the AFC West. It'll be news when the AFC West doesn't play out 'Broncos start hot, Chargers start slow, Broncos fade, Chargers win the division'. We're a bit ahead of schedule for it this year, but it's not like you didn't know it was coming.

by Matt R (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:26am

I would not count the Broncos out yet. McDaniels has already succeeded in bringing in a lot of the tenacity that defines the Patriots. They focus on details. That is the exact opposite of the Chargers. The Chargers are still not crisp in execution. They are like all Norv teams -- uneven, searching for an identity, prone to sustained periods of baffling behavior, and living on the edge with bomb after bomb downfield. They are propelled by the professionalism of players such as Rivers, Tomlinson, Gates, Dielman, etc.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:53pm

The tenacity of the Patriots? You mean the team that has been busy choking away games against any Manning lately and has not won a title since five years ago (which was also when McDaniels started calling plays for them, umm...)?

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:16pm

I don't think there is the slightest reason for such a generalization. it is simply wishful thinking.

by RickD :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:09am

Yes, San Diego is certainly playing better at the moment. And the Orton injury is a concern.

by Fan in Exile :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:06am

Of course the Broncos already beat the Chargers once which is why they have the lead over them. I'm pretty confident about the game with San Diego coming to Denver. Homefield advantage is great and the Chargers don't have the big physical guys that were giving Denver problems in the Steelers/Ravens games.

by Dej (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:37am

The Packers, oh so frustrating. The best defense and the worst special teams. Is there any data on special teams sinking a season? Does the worst special teams completely kill a season (as it appears to be doing to the Packers) or can good teams overcome that?

Also, the Packers and 49ers are the top two defensive teams, and will be colliding in a sack fest of defensive titans this weekend. I wouldn't be shocked to see something like 13-10 in that one.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:50am

You guys always forget that Special Teams are 1/3 of the game. Absolutely equal to the other two phases. The Packers have more problems than that, however. But as to your question, some teams are so good in one or more of the other phases that they can overcome a poor ST. The 99 and 01 Rams made it to the SB with a weak defensive ST and the Steelers of 05, and last year, were continually giving up long kick returns and so on. But the Pack is far from the level of those two teams. Basically, a whole bunch of people, and DVOA, over-rated them. Don't be too excited that they beat the Boys. Rodgers has alot of talent but alot to learn. And their O Line has suffered. Maybe next year. It's all Minny right now. Although, watch out again everybody, take a look at the Cardinals remaining schedule and realize they will not have to go on the road first...

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:07am

In nfc playofofs ging to come down to Saints Vikes, Cards. divisonal round maybe Cardinals at Vikings, and some other team at s aints. then NFc cgamponship game be Cardnals Vikings winner vs Saints. Cardinals good shot to win at Vikings staidum. good shootout maybe ebwteen Fave and Warner.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:12am

Actually, our research shows the game is 3 parts offense, 3 parts defense, and 1 part special teams.

by Dales :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:41am

3 parts offense, 3 parts defense, 1 part special teams, and 3 parts swagger, you mean, right?

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:35pm

I think that the actual mix is likely 2.5 parts offence, 2.5 parts defence, .75 parts ST and 1.25 parts luck.

Hence the difficulty of your task.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:45pm

Don't forget the 1 part bad calls that go in your favor.

by Whatev (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:34pm

1 part... spare parts?

by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:23am

Which guys "always forget" about special teams? FO? Is that why they're given their own column in the DVOA ratings? Their own DVOA page?

DVOA didn't over-rate the Packers, at least not in the offseason (which is what you're referring to, I guess): the Almanac estimated 7.4 wins, one of the few media outlets that didn't go gaga over the team. DVOA now says they have an average offense, hapless special teams, and the #1 defense in a season where no defense has been outstanding. That passes the eyeball credibility test.

That's a bold prediction about Minnesota winning the North. Thanks.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:22pm

Pretty much everyone that never played and the overwhelming majority of fans, pundits, power rankings watchers etc. You're welcome about the Minny prediction. Of course I'm the person that was saying this in the first couple of weeks, especially after seeing them live. But, you know, anybody can collapse. Minny has quite a history of fast starts and second half wanings. Brett Favre can get knocked out, at long last, at any time. Then your beloved cheese pizza could come back, couldn't they ? After all, DVOA proclaims them as the best defense in football. And they just beat the awesome Cowboys. Yeah, right...

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:42pm

I remember this guy, now. He's a troll who's proud of the fact that he played high school football, and now apparently resides on an island in the Caribbean living off his gambling (because he knows so much more than the rest of us about who'll win.)

Stay away. Do not feed.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:13pm

Hey kid, what does "troll" mean in cybernerd language ? I know what a Bridge Troll is. Is that your night job ? You, obviously, have lots of free day time. Bridge Troll work must pay pretty well.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:41pm

Trolling is posting statements for the sole purpose of getting a reaction from someone. Usually a negative reaction.

by Theo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:00am

1st, 2nd and 3rd down are offense and defense. Special teams is only 4th down and even that is only one play per drive if said drive doesn't result in a turnover.
And even then, not 1/3 of the yards are made on special teams.
No, a coach who dedicates 1/3 of his practice on special teams is not a winning coach.

by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:20am

Yes, but . . .

It's not just 4th down. Special teams also include kickoffs and kickoff returns. Better-than-average performance results in 5-10 extra yards of field position per ST play (in my opinion).

Special teams yardage can be a significant portion of total yardage. 5 kick returns at 25 yeards per, and 5 punt returns at 5 yards per is a 150 yards--certainly more than the average team rushing performance.

A small error on special teams can result in a touchdown on returns, or a fumble with very good field position/touchdown on coverage (how much is luck? I don't know).

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:25pm


by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:27pm

Hey this thing posted wrong. "Baloney" was in response to no. 58 saying
"a coach who dedicates 1/3 of practice to ST is not a winning coach".

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:28pm

Make that no. 44

by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:02pm

In other words, "this thing" posted correctly, but the "vision thang" is lacking.

by Theo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:43pm

Either be funny or add some arguments.
Again: football is not 1/3 special teams and practices aren't either.
Normally 15 minutes of specific special team things (snap, hold, kick, coverage) per practice of 2 hours is enough.
Don't tell Mike Tomlin!

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:58pm

Um, who said special teams is 1/3 of football? If Vince is correct in saying "Actually, our research shows the game is 3 parts offense, 3 parts defense, and 1 part special teams," wouldn't that mean that FO essentially believes that special teams is 1/7 of the game (or looking at it another way, worth 17 minutes of a 2 hour practice)?

by Eddo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:22pm

Rick A, in post #101: "'Baloney' was in response to no. 58 saying
'a coach who dedicates 1/3 of practice to ST is not a winning coach'."

by Theo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:52pm

and Rick A in #22 before that.

But now now. Lets not repeat the 1/3 thing, because people are bad at remembering things in context.
You can hold a 2h lecture about how special teams are NOT 1/3 of football, but after that, when people are quizzed about it, it will go something like this:
"Johnny. Tell us something about special teams"
"uhm... retards, football, kickers, one third of football, holder, super bowl, stop the time!"

by Theo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:50pm

I think he would agree with me.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:02pm

I see now -- don't you know RickA has played the game at a high level? Anyway, I wasn't considering troll estimates. I didn't think FO was saying it was a third of the game -- Vince's estimate sounds about right.

by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:40am

I'm pretty sure it was a 2k game, or maybe it was one of the Head Coach games, but at least one of those had designated long snapper.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:44am

If one oddball game can so dominate the entire years score, there's something wrong with your accounting. New England doesn't get to save some of that 59-0 for next week to use, and Tenessee isn't in debt for the next game.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:45am

If one oddball game can so dominate the entire years score, there's something wrong with your accounting. New England doesn't get to save some of that 59-0 for next week to use, and Tenessee isn't in debt for the next game.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:01am

New England has a +40% DVOA. It looks like 5 of their 9 games are above that. That seems pretty normal to me.

by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:42am

Yeah, that 130% DVOA game against a team that was an absolute wreck at the time doesn't look like an outlier at all. I mean, it's only 80% higher than any other game they've played this season.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:16pm

Read about Guts and Stomps. DVOA is meant to be predictive. Destroying bad teams is predictive.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:41pm

It's not just NE, that was just an example. PHI is obviously rated high because of three great games. Therefore the teams that crush them look better than they should, which spreads the problem.

In a game, I don't think DVOA gives 80 times the credit it gives for a 1 yard run on 3rd and 1 if you go 80 yards, because there's only so much 'game changing ability' a single drive can do, no matter how efficient you are.

The same is true if you are wonderfully efficient at crushing a hapless team, there's only 1 win to get.

by jedmarshall :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:46pm

I think it appears to be worse this year because the bottom teams in the league are simply so awful. DVOA in general works better than FEI and college metrics because the teams being evaluated are closer to each other in terms of true talent plus play many more common games. When teams are as bad as the Lions/Browns/Rams etc. I imagine the system has a hard time dealing with it.

Perhaps there should be a cap on DVOA. I know it is supposed to essentially ignore garbage time stats anyway, but for example when the Colts played the Rams, they were up 21-0 midway through the second quarter. The game was a laugher at that point. DVOA I'm sure still says its early and counts plays significantly at that point, but honestly if you told someone the Colts were ahead of the Rams 21-0 would anyone honestly say "It's early. They are still in this game." Probably not. The Patriots didn't do any '07 level running up at the score hijinx against the Titans this year, but I'm sure they still get a good amount of credit for some of those scores, even though at some point the game was feasibly over.

So my point I guess, isn't that the Eagles are breaking DVOA, it's that the complete suckitude of the "s****y six" is skewing the ratings of the teams that pummel them.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:12pm

What if the Rams were the team that was up 21-0 in the 2nd quarter? Would the game be a laugher at that point or would you say "it's still early, the Colts are still in this game"?

Those plays should count until the game is really out of reach, and you can't just arbitrarily change the rules for when a game is out of reach based on previous performance.

by jedmarshall :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:36pm

I'm not really arguing arbitrarily changing the rules. Obviously in the reverse situation it is still very much a game. I'm more just pointing out how utterly hopeless a few teams are this year and how that may be skewing the ratings a bit.

I do think a DVOA cap (and floor if you like) wouldn't be a bad thing to explore. As a random example let's say Team X plays 10 games and has a DVOA of 0% in the first nine then goes up against a good team who has a few secondary injuries and a Brad Johnson level backup QB playing for that game and absolutely destroys them with a 125% DVOA for that game. Their DVOA would then stand at 12.5%. An otherwise perfectly average (or slightly above average with the pummeling in Game 10) shoots up the board and tends to be overrated. As someone else says you can only beat a team once. It's good that they blew out a good team, but their DVOA is artificially inflated by this one game. Now it'll probably show up in variance and estimated wins if I understand correctly, but putting a cap on extremes prevents them from skewing the results.

by greybeard :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:10pm

If a team is destroying everybody, and another one is just winning by slightly higher margin then the theshold, a system that caps the DVOA would show them as close.
I think a better way to do it is to take out the best and worst DVOA games when calculating the average. That way one strong win or one strong loss does not push the DVOA in one direction that much.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:27pm

Well, close-ER. But not necessarily close.

I don't know the exact range, but from what I remember ranges of plus or minus fifty are considered "best of all time"/"worst of all time" kind of teams. If that's true, what was the game with NE and TEN? A team twice as good as the best ever facing one three times as bad as anyone has ever been?

I didn't see the game, but from that you'd expect that Brady discovered the cure to cancer during the game while two Titan players strangled on their own shoelaces.

Again, this isn't trying to be anti-Patriot. The graphs show the Eagles are even more distorted, and trying to figure Tennesee out seems difficult. But again, what does it mean to a team that just beat the Titans 24-10? That they are crappy compared to NE, because a normal team should go 34-3?

by KilsonFlob :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:03am

The defensive line stats page seems to contain the offensive line stats instead.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:19am


by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:40am

A question about something I've been wondering about lately. Is DVOA adjusted for a team's run/pass ratio? For example:

Team A has an 50% pass DVOA and -50% run DVOA but passes 80% of the time.

Team B has a 50% pass DVOA and -50% run DVOA but passes only 50% of the time.

These teams aren't both rated as having about equal offensive DVOA's are they? Because if so, that seems like a big flaw in the analysis, as Team A's offense is obviously much better than Team B's. It's probably factored in somehow and I'm not noticing where but I just wanted to make sure.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:13am

If Team A has a rush DVOA of 100% but only 1 carry, and a pass DVOA of -100% on 99 pass plays, their overall offensive rating will be about -99%, not 0%.

by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:58am

Ah I see, thanks for clearing that up.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:46am

I hate it when my free ice cream is delivered late! The nerve!

Anyways, it would interest me to see defensive DVOA for the Packers correlated with the rate by which officiating crews call penalties on defensive backs, compared to the correlation for the rest of the league. The Packers play a style which seems to benefit more that average from a crew which allows more contact. This is not meant as criticism; I prefer crews which allow more contact. I just wonder if my intuition is correct.

The Vikings defensive rank is suffering, I suspect, from the fact that their dbs, especially the safeties, don't get many interceptions despite frequently playing with the lead, and behind a good pass rush. This might well cost them dearly in the future.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:22pm

It is not free any more than TV or radio are free their are ads on the site and as far as i know Aaron is supporting his family off this work. Lets not all live under the false impression he is doing this for our benefit.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:26pm

I don't pay for OTA radio or TV. For me, they're free. If the sponsor were complaining something was late, that would make sense.

by I am 11 feet tall (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 6:22pm

The Subjunctive mood intelligently used! Bless you!

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:48pm

Hard to say whether 155 is taking a shot at Will Allen (who it seems is clearly being ironic) or Aaron, who certainly has a right to try to support his family with this work, regardless of whether any part of what he does is literally for our benefit (although it seems he (and ESPN/other sponsors) believes that at least some of us believe we benefit somehow from reviewing/discussing DVOA etc.).

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:57pm

Unless I'm handing money over to read the DVOA rankings, I'm getting it for free.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:42pm

But the point is that is no reason to act as though it isn't another business. I see people constantly treat this site as though it were a non-profit dedicated to improved football research, it is not unless I missed something. It seems straightforwardly a normal website trading selling advertising.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The problem arises when people make legitimate suggestions about things they would like to see changed or improved and the response is "you are getting this for fee you ingrate how dare you look a gift horse in the mouth". When the real response should be, "Thank you for using our service we will take your concerns under advisement".

Some of the posters in particular often seem to feel like this site is a gift from Aaron's own heart, something he does in his free time for our benefit, which while that may have been what it originally was, is not at all the case. I think Bill is even an FO employee. So to the extent they are a business trying to sell something it is perfectly legitimate to complain about the service, perhaps stupid, and pointless, but legitimate.

by nibiyabi2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:02am

Save your images in .png instead of .jpg and they won't be fuzzy.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:06am


by morganja :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:14am

Makes one wonder that a 6-3 team that just lost to the Colts is ranked as the best team in Football. Does anyone outside of FO staff and fans really have them winning the Super Bowl this year? They don't look nearly as good as they have in recent years. Unless I'm the pre-double bird Bud Adams' Titans, I'm not really that scared of them this year. Subjective I know, but it seems a bit off this year.

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:33am

Everybody always makes this particular mistake. I would expect more from somebody who has premium membership, and therefore should have a lot more experience with this.

Consider, their first two losses came early in the season against two good teams, and those losses mean less, since more weight is given to the most recent games. They just lost to the second best team in football according to DVOA in a game where they should have won, being up 17 in the fourth. Outside of one questionable call (or a series of calls, as it were), they had the game won outside of two defensive lapses.

If you look at their games, they have played some pretty good football.

And I absolutely dislike the Patriots.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:55am

Just curious, but how do you know "morganja" has a premium membership. You can't tell by the lack of "not verified" in the commentor name - you just have to register for that, not pay anything. I don't have a premium membership for instance.

by CowWithBeef :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:49am

The line was Indy -2.5 at home which indicates that bettors agree with DVOA and think NE is slightly better than Indy. Home field is generally considered to be worth 3 points.

by DFJinPgh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:40pm

Really, that just means Boston has more people than Indianapolis.

by Bobman :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:31pm

Yeah, my thoughts exactly. If, for some reason a ton of bets started flooding for the Colts, they would have raised that line to 4 to even things out.

Remember folks, Vegas is not trying to predict a winner/loser or score exactly. They are trying to get close, but more importantly (for them) keep the bettors evenly distributed to optimize the bookie business model returns (BBMR). If everyone bet one side and lost, great, sports books win big. But if everybody bet one side and won, fuck! the books are in hock to their eyeballs paying off the bets. If half win and half lose, Vegas makes less but loses nothing.

A business model where you make a little and lose nothing is called "a sure thing." The trick is scaling it up enough to make that small profit worthwhile.

by Eddo :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 2:16am

Also, remember, most of the money bet on games is bet by "professional" gamblers; that is, the public perception or popularity of a team has very little effect on a line compared to the effect that gamblers, who have systems of their own, have.

Futures lines always seemed to be skewed in favor of very popular teams; that is, you'll have Cubs fans who always put money on them to win the Series, which makes it terrible odds for real gamblers, but as far as individual game lines go, they're usually pretty accurate reflections of real percentages.

by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:15am

I wouldn't be shocked if the Pats won the Superbowl.

They essentially played a tie on the road with the #2 team in DVOA. What are you complaining about?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:23am

What do you mean by "recent years"? They certainly don't look as good as the 2007 edition, but they look way better than the 2005, 2006 or 2008 versions. I'd take the 2004 Pats over this year's group, but I think 2009 probably beats 2003, and easily beats 2002 or 2001.

Also note that DVOA may say that they're better than the Colts, but FO's playoff odds give the Colts nearly double the Pats' chance of winning the Superbowl.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:49pm

Yeah but are they cheating this year?

by Kulko :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:13am

Well technically their first loss came against a mediocre team, but the other two losses came against good or very good teams.
The only thing that is probably skewing their rating is the tenessee game, because on that day TEN was really not worth playing in a highschool league, but since then is continously playing better and so NE win is getting raised in value with each week due to opponents adjustements. But no matter how you really value this game, it can't account for more then 5-10% DVOA since its only one of 9 games.

As far as the SB goes, well they just went to Indy and laid down 17 points on them, before having a historic meltdown. and no matter how you put that it should be possible to agree that there was at least a 50-50 Chance of them winning that game.

I think people are looking for the early 2007 Pats when they ask that question, and they are not that good. but they are as good as the 2003/04 version which won two SBs so I would never count them out.

Apart from that Indy is probably going to have HFA in the playoffs. So when they DVAO ratings stay like that Indy will be favorite for AFC representative in the SB.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:38pm

Since their current rating is +40, an error of 10 is twenty five percent. That's pretty significant.

by t.d. :: Sat, 11/21/2009 - 3:45am

Well, losing to Denver is about to look like losing to a mediocre team, too, especially if the Chris Simms experience gets an extended viewing.

by Jesse Tiedt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:53am

My friend (a Packer fan) turned me to this website to try and convince me that the Packers are better than the Bengals (me being a Bengals fan). I refuse to believe this because they play in a better division, have played better competition, have a better record overall, and most important.... beat GB "at" GB. I try to tell him that stats don't matter in the NFL... only W's, but he refuses to say the Bengals are better. Now I already am a non-believer of this site's rankings seeing as they have the Steelers, Ravens, and Packers ahead of the Bengals. Bengals beat all of them on the road, and beat Pitt and Balt at home. Now maybe statistics say they're better, but head to head competition is the only way to determine a better team.... NOT STATS... and the Bengals have the "W's" to back that up....so I ask anybody who is reading this... is my friend wrong for thinking the Packers are better? Everything says the Bengals are better (Better competition, better record overall and head to head, better division), besides these DVOA rankings, I don't see how this is even an argument, but he does.

by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:20am

head to head competition is the only way to determine a better team

So the Bucs are better than the Packers, and the Packers better than the Cowboys, and the Cowboys better than the Panthers, and the Panthers better than the Bucs.

Thanks for your contribution. I'll remember that stuff about 'W's.

by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:25am

Heh heh---

You should design an entire site around that, where you'd rank teams by "W's". The Premium version could rank teams by "Lack of L's"

by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:17pm

It already exists. It's called beatpaths.com

The transitive property is actually pretty fun to play around with.

by DGL :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:46am

And don't forget, the Raiders are better than the Eagles.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:07pm

obviously wins aren't the only thing that matter, but when Cincy beats pitt and balt twice and gb on the road you have to ask yourself is GB really a better team?

GB's DVOA is higher because they stomped Cle and Det and Cincy posted a -75 in one game against Clev?

What would you take as better evidence of which team is stonger? 5 wins against top DVOA teams - or two stomps of crappy teams vs one horrible outing against one crappy team?

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:20pm

Obviously the Stomps. Read the research.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:17pm

Cowboys win was part of the pre-Hollis/pre-Jake resurrection 0-3 Panthers. Panthers are 4-2 since Hollis, plus replaced Bad Jake with Good Jake.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:35pm

Yeah, how the hell DID that happen? Was it a "heaven can Wait" kind of thing, where Delhomme died but was reanimated by the ghost of a not-so-sucky QB? Or was it for of a "Face Off" deal, where Steve Young decided to give it one more try, while Jake started doing rambling pre-game analysis?

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:39am

I suggest you look a little closer at the numbers, instead of the rankings. You'll see that the Bengals are rated very closely to the Packers. The stats say the teams are essentially equal. Considering how close the game, that seems fair, don't you agree?

Anyways, I don't think you should worry too much, the Bengals seem like a team that will continue to get better. As long as Palmer stays healthy they should do some damage this year. Enjoy the W's and don't worry too much about stats, unless they tell you something about the team you didn't see.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:39am

Well Jesse, I agree with your central thesis: the Bengals are a better team than the Packers. Seriously, would anyone here not back Cincy to beat Green Bay on a neutral field? But Ammek's right that you're using the wrong argument: head-to-head is not the best or only way to assess teams. I would point out to your friend that the difference in DVOA is only 1.7% (and only 0.3% in weighted DVOA), and that means DVOA can detect essentially no difference in team quality. Moreover, the opponent adjustments in DVOA are still far from perfect at this stage of the season: it's entirely possible that calculations using end of season opponent strength will say the Bengals had actually been more impressive up to this point. Whichever way you want to make the case, you (ie he) can't rely on DVOA to do it. Unfortunately, that pretty much leaves you with subjective observation, because DVOA is sure as hell better than any other statistical metric out there, including W-L or head-to-head record. I also certainly don't agree with you that the Bengals are better than the Steelers, though like you I'm a little dubious of the Ravens' ranking. I'm aware of the results of FO's Guts vs. Stomps research, but I still on some level think some teams are so awful that results against them should simply be thrown out. The Browns are one of those teams.

by Crabbie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:01am

If you're new to this, you shouldn't get too worked up about the rankings without looking at the actual DVOA numbers. Green Bay and Pittsburgh are ranked above Cincinnati by such marginal amounts that DVOA sees them as being essentially the same. We are dealing with differences of like three percentage points here, on a neutral field DVOA wouldn't favor the Packers over the Bengals by a full point (and would give the Bengals the edge if they were playing at home).

If you hover over "Statistics" up above, you may be interested in the "Stats Explained" link.

by Crabbie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:03am

Oops, Mr Shush's comment wasn't there for some reason when I posted this.

by Merr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:08am

Head over to Advanced NFL Stats and you'll be happier about the Bengals relative to the Packers.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:44am

I just wanted to highlight that W's and L's are indeed statistics, so we're not really arguing about stats vs. non-stats, we're arguing about which are the best stats to judge teams by.

If W's and L's are your sole concern, I've got good news. There is an excellent website out there that measures results by those two statistics, and you'll be pleased with where the Bengals currently rank:


by Jesse Tiedt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:09pm

I realize I made a stupid comment in the heat of the moment about "head to head" being the only way to decide . But isn't that what you should rank the stats by? Wins and losses? Nobody ever won a superbowl with zero wins... In every sport, the only stat that matters in the end is "W's" am I wrong? Not which team has better Defensive stats, not which team has better offensive stats, but Wins and Losses. People don't say "remember that team back in 2000 who had a really good defense and subpar offense and went 4-12? No, because people tend to remember the winning teams, not the teams with good stats. I just don't understand how this site can say the Pack are ahead of the Bengals when everything leans the Bengals way. Better divison, better overall record, better head to head record (at GB mind you) , and played way better competition thus far... I just don't see how a team who goes 7-2 against the 4th hardest schedule thus far, is behind a team that has went 5-4 against the 3rd easiest schedule thus far. Makes not one bit of sense to say a team that has played better competition and has more wins should be placed behind a team that has more losses in a weaker schedule. I understand that the Bengals are better team, I have no problem admitting that and defending that, but can we all agree stats don't always tell the story? You cannot go by only stats, some of it has to be common knowledge, or else Boise St, Hawaii, Utah, and TCU would get into the championship game ever year, because statistically they are way better than 98% of the league, but common sense would tell you that they play in a garbage conference, and play powder puff teams and don't deserve to be placed with the Florida's and other SEC teams that play legit competitors. All I'm saying is the Packers have played 4 teams that are 1-8... almost half their games... why shouldn't they have amazing stats. It's ludicrous to say they are better than the Bengals though... just absolute blasphemy. Even if it's by a tenth of a pt or 100 pts.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:33pm

You should read the link about what DVOA is and how it works. DVOA is a measure of strength that predicts future success, not a measure of past success. Plain VOA gives that, and closely matches W-L. DVOA is more predictive than W-L moving forward. It's likely future success vs past success.

DVOA removes the types of plays that are non-predictive, even if they are important to past wins and losses. The best example of this is fumble recovery rate. It's completely random. If each team in a game fumbles twice, but one team recovers all 4, they're likely to win. Removing those 4 plays, they might have been outplayed by the other team. Which is more indicative of team strength, plays that are random (like fumble recoveries), or ones that are not?

You're trying to use stats and strength of plays and schedule, but you're falling into the trap of assuming W-L is the final arbiter of strength.

Also, well done on following the zlionsfan template for irrational attacks on DVOA. I haven't seen a serious one of those in a while.

by Eddo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:36pm

"You cannot go by only stats, some of it has to be common knowledge, or else Boise St, Hawaii, Utah, and TCU would get into the championship game ever year, because statistically they are way better than 98% of the league..."

Um, no, if you went by wins only, which you're advocating, then Boise State, Hawaii, Utah, or TCU would get into the championship every year, since their easier schedules enable them to win every game.

In fact, all the BCS statistical rankings punish those teams for having easier schedules, placing them behind teams with fewer wins.


Also, why come to this site for rankings if you only want to go by wins? Just go to http://www.nfl.com/standings instead, that has all the information you're looking for.

by Jesse Tiedt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:54pm

Well that's what sports is about... Winning. Plain and simple, I'm just trying to see if any to see if anyone understands that stats don't always tell the truth. And mostly that the Bengals are better than the Packers as a whole, no just in Defense or Offense, but as a whole. I realize that there are probably hundreds of nerds working behind these statistics, but truth is they're flawed and apparently nobody sees that. You all just go along with what these stats tell you, and have no thoughts of your own. These stats tell you who is better, who should win, who should lose, who is more likely to win the superbowl. Maybe they are right most of the time... actually I'm quite sure these guys are right most of the time, but fact of the matter is, these stats cannot tell you everything you need to know. Bengals are better than the Packers, that's all I came here to prove, and though I haven't, I refuse to let these "stats" tell me that a team with an easier schedule, easier competition, worse record, worse division is ahead of a team that has a harder schedule, better competition, better record, better division. You guys are all trying to look for answers in the "future", why not just look at what is in front of you. The stuff that has happened thus far in the season is all factual, no predictions, no calculations, just hard facts. The future isn't always certain fellas, and either are these computerized predictions.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:05pm

True statements that no one disputes:
- "the truth is [dvoa is] flawed"
- "these stats cannot tell you everything you need to know"
- "The future isn't always certain fellas, and [n]either are these computerized predictions"

Selected problems in your post:
- Believing DVOA is doing anything other than predicting the future.
- Using stats (schedule, schedule, record, schedule) while railing against people using stats.
- Asking people to look at what's in front of them, when that's exactly what's being done. It's just not being done the way you prefer.
- Assuming that we use DVOA as the end-all of all things.
- Saying that the whole is not the sum of its independent parts.
- Stating a "fact" without appropriate supporting evidence.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:10pm

One more note:

I agree that winning is what matters in sports. We already know who won in the past, so what's interesting is trying to figure out who will win in the future. DVOA does that better than previous W-L and schedule strength. DVOA shows who has played better and is likely to win in the future. Would any Pats fan have rathered a 19-0 season and a 25% DVOA over and 18-1 lack of superbowl and a 40% DVOA? Pretty much all of them. Does that mean DVOA is stupid? No. Does that mean W-L is a better measure of team strength? No.

by Jesse Tiedt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:16pm

Your telling me that the Colts and Saints being 9-0 isn't a fact? Those are the things right in front of you that you are ignoring. If that isn't a "fact" to you sir, you got some problems.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:10pm

Was that in the post I replied to? No. Do you like strawmen? Apparently so.

by BJR (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:54pm

If I were you, to avoid further disappointment I would avoid this site unless the Bengals stomp the Raiders, Browns and Lions in the next three weeks. I shouldn't imagine DVOA will take too kindly to anything other than total domination in those three games.

by dmb :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:38pm

DVOA takes the strength of opponent into account, so the strength of schedule isn't exactly being ignored here. I'm not sure why you keep coming back to that, since it's generally one way that DVOA makes a big predictive improvement over simple win-loss records.

You're right that wins are what determine how far a team advances, but that doesn't mean that they're the most predictive metric for future wins. It's pretty easy for a three-point win to be determined mostly by dumb luck, and three of the Bengals' victories were by that margin, including one over the lowly Browns. (Granted, I would also classify their Week 1 loss as "dumb luck.") Their stomp of the Bears and the 17-7 victory over the Ravens were certainly impressive, and it's worth noting that their weighted DVOA is, as expected, higher than their regular DVOA. (Weighted DVOA places greater emphasis on more recent games.) Finally, take a look at their rank in variance -- they're one of the most uneven teams in the league; that suggests that they're capable of playing very well, but don't always do so. Such a team could easily be 8-1 or 5-4, just as their margins of victory have suggested.

That said, DVOA has certainly been wrong about teams before, but I think most people would be more convinced that the Bengals are one of those teams if your argument were based on something that isn't already included in DVOA (e.g., key players coming back from particularly significant injuries). Strength of schedule isn't one of those things.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:43pm

I may have been coming off as sarcastic even though I wasn't trying to be. Seriously, Beatpaths is a great site, and it purposefully only uses wins and losses for rankings. DVOA isn't the end-all, be-all ranking system, but it is fantastic. For example, you can look up things like "Which team has been the best this year against #1 wide receivers?" (Answer: New Orleans. Cincinnati is 13th, BTW.) That type of information simply isn't available with only 'W' and 'L' analysis.

Maybe this type of information isn't your cup of tea, but just try to realize that the statistics have been tested over multiple years to make sure they are as descriptive as possible. You are basically saying, "It has to be wrong because of Cincy vs. GB." But you need to give a specific step in order to improve it. That's what Aaron and his team do each off-season. They look at specific variables and test them to see if the ratings can be improved.

Like the one poster said above, don't sweat the rankings. If you're a Bengals fan, be thrilled with where your team is right now, record-wise. The great thing about 'W's is they go in the bank. They never get changed.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:55pm

[cite]You are basically saying, "It has to be wrong because of Cincy vs. GB." But you need to give a specific step in order to improve it.

I'd go farther than that. Because the rankings are meant to be predictive, not descriptive, unexpected values are NOT counterevidence. You would need future results before your claims make any sense.

by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:21pm

You're taking a bit of flak (not to be confused with Flacco) here for some valid skepticism. In your post, you mention "common sense." I think what DVOA does is provide some uncommon sense. After following it for a few years, I can say that it's a pretty cool system and it does a pretty good job overall of predicting which teams are going to do well as the season progresses. It has the capacity to show you whether or not your emperor is actually wearing clothes.

However, it isn't infallible. I look at DVOA and think "yeah, my Bengals are underrated." But what DVOA says is that the Bengals were supposed to be a bad team, played inconsistently and kinda got lucky in a few games but they've been improving. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Anyway, if you use DVOA, use it as another tool for analysis in your arsenal, ALONG WITH any other quantitative AND qualitative measurements you think are helpful. Hope you enjoy the site!

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:07pm

DVOA and DAVE not real people. Just computer progr ams. Compuetsr smart with math nut not with comomn sense.
Bengals better than Pakcers in record and other things overall so defeinitley Bengals are better. Better record, harder scheudle, beat Pakcers on field

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:39pm

Thank you. One would think the obvious would resonate with your friend and many of these people. But they are deep into this conceptual system of quantification. While it is a very interesting system and very good, it regularly produces ridiculous proclamations like those you cite. It measures "every play", as the hype says, and, in a League where the discrepancy between the better teams and the poorer teams keeps on widening, many of those measurements mean little if anything. And there are many cheeseheads, apparently, who are regulars here. Given the incredibly emotional nature of many of those people, you will probably take alot of flak in this thread and your friend may end up not being your friend if you keep pointing to the scoreboard!!

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:52pm

By talking about "the obvious," you appear to imply that even though DVOA takes into account lots of factors because they have been found to be predictive (and doesn't take into account the ones not found to be predictive), you would rather use only some of those factors, while ignoring other ones, because you think it's a better idea, even if you're only backing is intuition (notoriously wrong) and historical usage (also notoriously wrong).

Did I sum that up properly?

Oh, I almost forgot that you claim that many people on the boards are biased towards the packers (new one to me) and are unable to listen to reason. Ad hominem attacks are never warranted.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:08pm

Look at the scoreboard pal...

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:11pm

Thanks for proving my point.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:46pm

Rick A. is a troll. Do not feed.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:58pm

To begin with, this isn't a site to determine "who's better". Of course, W's determine this for the most part.

What this site will do, is (over time) show which teams are the most productive AND most consistent. These teams are the teams that, typically, perform the best.

As a result, your friend is probably correct (to a degree) about the Bengals not being as good as the competition they've beaten. Over time, if they aren't that good, it will begin to show up in the W column. On the other hand, if they ARE that good, it will eventually show up here, too.

All things to those who wait. Patience is a virtue. So is consistency.

Oh yeah, on the other hand, while statistics are useful about 75-80% of the time in determining who's better than who....sometimes weird things happen. Remember that Super Bowl with the undefeated team that was guaranteed to win big? Something happened along the way, can't remember what it was, but it's a big part of why they say "That's why they play the game."

So, use the site for insight and reference. Don't use it to settle arguments aside from "based on how they are performing, Team X SHOULD beat Team Y. But we'll find out if their performance holds up when they play."

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:56pm

I did not see DVOA, FO or any other stats based site "guaranteeing a NE win".

What they did say is that it was perhaps the biggest mismatch in history. that NE had maybe a 70 or 80% chance of winning.

Guaranteeing a win and saying it is 80% likely are categorically NOT THE SAME THING.

This is the fundamental disconnect between all you people who don't understand statistics and those who do. 1 in 5 does not = 0%. I know that sounds stupid, but a huge number of people need to learn that lesson. You hear "biggest mismatch ever" and you mind suddenly makes the odds 100%. You see GB is ranked higher than CIN and you think OMG don't you know GB has fewer wins.

Spend some time to read and understand the FAQs. Read people's responses to your posts. There is a reason people come to this site, if it wasn't informative no one would show up.

NO ONE even FO is saying that GB is definitely a better team than CIN. What they are saying is that they have built a model which looks at every plays and among other virtues of this model is that it is a better predictor of which team will perform better in the future than simple wins and losses. This model says GB has performed better than CIN so far this year. Could the model be wrong, certainly. In fact i think msot people here probably DO think it is wrong. But it has a good enough track record that we know to pay attention when it says something odd, because chances are it is on to something.

by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:45pm

The Bengals are better. Period.

I'm not entirely sure why DVOA has GB ranked so high. They must be performing well statistically, but subjectively, the offensive line sucks which has caused a lot of problems keeping Aaron Rodgers off his butt.

The Bengals, meanwhile, have performed very inconsistently...not just game-to-game but WITHIN games. Some drives they look terrible and other drives they look spectacular. This variance is probably causing their DVOA to be a little lower than it should be.

Looking at the "Est. Wins" you'll also see that the Bengals have played the 4th toughest schedule and have still managed 6 estimated wins. That sounds pretty right on to me. They've lost one they should've won and had a couple of close wins that could have gone either way.

So when I look at the DVOA rankings, yeah, I'm pretty pissed. Bengals should definitely be top 10, and after sweeping the Ravens and Steelers, why not top 5? WHO DEY! But I think that DVOA is a good place to start looking at objective measures of a team's performance. This year, it looks like the Bengals are an outlier.

by Jesse Tiedt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:17pm

I don't see how people can argue against this man's comments (Aussie Bengal), same comments I've been trying to make, but have been making them the wrong way, and have failed to get my point across miserably haha. Sure they play inconsistent some times, but everyone does.. difference is only a handful of teams are able to overcome adversity right now.... Bengals being one of them. They get the job done, and that is most important... the scoreboard doesn't lie, however stats can be deceiving. I apologize if I made anyone upset in my rant... I do realize I made myself look like a fool trying to argue some poor arguments haha, but all in all I would like to say thanks for everyone's input on this, whether your ripped me apart or somewhat agreed with me.... Thanks.

by Jerry :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:07pm


You're not the first person to come here wondering why his team was ranked so low, and you probably won't be the last. If you find what DVOA does interesting, stick around. You won't always agree with it, but you'll learn something.

by Meaty Ogre (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 12:43am

There are a few significant plays in the Packers-Bengals game that would lead someone looking at it to observe the Packers should have won and likely would win 6 or 7 out of 10. There were 4 fumbles in the game, 3 of which were recovered by Cincy.

The most important is the Bengals 3rd and 34 conversion on the touchdown drive that tied the game at 21 just before halftime. Palmer threw short to the tight end Coates, who managed to break a couple tackles and gain 23 yards before being stopped. However, he fumbled on the play and there was a frantic scramble for the ball; players repeatedly fell on it and it squirted away. Coates was stopped at the Cincinnati 30, 11 yards short of the first down marker. The fumbled ball advanced 15 yards before being recovered by the Bengals at the Cincinnati 45. Read that last sentence again.

The Bengals went on to get the tying TD on this drive, and kicked off to the Packers with 1:16 left in the half. So instead of receiving a punt from the Bengals 30 with over 3 minutes to work with, the Packers began a drive at their 24 with slightly over a minute. Crosby ended up hooking a 55 yard field goal with 3 seconds left to end the half. Fumble recoveries are judged here as luck, not a skill; 15 yard advances on offensive fumble recoveries on critical 3rd downs aren't really at all indicative of a team's skill. But this play gave Cincy 7 points, and likely greatly influenced the ensuing Packers drive when time and field position probably cost them 3. It also probably means fewer carries for Cedric Benson and more throws on a day when the Green Bay defense was scoring points off of Carson Palmer passes at nearly the same rate as Bengal's receivers. More carries for Ryan Grant, fewer sacks for Odom, etc.

The Bengals also got a touchdown in a 6 yard drive following a 60 yard punt return. That is skill, but it's not reliable, likely repeatable skill; it was poor kick coverage that can be easily corrected or compensated with a changed approach. In the 4th quarter, the Bengals managed a field goal following a 32 yard return to the Packer 29 when their offense stalled; this gave them a 10 point edge with two minutes left, which is significant when you consider that on GB's next possession they opted for a 2nd down field goal inside the Bengal 30 and quick onside kick when without this punt return they simply would have kept trying for a tying touchdown.

Long story short, above average fumble luck, a miracle first down on a critical drive, and 10 points off of punt returns that result in a 7 point margin of victory is not an indicator of a clearly better team.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 1:20pm

So? the Packers got 2 touchdowns handed to them by Carson Palmer - a pick 6 and a drive starting on the 15. We sacked Rogers 6 times.

Anyone can play this game of discounting the other side.

by Meaty Ogre (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 2:29pm

It's not discounting the other side. Palmer likely wouldn't have the same game again, but the point is not to pick out random things that went wrong. The point is that the pressures and play of the defensive backs that led to the picks is something the Packers reliably have and would replicate if the teams played again. The Bengals are not going to reliably be able to fumble forward 15 yards on 3rd down or return punts into enemy territory twice a game.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/20/2009 - 8:49am

Carson was in his second preseason game, having had no practice due to injury. This would not be repeated.

If your punt coverage suckes, who's to say Cosby's returns are flukes? He's averaging 11 yards a return, which is not too shabby.

Benson had 150 yards rushing. This usually is not associated with dominance by the other team. We had six sacks. This is an indication of strenght. Of course, with Green Bay maybe we should have had sixteen sacks.

Yeah, we had a fortuante play. Too bad for you. The Bengals lost the game before on one of the flukiest plays in memory, but that's the way things go sometimes.

by Meaty Ogre (not verified) :: Fri, 11/20/2009 - 1:20pm

My punt coverage personally is good, thank you. I'm from Cincinnati and went to high school with Kevin Huber.

Your reference to Benson's rushing yards is irrelevant; he got those yards on 38 carries, he got those carries because of the fluke play that allowed Cincinnati to go into halftime tied at 21 instead of trailing 21-14 or 24-14; I mentioned that in my first post.

You mention that it was Palmer's second preseason game back; presumably you meant season. So you're willing to give him a pass and say he'll improve for having not played a pro game in 18 or so months, but not the Green Bay left tackle who was brutalized for 4 of the 6 sacks in his first game at left tackle, ever?

by I am 11 feet tall (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 6:31pm

This thread brought to you today by the FOMB curse. Rejoice, Raiderjoe.

by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:58am

Edit: #26 is right.

by Aqua Narc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:09am

"Makes one wonder that a 6-3 team that just lost to the Colts is ranked as the best team in Football. Does anyone outside of FO staff and fans really have them winning the Super Bowl this year? They don't look nearly as good as they have in recent years. Unless I'm the pre-double bird Bud Adams' Titans, I'm not really that scared of them this year. Subjective I know, but it seems a bit off this year."

Not this kind of thing means anything, but to answer your question, they were the favorite in Vegas to win the Super Bowl before the season, and many pundits picked them as well.

Did you see their offense Sunday night? If that's not scary I don't know what is.

by Spoon :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:09am

It'd be a stretch to call what I saw an offense. Really it was an early game of 500 between Brady and Moss, who was often left uncovered by the defensive scheme. The Colts adjusted, and following the Edelman touchdown halfway through the second quarter the Patriots only had two drives of any worth: The drive on which Brady was intercepted (on a pass to Moss) in the end zone, and the drive on which Maroney fumbled at the goal line.

Both the New England second half scores came on short fields. Welker returned a punt to the Indy 7, leading to New England's only touchdown in the last 37 minutes of the game. Manning had an interception returned to the Indy 31, but the Indy defense held NE to a field goal. The Pats were utterly dominant in racing out to a 24-7 lead, but lost in all the hoopla over Belichick's call is that from that point on the Colts were the better team.

by Harry (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:43am

True. The lack of a reliable running game is the Pats' Achilles' heel. They can't close out games when they need to. This has been a chronic problem for New England ever since Cory Dillon ran out of gas. The Colts didn't have to worry the Pats would even try to run on 3rd and 2 or 4th and 2. The good news for the Patriots is that this year they may get better later in the year if Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor can get healty.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:45pm

Given what Maroney can (not) do at this point, you are certainly right.

But one cannot escape the feeling that if Morris or Taylor is the answer, there's something wrong with the question.

by milo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:31am

Ah, I see it now. Saints go on the road to Miami and win by 12 points in week 7 and get a negative DVOA. Pats take on Miami at home in week 9 and win by 10 points to net a DVOA of almost +50. Must have been the defense? 334 yards allowed by NO. 334 yards allowed by NE. Must have been the offense? 414 for NO. 432 for NE. That's some very efficient 18 yards there.

by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:20am

DVOA doesn't take account of home/away. Maybe it should, but Aaron has said he hasn't yet found a way to make it work.

DVOA probably didn't like the Saints' four turnovers. (The Pats had one.) It also considers defensive TDs to be essentially random events, and the Saints scored two of those.

by milo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:56am

Funny thing, I thought DVOA took into account the game situation. I thought DVOA liked successful plays given down and distance. I thought that a team that was behind in a game and finished with: 8 play 82 yard TD drive, 3 play 79 yard TD drive, 8 play 60 yard TD drive, 10 play 49 yard FG drive, pick six versus a 3 play 71 yard TD drive = 31-7 in the last 21 minutes was a good team playing well when it counted. I thought DVOA was supposed to pick up these things.
But I guess that DVOA is really about aw sh_ts wiping out all of the attaboys.
The Pats were nearly fifty points better in DVOA for one game with virtually equal standard statistics? Where? Those end of game drives by the Saints were luck?

by Mtume (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:31pm

I'd like to hear the analysis behind this result too. Granted, I'm a Saints fan and have no love for New England, but how is it that the DVOA liked the Pats win so much more? I'll concede that the Saints needed some luck to come back and win, but as a previous poster pointed out, they also needed some long touchdown drives (and several big stops on defense). If the DVOA were slightly higher in favor of N.E. because they created a big lead and kept it vs. the Saints' falling behind and then mounting a big comeback, I'd say, no problem. But a difference of fifty points? It's not like the Saints won by one or two points in the end. They won by twelve!

I did read one thing someone said that makes sense: defensive touchdowns are considered random and therefore not predictive. I can understand that. (I can't tell you how many times I've watched Sharper or Will Smith or Hargrove score a touchdown and think to myself, "Wow, that was lucky!" Not the interception or the fumble recovery - the touchdown.) And the Saints lead the league in defensive touchdowns. (I think.) So that part I get. Anything else? I'd really like a breakdown of how the Pats are considered to have had a hugely "better" game against the Dolphins than the Saints did.


by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:39am

If I was a Cincinnati fan I'd take the 4 wins over Pittsburgh and Baltimore over the lower DVOA anytime.

I'm not sold that Indy and NE have separated themselves from the pack - maybe in DVOA but I don't think they are really any better than teams like NO, Minn, Cinn, Pitt, Balt. Indy has Balt this week and NE has NO 2 weeks from now. I suspect those games will be closely fought tossups. As have most of the games NE and Indy have played against better than average teams.

Other than playing each other NE and Indy have played 6 teams with a DVOA above 9% and they only have one particularly impressive win (Indy over Arz). All of the other 5 games were pretty close.

by NRG :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:06am

The baltimore team that couldn't score on cleveland for a half is the equal of NE and Indi? Not in this universe.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:47am

Is it possible that Baltimore was just playing things very "close to the vest" so they didn't expose much of their gameplan to the Colts (who they play this week)?

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:16pm

Baltimore played NE in NE. The game according to DVOA was essentially even (29 to 23% in NE's favour). Clayton dropped a pass that would have given Balt a 1st down at inside NE's 10 yard line down by 6 with 30 seconds to go.

NE has seperated themselves from the pack based on a 59-0 game. They may well be the best team, but I really don't see any evidence that their DVOA rating means much other than they are probably as good as anyone else in the league.

by crack (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:21am

I agree jimm.

What is the claim DVOA has to being better than W-L? I know I saw it once, but I don't see it in the 'Stats Explained' part. Isn't it supposed to be a better predictor of something?

From what I can tell it appears to be a stat descriptive of a teams ability to accomplish the goals from hidden game of football. That's basically what it is right?

by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:53am

It's supposed to be a measure of how well a team performs on a per play basis.

Their FAQ is under "About" at the top of the page.

Scroll down this and you'll see a chart, showing that a team's DVOA from last year better predicts its wins this year (a .33 correlation) than several other stats (including wins last year). This is a good indication of it's utility as a measurement.

They also sell predictions for games each week, which combine DVOA with home field formulas, but I'm not going to search for any articles they have on their accuracy.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:55am

I believe I read somewhere on this site that point differential is a better in season predictor of results.

by greybeard :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:25pm

I wished they updated the study after 2005. It seems to me that the last few years the DVOA has a lot less correlation with the year+1 then the win-loss record.

by Theo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:00am

My FSM that Cleveland offense is awful.
8 minutes to play, 16 behind, calling run plays, end arounds, more run plays, more small ball and then some... punts with 3 minutes remaining.
Then, with only 1-and-a-half minutes remaining, Mangini thinks "hm, perhaps a pass downfield?" and starts throwing deep when the corners are starting off 10y of the receivers. Well, NOW is a little late, don't ya think? Way to go to boost your young QBs confidence. Off course those passes flew over the sidelines.
I still have this burning sensation on my eyes and my hands are still feeling like punching someone thinking how bad that game was called.
And that's from a steelers fan.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:18am

quick note about that 1998 Jets, they lost to a mediocre pre Billick Ravens team with Foley at the helm. He was replaced by Vinny for two games, and returned to face the Rams. After the Rams debacle, he was replaced by Vinny for good.

Also the Jets beat the eventual NFC champs Atlanta 28-3 at home, but their hero of the season Chris Chandler did not play. Steve Deberg at age 56 (or something like that) got the start and was dreadful.

by Paulo Sanchotene, RS, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:18am

Part of the NFL magic is the fact that the playoffs are a totally different ball game. I'm sure that the NFC Champion will be a tough opponent one more time, and that IND-NE is NOT a certain AFCCG as the numbers show today...

by jebmak :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:40am

It isn't certain by any means. According to the playoffs odds page, they both have about a 63% chance to make the AFCC. Multiply those together and you get less than 40%. And that isn't including the (possible but unlikely) posibility that they have to play before the AFCC in the playoffs, which lowers it a little further.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:31am

"And that isn't including the (possible but unlikely) posibility that they have to play before the AFCC in the playoffs, which lowers it a little further."

I'd say that's a very real possibility. In fact, if the playoffs started right now, the Colts would be the 1 seed, and the Patriots would be the 4. That's a divisional round rematch, just from things staying the way they are.

by jebmak :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:34pm

Yeah, but if we believe DVOA, then the Pats should win more than Den or SD during the remainder of the season.

Of course I just checked mean wins and the Pats are 10.9 and Den 10.4, so maybe because of schedule it is more likely than I thought.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:16am

Individual game DVOAs seem odd to me at times. Sometimes DVOA loves both teams yet in another game where the opponent quality is similar and the game result is similar, DVOA doesn't like those teams very much.

Take these two games this year

Minn 33 Balt 31
Minn DVOA 13.3, Balt 1.6
Avg Off play Balt 7.0, Minn 6.8
2 fumbles by Balt - both recovered by Balt

Indy 35 NE 34
NE DVOA 55, Indy 36
Avg Off play NE 6.6, Indy 6.5
3 ints and 2 fumbles

To me their seems something off here. Both games featured teams with 25+ DVOA. Both games featured one team dominating into the 4th quarter only to see the opponent make a great comeback. Yet DVOA rewards Indy and NE with far greater ratings.

To me Baltimore and Minnesota played better less sloppy football than did Indy and NE.

by jebmak :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:38pm

Would special teams have anything to do with it? If both teams had bad special teams during that game it would drag down their ratings. I don't know, I'm just guessing.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:55pm

ST Minn 4.8, Balt -14.2

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:41pm

Cherrypicking individual stats isn't going to win you alot of friends, especially when those stats are obviously flawed and less predictive than DVOA.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:53pm

what Cherry picking is there? Avg yards per play is about as general a stat as you can get? I was merely listing a summary of the game. Plays such as fumbles and ints have a big effect of dvoa.

You certainly are one argumentative type.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:19pm

So, because a stat is general, it's representative? Sure. Got it.

Fumbles and ints do have a big effect, but so do the other 100 plays. You ignore the 3rd and 15 conversions because they're not easily accessible. If you actually looked at representative data, you might have a different opinion.

In this case, it appears that "argumentative" means "unwilling to let people state (and imply) conclusions that do not follow from the evidence." If that's argumentative, sign me up.

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 10:48am

He said argumentative because he's polite. I think you're acting like a pompous windbag.

He wanted to know what the DVOA-driving differences between those two games were, and in the middle of your condescension you happened to mention one (converting 3rd and long). That's the kind of info he was looking for. If you had continued along those lines and left the holier-than-thou attitude at the door, it could've been a great comment.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:52pm

It seems simple to me. It's 2 main issues; A)Indy and NE played better opponents than Minn and Balt and B) VOA claims to be a better measure of efficiency than yards per play.

As for A:

New England gained 6.6 yards per play vs. the 7th ranked defense (-7.5% DVOA) and gave up 6.5 yards per play vs. the 2nd ranked offense (26.6% DVOA)
Indy gained 6.5 yards per play vs. the 12th ranked defense (-2.5% DVOA) and gave up 6.6 yards per play vs. the 1st ranked offense (33.2% DVOA)

Minn gained 7.0 yards per play vs. the 4th ranked defense (-9.9% DVOA)and gave up 6.8 yards per play vs. the 6th ranked offense (18.0% DVOA)
Balt gained 6.8 yards per play vs. the 17th ranked defense (2.7% DVOA)and gave up 7.0 yards per play vs. the 8th ranked offense (17.9% DVOA)

So then by these measures, Minnesota should have the highest single game offensive DVOA, then NE, then Indy, then Balt. Meanwhile, Indy/NE should have similar defensive DVOAs, then Minn, then Balt. Then add in special teams, and then add in fumble luck/long returns/other measures of luck.

Arrive at single-game DVOA.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:47pm

the premium database isn't update this week so I can't compare the breakdowns, but it's more of smell test thing I'm talking about.

It's more of a smell test type of thing - NE/Indy combine or 90 DVOA and Balt/Minn 15. That's suggesting that NE/Indy played far better games but that wasn't what it seemed like to me.

I'm talking about an observation here not how does dvoa come up with the numbers.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:30pm

So, your smell test is DVOA does not match what you remember seeing and some basic stats, so DVOA is probably wrong. When someone points out how your eyes and memory might be off (and how the basic stats are off), you say you don't care about that.

Begging the question much?

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:39pm

I didn't say I didn't care about DVOA stats - I said it seems odd that the games seemed very similar in style, quality of opponent and outcome - yet DVOA rewarded two teams highly and two others not at all.

I find your replies rude and annoying.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:19pm

I'm talking about an observation here not how does dvoa come up with the numbers.

Again, you say that what you viewed does not match the resultant numbers (Doesn't pass your smell test). That means that at least one of two things has to occur: (1)What you saw/remember is wrong. (2) The numbers are inaccurate.

Temo gave an explanation of why what you saw differed from DVOA. (which backed up the DVOA)

Seeing as how the result of Temo's explanation is that your memory/eyes might be wrong, you respond by attacking his attempt to explain what your smell test is missing.

I point out that your statement is patently ridiculous (but in a slightly nicer, though brusque way), and that the only way to deny Temo's argument is to assume that your eyes/memory are correct.

You then twist English to create a strawman argument in my post ( "I didn't say I didn't care about DVOA stats") and reassert the exact point Temo refuted. Along with calling me rude and annoying.

For rudeness, I apologize.
For being annoying, I cannot apologize. I'm attempting to call you on your logical fallacies (both formal and informal). If you find being held accountable annoying, maybe you shouldn't make unsupported arguments.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:05pm

Man you are really something. Do you just go out and pick fights in real life or just in internet posts?

DVOA is a wonderful statistical tool for predicting the quality of teams in the NFL. It may well be the best statistical tool for predicting future success or lack there of.

If you solely rely on statistics to analyze football teams you will be far less effective than if you use some personal observation skills as well. If we solely used statistics we would think all the QB's from Louisville over the past few years would be NFL stars. Statistics in football are not particularly predictive - even DVOA. If they were than Philly would have a far better record than they do, NE wouldn't be 6-3 and they sure as heck wouldn't have lost to NYG in the Super Bowl in 2007. They would have seen NO coming a mile away this year and so on.

Now my observation skills may not be up to snuff, but they aren't automatically inferior to DVOA - particularly when I clearly am using DVOA as part of my argument. It is entirely possible that I'm seeing something DVOA isn't capturing.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 11:38pm

Well jmaron, a good number of the people posting these comments here do not acknowledge their rudeness. They only accuse others of it. They have a view of what the DVOA system is and they appear to believe in it hook, line and sinker. They think it is an emminently reasonable conceptualization that removes all bias and upholds the highest principles in logical deduction. And, of course, they have a self-image that says they too are an embodiment of these same principles. Actually, they are like "regulars" in a bar that want to try to insult away anyone that is not part of the club. Of course you were immediately jumped on for even bringing up that some of this statgeek abstraction doesn't pass your smell test. They believe they have no subjectivity, that DVOA enters no subjectivity into it's system, and so on. They really know very little football but I'm sure they watch the TV presentation constantly. I would bet my bone marrow that few, if any, of them ever attend NFL games live or ever have at any time. It goes without saying, at this point, they few, if any, ever played a down anywhere beyond high school, if even that. They keep baiting me to give them some direct statement about my past but the fact is that it does not behoove me to do that. Especially just to answer a group of rude cybernerd statgeek boys who, apparently, do not have to work. But this is about you. Your "smell test" says a dead-on, obvious, fact. Don't take any crap. I applaud you for answering the insulter. The DVOA thing is quite a good conceptualization system, in my opinion, but all those sorts of data based, computer based, systems only go so far. The players have a laugh over nearly all of these power rating things. The particular originators of this have created a nice money flow for themselves out of this and I applaud them. But it's just another gimmicky thing...

by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 11/20/2009 - 1:33am

If you hate it and us so much, why are you even here? Why even waste the effort on posts like this?

Your ad hominem attacks are not welcome here. Move on.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:27pm

That may have its own merits, but regardless I really can't argue against one's smell test.

Beyond that, however, the combination of DVOA accorded to either team doesn't really matter. Teams will receiver a specific DVOA rating based on their efficiency vs. a certain caliber of opponent. If the #1 and #4 teams play each other very close, they will certainly achieve a high total "combined" DVOA than if the #6 and #7 teams play each other really close (using week 9 ratings).

If Minnesota had crushed Baltimore rather than just played them close, then they would have a DVOA commensurate with New England playing Indy close.

Edit: Not sure if I made my point very clearly. Imagine a scenario where Minn and Balt are considered equal teams, and thus have DVOA ratings of 20% apiece. Same thing with Indy and NE, but they have 50% apiece.

If Minn and Balt play close, then they both stay at 20%. If Minn blows Balt away, then the DVOA ratings are, say, 40% and 0% respectively. Alternatively, if Indy and NE play close, they receive 50% each, and if NE blows Indy away, it becomes 100% and 0%. As you can see, in either case the NE/Indy game has a higher "combined" DVOA, because the level of the two teams are the same going into the game. A grossly simplified example, but you see what I mean.

Thus, "combined" DVOA has no real meaning.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:49pm

Temo - "If Minn and Balt play close, then they both stay at 20%. If Minn blows Balt away, then the DVOA ratings are, say, 40% and 0% respectively. Alternatively, if Indy and NE play close, they receive 50% each, and if NE blows Indy away, it becomes 100% and 0%. As you can see, in either case the NE/Indy game has a higher "combined" DVOA, because the level of the two teams are the same going into the game. A grossly simplified example, but you see what I mean."

I get your point but in the Indy/Balt game they average 45% but had they had an average of 36% coming into the game. Minnesota and Baltimore had an average of 7.5% of game DVOA but have a total average DVOA of 26%.

So DVOA says both teams played much worse than usually do (-13 in Minnesota's case and -26 in Baltimore's case) but NE and Indy were 20% and 5% better than their averages.

Watching those two games I just don't see that as an accurate description of the quality of play in the Minnesota/Baltimore game. I thought it was a very well played game by two very good teams.

by greybeard :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:36pm

Does that mean if a team destroys a team one week and moves up in DVOA, that becomes a gift that keeps giving?
Let us say that 4 team destroys their first two week opponents, and then play each other close games the next few weeks, and be rewarded from playing close games against "good" teams, then they will be at the very high point of DVOA rest of the season even if they turn out to be average teams with two good wins.
Are these weekly numbers recursively updated every week? Otherwise the DVOA would be very much dependent on the schedule.
A true test of this is when (non-weighted) DVOA is calculated whether it is the same as when calculated in forward chronological order and then reverse chronological order.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:58pm

Are these weekly numbers recursively updated every week?

Yes, I'm pretty sure.

As to your situation wherein good teams only play each other, that is why Aaron uses DAVE early in the season rather than just DVOA. You need a few weeks of play to get accurate adjustments for VOA. I believe he said that DAVE has a better correlation to end-of-year DVOA than DVOA itself early on.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:32am

So does anyone who watches the Titans (TomG?) have a clue what Jeff Fisher did over the bye week? Coaching changes? Scheme changes? Or is this just an old-fashioned case of regaining their "mojo" and "swagger"?

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:53am

On offense, they've starting giving more carries to Chris Johnson, and throwing the ball less. Some of that is probably the old "running while winning/passing while losing" thing. But even if you go back and look at the early, closely-fought games the Titans played this year, the run/pass splits are WAY different than they are now. In short, he finally figured out that Johnson is his best offensive threat. They're also turning the ball over a lot less, which may be due to the safer offensive scheme.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:59am

The way that the post bye week performances are trending leads me to at least consider the possibility that it was the effect of Young becoming the QB over Collins. I am not saying Young is now bound for Canton, just that he is almost a complete opposite of Collins and defensive coordinators will need some time to adapt to his scheme. Right now I think teams are struggling to contain Johnson as they have to account for Young and his mobility too - that kind of thing can really screw with pursuit angles.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:24pm

Exactly. Thank you. But you're speaking of "football reality" as I call it, and have been attacked for doing so. (amongst other things I've been attacked about)
These readers would rather contemplate which particular quantification conceptualization is "on" or "off" to explain what they think they see. Virtually none of them ever played the game.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:30pm

He wore a Colts jersey to a charity event and declared that he wanted to feel like a winner.

(It's possible this is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, however.)

by Jerry :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:09pm

Maybe it was LenDale White atoning for stomping on the Terrible Towel. Maybe both.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:28pm

Collins was done, a husk of his former self. He hit the wall harder than Wile E Coyote after a failed attempt on road-runner. VY is a big upgrade over that.

This does expose a flaw in DVOA and other statistical analysis, The Titans are a different team with Young and will probably remain so even after the opponents adjust to his style of play. So what opponent adjustment should be given to wins over the Titans with Collins?

by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:59pm

None. The difference isn't quantifiable. It's up to the readers and users of DVOA to contextualize the stats using their own judgement. By the time Young has played often enough in this Titans' offense for us to quantify his contribution to the turnaround, Weighted DVOA will have caught up.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:33pm

The difference could be quantified to some extent by taking the sample only from the games that are relevant to the current state of the Titans i.e. the last three games where they have played like a substantially better team. It isn't perfect but it would mean that the teams that have lost to Tennessee should get more credit for their losses, particularly as DVOA (correctly) takes account of the strength of opponent.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:34pm

You're saying that the horrible defense they previously played is moot because Vince Young is now the quarterback?

FO has tried to put an injury factor into DVOA, it hasn't increased productivity. This the same idea. If you can make it more predictive, we'd love to hear about it. Stating it would be better is not actually making a case for it being better.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:06pm

I do think that an offensive offense that constantly puts the defense on the field will hurt the D's chances. They'll be tired and their scheme will become more exposed, both of which will result in a marked decline in performance. I haven't studied the Titans closely enough to be able to state whether or not their defense was significantly worse early in games but I do think that the general point stands. I used the Titans in this example but I was really attempting to make a broader point about a slight flaw in statistical analysis in general.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:43pm

I agree that could be a problem. It's not like it's new ground or anything though. Also, statistical analysis can show the differences as the game goes on.

For the record, titans plays this year:
Offense - Defense
61 - 70
60 - 68
69 - 64
67 - 69
57 - 67
50 - 77
67 - 49
55 - 69
60 - 58

Analyze away.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:26pm

You would also need the stats that would demonstrate how successful the Titans defense had been at various stages in the game as well as whether or not they were on the field more early in the game, which would make them tired later (it's also probably likely that some of the off/deff/ ratios would be skewed by being significantly behind in the second half). If this was an easy thing to analyse, I'd have done it myself by now (maybe).

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:40am

I think I've spotted an error in the Playoff Odds page. There are no odds listed on a Super Bowl XXXVII rematch. Super Bowl XXVI is also curiously absent.

by AndyE :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:48pm

Required a few moments of research, but well worth the joke.


by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:12pm

I was afraid no one would get it.

by dmb :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:33pm

The playoff odds can only have so many sig figs...

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:47pm

Negative infinity probably causes an error in the spreadsheet too.

by Keasley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:34pm

In terms of the Vikings special-teams turnaround, all of the factors mentioned in the article are probably true. I'm thinking that an additional benefit to the team has been their incredible health. I don't have the hard data on AGL for the Vikings this year but I'll be it's among the lowest in the league.

Generally, having your #4 linebacker and #5 WR et al playing special teams means a better squad than when your #4 and #5 LBs are starters and you've got guys called up from the practice squad on special teams.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:39pm

DVOA has the 49ers as the second rated defense. I just don't buy that, the run defense is very good and the coverage is usually sound but the pass rush isn't very good. I think Ray McDonald leads the niners with 3.5 sacks and doesn't have much competition. The 49ers special teams would be higher if we hadn't cut Allen Rossum, he wasn't great but it did leave us with Delanie Walker or Michael Robinson as the kick returners, who are just not fast enough. Has any other team ever shown such a lack of ambition in the return game?

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:16pm

Sacks are nice, but they're not the only mark of a good pass rush. A good pass rush is not necessarily the mark of a good pass defense. With no dominant defenses in the league, a very good run defense and an okay pass defense could be ranked highly overall.

In this case, they're 3rd against the rush and 8th against the pass. Unadjusted, they're 16th against the pass (and still 3rd against the rush). You're right, it doesn't look they have a great pass defense, but that's because they've been playing teams with good pass offenses. DVOA says your eyes are tricking you.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:32pm

Actually I think DVOA is saying that there's not much difference between the #2 ranked defense and a mediocre defense. The difference between SF's defense (-13%) and the 14th ranked defense (-2.2%) is so small that I'm not sure we can feel comfortable saying that SF's "true" defensive quality is truely better than mediocre.

Personally, I think the story to take away from this is that good offenses will impose their will on defenses regardless of defensive quality, for the most part.

It's like the old (mostly erroneous) baseball axiom of "good pitching beats good hitting". Only in reverse here.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:52pm

I took that as a given (no dominant defense comment); it's surely part of the issue.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:34pm

I think that you need to check your definition of mediocre. The niners' D is clearly better than that.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:15pm

My definition of mediocre is 0% DVOA.

And I didn't say that the Niners are a mediocre defense. What I said was that given the statisitics that we have, we cannot be as certain that the Niners are a better than mediocre defense as we can that, say, Indy is a better than medicore offense. The difference in DVOA between Indy's offense (ranked 2nd, 26.6%) and the most mediocre offense (Titans, ranked 19th, 2.1%) is huge compared to the difference between the Niners' defense (ranked 2nd, -13.0%) and the most mediocre defense (Arizona, ranked 15th, -0.9%).

That was all beside your point anyway. You'd said how you didn't think that the Niners had the 2nd best defense, and my point is that it is quite possible that you are right. The top defenses are so densely packed that the Niners jumped all the way from 7th to 2nd in one week.

Personally speaking, I feel that there are 4 bad defenses (StL, Tampa, Detroit, Cleveland) and then a whole bunch of "meh" defense until you get to a pack of defenses at the top that are hard to discern relatively (Philly, Niners, Baltimore, GB, Pit, Jets, Indy, Denver, and NO).

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:30pm

I could have been clearer, the niners defense is good and the pas rush is better than previous seasons where qbs had aeons to throw on every other snap. The rush now forces a throw eventually.

Basically, the line is good, the corners are pretty good and Willis is awesome.

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:19pm

The amount of people that greatly misunderstand this site is increasing with the amount of publicity FO is getting.

Abandon all standard-fan public forum! (Here is to looking at you, ESPN.)

For the love of not sounding redundant and/or retarded, stop arguing silly points. The point of this site IS to quantify and come up with predictive values (this is for you, Rick A.) and not trying to figure out where people have been using W-L (this is for you, Jesse Tiedt, milo, and anybody else using that argument).

Also, nobody cares if you played. Your swagger is not quantifiable. Drive through.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:28pm


by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:45pm

I would love a system where you could simply ignore certain posters permanently. Would make reading the comments SO much more enjoyable, even if i occasionally missed a joke or something interesting.

by milo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 10:48am

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:19pm

The amount of people that greatly misunderstand this site is increasing with the amount of publicity FO is getting.

Abandon all standard-fan public forum! (Here is to looking at you, ESPN.)

For the love of not sounding redundant and/or retarded, stop arguing silly points. The point of this site IS to quantify and come up with predictive values (this is for you, Rick A.) and not trying to figure out where people have been using W-L (this is for you, Jesse Tiedt, milo, and anybody else using that argument).

Also, nobody cares if you played. Your swagger is not quantifiable. Drive through.

You apparently didn't attempt to understand my question, so let me clarify.
I'm interested in the single game DVOA comparison between NE and NO while beating MIA outdoors at nearly the same time of the season when the margin of victory, total points scored by both teams, defensive and offensive total yards are very similar. I thought that DVOA was supposed to not care particularly if the victory was an exciting come from behind win vs. a methodical beat. That DVOA was adding up, play by play, points for successful vs. unsuccessful play. That spectacularly long plays had their value collapsed somewhat. That long TD drives were good and predictive of future wins.
I recognize that turnovers are penalized as similarly predictive, but the only thing I can tell from the DVOA description is that they are roughly worth 6 points and how does that translate to a percentage DVOA.
It seems to me that DVOA in this instance ought to display a small variance.
(Some have said that pick sixes don't count for much because they are random. Well, they are not. They are rare. Given two dice, snake eyes is rare, but not random. Sevens are more probable, but on any given roll of the dice, the result is random. Pick sixes are not random, they depend in part on where the initial pick was made, what direction the defender was moving when he caught the ball. This is skill and scheme and sometimes luck, sometimes not luck at all but good, skilled play.)
I'm just asking a question that tries to take out the variables of who you were playing to see how DVOA works to get dramatic scores vs. average scores. Strong fourth quarter comebacks seem to be predictive of successful teams. Taking an early lead (but not expanding it) and not relinquishing it seem to be predictive of successful teams. Shouldn't DVOA treat them similarly. If not, why not?

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 11:14am

Interception returns for touchdowns are random because they are not something you can replicate with ease. You can get many interceptions as a defense. That is the skill part. But there is no skill in jumping a route, going in the correct direction, avoiding all tacklers, and then scoring. Even if you were given open field, you can fumble to ball, trip, or any number of other things.

The Saints are good. That is fine. But their win was very bad. They had no success in the first half. That counts negatively against them in a big way. That is why it drags their numbers down. The Patriots accrued all of their VOA from effectively a count of zero. The Saints had to come out of negative and then move towards the positive side. They accrued all of their VOA from a negative count.

Just because they won by similar margins, similar basic statistics, you have to consider the hole they were in before it happened. That hole was hugely negative.

Does that explain anything to you?

"Strong fourth quarter comebacks seem to be predictive of successful teams." ...so does beating teams you should beat without 4 turnovers and being down 24-3.

by Jovins :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 8:05pm

You're right, but for the wrong reasons.
No, interception returns for touchdowns aren't random.
But they are not PREDICTIVE. Which is the goal of DVOA. Interception returns for touchdowns don't correlate week to week or year to year. Thus, they're ignored in the DVOA formula, because they aren't events that can help accurately predict future results.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:35pm

The Colts have now won 18 in a row regular season. During that stretch they've:

- won 10 games by a TD or less,
- 8 by 4 points or less.

Over the last two regular seasons they are:

- 12-1 in games decided by 7 or less
- 10-1 in games decided by 4 or less

Of course they went out in the first round with a OT loss by 6 to SD

Kind of the anti Eagles

DVOA suggests over the last two seasons these teams are about the same in quality. Maybe it is just as simple as the Colts are luckier than the Eagles?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:58pm

Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about the Eagles and their high DVOA over the past few years - so, there's no denying the fact that they have consistently anomalous performance in certain areas. I think "luck" is one of those areas (insofar as DVOA quantifies certain unlikelihoods as "unlucky").

One strange thing about the Eagles that DVOA doesn't seem to have any way to account for is that they never come from behind in the 4th quarter. Like, never. The last time they did so was in an OT game versus the Raiders in September 2005. Since then, they've had 33 chances to do so... and just never have. That's a pretty big oddity for a team that has been pretty good measured by simple W-L standards.

I don't have the premium database, but it also seems to me that the Eagles have consistently (on both offense and defense) had great DVOA on 1st and 2nd down with below normal 3rd down DVOA. That would be another statistical unlikelihood that DVOA would have some trouble accounting for...

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:43pm

Make no mistake, there's certainly some luck involved in going 12-1 in close games. But I don't think it's so crazy to believe that certain coaches and players are better than others in close games. Without looking it up, I would bet that the Patriots' record in close games is also very good. I'm not going to break out "clutch", but things like situational play-calling and end-of-game clock management might be skills that Manning/Moore are simply better at than McNabb/Reid.

Also, not puking during the 2-minute drill helps.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:15pm

The Eagles have a 2-minute drill?

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 10:46am

Yeah. It just takes three and a half minutes.

by john (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 1:29am

Patriots are 6-3. The Eagles are like 5-4. Yet those are 2 of the top 3 teams
acc to dvoa.

If that doesn't tell you something about poor these stats are, nothing will.

New England has no defense. They couldn't beat the Jets in New York.
COuldn't do anything against Denver in Denver. But they do a great
job of picking on teams that are playing rookie corners.

Good Grief, Outsiders. We know they are your favorite team, but
give it up already.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 11:04am

A-hem! Use the proper template please.

In all seriousness, I get the point about the Eagles, but you cannot honestly be saying that the Patriots are not one of the best (maybe not THE best, but one of the best) teams in the NFL. I hate the Patriots, but come on. They lost @ NY when Brady was still rusty, @ 6-3 Denver in OT (couldn't do anything?), and @ 9-0 Indianapolis on a miracle comeback.

At this moment in time, just from trusting my own eyes, the only team I'd feel comfortable picking to beat them at a neutral site is New Orleans. And yes, that includes Denver and Indianapolis and the Jets.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 2:15pm

I wouldn't even feel comfortable picking New Orleans at this point. (My wife's a Saints fan. We've watched a LOT of their games - sometimes the same game more than once.) They're turning the ball over an awful lot recently, and I think the Patriots or Colts would be better placed than most to take advantage of that. Their defense also isn't what it looked like early on - though admittedly injuries contribute to that a great deal - which is again something the Patriots are well placed to exploit.

The one advantage I see for New Orleans against New England is offensive versatility - but I think the Patriots demonstrated against Indianapolis that they can handle explosive, versatile offenses unless injuries negate their depth and ability to substitute. If the Patriots' depth becomes an issue, as it did against the Colts, then I would expect them to have trouble with the Saints. If it doesn't, I'd take New England. Guess we'll get a good idea of how that plays out pretty soon - expect carnage in the BigHairyAndy household.

Much as it pains me, the only team I'd feel comfortable picking against the Patriots at a neutral field is a healthy Indianapolis - and we've all seen how close that game is likely to be.

by Jovins :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 8:07pm

Today I was thinking about different DVOA downs. I realize that different downs have different success rates; thus, a 4 yard play on second and 12 and second and 4 are obviously different.

At the same time, how does DVOA take into consideration a play like second and 1? Teams are under much less pressure to get a first down on second down; do the same success rates hold? I'm just wondering if something about a team might skew DVOA based on results like that; performs moderately well on first and second down, but rarely does really well (but short of a first down) on first down.

by John (not verified) :: Sat, 11/21/2009 - 4:09pm

As much as I generally like Football Outsiders, I'm sorry, but I have a very hard time taking any statistical ranking seriously if it has a team with THREE losses as the clear-cut No. 1 team when there's two undefeated teams (including one that just beat the aforementioned three-loss team, stupid Fourth Down call or not) and another with just one loss that came in a road game at the hands of the defending champs.

The Patriots may very well win the Super Bowl. I don't really see it, as I think they'd lose to the Colts again or to a healthy Steelers team (Polamalu is absolutely critical for their success), and I don't think I'd take them over the Vikings or Saints either. I know the Saints haven't been playing as well lately as they were earlier, but I think they're just bored. As soon as they lose a game (the Patriots have a good chance to do that when they play them), I think they'll wake up and start dominating again. At best, I would have the Patriots fourth. To have them No. 1 at this point just about discredits the DVOA rankings, at least for this year.

by RickD :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:28pm

No, you don't get it.

For starters, DVOA measures total performance over the course of the season. It isn't an ordinal system that is solely concerned about who is better than whom.

The Colts have been winning games, but by narrow margins. The Patriots have some exceptionally strong wins. And their three losses are by narrow margins, esp. the OT loss in Denver and the 1-point loss in Indy.

Think on this: home field advantage is generally considered to give about 3 points of value to a team. So if the Colts win a home game by 1 point, they haven't really demonstrated any ability to beat the Pats on a neutral field. And if Denver needs OT to win a home game, they certainly wouldn't be expected to win a game on a neutral field.

If you're looking for a system that only re-iterates what you see in the W-L columns, then DVOA is not going to be for you. DVOA is not a "power ranking" system like you see at ESPN.com or CNNSI.com.

Consider last week: what is more impressive to you, when the Saints struggle to beat the Rams or when the Pats nearly beat the Colts? If you only care about W-L (which appears to be the case), you think that it's more impressive to struggle to beat a weak team, as long as you win.

Let's just say there's not all that much predictive value in looking only at W-L.