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The question is not whether Saquon Barkley is the best running back in this draft class. The question is whether any running back, even one as good as Barkley, warrants a top-five draft selection in the NFL in 2018.

03 Nov 2009

Week 8 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

While they were home, sitting on their hands, the New England Patriots slipped ahead of unbeaten New Orleans and Indianapolis to take over the top spot in Football Outsiders' advanced DVOA ratings, which judge every single play of the season adjusted for situation and opponent.

Of course, this is the kind of thing that sometimes leads to massive overreaction by people who are too concerned with rankings as opposed to ratings. The Patriots, Eagles, and Saints are in a very tight bunch at the top of our ratings, and Indianapolis and Baltimore are only slightly behind them. What's interesting here isn't any particular great team, but the number of great teams as the 2009 season nears its halfway point. No team from 2009 ranks among the all-time top ten in DVOA through Week 8, but all five of the teams I just mentioned rank among the all-time top 25 in DVOA through Week 8. Here's the whole group, every team with a DVOA of at least 35% through Week 8 of the given season. You'll notice that no other season has more than two teams on this list.

Best Total DVOA as of Week 8, 1994-2009
1 2007 NE 8-0 72.3% 6 2003 KC 8-0 43.9% 11 2009 NE 5-2 40.9% 16 2009 NO 7-0 39.0% 21 1999 JAC 6-1 36.5%
2 1996 GB 6-1 54.1% 7 1999 STL 6-1 43.5% 12 2002 TB 6-2 40.3% 17 2006 PHI 4-4 38.5% 22 2009 IND 7-0 36.4%
3 2007 IND 7-0 50.0% 8 2006 CHI 7-0 42.3% 13 2009 PHI 5-2 39.9% 18 2008 PHI 4-3 38.0% 23 1995 DAL 6-1 36.4%
4 1994 DAL 6-1 47.3% 9 1998 DEN 7-0 41.4% 14 2005 IND 7-0 39.8% 19 1997 SF 6-1 37.6% 24 1997 DEN 6-1 36.4%
5 1995 SF 5-2 44.8% 10 2001 PHI 4-3 41.1% 15 2005 PIT 5-2 39.1% 20 2004 PHI 7-0 37.3% 25 2009 BAL 4-3 35.2%

Just in case it's not clear, those ratings are based on the same opponent adjustments as this week's ratings -- in other words, opponent adjustments are 80 percent strength and only include games through Week 8 of the season in question.

Things are similar on the other side, with five teams in the all-time worst bottom 25 though Week 8. However, while no one team stands out in greatness, there is one team that is standing out in weakness. It pains me to have to write this, but the Detroit Lions are getting close to the boundaries of all-time DVOA suckitude. As of this week, the Lions are the second-worst team we've ever tracked through Week 8, ahead of only the 2005 San Francisco 49ers. The other teams that would rank in the bottom 25 are Oakland (seventh), Tampa Bay (18th), St. Louis (19th), and Cleveland (22nd).

The other difference with the bad teams is that they are more grouped into specific seasons. There are five teams from 2009 in the bottom 25, but also four teams from 2008 and three teams from both 1996 and 2005.

Just below our top five is another set of rankings that is likely to be controversial: Green Bay sixth, Minnesota seventh. Wait, didn't the Vikings beat the Packers twice this year? Yes, and those games give Minnesota its two best single-game DVOA ratings of the season. However, Green Bay has been better in its other games. They beat Detroit and Cleveland by a combined score of 57-3, while Minnesota beat these same teams by a combined score of 61-33.

* * * * *

One thing that really drew my attention this week after I had run all the stats was the identity of the new leader in rushing DYAR: Steven Jackson. That's right, the guy with only one touchdown. After Ronnie Brown's awful performance against the Jets, Jackson now ranks as the most valuable runner of the year. What's interesting there is the power of the opponent adjustments. Six of the Rams' eight opponents rank in the top ten for DVOA run defense. Here's a table showing Jackson's yardage in each game along with where that ranks among all running backs who have faced that defense so far this season. He's had the biggest day of any back against three teams, and the second-biggest day against three other teams:

Steven Jackson's 2009 Rushing Totals
Week Opponent Run Defense
Runs Yards Rank among RB
vs. Team in 2009
1 SEA 8 16 67 2
2 WAS 2 17 104 1
3 GB 6 27 119 2
4 SF 3 23 79 3
5 MIN 5 21 86 1
6 JAC 9 16 50 4
7 IND 23 23 134 2
8 DET 24 22 149 1

* * * * *

Housekeeping: This week saw the return of a feature that's been missing for more than a year, but otherwise goes all the way back to the beginning of the site in 2003: the Innovative Stats box on the front page. You can now check out the top 5 teams in different aspects of DVOA as well as the top 5 in DVOA and DYAR at each position, right on the front page. In addition, all 2009 stats pages should be updated through Week 8.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through eight 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. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are currently at 80 percent strength. WEIGHTED DVOA slightly discounts the results of the first four weeks to get a better idea of how strong teams are right now.

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

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints: <team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

1 NE 40.9% 3 41.4% 1 5-2 32.2% 1 -8.6% 8 0.1% 14
2 PHI 39.9% 6 39.7% 2 5-2 14.3% 12 -19.9% 1 5.7% 5
3 NO 39.0% 1 38.5% 3 7-0 31.1% 2 -14.0% 4 -6.1% 30
4 IND 36.4% 2 36.3% 4 7-0 29.1% 3 -6.2% 10 1.2% 11
5 BAL 35.2% 7 35.1% 5 4-3 26.2% 4 -7.7% 9 1.3% 10
6 GB 28.4% 4 28.7% 6 4-3 19.8% 7 -13.7% 5 -5.1% 26
7 MIN 28.1% 8 28.1% 7 7-1 16.4% 8 -1.2% 13 10.5% 2
8 DEN 26.7% 5 26.4% 8 6-1 14.9% 10 -17.6% 2 -5.8% 28
9 DAL 24.6% 11 25.1% 9 5-2 25.9% 5 7.2% 22 5.9% 4
10 PIT 15.5% 12 15.8% 10 5-2 23.6% 6 1.2% 17 -6.8% 31
11 MIA 13.0% 13 13.3% 11 3-4 11.4% 14 2.8% 18 4.3% 6
12 ARI 12.6% 10 13.1% 12 4-3 2.5% 18 -9.5% 7 0.5% 13
13 NYG 10.4% 9 9.9% 13 5-3 10.0% 15 -2.2% 12 -1.8% 24
14 ATL 9.2% 14 9.1% 14 4-3 13.0% 13 3.1% 19 -0.7% 19
15 CIN 5.8% 15 6.1% 15 5-2 15.8% 9 4.3% 21 -5.8% 29
16 NYJ 5.7% 17 5.4% 16 4-4 -8.3% 21 -14.2% 3 -0.2% 16
17 HOU 2.6% 18 2.9% 17 5-3 14.4% 11 15.4% 28 3.5% 7
18 SF -0.3% 21 -0.5% 18 3-4 -8.5% 22 -9.8% 6 -1.6% 21
19 SD -1.1% 20 -0.9% 19 4-3 9.6% 16 9.1% 23 -1.7% 22
20 JAC -4.9% 16 -5.8% 20 3-4 7.3% 17 14.3% 26 2.0% 9
21 SEA -10.4% 19 -10.5% 22 2-5 -5.2% 19 3.5% 20 -1.7% 23
22 WAS -10.6% 22 -10.4% 21 2-5 -14.8% 24 -4.5% 11 -0.2% 17
23 CHI -15.3% 24 -15.8% 23 4-3 -21.1% 28 1.0% 16 6.8% 3
24 BUF -18.1% 23 -18.2% 25 3-5 -19.4% 27 -0.5% 14 0.7% 12
25 CAR -18.6% 25 -18.0% 24 3-4 -9.9% 23 0.9% 15 -7.7% 32
26 TEN -28.2% 29 -28.2% 26 1-6 -8.2% 20 14.9% 27 -5.1% 27
27 KC -30.9% 26 -31.0% 27 1-6 -23.2% 29 10.6% 24 2.9% 8
28 CLE -40.7% 27 -41.2% 28 1-7 -33.5% 31 17.8% 29 10.7% 1
29 STL -42.3% 30 -42.1% 29 1-7 -19.3% 26 22.8% 31 -0.2% 15
30 TB -43.0% 28 -43.2% 30 0-7 -17.3% 25 24.9% 32 -0.8% 20
31 OAK -49.0% 31 -49.0% 31 2-6 -37.3% 32 11.1% 25 -0.6% 18
32 DET -54.6% 32 -54.8% 32 1-6 -27.5% 30 22.5% 30 -4.6% 25

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

1 NE 40.9% 5-2 39.3% 6.0 5 -1.6% 20 8.5% 8 20.0% 27
2 PHI 39.9% 5-2 51.3% 5.7 7 -12.8% 30 8.5% 7 26.7% 30
3 NO 39.0% 7-0 41.5% 7.0 1 0.7% 18 -12.7% 31 7.0% 7
4 IND 36.4% 7-0 47.7% 6.2 2 -7.6% 27 7.8% 9 12.7% 16
5 BAL 35.2% 4-3 36.1% 6.0 4 3.6% 11 -7.2% 25 11.4% 15
6 GB 28.4% 4-3 38.1% 5.2 11 -11.4% 29 -4.5% 22 13.0% 17
7 MIN 28.1% 7-1 31.1% 6.1 3 -3.8% 22 -10.7% 28 4.7% 3
8 DEN 26.7% 6-1 25.9% 5.7 6 2.0% 12 -2.5% 21 8.3% 8
9 DAL 24.6% 5-2 30.3% 5.7 8 -7.1% 25 10.8% 5 9.8% 13
10 PIT 15.5% 5-2 29.2% 5.3 9 -13.2% 31 3.0% 14 3.6% 1
11 MIA 13.0% 3-4 6.7% 4.8 12 9.6% 4 -1.6% 20 13.2% 18
12 ARI 12.6% 4-3 11.3% 5.3 10 1.9% 13 -17.1% 32 27.9% 31
13 NYG 10.4% 5-3 9.1% 3.9 18 -2.2% 21 12.3% 4 23.4% 28
14 ATL 9.2% 4-3 9.5% 4.6 13 10.4% 3 -4.8% 23 14.2% 19
15 CIN 5.8% 5-2 8.0% 4.5 14 6.6% 6 -11.5% 29 17.4% 23
16 NYJ 5.7% 4-4 13.4% 4.2 16 1.6% 15 1.0% 17 11.4% 14
17 HOU 2.6% 5-3 12.8% 4.4 15 -9.6% 28 5.1% 12 8.6% 9
18 SF -0.3% 3-4 -10.2% 3.8 20 4.5% 10 -9.4% 26 9.5% 12
19 SD -1.1% 4-3 0.5% 4.0 17 -4.8% 23 -0.4% 18 3.9% 2
20 JAC -4.9% 3-4 -3.0% 3.9 19 -7.2% 26 1.1% 16 25.7% 29
21 SEA -10.4% 2-5 -13.5% 2.7 24 1.3% 17 -12.1% 30 17.2% 22
22 WAS -10.6% 2-5 0.6% 3.2 21 -17.4% 32 15.5% 2 6.5% 5
23 CHI -15.3% 4-3 -8.4% 3.0 22 -5.8% 24 9.4% 6 17.2% 21
24 BUF -18.1% 3-5 -17.5% 3.0 23 -0.1% 19 5.1% 11 15.2% 20
25 CAR -18.6% 3-4 -25.4% 2.7 25 1.8% 14 17.8% 1 17.6% 24
26 TEN -28.2% 1-6 -40.0% 2.3 26 11.4% 2 -1.0% 19 52.9% 32
27 KC -30.9% 1-6 -31.1% 2.0 27 6.2% 8 -4.9% 24 8.7% 11
28 CLE -40.7% 1-7 -51.8% 1.6 29 13.3% 1 -10.5% 27 19.6% 26
29 STL -42.3% 1-7 -43.4% 1.8 28 1.5% 16 1.6% 15 4.9% 4
30 TB -43.0% 0-7 -43.4% 1.0 32 8.5% 5 14.3% 3 6.9% 6
31 OAK -49.0% 2-6 -53.7% 1.1 31 6.5% 7 3.2% 13 17.9% 25
32 DET -54.6% 1-6 -58.8% 1.3 30 5.4% 9 5.4% 10 8.6% 10

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 Nov 2009

225 comments, Last at 06 Nov 2009, 9:27am by Gruntled


by fakeninjitsu :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:25pm

"They beat Detroit and Cleveland by a combined score of 57-3, while Minnesota beat these same teams by a combined score of 61-33."

Yeah they did, against Derek Anderson whos battling JaMarcus for LVP and a Lions team without Calvin Johnson aka there only player thats worth a crap. I know DVOA doesn't account for this but you guys personally should as an aside. That is a huge part why the Packers D is ranked so high yet the Vikings have carved them up both games.

Bu, bu, but Brady Quinn isnt any good either! True but at least he is a professional QB, albeit a mediocre one, which is a lot better than Anderson at this point.

by Jim Kimber (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:46pm

I'm a Packers fan and I just can't agree that Green Bay is the 6th best team in the league. They have 4 wins, but against the combined might of Chicago (ranked 23rd in DVOA), Cleveland (28), St Louis (29) and Detroit (32). They were without doubt 2nd best against Minnesota twice and against Cincinnati even though they were all close-ish games. Possibly there is not much between Green Bay and the likes of Arizona, San Diego, Dallas, Atlanta etc. but I would not be confident about Green Bay winning 50% of those types of game. And certainly Minnesota is a stronger team than Green Bay. I don;t think that looking at the points scored against the weaker opposition here is a good argument. Minnesota was up 34-13 in the 3rd quarter against Cleveland, which is a pretty dominant position, and Green Bay also dominated. Anyway, I would love to be proved wrong and find out that Green Bay is better than I think, but on the evidence of watching all their games this season and watching a lot of other teams, I think that Green Bay is a slightly better than average team, but no more.

by MC2 :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 7:04pm

Having watched both Vikings-Packers games, it seems to me that it's one of those matchup situations. The Vikings' biggest strength on defense is their pass rush, while the Packers' biggest weakness on offense is pass protection, coupled with Rodgers' tendency to hold the ball too long at times. These problems are exacerbated once the Packers fall behind and have to abandon the running game. I think that those factors (along with the awesome Brett Favre swagger, of course) explain the two decisive wins by the Vikings, as opposed to any huge discrepancy in talent between the two teams.

by ammek :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:53am

Estimated wins is probably a better indication of where the Packers rank: 11th. Sounds about right to me.

These problems are exacerbated once the Packers fall behind and have to abandon the running game.

Hey, they don't need to fall behind. They can lead 20-0, and have given up five sacks to the Lions, but that doesn't mean they're going to put their faith in Ryan Grant.

by jmaron :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 7:24pm

I think most people watching Minn and GB this year would conclude that Minnesota is a better team. I think the rating of Minnesota as essentially even with GB seems out of whack to some because during long stretches against good teams (Balt, GB, GB, and Pitt) Minnesota looked like a significantly stronger team. They led GB 30-14 with the ball at mid field in the 4th quarter and 24-3 in the 3rd in GB. They led Baltimore 27-10 in the 4th quarter with 10 minutes to go as well. But they didn't put those games away, in fact they let GB and Baltimore get very close in all three of those games.

I can't tell if Minnesota has a strong defence that gets too conservative once they get a lead or that they have a significant weakness in pass defence.

The funny thing is Minnesota ranks as one of the most consistent teams in variance (3rd) but in game their defence consistently goes from great to awful in the same game.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 7:32pm

I think the Vikings have sort of gone to sleep after building substantial leads on a few teams, and that has hurt their DVOA score. The good news for Vikings fans is that this is something that likely can be improved upon'

This might be homerism, but if this version of the Vikings plays this version of the Packers seven times, on a neutral field, I think the Vikings win five.

by jmaron :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 7:46pm

If I hadn't seen them play similar bad pass defence against St Louis and SF I might agree. In both those games their pass defence was beaten in a very similar fashion.

I think it is a general lack of aggression on the part of Frazier. He tends to play soft whenever the Vikings are leading.

Also - I don't think their pass rush is as good as people think it is. Two games against GB tends to jack up the ratings. In 6 games against teams other than GB Minnesota has averaged 2.8 sacks per game against teams giving up 2.7 on average.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:56pm

It is a mistake to analyze pass rushing by sack totals. I'm not saying you are wrong, just that analyzing football performance without breaking down film in a time consuming process is likely to lead to some inaccurate notions. My sense of it is that Frazier does get a little passive with the lead, but then again he was blitzing Rodgers in the 4th quarter. I do think their pass rushers get gassed very frequently in the 2nd half. I think their secondary is below average when Winfield is off the field. I think E.J. Henderson is just now getting fully back to what he was prior to his injury last year.

But I could be dead wrong. Darn.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:29pm

For what little it's worth, I feel the same way about the late-game pass rush problem. It especially seems to be pronounced with Pat Williams (who seems to be a much better pass rusher than someone his size deserves to be early in the game).

by scottb (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:51pm

"Bu, bu, but Brady Quinn isnt any good either! True but at least he is a professional QB, albeit a mediocre one, which is a lot better than Anderson at this point."

As a Browns fan, I can assure that this statement is not true. Quinn has been horrible when he has played. He cannot throw with any accuracy 5 yards past the line of Scrimmage. Anderson is also horrible - but neither should be described as professional QBs.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:15pm

Quinn has been horrible when he has played. He cannot throw with any accuracy 5 yards past the line of Scrimmage.

If this is true, why was he drafted at all, let alone in the first round? Surely college QBs are expected to be accurate 6 yards past the line of scrimmage?

by SteveGarvin :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 1:37am

As a fan of the team currently QB'd by JaCrapus Russell, I can safely say that no first round pick is ever a guarantee.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:22pm

NE is clearly ranked too high because all their stats came against tomato cans. Seeing how they played against real teams is way better than this. u st00pid loosers!


by THE Sean C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:26pm

Post #1 comes after post #2?

by elhondo :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:46pm

Post 1 is clearly ranked low because the time of the post is the declarative measure of post order. Timestamp is way better than this. Post 2 is clearly ordered too high.

Ok, that sucked, but to be fair, the template isn't an easy form to work a joke into.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:50pm

It was a valiant effort.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:54am

If you edit a post, it drops in ranking.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:49am

You mean he fixed something in that post, and it's STILL that lame? Wow, glad I didn't see it when it was messed up.

by Eddo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:39am

No, the post now marked as #2 was edited.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 7:33am

a) Good teams aren't good because they win close games but because they clobber bad opponents
b) Tomato cans? (Confidently) beat Baltimore, beat Atlanta, and performed even with Jets and Broncos. They played the Jets in arguably the best stretch the Jets had. They clobbered the Titans and the Bucs.

AND, arguably this has little to do with the stats here, GOOD TEAMS MUST SUCK IN SEPTEMBER. No team ever won a SB in September or October. November is when the real season starts. And now let's see what the Saints and Broncos have to offer down the stretch. Not much me guesses.

SB Prediction: Pats over Eagles
AFC Champ.: Pats over Colts
NFL Champ: Eagles over Vikings

by MCS :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:51am

Please fix your sarcasm detector. It appears to be broken.

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:18am

For me, the big clue was that the comment was written by somebody named "PatsFan".

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:02pm

NFL Champ: Eagles over Vikings

I hate to tell you, but...the AFL has joined with the NFL now. So the Eagles and Vikes won't be playing each other for the championship anytime soon.

by SteveGarvin :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 1:39am

He wanted Babe Parilli to finally get that missing ring.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 1:59pm

I know, it's silly to respond to this post, but I am anyway.

b) Tomato cans? (Confidently) beat Baltimore, beat Atlanta, and performed even with Jets and Broncos.

One, I'm sure you didn't mean to use the word confidently, as confidence level is a non sequitor.
Two, the Baltimore game was just as close as the Broncos and Jets. By your methodology, the Jets and Broncos "confidently" beat the Pats.

by Temo :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:28pm

It seems like only yesterday the Patriots needed late game heroics to overcome the Bills and Brady looked ready to crap his pants in the Meadowlands.

Paging Dr. Pollard.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:59pm

The misconception that's caused them to sneak up on people - they barely beat Buffalo and lost to the Jets. But they had no problem possessing and moving the ball the entire games. They just couldn't punch it in once they got to the red area. With a QB who had missed an entire year and a brand new offensive coordinator.
It's pretty exciting to see them getting back to a good level, if only to see how they can match up with Indy and New Orleans in the coming weeks. As weak as the Tennessee then Tampa Bay schedule was, the next 5 weeks on their schedule is the opposite.

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:25am

The Pats-Bills game is interesting in that, if you look at the stats from the game, you see that the Pats dominated time of possession and far outgained the Bills. Why were they trailing by 11 with five and a half minutes left?
Well, there was the pick 6, and they also were 0-2 on 4th down conversions. A failure on 4th down is roughly equivalent to losing 40-45 yards of offense, if you compare turning over the ball on downs as opposed to a typical punt.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:36pm

Wow, CIN is the anti-PHI - no DVOA love at all.

So many DVOA comments to make, but the most important one is that it may not seem like NE should be #1 and they have shown some lose play in the first 7 games, but they are a deep team, younger and faster on defense than the past 4 years and I don't see a team out there that will be able to handle them. If Brady were Brady sharp against the Jets and DEN they would be one of three 7-0 teams.

by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:39am

yeah, as a homer, i'd love to see the bengals a little higher. after all, they've essentially tied or beaten baltimore, pittsburgh, denver and GB...all top 10 DVOA teams.

the flip side of this is that they've been very, very inconsistent...within each game! DVOA doesn't really like that. i'm surprised that the offense is ranked so high while the defense is ranked so low. qualitatively, the bengals d has kept the games close enough with big plays and ball hawking while the o has managed to come up with miracle drives at the end of the half (while failing to move the ball at all the rest of the time). but i guess the bears STOMP and putting up 30+ on GB's make the difference...

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:59am

DEN and NE can't both be 7-0.

So who's the third team?

by Lee (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:31pm

If NE had beaten Denver, they'd be 7-0, just like Indy and NO.

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:17pm

Crud. I banish myself from commenting until... tomorrow.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:41pm

and the Jets

by Estrada (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:41pm

The 49ers are 3-4, not 4-3

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:48pm

Aaron...on behalf of all Niner fans, I'd like to thank you for giving them a 4-3 record in the tables. Wish the NFL were as generous. It's OK, though. We all thought they beat IND too.

p.s. Even though I'm alerting you to this error, feel free to leave it as is. We like it better this way, obviously. :-)

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 6:51pm

Slowly, slowly the 49ers claw their way into the middle of the pack, gasping the whole way "An OC...give us an OC...."

by JLK1 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:16am

The Niner defense is a solid unit now. The offense is a potentially different animal with Alex Smith. The offensive line is a problem but the skill position players are nothing to sneeze at. Vernon Davis has been productive, Isaac Bruce is capable, Frank Gore can both catch and run, and Crabtree is off to a great start. If Alex Smith can get them the ball the defense will keep them in games.

by tammer.raouf :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 7:22pm

One thing that struck me looking at this was how many teams in the top half seem to experience tougher schedules in the second half, which has to be influenced by the fact that every team affected its first half opponents DVOA but not the second.

I was wondering if these stats should be run individually for each team, removing the game that each team played from the DVOA stats of its opponents. Thoughts?

by jmaron :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 7:35pm

Viking rush offence DVOA - 17th -2.5%. A. Peterson 12th - 10.3%. Chester Taylor -50.4%.

The Vikings really need to let Peterson play more downs in the passing game. He rates 7th among rb's in receiving (43.6%) while Taylor ranks 23rd (5.1%). Taylor needs to be used to spell Peterson not replace him on key downs (3rd down, red zone).

I would also like to see more of Harvin in the run game - 2-4 carries a game makes sense to me.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:07pm

He's getting better, but Peterson is still a sub-par pass blocker, and it is difficult to fully use a running back in the passing game if he doesn't pass block well. It tends to invite a lot of hits from blitzes on 40 year old qbs. This is definitely an area which is improving, however, so there is reason to hope.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:01am

You're right, but the other problem with having Peterson on the sidelines is that opposing defenses then know that Peterson is not going to be running the ball, which most people seem to agree is a key to the Viking's success in the passing game.

There are, of course, a few situations where a pass is nearly certain, but I see him sitting down fairly often in other than those situations also - e.g. 2nd and 7. I would really love to see a comparison of the Vike's passing success relative to whether or not Peterson is in the game, perhaps excluding 3rd and long.

by MCS :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:00pm

I would attribute the Vikings success in the passing game to a dramatic improvement in their receiving corps. I also attribute it to improved accuracy from the quarterback position. Other factors include the ability of the quarterback to read a defense and adequately execute the offense.

For those that haven't been watching, Sidney Rice's catch percentage improved from 48% in 2008 to 72% in 2009.

Berrian improved from 51% to 57% in a similar time span.

Harvin is catching at a 61% clip.

by David C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 7:55pm

Let me be the first commenter to say this week... what the hell happened to the Giants? It makes zero sense.

by t.d. :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:08pm

Well, the starting secondary got decimated by injuries, and their backups weren't as good as it appeared they were when they were playing the dregs of the league.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:55pm

But that doesn't explain anything - DVOA is saying their offense is even worse than their defense (and has dropped off considerably). Cupcakes also coming home to roost? (to mix a metaphor)

So, everyone complaining about DVOA's inability to deal with the talent disaparity this year: is the Giants swift drop a data point in DVOA's favor (it quickly adjusted their ranking once they lost to good teams and as opponent adjustments kicked in) or against it (it over-rated them because they were beating up on soup cans!)

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:47pm

Careful, your brain likely doesn't think in ordinal rankings (few fans know exactly how proficient every team's offense/defense is) - it has an idea of what an offense should be able to do. In other words, the Giants offense is worse in ranking (15 vs 12) than the defense, but better in terms of average expected performance (10% vs -2.2%). Most people, watching the Giants, would therefore say that the Giants offense is better than the defense.

by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:02am

Hi Pat,

Are you saying that most people would be wrong? Or are you saying that the offense is better? I would say that people could certainly learn the distributions of offense and defense, in addition to average expected performance, and correctly conclude that the defense is better, without being aware of how other teams are doing. Of course I have no idea how stable the distributions are from season to season, so it might not be plausible, but if they are stable they would certainly be used.


by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:56pm

No, I'm saying that the statements "the Giants offense is better than their defense" and "the Giants defense is better than their offense" are both correct, depending on how you define "better." If you define it as "farther removed from the average performance over the past ten years," the former is true. If you define it as "higher in rank in the league" the latter is true.

I think most people do the former intuitively. They see the Giants offense putting up points and the secondary giving up long TDs at the drop of the hat. They don't see that there are a lot of really good offenses this year.

by rdy4thefiesta :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:57pm

These are some of the reasons for the Giants collapse, in no particular order. Sorry for the long post, but it feels good to vent.

1. The injury to Kenny Philips, which forced the Giants to play C.C Brown and Rouse at free safety, both of whom are so bad it's painful to watch. Michael Johnson, who looked like a slightly above league average safety his first two years, has taken some awful angles that led to big running plays. He was always mediocre in pass coverage.

2. The injury to Aaron Ross, who while bad last year, is probably an above average #2 corner. This has led to Terell Thomas getting exposed as a starting corner when he is better suited as a nickel corner and Kevin Dockery getting exposed as a nickel when he should play only in dime.

3. Boley's second injury and Coughlin's decision to play Chase Blackburn (great special teamer, bad linebacker despite being a fan favorite) instead of the more athletic Brian Kehl. Alford and Canty getting hurt, leaving the coming off surgery Barry Cofield and the old and coming off surgery Fred Robbins as the only viable DTs.

4. Barely any of the Giants blitzes are getting there. It's amazing to see how many times the Giants send 5 or 6 people and still no one sniffs the quarterback. This is probably because of the downgrade in quality of defensive coordinators from Spagnola to Sheridan.

5. On offense, Eli has been bad the past three games. I think the running game is struggling because teams are able to allocate more resources to stopping it in Plaxico's absence. Like last year, this should have led to more big plays through the passing game, but the last three weeks they can't hit any. Eli has missed so many open receivers deep and airmailed so many receivers over the middle, I'm worried that his foot injury is affecting his play. Either that, or his annual slump has come 4 weeks early. This offense won't move if Eli can't complete a few medium to long passes a game.

6. I'm usually the biggest defender of Kevin Gilbride (I blamed the playoff loss last year mainly on Eli while most Giants fans were calling for Gilbride's head), but he has been bad the past few weeks. I realize Eli is a smart QB and can audible, but seriously, snap the ball with more than one second on the play clock sometimes. Take some responsibility away from him. Run the no-huddle for a series. Quick snap it every once in a while. Going to the silent one count every play allows defenses to time blitzes perfectly. Aside from that, his tendencies are easy to read. Count how many times the Giants pass the ball on 2nd and 10 after an incomplete pass on first down (I remember 1 so far this year, and I've been counting). This puts the Giants in 3rd and long way too often. This is just one example of the lack of creative play calling and game planning.

by gattoma :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:07pm

The DVOA can't (and shouldn't) take into account the Viking defense falling apart in 3 games where it had a big lead. We don't know whether it's a scheme issue or something else. Overall, the Vikings have played decently in every game (the variance thing). It is interesting, however, that they can be so wildly inconsistent (especially with their pass D) within the course of one game. I would like their DVOA if we removed the 4th quarter against GB at home, the 4th quarter against Baltimore, and the 3rd quarter last week. Combining the numbers from what I'm seeing live, I think they have the best shot in the NFC of unseating New Orleans (I know the numbers like Philly, but I can't trust them).

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:40pm

Uh... which 3 games are you talking about? Is Baltimore-Minnesota one? You can't honestly say that stats should ignore a collapse that came within a few feet of having Minnesota lose the game. If Minnesota's scheme is to soften up on defense and allow a team to very nearly win, I believe that scheme is called "sucking."

by dbostedo :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:53pm

I read that as "DVOA shouldn't give Minnesotas defense a bonus for falling apart after big leads". Meaning that DVOA should only include what happens, and not try to guess the reason and factor that in. I don't think it meant to ignore what a defense does once it gets a big lead.

But I could be completely wrong.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:58pm

Uh, no, he specifically said he wanted to know what would happen if you removed the 4th quarter versus Baltimore.

As in, the 4th quarter that nearly cost Minnesota the game and in fact put the fate of the game completely out of their hands.

There is absolutely no logic you can use to say "well, that collapse didn't mean anything, it should be ignored."

by gattoma :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:55am

No. Read what I write, not what you want to read. I never suggested that any of the numbers should be ignored, because the fact that their defense fell apart is significant, regardless if they won or loss. The post was in response to the discussion of why Minnesota, who looked clearly better than Green Bay in both games, could be rated below them in DVOA. I made the suggestion because you have the odd combination of a team that, based on the numbers, is consistent from game to game but has been wildly variable within certain games. How much did those 3 quarters offset the other 29 they have played? Would it not be interesting to find out that the Vikings had 2 or 3 of the 10 worst DVOA quarters this season (Titans 2nd against NE and Steelers 4th against SD immediately come to mind as others) but were a top 3 team the rest of the time? And yes, before you post, I understand that you can play this game for any team. I'm using the Vikings because of the disparity in play between those 3 quarters and the rest of their season. Is there a recent team they compare to?

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:15pm

I get what you're saying. Even though every team would improve significantly if one removed their 3 worst quarters of the season so far, Minnesota's improvement would easily be above average. i.e. their 3 worst quarters are further from their average overall performance than most other teams.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:07pm

Here's the breakdown on Minnesota by quarter/half (DVOA rank)


1st Quarter: -16.66 (7th)
2nd Quarter: -31.1 (1st)
3rd Quarter: -4.1 (18th)
4th Quarter: 48.0 (30th)

1st half: -24.5 (1st)
2nd half: 20.8 (27th)

Late and Close: -16.3% (5th)

Offensively they are the opposite - start slow and get better

1st Quarter: -0.9 (18th)
2nd Quarter: 6.2 (16th)
3rd Quarter: 16.5 (11th)
4th Quarter: 41.0 (5th)

1st half: 3.1 (17th)
2nd half: 29.9 (5th)

Late and Close: 12.2 (11th)

Kind of explains Minnesota's season. The defence plays great in the 1st half - the offence is OK as they try to establish the run usually unsuccessfully. The Special teams play great and Minnesota builds a lead. The defence crumbles in the 2nd half but the offence starts passing and gets stronger as is required.

The only surprising number I see is that Minnesota's defence is listed as 5th in late and close games. That doesn't seem right.

by bengt (not verified) :: Fri, 11/06/2009 - 5:37am

Yes, the Steelers' early games seem to be very comparable. In the SD game that you mention as well as in their losses at Chicago and Cincinnati they played very well through the first three quarters and lost due to playing poor prevent D in the fourth.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:56pm

Well I would like the DVOA for the Packers to have removed every incomplete pass attempt, because ya know it makes them look a lot better too, but that would have nothing to do with the reality of the situation.

Seriously, go look at the 4th quarter of the GB @ Minn game again. GB might have one that game if they could have recovered either one of TWO onside kicks. The idea that blowing a big lead shouldn't count is absurd. Those weren't Minnesota's backups getting shredded at the end of that game.

by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:09am

The Niners would look really good too if we could just eliminate all offensive snaps and punt returns.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:12pm

Man, Philadelphia is all over that top 25 through 8 weeks (of the DVOA era) list - 5 teams total. No other franchise is even close (Indy has 3 and then no one else has more than 2). Their stat breakdowns for 2009 actually look pretty similiar to their 2001 team (great defense and special teams, just ok offense with a good running game and mediocre passing) - so I guess losing a close Championship game to the very 2001 Rams-esque Saints is in the cards this year...

by wyote (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:26pm

Andy Reid's way of thinking about football may be similar to FO's. I wonder if this explains the high passing percentage?

Philly's offense is probably better than the DVOA can show - two games are Kolb rather than McNabb, and I can't remember how many they've played without Westbrook. The egg at Oakland isn't the only thing weighing them down.

If the Eagles lose another NFC Championship game - don't be in eastern PA.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:32pm

Kolb actually has a much higher DVOA than McNabb. McNabb was at the helm for their two worst offensive performances of the year - the Washington and Oakland games.

Anyhoo, it's also interesting that of those 5 "Top 25 Games," only one team has a great record (2004's 7-0) and the others are all floating around .500. This year's 5-2 is actually the second best record of the group. And the 2004 7-0 team had the worst DVOA. Not sure what any of it means, other than the Eagles have fielded an impressive number of teams that were really good in the early going...

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:42pm

It's definitely true that passing declines as the season goes on. Makes sense that a pass-heavy team would tend to put up a higher DVOA early in the season, and so a good pass-heavy team (like Philly) would litter the list of highest DVOA in the first half of the season.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:10pm

That's interesting - but several of those Philly teams (like this year and 2001) aren't in any way buoyed by their passing DVOA. However, Indy's famous memorably pass-proficient high DVOA teams do show up...

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:42pm

Wouldn't matter. How they get to a high average DVOA isn't important - if passing declines in efficiency, and a high component of your offense (thus ~half your DVOA) is dependent on passing, your DVOA will start high and finish lower. Philly's defense puts them near the top - the season-long "DVOA-slope" that passing (might!) generate pushes you very high near the beginning, and lower near the end.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:42am

Yeah, but do you have any indication that's what happened? For one - these Eagles teams didn't finish low in DVOA, so I'm not sure why the downward slop matters. We're not discussing where the Eagles ended up in DVOA. Also, the 2001 team wasn't very pass heavy and last year their passing DVOA stayed more or less even throughout the year. I'm actually not sure what you're arguing her because these teams are clearly not high up on the list as a result of incredibly high passing DVOA.

"Philly's defense puts them near the top" as you say - that's true in 2001, 2008, and 2009. They're buoyed by Special Teams in 2001, 2004 & 2009. Their offense is the strong component only in 2004...

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:20pm

They finished lower most of those years.

The slope matters because when you look at "Top 25 DVOA by week 8" you're putting a hard cut, so teams which have some reason to be higher than their full-season average (which would put them in a more 'normal' group) would pop up.

"Philly's defense puts them near the top" as you say - that's true in 2001, 2008, and 2009. They're buoyed by Special Teams in 2001, 2004 & 2009. Their offense is the strong component only in 2004...

Yeah, the point again is that it doesn't matter how they get high. If they've got a trend where they're higher at the beginning and lower at the end, they'll pop out frequently as a top team early on because their full-season average will be a more "average" value.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:44pm

But you're not basing that on anything! There's no reason for that to be more true of the Eagles than literally any other team on that list. Except in 2004, the Eagles did not have a significantly different passing DVOA between the mid-point and the end of the season.

I completely understand your general point, but it's not data to support your argument. It's just unrelated. And then you offer nothing to support your argument.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:06pm

PHI 2008: OFF DVOA: 11.7% WEI OFF DVOA: 7.8%
PHI 2006: OFF DVOA: 22.0% WEI OFF DVOA: 19.3%
PHI 2004: OFF DVOA: 16.0% WEI OFF DVOA: 10.3%
PHI 2001: OFF DVOA: 0.5% WEI OFF DVOA: -5.4%

Philly's offense declined over the season in every single one of those years (the defense, incidentally did not - it improved in 2/4 of those years). The passing offense doesn't actually even need to decline for that logic to work: if passing offense becomes less effective in general then the coach may decide to run in situations where passing would be preferable early in the season, leading to a general overall decline rather than a specific decline.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:23pm

But you're still missing my point: since passing generally declines for all teams (and 3% to 6% DVOA difference is not exactly a big change which really supports your argument either), why does it any of this matter. The same thing is true for all of those teams on that list. And many of those teams had even higher passing DVOA that dropped even more significantly. It does literally nothing to shed light on the fact that the Eagles are up there so frequently (and with suspect win/loss records).

I'm interested to see them 5 times on that list, way significantly more than any other franchise, with several of the teams having multiple losses and the different teams having variable strengths and weaknesses.

You're harping on some issues that has nothing to do with anything - about how they finished the season (and I keep arguing with you because your logic is all screwy on that bizarrely unrelated point)...

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:01pm

But you're still missing my point: since passing generally declines for all teams

Because a team that relies on passing in neutral situations will tend to be affected more by this. "Passing declines" does not necessarily mean "passing DVOA declines." The team can respond to this by running more often, which may pull the total DVOA down just by rushing (if their rushing DVOA is worse), or quite possibly by rushing in situations they wouldn't've rushed in before (which would lower their rushing DVOA).

And many of those teams had even higher passing DVOA that dropped even more significantly.

Riight... I'm missing how this disagrees with my point. For those Philly teams, it was the offense, every year, that declined. Philly passes more in neutral situations than just about any other team. We know that passing declines as the season goes on. Philly tends to be a good team. Combine all of those facts, and it's fairly likely that Philly would end up several times on the Top 25 DVOA in the first half.

Look, I'm not even saying I agree with this idea. I personally think it has more to do with Philly being a very good team every year with a set of players that are more injury-prone than the rest of the league. But that might be a Philly fan in me talking, since that makes Philly essentially the best team in the league over the past 10 years.

(and 3% to 6% DVOA difference is not exactly a big change which really supports your argument either)

It's more like a 5 to 10% difference. The full season numbers include the late season numbers, so if you want to examine early season to late season, it's about twice the difference. Since the numbers in this list are "early season only" they'd be about 5-10% higher than the weighted DVOA portion to get the full season numbers.

You're harping on some issues that has nothing to do with anything

I don't get the vitriol. The idea is clear to me. Take an average "good" DVOA - say, 25-30% - boost it by 5 to 10% due to an early-season benefit from passing - and you get somewhere between 35-40% early in the season, which pushes you up into the "top 25".

by Bobman :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:12am

RE: Indy, actually Manning's highest traditional stats years are NOT in the top 25. The years Indy is in the top 25 are all years... (drumroll, please)... when their D played particularly well. In terms of scoring D, they are #1 as of today, and were top-3 or 4 the other two years.

Now, even a "down" passing year for Indy is probably worth a top-8 slot, but still, their *best* passing seasons seemed to run counter-cyclical with their best D seasons. This year being the exception to that rule.

by MC2 :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:16pm

The easiest way to get a really high DVOA is to play well against a really tough schedule. However, that also tends to result in having a mediocre record.

I'm guessing that if you looked at the Top 25 in terms of VOA (with no opponent adjustments) after 8 weeks, there would be a much stronger correlation between VOA and W-L record.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:23pm

You think? What is VOA if not just another way of stating W-L?

by MC2 :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:21am

It's a way of trying to remove the "luck" and other random variables from wins and losses. Surely you're aware that there have been many cases in which the team with the lower VOA in the game still won.

For example, this year the Eagles have a higher non-adjusted VOA than the Colts or Saints. VOA is much more like Pythagorean W-L record than actual W-L record.

by M :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:06am

Here's Philly's splits in the five years we are looking at:

2001 1st Half 4-3 145 98 +47
2001 2nd Half 7-2 198 110 +88

2004 1st Half 7-0 186 104 +82
2004 2nd Half 6-3 200 156 +44

2006 1st Half 4-4 206 160 +46
2006 2nd Half 6-2 192 168 +24

2008 1st Half 4-3 194 137 +57
2008 2nd Half 5-3-1 222 152 +70

2009 1st Half 5-2 203 133 +70
2009 2nd Half ???

Combine 2001,2004,2006,2008
1st Half 19-11-0 731 499 +232
2nd Half 24-10-1 812 586 +226

In the 1st half of the seasons described, Philly outscores their opponents by 7.7 pts/game, while in the 2nd half they outscore their opponents by 6.5 pts/game. However, their winning percentage improves from .633 to .700. While not being able to illustrate schedule strengh differences, I think one of the main phenomena occurring is that they seem to have slightly better luck in close games in the 2nd half of seasons. That, and for some reason most of the times they have been blown out have disproportionately happened in the second half (2004 Pit/Cin, 2006 Ten/Ind, 2008 Bal).

The last sentence brings up an interesting point - the Eagles under Andy Reid have on average had a poorer record against the AFC than the NFC (23-18-1 .560 vs. 79-46-0 .632). Of course, the AFC has usually been much better over this period, so this may be within expectations once allowing for strength of opponents.

by Tomlin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:51am

The Eagles must a lovely trophy case for all those high DVOA ratings. It must be really impressive when a rookie walks into the facility. Rings too.

by AndysCheeseSteak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:21am

Bitter much?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:47am

Be fair: the Eagles have three NFL Titles - they just all came before the merger...

Anyway, yes Eagles fans are tired of having good teams and no rings - you win. Congratulations. Is there any fan base that needs to put in their place less than Eagles fans?

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:18pm

Lions fans?

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:59pm

Bills fans.

They have trump card on anyone.

by t.d. :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:31pm

I don't like the Eagles or Pats, but I'm not rooting for a DVOA title for my team. It's great information, and a fairly useful. This year raises an interesting problem. Since the bad teams are so bad, the good teams' deficiencies can sometimes be hidden by playing teams unable to exploit them, and this can go on for a long time. For example, the Giants' pass defense, the Packers' lousy tackles, the Colts' possible lousy left tackle, and the Ravens' lousy cornerbacks are all very vulnerable weaknesses than strong teams can exploit, but they can get by for a long time without being exposed. More than previous years, this year it seems to come down to matchups.

I guess what I'm saying is that maybe the 'guts-stomps' analysis need to be re-evaluated . Pounding lousy teams seems less predictive when everybody is doing it, and if opponent adjustments were truly enough, teams wouldn't soar in the ratings by playing crap teams, because that would be taken into account.

by jedmarshall :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:51am

While I think your overall point raises interesting questions, as a Colts fan, I will nitpick one of your points. As much as we all dreaded hearing Charlie Johnson starting LT this year, he's shown marked improvement. Now if you want to say possibly lousy right guard, I doubt you'd get many arguments.

by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:00am

A DVOA "title" is useful insofar as it gives great guidance on how to help manage the team's fortunes (if you're a coach and pay attention to this stuff). I don't know if any NFL teams have paid attention to this site. I know NONE (literally) of my "football fan" friends either visit, let alone know about it. Yet I visit the site regularly, even in off season.

Point is, you're right, what's the point of a DVOA title if you don't win any other title? But I will say that the DVOA has been a useful guide for me to use in picking teams, even in postseason (sometimes in postseason it's useful to ignore the DVOA if you're considering team history, psychology, and other intangibles).

In that sense, the DVOA "title" has sometimes been a useful guide to pay attention to, or ignore, as the situation defines itself.

Frankly, while I hate the Giants, I totally ignored it going into the Pats/Giants Super Bowl. The Pats "blowout" scenario was so obvious, I couldn't take it seriously. I just didn't believe a team on a major roll like the Giants would simply get blown out. As I told my friends, don't bet the spread - bet the team. If the Giants cover, they'll win. I think I even posted that prediction here in the comments, but I could be wrong.

In the end, these stats are good to use for discussion and analysis purposes, and that's all they should be used for....any thought of "titles" should be on the individual basis of DYAR, etc.

by Rich Arpin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:20pm

No need for a debate guys about who's the better team, the saints and pats play later this year. And if straight winning or losing that game doesn't convince people, at least the saints still get the bucs twice this year for boosting their DVOA

by Waverly :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:35pm

The Saints would have to win awfully big against the Bucs to increase their DVOA much. It's more likely that they win convincingly, but that their DVOA decreases anyway.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:45pm

It's that's your thought process, why even come to this site? What if, say, it's an otherwise even game, but NE fumbles three times in the red zone and recovers all three fumbles; while the Saints fumble once and have the ball returned by NE for a TD? Would you be willing concede that NE is the better team or would you agree with DVOA that they lucked out?

DVOA is measuring all of things for all of those stomps and blowouts and games you don't watch at all - give it a little credit for that reason alone...

by jmaron :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:25pm

I looked at games where the top 10 DVOA teams play each other and looked at their DVOA in those games.

games dvoa avg
NO 1 75.2
Minn 4 39.5
Bal 3 35.4
NE 2 29.85
Den 3 20.96
Pitt 1 19.2
Philly 1 -1.1
GB 3 -10.2
Dall 1 -11.7
Indy 0

DVOA of opponents in those games

games opp dvoa
NO 1 -1.1
Minn 4 -0.4
Bal 3 10.1
Pitt 1 19.1
Den 3 31.8
NE 2 36.8
Dall 1 49.6
GB 3 62.55
Philly 1 75.2
Indy 0

I think this year there are a bunch of truly putrid teams and the top teams are building up big DVOA by pounding those teams. Not sure I buy that it necessarily makes them great teams.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:00pm

Interesting to look at your list, although I think it would be more telling to see the results broken down game by game. Also, keep in mind, the Eagles played a Top 10 DVOA team this weekend and beat them so thoroughly as to drop them out of the top teams - not sure how often that's happened this season where one of these Top 10 teams knocked another team out of the Top 10.

Looking over that list, only MN has played good teams all that often - the sample sizes are tiny (and always will be with DVOA only having a 16 game season to work with). One of the reasons the guts/stomps research was so interesting was that it revealed that beating up cupcakes does consistently tell us something about a team's strength. Almost no team is ever going to play the majority of their games against Top 10 teams, so DVOA by necessity better have something to tell us about what beating up on cupcakes means...

But looking at your list, does that ranking look "right" to you? Sure, NO looks like the best team in the league - but MN, Bal, NE, Den is just as much of jumble of counterintuitive things and justifiable rankings as DVOA. It doesn't look any closer to conventional wisdom or a more nuanced view of how things "really" are...

by Jovins :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:19pm

Actually, it does look about right to me. I would say that New Orleans is playing better than anyone; then I'd suggest Indianapolis, even though they've played no one.
And I do think Minnesota is clearly at least competitive in a game with either of those teams.
And Baltimore has been really good.

However, the sample size is ridiculously small.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:48am

But that list actually puts Indy between Pitt and Philly - does that seem right? It's an interesting jumble, like DVOA...

by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:36pm

When Steven Jackson is inducted into the HOF, 9 out of 10 people in the NFL viewing population will never have seen him play live on TV.

by evenchunkiermonkey (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:03am

Are you high?

by Otis Taylor89 :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 7:57am

I actually think it's sad that such a great player is suck on that team. Up in Boston I think it's been 4 or 5 years since a Rams game has been on TV. But I get to see Eli Manning each week...ugh.

by E :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:35pm

I think you meant "that such a great player is 'stuck' on that team" ... but it's funnier the way you wrote it

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:36am

about Steven Jackson making the HoF or about nobody ever seeing him on TV?

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:02am

When Steven Jackson gets inducted into the Hall of Fame that 11 yard run in the 4th quarter run from the Rams 2 yard line will be on the highlights package. He stiff armed 5 guys. FIVE! In 11 yards!

by dbostedo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:50am

I'm assuming that most fans see just about all of their favorite teams games. Since the Rams play every team at least once every 4 years, I don't know that it's possible that anywhere near 90% of NFL fans will have not watched him play. In fact, I'd guess it would be more in the 10% range.

by gravning :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:54pm

Steven Jackson is turning into Walter Payton. An amazing player who is growing as a person and not complaining while being the leader of a terrible, terrible team.

He's going to be the leading rusher in franchise history, which is an incredible accomplishment, given the talented running backs who have played for the Rams. Dickerson, Faulk, etc. His stats are getting scary, so he'll definitely make the Hall of Fame (barring injury).

But he's 26, so he's only got a few years left. Unless Devaney and Spags are miracle-workers and get this team back in the Super Bowl, I don't know that Jackson will have the signature season that places him on the short list of all-time greats.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:43pm

To be fair, Dickerson only played there for 4 years and 3 games and Faulk only played there for 7 years (and the last 3 were his three worst in his career). It's still an impressive accomplishment, but not quite as impressive as it otherwise sounds.

That being said, you will find no bigger S-Jax fan than I, so I would not be at all surprised if he ends up right around Curtis Martin (one of my all-time favorites) on the rushing list, which would all but guarantee him into the Hall of Fame.

When I was looking up the career totals I came across this--I think it says more about how good Dickerson was than anything about S-Jax, but it was interesting nonetheless. S-Jax averages 78.9 yards per game in his career in StL while Dickerson averaged 111.5. Wow.

Amazingly, my CAPTCHA is "canton June"

by jmaron :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:38pm

I looked at games where the top 10 DVOA teams play each other and looked at their DVOA in those games.

Team DVOA Games
NO 75.2 1
Minn 39.5 4
Bal 35.4 3
NE 29.85 2
Den 20.96 3
Pitt 19.2 1
Phil -1.1 1
GB -10.2 2
Dall -11.7 1
Indy 0 games

DVOA of opponents in those games

Team DVOA Games
NO -1.1 1
Minn -0.4 4
Bal 10.1 3
Pitt 19.1 1
Den 31.8 3
NE 36.8 2
Dall 49.6 1
GB 62.55 2
Phil 75.2 1
Indy 0 games

hope this is more readable

by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:37pm

What was the DVOA of the two MN GB games?

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:06am

first game: Minn 63.3, GB -17.9
2nd game: Minn 57.8, GB -2.5

by Jamarcus Russell (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:55pm

How am I running the worst offense? I got the best arm in the league and am better than Tom Brady and Peyton Manning COMBINED! Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go do my mid-week workouts of pounding big macs.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 8:57pm

As I keep saying this year, even bothering to apply DVOA, or analysis of the strengths and flaws of DVOA, or any other mental energy, to the bottom half teams is nothing more than a complete waste. And, unfortunately, rating the top half teams becomes increasingly suspect because they play these tomato cans too often rather than each other. Pro football has drastically changed as a result of free-agency. Completely gone are the days of Pete Rozelle and the leagues own desire for "parity". In it's place is something that parallels baseball--when the season begins there are only a handful of teams that have a real chance. Of course that's not to say that an owner can buy a title, as Dan Snyder has painfully found out, but the winners are ONLY going to come from those ownerships who do want to win. And then, since the only good teams come from those ownership groups, their various stats and other conceptual residue left behind from their performance against the tomato cans, looks to be something it isn't really. The idea that DVOA's owners proclaim this week that all 5 of the top teams are among the top 25 all time--that's absolutely ridiculous. People that really know something about pro football do not see any mystery in why Minny has handled Green Bay twice, or how it is that the Jints get complacent after a run against the weakies--just to name a couple of examples that appear to be plaguing you all. I'm sorry but DVOA is way off this year, as good of a system as it is. You know, to rate Green Bay and Minny as about equal is just absurd--and those of you that have been involved in these threads know that I'm not just saying that because now the Vikes have swept them. I'm the same guy that was saying this before they played the first time and I fully expected a Minny outright of G.B on the road too. Several other of the DVOA proclamations are just not realistic either...

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:23pm

Frankly I think this post is complete nonsense.

I also don't understand your contention that "DVOA is way off this year". Off when compared to what? Wins and losses? Your personal opinion?

From my point of view DVOA is the exact same mix of exactly/interesting/huh?/wtf!?! as it is every year.

The eagles in particular have made DVOA look good after everyone gave up on them following the Oakland loss.

Not saying the system is perfect, it is what it is. But I completely fail to see the reasons for the pessimism expressed in your post.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:19pm

Well Mr. Still Alive--What I mean by saying that it is way off this year is that I think that in years past, less so in the last couple, it started reflecting football reality by around game 6 or so. Not so at all this year by game 8, in my view. It's only an invention of the last few years, obviously, and it seemed alot more accurate in the first couple. By the year of the Giants win over N.E. it was already beginning to miss alot. It just didn't even see that one coming at all, whereas alot of people, myself included, did. You probably didn't. And you probably never played the game even at a college level ? What I mean by "way off" is relative to football reality. Right now it is proclaiming Green Bay and Baltimore as more efficient units that Minnesota and Pittsburgh. Isn't that enough for you, as a watcher, right there ?

And what else can you possibly find nonsensical ? How about the statement that there is no parity anymore ? Of course you probably haven't been around for very long either. Maybe you're in your twenties or thirties. Anyway, whoever you are and wherever you've been in life, you should try to understand that a whole bunch of these NFL owners have no intention of fielding winning teams. Therefore games involving the good teams versus those crap teams have no meaning whatsoever except for the paychecks to all involved...

by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:42pm

As a watcher, I think Baltimore certainly looks as good (and probably better than) Minn and Pitt - what's crazy about that? I think Green Bay has had a lot of variance in their performance, but seem about on the same level as Minn. Minny is a bad matchup for them (hence their two wins in head to head), but their relative strengths compared to the rest of the league doesn't seem far off from each other. Bal, Minn and Pitt all seem like teams with really strong strengths and weak weaknesses - what they're good at, they're great at and what they're bad at, they're pretty darn bad at. NO seems really good. Indy seems really good.

The obvious head-scratchers are NE and Philly - if you're taking issue with DVOA, that's where to start, not with quibbling about the exact ranking of good but flawed teams like Baltimore, Minny, Green Bay and Pittsburgh...

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:56pm

Yeah, I have to agree that the inclusion of Baltimore with Green Bay seems pretty odd. Baltimore's losses were close and came to opponents with aggregate record of 14-5 (not including that game). They've beaten a 4-2 team and a 6-0 team, as well as two cream puffs. A roughly ~0.500 record against good teams seems a pretty darn good indicator you're a good team, too.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:52pm

Pat, GB is actually quite similar to Baltimore by your measurements, excepting a single win over a top team.

Their losses were twice to the 7-1 Vikings and once to the 5-2 Bengals. Not counting those games (but counting Minnesota's record twice), they've lost to teams with a combined 14-4 record.

They've beaten a 4-2 team in Chicago (not count that game in their record), but no team with a better record, while they've blown out three bad teams.

Just to throw out one more stat I was curious about, in terms of scoring differential, GB is 26.7 - 19.1 = +7.6 points per game better than their opponents, while Baltimore is 28.4 - 19.6 = +8.8 points per game better.

Given these comparisons, I think it's reasonable that a pair of 4-3 teams are ranked closely together.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:16pm

Yeah, the single win over a top team is the important part. I don't disagree that objectively it's completely believable that GB/BAL are in the same category. But naively just looking at who they've beaten, they're a notch below Baltimore. But a naive view of Baltimore thinking they're not a top team just has no basis in logic.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:20pm

Rick - Here are several things you wrote that may seem obvious to you, but I think I disagree with.

1) "...it started reflecting football reality by around game 6..."

I think that "football reality" is totally meaningless since it's just your impression of how good teams are - you don't really know more than anyone else (or DVOA) does. It changes, and DVOA and DYAR can help us see what has happened and help point out where impressions are innaccurate (and a lot of them are). For instance, a lot of people's football reality probably included the Giants being an excellent team. Things change, and aren't always predictable. Sometimes DVOA can predict that, or show us that peoples impressions are wrong, and sometimes it can't. But in general it does better than most people. Perhaps the Eagles will turn out to be better than most people give them credit for because they over-weight the Raiders loss... My guess (and it's just a guess) is that DVOA would do better at picking games than the vast majority of people.

2) "It just didn't even see that one coming at all, whereas a lot of people...did"

DVOA can't possibly predict every game - nothing can. And most people can't either, despite the contention that a lot of people saw it coming. The Patriots were about a 12 point favorite, meaning the majority of people thought New England was going to win, and likely win fairly easily.

3) "And you probably never played the game even at a college level?"

This has zero to do with this site or analysis or correctness or intelligence of the comments. I'm not sure why it's included in your statement. As some analysts on TV and announcers have seemed to show, having played the game doesn't necessarily make you a better or worse judge than the average dedicated fan. (Although that's conjecture on my part, but I believe it.)

4) "How about the statement that there is no parity anymore? Of course you probably haven't been around for very long either. Maybe you're in your twenties or thirties."

How about it? I find the salary cap and draft still providing plenty of parity. And I'm 33 and was alive in the late 70's and began watching in the early 80's. Are you claiming there's less parity now than there was then?

Every year for the last 11 or 12 years, at least 5 teams have made the playoffs that didn't the year before. A team as dreadful as the Raiders was in the Super Bowl this decade. A team as dreadful as Cleveland managed to win 10 games in 2007. A team as dreadful as Cincinnatti used to be has had a couple of good years lately with an owner who was accused of mismanagement many times. All of this is anecdotal, but it adds up to a lot. Anyone know of an article actually analyzing parity by wins or playoff appearances? I could swear there was one...

5) "...you should try to understand that a whole bunch of these NFL owners have no intention of fielding winning teams."

I'd like to see any kind of proof of this. While some owners might just want to be good enough to make some money off the league, the large majority seem to make moves that would run counter to that. They might not make good moves, but they make them.

My point is that opinions can feel like they must be right, and everyone must agree with you, but it's often not the case. Selective memory, innaccurate pattern recognition, and a whole host of mistaken conclusions and fallacies can lead to a very wrong analysis. This is one of the reasons this system was developed - to try to help avoid that kind of thing. (Not prevent it, but at least help.) The "run to win" was the prime example.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:33am

"It just didn't even see that one coming at all, whereas a lot of people...did"

DVOA can't possibly predict every game - nothing can. And most people can't either, despite the contention that a lot of people saw it coming. The Patriots were about a 12 point favorite, meaning the majority of people thought New England was going to win, and likely win fairly easily.

I was one of the people arguing that DVOA was missing what seemed obvious to me that as the season progressed the Patriots were coming back to the pack in a serious way and were no way 12 points or whatever the spread was better than the Giants. DVOA suggested that game would be a huge mismatch. But from week 12 on the Patriots were in tough in just about every game through the playoffs. If the Chargers weren't so banged up I doubt they would have even made it to the Super Bowl.

It was just one game - so the result proves nothing, but the fact that the Pats had so much trouble with their two previous home playoffs games suggested they weren't some over powering team.

by MC2 :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:45am

I still think Brady was more seriously injured in that game than anybody was willing to admit. He's never been a scrambler, but normally, he has good mobility within the pocket. In that Super Bowl, however, he looked like a complete statue. He made Drew Bledsoe look like Fran Tarkenton.

Everyone wanted to give all the credit to the Giants' front four (and they did play well), but remember, that same front four was barely able to lay a finger on Brady just one month earlier. I find it hard to believe that they improved that much in such a short span of time.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that Brady was faking the injury to mess with the Giants' heads, but in retrospect, it seems clear that the deception was running in the opposite direction, with Brady claiming he was healthier than he really was.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:37am

"Made Drew Bledsoe look like Fran Tarkenton."

Whoa. Drew Bledsoe always reminded me of my father's favorite joke about Dan Marino: His legs. (I agree it's bad, but he told me that joke from when I was about 7 years old on. I could name three football players: John Elway, Ickey Woods, and Dan Marino. The only reason I could name Marino was his joke.)

I do agree that I thought Brady looked hurt, though I admit I don't remember hearing anyone say that it was a mind game. It's very fitting of the Patriot mystique, especially that year coming off of Spygate, though, so I can't say I'm surprised.

by jebmak :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:49am

Sheesh, if you only knew three players at seven, you were lagging behind. My brother's first word was football. My sister claims that his second was touchdown (though I am not sure on that one).

When he was a little older, he would toddle back and forth in the living room with his nerf football saying, "Fuhbuh, tuhduh! Fuhbuh, tuhduh!"

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:45pm

Well, I lived in the middle of nowhere in Colorado (so far from Denver you can't see the mountains from there) where we had one tv channel (seriously--you had to be able to afford a better antenna to get more) and the early '90s Broncos were not exactly star-studded.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:14pm

"I still think Brady was more seriously injured in that game than anybody was willing to admit. He's never been a scrambler, but normally, he has good mobility within the pocket. In that Super Bowl, however, he looked like a complete statue. He made Drew Bledsoe look like Fran Tarkenton."

He definitely was hurt. I think the ankle caused some accuracy issues early, and forced him to make throws earlier than usual.

Steven Neal getting hurt early only compounded things, as Hochstein against Tuck was a really bad matchup.

by MJK :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:07pm

I think I remember reading an article (by Tanier or Farrar or someone who looked at tape here on FO) that one of the things the Giants did sometimes was move Tuck inside and have him work against the center, because centers generally were used to dealing with bigger, but less agile guys. In the regular season, the Giants didn't do this, but in the Superbowl, they did, and it was Koppen who simply couldn't deal with it. I'm sure having Hochstein, not Neal, next to him contributed, but it was mainly that the Giants found one clever weakness that they had the personnell to exploit (much like Walsh figured out how to neutralize LT in another SB with one little trick). That was the gist of the article as I remember it... can someone confirm?

Anyway, while it was surprising that the Giants shut down the Patriots offense, the Giants were trailing by 4 with less than two minutes to go, facing 3rd and long on their own half of the field. Take away that miracle catch, or give Asante Samuel slightly better hands, and this discussion probably isn't being had. Flukes happen.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:47am

"I was one of the people arguing that DVOA was missing what seemed obvious to me that as the season progressed."

That's a good way to put it, since that's what you felt was obvious, but may not have been. Based on the spread, a lot of people didn't think that was obvious at all. It's possible that you have better insight than a lot of people (as the original poster might). However, it's also possible that if that Super Bowl could have been played 100 time, NE might have won the large majority, and the Giants victory is a little on the "fluky" side.

The question is what is more predictive - how a team did recently, or the level the established throughout the season? I think the whole season is more meaningful. There have been several things I've read I think showing that a team being "on a roll" is not that important, and the team's strength over a season is more important (predictive).

You're suggesting in the case of the Pats that factoring more recent tough wins was more important than the overall season. If weighting more recent games more heavily was more predictive, DVOA would include it (unless it's something they haven't looked at yet, which is also possible). Maybe there is a difference given particular circumstances - like a team coming down off a really high level is more likely to continue to decline. Something like that might be possible, but awfully hard to tease out and add to the formulas.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:34am

I think FO does do a more recent rating as the season wears on. Obviously injuries are a major factor. The longer the season goes the more injuries can effect the quality of a team.

NE played the Giants twice in 5 weeks. Won by a narrow margin and lost by a narrow margin. Maybe if they could somehow have played 100 games they would have beat them convincing the majority of the time. But usually when a team is far better than the other but the game ends up close or in an upset you see all sorts of lucky type of bounces, turnovers, etc. That sure didn't look like the case to me when several teams played NE very close over the last half of the season.

As for the stomps article, is it still on the site? Are there limits to the value of stomps? When I see a team beat someone 59-0 it suggests to me that team is likely very strong - but if some other teams goes and beats Tenn 42-10 a weak later I don't intuitively think the team that won by 59 is obviously better. DVOA suggests otherwise.

For the same reason I don't think GB beating Cle and Det by a much bigger margin than did Minnesota is nearly as predictive as Minnesota beating GB head to head twice by 19 points.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:53am

Actually, I don't think the ratings for the teams that scored 42 and 59 would be very far off (unless one of the scores was the result of thinks DVOA classifies as lucky or non-predictive - extreme fumble luck, or lots of kick returns, etc.) In other words, I don't think DVOA would suggest that the team that scored 59 is obviously better.

Now if the team that scored 59 also scored 30-50 points against several other teams with high margin-of-victory wins, then yes, DVOA would likely suggest that it was a much better team.

by jmaron :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:08pm

in the case of NE that one game provides over 40% of their DVOA. Had they merely beat Tenn 42-10 or so I expect their DVOA for the game would have been something like 60-80 and they would rank 5th or 6th in total DVOA.

I wonder if capping individual games would provide a more accurate DVOA?

by Eddo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:43pm

There was a year recently (2005? 2006? I remember the Chiefs were involved somehow) where there were a handful of early blowouts that really made it look like the ratings were off. This prompted Aaron to look into ways to reduce the effect of a single blowout win or loss, but everything he tried resulted in less accurate overall DVOA, so the conclusion was to leave blowouts in without adjustments.

It might be worth revisiting, though, now that we have another crazy year with some truly awful teams.

by MJK :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:01pm

Ummm... the Patriots have played 7 games. Assuming every game has roughly the same number of plays, that means that that gave accounts for 1/7th of the Patriots DVOA...or about 14% of their DVOA.

And there IS a DVOA adjustment for blowout scenarios. Aaron tried making it stronger and it hurt the system. But plays in a blowout situation do count less.

by THE Sean C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:27pm

It would make sense intuitively that games vs. doormats would have less predictive value than games vs. real teams. But the bottom half of the table is not made entirely of doormat teams. More like the bottom quarter (this year) or the bottom eighth (in a normal year). So, yeah, I can see DVOA being a bit more wonky than usual this year due to more teams having doormat type seasons, and Green Bay is probably getting more credit than it should for its games vs the Lions and Browns.

However, you seem to be implying that DVOA, over time, is becoming less capable of predicting the Super Bowl winner, or the winner of specific games. Are you aware that the FO staffers have stated repeatedly that DVOA is NOT a tool to predict the outcome of single games? That it is a tool to predict future performance? Surely you must have followed football long enough to know that the team that performs the best does not always win the game. Or that the better of the two teams does not always out-perform the other team. Even two or three or four times in a row. It happens that way sometimes.

And I'd be curious to know exactly which owners you think are not even trying to field a winning team.

by dmb :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:51pm

Suggesting that "a lot" of people expected the Giants to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl might be true in the sense that a whole lot of people made predictions, so "a lot" of people picked the Giants. But if you mean to claim that a large percentage of people picked the Giants, then I think you're practicing revisionist history. There's a reason nfl.com named it the second-biggest upset in NFL history. It may be true that DVOA ends up being less accurate this year, but that claim would be much more valid if it were backed up with systematic, rather than cherry-picked analysis, and that probably can't be done until the season is over.

"Football reality" is an awfully subjective term, and using it really doesn't answer Still Alive's question. Are you defining "football reality" as your own observations? Those made by someone like Peter King? Those made by someone like Greg Cosell? More conventional stats like total yards or win-loss records?

Finally, the assertion that some owners don't care about winning may be true, but the current CBA also includes a salary floor that prevents owners from maximizing profit simply by slashing player salaries to reduce costs. So owners are operating with at least $100M of fixed player costs, plus the fixed short-run costs of keeping other personnel and running a stadium. In comparison, the variable cost of trying to "discover" information to spend those fixed player costs wisely, including the investment necessary to make good front-office hires, is fairly small. It's basically a drop in the bucket in comparison to the time and money already spent. Meanwhile, the payoff from that additional work has the potential to be pretty significant; the observable effect that winning has on filling seats is suggests that the payoff of fielding a winning team is probably greater than the relatively small cost of trying. (And yes, I do know that they're making much more money on TV revenue, but it's also important to note that that revenue is shared, so ticket and luxury box sales are what we should focus on for payoffs to the owner.) So the marginal benefits of trying to win are almost certainly greater than the marginal cost of doing so, even taking into consideration that trying to win doesn't guarantee good results. (I'm not saying it's easy to win, just that it's relatively easy for owners to try to do so.)

If we were talking baseball, your argument would probably make much more sense.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:39am

I actually bet on NYG that game... I thought that NYG had 7 chances in 20 or so. Many people thought it more like 1 in 5. Worked well for me. To claim that you honestly thought the NYG would win, or even to claim you think they would win more than 50 games if the two teams had played a hundred in parallel universes is folly IMO. There was very little to no reason to believe NYG would be more likely win.

I think anyone who would identify the DVOA "prediction" that NE was better than the NYG based on how they performed that year as a weakness, simply is completely confused about what this site (or any sort of reasonable analysis) is about.

Maybe in 500 years we will have USEFUL models that would have predicted a NYG victory, I am not holding my breath.

No the ranking of GB and BAL is not enough for me.

A) I haven't watched close to every second of every game, have you?
B) Even if I had, despite my fantastic memory and top notch reasoning abilities (don't ask me ask the US Army) I completely lack the ability to adjust all that data for opponent situation et cetera without the aid of statistics. No one could do it, it is simply too much data. You might watch every snap of those four teams and come to some subjective judgment, but then of course to really understand you would also need to watch all of their opponent's games as well. All this without any errors or slip-ups where you forget that some good passes came in situations where a team didn't care about giving up yards, or where you forget that a 18 yard scramble on 3rd and 25 isn't actually that helpful.

I highly doubt the owners intentions matter as much as you think.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:44am

"Maybe in 500 years we will have USEFUL models that would have predicted a NYG victory, I am not holding my breath."

We never will (as I'm sure you knew when you wrote that). The models will get better, but there are two many random elements on every play in an NFL game to ever make that possible. If you have, for example, a 50 percent chance of recovering any given fumble, then statistics pretty much dictate that eventually you will recover 3 or 4 in a row (or vice versa).

Other factors may not be totally random, but always have a significant random component, and again randomness over a period of time dictates streaks. If a QB throws 16 interceptions in a year, I am guessing that it would be more of a statistical anomaly for him to throw exactly 1 interception per game than it would be for him to throw 3 in one game over that span. (it's been years since I've done these kind of numbers and I don't feel like re-learning - better minds can probably provide actual numbers). Over enough games, it becomes a virtual statistical certainty that he will have such a game, and if memory serves, it is not all that many games. And yet it is almost certain that a 3 INT game will be ascribed to the QB having a bad day.

No receiver catches every pass and every running back fumbles occasionally, and while factors like 'clutch' and 'choke' are certainly real to some extent, the pure random factor never disappears.

And turnovers barely begins to cover the extent to which randomness comes into play during every football game.

Teams that are very good relative to their opposition can come close to eliminating the vagaries of chance (relative to winning or losing), but never completely eliminate them (that is, however, why dominating lesser teams is a reasonable indicator of how good a team is). By the time you get to the playoffs, that amount of difference is rarely there, and the 'better' team is going to lose sometimes (actually with some frequency, I would argue).

If it were possible to create two teams that were exactly 'equal' at each position and have them play a thousand games, chances are they would each end up winning about half of the games. But... not all of those games would be close - each side would have blowout wins, and each side would have significantly long winning and losing streaks. That's just the way that works.

It appears to me that DVOA is a good model. It's not perfect and never will be, but no matter how good a model you construct, it will never, never, never be able to predict the outcome of any individual game with absolute certainty.

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:44am

DVOA is off because it didn't predict the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III?

That's a pretty high standard you have there. By any reasonable standard based on statistics alone, the Pats should have been treated as the huge favorites they were. Their regular season performance was, by any objective standard, much, much better than that of the Giants.

by dryheat :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:46pm

I think maybe the Giants were underestimated...didn't they start the next season 7-0, which would have given them an 11-game winning streak?

Brady was definitely hurt, as seen in him not being able to sidestep the rush whatsoever, but in hindsight, those teams weren't as disparate as thought at the time. Maybe the Patriots would have won 60% of games between the two, not the 80-95% some would like to believe.

THAT being said, anybody who predicted a Giants win straight-up was either a member of the Giants organization, picking with their heart or else trying to be the local contrarian....so he/she could claim to be a genius prognosticator when it happened. There were a LOT of those folks in the weeks leading up to the game. There was absolutely zero basis at the time to suggest the Giants were likely to win that game.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:39pm

What I meant to say Mr Still Alive was "never even at a high school level"...

by Esperanto Slim (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:41am

Fair enough, but it's still a totally meaningless statement. Haven't innumerable commentators and talking-head analysts demonstrated that having played at a high level has no bearing on your ability to talk about the sport coherantly?

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:47pm

Also he happens to be wrong about that.

by daveb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:50pm

First an amusing statistic

S.Jackson is first in DVOA at ~20% yet the Rams rushing offense is 19th at -3%. Amazing that the other rushes and penalties cause the total DVOA to drop ~20%.

I don't see how DVOA is WAY off. And one number is never the end all be all. It's just a handy reference point. I think its best use is at the end of the season to look back. One of its main flaws and any football formulas flaws is that there is plenty of variation going on from week to week with respect to who is starting for each team.

For example, Pittsburgh is going to naturally be better on defense with Polamalu than without him.But DVOA counts every game against pittsburgh as the same in its opponent adjustments.

With respect to GB/MIN, the main problem is the difference in the OL vs DL matchup. I'm still waiting to see if Favre will hold up for the whole season. So far so good.

This season has displayed one of the biggest gaps between the best and worst teams that I can remember.

by B-Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:15pm

Denver has played three top ten teams, and is 2-1 against them. Coincidentally the two they won (Bal, Dal) were at home and the one they lost (Bal) was an 11am game on the road. Where big games are played is a big deal, that may not be factored enough. If Denver would have played Balt at home and (Dal,NE) on the road I could see their record as 1-2 in those games.

I find it hard to believe New England is number one, given their losses to Denver and New York along with a 'lucky' win against Buffalo that came due to a last minute special teams error. The Titans game must have artificially pushed up their DVOA.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:26am

I disagree that the Broncos would have beat the Ravens in Denver. The Broncos appeared unprepared, unfocused lazy and sloppy. In short, they looked like a team that was thrilled to be 6-0 and had spent the bye week being very happy with themselves. The Ravens looked focused, aggressive, fast and desperate. In short, they looked like a team with Super Bowl aspirations who were coming off a three game losing streak (all three games, they probably felt they deserved to win) and knew that in the course of a 16 game season, you have to stop the bleeding sooner rather than later, and spent the bye week angry.
Sorry if all that sounds kind of... TV analyst-ish and trite, but if the Bronco offense was going to come out that weak, I don't think location had any impact on the ouutcome of the game.

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:54am

New England lost in Denver _in overtime_. That suggests that the Pats would have won on a neutral site.

The Broncos have one of the biggest home field advantages in the NFL. No, let me amend that: the Broncos have _the_ biggest home field advantage in the NFL. A visiting team cannot simulate playing at altitude.

by Anonymous31 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/03/2009 - 11:49pm


by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:41am

The Vikings have an interesting scheduling quirk. They don't play the Bears until they have played their other two division rivals twice. If the Vikings beat the Lions at home, then, because the Bears have already lost one divisional game, the Vikings can gain the tiebreaker over the Bears with a win in their first game, in the Metrodome.

Given the other opponent the Vikings have before the Bears is Seattle, in the Metrodome, the schedule has worked out perfectly. Creampuffs to start, followed by their toughest stretch, except for a road creampuff to convieniently follow an emotional Monday night game, then a bye week. Start up with creampuffs again, then what will likely be their last important division game, then some potentially more difficult games, but when there likely will a bit of a cushion. Who knows? It may make sense to rest the Zombie King at Soldier Field at night, come December. If it is cold enough, Favre might not even mind.

by Alexander :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:10am

And give up "the streak"?

Maybe if he takes the first snap lol.

by Bobman :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:24am

I haven't seen the word creampuff so many times since I worked in a bakery. But it got me thinking that FO needs a glossary, if only so we can tell the difference between a creampuff and a tomato can.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:10am

It's like rock-paper-scissors: tomato can splats creampuff.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:07pm

Hey, I was hungry for dessert!

by Arkaein :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:26pm

Detroit is aiming for the exclusive "cream of tomato soup in a can" label.

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:52pm

I was thinking this, too. As a Vikings fan, I've shifted my focus from the team being division champions to seeding in the conference. Because the Saints are 7-0 and have an easier schedule (2nd easiest according to FO) left than even the Vikings (5th easiest), every game matters if the goal is to prevent a trip to New Orleans for a conference championship game. If the 2 seed is good enough, then Minnesota can go 5-3 (with 5 home games remaining) and be fine.

That's all a long ways off, I know, but it's the way I think.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:00am

To 57, 58 and 60 :
First to Mr dbostedo--when I say that DVOA did not see the Giant SB victory coming I don't mean in regard to just that one game. I mean that the "football reality" was obvious to ex and current players, and others who have had a meaningful connection to pro or college football, that the Giants were a serious emerging force that year from much earlier in the season. DVOA did not think so. The G Men were winning every road game and were getting better as they went along. Anyone who has ever played beyond high school knows how HARD that is to accomplish. It was an historic roll and DVOA was, seemingly, minimizing it--while trumpeting, like the rest of the national media, the Pats and their particular roll which was, admittedly, historic in it's own self. But the idea that the SB game was a mismatch and all that--it was a joke. Right here in these threads I warned all the readers not to bet against the Giants. Let's face it, so much of this is about either betting or rooting or both. The spread in the game was not relevant to anything, nor is any pointspread. All a pointspread is the sum total of public perception--nothing to do with "football reality".

Another thing in reply to you--yes, I am claiming there is FAR less parity now than in the late 70's. I am somewhat mystified to see a bunch of you guys wanting to argue with that one. You are never going to see "proof" of owners that do not want really to win. You're a fan. They're billionaires. All you have to do, however, is open your eyes. The current Rams ownership couldn't care less about winning if it means paying a bunch of free agents. The Cardinal ownership, even though the son of Bill Bidwill puts on a good front, was run by his father and the sole reason they didn't win for 50 years was him. Don't hold your breath waiting for the same circumstances to repeat that happened last year. Some of these type owners will make a PR move by hiring a certain coach, or whatever, but then they will undercut the guy. That's what will happen to Whisenhunt. And you don't seriously think the Chargers ownership wants to do what it takes, do you ? I could go on. I don't have time right now.

So 58, obviously what I just said also goes out to you. And 60--give me a break. You're going to quote nfl.com ?? I repeat, the Giant victory was not that big of an upset. You know, even though there are such things as upsets in football, there are really not that many of them. Certainly not as history records them. The Jets over Baltimore in SB 3 was not really an upset, for example. The Jets did indeed have a better team. Namath's "prediction" wasn't much of a prediction. The Jets were loaded with NFL guys that had had enough of the system and went over for more money and better treatment. Among them the great Johnny Sample who made a joke of the over-rated Earl Morall on that day. And Namath was ascending into his prime. Anyway, that's a long dissertation that any football person who was around at the time could tell you about. The media version of the event is mainly hyperbole. Right now, suffice to say that the NFL has the characteristic of the good teams looking better than they are because the era of free-agency has finally upended the one time ideal of parity. There are a bunch of horrible teams and they make the good teams look great. They're not. There are no really great teams right now. The only question for systems like DVOA is to delineate who is efficient in the games that go on between the good teams. It's obvious that the Saints, Vikings, and Cowboys maybe, Eagles definitely, from the NFC side, have the talent. The Giants are missing the threat that Burress was among other problems. Green Bay, forget it--way too many problems. The AFC has one team above all others and that is Indy. Then there's Pitt and Balt, Denver maybe, New England of course. San Diego forget it. Everything else is a load of naive rooting...

by Key19 :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:23am

I think you sir are right about a lot of things. I believe that Aaron and CO. are definitely overrating this year's crop of teams in terms of the grand scheme. The fact of the matter is that these teams are not all-time greats, they are just simply all-time better-than-the-other-teams. If that didn't make sense, what I mean is that the best teams are just so much better than the worst teams that they are putting up huge numbers. In a normal year, that would indicate all-time greatness. But this year it does not. I agree that I can't remember a time the league has ever been this black and white. The Saints could play the Bucs 16 times and probably win every time. The same goes for Saints vs. Rams, and probably Saints vs. Lions. The same goes for Colts vs. all those teams. That said, I'm not even in my 20s and I've only been following the league for a few years, so I can't really say how this "historic" year fits in with the rest of the years the league has been around.

I think that you are right about ownership. Certain owners just don't care. There is no way that the Cardinals can be so terrible for so long with the only common denominator being the ownership. Eventually you'd just hit some dumb luck and win something if you were actually trying as hard as possible to win. The ties into my previous point about historic amounts of team disparity because I truly believe that this economic climate has played a huge role in the team disparity. The owners who are more concerned with keeping their checkbook growing certainly have cut corners with their personnel to save money. I don't know if they're cutting more corners this year or not, but it's certainly producing worse products this year. I think many owners feel that they can get away with mediocrity as long as the spin is "rebuilding", all the while they're actually just trying to perpetuate the "rebuilding" period to save on cash. Case in point, the Browns. They traded down SO FAR in the draft that they literally saved tens of millions of dollars on draft choices. I don't think they do that if the owner is financially set and cares 100% about the team. No one wants top picks anymore. Why? The common answer is "guaranteed money", and sure that's part of it, but I'm sure that the other part of it is just sheer amount of total money involved. I think the Lions were stuck taking Stafford because they needed a new face to sell tickets and the general consensus in the media (and amongst a large portion of the fanbase) was that Stafford was the correct choice. If they didn't make him their choice, it would guarantee that they would have every game be blacked out this season. That's bad for business. So they decided to invest in him and sell some tickets. You can't tell me that the Ford family really cares about winning football games. They are trying to do whatever they can to stay afloat while their car company tries to get out of the tank. The NFL is profitable for them, especially when not having to pay top free agents.

The problem is that the gamble has not paid off very well for these owners. Many fanbases are protesting and causing quite the PR nightmare because the teams are so historically bad compared to the competition around them (aka the teams that give a...). I think the owners expected to win a few games and be fine, but these bad teams will all be lucky to get 3 wins this year. They are just that disadvantaged. Hence, the fanbases are in uproars and things aren't working out so well. I think that if the financial climate improves dramatically, you will see the parity of the NFL probably improve dramatically too.

Owners who want to win have a big advantage over those who just wish to make money. It's naive to know that a large percent of players play for love of the check, not love of the game but still think that the owners somehow all are just diehard winner wannabes. There are percentages of both groups that are just here to cash checks and do whatever to make the most of their check cashing.

by MCS :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:58am

I can't find it now, but I remember reading an article that showed a playoff run and Super Bowl appearance ended up costing the owner more money than was earned. The ideal case was to show enough change to give the impression that a championship run would happen. That would boost season ticket sales, merchandising, etc. Then, when the team failed, the owner did not incur the additional costs of the playoffs.

I would imagine that ownership could only go to the well so many times before the fanbase got tired of the same old rhetoric.

by dmb :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:50am

I present to you ... the Washington Redskins!

It's worth noting that doing this doesn't involve skimping on player salaries, and really, the on-field product could ending up being pretty good -- or pretty bad -- in any given year.

by dmb :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:48am

The problem with this angle on ownership is that teams have been required to spend a certain amount of money on player salaries. So trading down in the draft may mean that you don't have to spend all that money on a single player, but you're still going to be spending most of it on someone. And, in fact, a highly-drafted player likely generates significantly more revenue in merchandise sales than does a motley crew of mid-round draft picks and low-cost free agents. However, that group of players might be more likely to yield core pieces of a solid team, whereas that single draft pick is very much a hit-or-miss proposition. So I don't think trading down signifies indifference toward winning; rather, it's just a sign of risk aversion. If the team didn't care about winning, it would keep its pick for the sake of jersey sales. Ironically, you suggest this is the reason the Lions picked Stafford. So let me get this straight: trading down signifies an indifference toward winning, and so does keeping a top pick? You probably confirm a lot of your own hypotheses using this sort of reasoning. :)

Since owners can't save much from cutting player salaries, what other corners can they cut that will save them significant money without hurting their revenue? Hiring fewer scouts? Putting less effort into finding competent GMs? I can't think of anything that would significantly impact the on-field product that would also save an owner a consequential amount of money.

If you really think owners see cutting costs as the best way to maximize profit, and do so without regard to its effect on wins (and the subsequent effect on revenue), a good place to start would be looking at the actual data. Take a look at Forbes' NFL team valuations. There's no obvious relationship between any of their metrics and on-field success. If deliberate neglect (or indifference toward) the on-field were a sound business strategy, then perennially losing teams should probably have the lowest debt-value ratio, and highest operating income. After all, as you noted, owners who want to win would have a big on-field advantage, so teams who are "trying" would easily stay above-average in wins, but below-average in financial performance. Although the Forbes data isn't perfect, it doesn't appear that this is the case at all.

I agree that the consistently poor performance of some teams can probably be traced back to the ownership, but I think it's a sign of incompetence, not indifference. If some owners are "cutting corners" that affect on-field play, it doesn't appear to be a particularly sound investment strategy for their franchises (current valuation, percentage growth, and debt-value ratio), nor does it appear to free up cash in the short-term (operating income).

by Key19 :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:29pm

What I meant about Stafford is that if they DIDN'T take him, it would be glaring to many people that they really didn't care, so they HAD to take him to continue their front of "wanting to win." The Browns meanwhile had a cop-out in Brady Quinn and clearly needed a late first-round Center as their magical winning player.

Also, you cite incompetence as far as fielding a team, but incompetence can also strike business decisions. Does anyone think that the Ford family is perfect at making business decisions? Then they will invariably be wrong when it comes to football business decisions as well. They will gamble that the fans will come, they will be right sometimes and wrong sometimes. When they're wrong, they will not be making money. If they were right every time though, they would probably be making a lot more with their perennial loser.

As for the Forbes list, I see a lot of currently good or historically good teams near the top and a lot of bad or historically bad teams near the bottom. So maybe I'm just flatout wrong. LOL :)

by verifiable (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:53pm

This is so wrong. William Clay Ford has no business acumen (he inheirited his money) and no football acumen but I strongly believe he wants the Lions to win. He just does not know how to do it. He does not need to make money on the Lions, even with Ford Motor Co doing crappy (though better than most auto co's), to maintain his current standard of living and to leave a large inheirantance. What the vast majority of owners are looking for is the gratificattion, idolization, and ego boost that comes from being identified with a winner. If FoMoCo makes $20 billion (or whatever the business equivalent of winning the superbowl is)will William Clay Ford get to lead a parade with a million people lining the street screaming for HIS company? Hell no. Did he keep Matt Millen to maximaize his profits, I don't think so, he did it because he is a stubborn old man who thinks too highly of the people he hires. To sum up the Lions suck because the owner has no ability as a football owner not because he does not want to win.

by dmb :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:35pm

Okay, I understand your Stafford argument a little better this time, though I still disagree that trading down from a high draft spot is evidence that an owner doesn't want to win.

It's a good point that owners aren't necessarily perfect at making business decisions, but I don't think too many are complete idiots in that realm. (After all, many -- though certainly not all -- made gobs money to buy their team.) Even so, I think it's unlikely that an owner would try to maximize profits by paying slightly less in player salaries and front office personnel for years without noticing that the strategy doesn't pay off. Basically, I think it's more likely that they're completely incompetent when it comes to football than that they're completely incompetent when it comes to business.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:02pm

But that list is otherwise a very interesting picture of great teams. Remove all of the Eagles teams and there's very little to quibble with on the historical portion of that list. It'll be interesting in the next few weeks to see how much the remaining opponent adjustments affect DVOA - if the soup cans are truly terrible, 20% more strength to the adjustment is really going to drop Philly, Indy and NE... (and Dallas and NYG).

by semigruntledeaglesfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:24am

During the 1970-1979 seasons, the Cowboys played in 5 Super Bowls (winning 2), the Steelers played in 4 SBs (winning 4), the Dolphins played in 3 SBs (winning 2), and the Vikings played in 3 SBs (winning 0). Thus, out of 20 possible appearances, 15 were occupied by only 4 teams, accounting for 8 of a possible 10 Super Bowl victories. During this decade, 7 teams played in a Super Bowl for the first time in team history.

In the past ten completed seasons (1999-2008), the Patriots have played in 4 SBs (winning 3), the Rams have played in 2 SBs (winning 1), the Steelers have played in 2 SBs (winning 2), and the Giants have played in 2 SBs (winning 1). Thus, out of 20 possible appearances, 10 were occupied by only 4 teams, accounting for 7 of a possible 10 Super bowl victories. No other team had multiple appearances in a Super Bowl during these 10 seasons. During these ten seasons, 6 teams played in a Super Bowl for the first time in team history.

These are facts.

by bubqr :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 6:02am

Alright, so if you're better than DVOA because of ageand experience playing/watching the game, would you care give us some projections, picks for the upcoming weeks, so that we could see what "football reality" can tell us ? I mean, with those statements "DVOA sucks, football experience/reality is much better", time is now to prove it. And telling us about the Giants game only means nothing (I can tell, I won a lot of money betting on Aston Villa and Lyon to beat Liverpool this year, I tell everyone about it but I don't say that I still lost a lot of money betting on other games). So, come on now, time to walk the walk and give us some material to evaluate properly your "football sense".

by dmb :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:15am


I know that the league's website isn't a good source of analysis, save for their Anatomy of a Play feature. But you keep claiming that the Giants' Super Bowl win over the Patriots wasn't an upset, citing "football reality." Unfortunately, you don't provide any sort of definition for where this "football reality" comes from. I gave a few examples of where it might come from, and the video I cited could be said to be based on all of those. But it would appear that "football reality" is based solely on your exclusive and all-knowing insight into the game that came from playing it ... how many years ago?

As to the ownership issue, you still haven't addressed a key point: under the current CBA, there's been a team salary minimum. I can't find what it was in 2009, but in 2008, it was a little over $100M, compared to a salary cap of $116M. So do you really think owners believe that experiencing significant declines in ticket sales and fan satisfaction is worth that $16M, considering how small that number is in the context of operating an NFL franchise? Does not spending that $16M really make that big a difference in the on-field product in the first place?

And if their non-effort is in an area other than player salaries, it still doesn't make too much sense. Again, the marginal cost of trying to make solid front-office hires is pretty small compared to the costs of running a franchise. And the benefit -- higher ticket and merchandise sales -- is pretty obvious. If some owners really make no effort to win, please explain why this would be the case!

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:02pm

Rick A --

If you're so in tune with "football reality," as opposed to the "sum total of public perception," then why aren't you retired on an island somewhere, making millions every weekend by betting "football reality" against those silly Las Vegas marshmellow heads?

Or simply starting your own website, where you over and over again reveal ahead of time which teams are going to win this coming Sunday?

It sounds like anyone who played past high school football could do that.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:14pm

There's one big problem with your entire post. DVOA did see the Giants victory coming.

Aaron and the rest of the FO staff didn't. But the Giants DVOA for the entire playoff was comparable and sometimes greater than New England's. Historical trends said that surge could collapse at any time, and was likely to happen sooner than later. But DVOA clearly showed that they were capable of playing with the Patriots.

by t.d. :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:28am

The Vikings look like the best team to me, because their offense is adequate and their defensive line is dominant. Since Favre won't have to play outside in January, they are well situated to make a strong run into January.

by MCS :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:25pm

Except that he's 40. Looking at the following numbers, I wonder how much is attributed to age and how much is attributed to weather? There is a definite change in 2005, the first year for Ted Thompson. 2006 is the first year for Mike McCarthy.

Favre over the last four weeks of the season.

2003 117 79 1003 9 3
2004 136 88 1116 8 4
2005 148 86 890 1 8
2006 163 89 1037 3 6
2007 96 60 745 6 5
2008 132 55 764 2 8

As for 2005-2008, sing it with me. "One of these years is not like the others..."

by ammek :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:56pm

And how much is attributed to your minute sample size.

by MCS :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:48pm

2005-2008 is 16 games, equivalent to one NFL season. If I were to say that I had a QB who had a season where he was 290/539 (53%) for 3436 yards with 12 TDs and 27 interceptions how would you interpret that? As a bad season? As one season of many? Or would you ignore it completely?

I would think that, if I'm an NFL coach, I notice.

We all agree that the NFL season in general is too short to be statistically significant, but the numbers are interesting to me, especially when compared with the same player's statistics for the rest of the season. Something happens at the end of every year.

Understand that I am a Favre fan. That doesn't change the fact that,at the end of his Green Bay career, he seemed to fade down the stretch. I think his legs get tired. Hell I'm pushing 40 and I have a hard time getting outta bed the morning after a night of pick-up basketball. I would think it's got to be difficult for an NFL quarterback as well. Even if he is an elite athlete.

We'll see what happens this year. His current team is not depending on him as much as his previous teams. He skipped training camp. He gets to spend the winter either indoors or in gentle climates. Maybe he won't be as worn down at the end of the year. Maybe he will finally get his second ring.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:04am

The sky is falling, the sky is falling, DVOA is broken…even though PHI’s ranking now makes more sense.

Historical correlation of DVOA w/ wins from 1994 through the 2008 season: r = .854
Correlation of DVOA w/ wins for 2009 season r = 0.867

Looks like DVOA is working about the same as it ever has – if you believe in DVOA, then it’s fine, if you’ve never believed in DVOA then it’s broken as it ever was.

Using the regression equation associated with the 1994 to 2008 correlation to estimate number of wins at the end of the 2009 season based on DVOA score:

NE 14
PHI 13
NO 13
IND 13
BAL 13
GB 12
MIN 12
DEN 12
DAL 11
PIT 10
MIA 10
ARI 10
SF 8
SD 8
KC 4
TB 2

Adjusting for past opponents’ DVOA and future opponents’ DVOA alters the projection as follows:

NE 12
PHI 10
NO 15
IND 11
BAL 14
GB 11
MIN 13
DEN 12
MIA 11
ARI 12
ATL 11
CIN 11
SF 10
SD 7
KC 5
TB 1


by bubqr :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 6:17am

Very interesting, thanks ! You just base this on week 8 DVOA to predict the entire season, without using the weeks already played, right ?

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:18am

For the unadjusted wins, Week 8 DVOA is plugged into the regression equation. For the adjusted wins, Past Sched DVOA is added to Week 8 DVOA and Future Sched DVOA is added to Week 8 DVOA. The sum (PS DVOA + WK8DVOA - FSDVOA) is plugged into the regression equation.

Here they are sorted by projected wins:

NO 15
BAL 14
MIN 13
ARI 12
DEN 12
NE 12
ATL 11
MIA 11
CIN 11
GB 11
IND 11
PHI 10
SF 10
SD 7
KC 5
TB 1

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:58am

That's very interesting - there's no standouts there that look like "what the hell is DVOA predicting will happen?!" Pittsburgh, Chicago and NYG seem like the strangest win totals, but everything else looks extremely plausible. Somebody should save this thread and check it at the end of the season... I bet the main difference is that the bottom feeders are the ones that end up with the missing seven wins - that CHI - DET end up splitting those wins amongst themselves (CHI end sup with 6 and DET with 3, WAS with 3, something like that...)

by dryheat :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:54pm

Well, I'm comfortable saying Baltimore and Arizona, at least, underperform their projections, and Detroit outperforming theirs.

by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:29am

Hi DeltaWhiskey,

I think I'm missing your point. What does the correlation between DVOA and wins mean? Is this a point biserial correlation or just comparing end year DVOA with wins? Either way it just means that the winning team usually has a better DVOA than the losing team, which would likely be true even if DVOA has absolutely zero predictive power. Or is this a correlation between the preseason prediction and wins that were then achieved?


by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:13am

My primary point is that while everyone seems to thing there is something different or wrong with DVOA 8 weeks into the season, the correlation with wins is the same. My interpretation is that historically, DVOA measures some factor or set of factors that is highly correlated with winning games over a season, and this year is no different.

I don't know if DVOA is predictive or not. Many commenters don't seem to think so. My point is this, using the regression equation associated with DVOA's historical correlation with wins, Team A can be expected to win Y number of games if they continue to perform at the same level (DVOA).

The value of using this model is that frequently, we talk about teams not looking like their DVOA. Myself, I don't know what a team with a DVOA is %12.60% (ARI) looks like, but if you tell me they look like a team that on average wins 10 games a year, that makes sense to me (whether I agree or not is a different issue).

And, if you tell me that based on ATL schedule to date and their upcoming schedule they can be expected to win 11 games if they play exactly the same, that makes sense to me as well. Although, I suspect that by including the PAST SCHED DVOA I may have screwed up the equation, since the past is incorporated into DVOA. Here is a look w/out adding in past sched DVOA.

NO 15
BAL 14
MIN 13
GB 12
NE 12
PHI 12
ARI 12
DEN 12
IND 12
CIN 10
MIA 10
ATL 10
DAL 10
PIT 10
SF 9
SD 8
KC 4
TB 0

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:23am

Hey, if the Eagles end up with more wins than the Cowboys and Giants, it works for me (especially if the Giants end up below .500). Only problem with your calculation is that the total wins for all team comes up short by 7. Even McNabb knows that seven games can't end up as ties.

by Temo :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:18pm

They CAN, they just won't, probably.

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:34pm

How's Baltimore going to get 14 wins this season? go 14-3?

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 4:21am

Suggesting that DVOA predicting this will happen is overstating things (chemical burn). I would say, “DVOA could be predicting this if DVOA is a prediction tool,” might be more plausible. These are "historical projections” may be a better term.” Projection seems better, because as I noted, in another post the best understanding of these numbers are “using the regression equation associated with DVOA's historical correlation with wins, Team A can be expected to win Y number of games if they continue to perform at the same level (DVOA),” or alternatively, Team A is playing like a team that typically wins Y number of games.

I’ve saved the data and plan to revisit at the end of the season. The r-square for the .854 correlation is .729, meaning that 73% of the variance in wins appears to be explained by DVOA. I would suggest that if these “predictions/projections” are around 73% accurate then DVOA worked well as a predictor. The question is, what is a good definition of accuracy? Does a team that finishes within +/- 1 of the projection count as a successful, partially successful, or a failed projection. Alternatively, success could be measured using end of season standings.

Obviously, some teams have already screwed up this projection by losing (or winning) too many games early, so a correction could be made using a fraction of the projected wins (approximately 0.5 based on whether teams have had their bye or not) and adding them to the current win total (okay, went ahead and did this – see below). I also clarified things in a later post that perhaps the best use of these numbers is to have a simpler and clearer understanding DVOA better. Rather than trying to figure out what the DVOA percentage means, we can say that Team A is playing like a team that usually wins 14 games. Therefore, I'm not concerned that DET can't finish with 0 wins or BAL can't finish with 14; instead, it makes more sense to me that ARI is playing like a team that typically wins 12 games, but looking at their upcoming schedule, if they keep playing this way, can be expected to win 12 games (or 11 if adjusted for previous wins). (dryheat, peterplaybass, Kevin from Philly).

Regarding evaluating the success of these projections:

What is an acceptable low point for success (e.g. 65% accuracy, 70% accuracy, etc.)?
What is the acceptable metric for success (i.e Conference Standings, wins +/-1, etc.)?

Below are projections utilizing the following: Projected Wins = (% of games left on schedule X projected wins based on Team DVOA adjusted for strength of FUT Schedule) + current Win Total

NO 15
IND 14
MIN 14
DEN 13
NE 12
PHI 12
BAL 12
GB 11
CIN 11
ARI 11
DAL 11
PIT 10
ATL 10
SD 8
SF 8
KC 3
TB 0

by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 8:58am

"Team A is playing like a team that typically wins Y number of games"

That makes more sense. Good explanation; thank you.

by BenOak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 7:32pm

Thanks for that analysis, it's great!

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:15am

Sorry for a double post, but the real issue I wanted to post on was on EST wins. For the record, BYE was 3-3 this week.

BYE lost to CIN, NE, and PIT, but defeated KC, TB, and WAS.

Last week BYE went 0-4, losing to DAL, IND, MIA, and SF

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:05pm

BYE routed WAS.

by Jeremy Billones :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 12:27pm

Actually, WAS hasn't lost a game by more than 10 yet.

They still have a good defense.

by bubqr :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 6:15am

If this year there is such a big gap between good and bad teams, what would it be next year if there is no CBA ? With most good teams being able to keep its players more easily (UFA -> RFA), it will be harder for bad teams to get better talent. The number of underclassmen that will come out will make the picks more valuable because it will probably be a very good/deep draft class (sad for those that traded their picks away, DEN/CAR/CHI I'm thinking of you), so I guess we'll see less RFA swapping teams for draft picks. It might be a bit mitigated by the "no CBA" FA rules and by the talent available to the poor teams in the draft, but still, it could be ugly.

by bubqr :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 6:31am

Oh and something I don't fully get :

PHI DVOA is 39.9%, and VOA is 51.3%, but its past schedule is -12.8%.

Why is DVOA much lower, while it should be expected to be higher than VOA ? Raiders game only ? Performing better against other teams' "strenghts", even though most of these teams were pretty bad ?

by Thok :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:57am

A schedule of -12.8 suggests that the Eagles have played a weaker schedule, not a stronger schedule. That means that you should deflate their statistic, not inflate them. (They've played Washington/Carolina/Kansas City/Oakland/Tampa Bay, all of which are weak opponents. New Orleans and the Giants aren't enough to make up for that.)

by bubqr :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:26am

Big brain fart, I'm sorry. Thanks !

by TGT2 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 3:15pm

DVOA doesn't just adjust for defense. It also adjusts for fumble luck and missed field goals, I think.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 3:20pm

VOA adjusts for fumble luck and missed field goals (in that you get penalized for misses, but not a bonus for the opponent missing). The D is for Defense, I'm pretty sure it's just opponent adjustments.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:57am

What's killing Green Bay is stupid. As in stupid penalties, stupid decision-making and overall stupid. There is a fair amount of talent. But when you have a coaching staff that refuses to address obvious problems that is stupid. When you have players commmiting the same mistakes on a repeated basis that is stupid. No way around it. More than anything it pains me to see the coach of the Packers outcoached by the likes of Brad Childress.

I will take some comfort in that the Vikings will likely get to the NFC championship game and like another Minnesota team will face a moment where coaching will actually make a difference versus the rest of the year when a serious talent advantage could overcome coaching foolishness. And now as then the coach will make the wrong call. And the Vikings will lose. And my faith in the universe will be restored.

by MCS :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:03am

If watch the Vikings, you'll notice that Childress has been making a lot of questionable decisions. Luckily, the Vikings have the talent to overcome his ineptitude. I am grateful that he spurned TT and chose Minny instead.

I agree that we'll find that the Vikings will be in trouble in the playoffs when coaching is much more important

by ammek :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:23am

Green Bay has been better in its other games. They beat Detroit and Cleveland by a combined score of 57-3, while Minnesota beat these same teams by a combined score of 61-33

That doesn't seem to justify it. The Packers' net advantage here is 26 points. That's actually less than the difference between Minnesota's (+19) and Green Bay's (-19) net points in the two Favre-fests.

The Packers' unexpectedly high ranking is almost all down to Aaron Rodgers (#1 passer rating) and the league-leading turnover ratio. Given that turnovers tend to ebb and flow more than yards and first downs, I wouldn't expect Green Bay's DVOA to hold up.

by B-Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:15am

Balt has already lost 3 games, how can they be expected to win 14

by B-Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:18am

The New England-Tennessee game has over-inflated their DVOA

by RickD :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:09pm

It's hard for DVOA to account for a team quitting in the 2nd quarter.

The Titans aren't really as bad as they looked that day in Foxboro.

by Led :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:22pm

The Pats have also demonstrated that they are VERY good in the snow. Who was the team that quit on a game in snow in NE and got blown out last year? Arizona?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:10pm

Can someone who understands the math better than me predict how much the remaining opponent adjustments will affect DVOA? They're only at 80% right now. Correct me if I'm incorrect, but doesn't that mean that immense suckitude of the truly terrible teams will be "felt" more than normal by DVOA in weeks 9 and 10 than in years past?

This year, there are 5 teams this year with a DVOA of -40% or worse, while in 2008 there were only 2. Won't DVOA self-correct significantly (take into account the puffed up victories) in the coming weeks if all 5 of those teams with putrid DVOA continue with their cupcake-y ways?

by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:09pm

Teams who have played weak past schedules (which includes many of the top teams) will have their DVOA drop somewhat, while teams who have played harder past schedules (which includes many of the bottom teams) will have their DVOA rise somewhat.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 12:34pm

I'm trying to remember how player injuries kick in. In this case, the Panthers took a while to get in their DT's, and so their Defensive numbers should be discontiguous.

by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:14pm

Injuries aren't taken into account in DVOA. Weighted dvoa (which weighs the more recent games higher than the games earlier in the season) gives a more accurate representation of how teams are playing right now.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 2:08pm

Ahh, lunchtime at the laptop. Seems I've rattled the cages of some of the believers in the system.
Hmmm--dmb, you believe the public version of team book keeping. Pro sports team owners love people like you. I'd bet my bone marrow that you think teams pay highly paid players from team revenue...

bubqr--my forecasts as to who will be playoff teams of any import are found in post 69. Of course, someone has to win the NFC West but I really don't need football knowledge of "football reality" , or ESP, or DVOA to tell me, and you, that the odds are not good for the Cards or Niners to advance this yr as one of them did last yr.

bravehoptoad--how do you know that I'm not retired off sports betting ? Just because I entertain myself a bit each week reading all of this ? And who said Vegas are "marshmellow heads" ? They all drive Mercedes and live pretty well, do you ? They make lines based on the perception of marshmellow heads...And why would anyone who seeks to take advantage, as an investor, of those public perception based, very often obviously erroneous, pointspreads ever put together a website seeking to sell more realistic views to the marshmellow heads ? ...

by dmb :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 3:55pm

I do happen to think that DVOA is an excellent analytical tool, though not without its flaws. What "rattles my cage" is your inability to make a coherent argument. You would probably be taken much more seriously if you produced one shred of evidence to back up any of the claims you've made in this thread. Either that, or you're a pretty good troll. :)

I stated up front that the Forbes numbers weren't an ideal source; unfortunately, I'm not privy to teams' actual private figures. They're also more than any evidence you've shown. I also provided a pretty detailed explanation for why I don't think most owners are completely indifferent; you've simply stated that they are in a rather matter-of-fact manner.

There have been posts with evidence contradicting your claim that DVOA is less accurate than in years past, and that the league has less parity these days than it did in the days of Rozelle. You've posted nothing of substance in response, instead choosing to simply write random opinions in a condescending tone.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:33pm

I think what "rattles most peoples cages" is your persistent inability to actually reply within in a thread and instead always post a new top-level comment, even when you are obviously replying to someone.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:38pm

dmb--DVOA is the best analytical tool I've ever seen. However, the games versus the crap teams by the good teams are basically nothing more than a scrimmage, as one of the Giants said a few weeks ago about their practice session versus the Raiders, and so mean nothing. There's nothing for DVOA to analyze there, they are non-measureable non-contests. Just mindless entertainment, if that kind of crap entertains you.

"Evidence" is in the eye of the beholder. As I said, guys like you believe all the propaganda the owners put out. I'm not on a crusade to dissuade you from your opinions. But about the best "evidence" there is is just something you will never encounter in your life, no doubt, and that is what you would see if you went to work for one of these teams, either as a player or in any capacity really--then you'd see how it is. There have been some posts here about how some of the owners want to win, they're just dumb, or whatever. No doubt true. Daniel Snyder, duh... But make no mistake in your thinking, there are plenty of owners that really don't care about anything except making the public think they're trying to deliver championships for them. If you want to believe otherwise that's your business. To me, guys like you are the condescending ones. You're so very sure of your beliefs and even cite the propagandists themselves as sources of "evidence" (nfl.com). Like I said, the owners love people like you. And, by the way, if you think that the NFL today is illustrative of "parity" I have to wonder what you and any of these people that arguing about this are ingesting. No amount of abstract quantification delivered by a conceptual system could ever contradict what people who have known intimately the NFL from the inside see. Contemplate that one, and understand that people like me have nothing against people like you, and do not "condescend" to them. It's the owners, in general, that have the elitist attitudes and seek, successfully nearly always, to manipulate the public into buying their B.S., paying for their stadiums, paying for their tax liabilities, paying for the "right to purchase" seats, paying for humongous priced tickets for, in the case, of a whole bunch of teams a very inferior product that they have no intention of doing anything about, and on and on. And, by the way, like I said, you undoubtedly believe that team revenue pays for the salaries of the people who have made it in the League. Yeah, right...

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 4:56pm

People like me and people like you. Yeah.

People like me think you don't always need to see a cow to know when you're standing in a cow pasture.

by dmb :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 6:01pm

The strength or relevance of a certain piece of evidence is certainly subject to interpretation, but the fact is that you don't offer anything in the way of proof of any of your assertions.

You keep harping on the fact that I linked to a video on the league's website, but that was simply used to refute your assertion that the Giants' victory over the Patriots wasn't an upset. You had suggested that "lots" of people picked the Giants, and the fact that anyone thought it was the second-biggest upset of all-time is pretty good evidence to the contrary. So was the fact that the line was -12, as someone else pointed out. Now, if you had stated that "a lot of coaches" or "a lot of front-office people" or "a lot of scouts" picked the Giants, it would be a different story. But that's not what you stated. In any case, that video had absolutely nothing to do with the argument over owners' intentions.

As for that debate, you're right, I don't see the day-to-day goings-on of NFL teams. If you do, sharing some details would make you a bit more credible. I'm going on what little observable evidence there is, and I made a case that it doesn't fly with your claims. Some of this was based on things that could be manipulated by the owners, but some of it wasn't. (Remember, my main argument was that the salary floor helps prevent simple cost-reduction in the form of low player salaries from being a particularly helpful tool for increasing profits. This argument had nothing to do with "where player salaries come from.")

Re: parity -- I wasn't the one who made the case that there's more parity now than 30 years ago; I just pointed out that there was evidence presented that that's the case, and you haven't addressed the question with any evidence of your own. Personally, I don't think the NFL is the epitome of parity, but I think you're overstating things significantly. But you have yet to demonstrate in any way that there isn't any parity. You just keep repeating that there's not, over and over and over again...

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:57pm

I don't entirely regret the snide response above, but I do feel I should be a little more straightforward.

You are not offering any factual support for any of your opinions; instead you are offering your life credentials, which are completely unverifiable; you are doing so in a rude and condescending manner, and you keep ramping up those credentials.

You have offered in various posts your age and experience, your having played football beyond the high school level, your (maybe - hint, hint) having worked for an NFL team, possibly as a (wink wink) player, and your possible experience as a successful Las Vegas gambler. And you have suggested, multiple times, that if we only knew what you knew (but of course we never will), then we would completely agree with you.

Whether true or not, and I quite frankly doubt that much of it is true, it is completely worthless and pointless on an internet forum such as this. You might as well claim to be Jesus or a time traveler (which is what I would do, by the way) in your effort to get us to accept your unsubstantiated claims.

You also have overstated your impact on the forums ('rattled some cages'), which is a common tactic of internet trolls who have been backed into a corner.

You are able to formulate grammatical sentences, so you are not, at least, a complete dimwit; I am surprised that you seem unable to grasp that attempting to 'argue' in this kind of setting by simply offering your anonymous credentials as a human being and expecting ANYONE to simply accept or seriously consider what you say on that basis makes no sense whatsoever.

You could be, for all I know, Joe Theisman, but you could just as well be some red raider's fat little girl friend. If you happen to be the former, I suspect you could get a wider audience than a bunch of statistic geeks on an relatively esoteric site.

by MC2 :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:34pm

You are able to formulate grammatical sentences, so you are not, at least, a complete dimwit...

That alone disproves your theory that he might be Joe Theismann.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 9:26am

Whatever raw grammatical talent Theismann may lack has been more than made up for through sheer repetition. One of my all time favorite newspaper headlines was one I encountered when I was living near D.C. briefly in the late 70's:

"Theismann to stop talking. Talks about it."

by MC2 :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 5:56pm

Actually, I was referring to the "not a dimwit" part. I agree that Joe T's problem has never been about style, but rather about substance, or lack thereof.

BTW, that headline is pretty classic.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 6:59pm

Yeah, I new my response was a little out of context, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to post that headline.

I've never found Theismann particularly irritating to listen to, but I also rarely remember anything he said. He's sort of like a subliminal message without the message.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Fri, 11/06/2009 - 9:27am

Grrr, 'knew' not 'new'. But anyway, I'm now convinced that he's actually Fran Tarkenton.

by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:11pm

Sorry if this has been addressed in the comments already, but to bring up the flip-side of the Eagles-DVOA relationship: why do the Eagles teams in the top 25 DVOA list have so many losses? They seem to play a lot of stinkers early in the year (eg, 13-9 v. Raiders) that don't penalize them in DVOA as much as one might think. I'm not saying this is evidence of DVOA being wrong, I just think it's a little idiosynchratic.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 5:25pm

Earlier in thread, I have a long pointless discussion about it with Pat that goes nowhere. Fascinating stuff. Apparently, it's because they pass the ball a lot.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:44pm

By the way, the Raiders have played 8 games, so I'm going to project JaMarcus over a whole season in my head:

410 passes, of which he completes less than 200, for 1752 yards, four touchdowns, sixteen interceptions. He will fumble ten times and lose eight of them. And this week he said "I did about as well as I could have."

This guy makes Ryan Leaf look like a great player and model citizen.

by Deelron :: Wed, 11/04/2009 - 11:02pm

"This guy makes Ryan Leaf look like a great player and model citizen."

Well at least a great player. Leaf was screaming at reporters and skipping meetings as a rookie, not to mention having to be restrained from going after a fan. Russell has the good sense to just play terribly.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 2:10am

Wow, every time I come to this site there's another person whose cage has been rattled. Gruntled, you could be anything from a stooge working in the commissioners office, to just another one of the sheep that mindlessly throw their allegiance and money to the great institution that is the NFL. Get a life. I'm not arguing with anybody. It's amazing what happens when someone points out that the NFL has no parity anymore, except among the good teams. I'll leave it to an obvious clear headed and superior thinker such as yourself to figure out why there are currently 5 teams that are not up to former NFL standards talent-wise and likely will not win more than 2 or 3 games, and, at least, another three teams that do not put out full effort. And, by the way, I never implied that I was a "successful Las Vegas gambler". You guys remind me of the sports media with your misquotes and paraphrasing.

P.S. A dude like you might think that you and others like you own this site--e.g. your statement about "statistic geeks on a relatively esoteric site"--but this DVOA thing and this site have cut alot wider swathe in the sports world than you know. And one last remark to you : F.O. ...

by Jovins :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 3:48am

I'm just going to throw this out there, not as a football thinker, but as a debator, of which I was a very, very good one.

You made several statements. These statements were not defended with statistics or sound evidence. They were assertions that were expected to be taken as fact. These assertions in and of themselves were not necessarily inflammatory or incorrect - these statements were presented in a forum, so obviously the goal was to establish some sort or debate/conversation.
Others read those statements, formulated their own counterarguments, and presented them - with evidence and statistics, supported by logical reasoning. These same people refuted the originally presented arguments, and passed the ball back into your court, so that you could both defend your arguments and refute their counterarguments.

Now, instead of hitting the issues head on, you sidestepped the issues, and focused on minor issues. As a debator, I see this very often. It sounds good to the lay observer. It "wins" arguments if outside observers are not paying attention. However, in a forum setting, the goal is not to "win" arguments. The goal is to present your idea to others and see how they respond to it. If you are not interested in their responses, then you would not have posted. Thus, either you wanted them to agree with you, or you merely wanted attention.

If you wanted them to agree with you, clearly the best way to go about doing that is to refute their main arguments and defend yours. Yet you respond with glib responses away from the main issue. So obviously, either your arguments are unfounded assertions that cannot be defended, or you did not understand what the others were trying to do.

Far more likely is that you merely want attention and don't really care what other people say. In that instance, I don't see a reason to post here.

If I'm wrong, by all means say so. But go ahead and look back at your original arguments and those arguments made against you (the football ones, not the personal ones), and give provable evidence, statistics, or logical induction to prove your point.

These forums aren't the domain of stat geeks only, but when you refuse to talk about the main issues, you're not helping prove your points.

That being said, I do agree with one of your major statements, that some owners are not trying to win as much as other owners. Now, to support my argument, I'm going to refer to an article on the Harvard Sports Blog, which is conveniently linked on the FO main page.
In this article, it talks about how some teams spend significantly more than others by cap manipulation, while others spend below the cap floor by the same methods.

People aren't upset by the arguments you're making; they're upset at your refusal to even respond to arguments made against them.

by MC2 :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 6:10pm

Actually, it's spelled "debater". Normally, I wouldn't nitpick such a minor thing, but as a former debater myself, that particular mistake has always been one of my pet peeves.

by Jovins :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 7:45pm

i actually changed between the two before posting. I never can remember

by bubqr :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 6:14am

You knew the reaction you would get by coming and saying "DVOA suck, you all suck, ya know I predicted the Giants-Pats Superbowl, FO didn't, go get a life you tools".
You're probably just looking for attention.
Anyway, for the sake of the argument, even though I like DVOA, I do think that media and fans in general think they know far more than what they really do, and underrate the importance of what they don't see, which represent 95 % of what a franchise is, and how it works.
And being a former player, like I am, I'm shocked that you pretend being able to catch that "football reality", without knowing what happens in the film room,at every practice, in the locker room, in the coach mic, the number of audibles available to the QB, etc. probably knowing the huge impact it has on games.

by Gruntled (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 9:21am

"P.S. A dude like you might think that you and others like you own this site--e.g. your statement about 'statistic geeks on a relatively esoteric site'--"

I'm a relative newcomer here so I don't feel like I own this site. I got on roll with hyperbolic phrases and just got carried away.

There are no others like me, and you really might want to think about losing that phrasing ('like you', 'like me'), though I'm guessing you won't.

by DaveRichters :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 11:14am


I have a few questions about DVOA. The link to "more information" is apparently broken, and I emailed the question but received in reply a link that told me I don't have access to the page, which is why I ask it here. These are more or less basic questions, so I'm betting they can be answered here.

DVOA is reported as " % ", but I'm a bit confused at the units. Does this mean that a team with 100% DVOA is twice as good as a team with 0% ? Also, I assume that O and D are calculated independently, but I would like that confirmed or denied by anyone who knows. And lastly, it seems that this year, at least through this week, that O and D are actually from different distributions (O is much wider than D), so I question how appropriate it is to simply add them to get the total rather than adding the Z-scores or something like that.


by nat :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 11:53am

Read "Our New Stats Explained" under "About". And be on the lookout for extra tidbits that show up in comments. There is a lot we do know, even though the full methods are kept under wraps.

The OA stands for "over average", so 0% means average value and 100% means twice as much value as average. They report the defensive DVOA with negatives indicating a better defensive result. Some plays are scored differently for offenses and defenses (fumbled snaps, for instance) and there is also no reason to expect the distribution of offensive and defensive talent to be the same, so I'm not surprised by the different ranges or even averages.

As for adding the scores together, yes, it's not technically correct. But it's easy to grasp and close enough for practical purposes. If my team plays against an average team, and has a 20% Off. DVOA and a 20% Def. DVOA, I can expect the two teams to have about equal success on offense.

With teams that are close, the received wisdom is that you need to look at the particular matchups to understand what's likely to happen. And you need to understand that at least 20% of all games are upsets (it's a mathenatical requirement, given cycles in the typical who-beat-who graph), and a higher percentage of games bewteen nearly equal teams will be "upsets", if you can still call them that.

Relax and enjoy the ride.

by TheSlinger :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 12:14pm

DVOA makes an appearance on Jaguars.com, I guess: http://www.jaguars.com/news/article.aspx?id=8386

Aaron Rodgers: Too many people are down on Rodgers and I don’t know why. Did you know his **DVOA (explained below) this year is -69%? What does that mean? Well, it means the offense is playing below average and defenses are playing above average. Anyway, take it from a stats nerd that just got WAY more in-depth than you should ever need to, play Rodgers this weekend against the Buccaneers.

** Defensive Adjusted Value Over Average: a DVOA rating of 0% is equivalent to league-average performance. Positive DVOA numbers represent above-average performance by the offense and below-average performance by the defense, while negative numbers represent the opposite.

by MC2 :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 6:14pm

Wow. That is one misleading blurb that you quoted. First, Rodgers' DVOA is nowhere close to -69%, and if it were, the last thing you would want to do would be to start him in your fantasy league, even against the Suckaneers.

Still, I guess there's no such thing as bad publicity, right?

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/05/2009 - 10:42pm

Hey there everybody--my last visit of the week. Interesting week it was.
Jovins--you are obviously a very intelligent dude, and a gentleman. Good work on bringing up what these boys don't want to believe--i.e. that owners skirt the system regularly. And since you have proven to have an open mind I will give you further clues to investigate that train of thought further. The fans think that today's new era of big salaries are paid for by team revenues--they're not. That's what the owners want the public to think. Keep thinking, and looking, and you probably will find. By the way, I couldn't care less about proving anything to anyone. I'm not here to debate anybody. Try to imagine how very little I care whether any of these boys realize anything about anything I say. It's too much energy and is too impossible to so-called "prove" anything. I don't have alot of material at hand such as a blog from someone supposedly at Harvard. And if you want to believe that I posted for "attention" there's nothing I can do about it. The truth is you guys are in a different universe from me. I'm old by your standards. I didn't grow up in the era of blogs, postings on internet forums, and so on. To me, I was just posting some views--on an interesting site which promotes a system of analysis. It appears that for all of you this is your meeting place, reserved for a "Forum", some sort of debate, some sort of conversation. I only responded due to the ridiculous mischaracterizations of what I said, and some of the insults from those who apparently do not like their NFL mythologies being spoken of. Like I said, I really could care less about "defending" my opinions and views, or trying to come up with what all of you sanction as allowable "evidence". Boys, I'm just speaking from experience. It does not behoove me to tell you about that. That's about all I want to say. I know you all love sports and football. We all do. But the NFL is not what you think and does not abide by the ideals of true sport. That having been said I will, nonetheless, endorse the top teams and their athletes as being the great and true warriors they are. I think Minnesota is the best NFC team and Indy the top AFC team. I think they would make a classic matchup should they meet in the Bowl and it would be impossible to say who would win. Each team's offensive strength is the other's defensive weakness.

Now bubqr-I was just referring to misquotes and mischaracterizations. They are normally the province of media idiots. If you played at a higher level you know that. I never said "DVOA sucks, you all suck" etc etc. I did, however, predict the Giants-Pats, as did a whole world of people, and DVOA was, indeed, not on it. Someone said something about how the Giants were showing up higher in the DVOA system once the playoffs were rolling. As I recall that is true. But it was visible that they were improving by leaps and bounds from the midway point on during that year--while DVOA was still minimizing them. They were doing some pretty phenomenal things for any era but all the hype, of course, was on the Pats and their quest for the unbeaten season. Anyway, who cares ? That's two years ago. It just seems I touched a nerve by even bringing that one up too. Perhaps there are some people hanging around this "forum" that are still smarting from losing their rear ends with the betting that we all know you guys engage in. All I was saying about that was that it seemed to me that DVOA began missing some things during that season and it is still happening. I guess so if they try to treat some of these non-games as being in any way relevant to anything, measure them like they mean something and then plug those measurements into an overall . You know, you can't make chicken salad from chicken ####. But the main thing I wanted to say to you Mr bubqr is that my coining of a term "football reality" simply has to do with me judging a teams efficiency and power, just like what DVOA aims to do. I use my knowledge based on a lifetime in football, they have conceptualized a system of quantification of on field results. As for you bringing up the film room etc--well they do not have access to what goes on in the film room, or in the coaches booth in the press box etc. I wish I had a nickel for every time what was in a team's game plan was veered away from because the reality of the teams efficiency was such that the game plan was never realistic to begin with, was just wishful thinking--or for every time the intentions in the film room were just never realistic to begin with.

Anyway, have a good rest of the season and always remember that the intention of the business of pro sports is to make you guys think you know all about it, and identify with the people involved, so as to get your allegiance and, most importantly, every last available dollar. Virtually none of you will ever see a SuperBowl live and very few of you ever attend these games in person...