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08 Dec 2009

Week 13 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Lots of small movements in this week's Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, but the big winner of the week is Green Bay. The Packers move up to third overall, behind only New Orleans and Philadelphia, and they actually lead the league in weighted DVOA, our formula that gives more weight to recent games.

"Hold on," you may ask, "the Packers? The only team in the league to lose to Tampa Bay, just five weeks ago?" Yes, those Packers. You can't accuse them of consistency, and you can't accuse them of understanding the pass interference rules, but you can accuse them of overall greatness. With the exception of that Bucs game the Packers have been excellent for the past two months. They are one of only two teams to put up a single-game DVOA above 40% in six different games (New Orleans is the other). They rank first in defense and sixth in offense. Only two things are keeping the Packers out of the overall lead position. First, opponent adjustments, as Green Bay has played the easiest schedule in the league by average DVOA of opponent. Second, the Packers can't get their act together on special teams. Green Bay ranks dead last in special teams overall and 22nd or lower in all five aspects of special teams in the FO ratings.

If the Packers moved up to third, and they're behind the Eagles in second, that means that the 12-0 perfect Indianapolis Colts have actually dropped into fourth place, behind two different teams with four losses each. This may have readers wondering what the hell the computer is smoking. The same goes for our playoff odds report, which gives just an 17.0 percent chance of the Saints and Colts meeting in the Super Bowl, and just a 0.8 percent chance of what we call the "Mercury Morris is a Royal Douchebag Bowl," in which the Saints and Colts do everyone a favor by going 18-0, guaranteeing that one of them will finish perfect and finally shut up some of those obnoxious 1972 Dolphins for good.

(Calm down, Miami fans. I know most of the 1972 Dolphins are not obnoxious, just a few very loud ones.)

I've written about this before, but I want to go into it a bit further: As impressive as their last-minute wins and 12-0 starts may be, the 2009 Saints and 2009 Colts simply are not dominating the league like undefeated teams of the past. One of the problems with analyzing the Saints and Colts on the run to perfection is that the concept of 16-0 is so completely linked to the controversial 2007 Patriots. It's a lot easier to have a rational discussion if we compare the Saints and Colts to the all the other teams that started 12-0 since the merger. We'll toss in two teams that started 11-0 but lost their 12th game (each by less than a touchdown):

Teams with 11-0 Starts, 1970-2009
Team Year W-L PF PA Pyth. DVOA Wins 15+ Wins 1-7
(or Loss)
Wins 1-3
(or Loss)
MIA 1972 12-0 346 158 .865 -- 5 3 1
MIA 1984 11-1 388 198 .831 -- 7 3 2
CHI 1985 12-0 359 127 .921 -- 7 1 0
WAS 1991 11-1 382 163 .883 -- 6 4 3
DEN 1998 12-0 401 206 .829 45.8% 8 3 0
IND 2005 12-0 366 162 .873 39.2% 7 2 0
NE 2007 12-0 469 209 .872 62.2% 9 3 2
NO 2009 12-0 440 251 .791 34.0% 6 2 1
IND 2009 12-0 331 201 .765 30.0% 4 6 4

(By the way, while I was putting that table together, Tramon Williams (a.k.a. "Admiral Armbar" was flagged for defensive pass interference nine more times.)

You can see the domination difference when you look at the size of each team's wins. The 2009 Colts have fewer big wins and more close wins than any other team on this list. The 2009 Saints are also near the bottom, roughly equivalent to the 1991 Redskins. (Of course, they would be even more similar to the 1991 Redskins if the 2009 Redskins had done their job.) When you put together the close wins with the lack of dominant blowouts, you get the biggest difference between this year's 12-0 twins and the greatest teams in NFL history: Pythagorean projection.

For our newer readers, Pythagorean projection is a simple estimate of how many wins we would expect from a team if we only considered points scored and allowed. New Orleans and Indianapolis have the best Pythagorean projections in the league this year, but those projections don't come close to the actual 12-0 records these teams have put together. The Saints come out at .791, which works out to 9.5 wins; the Colts come out at .765, which works out to 9.2 wins. Those numbers pale in comparison to the projections of great teams in the past, and it goes far beyond just the six other teams listed above. Thirty-eight different teams since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger have projected Pythagorean win percentages higher than the 2009 Saints. The Colts rank even worse -- 63 different teams (including New Orleans) have Pythagorean win percentages higher than the 2009 Colts.

(By the way, this is not the case at the other end of the league. The Rams' projection of .127 is the 11th worst since the merger, and fourth-worst since 1978. Cleveland's .143 would also end up one of the 20 worst Pythagorean records since the merger.)

Obviously, any team that ends up with a 16-0 record is going to out-perform its projection. You aren't going to go through the entire season without giving up points. However, a 16-0 team with the Colts' Pythagorean win projection of .765 would out-perform its projection by a mind-blowing 3.8 wins. A 16-0 team with the Saints' projection of .791 would out-perform its projection by 3.2 wins. These would be, respectively, the second and fifth most "lucky" seasons since the 1970 merger (not counting the 8-1 Raiders in strike-shortened 1982). And while they may not be competing with the Saints and Colts for historical supremacy, the Jaguars would show up on the list of biggest Pythagorean outperformers as well.

Top 10 Pythagorean Overachievers, 1970-2009 (min. 12 games)
Team Year W-L PCT PF PA Pyth Pyth. Win "Luck"
IND 1992 9-7 .563 216 302 .311 5.0 .251
IND 2009 12-0 1.000 331 201 .765 9.2 .235
PIT 2004 15-1 .938 372 251 .718 11.5 .220
OAK 1976 13-1 .929 350 237 .716 10.0 .213
NO 2009 12-0 1.000 440 251 .791 9.5 .209
TEN 1999 13-3 .813 392 324 .611 9.8 .201
JAC 2009 7-5 .583 225 273 .387 4.6 .196
CLE1 1976 9-5 .643 267 287 .457 6.4 .186
PIT 1989 9-7 .563 265 326 .380 6.1 .183
ATL 2004 11-5 .688 340 337 .505 8.1 .182

It is hard to gauge what this means for the Saints and Colts. Most of the teams with Pythagorean "luck" over .150 and 10 or 11 wins got killed in the playoffs, but the best teams with "luck" over .150 did a lot better than that:

  • 2004 Steelers (15-1, luck: .220) lost in the AFC Championship to the defending champion Patriots
  • 1976 Raiders (13-1, luck: .213) won the Super Bowl
  • 1999 Titans (13-3, luck: .201) lost in the Super Bowl to the dominating 1999 Rams
  • 1999 Colts (13-3, luck: .174) lost to that same Titans team in the divisional round
  • 1991 Lions (12-4, luck: .168) lost in the NFC Championship to the 1991 Redskins, one of the best teams of all-time
  • 1985 Raiders (12-4, luck: .168) lost to New England in the divisional round
  • 2003 Patriots (14-2, luck: .164) won the Super Bowl
  • 1990 49ers (14-2, luck: .159) won the Super Bowl
  • 2006 Colts (12-4, luck: .150) won the Super Bowl

I guess the moral of the story is that right now, New Orleans and Indianapolis are run-of-the-mill "best NFL teams that season," rather than all-time great teams. Yes, if one of these teams manages to finish 19-0, I think we have to celebrate it as one of the greatest teams in history, no matter what DVOA says. But DVOA is warning us that this is a lot less likely to happen than people seem to think. Especially considering the topsy-turvy nature of the last few postseasons, be prepared for one or both of these teams to finish 16-0 and lose in the playoffs. Although I don't think anyone is going to market New Orleans "18-1" t-shirts.

A few more notes about teams that are not undefeated:

  • I'm guessing a lot of people will be shocked that the Patriots are still ranked number five, and third in weighted DVOA. Yes, they are 7-5, but three of those losses came by a field goal or less, including two losses by just one point. The Patriots are fourth in Pythagorean projection at .712, behind the Saints, Colts, and Vikings. If the Patriots manage to lose one of their final four games (or any playoff games) by just one point, they will become just the third team since 1990 to lose three games by exactly one point. (The others were the 1997 Raiders and the 1990 Chiefs.) Look, the recent "media panic" over the Patriots departure from the "NFL elite" is a bit ridiculous. Has this team played well the last two weeks? No, and the pass defense is struggling badly. But still, this is one of the top teams in the league. One reason why the Patriots look worse than they actually are -- especially Tom Brady -- is the schedule. If you look at the FO schedule ratings, you'll notice only two teams in the DVOA top 15 have faced schedules ranked in the top ten: New England and Baltimore. Last night, ESPN showed a poll where they asked people online which team's playoff chances were in bigger trouble after this week, Dallas or New England. Readers in 48 states picked Dallas; only readers in Massachusetts and (for some reason) Hawaii took the Patriots. This is a good example of how self-flagellating Boston fans can be. The "Patriots are doomed" stuff is just as annoying as the "Patriots can do no wrong" nonsense from five years ago, and my fellow Patriots fans need to get over themselves.
  • Although, to be honest, the Dallas loss is a bit overrated as well. I think that game said more good things about the Giants than it did bad things about the Cowboys.
  • Arizona moves up to seventh in overall DVOA and fifth in weighted DVOA after whipping the Vikings. It's safe to say now that the preseason projection system was wrong, wrong, wrong about the Cardinals. The question is why. Is this a sign that they really did give up in December 2008, and those games should be thrown out of consideration? Is it a sign that playoff improvement is a much stronger indicator for the following season than it used to be? (See also: 2007-2008 Giants, 2006-2007 Colts run defense.) Some combination of both? Something else entirely? We'll definitely be looking into this while we prepare Football Outsiders Almanac 2010, because I don't want to be making similar mistakes in future preseason projections. This is a darn good team, and a serious contender to get back to the Super Bowl.
  • San Diego, allegedly the "hot team nobody wants to play in the postseason," is just 13th despite a 9-3 record. This warrants more analysis, but I've sort of run out of time and space for this week, so we'll analyze it next week, either in Any Given Sunday (if they lose to the Cowboys) or the DVOA Analysis (if they beat the Cowboys).

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 13 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 NO 34.0% 1 30.9% 2 12-0 31.8% 1 -4.0% 7 -1.8% 27
2 PHI 30.9% 4 24.8% 7 8-4 12.6% 12 -12.9% 2 5.4% 3
3 GB 30.5% 7 32.3% 1 8-4 20.5% 6 -18.4% 1 -8.4% 32
4 IND 30.0% 2 30.5% 4 12-0 26.5% 3 -3.8% 8 -0.3% 20
5 NE 28.2% 3 30.5% 3 7-5 28.9% 2 1.9% 17 1.2% 13
6 MIN 24.7% 5 25.1% 6 10-2 17.9% 8 -0.2% 15 6.6% 2
7 ARI 24.3% 9 28.6% 5 8-4 19.5% 7 -1.3% 14 3.6% 6
8 BAL 22.0% 6 20.3% 9 6-6 13.7% 11 -7.1% 6 1.2% 12
9 DAL 20.0% 8 22.6% 8 8-4 24.9% 4 5.8% 19 0.9% 14
10 DEN 14.9% 12 12.5% 13 8-4 4.6% 19 -10.7% 4 -0.3% 21
11 PIT 14.5% 10 15.0% 11 6-6 17.3% 9 -2.2% 10 -5.0% 31
12 NYG 12.0% 14 9.0% 14 7-5 11.2% 14 -1.6% 11 -0.8% 25
13 SD 10.3% 13 15.0% 12 9-3 21.9% 5 11.2% 25 -0.5% 23
14 HOU 10.2% 11 15.1% 10 5-7 15.5% 10 8.7% 21 3.4% 7
15 CIN 6.4% 15 6.9% 16 9-3 7.6% 17 0.7% 16 -0.4% 22
16 MIA 5.5% 16 7.8% 15 6-6 9.8% 15 8.5% 20 4.2% 5
17 NYJ 4.0% 17 -0.1% 18 6-6 -11.5% 24 -12.8% 3 2.7% 10
18 SF 0.6% 19 1.6% 17 5-7 -7.1% 21 -7.2% 5 0.5% 16
19 JAC -0.3% 20 -4.2% 21 7-5 11.3% 13 11.1% 24 -0.5% 24
20 WAS -3.3% 21 -2.3% 20 3-9 -3.5% 20 -1.4% 13 -1.3% 26
21 ATL -6.5% 18 -11.4% 23 6-6 6.3% 18 12.7% 27 -0.1% 19
22 CAR -8.3% 23 -0.1% 19 5-7 -8.5% 23 -3.8% 9 -3.6% 29
23 TEN -8.6% 22 -7.0% 22 5-7 8.0% 16 14.3% 28 -2.3% 28
24 SEA -15.2% 25 -19.0% 25 5-7 -8.4% 22 9.6% 22 2.8% 9
25 BUF -16.6% 24 -16.6% 24 4-8 -19.5% 27 -1.5% 12 1.4% 11
26 CHI -20.6% 26 -23.5% 26 5-7 -20.5% 29 4.9% 18 4.8% 4
27 TB -29.4% 27 -29.6% 28 1-11 -15.0% 25 15.1% 29 0.7% 15
28 STL -33.5% 31 -29.4% 27 1-11 -15.8% 26 17.8% 31 0.2% 18
29 KC -33.5% 28 -34.5% 30 3-9 -24.9% 31 11.7% 26 3.1% 8
30 OAK -34.8% 30 -33.0% 29 4-8 -24.4% 30 10.8% 23 0.3% 17
31 CLE -36.2% 29 -38.6% 31 1-11 -20.2% 28 23.0% 32 7.0% 1
32 DET -46.9% 32 -45.5% 32 2-10 -25.0% 32 17.8% 30 -4.1% 30
  • 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 NO 34.0% 12-0 39.8% 9.5 1 -4.9% 29 -8.1% 26 14.0% 19
2 PHI 30.9% 8-4 36.1% 8.2 6 -4.9% 28 15.8% 3 17.8% 25
3 GB 30.5% 8-4 39.7% 8.3 5 -8.9% 32 1.0% 16 14.2% 20
4 IND 30.0% 12-0 33.8% 9.3 2 2.7% 13 0.7% 18 10.0% 10
5 NE 28.2% 7-5 24.6% 8.1 7 4.5% 9 -5.0% 25 22.3% 31
6 MIN 24.7% 10-2 29.9% 8.8 3 -5.9% 30 -3.5% 23 9.2% 8
7 ARI 24.3% 8-4 25.8% 8.8 4 -1.9% 23 -16.4% 30 19.9% 28
8 BAL 22.0% 6-6 20.5% 8.0 9 4.6% 8 -29.3% 32 10.0% 9
9 DAL 20.0% 8-4 21.6% 8.1 8 -2.4% 24 24.0% 2 5.7% 1
10 DEN 14.9% 8-4 16.7% 7.5 10 1.2% 18 -2.5% 21 20.5% 29
11 PIT 14.5% 6-6 23.5% 7.4 11 -7.4% 31 7.3% 9 10.2% 11
12 NYG 12.0% 7-5 6.8% 6.6 15 3.6% 11 14.6% 4 15.0% 21
13 SD 10.3% 9-3 17.1% 7.3 12 -4.5% 27 4.9% 13 7.6% 3
14 HOU 10.2% 5-7 9.6% 7.2 13 2.0% 16 -5.0% 24 8.7% 6
15 CIN 6.4% 9-3 13.2% 6.9 14 -3.5% 26 1.8% 15 20.7% 30
16 MIA 5.5% 6-6 4.0% 6.5 16 4.7% 7 5.2% 12 12.2% 15
17 NYJ 4.0% 6-6 9.8% 6.1 17 2.0% 15 0.2% 19 13.7% 18
18 SF 0.6% 5-7 0.7% 5.9 19 1.5% 17 -8.4% 27 8.2% 5
19 JAC -0.3% 7-5 -0.1% 6.1 18 -2.8% 25 9.2% 6 19.4% 27
20 WAS -3.3% 3-9 -3.1% 5.9 20 -1.2% 22 2.5% 14 10.5% 12
21 ATL -6.5% 6-6 -6.3% 5.5 21 4.7% 6 -2.7% 22 12.1% 14
22 CAR -8.3% 5-7 -13.6% 5.4 23 2.1% 14 32.9% 1 16.9% 24
23 TEN -8.6% 5-7 -21.2% 5.4 22 10.4% 1 -11.0% 29 35.2% 32
24 SEA -15.2% 5-7 -14.8% 4.2 26 -0.8% 21 0.9% 17 15.9% 23
25 BUF -16.6% 4-8 -13.8% 4.7 24 0.7% 19 6.1% 10 15.6% 22
26 CHI -20.6% 5-7 -18.2% 4.3 25 -0.5% 20 10.1% 5 11.6% 13
27 TB -29.4% 1-11 -32.6% 3.2 27 9.1% 2 5.4% 11 13.5% 17
28 STL -33.5% 1-11 -35.8% 3.0 30 3.3% 12 8.9% 7 6.9% 2
29 KC -33.5% 3-9 -33.2% 3.0 29 4.7% 5 -10.5% 28 8.7% 7
30 OAK -34.8% 4-8 -39.5% 3.2 28 5.1% 4 -0.9% 20 19.3% 26
31 CLE -36.2% 1-11 -43.7% 2.8 31 5.2% 3 -18.1% 31 13.3% 16
32 DET -46.9% 2-10 -49.0% 2.3 32 4.3% 10 8.8% 8 7.8% 4

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Dec 2009

266 comments, Last at 14 Dec 2009, 7:42pm by TheHippo


by GlennW :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:17pm

Well, Oakland did beat Pittsburgh (the Raiderjoe/Sierra formula is pure genius, once again), and the computer didn't blow up. But nor did it advance the Raiders...

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:35am

hahahahahahah! i called it!!! man, team dvoa sucks.

i predicted last week that san diego and cincinatti would win and that pittsburgh would lose. but more surprisingly, i called that despite those three happening, dvoa would still have the steelers ranked ahead of both of those teams. What is shocking about the chain of events is that pittsburgh lost to a team san diego beat twice this year. Since oakland beat such a good team, wouldnt it positively reaffect san diegos dvoa this year? i guess the answer is no, because they are west of the rockies.

by Temo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:32am

i predicted last week that san diego and cincinatti would win and that pittsburgh would lose

No, you didn't.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:34pm

its on last weeks dvoa ratings. so yes i did

by Temo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:57pm

I looked it up and don't see it. Care to quote it?

by mrh :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:31pm

Big Johnson had three posts in last week’s DVOA thread:
#48 – a long complaint about why SD is rated so low and Steelers so high. No apparent prediction.
#234 – a short complaint about why SD isn’t moving up in DVOA despite their recent wins.
And this exchange:
#96 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings by AnonymousCats (not verified) :: Wed, 12/02/2009 - 12:49am
If by some wierd chance the Bengals beat the Vikings, will they even crack the top 10 in DVOA?
#108 Re: Week 12 DVOA Ratings by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/02/2009 - 1:58am
nope. they will remain behind pittsburgh after pittsburgh loses to oakland.

I’d give Big Johnson credit for predicting OAK over PIT. No doubt he thought SD would win, although he didn’t say that. His prediction about the Bengals, giving him the benefit of the doubt, is that they will beat the Vikings, which to my knowledge is still TBD. If they do beat the Vikings, he clearly predicts that the Bengals will remain behind the Steelers in DVOA. He makes no claim as to where the Chargers will rank in this case. Overall, he did NOT make the predictions he claims in post #86 above.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:18pm

the cincinatti against vikings is a possibility thing. in the post before mine he uses the word "if". If cincinatti beats the vikings they will remain behind the steelers. but this wasnt the basis behind my post. in stating that "they will remain behind pittsburgh after pittsburgh loses to oakland" that implies they will be behind pittsburgh after this week no matter what the outcome of the bengals game is. Clearly most people would predict the bengals over the lions. I wont predict the Clippers over the lakers unless i predict the upset team. In an extremely lopsided game it is assumed to predict the favorite to win. Thats why i clearly stated the outcome of the pittsburgh game. All 3 of those games were supposed to be 1 sided blowouts. The two actually good teams blew out the underdog. The overrated dvoa darling lost.

I did predict that pittsburgh would lose to oakland.
I did predict that san diego would win.
I did predict a bengals win.
and i did predict that despite the pittsburgh loss, they would remain ahead of cincinatti. I didnt predict san diego to be behind pittsburgh in the dvoa rankings.

I thought last week i put san diego on there, and that is the only thing that OVERALL "he did not make the predictions he claims in post #86 above". This last weeks prediction was an easy call, because dvoa is very predictable for certain teams.

by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:25pm

Didn't Pittsburgh beat San Diego earlier this year, or does that game exist only within the data that Aaron uses to calculate DVOA? Perhaps we have a conspiracy here!

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:40pm

so that game in week 5 when pittsburgh still had its best player is weighted more than last weeks games where pittsburgh lost to a team san diego beat twice and san diego won. pittsburgh was good with polamalu. they are not good without him. Its a conspiracy that it seems dvoa is turned off for pittsburgh during any game that polamalu misses.

and back to the loss against the raiders. this should positively affect them even if they got lucky in their win. they didnt move up at all? did they win a game where they had a dvoa of 30% or less? had this game positively affected them, it would reaffect san diegos dvoa for earlier in the year by giving them two more games that are more difficult.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:46pm

Oakland's DVOA is up 3%, since we have 13 games, I'm guessing that means a single game DVOA of around 40%.

by jmaron :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:50pm

Actual Total DVOA for Oak in that game -6.4%

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:54pm

Oh yeah, I'm stupid.

I am surprised the come out as below average playing a team rated so highly that close.

by R O (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:59pm

Not 100% sure this is what you were referring to, but Polamalu did not play against San Diego.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:22pm

If the gap between the Vikings and Packers stays where it is at right now, and they meet for a third time in the playoffs, what are the odds of the lower ranked team beating the higher ranked team, for the third time in a row?

by Flounder :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:38pm

Pretty damn good I'd say. I just don't see any way GB could knock off MN in the dome.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:29pm

Seeing as the difference between them is less than HFA lets say the odds are: 55/45 Vikings(Dome) 55/45(Playoffs) Vikings and 60/40(Lambeau) Packers. So around 12%? I think those figures are reasonable.

Of course since we already know the Vikings have won the first two games that would make it simply 55%. No gamblers fallacy!

Plus you might want to add some arbitrary increase in % accounting for the fact that MIN apparently plays GB better than they play the rest of the NFL so it would be silly to ignore that fact.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:48pm

The Packers are an interesting team to me, especially in light of DVOA. I mean, their rank here has been pretty high all along, but I can tell you I'm glad the Vikings played them twice early, as opposed to twice late. Since they signed Tauscher and Clifton became healthier, they have protected Rodgers much better, and Clay Matthews, who has been pretty good all along, is becoming the dominant edge rusher that I didn't see earlier, no matter what their defensive DVOA rank has been all along.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:59pm

Don't forget Jermichael Finley (as well as Jordy Nelson) getting over their knee injuries.

I had really hoped Finley would have been available for the second game against Minny, seeing what he did to them in the first meeting.

by jmaron :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:53pm

Finley and Nelson both had big games in Minnesota (9 catches 173 yards 2TDs).

I think a third game would be a tossup. But I figure just about every NFC playoff game will likely be a tossup.

by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:36am

The Packers are definitely playing up to their preseason level. But it's not who you play, it's when you play them. The Packers have been healthier than the teams they've played, and have not beaten a decent team on the road since the Giants game in September--of 2007. With 3 of the next 4 away from Lambeau against teams that are a little better than the Lions/Browns/Rams, it's time for them to prove they can actually win a tough game far from the friendly confines of Lambeau.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:32pm

As Aaron alluded to, the Packers' special teams could prove to be their undoing. It seems like they give up a big return almost weekly and K Mason Crosby has become increasingly unreliable. Their special teams units have cost them 10 points in each of the last two games, and if they make the playoffs, they obviously aren't going to have that margin for error. If they can get this fixed, I think a third Packer-Viking match-up would be a far different proposition than the first two. Of course, I thought that about the game at Lambeau, but the O-line was still a car wreck then, and the defense is really playing well right now.

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:27pm

The preseason prediction for the Cardinals all but assumed Kurt Warner would miss significant time. He finally did miss some time, but that's the biggest single factor that was wrong, off the top of my head.

by Alvaden (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:57pm

Well that was an incorrect assumption in the first place, more based on opponent's hopes than the actual progress of Warner's hip surgery. I'm not even sure that Warner's health wsa the reason, because the Vikings would have been equally misdiagnosed due to Favre's shoulder status waffling.

by t.d. :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:02pm

that was based on the faulty premise that warner has missed time frequently in his career. he did miss time quite a bit in the past few years, but it wasn't due to injury, it was mainly due to coaches' decisions.

by Whatev (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:05am

Wait, but why would the coaches decide to sit him if he was doing well?

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:31pm

Dvoa still messed up. no way can Raiders be 30th team. Raiders beat eaglesa snd Seelers and Bengal;s and one other. Those three really quailty wins right htere. Computer probably taking off for blwoots losses vs Jets and Gitnas but once game was lodt (In seocnd quarter both times) Raiders smartly stopped trying. Was smart to take foot off pedal and coast in2 nd half of those games. Dont want to give future oponets anyhting good to look at.

by ChicagoRaider :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:49pm

I think that Gradkowski really fired up the team. This is a team that now believes that it has a chance to beat anyone week-in and week-out. This will not be a hang-dog team in the second half for the rest of this season.

For the moment I think this team believes it has found its way out of frustration. With the schedule of Redskins, Broncos, Browns and Ravens, they should be in these last four games, and win at least two.

by JuridianSantaal... :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:51pm

As the season goes on, it counts early games less, and I imagine that close game to the Chargers is starting to fade. That said if they continue to play at the level they're at, some of those blowout losses will fade a bit too. They're in the pack in this cluster of bad teams at the bottom, and even an average game next week will probably move them up 2-4 spots.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:56pm

"Dont want to give future oponets anyhting good to look at."

That certainly explains the continued presence of JaMarcus Russell in that Giants game.

It was too easy not to say it.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:02pm

I find this really weird but...I agree with raiderjoe. The Raiders are underrated. They are a much better team with Jamarcus riding the pine. Of course, they would be better with a catcus playing QB over Jamarcus, but they are definitely a frisky team. Any team that beats the Eagles, Bengals, and Steelers has to be given a bit more respect. Certainly they are better than the Lions, Bucs, Chiefs, Browns and Rams.

I understand that DVOA is rating them so low because it is measuring their total effort over the course of the season. I'm just saying that, right now, they are playing much better than they were at the beginning of the season.

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:14pm

And at the start, their D was pretty impressive.

Without Jamarcus in there "jamarcusing it up," they easily beat the Chargers on opening day.

by Will :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:52pm

Agreed - the Raiders are much better than the other "bad" teams in the league with a lot more talent. They are weak at QB and WR, but are not terribly bad anywhere else. Compared to the Browns and Bucs of the world, the Raiders are godly.


by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:06pm

I'd say they are also subpar with the coaching and talent evaluation compared to much of the league. If they got up to average at coaching/talent evaluation, the QB & WR situations would improve dramaticly. In overall roster quality, they seem much closer to that of a .500 team than one of the league's worst teams.

But can they put anything together? Using an NBA analogy, the Clippers have had quite a bit of talent recently; but their records still suck - last year they were roughly neck-and-neck with Sacramento as the worst teams, but Sacramento has virtually no talent. It's very similar between Kansas City & Oakland.

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:44pm

But just what is this "Star Wars" movie you speak of...?

by RickD :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:03pm

Another good mind, wiped clean as a psychic response to being exposed to Jar Jar Binks.

Some memories are best repressed!

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:11pm

Man, bringing him (it?) up is just begging for a thread hijack!

Time for the entirely rational Jar-Jar Binks vs the Ewoks thread.

(Personally, I tolerated him as a minor annoyance inserted to get kids to say "awwww" much like I felt about C3PO, R2D2, and Ewoks in earlier movies. I LOVED the fact that, in the end, his getting Amidala's vote proxy is what plunged them into war. Or gave Palpatine legitimate power... Or whatever. It was either Lucas giving into fans hate-mail and making JJB more despicable, or Lucas thumbing his nose at fans by saying, "you see, without him, the first three movies never even happen! Hah!")

Uh-oh, too much already....

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:38pm

There is another reason to hate him, it gave Lucas another outlet for his subtle racism he put in all the Star Wars movies.

by Solomon :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:05am

Insert the rant here about Lando Calrissian from the early portion of the "Chasing Amy" movie. That was a horrible movie, but the rant scene was funny.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:17am

Oh, JarJar and Lando aren't even CLOSE to being the worst example of racism in Star Wars. Consider that he saw the first three movies as an analogy for the Vietnam war. That makes the Ewoks his view of the Viet Cong! Of COURSE the VC weren't terrorists - they were simple minded little creatures that fought the US Army with sticks and rocks (at least, until a princess with a striking resemblence to Jane Fonda shows up). Think about how other war movies would have played out with a similar imagery: Deniro asking for three bullets from a plush toy: Robert Duvall claiming "Fuzzy wuzzy don't surf". Imagine how pissed Rambo would have been if the guys that blew up his best friend in Saigon were cute little walking teddy bears!

by vesini :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:47pm

What is the current weight for the WEIGHTED DVOA based on Week 13 games? I tried to check the site for the answer, but all I get is the 2003 numbers and the notation that the numbers changed for 2004.

I am trying to get an acurrate Eagles reading - to go from #2 in overall DVOA to #7 in weighted DVOA either means the Eagles are deficient in some mysterious way or that the Eagles opponents have been improving their game - this would seem to jive with the jump in the Eagles past schedule rank (up to #3 as of Week 13).

This also seconds an interesting note from Ray Didinger about Andy Reid's coaching/personnel management - he's trusting his rookies more (McCoy and Maclin), although maybe he has no choice due to injuries? - and he's moved most of his offensive playcalling to Morninhweg (I never spell his damn name right!) - It always seems to me that he's still "calling" the plays though - anyone got any insights on this?

vesini, who did not use the proper stats, and is dead.

by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:13pm

The first game against Carolina where Delhomme exploded in spectacular fashion (even for him) is counted in total season DVOA, but not in weighted DVOA. I'm pretty sure that's the biggest difference. Not coincidentally, Carolina's weighted DVOA is 8.2% higher than its total DVOA.

Unless they changed it, Weighted DVOA doesn't count any game over 10 weeks ago, and reduces the weight some of older games that it does count.

by Key19 :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:54pm

Being the eternal optimist, I agree about Dallas/NYG. It was more of a game to compliment NYG than to damn Dallas. Road divisional games are tough. Hell, I've even seen people saying "Saints are bound to lose one of their three remaining divisional games", and the Saints have a much bigger talent discrepancy over their other Division-mates than Dallas does over New York. That said, Dallas should beat Philly at home. Not saying they will by any means, but they should. They already beat Philly once and now they will get them again at home. It'll still be tough, but they should go in expecting to win, because the odds are with them. Philly is good, but as I said, it's tough to win on the road against anyone, but especially a division opponent.

Dallas must beat SD this week or they will be out of the Playoffs, in my opinion. There is no way they run the table in the last three games if they start 0-2. And that's what I think they'd have to do, because I can't count on Philly or Green Bay to lose at this point.

by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:30pm

Perhaps Dallas SHOULD win. But I seem to remember the past few Decembers, when the Eagles play the Cowboys (regardless of stadium), the Cowboys are already on vacation.

Come to think of it, the Cowboys must've gone into Giants Stadium wondering "is it December? Isn't this when we start heading down to Cabo w/Tony?"

Sorry, while I would agree with the could'ves and should'ves...facts show the Cowboys suck in December. That's a coaching thing.

by Key19 :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:57pm

Well, seeing as the Cowboys have only two playoff teams in the past five years, and the Eagles have won 5 playoff games in the past five years, God forbid the better team might win more often. It's clearly just that Dallas can't win in December.

Novel idea: The Cowboys have been bad in December a lot in recent years largely, but not entirely, due to the fact that they either a: were bad teams and had no reason to suddenly get magically better in December or b: rested starters because they had nothing to play for.

But if you want to ignore team quality and strength of schedule, by all means, yes, they are just simply horrible.

Cowboys are 1-4 against teams with winning record this year. Maybe it's not that they can't play in December, but just that they can't beat good teams regardless of where the calendar is? 4 of 5 in December have winning records.

We're going to find out if this is a good team or not very quickly, and it has nothing to do with what month it happens to be. That said, they have been competitive in all four of those losses. I expect that to be true in every game on the horizon, and the optimist in me says that we win two of them probably.

by t.d. :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:31pm

i agree, they just haven't been good enough, and last year and this year their schedules have both been brutal

by sparkyo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:18pm

So you're saying that the 'Boys were competitive in the Green Bay game????? They were almost blanked as I recall.

by jebmak :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:59pm

I may be wrong, as I didn't look this up, nor do I follow DAL. But don't the facts also show that they have had really good opponents in December of the past few years? And that given the opponents it would stand to reason that they would lose more than they did during the first part of the season?

by Temo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:35am

But don't the facts also show that they have had really good opponents in December of the past few years

Yes. And my pessimism as a fan is centered around me thinking that they don't win in December because they're not as good as the teams they play. It has nothing to do with "choking" or "checking out early" or any of that shit that fans spew. They're just not a good team, and haven't been since 2007.

by RedRobot8 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:56pm

The New York Jets are clearly ranked too low because Mark Sanchez is a studmuffin. My ass is way better than this. Please go outside of you're mom's basement and watch some football!

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:56pm

Only two things are keeping the Packers out of the overall lead position. First, opponent adjustments, as Green Bay has played the easiest schedule in the league by average DVOA of opponent. Second, the Packers can't get their act together on special teams. Green Bay ranks dead last in special teams overall and 22nd or lower in all five aspects of special teams in the FO ratings.

And just how bad is the -8.4% (and falling I might add) rating in the DVOA era? I don't have access to week by week, just final tallies, but it's bad.

Since 1994 only 6 teams finished at -7.0% or worse. And only 2 of them, the 2000 Buffalo Bills and 1997 Seattle Seahawks were worse than the -8.4% the Packers are showing. This is historically bad special teams. This is the data I dug up.

BUF -12.9% (2000)
SEA -9.8% (1997)
CHI -8.2% (1997)
CIN -8.1$ (2002)
OAK -7.7% (1998)
STL -7.5% (2004)

I'm not sure they'll be able to catch that Bills team (who finished at 8-8, 17th in DVOA, #14 offense, and #7 defense) but we do get to witness some of the worst special teams play in the history of the NFL when watching these Packers. that 97 Seahawks team was also 8-8 (21 Overall, 13 Offense 18 Defense). None of the other teams on that list did better than 8-8 most of them were just bad teams. That gives the Packers a chance to be "special".

I'd also like to bring up the penalties. That game last night was I think tied for the second most penalty yards in a single game in NFL history. I saw something from Elias that it was only like the 3rd time a team had won a game with 150+ penalty yards and 3 turn overs. I guess it helps when your opponent has 4 turnovers and a 135 penalty yards though...

No wonder I never feel safe watching this team and often want to pull out my hair.

by Dej (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:03pm

You've got to be excited for the historic Special Teams bumble-fest that is coming when PIT and GB play in a few weeks. I think that a drinking game should be created for the occasion, think of all the possibilities:

- Penalty for holding or block in the back on a return (1)
- Penalty for holding or block in the back on a fair catch or touchback (2)
- Opponent starts drive in the red zone (3)
- Untouched return for TD (3)
- Punt returner fails to field an easily fieldable punt (1)
- Kicker misses kick from inside 40 yards (2)
- Line fails to block rusher on a punt (3)
- Returner blows out a knee (2)
- Punter kicks the ball into the end zone or short of the 20 when aiming for the 10 (1)
- Kicker kicks off out of bounds (1)
- Backup offensive lineman fumbles untouched while making an ill advised attempt to return a kickoff (2)
- Kicker makes a tackle on a kickoff (2)

As a GB fan, I have seen almost everything up above at least once, and many of them more than once. The drives starting inside the red zone makes me want to smash my TV.

Let this be a lesson that promoting your Assistant Special Teams coach to replace the incompetent Special Teams Coach you fired is among the worst moves possible. There probably an appropriate analogy here, but I just can't come up with it right now.

by bmili (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:28pm

As a pack fan as well, the pit/gb game should have its tv contract extended an hour to make way for the innumerable penalties that will occur and the highest scoring 4th quarter in nfl history. I think it will be a beautiful kind of ugly.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:36am

I think you missed a few:
— Punt returner calls for fair catch inside own 10-yard line;
— Avoidable roughing the punter/kicker penalty nets first down for opponent;
— Comically inept attempt to recover onside kick (own or opponent's);
— Punt returned for negative yardage;
— McCarthy uses the words "correctable" or "fixable" in postgame press conference.

by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:37pm

I want to see if it is possible for both teams to have a negative special teams VOA for the game (obviously DVOA will be reduced for the "winner" due to quality of opponent). I think the only way it can happen is missed field goals and short kickoffs (i.e. things you can be bad at but the opposing team has relatively little control over).

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:57pm

Ha, yeah I'm wondering about that too, I think they can. These special teams are horrendous.

Of course wouldn't short punts with crappy returns still hurt both teams? The short punt hurts the punting team more than causing a short return does.

So bad kick-offs, missed field goals, yeah they'll manage it.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 6:58pm

Four weeks ago, the only two teams that have won two or more Super Bowls this decade were both 6-2. One of the has gone 1-3 since then, and the media is abuzz with speculation about why they are failing. The other has gone 0-4, and the media doesn't seem to care.

What's wrong with the Steelers? Why is their collapse going unnoticed? They won the Super Bowl last year and just lost to the freakin' Raiders at home!
Why are we not talking about their pass defense? Where the Pats have been thrashed by Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the Steelers were beaten by...Bruce Gradkowski? (A guy of such limited reknown I almost called him 'Brad'.)

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:05pm

Just a guess, but if everybody chalks it up to a missing Polamalu, then it's kind of a one-note story. Why don't they have better depth? How valuable can a S be?

Maybe there's more subtlety to it, but, come on, Ben R and his growing neck pouch are hardly as photogenic as Tom B. If you had a photo of Ben looking like an unshaven Jabba the Hutt with a wig or one of Tom looking thoughtful and pouty (because his team is not trying hard enough) to run on your webpage, which story would you go with?

by RickD :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:10pm

I think it's more of a function of the fact that the Pats lost twice on nationally televised games played in the evening to a national audience. Anybody who cared at all about the NFL watched the Pats-Colts and Pats-Saints games. The losses by the Steelers have not been as high profile.

But still...the Steelers are the defending champs! The Pats didn't even make the playoffs last year!

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:04pm

Don't you think it's a function of the fact that media notices what no one seems to talk about in this thread ? --that the Pats are yet to win a road game, right ? And the media, and DVOA, are pissed. They over rated them in a big way. The Pats defense is just average at this point, if that.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:50pm

They won in London. That's a road game, even if you don't necessarily consider it a home game for Tampa.

They're also unbeaten at home, and all but one of their road losses were very close (3pts in Denver, 7pts in New York, 1pt in Indianapolis, 1pt in Miami). The only game they lost out of hand was New Orleans. By contrast, they've blown apart the Falcons, Titans, Buccaneers, and Jets. That's not a bad team; that's a solid-to-good team who haven't quite managed to overcome home field advantage consistently.

Yes, the pass defense has been woeful the past few weeks. Rumours of the Patriots' demise are greatly exaggerated.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:45pm

I'm sorry, it's hard to consider the London game anything more than a glorified exhibition game. And the crowd had heard all about New ENGLAND and accorded them the big welcome . A couple of weeks later Tampa would beat a Green Bay poor effort on Tampa's own turf but in London it was a non-game.

The fact is N.E. is failing miserably, no matter how close the scores, at the number one imperative for winning in the NFL--i.e. prevailing in road games.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:26pm

I'm typing out a rational response to that, but I'm not sure it's merited. Your statements about the Wembley game are laughable. Wembley was fiercely, vocally pro-Tampa. They JEERED New England's scores, for pity's sake. I was there, right in the middle of it. To say they afforded the New ENGLAND Patriots (emphasis yours) the big welcome is just silly. Not only does England culturally root for the underdog, in case you're not aware Boston isn't exactly England's favourite US city.

As for your latter comment, I'm not aware of anybody in the NFL who believes that winning your road games is more important to a team's success than winning your home games. Who does claim that, and what is their justification for it?

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:55pm

Well, we just saw the TV presentation on NFL Network and the others of N.E. getting the big treatment during their trip but nobody knowing who Tampa was.
What difference does it really make ? It's not a "road game". As for what is laughable, your question is laughable. Who regards winning on the road as important ? EVERY PLAYER AND COACH IN THE NFL. Let's see, if you win all 8 games at home and go winless on the road, and win, in QueenLand, one exhibition non-game that counts, that would make you 9-7, right ?

When the season begins every team wants to sweep at home and, at least, play .500 on the road. Everyone knows there is no realistic chance of being a championship caliber team without, at least, being able to show an ability to win some tough ones on the road. Your favourite team is rumoured to be in trouble now after their choke-up in Miami the other day. Perhaps, though, they'll change their colours when the playoffs begin and suddenly win on the road. Oh, I forgot, they might not make it to the playoffs...

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:29pm

I didn't ask who said it's important, I asked who said it's more important than winning your home games. You said it's:

the number one imperative for winning in the NFL

Even your own argument claims that teams want to sweep at home and play .500 on the road. What does that then imply is more important to a team's playoff chances, home record or road record? New England are currently 1.000 at home, and have two winnable road games left on the schedule to get to .375 on the road. That, if it happens, is one game off your ideal. That is not a crisis, that is exactly what I said it is: a solid-to-good team. Now if they lose at home to Carolina this Sunday, then I'll be concerned. Until such time, as I said before, rumours of their demise are greatly exaggerated.

Finally, in case you haven't followed, my favourite team (which is irrelevant to this discussion; I've made no irrational homeristic comments) is currently top of its division and the favourite to win said division. Even winning one of the road games and both home games almost certainly wins them the division and gets them into the playoffs. The only way you can possibly then have overrated them is if you thought they would run the table and/or get one of the top two seeds - I don't know if anybody else thought that would happen, but I sure as heck didn't.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:13am

I can promise you that nobody in the UK has the slightest problem with Boston, apart from that we think that the real Boston is in the North of England. If the fans were booing it will be because most british NFL fans have spent years following the game with very limited access and as a result tend to be very committed. If they booed they probably still hold a grudge over the whole spygate/thinking the Pats stole 3 championships thing. I'd have booed for the same reasons.

by MC2 :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:53pm

Sure, 0-5 on the road looks bad on paper, but consider that 2 of those losses came at the start of the season while Brady was still shaking the rust off, 2 more came against teams that have yet to lose this season, and the final one was a 1-point loss to a team that the Brady/Belichick Pats have always had trouble with. Given all that, I see some cause for concern, but nothing close to the "OMG!!! The sky is falling!!!" rhetoric that I've been hearing lately.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:44pm

Maybe. But on the other hand, consider this from Mike Reiss's ESPNBoston mailbag today:

I thought Brady might have been forcing the ball to Moss on that interception to get him involved. Brady might have been thinking that Moss was about to check out of the game. If that is the case, it's a big mistake and a big problem. I thought Moss could have showed better effort to break up the end zone pick.

For those not familiar with Reiss, unlike the bulk of the Boston media, he plays it impeccably straight with his Pats coverage. He's not one to "throw stuff out there". Sure, he couches it with "might have been" and "if this is the case", but the fact that he mentions it at all tells me all is not well in Moss-land.

by MC2 :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:56am

Now that you mention it, I recall Jaws saying something the other day (on PTI, I think) about not seeing consistent effort from some of the Patriots over the last couple of weeks. I assumed (based on the context) that he was talking about the defense, but he may have been referring to Moss as well. If so, that's obviously more disturbing than a simple loss to the Dolphins.

In any event, I still think that, come January, if I were the Colts, I would rather see anybody else (even the Chargers) than the Patriots. I wouldn't want to give Brady another shot at converting that 4th-and-2.

by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:13pm

Are you sure? I heard they renamed paper-rock-scissors to Chargers-Colts-Patriots...

by Jetspete :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:06am

Since the Pats will likely have to win 2 road games to reach a superbowl, i would be greatly concerned that they have yet to win a true road game (facing a team on a neutral field is a lot different than walking into their house). However, this is just like 2005-6, when the Pats had no competition in the division and ten wins will win you the East. Had my Jets not choked away games to Mia and Buffalo, i wonder if Belichick would be so madden-esque in his 4th down playcalling.

by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:45pm

Other than their own division, I think Arizona lost all of its road games last year - some by awful amounts. But they only had to win one road game due to the lunacy of how HFA is assigned in the playoffs. IMHO, if they actually reseeded the teams in the playoffs based on records (NYG, Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Arizona) Arizona would have had an almost impossible time making the Super Bowl - the major changes are that Atlanta would have hosted Arizona, and if both teams made it that far, Philadelphia would have HOSTED Arizona. Much, much harder.

If you want to use the 2007 Giants as a counter-example, keep in mind that they were 7-1 on the road in the regular season.

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:19pm

I assure you every fan in Pittsburgh is talking about nothing but that. I would be interested how they lose to the Chiefs and Raiders without giving up much dvoa ground.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:43pm

What's wrong with the Steelers? Why is their collapse going unnoticed?

I don't know about the second, but for the first, we should totally be asking the preseason DVOA projections, which had the Steelers at 17.5% OFF, -2.0% DEF, which is a grand total of 0.2% off on offense and defense. That's flat out spooky. (Special teams is off, but that's all due to the epic fail of Pittsburgh's kickoff coverage).

Yes, it had no way of knowing that Polamalu would be injured, but a lot of the projected decline was because the Steelers D was very healthy last year, so... yeah. It even projected the reason for the decline correctly. Like I said: spooky. So all the people who said "how is Pittsburgh's offense going to be so good and their defense decline so much?" You've got your answer.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:44am

After a quick check, the Steelers were 6-2 in games decided by a score or less, in 2009, they are 2-6. This suggests that last year, they may have had at least a little luck (randomness) working for them, and this year, not so much.

by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:12pm

I've never seen a season where so many people are bitching that DVOA is inaccurate. What's funny is that this year they've managed to hit dead-on in two respects - 1) That the Pittsburgh offense would be better than its defense, and 2) identifying the characteristics that explain where out-of-nowhere teams often come from. The data fit St. Louis better than Cincinnati, but I believe that Cincinnati has been a fairly good illustration of those predictive factors bearing fruit.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 5:52am

"I've never seen a season where so many people are bitching that DVOA is inaccurate."

Funny, I thought it was about the same as every year, except the "problem" has not been the Eagles.

RE: DVOA "accuracy"

From 1994 to 2008, correlation of DVOA with Wins: 0.85425194
For 2009 season: 0.856056738

DVOA is working same as it ever was.

The R-square is .7297, meaning that the ingredients of DVOA "explain" 73% of the stuff in wins. That's fairly impressive; however, twenty-seven percent remains unexplained.

The teams that are of interest, are the teams that are either significantly under/over performing their DVOA in regards to wins. My assessment is there are approximately 11 teams of note:


These teams, when rank ordered by number of wins, either need to have won or lost 2 or more games to be "seeded" with their DVOA equals. That is SD's (9-wins) #13 DVOA rank places them in the cluster of teams that have won 7 games this year (e.g. 7-wins gets you ranked 11, 12, or 13), WAS's (3-wins) #20 rank places them in the cluster of teams that have won 5 games, CIN's (9-wins) 15 rank places them in the cluster of team's that have won 6 games, etc.

This means that 21 (67%) teams are winning within one game of their DVOA. That's slightly below the 73% threshhold above, but damn close.

by Jeff Fogle :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:25pm

Delta, have you done any similar "accuracy" studies with conventional stats? Yardage differential, yards-per-play differential, third down conversion differential and the like(hopefully adjusted for strength of schedule in a logical way)? Trying to evaluate how "innovative" DVOA is compared to what was already out there. Is it a step forward from what existed, or just kind of a re-working of what existed in terms of the correlation to wins and what it "explains." Thanks in advance if you have any numbers of the more mainstream stats...

by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 5:35am

I have begun a validation study of sorts. I don't have any firm results that I feel ready to share. The analyses of conventional stats I've completed has not included strength of schedule, so I may have to restart some of the analyses and/or figure out how to account for it. If nothing else, the strength of schedule adjustment may be the most innnovative aspect of this site - that is PO has a conistent and systematic way of accounting for strength of schedule.

I do have a brief (and rather limited) analysis of DVOA usefulness a predictor that I'm putting together that I hope to forward to Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats for his Community web page. I hope to finish it in the next day or two.

After writing the above I ran a quick check. Plain old VOA's correlation with Wins since 1994 is 0.884 versus DVOA's 0.854. Uhhh...uh oh. I've got to think on this one

by dbrude@gmail.com :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 7:17am

You would expect VOA to be more correlated with wins.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 7:45am

Makes sense, thanks.

by mm (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 4:28pm

Well, you'd definitely expect VOA to correlate better with past wins, but DVOA should be better at predicting future wins (unless your future strength of schedule is close to your previous SOS).

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:01pm

I'm wondering about that Colts "they're not that dominant" DVOA. My eyeballs tell me that the Colts are an amazing team this year. What are their splits? They seem to play possum in the first half of games and let the other team throw the kitchen sink at them, and then they come out with 2nd half adjustments once they know how they're being schemed against. And then Peyton gets into a groove and it's all over. To use a Simmons term, a lot of these seem like Milton Berle wins. It's strange. They're not blowing anybody out, but watching them, it's hard to argue that they're not blowing other teams out because they CAN'T. They certainly CAN blow other teams out, if, say, the amount of 4th quarter scoring in a limited time against the Patriots is any indication.

Is there some reason why you might want to gameplan for a low DVOA? Or does DVOA account for the "10-pitch first inning strikeout" value of getting a lot of looks out of an opponent?

by RickD :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:08pm

The Colts are getting into a bad habit of playing at half-speed for good parts of the game. You cannot expect DVOA to know that they are dogging it.

(And I think you're in denial if you think that the Colts were in control of the game against the Patriots at any time before the last two minutes. The Pats dominated that game for 3 quarters and then their defense ran out of gas.)

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:28pm

During their comeback streak, the Colts reminded me of Maxwell Smart. Not as clueless, but every time a coach could say "But guys, you'll be down by 17 with six minutes left...." and any given member of the team would finish that with "...and LOVING it!"

In the end, they always got their man (and Barbara Feldon).

On the plus side for them is the makeup of their offense, a stingy D, and the "never panic, we're never out of it" attitude. They have the pieces to capitalize on just these kinds of games--the no-huddle wears out D's so that they CAN score 14 pts late (and if they go to OT and get with ball w/o Ron Winter's crew running the game, even better!), the D keeps the other guys to 3s instead of 7s, and they run the system professionally. Watch their WRs when they catch a ball and they are in a 2-minute drill. They bounce up, run to hand the ball to the official, and sprint back to the LOS. Contrast that with the Ravens last night--the announcers kept noting it and they were being kind. Those guys sluggishly got up, threw the ball on the ground, or away, or did other crap that ate up a few seconds, and dragged their asses back to the huddle. No urgency.

I hope the Colts are not like the students who can only work efficienlty when they have a deadline or four looming and crank out all their work in a massive coffee-fueled all-nighter, because that comes back to burn you eventually. But sometimes, they do look like that.... Now that they got a veteran CB back from injury, they should allower fewer deficits, and once their #2 WR returns from his week 1 injury and week 6 scoping, the O should operate better as well.

by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:22pm

Mmmm ... Barbara Feldon.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:13pm

I was going to do a link to the Toto song '99', and instead discovered that that song has nothing whatsoever to do with Barbara Feldon. I need to be alone for a while.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:19pm

Yeah, it's true that they shouldn't be in a position where they're confident about their ability to win when their ability to win has relied on Kris Brown shanking a late kick. But it seems clear to me that they're on cruise control. Their division is way weaker than it has been in years, and they don't seem like they're playing to dominate. They're playing to stay in the game and try not to get hurt. The 2007 Patriots dominated in the first half of the season, and people forget how clunky and lucky they were in the second half that year. I don't feel like the Colts are even breaking a sweat at the moment.

Time will tell if they're merely a good team with a great Win-Loss record/chip on their shoulder, or if they're actually a great team with an excellent long-term strategy to win a Super Bowl. Would anybody be surprised if they just went ahead and exploded in the playoffs like Secretariat in the Belmont Stakes? I would not be. That 80-yard drive against the Patriots in 1:49 without burning a timeout was a masterpiece of football execution. It qualified for "thing of beauty" status, not in the Secretariat realm, more Usain Bolt chest-thump territory of "holy s, that was pretty amazing." And I'm not even a Colts fan.

I also have a feeling that Peyton wants badly to go 19-0. Because if he does it and Brady didn't... you know... that... means something? I don't know.

This is all just conjecture.

More germane to the DVOA discussion, though, is that since it's a per-play statistic that's at least based on game situation, it doesn't take season-long strategy into much account. I don't know enough about it, but is this an accurate assumption? Does DVOA take into account the records and playoff situations of the teams? Because there's game situation and then there's season situation, and I think the way the Colts are behaving right now is perfectly appropriate for their season situation.

I know DVOA is often referenced to explore and explode myths about how best to use strategy, and that correlation does not equal causation, but can DVOA teach us anything about season-long strategy for a very good team that expects to contend for a Super Bowl? Let's assume the Colts are such a team (they are), are there instances of a team playing rope-a-dope with the rest of the league? I know DVOA can't measure intent, but can it measure conservatism? Can it tell us if the Colts are being more conservative than other teams in their same situation?

I don't demand an answer, I'm just curious.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 12:51am

That rope-a-dope concept is interesting and one I bet a lot of other Colt fans have pondered (if not exactly in that way). The Tenn game is an example--up 21-3 with the half looming, they essentially said "cruise control" and handed the game to Addai to finish. The D did its part of course (except for the lamentable 2 minute drive by the Titans) and the O briefly recalled who they were with their own 20-second FG drive. But after that, it was all jumprope and hopscotch and hardly Jack the Ripper. As a fan, this often frustrates me. I know the game it 95% settled, but.... ah, whatever.

No where, ever never, no-way will any pro athlete admit to doing this. Especially Manning. But it sure looks like it to me. The reason they seem a little less vincible since about 2005 is they have a D that can close-down games like that. "Okay, the O is busy swirling their food around their plate making it LOOK like they're eating, but we're here to get our F-ing plates clean."

IIRC, DVOA cannot make those subjective decisions (in 2003 or 2004, Indy folded in the last week vs the Broncos because they would face--and kill--them in the 1st round of the playoffs. This messes up DVOA.) I think they inlcude the week 16/17 games, but warn us verbally in the intro those weeks to take it with a grain of salt.

by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:06pm

Man, I thought I debuted the term "Milton Berle-ing" it in December of 2006 writing bowl previews for Major Wager. I'm going to be mad if that got swiped...or if somebody used it for football analysis before me (lol). Agree that Indy is one of those teams...doing what it takes to win rather than showing everything. Line's been adjusting to that since '06, particularly in colleges. Too many "run it up" teams were slowed down or shut down by grinders (similar to East Carolina over Houston last week, or Tulsa the year before). Didn't start reading Simmons until last summer, so maybe it was two people making the same application from Hollywood lore in separate instances. Kinda glad the meme caught on at least. FO may be too classy a site for common usage though.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:09pm

The common perception this year is that there are a group of "haves", a group of "have-nots", and then a large, relatively uniform "middling" group. You talked about how New Orleans and Indianapolis are both very good, but not historically great, and on the flip side about St. Louis and Cleveland being borderline historically bad.

I'm looking over DVOA, and I see there is a group of 9 teams with 20%+ DVOA and another group of 8 with -20% or more DVOA. The remaining group is within the +/-15% DVOA band (except BUF at -16.6%). How does this distribution compare historically? Is the mediocrity of the middle compelling in any way? Are there a larger-than-average number of good/bad teams? Any other insight into the overall league shape? Thanks!


by Bobman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:16pm

Oh, and if we DO have two 18-0 teams in the SB, can they get Garrett Morris to announce the arrive of Eugene "Mercury" Morris to the stadium.

Announcing...! Lord... and Lady... DOOOOOUUUUUCHEBAAAAAG!

by TXNiner :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:25pm

I'm just happy the 49ers have a positive DVOA this late in the season.

by darthgoofy :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:30pm

In the comment about New England and their record...

"If you look at the FO schedule ratings, you'll notice only two teams in the DVOA top ten have faced schedules ranked in the top 15: New England and Baltimore."

Looking at the past schedules, New England, Baltimore AND Indy have faced top 15 schedules (Indy faced #13). I thought the original comment was disinguinous. The comment should probably be changed to indicate that NE and Balt are the only teams to have faced a top 10 schedule. Although, you would be doing the Colts a disservice if you did that. :)

by nat :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:43pm

Yes, I think it was supposed to be two teams in the top fifteen have faced a top ten schedule.

But really, how many times have we been told (or told people) to look at actual numbers, not just ranks.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:08pm

Yep, yep. You are correct. Typo. Will go back and change.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:32am

But really, how many times have we been told (or told people) to look at actual numbers, not just ranks.

You're right, but this year there's a hitch: the passing numbers are way out of kilter with previous years. The average pass offense is at 13.3% DVOA; ninth-ranked Pittsburgh (37.9%) would have been third last year and in 2006; fourth in 2007; first by a country mile as recently as 2001 (so much for the greatest show on turf!). And that's after adjusting for all those crappy defenses. There are a dozen teams with more than 30% VOA; compare that with, say, 2003, when there were only three.

The MSM have finally begun to recognize that offenses are passing more; what they haven't yet appreciated is how many teams are passing better — and by how much. DVOA, as a measure of efficiency, is a great tool for demonstrating that. I think the value of defensive backs in the draft is about to go up significantly.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:11pm

There are a dozen teams with more than 30% VOA; compare that with, say, 2003, when there were only three.

It's almost like the something changed after 2003, like maybe the rules governing pass interference.

It does seem like there is a large number of talented QBs in the league right now, and if you can protect them, they are getting the job done.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:20pm

Now now. St. Polian only demanded and received a "point of emphasis", not a rules change.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:48pm

Of course; but did anyone expect such a big improvement? And why the boom this year? Health?

Offenses with pass VOA over 30%, by year:
2009 (so far): 12
08: 7
07: 8
06: 5
05: 8
04: 9
03: 3
02: 5
01: 3
00: 6
99: 2
98: 7
97: 1
96: 1
95: 5
94: 3

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:06am

It seems likely that as we get deeper into December, offenses will decline on average due to weather effects. Also, some top teams will play subs in the last week or 2, which will further drag down their numbers. This may affect defenses as well but it should push everyone closer to the mean. I seriously doubt all 12 will make it to the end over 30%, although 10 would still set a new high.

by dbrude@gmail.com :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 3:21am

I'm confused as to why San Diego's pass offense is rated at 64.2% DVOA yet Phillip Rivers DVOA is only 44%?

Can someone explain this?

I can't figure out the difference between team passing offense DVOA and QB DVOA when one QB has thrown all the attempts.

by darthgoofy :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:19pm

not to reply to myself... but I like that #16 (MIA) faced one of the top 10 schedules. Just one more tick down... top half of the league. Why leave Miami out of the conversation... unless there is a New England BIAS!!! dum dum dum...

by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:50pm

1990 49ers lost in NFC championship game to the Giants.

by DelawareSteeler (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 7:50pm

sooo...speaking of the steelers, what's the deal with the weighted DVOA being greater(however slightly) than the overall? Wouldn't competent/good performances by offenses rated -24 in offensive DVOA in 2 out of the last 3 games result in a significantly lowered defensive rating? or were those simply on par with other steeler defensive performances throught the season?

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:17pm

A secondary pleasure in this season is seeing the results of Ted Thompson's drafts. Along with Mathews, BJ Raj is showing real ability at nose tackle. Explosiveness, strength and using his hands. He's splitting time with Pickett which will only help the run defense as Pickett is a real force when he's playing with energy. Lang is rotating between both tackle positions and doing really well. Finley of course has just crushed defenders the past month and since he can actually block he stays on the field constantly making donald Lee an afterthought.

Mathews emergence also seems to have put a burr in the saddle of AJ Hawk who has been solid plus of late. Nick Collins is all over the field. Gosh if he only had a pair of hands worth a d*mn.

But the offense goes with Rodgers. He's making great decisions, he's willing to dump off and he scoots as needed. FO has him ranked about the same as he was last year which for a guy in a second year I take as a good sign. The league has adjusted to whatever and Rodgers has adjusted with it. Don't know if he can step it up any further but even if he doesn't he's a high caliber qb. Playing in the second tier behind guys like Manning/Brady/Brees is no shame.

by PackerJeff (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:02pm

It is nice to see Thompson's draft picks paying off. Still half of Packer fans screaming for the "pale devil's" head which is strange to me since they are winning. Now if he could only arrange a hunting trip between the special teams coach and Dick Chaney.

by M :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:59pm

(Note - Vikings fan)

We may have won the battle(s) this year, but you will likely win the war in the long run.

by jmaron :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:29pm

I don't see any great teams this year - just a bunch of good ones. I think the playoffs this year will be more of a crap shoot than most years.

It has been more like that in the last 5-6 years than the previous 10 or so. I looked back at the DVOA ratings as of week 13 for the Super Bowl participants since 1994

1994: SF 3rd, SD 6th
1995: Dall 2nd, Pitt 5th
1996: GB 1st, NE 15th
1997: GB 4th, Den 2nd
1998: Atl 11th, Den 1st
1999: StL 1st, Tenn 16th
2000: NYG 13th, Balt 3rd
2001: StL 2nd, NE 12th
2002: TB 1st, Oak 2nd
2003: Car 16th, NE 9th
2004: Phil 3rd, NE 2nd
2005: Sea 5th, Pitt 6th
2006: Chi 1st, Indy 8th
2007: NYG 17th, NE 1st
2008: Arz 16th, Pitt 5th

So the number 1 team in DVOA after week 13 has gone on to 6 Super Bowls winning 4 in 15 years.

Teams ranked 5th or higher have made the Super Bowl 15 times in the last 15 years. They have only won 5 Super Bowls in that period, but 4 of those have been in the last 6 years.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:18am

I'm sorry, please have your left pinkie fixed... or maybe my eyes. Chicago was first overall as of week 13 in 2006? I know their D was huge and ST/Devin Hester great. But Grossman and co? The guys who caused Denny Green's head to explode? #1 overall?

Wow, how the last game of the season changes perceptions, memories....

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:33am

Yeah, you're forgetting that Grossman played 6 superb games that year. The running game was good. Even in the playoffs the offense was making plays. They were generally ugly (Berrian adjusting to poorly thrown ball, then rolling into the endzone against the Saints), but they were moving the ball and scoring points.

by jmaron :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:32pm

Week 17 in the NFC could be incredible. There are essentially 7 teams fighting for 6 spots. Presume NO takes the 1 seed. That leaves 6 teams Minn, Arz, Phil, Dall, NYG and GB for 5 spots. Minnesota is almost a lock for 2,3,4 seed, but not necessarily the 2 seed after their loss to Arz.

Minn - Cinn, @Car, @Chi, NYG
Arz - @SF, @Det, Stl, GB

If Arizona wins one or two more of the next 3 than does Minnesota than week 17 becomes classic because all 6 teams play each other with one going home.

Week 17

GB at Arz
NYG at Minn
Phil at Dall

Even if Arz doesn't catch up or get within 1 game of Minn I doubt Arz would pack it in for that game as they will want the 3 seed as it would mean playing Minnesota in round 2 as opposed to NO should they win the Wild card.

by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:33pm

Two in-column comments Aaron made that I don't understand:

1) How is it that "Most of the teams with Pythagorean luck over .150 and 10 or 11 wins got killed in the playoffs" -- you list 12 past teams that crossed that threshold, and by my count 9 of them won a playoff game (all but '92 colts, '99 colts, and '76 Browns).

2) How are the 2009 Saints (Pythag record .791) "roughly equivalent to the 1991 Redskins" (Pythag .883)?

by AHBM (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:19pm

1) The teams in the list are the ones with 12-15 wins and luck over .150, not the teams with 10-11 wins and luck over .150. The writing could be clearer, but the important statement is "the best teams with 'luck' over .150 did much better than that." (emphasis mine)

2) They had the same number (6) of big wins, and the 2009 Saints even have more wins by more than a score despite the lower pythagorean projection.

by t.d. :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 8:41pm

While the Pats may be a good team, they're a team with bad pass defense in a year when it looks like all the best teams have great passing offenses. Indianapolis is the least impressive 12-0 team I've ever seen. New Orleans may not grade out as a dominating team, but it's got to be because dvoa isn't impressed with how they've played the bad teams, because they demolished #2, #5, and #12, the three highest rated teams they've played. I think that's more indicative of their abilities than the average of their performance against the dregs.

by Alvaden (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:09pm

Most interesting of all, and what no one else has commented on, was the recantation by Aaron of his statistical analysis of the Cardinals, both in preseason this year, and looking back to last year. It is noted and appreciated, at least by this Cardinal fan who has been engaging in a one man crusade to point out the descrepancy between the statistical projections and actual performance. Up until this point Aaron has argued that his model was correct and the Cardinals would eventually fall into their appropriate and familiar lower caste position within the NFL hierarchy. You are a man, sir.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:30am

Far as I can tell, Aaron is always on the level and interested in perfecting the system. When Manning-bashing was at its peak in 03 he took pains to point out that, hey guys, this Manning guy is really pretty good. (Christ, has it been that long?)

The system has always under-projected for the Colts in the preseason and for a few years I pointed that out and explained why I thought the system was wrong. 12-14 wins later, I may have been right, or maybe not (the wins did not prove it unless they won for the reasons I pointed out--after all, luck IS inevitable and nobody says "Team X will get lucky and win 13."), but they're always willing to try to make it better and listen to suggestions.

The key may lie in the two QBs in question--There really is no way to model "a season of Manning" and likewise, Warner is capable of playing like the best ever, especially with those weapons he has. So while their teams might generate 95% of the projected results, those guys are capable of making two or three plays a game that are just so freakish they tip the scales. And those couple plays might be enough to add a few wins--a very big swing when you only have 16 games. (I used to reserve this theory for the Colts, but am willing to grudgingly admit Cards to the club--I still remember how speechless I felt watching Warner from 99-01.)

by jmaron :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:22pm

Maybe it's just a fluke but I really wonder just how strong the top 3 NFC east teams are. In games against teams with 10% DVOA or better those three teams are

0-8, outscored 232-132

Dall 10 Den 17
Dall 7 GB 17
NYG 27 NO 48
NYG 17 Arz 24
NYG 20 SD 21
NYG 6 Den 26
Phil 22 NO 48
Phil 23 SD 31
132 232

232 - 132 doesn't exactly shout out fluke. Margin of losses 1, 7, 7, 8, 10, 20, 21, 26

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:07pm

While the statgeeks thriving here may argue that a run of 8 games is statistically insignificant the obvious is that it is NOT a fluke...

by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:13am

Good question. To make it at least somewhat rigorous, you might try asking that question of all the top teams, not just the NFC East teams.

by jmaron :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:41am

Here's the list

Double digit DVOA teams playing other double digit DVOA teams other than NFC East

Indy 5-0 +35
Pitt 3-1 +35
NO 1-0 +21
Balt 3-4 +8
SD 1-3 +4
Arz 2-1 -1
Minn 3-2 -2
GB 1-2 -6
NE 1-3 -29
Den 2-3 -83

Interestingly NFC East teams only play SD and Den in the AFC. SD and Den have been crushed by other good NFC opponents. They are 1-4 and minus 53 against NE, Balt, and Pitt.

So the NFC East can't even beat SD and Den who can't beat anyone else that's any good.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:48pm

its not april fools day. heres a counter stat. double digit dvoa teams playing only double digit nfc east teams. how do the teams come out?

this would make the league a lot more interesting if a headcoach could write to the league office....

"hi im the coach of the browns. i would like to take our last loss away. yes thats correct sir. we played below average and would like that game back. just put a big 0 in both the wins and losses category."

by jmaron :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:43pm

I presume you're joking - but the top DVOA teams beat the hell out of the top NFC east teams. The double digit DVOA was just an arbitrary way to roughly split the league into top and bottom half.

It has nothing to do with the actual DVOA - I'm simply pointing out that whenever the NFC East has played quality competition they got stomped.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:25pm

no its not just simply pointing out that whenever the nfc east has played quality competition they got stomped. its also pointing out that whenever the afc west has played anyone except the nfc east that they got stomped. You are taking out almost half of the sample size away from the chargers and denver.

by MC2 :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:51pm

That's actually very similar to what a lot of people around here seem to be lobbying for, e.g. all the calls to "throw out" the Patriots-Titans game, the game in London, etc.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 11:35am

The NFC East teams haven't beaten San Diego because each of them has issues at Safety. The Eagles have two inexperienced kids, and the Giants lost Merriwether to injury. Rivers can tear up a defense without a force in the deep middle. If the Cowboys still had Roy Williams, you could easily predict how that one would go. As it is, I still think Dallas goes down this week.

On the other hand, Denver goes down in Philly - with or without Dawkins.

Edit: Obviously, I meant Kenny Phillips, not Brandon Merriweather. I always get the two confused because in two consecutive years I was begging the Eagles to take on or the other. Please excuse.

by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:43pm

What really excites and disappoints me about Cincy is the fact that they can -- and DO -- play to anybody's level. Against Pittsburgh, GB and Baltimore, they played at the high level of their opponents, then outplayed (or in the case of Pitt, outlucked) their opponent at the very end. Against Oakland and Denver...same thing with different results.

The only two games they've played at a consistent level were against the Texans and Bears...with one loss and one win. Cincy doesn't really have the capacity to play at a high level with consistency, they only seem to be capable of playing to their opponents. I wonder if they can do that with the Vikes this week...

by Aack! (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:45pm

On the playoff odds page, it appears that the "Raiderjoe can claim victory bowl" (CIN/PIT-PHI) is more likely than most of the other scenarios listed there.

by Anonymous Jones :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:47pm

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on SD. The season-long DVOA number is really just an evaluation of how the season has gone (well, except the weighted DVOA is obviously "weighted" for more recent results) and not really a snapshot in real time. It can never really be an absolute verdict on who is the best at this exact moment. Also, DVOA can't know that SD was kind of sandbagging in the Browns game (holding Merriman out, etc.). At the same time, I'm sure you could also find things the computer doesn't see that would actually show the Chargers in a worse light.

In any event, although I do not think the Chargers are that good, one has to take into account, when evaluating DVOA's verdict, losses like those early ones to Denver and Baltimore were in the midst of the team regrouping from losing its center and its nose tackle at the beginning of the season. The team is not playing that much better now, but it is clearly playing better than it was then. Maybe the weighted number takes care of that, I don't know.

As for the Chargers being the team "no one wants to play," for purely psychological reasons, the Colts surely must want to avoid them. Also, I wonder about the vertical offense. Does SD engage in more high risk/high reward offensive plays? And if so, wouldn't a better team be more reluctant to face a team with more high risk/high reward plays, because a couple "bad breaks" for the better team has more disastrous consequences overall? My instinct is that I generally want to avoid those who "swing for the fences," at least when I have the clear advantage. Something to think about...

by SDfan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:38pm

Have you seen very many Charger games this season? I'm not being sarcastic- I do want to know. You make some good points... I'm just curious why you still don't think they are that good of a team, even with a 9-3 record (and I know the record doesn't tell the whole story). Blowout wins are usually a sign of a good team, and that's just one indicator. Just curious.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:54pm

It is strange that the 9-3 Chargers have almost identical DVOA to the 5-7 Texans.

Though that is an amazing DVOA for a 5-7 team.

by Anonymous Jones :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:28pm

I have seen every minute of every Chargers game, many of those minutes live at Qualcomm. As to your curiosity, I think (1) the loss of Jamal was crushing to the team's title contention, and (2) the running game is weak this year. DVOA seems to agree with me that the body of work this season has been somewhat average. I think many of the games, even those won by the Chargers, showed some severe weaknesses. Both Raiders games were relatively poor performances. I think the team loses decisively to the Dolphins if Brown doesn't fumble out of the end zone and Pennington doesn't leave with an injury in the middle of the game.

Certainly, I have high expectations. I thought, as did the FO predictions, that the team would contend for a SB. In that sense, even at 9-3, the performance this season has been disappointing, though understandable with the injuries to Jamal and Hardwick as well as the lackluster return of Merriman. On the positive side, I think Rivers, Jackson and Gates are really playing spectacularly this year. I hope the rest of the team gets it together and plays well the next four games and in the playoffs. Would I bet on that right now? No.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:39am

Have you ever played sports competitively? The reason I ask is my assumption that the team Indy wants to face the most is the Chargers--two close losses in the playoffs? The last one at home (and some may feel, tainted)? I'd think that anybody who is afraid of facing them again is NOT the kind of team that runs off a dozen straight wins, including all the late compebacks. This is not a team that crawls into a shell.

Now management might take a more studied approach and evaluate strengths and weaknesses and matchups in minute detail and hem and haw, but for the players and coaches--damn, I'd be embarrassed if they didn't consider playing and beating SD their second-highest calling of this season. In fact, I suspect that if they won it all but did not face SD in the playoffs, they might well consider it a less than perfect ending.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:38am

2 of indy's 3 last losses were against the chargers. the playoff game was an overtime W that no one on footballoutsiders gave any chance. the regular season game the chargers beat the colts by 20 yet still no one thought they could beat the colts! 1 blow out and 1 close victory. if you are a fan that believes good teams blowout other teams then there ya go. or if youre an old timer that believes good teams gut out victories then there ya go as well.

i do have an answer for why the chargers team dvoa is so low. They are the type of team that once they are up by 20 points they seem to turn into a college team. norv starts handing the ball to tomlinson 3 times a drive.... severely hurting the team offensive dvoa. Rivers is the most efficient quarterback in the league so far this year..... even more so than drew brees or tom brady or peyton manning. I would like to see a split of what quarter the charger runningbacks get the most carries and how that affects their team dvoa. This team on offense seems a lot like the cardinals offense last year. When it comes to the playoffs they wont run the ball. They will become an extremely efficient cog and will surprise. right now they are only doing enough to win. When the playoffs come , and i believe norv realizes LT is done for, this offense will become scary good. Gates finally is playing good. At the beginning of the year he was awful. Right now he is playing better than any point in his career. DVOA is only a formula and bases everything on the past.... this charger team has played like the 13th best team in the league but are easily better than that ranking. although its weird how adamant the writers are to try to continuously prove how the cardinals are a bad team yet jumped off the charger bandwagon rather instantly.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:02am

When did SD EVER beat Indy by 20?

The 2005 reg season game that ended their 13-0 streak was a 10 pointer (3 pointer until the late 4th qtr), the 2007 reg season game was a 1 pt freak show with 2 returns for TDs and a shanked 28 yard FG and 6 INTs, the playoff game that year was 4 pts I think. All SD wins. Then Indy won by 2 in the 2008 reg season, and lost by 6 in OT in the playoffs.

So essentially, it's one clear win for SD, one "sloppy, whoever took less acid wins this one" game with 8 INTs and about as many men carted off the field, a close win that SD was generally in charge most of the game, a close Colts win, and a TIE.

I just don't see the ownership or dominance, matchups or not, regardless of HFA.

by Anonymous Jones :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:14pm

The answer to your first question is yes, though I'm not sure of its relevance to the discussion. I didn't mean that Indy's aversion to the Chargers was solely psychological or irrational. You do understand the concept of matchups, right? A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A? Isn't it possible that this is not a 'manhood' situation, but a matchup situation? That Indy does not fare well against the Chargers variant of the 3-4? That the Chargers air attack through the Brees/Rivers years is suited rather well to expose the few of Indy's defensive weaknesses? I think it's a small sample size for the five years from 2004-2008, but if you are "embarrassed" by smart strategic decision-making ("discretion is the better part of valor"), I say good luck to you sir.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:33am

I guess what I did not get across clearly is that there is no fear. The teams are roughly equal. Why would anyone fear an equal? Fans might fear SD, and coaches are paid to worry about everything twice, even when facing the Browns. But for the players, if there is not an eagerness, a lust to take on those guys, then they are in the wrong business. And since they did not curl up and die after their close losses--in fact they went on a winning rampage--it seems that they are resiliant and focused, instead of doubting, indecisive, and fearful in a Hamletian kind of way.

Matchups are not a scheme thing--the Colts regularly beat 3-4 teams like Steelers, Pats, and Ravens (though they all run hybrid schemes a lot, too). Individuals make it work--they made it work for NE over Indy in the early "oughts" and Indy had no answer for Merriman (or Michael Turner) in the 2005 game--the one clear SD win in the past decade.

It's the coaches' jobs to ID all possible matchups and put the players in a favorable position to win. Nobody could have had answers for Mike Scifres last year in the playoff game. Do you realize that Indy started 6 drives inside their 15--and still managed a tie? That's not a matchup issue or a coaching issue. On the other side, the Chargers started three drives in Colts territory, and only managed a tie. That's actually pathetic--their offense almost squandered the great bounty the ST provided (must have been those defensive weaknesses of the Colts). One thing that got SD that field position was kick and punt returns, two areas where the Colts have improved markedly this year (better kicker, punter, and coverage guys). Indy's ST ranked 32 in 2007, 24 in 2008, and this year has bounced around between 10 and 20. Specifically, the kick/punt ratings are much better with the KO game one of the best in the league (a lot more touchbacks than in the past). Their return game still sucks, but that was not such a big issue vs the Chargers last year. All we really ask of our returners is not to fumble. Which is pathetic, but hard to argue with 12-0 so far.

Indy's defensive weaknesses? Like in the 2007 playoff game, the leading sacker was IRed and bookend DE (both pro bowlers) was hobbled. So having a competent QB with two feet is enough to exploit that "weakness." In the 2008 reguar season game, Gary Brackett contained Gates very well over the middle but with a broken leg for the playoffs, guess who had a good game? Gates (even though he had a bum toe). That's not a matchup issue--it's a hole in the roster when the D captain and leader is out. The dropoff is pretty big for any team. So their main defensive weaknesses exploited by SD has been injuries to pro-bowl DEs and their captain/MLB. I guarantee you that if those injuries happen again, Indy loses--no question about it.

Now look at this year where the Colts' 2007 DPOY Bob Sanders has played 1 or 2 games all year before hitting the IR list and the two starting CBs have played in a total of 5 games (no starts and one is on IR now)--again, the Colts are #2 in points allowed by starting ROOKIE CBs, so they seem to have good depth in the back 4 (not if the kids get hurt, though). If the pass rushers and MLB are healthy, I'd assume the team is giddy to see how "well suited" Rivers is to "expose a few of Indy's weaknesses." I know I am.

by SDfan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:53pm

I'm glad to hear there will be a more in-depth analysis next week regarding the Charger's inability to move up in the rankings despite 7 straight victories. SD still didn't move up whatsoever this week!! I've examined the individual stats for different positions and it seems like SD has lower rankings for run offense/defense and performance on the O-Line and D-Line; not surprising considering all the injuries we've had this year. But seriously? We have 100 point differential in the number of points scored and yielded, despite the injuries to key positions, and the majority of wins have been dominant. I'm really puzzled by this not reflecting in DVOA all season.

by R O (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:49pm

I'm not totally sure this would make a difference in San Diego's case. But I've been wondering something for a while.

I think after week 8 the first four games should basically be thrown out to get a better picture of how good teams actually are.

During the first 4 weeks teams are finding out how to use young players, getting used to the early rash of injuries that almost always seem to happen, and generally playing themselves into "gameshape". So for purposes of finding out how good a team actually is and will finish, I think the first 4 games or so are meaningless.

by R O (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:52pm

I also wonder if high and low DVOA's should be tossed out. Every team is going to be really in the zone for one game and have at least one stinker. I think that also has zero impact on how good they actually are (hello Patriots-Titans game).

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:04pm

DVOA is built on plays, not games. Throwing out a couple games' worth of plays is unlikely to make it more accurate.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 5:49pm

There's no mystery to why San Diego has not moved up. They're a bad team with a good quarterback and receiver and a defense with stars and chaff. They're the DeShaun Foster/pre-Tommy John surgery era Panthers. Or maybe the Jeff Garcia/Joey Galloway Bucs.

Shawne Merriman isn't the same player he was before knee surgery, and Shaun Phillips isn't the same player he was before Shawne Merriman had knee surgery. Williams is out. The second best D lineman plays with a silly looking star on his helmet now. The secondary is still okay, but Cromartie isn't playing out of his mind like he was against (for instance) Indy a few years ago. LT is done, Sproles isn't a running back for running downs, and the offensive line misses Hardwick.

Ultimately, this is a team in need of a rebuilding project, not a playoff run. This is probably the LT generation's last shot. The Chargers aren't an old team but they have some important old parts. As long as Rivers is around they'll be competitive in their uber-weak division, but Rivers is no Peyton Manning. He won't win games just because of who he is. He wins because there's a game plan he can execute (he's Matt Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger in their prime).

Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that they happen to match up well with the Colts when the Colts are missing a few defensive starters, they'd be thought of like the Seahawks used to be: a mediocre team making the playoffs because every other team in the division was terrible.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 9:58pm

"Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that they happen to match up well with the Colts when the Colts are missing a few defensive starters, they'd be thought of like the Seahawks used to be: a mediocre team making the playoffs because every other team in the division was terrible"

So shawne merriman wasnt injured in last years playoffs? Give a guy a little bit of time for recovery before deciding that his career as an all pro is over.

Cromartie was injured last year as well. sure hes not as good as he was two years ago but hes way better than he was last year. Weddle is playing great this year. You say Rivers is no peyton manning.... duh. But to say hes marc bulger or matt hasselbeck in their prime just shows you have some type of vendetta or you got dropped on ur head as a kid. Remember... the organization had the opportunity to decide which quarterback they thought was better out of Rivers and Brees. Its too early to call their decision a mistake.

The afc west is going to have two playoff teams this year. stop having berman tell you that division is terrible. It is likely that the Broncos and Chargers will be the #2 and #3 seeds in the playoffs. If that happens how can that division be considered weak? Hell, if that happens it will be an understatement if you call that division average. The afc west is atleast better than the AFC east and the NFC west. Its a very similar division to the NFC north. The two top nfc north teams with a slight edge, but the bottom two afc west teams with a slight edge. The nfc east loses every game to the afc west. Theres another division you can make a case for.

Since 2005 the chargers have had one of the best records in the league. Im not gonna look up the numbers but off the top of my head ill try to rank it.


The chargers have probably the 4th best record since 2005. If you consider 4th best team over the last couple years a "mediocre team making the playoffs because every other team in the division is terrible" then two shay. But just remember that not every other team is terrible. The broncos will be right there with them

by milo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 10:24pm

One of the best all time cheers:
One shay, two shay, three shay, Fortier.
If you don't get it, you ain't a 'yat. WHO DAT!
We got cultcha, yes we do, we got cultcha, howboutchou....

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 10:39pm

I know it's not your main point, but just felt I should point out that it's impossible for the Broncos and Chargers to be the #2 and #3 seeds in the playoffs because they're in the same division. The four division winners are ALWAYS #1-#4, so the best a non-division winner (ie. 2nd in the AFC West) could be is the #5 seed.

by commissionerleaf :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 8:23pm

Well, the Broncos aside, and let's be honest, they aren't as good as their record (at the end of the year, they will in all likelihood be 10-6, 6-6 against teams not called "Chiefs" and "Raiders").

The Chargers aren't bad, but the ongoing hype about their talent is based on the idea that LaDainian Tomlinson is the best back in football (he isn't even the best back on the team anymore), and their defense is stifling (they let Cleveland score 20 points). Rivers' best year (last year) was comparable to the best years of Bulger's and Hasselbeck's careers (and arguably not as good as Brees' best year... with the Chargers; I'm not a Brees fan either, so much, but San Diego made a big mistake letting him go for Rivers, and it is in no way too early to call their decision a mistake).

The Chargers have Tennessee, Cincinnatti, Washington, and Dallas left. They'll be lucky to finish 11-5. Playing Pittsburgh's schedule, that's 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Fortunately, Al Davis and Todd Haley continue to fund Al Smith's January activities.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 10:00pm

too bad dvoa thinks rivers is having a BETTER YEAR THAN BREES!AND RIVERS HAD A HIGHER DVOA LAST YEAR THAN BREES! also, Rivers dvoa this year and last year are both higher than any dvoa brees posted while with the chargers. oh, and Rivers dvoa this year so far is higher than any dvoa that brees has ever had in any season. and brees is older than rivers so thats taking into account more of Brees' career than rivers assuming neither of them miss any substantial time.

I can make a case that Rivers will have a better career than Brees. Odds are, ill probably be right

by LittleTrain (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:59pm

The Chargers' mediocre ranking is hardly a mystery. They are excellent in one thing (throwing the ball) and bad in everything else. For a 9-3 team, they have almost no margin for error. Rivers (and the receivers) must play out of their minds or the team will lose. Of most concern is that the Bolts can neither run nor stop the run. I'm a huge SD fan, but also an objective one. I'm very worried about Dallas this Sunday.

by SDfan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:42pm

Thanks for your thoughts re: San Diego, everyone. I agree that SD has weaknesses running the ball and stopping the run, which isn't a surprise considering we lost our Pro Bowl center and Pro Bowl nose tackle in the first game. Considering the ineffectiveness of the ground game, it seems even more impressive that SD has 9 wins total and 7 straight. Imagine how much better the Chargers can become once the running game gets going more? It has been improving in the second half of the season (still not good though) but once Nick Hardwick is back, that should help. And LT has slowed down, but the problems with run blocking are more to blame than he is re: lack of production.

Early on in Rivers' career, LT had an MVP season so Rivers wasn't asked to do as much. Now that he has developed into a true gamer and close to, if not already, an elite level QB status, LT can get away with less production. That first season with Rivers the Chargers went 14-2, and there is no reason to think the run game will be their demise at this point. I do wholeheartedly agree that the Chargers need to run the ball more effectively to go deep in the playoffs.

SD does struggle with run defense, but I think if the figures were broken down into quarter by quarter performance, SD does better in the 2nd half because they are successful with opponent adjustments. Still needs work, but again, it's been good enough to get them to 9 wins.

The Colts struggle to run the ball and stop the run as well, but that hasn't kept them from an undefeated season thus far. Just a note.

I'm curious for thoughts on all of this.

by LittleTrain (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 12:18am

I've made no attempt to analyze it, but it seems to me that one reason SD may do better defending the run in the second half is because we are often ahead in the second half and teams are forced to throw more. I guess DVOA would account for this but it's just a thought. Although there are reasons for it (namely, no Williams), the fact is our run defense has stunk and a team running to protect a lead as opposed to playing from behind is a nightmare I don't want to face.

On the other hand, it seems that, as bad as our running offense is, we have shown the ability to do it when needed to finish a game, specifically the second Denver game. Even if Hardwick manages to come back, he's going to be rusty and not 100%. I think what we're seeing is what we're going to get out of the O-line this season.

The game against Dallas is going to be very telling.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:48am

Re the Colts struggling to stop the run, I don't know that that's true anymore. They have faced basically all the top RBs except AP, so keep that in mind. Even though Johnson ran for 113 and a 4.2 average last week, his previous 4-5 weeks averaged about 135 and 6+ YPC. His shortest "longest run of the day" in November was 30 yards, and against Indy it was 11. They had their game plan and contained him well. I think they only allowed three 100 yard rushers so far this year--Gore, Jackson, and CJ. Compared to 2006 when Jax ran up 375 on them (in about 25 attempts) and the immortal Ron Dayne rang up 158 himself.

Their own run game is not dominant, but is very efficient (Addai is high in TDs and success rank) and, like the Chargers, is edging in the right direction.

It's odd how a few of the AFC's elite have exchanged identities over the past few years. This is very crudely constructed, but bear with me. The Pats are now the 2003 Colts--usually potent O with a suspect D. The Colts have become the 03 Pats--a well rounded team with a stifling, big-play D and an O that gets done what it needs to. They are starting two rookies at CB much like the Pats playing street free agents and a WR there in times gone by. The Chargers, due to injuries and aging LDT seem to have become the old Colts as well--a long-ball team that hopes it doesn't have to run--or stop the run--to win.

How did Coyer's D units fare against the Chargers when he was there? That might be an interesting thing to look into if they end up facing each other in the playoffs. I understand he has said he blitzed like hell because he didn't have adequate DL personnel, so that's a little different. The Colts blitz more now and in the past few games, blitzes and even better--fake blitzes have resulted in late, game-icing INTs.

by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:55pm

Also, I'm wondering why the Bengals' Defensive DVOA is so low. They're giving up the fewest amount of points per game in the league and are fourth-best in yards per game. They're also tied for sixth in the league for interceptions, with 14. So what is it about them that DVOA doesn't like?

They strike me as being a lot more consistent -- both within games and from game-to-game -- than the offense...

Also, how is the Special Teams not ranked lower? It's impossible to imagine anybody having a worse ST than the cats!

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:30pm

Well, for one thing, it looks like the run defense "bends but doesn't break": they give up the fewest carries of 10 yards or more in the league, which helps to hold down the overall yardage total, but are 28th in power situations and 22nd at stuffing running plays ... so they don't get nearly as many successful plays as other run defenses do.

Passing is much harder to tell, but I would suspect it's similar.

Another factor could be that their schedule has been relatively weak, so the defense has probably been expected to do very well.

As for special teams, I can tell you part of it from watching the Lions, who can't do anything right in the kicking game. They can't kick deep, can't return kicks, can't cover kicks, and even Jason Hanson has "declined" from excellent to not quite excellent.

by Dan :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:05pm

Look at how tightly packed the defenses are - they're within 5% of 7th place. What's hurting them the most is strength of schedule (their VOA is 8th place at -5.4%; DVOA is 16th at 0.7%) and lack of fumbles forced.

by PackerJeff (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:25am

I am just guessing here that you haven't seen the Packers play this year with their near epic crappy special teams. I was actually screaming at my tv to kick the ball out of bounds and give them the 20 extra yards so there was no chance of another long kick off return and was amazed that they covered the kick so well with 1:30 or what ever left.

by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:09pm

Some observations from a Saints' fan perspective:

-Their pass defense has fallen to 6th, at -12.5%. If their corners both are back and healthy by playoff time (Greer is supposedly coming back this week), this will get better.

-The Chargers' passing DVOA is significantly better than NE and NO (who rank #2 and #3). I knew they were doing well, but that surprised me. The Chargers' running DVOA is #30. Again, I knew LT had fallen, but that ranking is still surpising.

-Robert Meachem is 3 catches short of qualifying for the DVOA rankings for receivers. Despite this, he's 11th in DYAR, and would easily have the best DVOA ranking if he qualified, at 67.6%.

by Joseph :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:30pm

And his DVOA doesn't even INCLUDE his huge game-changing play at the end of the 1st half against the Skins!!

by billsfan :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 10:19am

Brian Burke, over at Advanced NFL Stats, that website we're not supposed to talk about, calculated his "Win Probability Added" for likely MVP candidates, and others requested in the comments section (http://www.advancednflstats.com/2009/12/mvp-candidates-through-lens-of-w...). On a per-play basis, Meachem dominates there, too. If you add up his WPA/play and Brees's, the Saints are 2% more likely to win a game every time Brees targets Meachem.

Even in conventional stats, his numbers are absurd: 18.8 yards/catch (1st in league), 8 TDs on 29 catches.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Luke :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:48pm

If you convert overall DVOA to points start by multiplying by 17, give the home team an extra 3 points, and use that to pick the winner vs the spread you would have got an impressive 15 of 16 this week (according to my figures anyway). The one game you would've missed was the Pit Bull Bowl game in Atlanta - and given that neither Ryan nor Turner played in that game and dvoa favoured Atlanta slightly with the start...

by THE Sean C (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:04am

Interesting....although the FO crew has warned a few times over the years not to use DVOA this way, because it is intended to predict overall season performance, as opposed to actual game outcomes. But who knows? You only need to win a few more (friendly, non-monetary, of course) wagers than you lose over the course of a season to turn a prof...er, um, win bragging rights. DVOA has to be helpful in some way to accomplish this.

by Spielman :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:23pm

One of the biggest keys to the Cardinals rise has been the offensive line's improvement. The 2008 Cardinals offensive started the same five guys across the line in all 16 games of the season. Four of the five guys were the major starters at their positions in 2007 as well, starting 58 of a possible 64 games that year. Their ages were 29, 28, 24, 25 and 24 in 2008.

To my eye, they're picking up blitzes better than last year, and obviously, the run blocking has picked up dramatically. With a young line given the chance to develop cohesion, should it really have come as such a surprise that the Cardinals were able to improve on 2008 in their run blocking and consistency?

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:10am

The thing is, they're still inconsistent. I saw them live vs the pitiful Rams who, pitiful though they may be, put Warner out of the game and jeapordized his entire future--and got after young Matt pretty well. Well enough to shut them out the entire second half, shut down their running game, and nearly come back on them. The O Line looked in person like just another marginal team's bigs, fat and slow. Didn't look remotely like they did the other night when the incredibly dangerous Mr Allen and his friends came to town. And the Cardinals terrible performances in some of those home games other than the other night do not really support this idea that they have improved or F.O.'s founder's remarks that he was wrong and so on.
The Cards are simply as good as the performance that day of one of the greatest QB's to ever play the game, Kurt Warner. Take his astoundingly accurate throws and quick release out of the equation and they are just another team with a certain amount of potential. He makes the stickies, not the other way around. If Kurt plays down the stretch, and they do a better job of protecting him than they did in St Louis, then they can beat anybody on a given day. If the O Line repeats the terrible job they did in St Louis, and in several other games, then they will be bounced out in a hurry.

by Spielman :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:08pm

I have to disagree with your characterization of their performance in the Rams game. Warner got hurt on a blitz of six Rams, which left running back Beanie Wells to pick up OJ Atogwe... which he didn't do. Using this play as an indictment of the offensive line is just plain silly.

More importantly, you fail to address the improvement of the Cardinals' running game, where your argument about Warner isn't relevant at all.

Basically, nice valentine to Warner, but terrible argument.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:04pm

OK so they have significantly better running backs now than in the past. And, on some days, their O Line has been getting a push. On some days their O Line has done a decent job of protecting the franchise. But in the 2nd half against the pitiful Rams they did neither. The running backs couldn't move the ball and young Matt was hurried and couldn't generate even a field goal. You could see, in the first half, alot of things you can't see on TV regarding the O Line--they were not ready for the Rams rush in the manner they were the other night vs Minny. You can rest assured the coaches indicted the bigs after the St Louis game. The O Line were much more on it down in Nashville, and, obviously, the other night. Don't worry, they'll get slack again. It's the nature of the sport...

by Spielman :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:23pm

Ah, yes, improved personnel at running back! Why didn't I think of that? Oh, wait, I did. And it doesn't account for why Tim Hightower has gone from 2.8 YPC to 4.5.

By the way, your cutesy names like "young Matt" and "the bigs"? They're annoying as ####. And rest assured and don't worry, I won't be bothering to write replies to your posts in the future.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:01pm

Don't forget "the stickies". Cuz Kurt makes the stickies, not the other way around. Like it is with young Matt. Close to the game. Now that's football reality.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:05pm

Dude, you are matching wits with Rick A. He is close to the game. Like in-the-laundry-basket close to the game. Unless you can bring the same close to the game swagger he brings, leave your logic, statistics and pertinent observations at home, because you are not close to the game. For example, it takes someone close to the game (with no self-awareness as to how goofy it sounds) to call Leinhart "Young Matt" twice in the same thread. When will you people learn that it is all about being close to the game.

by Spielman :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:25pm

Yeah, believe me, I won't make that mistake again.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 12:41pm

Statgeeks and NFL groupiefans--
Young Matt looks like a middle school kid to me, or "junior high" as we used to call it in days of yore. And Warner does make the receivers, not the other way around. Without him they're just another marginal team. He made alot of em in St Louis too. And you know what is obnoxious ? A bunch of cybernerds coming together over an invention purporting to make a quantifiable science out of a sport...

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:18pm

And you know what is obnoxious ? A bunch of cybernerds coming together over an invention purporting to make a quantifiable science out of a sport...

Then let me ask: Why are you even here?

by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 6:32am

Alex, I'll take "Compensation for Small Genitalia" for $500.

by nat :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 7:38am

You're the guy that writes all the spam email subject lines, aren't you?

by bubqr :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 10:24am

Warner makes Boldin and Fitz ? That's quite a statement, old man, or " obnoxious troll", as we used to call people like you back in the days of the internetz.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:38pm

Considering how much effort Green Bay spent in shoring up its defensive line I remain baffled as to how leadership missed so badly on the offensive line requiring the resurrection of Mark Tauscher and tossing Scott Wells back into the mix to plug the holes.

by Andrew B :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:11am

Concerning playoff chances for Colts, Saints, and Vikings:

Since 1995 - 1 16-win team, 2 15-win teams, 8 14-win teams, 22 13-win teams.

Super Bowl appearances - 1 16-win teams, 0 15-win teams, 5 14-win teams, 7 13-win teams. 14+ wins and the chance is only 50%, 13 wins and the chance is 33%. The chances of winning are even lower. It would be shocking if more than one of these teams makes the Super Bowl.

The last time two #1 seeds faced each other in the Super Bowl - 1993.

#1 and #2 seeds have had only 9 of 14 Super Bowl slots since 2002.

The Original Andrew

by Jimmy Oz (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:01am

Is this a TMQ-based joke?

If its legitimate, please explain how the performance of NFL teams in 1995 will affect the Colts' and Saints' performances in 2009 because i just don't see the link.

Also - why the 1995 cut-off? Teams have been playing 16 games for ages. It seems very arbitrary because teams were still aligned in 3 divisions per conference for the 1995 season. Is it because number #1's won in 94, 93, and 91.

by Alexander :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:47am

And a 15 win team won in 1985. GRRRR BEARSSSSS

by billsfan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:08am

I'm sure that once DVOA is available for 1985, the Bears will come in at #2 behind the Patriots for that year. Maybe #3, if the Eagles are high enough.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:25am

Well played.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:48am

But there has been a significant difference between the conferences.
#1 seeds contesting the Superbowl, 1994-2008:
AFC: 4 (98, 02, 03, 07);
NFC: 9 (94, 95, 96, 99, 00, 01, 04, 05, 06).

Oddly, although none of the last 15 SBs has matched #1 seeds from both conferences, only two have not featured either #1 seed: 1997 and 2008.

Ironically, in view of the revenue-sharing situation, we might be heading for the all-time 'Small Market Bowl'. New Orleans was the #44 TV market before Katrina; now it's 51st. San Diego, Indy and Cincinnati rank between 25th and 35th, and the Twin Cities are 15th.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:16am

Don't know how comparatively big the KC market was back in 1967. But they are currently #31. Green Bay is currently #70. I think the first Super Bowl wins this comparison hands down.

by Dave2008 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:34am

2007 Patriots ran up the score big time.

Not saying they weren't a great team, just it makes them look stronger than if they ran out the clock like most of the best teams did.

by Q (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:06am

Does DVOA at all factor in penalties? I was wondering specifically in regards to GB's Defense. From the NFL rankings stand point, it makes sense that they give up the fewest yards since all the penalty yards reduce the amount of possible yards their opponents can get.

Is this similar with DVOA or are a 40 yard completion and a 40 yard PI penalty treated as equivalents? If not then it isn't surprising how well their D grades out in DVOA since a large portion of their poor results would get lost in all of the penalties they get flagged for

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:24am

I'd been wondering that myself. Most teams don't have nearly as many defensive pass interference penalties as the Packers, giving up only a few per year. So not including them wouldn't affect defense ranking. However, the Packers seem to have one or two BIG defensive pass interference penalties per game. It's almost as if the ghost of Ahmad Carroll still haunts the defense.

by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:51pm

PI penalties are treated like completions, but I'm not sure about other penalties.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:51pm

this makes sense. this game was a joke and gave both quarterbacks a huge increase in efficiency. Flacco looked overmatched. He was having a delhomme type game

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:21pm

DPI is treated like a completion, intentional grounding is treated like a sack (duh, since both penalties result in the same thing as the action they were attempting to prevent). False starts and delays of game are included in total offense (but not rushing or passing offense).

Other than that, no offensive/defensive penalties are both predictive and consistent. The lack of consistency is likely due to the massive variations between the officiating crews.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:01am

A word on the Packers' rating.

One factor might be the home/road split. For starters, Green Bay has played seven home games to only five road games. That might be worth a DVOA point or two. Secondly, look at the teams it's visited: Rams, Vikings, Browns, Bucs, Lions. The schedule has panned out exactly how you'd want: road games are all against 'extreme' teams, good or bad, where the venue is barely a factor; games against middling teams (Bears, Bengals, Niners, Ravens, etc) mostly at home, where you have a better chance of beating them.

I don't expect the Pack to follow last year's DVOA Darlings, Philadelphia, deep into the playoffs. They're already spending most of December on the road. They will likely have to win in Philly, Dallas or Arizona in the wildcard round — places where they have struggled. (They last won in Philly in 1962.)

I wonder what neutrals make of these Packers and their top-three DVOA rating. They're obviously very talented but with one or two glaring holes; they're well-prepared but careless and ill-disciplined; they can be very attractive (Rodgers throws a blessed deep ball; Capers' defense) and also hideously ugly (blown blocks, pass interference, pathetic special teams); their best units are also their worst (an o-line with excellent ALY but prone to penalties and pass-protection blunders; a ballhawking secondary prone to penalties and pass-coverage blunders; receivers who run crisp routes and drop straightforward passes; etc).

And of course they're 1-3 against teams with a winning record.

by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:48pm

Excellent points on who they played, where they played them. Not to get all "swaggery," but the Packers seem to be good at winning games they should win (with the exception of Tampa), and losing games they should lose (with the possible exception of Dallas). They don't come from behind very well, and they don't win on the road against decent teams. There's still some kind of intangible factor going on that causes this team to play anxious in tight situations. Maybe Rodgers/MM/TT are still haunted by the ghost of Old Wrangler Butt, and two losses to the Vikings this year sure didn't help matters.

I'm very impressed with the defense in the absence of Kampmann and Harris, but that may be an indicator of Joe Flacco throwing across his body and the field into the end zone for an interception on a crucial play. It also might speak to the relative value of Kampmann and Harris, too--perhaps I overestimated their abilities.

They should still go at least 2-2 over the next four games, get in to the playoffs, and then struggle against the teams you mentioned. The season will be deemed a modest success, with a lot of "youngest team in the NFL" and "we finished strong" and "wait 'til next year."

by jmaron :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:23pm

"....but the Packers seem to be good at winning games they should win (with the exception of Tampa), and losing games they should lose (with the possible exception of Dallas)."

Sorry but I have to disagree when you say the Packers should lose to Dall. The NFC East is living off playing very weak teams. The top 3 teams in the NFC East have an 0-8 record against teams with a DVOA in the double digits. 4 of those games are against SD and Den who have an awful record against good teams as well if you exclude beating NFC East teams.

Here's the records of those teams playing games against other top 15 DVOA teams other than playing each other

Team Record Avg/pt Differential

SD 0-2 -7.5
Den 2-2 -8.25
Dall 0-1 -10.0
NYG 0-2 -14.0
Phil 0-1 -26.0

I think the NFC East and AFC West are the ones with the easy schedules not Minnesota and GB. Minn and GB actually had to play some good teams in each other and Balt, Pitt, Cinn, and Arz.

by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:56pm

Well, I did say "possible" in regards to losing to Dallas. But we could be both right/wrong. Minnesota barely beat Baltimore, lost to Pitt and AZ, and hasn't played Cincinnasty yet. Green Bay beat a banged-up Ravens squad in an ugly game, lost to the Bengals, and still has to play Pit and Az on the road.

The only winning team Min beat is GB, and the only winning team GB beat is Dallas. So although the Vikings and Packers are certainly decent teams who will likely make the playoffs, neither Minnesota nor GB should be proud of getting 15 of their 16 non-head-to-head combined wins against Detroit (4), the Rams (2), the Bears (2), the Browns (2), SF (2), Balt (2), and Seattle (1).

by evenchunkiermonkey (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 12:45am

The part of 1-3 against teams with a winning record to remember is out of 12 games only 4 have been against quality opponents. They'll have a couple more chances to improve that record unless of course PIT winds up at the bottom of the 'middling' category and unless you consider ARI to be in the middling to shite category (as I do. Q:what's the difference between 4 games VS DET and CHI and 4 games vs STL and SEA? and for the SD and DEN fans: 4 games vs KC and OAK??)

as for ill-disciplined I would disagree simply because of the turnover margin. If you need another argument (and I'm not saying I believe this one, I'm only playing devil's advocate) it would be the 7-1 record against the bad to terrible teams, and would be 8-0 if not for one bad half against TB. it tells me that in games they were supposed to win they played disciplined, turnover positive football in 29 or 30 of 32 quarters. Of the top five teams GB's in virtual tie with NO for 2nd best VAR, and I would wager that GB's Variance ranking has trended upward steadily since week 8.

Have to go, Steven Seagal:Lawman is on, and asses aren't going to kick themselves.

by ammek :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 6:58am

It's arguable (from DVOA) that the Bengals and even the Cowboys are middling rather than "quality opponents"; that just leaves the Vikings. That's really my point. Because of the weird schedule, even after 12 games we don't know much about the Packers. DVOA could rank them anywhere from 2nd to 12th and I would buy it.

By ill-disciplined I mean mostly sloppy. They're obviously well coached, very well prepared — yet they lead the league in penalty yards, special teams idiocy and (worst) sack rate. McCarthy has shown a tendency to stay with something (a play, a scheme, a starter, an assistant) long after it's apparent that it's not working, only to blow it all up in a rather emphatic way.

by Spoon :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 9:34am

Is there still a debate as to whether this site has a pro-Pats bias? If so, allow me to submit this article into the evidence as Exhibit A. I'm still chuckling over the explanation that Indy isn't as good as you think because they've won close games, while New England is better than you think - third in the league and better than the Colts, if Weighted DVOA is your metric - because they've lost close games.

I'm awfully curious to see the Patriots numbers without that 59-0 game. It seems to be that one overwhelming performance (wasn't their single-game DVOA around 130%?) is covering up for some mediocre performances in the rest of their schedule.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:37am

"If so, allow me to submit this article into the evidence as Exhibit A. I'm still chuckling over the explanation that Indy isn't as good as you think because they've won close games, while New England is better than you think - third in the league and better than the Colts, if Weighted DVOA is your metric - because they've lost close games."

Why does that show bias, and what is wrong with that statement? I think that's true of all teams - those that win a lot of close games aren't as good as the public tends to think, and vice-versa. (Big wins/losses are a better indicator of team strength.) As for why the Pats and Colts and not other teams? Well they are the two best teams of the decade, and have the two highest profile QBs, so they tend to garner the most media coverage. If I were the judge/jury, Exhibit A would not carry much weight.

by Spoon :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:42am

Those that win a lot of close games aren't as good as the public tends to think, and vice-versa.

True. When stated simply like that you're exactly correct. What I find humorous though is the degree to which FO is willing to go the other way with these results. DVOA, weighted or not, has these teams nearly equal, but Indy doesn't have any truly bad games on their resume such as the Pats played against New Orleans. Perhaps the worst game Indy has had so far was actually against the Patriots - yet Indy made sufficient plays in that game to get the victory. DVOA still gave a whopping edge to the Patriots. Why?

I understand that DVOA is supposed to be predictive, not retroactive, but how long can FO continue to insist that their numbers are correct even while the Patriots continue to lose games? There are other predictive systems out there, such as Advanced NFL Stats' Generic Win Probability. Yet if you read Aaron's commentary, he's perfectly fine with his systems results. Yes, the Patriots are losing close games, but at what point is it ever considered better to lose close games than to win them, as the Colts have been doing?

by Dan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:51pm

Advanced NFL Stats GWP has New England 6th (behind NO, Ind, SD, Den, and Phi), DVOA (the most similar FO stat) has them 5th (behind NO, Phi, GB, and Ind), and Pro Football Reference's Simple Rating System has them 2nd (behind NO). Looking at stats that don't adjust for strength of schedule, VOA has them 7th, Pythagorean Wins has them 4th, Pro Football Reference's NFL Ratings had them 9th before this week, and FO's Drive Stats have them 4th in net DSR, Yds/Dr, and Pts/Dr (6th in net TOs/Dr). So DVOA does not look like an outlier.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:09pm

Spoon. Dude.

I understand that DVOA is supposed to be predictive, not retroactive...

Complete opposite. DVOA is retroactive, not predictive.

... how long can FO continue to insist that their numbers are correct ....

Correct? What are you talking about? There is no "correct;" there's useful, and not useful.

Yes, the Patriots are losing close games, but at what point is it ever considered better to lose close games than to win them, as the Colts have been doing?

Who's considering it better to lose close games? What are you talking about?

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:34pm

Sorry bravehoptoad, but you're wrong about the predictive issue.

See the FO FAQ. DVOA is the best predictor of wins from year-to-year for any stat listed. It is also fairly highly correlated with wins in the same year, but not as good as points scored vs. allowed, or VOA (DVOA, but without opponent adjustments).

DVOA was absolutely created and is actively tuned for predicting future performance.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:03pm

Sorry bravehoptoad, but you're wrong about the predictive issue.

I don't believe so.

See the FO FAQ.


DVOA is the best predictor of wins from year-to-year for any stat listed.

I don't know why you think so, since this data isn't there. What is there is correlation between DVOA and wins that have already occured. From what I do recall about predictions, Pythagorean wins is better than DVOA. It's not as good at analyzing what happened in a game, though.

Here's what DVOA is supposed to do, according to the FAQ:

The goal of DVOA is to balance two things:

The correlation of the opponent-adjusted statistics from year-to-year, representing the intrinsic quality of a team regardless of luck and random chance, and

correlation of the non-opponent-adjusted statistics to wins.

Predictive value is nowhere mentioned. DVOA is a tool for analyzing what happened. It certainly provides insight into what might happen, but that's not one of its chief goals.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:38pm

I'm not sure how you can quote from the exact section I was talking about, yet completely miss the relevant data. Hell, you even quoted "correlation of the opponent-adjusted statistics from year-to-year", what do you think that means if not predictive power?

There are three tables shown. The first compares DVOA to wins in the same year. The second shows correlations between various stats and both win and the same stat in the following year. Between DVOA, VOA, points differential, wins, and yards, in year Y has the highest correlation in that group with both wins and itself in year Y+1. That's predictive power right there.

by Capitan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:18pm

You're missing his point, dude.

DVOA is meant to analyze, in a more constructive way, what happened in a team's previous games. Yes, that has some predictive powers (because it identifies teams that have actually played good football vs. teams that have not played good football, independently of those teams' records), but DVOA is fundamentally backward-looking, not forward-looking.

Like with anything, studying history closely provides some predictive benefits for what might happen in the future. But it's still backward looking. Things can change (nuclear bombs might get invented, or an actor might get elected President, or key players might get injured) to impact the future.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:26pm

Quibble: it's "retrodiction" not "retroactive."

Retrodictive comparisons include the data set that the stat was tuned for.

Predictive comparisons do not.

The table in the FO FAQ is a retrodictive comparison, not a predictive one. The presumption is that the underlying behavior of the NFL and football in general doesn't change a whole lot year to year.

Between DVOA, VOA, points differential, wins, and yards, in year Y has the highest correlation in that group with both wins and itself in year Y+1. That's predictive power right there.

No, it's correlation. It's only prediction if the data set used to tune the stat goes up to year Y, not year Y+1.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:11pm

Quibble: it's "retrodiction" not "retroactive."

I never used either term, so I'm not sure why this is in your replay to me, but whatever.

I'd like to know what you think predictive power is, since correlation with events in the future doesn't seem to meet your criteria.

DVOA is both retrodictive and predictive. Yes, DVOA is tuned using all available data, making it retrodictive. It is ALSO used to predict future records.

If you had ever bought the FO Pro Football Prospectus or the FO Almanac, you would see that DVOA from the previous year is used to make predictions of all sorts about the upcoming season, including team records and individual player statistics.
Every person who buys KUBIAK is doing it for predictive powers to help win Fantasy Football leagues, not for better insight into why some players were fantasy studs or duds the previous year. It is also used in the Playoff Odds report to simulate the remainder of the season to predict playoff probabilities.

Nothing retrodictive about these.

by MCS :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:58pm

Spoon can speak for himself, but I think his comments are derived from the quotes below.

“I'm guessing a lot of people will be shocked that the Patriots are still ranked number five, and third in weighted DVOA. Yes, they are 7-5, but three of those losses came by a field goal or less, including two losses by just one point.” ----Thus implying the Patriots are better than advertised because they lose closely contested games.

“The 2009 Colts have fewer big wins and more close wins than any other team on this list…. …When you put together the close wins with the lack of dominant blowouts, you get the biggest difference between this year's 12-0 twins and the greatest teams in NFL history: Pythagorean projection.” ----Thus implying that the close wins and lack of dominant wins is hurting the Colts and they are not as good as their record would indicate.

For we non-statistical types, it seems counter-intuitive. The statements taken together seem to imply the Patriots are better than their record because they lost close games. At the same time, the fact that the Colts win close games and lack blow-out wins are an indication that they are not as good as their record. I think the question is, when did losing a close game become more beneficial than winning a close game?

Two items not really considered are: Strength of schedule and 12-0 vs 7-5.

And also the fact that Pythagorean wins are based on points for vs. points against.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:01pm

For we non-statistical types, it seems counter-intuitive. The statements taken together seem to imply the Patriots are better than their record because they lost close games. At the same time, the fact that the Colts win close games and lack blow-out wins are an indication that they are not as good as their record. I think the question is, when did losing a close game become more beneficial than winning a close game?

What's being implied is there is no difference statistically between losing or winning by 3. The computers think there is only a slight difference between the Colts and Pats, and the rest is just luck, or non-repeatable things.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:08pm

"I think the question is, when did losing a close game become more beneficial than winning a close game?"

It's not "more beneficial"; rather, winning a close game and losing a close game are roughly equal indicators of team quality. That is, there's a good chance one or two things outside of the two teams' control swung the game (a lucky bounce, a blown call by an official, etc).

So, when comparing a 12-0 team with four close wins to a 7-5 team with four close losses, DVOA essentially calls the teams dead even over those four close games, bringing the two teams' records to 8-0 and 7-1, respectively. That's what Aaron is saying: that DVOA sees the teams as much closer than the five-game gap in actual record, becuase there are close games that DVOA sees as equals.

So it's not "beneficial" to lose a close game instead of winning it; DVOA considers the two equal.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:09pm

I think the question is, when did losing a close game become more beneficial than winning a close game?

What about thinking of it this way?

Imagine two teams. One is 0-6, and has lost all six games by three points. One is 6-0, and has won all six games by three points.

Does this make it easier to see how team 0-6 is better than their record because they've lost close games, and team 6-0 is worse because all their wins have been close? Each team is a couple bounces of the ball from being 3-3.

by Spoon :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:02pm

MCS helped to clarify my issue, I think. The problem is that things aren't as even as the imaginary example you've provided. With the Colts, we have a team that's won six "close" games by four or less. Their remaining six games they won by double digits.

The Patriots have played four "close" games where the margin was four or less. If you expand the definition to include games where the margin was a touchdown or less, then you also have six games played, with a record of 2-4. In their remaining six games the Patriots have five double digit wins, but also a double digit loss.

Even if we consider the "close" games to be a wash - a premise I'm not yet willing to buy - how can DVOA look at the other six games and conclude that these teams are equal? The only legitimate explanation I can surmise is that the Patriots continue to receive so much credit for the Titans game that it balances out any loss they received for the Saints game. Should it? As was asked below, is 59-0 really more valuable than 35-0?

by Capitan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:59pm

The Colts should have lost to New England at home and to Houston away. New England probably should have beaten Indy and Miami this past week. If Indy is sitting at 10-2, and the Pats at 9-3, and the Pats had beaten the Colts, wouldn't you say that the Pats and Colts were pretty even?

Take away a few phantom penalties, a bad spot or two, and some dumb coaching calls, and that's what would be the result.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:13pm

DVOA generally sees close games as a "wash" because it's play-by-play measure, and in close games, the two teams usually have the same aggregate value of all plays (after all, that's why the score is close).

Consider this: Billy Cundiff doesn't miss his 30-yard attempt in week 11 against the Colts, causing the Ravens to win the game. This clearly doesn't mean the Colts played any better or worse that week, and shouldn't affect their DVOA.

Now, consider this: Dan Carpenter does miss his 41-yard attempt in week 13 against the Patriots, causing the Dolphins to lose. This clearly doesn't mean the Patriots played any better or worse that week, and shouldn't affect their DVOA.

That's why people are saying that close games don't really affect DVOA, compared to record. The Colts could easily have a loss, but the same DVOA, while the Patriots could have one fewer loss, but the same DVOA.

So now, holding that assumption, that the close games are a "wash", the Colts lose six wins, and are 6-0 in "solid DVOA games". The Patriots lose two wins and four losses, and are 5-1 in "solid DVOA games". Considering they played each other very closely, is it really that surprising that they rate about the same, overall?

by Purds :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:49pm

"Consider this: Billy Cundiff doesn't miss his 30-yard attempt in week 11 against the Colts, causing the Ravens to win the game. This clearly doesn't mean the Colts played any better or worse that week, and shouldn't affect their DVOA."

What a way to cherry pick one play out of a game. Cundiff missed the 30-yarder in the 3rd quarter, the 3rd quarter, and the Colts had the ball for 2+ minutes at the end of the game and just sat on it, not needing to score. You really think Manning couldn't have gotten points there? If so, ask the same question of NE, Miami, SF, Houston, and Tennessee; Colts scored with drives starting in the last 2 minutes of a half against each of them.

Jesus, there are lots of things to suggest the Colts are not a dominant, 12-0 team, but the Cundiff chip-shot FG miss in the 3rd quarter was NOT one of them. Do a tiny bit of research, or at least watch a few games.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:00am

Yeah, I thought the Brown missed FG to tie for Houston would have been a better example (except it would have led to a tie, a coin toss, and allsorts of arguable shenannigans).

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:39am

Purds, I was using that of example to show how one play that is unaffected by a team can affect their won-loss record, but not DVOA. I originally wanted to use the Kris Brown miss at the end of the fourth quarter in the first Houston game, but figured that the poster I was responding to would get all hot and bothered that it would have only caused a tie game.

Please don't take it as a slight against the Colts. Really, I was just pointing out how DVOA would not weigh close games as much as actual record does.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:36am

Exactly, DVOA sees close games essentially as ties (oversimplified, but basically the case), so a lot of close games will drag a team's DVOA towards average, e.g., down for Indy and up for NE, relative to their perceived ability based on wins and losses.

by Spoon :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:19pm

I'm awfully curious to see the Patriots numbers without that 59-0 game. It seems to be that one overwhelming performance (wasn't their single-game DVOA around 130%?) is covering up for some mediocre performances in the rest of their schedule.

FWIW, the Patriots Pythagorean number on the season is .682, an estimated 8.2 wins over twelve games. Without the 59-0 outlier against the Titans, New England's Pythagorean number drops to .572, an estimated 6.9 wins over twelve games.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:25pm

FWIW? Your 'analysis' is worth absolutely nothing. They played the game. You can't leave it out of an analysis of their performance. It may strike you that 59-0 is an "outlier", but the games was scheduled, the game was played, and the Pats won easily, whether to you or others it should have only been 35-0. While that game may have increased DYAR and perhaps DVOA, it is still just 1/12 of the Pats' season and its affect on their FO stats is probably quite a bit smaller than you think (although it probably made the defense look better statistically for a longer time than seems justified by their current play). You just can't ignore that game to support your thesis that FO's black box somehow favors the Pats (or the companion conspiracy theory that FO treats the Pats' data like some treat global warming data). Unless you are going to actually analyze what would happen to DVOA etc. if you took out every team's best game, looking at the Pats without looking at that game is meaningless.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:28pm

His problem isn't with the Pats getting credit for a domination, but the degree of the domination.

Is there really a difference between winning 59-0 or 35-0?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:32pm

Yep, believe it or not. If you look at division rivals, who play two games against each other, a team that wins by 40+ will win the second game (or will have won the first game) by a larger margin (and more frequently) than a team that wins by 30-40.

by dk240t :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:23am

You should explicitly add Pythagorean "Luck" as a column in the 2nd table, so people can refer to these regular articles with "my team is so unlucky" and "your team is so lucky" type comments.

by JPS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:34pm

Most excellently said!

by SoulardX (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 10:58am

Preseason mean-win projection for the Rams--8.....EIGHT!

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:54am

Exactly. Anyone with any connection to the Rams whatsoever, even the ballboys, knew they just didn't have enough players up to major league level. A couple that they did have were let go simply to get rid of salary. The roster they had, combined with their stubborn insistence on not taking the financial hit on Bulger, GUARANTEED them the bottom levels of the League. Anything projected by anyone or anything else was sheer nonsense...

by Temo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:20pm

Pre-season DVOA projections have been pretty crappy this season. In fact, they've been pretty "blah" for most years other than 2008, when they were surprisingly good.

by Spielman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 9:56am

Predicting the future is hard.

With all the emphasis on fantasy and gambling, obviously the attention goes to analysis as a predictive tool. I think F.O.'s perceived failures in that area have masked a bunch of really good work for a lot of folks. And I say perceived failures, because again, predicting the future is friggin' hard.

Go back to the seminal Bill James abstracts from the '80s, and his predictions are regularly pretty crappy. He regularly dismisses the chances of teams that wound up winning, and he does things like perfunctorily dismiss Greg Maddux as a prospect. Focus on the misses and he looks like an idiot you shouldn't bother reading. But then you'd be missing some really good analysis and writing.

by Jeff Fogle :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:52pm

Yup, Maddux started with K-rates in the mid 5's in his first five years...then jumped to high 6's and beyond for several years after that.


The principal about K-rates signalling long term performance is still sound. Maddux was one of the few guys who made a big jump from borderline to strong (60-53 his first 5 years, 187-93 his next 11 years with the high K-rates---influenced of course as well by his move to the Braves).

Agree very much that predicting is hard, and that everyone should have fair guidelines for how to evaluate prediction standards. But, the fact that somebody uses a tool to make predictions doesn't mean that tool actually has predictive value. Economic models are full of stories like this (I'm sure many of you have read The Black Swan). How have the predictions from the publications held up? Did projected wins outperform the "regular season win" propositions in the legal betting markets? How has the attempt to offer selections in the premium package worked out?

And, in terms of the Bill James angle, FO has been around long enough now to evaluate its contributions to the field. Starting with the "lost year" publication of 2004 up through now...how do comparisons with the first five years of the Baseball Abstract hold up. What are the parallels to Pythagorean Theorem, Ballpark effects, K-rates, Runs Created, trade evaluations through Approximate Value, and the other stuff that was in those first five years?

If there's a list, FO needs to be marketing that. It should be at the top of the website. Not just "innovative stats." How about "Creators of xxxx." What has advanced the field beyond the mainstream stats (or showed the impact of certain mainstream stats at the expense of others---on base over batting average, K-rates over ERA for evaluations of long term potential)?

DVOA is comprehensive. What has it DONE? What has it done BEYOND what total yardage, QB ratings, and mainstream stats were already doing? More people won't drink the kool-aid until a big mascot busts through a wall. What's going to knock the wall down? If that stuff were more clear, there'd be less debate about issues like New England being #1 before the Saints game without any road wins, or Green Bay sitting where they sit now.

by Spielman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 9:27pm

Helluva good post. I tend to think that F.O.'s concentration on the comprehensive has been a hindrance. What things have been learned often seem to be swallowed up in the overpowering incomprehensibility of DVOA, rather than simply being smaller chunks that contribute concretely to our knowledge. Stuff gets learned, and the result is that DVOA becomes marginally improved, rather than that the community gets smarter.

At least, that's my perception.

by WCH (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 11:23pm

I've reverse-engineered a couple of the FO gems (I won't say which ones) and have been utterly shocked by the p-values, and other such indicators of quality.

This is still the first site that I go to for football analysis -- and one of the only places I go, for that matter -- but I can't help but think that some things are kept proprietary for a reason.

That said, I really like DVOA on an intuitive level, even if I don't know how they do it beyond the fact that it was inspired by "The Hidden Game of Football."

by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 6:24am

P-value is clearly ranked too high because it only gives you an indication of the likelihood that any relationship between or difference between variables is due to chance. R-square is way better than this as it gives you an idea of the strength of a relationship.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 10:54am

Wow I wish we still had a way to rate posts because this one would be 5/5.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:11pm

I wish, just once, Rick A., you'd post your predictions BEFORE the fact.

It's easy to be obnoxious and omniscient afterwards.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:24pm

Cowardlyhotdog--it wasn't just my knowledge that the Rams were in the cellar of the League, it was everyone's that had any view into the team's innards during preseason. And, by the way, when you have ownership that does not care about providing a decent product that will happen every time.

If you would like predictions from me regarding the post-season and next year I will think about how much to charge you and then give you an e-mail to contact. It won't be any of that $25/game nonsense though, that is the province of the internet gambling services. It will cost you many multiples more, but I'll make it affordable for you because I like you...

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:38pm

Just once, Rick A., just once, put your money where your mouth is.

Just one week, say this coming one, tell us who is going to win each game based on your football knowledge.

Just once.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 12:57pm

I don't bother with the expending of mental energy on a whole lot of these non-games--completely non-quantifiable, non-analyzable events that have no import whatsoever except as mindless entertainment for an addicted population. Maybe a step above wrestling, maybe not--as to the meaningful games, I already told you if you've got the money I've got the time for you--you're my favorite. I'm not running a free service however. By the way, was there anyone, or anything, anywhere, even from among the general and most die-hard, naive fans, who thought the Rams could be a 500 team this year ? (besides this F.O. sorry pre-season forecast) If you know of any I sure have some resort property to sell them and the Rams ownership sure wants to cultivate them ...

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:21pm

I don't bother with the expending of mental energy on a whole lot of these non-games--completely non-quantifiable, non-analyzable events that have no import whatsoever except as mindless entertainment for an addicted population.

In other words:

"Of course not. I'm not going to do that and be exposed as somebody who doesn't know nearly as much as he claims to."

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 2:18pm

Why would I ever do anything like that for free ? But I'll give you a deal just like I offered Hot Dog. If you want to put up the dough in certified funds then you can get each week's plays--and they won't even be just for the moneyline, they'll be ATS. Of course, some of them may go against your beloved Pats and Bellicheat, your emotional nature may cause a conflict. That would only happen in the case of a meaningful game for them, you know, like the one they choked away last week. Not like the meaningless non-contest against Tenn who had the "blue flu" that day...

by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 11:10pm

Why would I want to pay for your predictions? You can't even get my name right. Or that of the guy you replied to before me. At that rate I wouldn't even be confident you knew who was playing, and there's definitely no way I'm attempting to decode your cutesey pet names and other such drivel. I think I'd rather just keep my money, thanks all the same.

As for my emotional nature causing a conflict, you'd do well to note that you're the one who's name-calling, trolling, and generally being an ass when a simple request was made of you - and yet you call users of this site obnoxious. Something about specks and logs comes to mind...

Again, if we FO readers are really such a pain that you can't communicate with us without being condescending and infantile in pretty much everything you say - why are you here? If statgeeks and cybernerds (your words, post 235) are obnoxious (again, your words), what does that make a guy who seems to devote inordinate amounts of his time to calling them names and arguing with them on a website they frequent?

by Capitan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:19pm

The Colts are undefeated for one reason only: because NFL refs want to smoke Peyton's pole.

Everytime they're down, they get a phantom DPI or unsportsmanlike call to help them sustain key drives.

Bill Polian should be forced to step down from the rules committee at this point.

by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:59pm

Excuse me, are you lost? You can get back to profootbalk by going here.

by Capitan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:52pm

1) Nice try trashtalking, but I've been an original subscriber to FP/Outsiders.

2) Your link doesn't work, noob.

3) Are you trying to make a point? My point is that Indy shouldn't be a 12-0 team, consistent with the conclusions of just about everyone who's looked at their stats. My eyes tell me that in at least 3 games I watched where Indy faced a serious likelihood of a loss, the Colts were the beneficiaries of highly dubious calls on key series when they were losing. The stats, at least when I looked at them a couple of weeks ago, indicate that Indy benefits from the highest imbalance of DPI calls and unsportsmanlike calls, as well as (iirc) overall. And finally, Bill Polian is a prominent and outspoken member of the NFL Rules Committee, and referees should all be aware of this.

Are you really trying to claim that Indy would be undefeated if their games had been called correctly? Referee crap calls aren't the only factor, but they're clearly a key one, in explaining why a team that is not that dominant is 12-0.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:11pm

1) I'm sorry to hear this.

2) I'm encouraged you tried the link. Please keep trying.

3) Are you aware that Jeff Fisher is also a long time member of the committee and recently served as the Chairman? So in your imaginary world, why would officals make calls in favor of the Colts when they play the Titans?

by Capitan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:25pm

Admittedly, the cause-and-effect on referees giving calls to the Colts is sketchy, and that's venting.

But why is it imaginary to state the fact that referees have been heavily favoring the Colts offense, at least for this year? Sorry the facts don't fit your view of the world, but take away a few obviously terrible calls, and the Colts are sitting at 10-2 or 9-3.

But you're right, referees clearly don't ever impact the outcome of NFL games. They should be totally unaccounted for in any attempts to understand why a team that does not appear to be particularly dominant is 12-0.

Keep talking trash, poorly.

by billsfan :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 6:41pm

Keep talking trash, poorly.

Technically, you started it, with your elegant polemic on hypothetical referee-player fellatio.

If you have actually been reading this site for years, then 1) you'd hopefully know better by now, and 2) you'd know that that sort of discourse belongs in the Irrational Manning/Brady thread.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Purds :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:55pm

If you really want to go down this path, then give specifics. I'm not talking about imaginary Colt records, but give the specific calls that would have cause 3 Indy losses. And don't give me a pass interference call on first down on the first drive of the second half. I'll be waiting for your brilliance.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:10am

Purds and Captain,

Allow me to help out. I agree that a phantom DPI on 1st down in the 3rd quarter doesn't necessarily decide a game (about as much as a missed FG in the 3rd qtr). But you'll agree that penalties in OT are an over-weighted factor in determining a win, surely.

So here's a specific example. Flash back to January 2009. OT in the playoffs. Chargers get the coin toss and receive the ball. On their one drive in OT, they are the beneficiaries of FOUR penalties called against the Colts. FOUR against one of the least-penalized teams in the NFL year-after-year. Four. The refs did not lose this game for the Colts; the Colts (and Mike Scifres) did. But those four penalties had a HUGE effect.

Oh, wait, that was AGAINST the Colts and led to a loss. Oops, must be the wrong thread.... Or maybe Polian's check to Ron Winter bounced... yeah, that must be it.

I know we're not supposed to feed trolls, but he looked so hungry.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 6:29pm

The refs don't need an agenda to make horrible calls - seems like they've done it all season for no apparent reason at all.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 7:07pm

Pass interference in particular has been called spectacularly inconsistently this season. That's probably been going on for a while, actually, but this season has seen a number of truly incredible calls, whether penalised (Colts-Texans) or not penalised (49ers-Seahawks).

by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:02pm

Could Aaron or somebody directly connected with FO explain officially whether DVOA is about evaluating where teams stand now based on what they've done, or about outlining the future?

I've seen several references to "predictive value" in the comments ("it's about looking forward"), but the DVOA "explained" page doesn't say anything about that, and very specifically talks about rating teams based on what's happened in their past.

"Estimated Wins" could obviously be about looking forward...but the explanation says it's against an "average" schedule rather than the one the team is actually set to play. And, teams aren't ordered on that anyway in the chart above.

It's like posters have several different working definitions in their heads of what DVOA means. But, there aren't several working definitions of gravity, velocity, etc... If the emphasis is different now than when the explanatory article was written, can you update that article so new visitors understand that the emphasis is now on using DVOA to predict the future? The rankings may not agree with the standings, or your perceptions of the teams, but they better anticipate the FUTURE than the standings or your perceptions of the teams.

And, can you guide us to past articles about that, past performances of the preseason publications, or past performances of the premium selections that would shed more light on the issue? Thanks in advance for guidance.

by crack (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 2:56pm

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by Temo :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:05pm

and very specifically talks about rating teams based on what's happened in their past

Is there any other way to rate a team? Most numerical system use past performance, it's very hard to increase a team's rating based on future events.

The only way I could see that happening is if a team makes an in-season FA acquisition and we've somehow found a way to measure what his impact will most likely be. This is easy to do in baseball, where you can predict how a player will produce on a given team because he's still trying throw/hit/field the same baseball and his performance isn't very affected by system or teammates. I don't think anyone has done the same for football, though people have in the past assigned some subjective value to such occurrences.

by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 12:05am

DVOA is about describing the underlying performance of teams. Because it's stripping away stuff that's 'lucky' or 'unpredictable', its a quality that should change slowly from week to week. Since it's the 'lucky' or 'unpredictable' stuff that can change the most from week to week, its also a tool for predicting future performance. Removing the 'unpredictable' stuff should make it worse at predicting previous play than Pythagoras, but better at predicting future play.

To do this, it takes all the previous plays, assigns values to every play, while ignoring stuff that is 'non-predictable'. For instance, returning a turnover for a touchdown is a good play, and important to understanding why a team won that last game, but not something that indicates a team is more likely to score a touchdown in the next game. Many of the non-predictable stuff is stuff they believe is 'luck'. For instance, a team that causes a lot of fumbles is showing a skill that will be repeated in the future; a team that recovers a high percentage of fumbles is showing luck that is unlikely to be repeated in the future. Therefore, causing fumbles will help your DVOA (it correlates with future performance), but your actual percentage of fumbles recovered doesn't affect your DVOA (fumble recovery percentage can help explain why you won previous game, but it doesn't predict future performance).

In addition to DVOA, their is a statistic called 'variance'. DVOA represents a team's 'average' performance, and variance measures how wildly a team moves from that average. 'Estimated wins', is a measure that uses DVOA and variance to give an indication of how the team has played to that point (ie, how would you expect a team with this underlying performance and this variance to do over an average schedule?).

by Michael19531 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:15pm

Uh, the 1990 49ers didn't win the Super Bowl, the New York Football Giants did, thanks to Scott Norwood

by dansvirsky :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:18pm

Just a note--you keep calling the difference between pythagorean wins and actual wins "luck." I don't think this is accurate. The difference between actual result and predicted result is a model's "error", or all the variables you don't take into account but that make a difference somehow. Now, part of that error might be a team's luck factor, but part of it might be that your pythagorean model is wrong for completely different reasons, and I feel like a good statistician should point that out.

Have you tried a pythagorean model that tries to account for "luck" by adding in a variable? Maybe number of challenges won, for example. If coaches' challenge rates are pretty randomly distributed (big if)--a team's success in challenges could give you an indicator of lucky swings that probably made a big difference in the game. Just a thought.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 3:49am

"If coaches' challenge rates are pretty randomly distributed (big if)--a team's success in challenges could give you an indicator of lucky swings that probably made a big difference in the game. Just a thought."

The problem with adding any variable to models in football is the limited sample size of the season.

by Eponymous (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 8:44pm

Or you could do something similar to the Baseball Prospectus "third order" Pythag and convert DVOA to wins and losses. I used to think that's what "Estimated Wins" was, but it appears to be straight Pythag pts/pts allowed. I don't know what the correlation is between DVOA and wins, but it seems to be as close to 1 as pts/pts allowed. So New Orleans, with a .34 DVOA, would be 34% better than .500, or .670, translating to about 8 wins (without changing the exponent is changed to adjust for scoring context). I don't know if that quite works, but I would think that a goal of DVOA should be to approximate points, and not just yards.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 1:15am

...but I would think that a goal of DVOA should be to approximate points, and not just yards.

Oh, how ironic. Just a couple of years ago, DYAR used to be called DPAR. The P stood for points. Some of us thought that was just fine and that changing to yards was a step backward.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:13am

Isn't it ironci, don;t you think? A little too ironci, yeah I really do think.

Liked DOAR but think DYAR good too. Not sure wqhich is really best measure.

Know that DVOA proncunced devoa. Like 1980s band Devo but with a at end. Or like Texas Longhorns cow Bevo with a at end. Like bee vo uh.
But always wonder how to say DYAr and DPAR. Maybe dee yar and dee par good. But coudl also prounce DPAR like deeper.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:17am

I vote for dee-yar and dee-par. (I think a couple years ago there was an entire thread--probably offseason--that focused on this)

Is the "a" in devoa long like ace or short like apple? Just curious--that one I just call by its letters. D.V.O.A. Like DOA but with a V.

by Bobman :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 2:14am

BGA (fka TMBGA),

Are you still not quite comfortable with DYAR? I know sometimes I pine for the old DPAR days, myself. Progress, I guess....

by nat :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 9:20am

I was one of the vocal critics of the switch to DYAR. I hardly notice it now. But I never think of it as somehow like 'yards'. It's just a number. It indicates how much a player contributed to the progress towards scoring, whether or not each particular play or drive resulted in a score.

All in all, I think the switch from DPAR to DYAR is a failed experiment, but only a minor failure.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 11:40am

But it was success points, not actual points, which caused a lot of confusion.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 6:14pm

No I don't think that's correct. I think DPAR was supposed to correspond to actual points, as in, if a player earned 4 DYAR in a 3 point win, in theory if he had not played and been replaced by a replacement-level player, the team would have lost.

In response to Bobman's earlier question, yes things change and we get used to it. For instance, my name changed because it was too long and would get cut off when I posted. DPAR changed to DYAR in part so the scale would be bigger, but mostly because Aaron thought it would be more accessible. I still don't think it's any more accessible, and I think it actually lost some meaning, but I do appreciate the bigger scale.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 9:51pm

You're right, see I said it was confusing.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 10:56am

And here I wrote DYAR when I mean DPAR, in a post that was supposed to clear things up. I give up.

by JasonH (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 5:34am

I thought with the loss off Kris Jenkins that our defense would suffer but instead it has found a way to remain good. Is it because the secondary has really but shutting down the passing game and they can afford to place an extra man in the box?

by jmaron :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 3:21pm

just thought I'd review the debate that started a few weeks back and take a look DVOA wise to see how the 96 Packers compare to the 09 Vikes

96 Packers WK 13

Total DVOA: 34.1 (1st)
Weighted DVOA: 27.0 (4th)
Offence: 6.4 (8th)
Defence: -24.7 (2nd)
ST: 3.0 (8th

09 Vikings

Total DVOA: 24.7 (6th)
Weighted DVOA: 25.1 (6th)
Offence: 17.9 (8th)
Defence: -.2 (15th)
ST: 6.4 (2nd)

Closer than I thought it would be particularly when you look at weighted DVOA. But the Packers got better from this point on so things might not look so close by week 17. The Vikings offence is comparative and their special teams are as well, but the 96 Packers make the difference on defence.

by TheHippo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/14/2009 - 7:42pm

"San Diego, allegedly the "hot team nobody wants to play in the postseason," is just 13th despite a 9-3 record. This warrants more analysis, but I've sort of run out of time and space for this week, so we'll analyze it next week, either in Any Given Sunday (if they lose to the Cowboys) or the DVOA Analysis (if they beat the Cowboys)."

Looking forward to the DVOA Analysis...