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08 Sep 2010

2010 DVOA Projections

by Aaron Schatz

The time has come for our annual preseason DVOA projections, updated from the projections that gave us the season forecasts in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010. Although we are still projecting the Baltimore Ravens as the best team in the NFL in 2010, there has been a lot of movement by the other teams ranked below them since our book went to press.

We must start with the requisite link to an explanation of DVOA. For anyone new to our site, DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average and measures a team's performance on every play of the season compared to league average in the same situation, adjusted for opponent. I know a lot of people are coming here from various message boards and this is just going to look like a jumble of pointless numbers. Trust me, there is a method to the madness, and over the past nine seasons past DVOA ratings -- as well as these multivariable-based DVOA projections -- have been a far more accurate predictor of future performance than wins or points. (This is true even if we count last year's extremely disappointing projections.)

Offense, defense, and special teams DVOA are all projected separately using a system based on looking at trends for teams over the past decade. The equations include a number of variables based on performance over the past two seasons in different splits (by down, passing vs. rushing, red zone vs. whole field) plus variables based on recent draft history, injury history, offensive and defensive pace, coaching experience, quarterback experience, weather, and even the specific number of home games for each team. (San Francisco gets docked for having only seven.) Strength of schedule was then figured based on the average projected total DVOA of all 16 opponents for 2010. Teams that play Pittsburgh in the first four games of the season have slightly lower strength of schedule ratings based on the fact that the overall Pittsburgh projection would be lower without Ben Roethlisberger returning in October.

The projections here are updated from Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 based on changes in some of the variables, usually related to injuries, offensive line continuity, and quarterback experience. There are no manual adjustments after the fact, although there are manual adjustments because some of the personnel-related variables can be somewhat subjective. For example, there are variables based on mean or median age of projected starters, but we have to decide for some teams whether "projected starters" incorporates a fullback, two tight ends, or three wide receivers. The numbers we are presenting here are exactly what the projection system spit out. As we say every year: "A few of them will look strange to you. A few of them look strange to us." There's no reason to really regurgitate the reasons why our projections for some teams (Dallas, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, etc.) differ so greatly from the conventional wisdom -- we've gone over it in numerous articles and in numerous promotional interviews over the past few weeks.

Last year, there was very little difference between the book projections and the ones we ran on the site before the season. This year, on the other hand, there was a ton of change, with three main drivers:

  • There may have been more projected starters released on cut down day in 2010 than in any previous season. That meant big changes for some teams in the variables related to mean and median age of starters on various units, as well as variables related to number of returning starters.
  • Arizona takes a big drop down because of variables related to their quarterback change -- not only does Derek Anderson have a lower "no team variables" projection than Matt Leinart, but there's an additional variable that drops the offensive projection for any team whose starting quarterback was on a different team the year before.
  • I decided it is finally time to assume that the players still holding out mean business, so New England took a hit for losing Logan Mankins while San Diego took a bigger hit for losing Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson.

The new projections include two changes in our playoff forecast for 2010. First, Miami has passed the New York Jets as the projected second AFC wild card team. Second, even though Philadelphia still projects to be better than Washington overall, an easier schedule has the Redskins narrowly passing the Eagles as our projected NFC East champion. Arizona still projects as the NFC West champion, although the Cardinals' overall projection has moved a lot closer to the conventional wisdom.

There's been a lot of talk out there about how surprising it is that we don't have the Vikings and Saints going back to the playoffs, and now I'm sure we can talk about how surprising it is that we don't have the Jets going back either, but the projection differences between the teams in our playoff forecast and the teams that narrowly miss out are very small. Cincinnati is really the only 2010 playoff team that is projected far, far below the top teams in its division.

You will notice that offensive projections tend come out in a wider range than defensive projections, primarily because offense performance tends to be easier to predict (and more consistent from year to year) than defensive performance. In addition, the average projection for the entire league is higher than the 0% DVOA "average" because the offensive environment in the league has been so strong in recent years when compared to the entire period used to construct the DVOA baselines. (If we have another very strong offensive year, I'll have to look at the baseline issue in the offseason.) Another odd trend: There is a huge gap in the offensive projections between 26th and 27th, and again between 28th and 29th. As a result, the difference between Arizona (26th) and Oakland (29th) is bigger than the difference between Arizona and Minnesota (eighth).

Projected division champions are colored in light yellow. Projected wild card teams are colored in light blue. The ranks for projected DVOA and the ranks for mean wins are going to be very different in some places, because as bad as the two West divisions were in past years, they project as even worse this year because we are expecting decline from both Arizona and San Diego. The entire NFC East projects with better DVOA than any of the eight teams in the two West divisions. This also effects schedules, giving a boost to the NFC South (which plays the NFC West) and the AFC South (which plays the AFC West). (The fact that the two West divisions also play each other also keeps those teams from having even fewer projected wins.)

BAL 31.5% 1 12.2 20.1% 5 -13.0% 1 -1.6% 27 1.6% 16
PIT 26.8% 2 11.1 21.9% 2 -3.6% 9 1.3% 10 2.8% 11
NE 21.4% 3 10.0 20.7% 4 3.1% 19 3.9% 3 4.7% 7
IND 20.3% 4 11.4 27.6% 1 8.0% 25 0.7% 12 -3.3% 24
ATL 19.1% 5 10.9 21.6% 3 2.5% 18 0.1% 16 -0.3% 20
GB 15.5% 6 9.6 18.7% 6 1.4% 14 -1.9% 28 3.0% 10
PHI 14.4% 7 9.2 10.4% 10 2.3% 17 6.3% 1 2.4% 12
CHI 14.1% 8 9.3 2.5% 17 -9.6% 2 2.0% 8 2.2% 13
MIN 13.5% 9 9.0 12.3% 8 -2.5% 10 -1.2% 24 6.5% 5
MIA 12.9% 10 9.3 6.2% 13 -7.3% 5 -0.6% 23 2.0% 14
NYJ 12.4% 11 8.9 5.1% 14 -8.6% 4 -1.3% 25 4.8% 6
WAS 12.0% 12 9.4 6.3% 12 -4.2% 8 1.4% 9 0.2% 19
NO 9.6% 13 9.1 18.0% 7 6.1% 22 -2.3% 31 0.6% 18
NYG 8.8% 14 8.8 8.6% 11 -0.4% 13 -0.1% 19 1.6% 15
DAL 2.7% 15 7.7 5.0% 15 1.7% 15 -0.6% 22 3.4% 9
KC -0.7% 16 9.0 1.9% 19 3.3% 20 0.6% 13 -9.7% 32
CIN -2.6% 17 6.7 0.9% 20 2.0% 16 -1.5% 26 6.5% 4
ARI -5.3% 18 8.0 -4.2% 26 -0.8% 12 -1.9% 29 -5.9% 29
SD -5.5% 19 8.4 12.1% 9 15.4% 29 -2.2% 30 -7.5% 31
DEN -6.6% 20 8.0 0.9% 21 7.0% 23 -0.5% 21 -5.9% 28
SEA -6.7% 21 7.6 -14.3% 27 -4.7% 7 2.8% 6 -5.1% 27
TEN -6.8% 22 7.2 -3.4% 25 3.5% 21 0.1% 15 -0.6% 21
CAR -7.8% 23 6.5 0.3% 22 7.7% 24 -0.4% 20 1.3% 17
BUF -11.3% 24 5.3 -23.3% 30 -9.4% 3 2.6% 7 7.1% 2
JAC -11.4% 25 7.0 2.5% 18 14.2% 28 0.3% 14 -1.8% 23
TB -11.5% 26 6.9 2.6% 16 14.1% 27 0.0% 17 -0.7% 22
HOU -18.5% 27 4.8 -2.7% 24 15.7% 30 -0.1% 18 3.4% 8
SF -19.2% 28 6.2 -26.2% 31 -1.6% 11 5.4% 2 -4.2% 26
CLE -20.6% 29 4.3 -30.5% 32 -6.7% 6 3.2% 4 7.3% 1
STL -22.0% 30 6.2 -1.3% 23 18.0% 31 -2.8% 32 -6.9% 30
OAK -30.5% 31 4.9 -23.1% 29 10.6% 26 3.1% 5 -3.4% 25
DET -33.2% 32 3.2 -14.4% 28 19.9% 32 1.1% 11 7.0% 3

We're still working on getting the first postseason odds report online. Be aware that when that goes up, the mean projected wins on the postseason odds report will look slightly different from the mean projected wins listed here, because each page uses different methods. The method used on this page is based on an equation that considers the DVOA of each unit, the strength of schedule, and the balance between offense and defense. The method for the postseason odds report plays out the season game by game rather than looking at all 16 games together, and also includes a variable to account for road games with dome or warm-weather teams visiting cold-weather cities after November 1.

Later today, I will post our annual subjective staff predictions for 2010.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Sep 2010

252 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2010, 3:31pm by Treima6


by Led :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:10pm

Holy cow, Miami and the NYJ are basically the same team.

by NJBammer :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:11pm


Much of this is not intuitive. I will have to consider it all before making any judgements here.

by bingo762 :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:13pm

Wow! Chicago is predicted to have the #2 defense?!?

by Sheldon (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:16pm

I'm also amazed at Buffalo's defense --> #3!

by Soulless Mercha... :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:01pm

I can guess the logic. Last year's Buffalo defense ranked #8 in DVOA, and they were absolutely hosed with injuries. Figure that their injury luck will probably be better, and it's a young defense, and there ya go.

I don't believe it for a minute -- I think they're going to be awful, especially against the rush -- but hey, a ray of light is always nice. They threatened to go 3-4 this year, a scheme for which their personnel are a bad fit, but in preseason, they've been heavily 4-3. Hm.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:37pm

Well, regression towards the mean, and the addition of Julius Peppers, if he decides to be Julius Peppers, would mean a big improvement.

by Dales :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:15pm

Note- all of my comments are subjective, where the numbers are objective-- That said...

I think the system has Washington pegged wrong. I love McNabb and think he's a huge upgrade over Campbell, but I just do not see them having it all fall together the way the projections suggest.

It also does not feel quite right to suggest the best four teams in the NFL are in the AFC.

But the biggest !!! to my eyes is Chicago. I just am not seeing them being that good.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:45pm

The scary thing to me about Chicago is that despite all of the problems they had last year that make them look horrible on paper (terrible o-line, Cutler's sacks and INTs, poor year for Forte, bad WRs, injury ravaged defense), they still finished an essentially average 7-9.

They really don't need to improve by a whole lot to have a winning record. A Martz offense that Cutler manages to survive, plus better health on defense and a boost from Julius Peppers could do it.

by semigruntled Eagles Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:20pm

I'm curious as to how the projections viewed Albert Haynesworth. Was he still projected as a full-time starter, given the tension that's been brewing between him and Shanahan (not to mention hypothetical trade talks)? And if so, how much would his absence affect the Redskins ranking?

However, I'd be pleasantly surprised if the Redskins and Eagles finish 1-2 in the division; that's a much better scenario than what I'd have predicted.

by fatmosh (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:16pm

I think you're way off on the Bucs. Their defense is going to be better than their offense this year.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:33pm

Agreed, but given the collapse that began at the end of '08 I think it's easy to understand why the system wouldn't be quite so optimistic. It probably also doesn't understand just how important the scheme change should be. What's really surprising is the special teams being ranked 17th, though I guess our punting and kicking was less than stellar last year even if the coverage and return units were great.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:22pm

The NFC North projections are about what my thoughts were, which means the only surprise winner of the division would be the Lions. The Vikings have the hardest schedule, and at this point the worst injury luck, so I guess things are a little more uphill for them. Really, though, the DVOAs of the Packers, Bears, and Vikings are close enough to be essentially tied.

I think an interesting thing to watch in this division will be the relative performance of two defensive ends, Julius Peppers and Ray Edwards, with entirely opposite career perspectives, but some similarities as well. Peppers has been a great player who has, somewhat strangely, disappeared at times. Edwards has a times, like last year's playoffs, shown streaks of brilliance, while disappearing at other times. Peppers has made a ton of money in his career, capped by a whopper bonus this spring. Edwards hasn't made much money, but has the chance to earn a similar bonus this spring, if he has a monster year. How these guys perform will likely have a large impact on their teams' records. What will happen? Damned if I know, which is why I watch the games, I guess.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:05pm

From what I saw in preseason Peppers looked very energized. Of course it's easy to try hard for 10 snaps.

Still this prediction is more optimistic about the Bears than I am. I expect them to hover around average, like they have the past 3 years.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:12pm

All my NFC North-centrism aside, I really do think this is again one of the more interesting divisions, with a lot of volatile factors.

by jmaron :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:49pm

It's interesting that you bring up Edwards. I think the whole defensive line is the most exciting thing to watch for the Vikings this year. I'm not sure how much stock you put in preseason games, but the Viking backups dlinemen were fantastic. Evans and Guion in particular looked great. Mayock commented that the Vikings second team def line is better than a lot of first stringers.

The Viking defence was hit and miss last year, but they were truly outstanding in the playoffs against Dall and NO. I think if the Vikings are to compete for the Super Bowl it will be on the back of the defence this year.

by ammek :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:25pm

Arizona was the one projection from the book that you didn't seem to be able to justify — this makes more sense.

You'll get a lot of flak as the only media outlet predicting division titles for Washington and Kansas City, but at least you bother to analyze and explain your numbers. It's easy to forget how the MSM deals with preseason articles: cut and paste last year's standings, make three changes, and point out that Vince Young just wins. Or Mass Groupthink.

by ammek :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:30pm

I like the Browns' chances of being this year's unlikely contender, and your numbers suggest that if they can muster a semblance of an offense — and they have half a very good line — they might cause a stir. Shame about the schedule, then.

by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:31pm

Well, speaking as a Cowboys fan, the beginning of the season will be an interesting test of the more unconventional rankings here. DAL (ranked much lower here than by conventional wisdom) starts out with WAS and CHI, both ranked much higher here than by conventional wisdom. Then they get HOU, who many expect to improve but look terrible by DVOA. Conveniently, one of the reasons that DAL is ranked low by DVOA is the expectation of injuries on the OL, and lo and behold, they're likely to have two backups on the OL for at least the first game.

by Tim Wilson :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:36pm

As a Dallas fan, I've learned over the past 4 or 5 years not to put too much stock in how the system evaluates the Cowboys. DVOA just doesn't seem to evaluate them correctly for whatever reason, perhaps because it predicts injury regression as it would for an average team, and the Cowboys seem to for whatever reason (training staff, player profiles, drafting philosophy, etc.) to be better than average at avoiding injury.

by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:54pm

Oh, I agree completely. To my knowledge, FO has projected the Cowboys to have a winning record exactly once: 2004, a year they ended up going 6-10. Every year, I just assume that they will pick the Eagles to be the best team in the NFCE (which they have, every single year) and the Cowboys to be either 3rd or 4th (which they have, for five straight years now).

But the point remains: the first three weeks of the Cowboys' season involve four teams that FO ranks differently, fairly radically so, than most other outlets.

by Dales :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:38pm

I wish I had the time to pull this, but now I am curious to see if there is any one division where the correlation between preseason DVOA and final record has been stronger, or weaker, than the norm over a period of x number of years.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:31pm

I also think it is interesting to not that what seperates spot 6 from spot 12, the bottom half of the playoff teams, if you will, if not for division and conference alignments, is a mere 3.5% in DVOA. That strikes me as pretty tight, but I haven't compared it with previous years.

by dcj207 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:35pm

Washington was 4-12 last year, and there's a DVOA component that penalizes teams with starting QBs that played on different teams the prior year, and you project them for 9.4 wins?

Good luck with that.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:03pm

FOA does a pretty good job explaining that Washington had about 7 expected wins last year (they were really unlucky in close games), and even though McNabb might get dinged for switching teams, he's still an upgrade on Campbell. It doesn't take much to change a team that should have won 7 games into a winning team.

by pazz (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:42pm

chicago as #2 def quite perplexing: there are already injuries to LB's, secondary is slow in a division that is QB driven and the o-line is so porous that i can't see then sustaining drives and keeping D rested.
strange indeed.

by Led :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:32am

DVOA projected Chicago to have the #2 defense last year, too. They were 22nd.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:48pm

The Chicago prediction almost has to be drastically mistaken. I think the offense should do well, and in Martz/Reid pass-wacky ways, make DVOA even happier than their teams' fans are. But that defense is old, the strong players are injury risks, and there are holes in the secondary that haven't been fixed.

SF's offense going down the toilet like that despite an investment in the offensive line and the youth movement at receiver seems a bit drastic too; I understand no statistical process is going to like Alex Smith, but the line could be average this year, and Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Crabtree are athletes.

But forget all that. What the hell is up with the Atlanta projection? Atlanta is projected for higher offensive DVOA than New England, New Orleans, and Green Bay? Higher than San Diego?!!?

I don't understand that, nor do I understand any part of the positive the Pittsburgh projection. Pittsburgh is a bottom feeder in that division. They will need luck to hold off the Browns.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:34pm

You may be right, but if Peppers picks a pack of peak performances, their defense has a decent chance to be very good. I don't know if he will, but it ain't an entirely crazy notion.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 1:03pm

if Peppers picks a pack of peak performances


by Dan :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:36pm

Urlacher is the only Bears defender over 30. A lot of the starters are 28-30, which could be a problem in a couple years, but for now they should be near their peak.

by Dan :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:41pm

The 13 potential starters, by age:

32 Brian Urlacher MLB
30 Julius Peppers DE
30 Anthony Adams DT
29 Lance Briggs WLB
29 Charles Tillman CB
29 Pisa Tinoisamoa SLB
29 Israel Idonije DE
28 Chris Harris S
28 Danieal Manning S
27 Tommie Harris DT
27 Mark Anderson DE
25 Zackary Bowman CB
22 Major Wright S

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:56pm

Calling Adams a starter isn't really accurate. The DT position is more like Tommie Harris and a bunch of guys.

And a similar situation for SLB and safety, where a younger player might get nearly as much playing time as the named starter.

Unfortunately all the best players are getting old (Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers).

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:32pm

I understand Peppers is there, and I know Urlacher and the others are not -that- old. But they've all had injury issues, which means they are injury risks going forward, and Urlacher, in particular, does not appear to be the same player he was in 2006. Ditto Tommie Harris, who was the best defensive player in the NFL at one time, but now seems pedestrian.

Also, I think of 28-30 as "getting old", except for running backs who are already old by then.

Too bad, I'm 32.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:44pm

Urlacher doesn't have to be the player he was in 2006 for this defense to be good. He has to an above average linebacker who can make the right calls. Last year we had two options for MLB, Nick Roach who played OK, but was apparently clueless when making calls or Hillenmeyer who could make calls, but couldn't get off a block if his life depended on it or get back to stop deep-ins or post routes.

I also dispute the notion he is an injury risk. He has been hurt bad enough to miss a start twice in his career. In 2004 when he had a hamstring injury (I think? some leg problem like that) and didn't let it heal all the way before playing again, and last year he had a freak wrist dislocation.

Tommie Harris was nigh-on unblockable for about 12 games in 2006. Then he got hurt and has never been the same, but he's still an above average DT. You can just look at the defenses performance with an without him last year to see that (he didn't play in the Bengals or Cardinals games). He is definitely an injury risk though, I don't think he has been 100% healthy at any point since 2006.

by adam d (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:45pm

Where does this "the Bears D is old" thing I'm always hearing come from? The Bears D is just as old as any other D in the league. Urlacher had a fluky bone injury in his hand last year but prior to that the guy only missed 5 out of what 121 games? The perception the Bears D is old is just flat out untrue.

by Zheng :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:48pm


Pittsburgh has the second ranked offense even with Ben sitting out four weeks? And the 10th ranked special teams after last year's epic fail?

Atlanta has the 3rd ranked offense--does that surprise anyone besides me?

Just checking. Overall the rankings mostly make sense to me. Except the Dallas one, but you knew that.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:09pm

Atlanta did not surprise me at all--I would, without DVOA, expect that to be a great offense.

Pittsburgh being that high is a surprise for me, though.

by Jim M. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:49pm

Did I hear that Josh Cribbs is no longer returning kicks or punts for Cleveland this season? Love to see how that impacts their special teams DVOA and overall DVOA.

by mawbrew :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:17pm

No, Cribbs will still be returning kicks and punts he just won't be covering them (at least at the start of the year) as he has in the past.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:50pm

New Orleans the 7th best Offense? HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Sorry I had to let that out.

by strootster (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:00pm

Tom Brady, before Super Bowl XLII:

"We're only going to score 17 points? Hahaha, ok."

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:05pm

They might have done better if they HAD scored 17 points.

by strootster (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:08pm

Precisely my point. Laughing at and dismissing the rankings for "only" putting the Saints @ #7 offense might be a bit foolish. Hide your homerism for a second and look at this objectively.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:18pm

I don't have homerism. The Saints have had the number 1 ranked offense 3 out of the past 4 years. To think they are just going to suddenly drop to #7 when they have the exact same personnel and coaching is ludicrous.

by Eddo :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:27pm

The Saints haven't been ranked as the #1 offense in DVOA three of the last four years, though.

2009: 2nd
2008: 4th
2007: 11th
2006: 8th

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:12pm

Well, that's um, hey, pretty close, eh? There are two 1's in your list... of course they're part of an eleven, but that's besides the point.

by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:41pm

I think that the better question is why your model is predicting a double digit drop in offensive DVOA. Was Mike Bell that good a 3rd Running Back? Because he's the only player gone. I think that your model is poor if it's predicting that precipitous a drop based on very little change, particularly when many other teams have stayed closer to their values from 2009. The Saints have been at 4th and 2nd in Offensive DVOA with much of the same lineup, the drop is questionable, and I think my assessment will be validated by data from this year.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:49pm

New Orleans's DVOA each year since Brees has arrived:

2006: 10.5%
2007: 7.9%
2008: 21.1%
2009: 27.8%

What makes you think this high level of play can be sustained?

by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 10:17pm

Potentially, the liberalization of holding rules a couple of years ago has allowed elite QB's to sustain success at a higher level than in the past (as long as they don't get hurt!). Remember the league-wide pass defense medians in DVOA jumped way up in '08 and '09...

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 11:12pm

Even if that were the case, you can't expect a computer model to predict that. It only has past performance to go on. Looking through the last 5 years only one team has had an offense with 20%+ DVOA 3 year in a row, it was the Colts 05-07. They were only above 25% once. It's very unlikely, based on past evidence, for an offense to achieve that level of offensive production. I think the poster above said "barring injury," but that's silly. Injuries happen, and the model incorporates them. If Brees or Thomas goes down, this offense is hurting. If 2 receivers go down it's hurting. If a couple linemen go down it's hurting.

by Jeff Fogle :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:21am

You asked of the poster, "What makes you think this high level of play can be sustained?" You didn't ask what a computer model would predict. Thinking allows us to adjust to potential paradigm shifts that occur after rules changes much faster than computer models can.

If there was a paradigm shift, then it doesn't matter what happened over the last 5 years...because the early part of that segment happened before the new reality set in.

What computer models might have guessed about high jumping before just before the Fosbury flop was invented/introduced didn't much matter once everyone adopted the superior approach (aided also by changes in the landing area that made landing softer). The world changed.

If the NFL rules changes that were adopted have successfully:

*Made passing easier for the elite QB's
*Made QB injuries less common
*Allowed those two factors to magnify in the best scoring conditions (domes, good weather, etc...)

Then, it's a new world. One could make the case that FO's own stats are showing this (the medians of DVOA pass defense have shot way up)...and that any methodology strongly influenced by regressions toward the mean may be in a bit of trouble (as FO's turned out to be last season).

And...Saints and Colts fans may be right in thinking their consistently strong offenses may not regress as long as Manning and Brees stay healthy enough to hit targets (the stats you showed from Saints offensive DVOA is consistent with the theory too obviously).

This factor is conceivably at the heart of what...50 different discussions people are having on this site about various things in the NFL. What unfolds in 2010 will help us see more of the picture...

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:27am

Fair enough. I could have phrased that response better. What I really meant was "what factors do you think a computer model would see that would lead to it predicting a repeat of that high level of performance?"

I just looked through a few more years, and one team has an offense that reaches above 25% 3 years in a row, it maybe surprising. It's the KC offense from 2002-2005.

Also, while the median offense is a lot better, the very best offense the past couple years has not been as good as those years. So if the holding effect exists, it is only making offense easier to play to a certain point.

by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:41am

Because I think that the underlying average value is closer to 2008 and 2009. This isn't completely random. If it were, then Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady and other elite quarterbacks wouldn't stay in the top slots of all objective categories year after year (including DVOA). Regression can occur, but the mean that the Saints offense is regressing to is likely higher than that of other teams based on the performance of the past few years. We expect the Colts, Patriots, Ravens, and Packers to continue their offensive success from the last few years, but not the Cardinals. We have intuitive, but logical reasons for thinking that and the model seems to match well with those expectations. For the Saints it is a counter-intuitive prediction. The real problem here is that, objective or not, this is a legitimately surprising, counter-intuitive result and it's disingenuous to taunt someone who doesn't appreciate or understand statistics for being surprised at it.

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:48am

Look at the predictions again. Only one team is predicted to have an offense better than 22% DVOA. An offense around 20% DVOA is basically elite. They're predicting the Saints offense to be very good, just not historically good like it was last year. They're basically saying it will be as good as it was 2 years ago when it was very good.

by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 1:08am

I think that you make a fair and accurate assessment. I just feel like I'm reading Peter King (who picked the Steelers to win the Superbowl this year) and despair at the whole endeavor of objective statistical analysis when Pittsburgh is modeled/predicted as an elite offense and Chicago as an elite Defense.

by Anonymous8 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:40pm

New Orleans had the number one ranked offense 3 of the last 4 years in what stat?

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:42pm

The most important stat. Pts per game.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:49pm

The most important stat is swagger differential. Everyone knows that.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:00pm

Damnit, I went through this yesterday with you know-nothings! The only thing that matters is being like a kid out there! Sheesh!

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:10pm

Being like a kid out there percentage is a subset of swagger.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:52pm

Ways points can be scored in a game that have nothing to do with how good an offense is:

Turnover returned for a TD
Kickoff returned for a TD
Punt returned for a TD
Turnover returned into field goal range
Kickoff returned into field goal range
Punt returned into field goal range

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:58pm

The Saints special teams is pathetic. We don't get very many points off of any of the aforementioned items.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:01pm

Didn't they just lead the league in turnovers returned for TDs?

by Joseph :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:07pm

Yeah, with 11--5 picks, 2 fumbles (iirc, one was recovered IN the end zone, and the other was returned like 5 yds), 1 KR vs. Rams, and the "Meachem stole the ball" play against the Skins. Then in the playoffs, Bush's PR vs. the Cards and Porter's pick to effectively end the SB.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:08pm

Yes, and they also led the league in red zone efficiency. I'm sure that one is irrelevant as well.

As I've said here before. Bow to the Champs and kiss the RING! TWO DAT!!

by Joseph :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:16pm

Hey Drew--nice to have another Saints fan here.

BTW, they also led the NFL (iirc) in DVOA vs the pass in the red zone. That means a lot of red zone drives end in 3 points (or 0, or -7 when Sharper is in there) instead of TD's. That is one of the BIGGEST reasons the Saints won it all.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:20pm

It's nice to be here. I'm looking forward to reaping the financial rewards of a Viking beat down tomorrow night. Take the Saints and lay the points guys. Anyone remember the 2006 Saints/Atlanta game? This one's going to look eerily similar.

by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 8:44am


by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:23pm

Look, there's nothing like an obnoxious fan to dissipate good will a team has built up. If you knew what you were talking about, you'd understand that excellent red zone performance in one year is not a good predictor of excellent red zone performance in the next year, for any team.

Who knows, maybe your favorite team will get thorughly whipped on the line of scrimmage, give up 500 yards at home, whiile gaining 240, in an overtime victory at home in the conference championship again, on their way to winning the Super Bowl. This will give you reason to act like you have accomplished something.

by milo :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:04pm

C'mon Will, that's not obnoxious. This is.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:03pm

Really more stupid than obnoxious, especially comimg from people who have not done anything which contributed to what they talk such smack about. I mean, the guys who will block the Vikings' defensive line tomorrow night have earned some room to be the fools. Of course, unlike internet dimwits, they aren't fools, so they don't.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:08pm

Ah, another stat freak that forgets to mention the stats that matter.

Vikings Turnovers:5
Saints: 1

Vikings: 28
Saints: 31

You just keep on worrying about who beat who at the line of scrimmage and who had more yds.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:49pm

Uh, you were the one who mentioned yardage gained, with the 3:17 post.

Yes, yes, I know a titanic football intellect like yourself understands that play on the line of scrimmage is something that does not merit any heed, and has come to the stunningly insightful conclusion that if a team scores more points, they win. It is a wonder that the boys in Canton have yet to fit you for an ugly yellow blazer.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:07pm

It's a wonder your ego hasn't collapsed in on itself and created a singularity. I take it your the snarky douche around these parts. I'm sure Canton has a spot reserved in the "Can't see the forest for the trees" wing for you.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:11pm

I take it your [sic] the snarky douche around these parts.

No, no...the only consistently snarky dudes we get are visitors angry about their team. They usually don't last long because the minute their teams start losing they chicken out.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:18pm

I'm as cool as a cucumber. I was attacked and so I retaliated. First off I'm not a visitor and if my team starts losing, I will be the first person on here to talk about why I think that is.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:19pm

I wasn't attacking you. To the contrary, I was agreeing with you that one had to be a "stats geek" (a very orginal, non-insulting term you chose to employ, in an excellent example of pronounced self awareness) to think that paying attention to the line of scrimmage was worthwhile, or to pay attention to anything other than points scored. Unless one wanted to pay attention to yards gained, except in those instances that one decided that paying attention to yards gained was not worthwhile. Or something. In any case, I thank you for the enlightenment you have chosen to shower upon me.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:11pm

Both of you, cool down.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:22pm

Sorry, Bill. I wanted that exchange to read more good-humored than it turned out reading.

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:18pm

Will, when you say "titanic" I am not sure what you're getting at. You either mean it ironically or straight-forward, and both are pretty amusing.

1) titanic = large, great, ponderous, massive.
2) titanic = pertaining to a dead race of ancient Greek gods (even a half-breed teenager can beat 'em)
3) titanic = symbolic of epic failure, and more subtly, epic hubris which leads to that failure. Big, costly ship sinks, kills 2/3 of those aboard.

Not much wiggle room there to squeeze a compliment in.

by Bob Boot (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:00pm

Doesn't this tell you something important about NFL football? Stats mean absolutely nothing except as masturbation material for fantasy football fans. More than half the predictions on that list are way off base. You have the Bills defense better than the Jets? Jesus what a waste of my and everyone else's time this site is.

by bkjsun :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:33pm

speak for yourself man, i think this is the best football analysis out there and most of us on here would agree.

the bills finished last year at #6 in weighted defense dvoa (-9.8%), they're now being projected to be -9.4% which turns out to be 3rd best. How is that a ridiculous projection?

the jets on the other hand had an unbelievable season on defense, it's not too far-fetched to think they'd slip just a teeny bit.

I don't know all the variables involved (injuries and such) but i think the projection at least makes sense.

by Dan :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:26pm

Drive Stats are an improvement on points per game and yards per game. Last year the Saints were 2nd in pts/drive and 4th in yds/drive, in 2008 they were 1st & 3rd, 2007 11th & 7th, and 2006 4th & 2nd. Top 4 in both categories in 3 of the past 4 years is impressive.

This year offenses 2-7 are all projected very close to each other (the gap between 2 & 7 is smaller than the gap between 7 & 8, or between 1 & 2), so I wouldn't worry about the Saints being 7th.

by Lance :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:04pm

Except that you were scoffing at their 7th place finish in Offensive DVOA, so your reasoning doesn't make any sense.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:47pm

How about Offensive yds per game. #1 last two years.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:56pm

You appear to be new to this site. I suggest you go back and read the recent FO Basics articles which you can find on the front page, then come back here.

If you aren't going to read these, then I'll condense one point: total yards is an absolutely useless measure of team offense or defense.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:01pm

Someone asked me what category the Saints ranked first in. I told them. Being new to the site has nothing to do with anything, except that maybe I use my eyes a little bit more during games than some people do.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:15pm

Well this formula isn't trying to predict who will have the most points or yards, but which team will be the most efficient on a play-by-play basis. So, you're comparing apples to oranges.

Also, 7th isn't even that bad, what are you complaining about?

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:17pm

I guess I'm complaining that they have the Saints missing the playoffs. It's absurd that's all. Not really a big deal.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:02pm

At this point of the season, nothing is "absurd". Well, a #1 overall pick flushing his career down the toilet for cough syrup is absurd. But as far as guessing how a given team will perform, there's no such thing as absurd.

The good news is that, unlike in college football, it'll all get sorted out on the field, and no one's opinion really matters.

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:19pm

I'll drank to that.

by displaced_saints_fan :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:54pm

Dude, relax. You're embarrassing me.

If you want smack talk, this isn't the place. Try Fox Sports.

Nobody's taking the Lombardi trophy away, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for a Super Bowl champion to miss the playoffs the following year. I hope the projections are wrong, but I'm not offended by them, and neither should you.

by Sweet Loretta (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:45pm

you must be new to this site. I recommend you use the zLionsFan template to harness all of your analysis.

is clearly ranked because . is way better than this.

Here I will help you out:

The New Orleans Saints are clearly ranked too low because they score a lot of points and recently won the Super Bowl. Using my eyes when I watch football is way better than this. TWO DAT!

by Sweet Loretta (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:50pm

I screwed up zLionsFan template. Here it is again

(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)

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:01pm

Here, I'll help you out. As long as the Saints have Drew Brees at QB, the Saints will be in the top 5 of every single offensive category this year.

I know it's much easier for some of you to try and rip a real opinion than actually come up with one of your own and face criticism.

I don't really care about DVOA projections. The main reason I posted is because it appears FO has the Saints not even landing a wild card spot.

The only statistics I care about are Wins and Losses. Nothing else matters.

by Eddo :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:13pm

[Sigh] I'll bite...

1. If all you care about are wins and losses, and not DVOA projections, why are you visiting the site?

2. The projections have the Saints missing out on a wildcard by 0.1 wins. It's not like they're saying the Saints won't even be in contention.

3. The projections have the Saints as being 4.0% DVOA from being #2 overall, and 2.2% from being #5 overall.


The Saints have had a good-to-great offense for four years running. It's likely they'll have another very good offense. Looking at things like points scored last year, however, doesn't tell us much. This is because the Saints scored a disproportionate amount of return touchdowns. This is unlikely to be repeated and is in no way indicative of the quality of the offense.

The Saints had a great year last year. However, their defensive performance doesn't seem particularly sustainable, mostly due to return touchdowns. Therefore, it's likely they'll be a few games worse, and a few games worse could very well mean missing the playoffs.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:30pm

Saints points scored per game last season: 31.9
Saints point allowed per game last season: 21.3
Saints record 13-3

Those return touchdowns don't take place in a vacuum. The very nature of our offense forces teams to press, take chances, go for 7 instead of 3, in the hope of keeping up. Our defense preys on this. While I agree that it is highly unlikely that we force as many turnovers or score as many Defensive TD's this year, if you look at that point differential, we don't have to. We can still have a 13-3 record even if we have a smaller pt differential. When you say it is "likely they'll be a few games worse", that's called your opinion. I believe our defense will be just as attacking because our offense allows them to be.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:34pm

Turnovers don't happen in a vacuum, but the returns off the turnovers are basically random and the Saints were lucky to have so many reach the endzone.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:03pm

So your basically saying none of those turnovers would have resulted in 7 pts had the defense not taken it to the house? We don't need to take as many turnovers to the endzone this year. Our offense is more than capable of turning a turnover into a touchdown. So we win the average game by 7 pts this year instead of 10. I care not.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:07pm

They might have or they might not have. I'm pretty sure that not every single one would have become a TD. The point is, the Saints had some luck in returning turnovers, and that lead to points they scored. Not the offense. So using points per game as a metric to measure offensive production is flawed.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:14pm

Luck. I love it. People use that word a lot. More often here than I would have guessed. Yes, the Saints were lucky to win it all last year.

Keep thinking that.

by bkjsun :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:46pm

absolutely, saints had so much luck last year it was unbelievable!
their defense will generate less turnovers in general plus the turnovers they do get won't be returned for scores. their offense will not score as many points per game and their defense will allow more points per game. they may get the wild card spot, but then again they may not.

Keep thinking that every other team but your own will come down from a high.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 10:59am

There's no such thing as luck. I hate to break this to you but their's no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy either. All there is at the end of things is what you do and what you don't do.
The Saints were neither fortunate nor cosmically blessed last year. They prepared harder, worked as a cohesive unit more, and were the best team in football because they were the best 53 player unit.
Will the Saints get as many turnovers this year? Doubtful. Will they return as many TD's on Defense? Doubtful. Will there offense be as good as it was last year? Probable. Will their special teams play be better this year? According to this website, Probable. Do they still have the best QB in the league and their entire team and coaching staff back from last year as well as the best homefield advantage in the league. Absolutely.
Will they win their Division. Yes. Will they repeat as Superbowl Champion? I believe they will. But it sure as hell with have nothing to do with luck or being fortunate. Come talk to me in February if your not hiding in a hole somewhere.

by Scott C :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 1:18pm

"There's no such thing as luck."

HAHAHAHAA! That is a great joke.

Have you ever even watched what a football does when it bounces off the ground? When it takes a funny bounce and lands right into team A's hands instead of team B's hands, thats a great bit of skill there by team A to make it bounce like that!

Oh great myopic one, please bring us more insight.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 11:05am

Let me ask you all a question. Has any team in NFL history ever repeated as champion before?
Well according to your statistical model, it says that should never happen. A team should always come back toward the mean or back down "from their high".
Then how does a team ever repeat if it's such a statistical anomaly? It's called strength of character. The will to push yourself even when you are already at the pinnacle. It's a characteristic that the Saints have in spades. They may not repeat, but if they do it will have very little to do with statistics and everything to do with heart.

by bkjsun :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 5:56pm

"Then how does a team ever repeat if it's such a statistical anomaly? It's called strength of character"

No, actually it is called "luck". The luck to avoid injuries to key players, the luck to recover fumbles at critical times, the luck to avoid playing teams that match up well against you in the playoffs, and so on...

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 6:16pm

Or it's a team so dominant that even when they have a bit of a down year, they're still good enough to win. Steelers in the 70s, Cowboys in the 90s, etc.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 6:21pm

That's oversimplification, but of course so is what DrewBrees4MVP said. In reality, it's a combination of luck, character, talent, retention of key components (players, coaches, backroom staff), schedule, and a whole bunch of other things.

Not just luck, and definitely not just swagger.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:16pm

They have them missing the playoffs, but it's really close. Look at the difference between the Bears and the Saints. It's a difference of .2 wins. That's basically close enough to say, these teams are too close to call, but the numbers say this one will be slightly better so that's our prediction.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:30pm

The difference between the number two team (Pit at 21.9%) and number seven (NO at 18.0%) is smaller than the difference between number seven and number eight (Min at 12.3%).

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:45pm

Based on your comment, I believe you are somewhere you shouldn't be.

Canal Street Chronicles is ----THAT WAY--->

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:15pm

I'm exactly where I should be. A fan of the best team in football. About to watch my team raise a banner and then kick the crap out of the Vikings tomorrow night. Life is good.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:19pm

But why are you on this site? Your interests and mindset seem so much more compatible with foxsports or ESPN.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:38pm

I didn't know I needed your permission BucNasty. My interest is in the truth. Ball don't lie.

And just so you know, every writer on FO has at some point contributed to content on ESPN.com. So I guess the creators of this site and my interests are quite in line with each other.

Do you even have a team that you follow? Let's hear you say something intelligent about your team.

by Lance :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:14pm

I think he was speaking about your comments being more in line with the comments seen (for example) on ESPN's website. If you read through a typical comments section on FO, you'll find that they tend not to be of the "Ohh-- my team's gonna wihp yours! WE DA CHAMPS!!!1 YOU ALL SUXXX!!1111" variety.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 11:45am

Gotcha, no smack talk allowed around here. Way to turn football into math. Great job!

by Spielman :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 2:26pm

Banning smack talk does not turn football into math. Smack talk is not football. Smack talk is linguistic masturbation by insecure juveniles with nothing worthwhile to contribute.

by Lance :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 2:35pm

No one is banning "smack talk" here. The previous poster simply observed that the style of your posts was more in line with other football websites. Read through some other threads (or note the comments not related to you on this thread) and you'll see very little of the obnoxious, in-your-face "smack talk" seen elsewhere on the web.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:44pm

The 44 Super Bowl winners have a 36-7-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:46pm

What exactly does the 2010 Saints have in common with the 1976 Raiders that makes you think it will predict their performance?

by RickD :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:23pm

Come now, the stat isn't that stupid. Being the reigning Super Bowl champ implies that the team is considerably better than most NFL teams.

That's what the 2010 Saints have in common with the 1976 Raiders. Their relative position with respect to their peer group.

I have to say, though, as a Pats fan I'm glad to see Drew here. A few more weeks of this and we may never again hear about how obnoxious Patriots fans are.

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:23pm

Black uniforms, combined with the color of a precious metal?

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:33pm

I'm just saying, this is a place for intelligent football analysis. If you want to talk about how wonderful the Saints are going to be, and how parity somehow won't affect them this year, and how one time you saw Tracy Porter's face on your grilled cheese sandwich, you might want to go to SB Nation or something.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:00pm

Parity is a myth. There's a reason a team like the Colts, Steelers, Pats are contenders year in and year out and the Lions, Rams, & Browns are not.

For someone looking for "intelligent football analysis" you should probably do some homework. If you don't think elite QB play, the pocket book of the owner, skill of the front office and scouting department, strength of schedule, and how teams were assembled this year given the new free agency rules play no part in why the Saints will be ELITE this year, then I don't know what to tell you.

Here's the fun part. You only have 8 1/2 hours to wait to see if I am right. If the Saints beat the Vikings handily tonight, as I think they will, then let's see if you show up Treima6. If the Saints lose tonight, I will dutifully be back here to take my lashing.

by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 9:05am

That is a nice big hole you left there between "Saints beat the Vikings handily" and "Saints lose." The weasel room you left yourself notwithstanding, NO did not cover last night.

The game last night looked very much like what DVOA projected, except MIN was rated too high. Not enough negative weight for the loss of Sidney Rice and the decline of Brett Favre, and Pat and Kevin Williams. Of course, there are still 15 games to go.

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 3:31pm

Through two weeks, your New Orleans Saints are averaging a very mortal 19.5 points per game.

Still fired up about their projection?

by are-tee :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:51pm

Did the Jets drop below Miami because they cut David Clowney?

by Steph :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:59pm

So Football Outsider numbers like the NFC East much more than the AFC South this year?

I have a hard time thinking that the 2010 Texans offense is going to be worse than the 2006 Texans offense that was comprised of David Carr, Ron Dayne as your leading rusher, ancient Eric Moulds as your #2 WR, chewing gum, duct tape and Gary Kubiak starring as MacGyver. 24th for offense is quite the drop off from the previous three Schaub years, either with full time Schaub or Schaub that missed games.

by Rivers McCown :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:42pm

I'm curious as to what exactly informs that drop-off in wins. Is it all losing Ben Tate? Offensive line continuity? NFC East getting better?

by theshadowj :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:42pm

I'm really wondering this as well. I can imagine a defense that has a dropoff from last season, but I don't see how they end up 24th on offense even if Schaub misses the whole season.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 7:43am

Thirded. Could the offense decline a bit? Sure - even quite significantly if Schaub misses a lot of time. Could the defense take a step backwards? Sure, though I actually don't think it will. But I have a really hard time seeing -2.7% offensive DVOA, even if Schaub tears his ACL in the first quarter on Sunday. I'd really be intrigued to know what the specific factors behind that projection are, because I don't understand it at all (whereas I do fully understand what the system doesn't like about the defense, even though I expect it to be proved wrong).

PS. To be fair, Steph, the projection is still for a better offense than 2006 in the sense of higher DVOA (-2.7% vs. -5.5%) - just a lower ranking (24th vs. 21st).

by Gray Jay (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:32pm

Is the difference in DVOA projections somewhat due to strength of schedule differences between this year and 2006?

Further, while I agree with the logic mentioned higher in the thread about the rule changes of the last two years really favoring QB play, so we shouldn't expect the Brady, Peyton, and Brees of the world to regress that much, I'm not sure Schaub is in their class. He's struck me as a bit fragile, I'm not at all sold on Foster extending drives, the OL is a bit worrisome in the power running game, and I consequently don't know whether 4700 passing yds is a reasonable target for Schaub to hit again. OTOH, getting Daniels back, and Jones finally deciding to work like an NFL WR should, should really help matters for Schaub.

How accurate have DVOA/DAVE predictions been looking backwards? How well have they correlated to wins? I did not find the free DAVE information last year useful, but I don't have any information as to how accurate/inaccurate it was.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:03pm

As we say every year: "A few of them will look strange to you. A few of them look strange to us."

I may post this sentence every 25 comments or so to make sure nobody misses it.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:21pm

Which few look strange to you? Hopefully it's the Saints at #7 on offense. If they don't score 30 pts a game again this year, (barring a Drew Brees injury) I'll eat my shorts.

by Charlie (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:32pm

The Bears one looks strange to me, but it's strangely *beautiful*. I can't take my eyes off it.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:50pm

Your irrational homerism is much less entertaining that raiderjoe's. Do you have any interesting beer recommendations?

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:53pm

Haha! Yeah, I'm a real homer for pointing out that the Saints have the most feared offense in the NFL. I don't know who your team is, but I bet if your playing the Saints on Sunday, your just praying you can stay close.

Yes, my beer advice is Chimay Blue. It's the nectar of the Gods.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:58pm

Let's make sure the 18 to 88 guys don't find out about this conversation, 'cause them's fightin' words.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:04pm

Which part? LOL

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:05pm

Congratulations. My wife's a Saints fan and you've just managed to make me actively root against a team I've been rooting for since I married her.

The most feared offense in the NFL is the Colts. No question whatsoever.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:10pm

I'm sorry you weren't watching the Superbowl. The Colts looked pretty fearsome from the 2nd quarter on.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:12pm

That Colts last ranked running game strikes fear in the hearts of men. LOL!

Your wife appears to know more about football than you do. She has excellent taste in teams by the way.

My wife is a Charger fan. I'm not about to actively root against them while she's in the room.

by Joseph :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:12pm

Well--I think both lead their respective conferences. However, IMO, the Colts are more one-dimensional--it's a great dimension, though. The Saints have a passing attack that's just as difficult to stop because of it's variety--however, their running game is MUCH better than the Colts.
Considering that in the last real NFL game played, the "most feared" offense in the AFC could only manage a TD against what most feel is a below-average defense (who, BTW, MATCHED that TD with one of their own), I can only say that you have been overtaken for now.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:14pm

Logic is fun. Thanks for the post!

by Spielman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:23pm

You forgot to add "LOL" that time.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:26pm

I haven't been overtaken at all. Firstly, I'm not a Colts fan. Secondly, and far more pertinently, I'm not involved in the NFL at all so even if I was a Colts fan and they had been overtaken (which I dispute) it would be nothing to do with me personally.

It's a shame people feel the need to make things like this personal; it seriously detracts from otherwise valid commentary.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:29pm

No one's taking anything personally "Big-Hairy-Andy". You made an absurd statement and got called out on it. It's fine. It happens.

If you can't come back with some kind of retort about how your most feared offense in the league was shut down in the Superbowl by a mediocre defense then why should anyone care about your opinion?

by BucNasty :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:36pm

If we're going to judge an entire season on one game:

Tampa Bay: 20
New Orleans: 17

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:39pm

Yes, very logical. Performance in a meaning less week 16 game vs. performance in the biggest game of the season. Paint chips are for the wall not for eating.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:50pm

You were still fighting for home field advantage. You also posted the same score against Dallas the week before while still shooting for perfection.

And I don't think you're supposed to put paint chips on your wall.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:43pm

Take a look at some of the quotes in this article and then tell me who the most feared offense in the league was last year.


by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:32pm

We need a "Warning! You are entering a Geek site. Please leave your preconceived notions at the gate," notice on the front page.

by Nate Dunlevy :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:20pm

Meh. I'm way more concerned about why the Colts defense tumbled 10 spots from the end of last year despite losing no players and adding Bob Sanders.

I can only guess that FO is predicting major injury seasons for Sanders, Brackett, and Freeney or Mathis. Or maybe it's a major decline in the second year A.D. (after Dungy).

As for the offense, I say let the Saints fans have their day. I was terrified of them before the Super Bowl (because I know the Colts D is crap without a healthy Freeney), and my nightmares came true.

Crow away.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:23pm

The score wasn't actually a good measurement of how close the game was. Our offense while efficient definitely didn't turn in their most impressive game of the season against the Colts. That would be reserved for the Monday night game against the Patriots. It was, in my estimation as close to a perfect game as has ever been played by a QB and his offense.

by DrewBrees4MVP :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:24pm

Sorry, LOL

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:24pm

What does adding Bob Sanders really mean though? Like play 4 games and get sidelined? At this point should Sanders really be counted on for anything?

Also, I don't think the prediction formula predicts injuries to specific players, but a kind of overall healthy to units. I could be wrong about that though.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:49pm

Second that. Sanders can't be counted on for anything. The projected starters at safety for the Colts should properly be counted as Bethea and Bullitt.

by Nate Dunlevy :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:03pm

Ok, so assume Bob Sanders gets hurt week one and doesn't play.

Why the massive regression? Considering how little the starters played on D for the final THREE weeks of the season, it seems odd to project a major step backwards defensively.

The Colts are always among the league leaders in injuries, so I would not be surprised if they are projected to lose lots of games from their critical cogs.

Otherwise, I'm at a bit of a loss to explain it.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:15pm

You got me, but I'm not sure why it matters. As someone else mentioned, projections are not really the strength of this site.

In any case, there can be a host of reasons. Maybe the schedule is different. If the schedule is weak, the D in DVOA will cause a downward adjustment.

by Nate Dunlevy :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:48pm

Great point.

by JIPanick :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:54pm

While as a Cowboys fan the offense that scares me personally the most is actually Philadelphia, in general terms I think are confusing the Saints with the Colts.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:59pm

As a Bears fan the offense that scares me most is the Bears.

by RickD :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:30pm

As a Patriots fan, the offense that scares me the most is the one facing the Pats fearsome pass rush on any given week.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:34pm

Well yes, there's definitely a difference between facing a fearsome offense and simply being fearful of any (and every!) offense.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:03pm

Stick around. One of the most fun FO articles is the one where all the Outsiders argue against the DVOA projections, pick their most likely to exceed the projections, most likely to underperform, etc.

by Lance :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:19pm
by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:28pm

I've kept out of it until now, but will say one thing about your potentially misplaced optimism.

Do you have any idea how many Colts fans and Patriots fans predicted an endless string of 40-50 TD seasons for their QBs after 2004 and 2007? Because our QBs proved just how good they can be. And how many of those predictions came CLOSE to reality? The answers are "lots" and "none."

They're still quality teams, however, and always a threat. Like the Saints.

You could be right, but odds are pretty good that you're not. And if you go in prepared for the worst and they outperform, then you're happy. And a lot of people clap yo uon the back and say "nice job."

If you prepare for only the best and they underperform, you're doubly unhappy. Plus a lot of people will laugh at you.

by Scott C :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 1:21pm

You don't know how to read numbers very well. As pointed out many times, the rankings show that teams #2 through #7 are virtually tied and should be considered to project about equal in terms of offensive capability.

by Tracy :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:05pm

Oakland projects to be marginally worse on offense this year than last year, even with Campbell replacing Russell at QB. That surprises me, and I'm not impressed by Campbell, or Oakland's other personnel on offense. I wonder what Raiderjoe has to say about that?

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 3:21pm

The Oakland figures really struck me as well. Oakland has some good personnel, and going from the worst starting QB in the last decade to a league average QB should really have a positive impact on the entire offense (as well as the defense, which will spend less time on the field and defend fewer short fields). I also think their defense could be much improved over that figure as well.

by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:10pm

I don't want to be RaiderJoe here, but I think the system is underrating Oakland. I think we'll see improvements on both sides of the ball and, if they get a little lucky with injuries, an 8-8 team. That's also a record that could take a division containing the Chiefs, the Chargers without McNeill and Jackson, and Denver (a team of parts that seem very mismatched to me - I just can't wrap my head around how they're going to win consistently). I know it's crazy to think that Oakland could make the playoffs, but stranger things have happened. Wait, maybe they haven't.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:57pm

I think Oakland to the playoffs is actually a rather chic pick this year.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:08pm

I feel weird saying this, but I agree. They're in a weak division, they've got a solid defense, and they had a major upgrade to their single most important position, and their coach is totally bats*** crazy. I don't know about playoffs, but I think 8-8 is very attainable.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:39pm

Yeah, in a weak divisions like that, any team which doesn't get Jamarcussed (hat tip to Bobman) has a chance.

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:30pm

Did I coin that phrase? Damn, I must have been much smarter and funnier in my youth (last fall) than I am now. And of course now that he's toast, my coinage has a life expectancy of... damn, gone already.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:40pm

I think you just debacled that sentence.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:42pm

delete repeat

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:11pm

I like the Raiders too. They played some tough teams very close last year and beat the Eagles and Steelers. They will have no games where Jamarcus is the QB. Heyward-Bey will either not play, or will be better than last year.

by Q (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:12pm

Pitt with the #2 projected Offense is pretty shocking. They are without Ben for 4 games, lost their #2 WR, are bound to play a few games in terrible weather, etc. Not sure what DVOA loves so much about their offense.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:52pm

Yeah, I suffer from Irrational Steelers Preseason Optomism, and that made me scratch my head too. When I saw blue, I had assumed the defense was ranked higher, no the O.

by Anonymousxyz (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:38pm

The Bears defense is much improved, but I think they are going to give up a ton of points mostly due to offensive turnovers. With Mike Martz running things, and with such a horrendous offensive line, Cutler will average two to three picks a game. They need to bench (or better yet, trade) Olsen for Manumaleuna and play Chester Taylor on passing downs if they want to win games.

They say preseason doesn't mean anything, but you can't let your QB get sacked/pressured, something the Bears have failed terribly at.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:56pm

Look, I think there is a decent chance that Tice goes all Kyle Turley on Martz by midseason, but if Cutler throws 48 interceptions, look for Sid Luckman to make a comeback.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:08pm

I wonder if they shouldn't have just hired Tice as the coordinator. I really wonder about the stability of hiring Martz. I'm sure he is going to try to turn this into a head coaching job, and the question is how long will he be around. The second question is, can you run Martz's system without Martz.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:58pm

They didn't use Olsen much in pass blocking. What they really need to do is just play him as a receiver who sometimes lines up next to a tackle.

Also, Forte has been a great pass blocker for 2 years now, and I only noticed one mistake from him this preseason while learning the very complex Martz system. No reason to jump the gun on him yet.

by adam d (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:00pm

The Bears O line is no worse than it was last year... Orlando Pace?! The team was 7-9 last year and made some significant additions on defense. Not to mention they were terrible in close games. It's not a huge leap to think they'll win a few more games this year.

by TomC :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:47am

They were only 3-5 in games decided by a TD or less. As a Bears fan, I feel like they should have won the SF, ATL, and PHI games (at least), but I also have to admit they could have easily lost to PIT, SEA, and MIN.

The #2 defense projection (as much as I hope it's right) seems hard to reconcile with what we saw last year and in preseason, but I suppose if you added Peppers, Urlacher, Tinoisamoa, and a supposedly healthy Tommie Harris to any average defense, it would look fairly impressive on paper. My gut feeling is that the D won't be as good as projected, but that the O will be a little better, and that the Bears have something like a 50/50 chance to sneak into the playoffs.

by Hank (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:40pm

jets will probably have to play a full 16 game regular season this year though

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 3:51pm

Really high on the Pats this year, I see. I also see that Brady is once again going to face a gauntlet of murderous defenses, including eight of your projected top 10!

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 3:27pm

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I think the Pats offense will be much better than this figure, potentially historically good. Brady is comfortable again, and he has more weapons than he did in 2007, with a fully developed WR corps, and some very good TEs. That assumes, of course, that the O-line isn't a revolving door (the left side looks particularly scary).

And maybe I'm being overly pessimistic, but I think the Pats defense could be much worse than the projection. They will really need their LBs to step up bigtime to stop the run, and even with that, their lack of pass rush coupled with their young secondary (which apparently has a tendency to get flagged a LOT) could be deadly.

by Joseph :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:02pm

My SUBJECTIVE predictions, based somewhat on these #'s:

AFC: Pats, Indy, Ravens, & West winner [oh, wait--I need to pick one ;)]--okay SD.
WC's--Fins, Jets--Pitt loses out after a slow start w/o Big Ben.
NFC: Boys, Pack, Saints, & 49ers; WC's=ATL & MIN.

Sorry, FO, but your "sleeper pick" of the Rams last year makes me SERIOUSLY doubt your sleeper team in DC this year.

by Ezra Johnson :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:07pm

Just for fun, last year's projections, and actual finishes, in terms of playoff seedings:

1. San Diego (2)
2. Indy (1)
3. New England (3)
4. Chicago (-)
5. Pittsburgh (-)
6. Jacksonville (-)
7. Tennessee (-)
8. Minnesota (2)
9. NYG (-)
10. Seattle (-)
11. Philly (6)
12. Carolina (-)
9. Baltimore (6)
16. Dallas (3)
18. Cincy (4)
19. Green Bay (5)
21. New Orleans (1)
26. NYJ (5)
27. Arizona (4)

This is not in any way meant to be snark. Just interesting, is all.

by bkjsun :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:22pm

dvoa projections are not exactly the same as playoff projections; do you have their postseason odds projections from last year to compare?

by Wide_Right :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:08pm

So you're saying I should bet the farm on Indy -3 @ Houston, eh?

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:32pm

wait and see what the line is after Ugoh's release. Frankly, it could go UP or DOWN and I would not be surprised. He was nothing special anymore, but every team needs at least one LT, right?

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:41pm

Maybe they're planning on playing an unbalanced line with 3 on the right all season.

by jmaron :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:16pm

By the end of the year I think Carolina was probably as good as the best teams in the league. I expect them to be very solid this year.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:30pm

Yeah, and a major reason why they pounded a good team like the Vikings last year is now playing in Chicago. Then again, they aren't wasting the first part of the season with Jake Delhomme, so you might have a point. Then again, again, I think it likely that the type of player who is most valuable, other than a dominant qb, is a dominant defensive end, so losing Peppers might really be a setback.

by jmaron :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:55pm

I just like how physical they were on both sides of the ball. That was the only team the Vikings played all year that was more physical than the Vikings.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:18pm

Cutler: Led league in interceptions and was pretty bad in the red zone. (A couple of plays actually and they would have been 9-7 instead of 7-9.) Regardless, QB performance improvement expected.

O-line: Legit questions still remain, but can it be worse than last year? Olin's injury has been repaired. Omiyale returned to tackle from guard. Williams an upgrade over Pace, at least that's the expectation. Improvement expected.

RBs: Forte had nagging injuries, looks recovered. Taylor an excellent back up. See note about o-line. Improvement expected.

O-Coordinator: Martz vs Turner. Significant improvement expected.

WRs: Knox to grow in 2nd year, Aromashodu (finally a legit sized WR) finally freed. No reason Hester can't improve. Davis could be productive in the slot.

TEs: Solid, if unimproved, performance expected.

D-line: Peppers with Anderson/Idonije better than Ogunleye/Brown. Tommie Harris with first non-surgery offseason in four years, looks healthy. Harrison/Adams a year of improvement. Improvement expected.

LBs: Lost both Urlacher and Pisa all season. Significant improvement expected now that they are back.

CBs: Bowman 2nd year as starter. Some improvement expected. Tillman still solid. Manning as solid nickle (if they put him there as they should).

Safeties: The big question mark. Harris belongs at SS plain and simple. Manning is the fastest and best athlete for FS, but damn if he doesn't simply find ways to screw up. Wright expected to step in as rookie with the right tools and instincts. Improvement expected if only because like the o-line it couldn't be worse.

ST: Typical solid special teams expected.

So, why is the Bears projection so hard to understand? I understand Qs about giving up 3rd and long conversions, but getting teams in those situations often is a signal of a very strong D. Is the o-line going to block well and/or is Cutler going to make a lot of bad throws? These Qs, while certainly very important, are really the only serious question marks the Bears have. Otherwise, they should be expecting improvement almost across the board.

by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:26pm

Well, for starters, you can go through this process for just about every team and say "improvement expected" at most positions. Guys who were injured last year are healthy at the moment - this year's injuries haven't (for the most part) kicked in yet. Guys who played poorly last year have either been replaced or are expected to bounce back. Guys who improved last year are expected to hold or build on their gains. This is the time of year when everyone's optimistic. Comments like "can it be worse than last year?" and "no reason X can't improve" abound.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:48pm

I'll give you the injuries because sure maybe Briggs or Bowman or Knox is lost the first game this time around. Yeah, that happens. Otherwise, your comments are off base. You could do this for any team and though optimism does abound, that doesn't mean you find improvement at every position every time you do this exercise.

The Cards stepping down from Warner to Leinart, then again from Leinart to Anderson? Losing Boldin? You expect Favre to repeat last year? Sharper's already hurt for the Saints. Is Carolina's pass rush supposed to improve because Peppers left? Are the Packers expected to lead in turnover differential again?

And I wasn't even overly optimistic. No one should expect monster TE, CB or safety performances or gains. The two lines should have some improvement, but I wasn't claiming domination. If you have a specific disagreement with one of the specific points or arguments I made, please do tell. Do you think the o-line won't improve? Fine. Why? Do you think Hester will regress? Fine. Why? But otherwise your response was significantly more snarky than it was helpful in furthering intelligent discussion.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:32pm

The funny thing about the safeties is that I'm not even concerned about them. They've been sub-par but acceptable ever since Mike Brown went down in 2006. If our pass coverage improves it's going to be from a better pass rush and more athletic linebackers (ie no Hillenmeyer giving up deep in after deep in against the Bengals).

My main concerns is that outside of Peppers and Urlacher playing for this team, all improvement is expected to come from young players improving with age. Sometimes that happens, but sometimes it doesn't.

Also, I may be the only person in the world who thinks this, but I think Ron Turner is not as bad as he seems. Unless you think his main job was to field an effective offensive line, then he is definitely one of the worst coordinators in history. I'm not sure what to think of Martz at all. He has definitely had long term success, and seems to improve offenses he is added to. However, he is always getting run out of jobs. When I hear his press conferences, he sounds incredibly congenial and easy to get along with, but I hear about his huge ego. It's just a mystery shrouded in an enigma to me.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:37pm

Mike Martz plus historically bad offensive line play = ...

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:48pm

While I do think this line will be bad, I'm not sure it will be historically bad. I do have experience in this things. The 2004 line was historically bad. This line is more uneven. Sometimes fine, sometimes terrible.

However, in Detroit and San Francisco they had improvement when he went there, and they both had bad lines too.

by Crushinator :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:39pm

I think there's a lot of reasons to like the Bears D this year. Namely that:

1) They've added 2 HoF caliber players to their team from last year (Peppers and Urlacher who played one game all year last year, which really hurt their scheme)

2) Brett Favre played at a fluky high level last year.

3) A stupid number of turnovers last year that left the D with a lot of short fields. That seems unsustainable.

by Marko :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:47pm

Lovie: Inexplicably still head coach. Thinks fans are fools. Doesn't realize that we have eyes and don't like what we see.

Marinelli: Inexplicably named defensive coordinator, running predictable Cover 2 defense that usually manages to cover no one on 3rd and long. Also presumably controlled by Lovie, which suggests that same ineffective defensive schemes and predictable and ineffective blitzes will continue expose secondary.

OL: Consistent in that it is equally bad at pass blocking and run blocking. Sievelike.

Cutler: Obviously throws too many picks. Hurries throws even when protection is adequate because he expects to be hit very soon. Now dating Kristin Cavallari, so may be focusing more on postgame activities than trying to win games.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:54pm

Cover-2 seems to be working out fine for the Colts, and when Dungy was there they were even more vanilla than the Bears. The Bears usually blitz a league average amount.

I think lack of talent was a far bigger issue than scheme. We didn't have anyone who could rush the passer. I challenge you to find any defensive scheme that would work without a solid pass rush. We haven't had a player with double digit sacks since 2006 when Mark Anderson got 12, and in the past two years no one has even cracked 7.

Now if you want to blame Lovie for failing to find and develop defensive lineman, that's fine, but I don't think the scheme is the issue.

by Marko :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:14pm

The problem with the scheme is really more the execution of it. For whatever reason, they have not executed it well since 2006. And yes, the lack of a pass rush has been a major factor. But a big factor also must be how Lovie and Co. are coaching it, since the opposing receivers always seem to find the holes in the zone for easy catches and first downs.

As far as the blitzes, the Bears actually blitzed far more than average in the past few years. But my problem isn't with how often they blitz; it is with how predictable and ineffective their blitzes are. It would be one thing if their blitzes resulted in strip sacks, plain old sacks, hurries, or interceptions. But their blitzes are so predictable (both linebackers playing in the nickel defense crowd the A gap before the snap, then rush and get stoned at the line of scrimmage) that opposing QBs feast on them. If I can tell from watching on my TV exactly who is going to blitz and where they will be coming from, you know that everyone on the opposing offense knows, too, and can make the necessary adjustments.

They rarely run different types of blitzes. Occasionally they will run a blitz from the strong safety or the nickel back. Even more rarely, they run a corner blitz. They have had a little bit of success with those differenty blitz schemes. Why aren't they more creative and less predictable with their blitzes? The most effective blitzing teams run more than one or two blitzes. Would it kill them to run a zone blitz every so often?

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:27pm

This tells me one of 3 things has happened.

1) In the past 4 years, the NFL has changed significantly, and Lovie's scheme and playcalling has become outdated. Despite the fact that another team has used a very similar scheme to some success.

2) Lovie Smith has forgotten how to coach defense.

3) The talent level on the Bears defense has decreased in such a way to make the defense worse.

I think Occam's Razor points to the 3rd one being the most likely explanation. Also, in 2007 and 2008, the pass defense was merely average, not actively bad (1.6% DVOA both years).

by JasonG (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:21pm

Thank you. Was the Tampa-2 outdated when the Bears went to the Super Bowl? Was it a liability when Harris was a disruptive 3-technique, Urlacher covered everything, Briggs filled every gap, the safeties were competent, Vasher was a ballhawk, the ends could actually beat a tackle from time to time and Washington could stuff the middle? I'm not saying I love Lovie or the Tampa-2 (in particular I despise the cushions the DBs are taught to give and also also the free 7 yard slants they continually allow), but freakin-a everybody (talking heads and Bears fans) shut the hell up about the damn scheme being the problem. The freakin players need to make plays. They need to be men and beat their counterparts. They need to wrap up and tackle. They need to challenge receivers instead of giving them infinite cushions. Yes those are problems. A revolving door at safety. Adequate, but not impact players anywhere besides LB. Injuries have been a part of this, too. And the staff and coaches deserve to be held responsible for those things, but knock it off with the scheme bashing. It's lazy and ill-informed. The scheme was just fine before and has been for many other teams including Indy and the SB Bucs. If you don't have the players, no scheme will work.

by Marko :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:00pm

Ted Washington never did "stuff the middle" in Lovie's Cover 2 because he was long gone from the Bears when Lovie took over. Washington's last year with the Bears was 2002. Lovie's first year with the Bears was 2004.

You mention despising the cushions the DBs are taught to give and the fact that they continually allow free 7 yard slants. That's a huge part of what I am complaining about. Whether it's the name of the scheme, the way it is taught or the way it is executed doesn't really matter. The bottom line is that the defense isn't getting the job done.

I note that the defensive problems started immediately after Lovie ousted Ron Rivera as defensive coordinator. He was much more creative and ran more effective blitzes than the Bears have run since under Lovie's BFF Bob Babich and under Lovie himself when he took over as DC.

Believe me, no one wants the Bears to succeed more than I do. But nothing I have seen in the past few years convinces me that Lovie can turn around this defense. I hope the addition of Peppers, the return of Urlacher and the insertion of Major Wright into the lineup at free safety proves me wrong.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:50pm

I thought I was reaching too far back with Washington even as I typed it. Mea culpa. The rest stands. The scheme has become the scapegoat and it's far down on list of culprits. I completely agree the defense isn't getting it done, that how they are coaching the scheme is part of the problem and that things were better with Rivera. However, maybe all three of those things come back to the players and not the scheme and not the coaches. Maybe they played tighter before because Vasher was better then and Tommie was more disruptive, too. Urlacher was more dominant. Mike Brown was QB'ing center field better, etc. Yeah, that'll make the tighter coverage the smarter decision and make everyone, including Rivera, look better. But now, the safeties and/or DBs can't be trusted, so they are forced to coach them to be careful and not get toasted. Or maybe the cause and effect were reversed. Maybe Rivera challenged them to play less passive and that resulted in better pass defense. Though I'm on the side that challenging the DBs to go disrupt and smother WR they cover is highly preferable, I'm not 100% certain of that, but I'm fairly certain the order of blame (from most to least) is 1) player talent (health inclusive), 2) coaching and 3) the Tampa-2 itself. Maybe the Tampa-2 isn't as great as an attacking 3-4, and even if it isn't, it's not some vastly inferior scheme that's so moronic and ineffective. We've seen it succeed, especially when you have a Sapp or Freeney or 2006 Tommie Harris. Which only brings me back to my original point. The players themselves make bigger impacts (positive and negative) than the scheme. Evaluate the players. Evaluate the coaching. Stop howling at the wind about the freaking scheme.

by Rusty G. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:38pm

FO's strength, I think, is in understanding what you saw, not in predicting what you will see. And I think that's significant - knowing exactly how skilled a player has demonstrated himself to be is more difficult than it would seem. But the correlation is far from perfect.

So while these things are fun (and FO guys seem to be more than humble about the shortcomings), there are just too many fudge factors in this. The injury mean reversion is the biggest, the most unpredictable and the most fraught with peril. By definition, it requires assumptions about the quality of replacements, the ignoring of evidence that some teams (ahem, Cowboys) have programs that appear to defy some of the assertions that injuries are a purely random process, etc. Not saying that FO isn't just doing what it can - these are real issues - I just think that they just make prediction too random to be of much use, and certainly too spurious to criticize FO too much for.

Injury mean reversion got the Bears where they are on this list. A lack of actual skill will bring them back to earth. :)

by Ezra Johnson :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:45pm

I like that the KC projection jibes with my subjective thoughts coming in. I really think they'll win the division, albeit in part by default. My other subjective point of agreement was that Baltimore is easily the best team in the league.

So if we can expect half the playoff teams to emerge from the bottom half of DVOA projections again, these are the teams I'd pick:


And here are the teams I'd swap out of the top half:


by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 4:57pm

So, you have 9 teams from the AFC making the playoffs? That's awesome.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:06pm

Also, 5 teams coming from 2 divisions. I guess you gotta add a few more wildcards in there if you want to get to 9.

by Ezra Johnson :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:24pm

OK, rather than saying those six teams will make the playoffs, just say they'll be in the top 16. If nothing else, I am reasonably confident that SF and Hou will be better than projected, with a 50% confidence interval.

by pazz (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 5:11pm

houston offense looks odd to me too. i know it's only preseason and you take it for what it's worth but when an offense that's been successful in the past already looks dialed in i think i may be a believer.

by greybeard :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:14pm

I expect the projections for this year to be as successful as last year's projections. Maybe slightly more or slightly less.

by bkjsun :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:31pm

what is the impact on dvoa of playing at home versus on the road? is there any reliable way to measure it?

Also, looking at the vikings opponents based on dvoa, it seems they should win 10 or 11 games unless the impact of playing on the road is losing about 1% dvoa.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 7:44pm

At some point a few years ago Aaron said that home field advantage is worth about +17% DVOA. So yes, it has a significant impact.

by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 6:57pm

Here's what I get for differences between the FO projections and the market prices this afternoon (a day before the start of the season). I've ordered them by division, using differences of 1 win or more away from widely available lines at numbers as close to pick-em as possible. There weren't any qualifiers in the AFC East, so I start in the AFC North and work down.

Baltimore Over 10 (12.2 mean wins)
Pittsburgh Over 8.5 (11.1)
Cincinnati Under 8.5 (6.7)
Cleveland Under 5.5 (4.3)

Houston Under 8.5 (4.8)

Kansas City Over 6.5 (9.0)
San Diego Under 10.5 (8.4)
Denver Over 7 (8)
Oakland Under 6.5 (4.9)

Washington Over 7.5 (9.4)
Dallas Under 10.5 (7.7)

Chicago Over 7.5 (9.3)
Detroit Under 5.5 (3.2)

Atlanta Over 9.5 (10.9)
New Orleans Under 10.5 (9.1)

San Francisco Under 9 (6.2)
St. Louis Over 4.5 (6.2)

That's 17 differences of one point or more by my count. Feel free to add in extra's if you see differences between DVOA and widely available numbers that I missed. And, if the guys from FO want to chime in with alternatives ("Hey, we want Under 9.5 at -180 rather than Under 9" or something), that's certainly invited. I tried to get low juice options as best as possible.

Last year there were 21 differences in the sample commenters were measuring, and those would go 5-16 vs. the Vegas/offshore numbers. Don't know if anyone has records before then. I seem to recall one of the "media" interviews talking about comparing the projections to market prices in the past...but didn't see a full breakdown.

Obviously the goal for a prediction process is to be better than the market...a market which represents a "wisdom of the smartest of the crowds" in this case because it's generally professional wagerers that bet into the regular season win totals rather than the public. If you're matching the market, that's pretty good too because it's an informed market. A replay of last year, and it might be worth considering adding in "market elements" to the team rating system to get the most accurate assessments possible of where everyone really stands. If Houston lands on 5 wins, Kansas City on 9, San Francisco on 6, etc...then that wouldn't be warranted. Last year's 5-16 was cause for concern in all quarters I'm sure.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:19pm

You should make a thread about this in the forums so it's more focused and easier to find.

I'm not a gambling man myself, but I do find it interesting, and if FO can beat or at least go even with Vegas that would be cool to find out.

Is there anyway to get historical data on lines and odds?

by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:51pm

Sounds like a good idea tuluse. I'll wait and see if there are any additions, or requests for adjustments from the FO authors. Then once the season's started I'll try to do that.

Not sure if anyone has kept the market prices on this prop going back many years. I personally haven't. If anyone has them it wouldn't be hard to work back through the archives and figure out past performances...

by Dan :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 10:14pm

This blog ran the numbers too.

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:22pm

You mention in the intro that people will be surprised that you don't have the Jets in the playoffs, but I actually think you overrate their playoff chances. You just don't overrate them to the ridiculous extent that a lot of people do.

The way I see it, the Jets made the playoffs last year through a combination of a dominant defense and a fairly soft schedule, along with the infamous gift from the Colts. This year, the schedule figures to be tougher and the defense figures to regress a bit, which means that the offense has to be a lot better to pick up the slack. That means they're going to need Mark Sanchez to do a lot more than last year, when he was a "game manager" (and not a very good one). They're going to have to start winning (at least in part) because of his play, rather than in spite of it. For that to happen, he's going to have to make a lot more big plays, while simultaneously making a lot fewer mistakes. I just don't see that happening.

by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 10:28pm

as a ravens fan, what continually grates at me with these kinds of evaluations is what i would term "matchup ability." on paper, the ravens are probably going to perform very well this upcoming season. I am incredibly not confident about their ability to hold on in the playoffs, however. With a few exceptions, ever since the 2000 super bowl the ravens have had a tendency to get abused by high quality passing offenses. This year might see the best ravens offense of all time, but I'm still completely terrified of seeing peyton manning or tom brady in the playoffs.

by JimZipCode :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 12:03am

As another Ravens fan, I do not get how we can be projected to have the #1 defense when (a) defending the pass is much more important than defending the run, and (b) the Ravens top *3* CBs all have knee injuries, and (c) Baltimore's sack totals have dropped precipitously from 2006.

Who's gonna cover downfield? Who's gonna get to the QB?

I'm sure Suggs' sack numbers will go up, but Trevor Pryce is 35 and Antwan Barnes is gone. Oh, and Ed Reed is out for the first six games. So is Brendon Ayanbadejo.

This is a #1 defense?

by Jerry :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 1:58am

When Aaron started doing these projections, there were a couple of results that looked wrong. He "adjusted" things to fit his, and most other people's, judgment. The one that sticks with me was the 2004 Chargers:

Remember above, when I said that one of the variables in the offensive projection takes into account the fact that poor passing performance on third down does not carry over from year to year? San Diego was so much worse when passing on third downs, compared to first and second down, that the adjustment ended up too strong to pass what we'll call "the laugh test." Yes, if you think projecting them as the sixth-best offense in the league makes no sense, understand that San Diego's offense was originally projected even higher.

The 2003 Chargers had the 12th ranked offense with a 2.2 DVOA. The 2004 projection was adjusted down to 8.1, which ranked 8th. The final Chargers offensive DVOA was 18.2, which was 7th in the league.

I'm sure the formulas have been refined since then, and not every surprising (or unsurprising) projection turns out to be right. But it's useful to see where the system differs from conventional wisdom. Maybe the Steelers-Ravens games won't have the #2 offense facing the #1 defense, but those units may well be better than we think they look right now.

by JimZipCode :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 12:07am

@cisforcookie – I too am scared of Manning & Brady in the playoffs, but it's not like the Ravens did too badly against Brady in last year's playoffs. And in the last two playoff losses to Indy (2009 & 2006), it wasn't really the defense that failed miserably. A better showing on offense transforms those matchups.

Or that's the hope, at least. ;-)

by Commenter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 10:30pm

Where is the explanation for Pittsburgh being so high on the list? You mentioned having covered it in other articles, but I'm having trouble finding them.

by Greg Trippiedi :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 11:13pm

I actually think the Washington projection is going to come out a little high this year. Of course last year I figured that there's no way the Defensive DVOA projection (almost perfectly average) could have been accurate for them, and it was.

I would be interested to know what percentage of the Redskins projection is based on variables from Denver's offense from 2008 and before. I'm skeptical that anything in Mike Shanahan's past is anything but an apples to oranges comparison here (2008/2009 Houston Off DVOA measures might actually be more relevant), but this offense still seems like a complete disaster.

Albeit, a disaster that I now trust to properly block a three-man rush.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 11:21pm

Shana Tova, everyone. DVOA playoff odds are now posted for the first time on the site, updated with the projections above. Remember that the top five teams with a chance to make the playoffs, win the Super Bowl, and get the number one overall pick will always be listed in the "Playoff Odds" tab of the Innovative Stats box on the front page.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled arguments, while I return to my regularly scheduled "making salad to bring to mom's house for the holiday."

by Zheng :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 3:49am

Wow, solid advantages for KC and ATL. Nice to see that DAL is at the bottom of its division where it "belongs". Some things never change.

by Chingyrty (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 4:28am

How is it you guys are not just picking Atlanta to make the playoffs but have them as a massive favourite to tin their division ahead of the Superbowl champions? What's the basis for the change?

by kamchatka (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 8:22am

Maybe someone can check my work: According to FOA 2010, they think New Orleans benefited from an unsustainable burst of good luck in turnovers, and their defense isn't going to be as good this year.

At the same time, Atlanta has upgraded their defense quite a bit, and various linemen and defenders from the 2008 draft will have matured enough to start contributing at their potential. (This is better news for ATL than for NO because their 2008 was maybe the best single draft in recorded history, though we don't know how drafts worked before the Phoenicians.) They've had great drafts over the last two years as well, adding to their depth, and less personnel turnover than NO, leading to young players who're more familiar and comfortable with their system.

by HtownHacker (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 8:33am

Ok, I'm new here, but a system that goes 5-16 in situations where it has a significant disagreement with the general consensus seems to be severely lacking.

Granted, the sample size is small, so I'm curious as to what studies have been done on previous seasons with regards to the system's accuracy. Plenty of systems can throw some numbers out there, but if there's no verifiable relevance to them...

by HtownHacker (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 8:56am

How does the mean squared error of previous seasons' win projections compare to projecting all teams to finish 8-8? Quickly eyeballing the 2007 projections makes me wonder....

by pazz (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 11:18am

i like the tampa 2 when you have speed on D. I just dont see where the speed is anymore. Also i am terrified of Pepp playing like he just got paid.

by jw124164 :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:37pm

Seriously - what's the data that supports Pittsburgh having the #2 offense? A mediocre O-line, missing their QB for 1/4 of the season, iffy WR's - where's the logic?

by kamchatka (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 8:27am

Of all the projections I've read this year, the ones for Pittsburgh seem the most nonsensical.

They cut off their Holmes to spite their face. Nevermind their quarterback play, Hines Ward isn't going to be able to block (or catch) like that for long. Rashard Mendenhall will break itself the next time he shares a field with Ray Lewis, just to save Lewis time and effort, and Redman is completely untested. And as much as I love Troy Polamalu for all kinds of reasons, his recent injury history is becoming less of a history and more of a pattern. I don't see how the Steelers post a winning record. I can't remember how heavily these projections weight depth, but Pittsburgh is more like a kiddie pool than a football team.

by kamchatka (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 8:28am

*by which I mean Rashard Mendenhall's collarbone. Oy.

by pazz (not verified) :: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 10:20pm

i can get behind WASH as the what!! pick because of the QB and coach but no way does KC make the playoffs. Haley seems like too much of a douche. You dont play mind games with grown ass men like he does. they will toe the company line cause it's their livelihood but no one is gonna go to war for a guy like that.

by Jonathan Frank (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 1:29pm

I have to say that my knee-jerk reaction to the DVOA rankings - as someone completely new to FO as of last night - is to think Lions all the way at the bottom again is a little unrealistic. Gun-to-the-head ranking I'd have put us (yep, Detroit fan here) ahead of Cleveland, Oakland, and St. Louis, about on par with Buffalo and Tampa Bay. I also would have expected SF to be higher.

Secondly: how much (if at all) does DVOA account for coaching? For example, I'm expect CHI offense to be stellar in points-scored this year on account of Martz... assuming Cutler doesn't get killed by week five. On the other hand, they may show even more turn-overs, which should be (if I understand DVOA correctly) at least somewhat offsetting to their overall rank. But what I'm getting at is that I think this coaching change will make a major difference that - as far as I can tell - DVOA not only doesn't, but probably can't, account for.

Next project: DVOA for coaches? (Probably impossible.)

by Shattenjager :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 2:08pm

The projection system does account for scheme/coaching.

Also, just so you aren't confused--DVOA is actually FO's main measurement statistic and the win projection system is separate. The projection system uses, according to Football Outsiders Almanac 2010, "the previous two years of DVOA in various situations, improvement in the second half of 2009, recent draft history, coaching experience, injury history, specific coaching styles, and the combined tenure of the offensive line" to predict teams' DVOA, then they simulate the NFL season 10,000 times based on those numbers.

FOA describes the system in a fair amount of detail and reading through the team chapters can give you a view of what it does or does not account for. They also just ran a series of articles on the site called "FO Basics" that a newcomer would probably find helpful.

Also, if you want to feel better about the Lions, read the staff predictions article: http://footballoutsiders.com/ramblings/2010/2010-staff-predictions

by Anonymous6789 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 10:45pm

Did someone bother to point out that the dvoa preseason projections last year got creamed by the vegas Regular season win lines. If anyone wants to explain why FOs projection system is pretty meh, just run it versus betting lines as that is a fair test of any projection system.

by Jonadan :: Sat, 09/11/2010 - 1:05am

They didn't say so in those terms exactly, but FO staff have definitely let us know that they know the 2009 predictions didn't work out so well.

by Jeff Fogle :: Sat, 09/11/2010 - 11:42am

Post 164 in this thread made that point...

by jgrenci@zoomint... :: Sat, 09/11/2010 - 11:51am

I saw quite a few comments about pittsburghs offense, but what about their defense?
I don't know, does FO do ALL of their homework? Maybe they are great in sophisticated regression analysis, but quite simply, they have the 9th ranked defensive DVOA last year, and presumably have aaron smith and troy polomalu all year.

to look at their defense, the DL and linebackers will be among leagues best, and I think their secondary is at least average. their DL is getting a little old, but hampton made pro bowl last year.

sure, FO is not going to give away their secret sauce, but I am beginning to wonder (especially when they go 5-16 against the market last year as mentioned in an earlier thread, costing me money too) if that sauce is anything special.....

by cfn_ms :: Mon, 09/13/2010 - 1:04am

Whatever else happens, I think after week one that the followings unders:

SF Under 9
Dal Under 10
Cin Under 8.5

were GREAT picks. So thanks for those! Looking good so far!

by tuluse :: Mon, 09/13/2010 - 1:06am

Can anyone explain to me why Dallas threw so infrequently to Miles Austin on the last drive?

Don't tell me because he wasn't open because neither was Dez Bryant on most of those throws.

by glkatz81 :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 7:26pm

Hi guys. New to the site - love it. Book was best purchase I made in a long time (and Kubiak has me off to a good start in fantasy football for first time in forever). So last week I took the mean wins figure, did some tweaking, and ended up doing pretty well against the spread. I was wondering if the mean wins figure is something that is updated weekly / distributed by FO. Thanks for opening the eyes of someone who thought they understood football to what is really going on in this great game.