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19 Oct 2010

Week 6 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Hey kids! I'm on the Amtrak Acela right now, winging my way to New York City for a meeting of ESPN the Magazine contributors. We're about 10 minutes from Penn Station, which means that there isn't enough time to get all the different team and player stats pages updated. In fact, there really isn't enough time to write a nice, long commentary on this week's DVOA ratings and where teams stand after six weeks. Nonetheless, I know you, the readers, demand that you get your DVOA ratings hot off the presses! So here are this week's two main tables for the purposes of fun and discussion.

As far as commentary, I feel like I should just tell everybody to read today's Varsity Numbers and just substitute the names of NFL teams for college teams. In this parity-filled season, every team seems to have some sort of weakness. Every team in the NFC already has two losses. Maybe the one team that doesn't seem to have a weakness right now is Pittsburgh (now with a real live quarterback!) and the Steelers do move into the top spot in DVOA this week. Fans may be a bit surprised to see the Giants moving into the second spot, but the Giants defense has been outstanding this season. That's remarkable considering the way that defense completely crumbled at the end of last season. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, of course, managed to put together the third-rated DVOA pass defense in Buffalo last year, and without Fewell, the Bills are dead last in defensive DVOA. Time to consider Fewell for some head coaching gigs?

Oddly, despite the parity, the top 11 teams in DVOA all have winning records, and San Diego is the only team in the top half of the ratings with a losing record.

I have no idea when I'll be able to get all the stats pages updated, it will be sometime today or tonight at the latest. However, FO Premium is already updated through Week 6, so Premium subscribers can see the splits and all the separate tables. We haven't had a chance to run playoff odds yet, but I'll also let everybody know when those go up. Until then, enjoy these numbers.

(Note: Stats pages and playoff odds are updated as of midnight Eastern, Wednesday October 20.)

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through six weeks of 2010, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

Opponent adjustments are currently at 60 percent strength and will steadily grow stronger until Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 19 percent of DAVE for teams that have played six games and 27 percent of DAVE for teams that have played five games.

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

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

1 PIT 32.6% 4 31.0% 1 4-1 7.7% 14 -21.1% 3 3.8% 8
2 NYG 30.0% 5 26.5% 3 4-2 11.6% 11 -24.5% 1 -6.1% 30
3 NE 29.0% 1 27.1% 2 4-1 35.7% 1 14.3% 27 7.6% 4
4 TEN 27.6% 8 21.6% 5 4-2 2.9% 18 -21.2% 2 3.5% 9
5 NYJ 23.3% 3 21.0% 6 5-1 16.4% 6 -0.6% 15 6.3% 6
6 PHI 23.3% 10 21.8% 4 4-2 26.1% 4 -1.1% 14 -4.0% 26
7 KC 20.2% 2 14.6% 9 3-2 11.6% 10 -3.1% 12 5.4% 7
8 IND 14.3% 11 15.4% 8 4-2 26.6% 3 6.8% 21 -5.6% 28
9 NO 13.4% 14 12.7% 11 4-2 14.1% 8 -0.3% 17 -1.1% 17
10 ATL 13.2% 6 13.9% 10 4-2 9.7% 13 -5.0% 8 -1.5% 19
11 BAL 11.5% 12 15.6% 7 4-2 7.2% 15 -2.9% 13 1.5% 12
12 GB 11.3% 7 11.6% 12 3-3 14.6% 7 -3.5% 10 -6.7% 31
13 SD 10.6% 9 7.5% 13 2-4 17.4% 5 -12.5% 4 -19.3% 32
14 SEA 9.9% 13 5.4% 14 3-2 -4.3% 23 -3.7% 9 10.6% 1
15 HOU 0.7% 20 -3.1% 20 4-2 30.9% 2 28.5% 31 -1.7% 20
16 MIA -1.4% 22 2.3% 15 3-2 4.8% 17 1.6% 18 -4.7% 27
17 DAL -2.7% 15 -1.2% 18 1-4 13.1% 9 10.1% 24 -5.7% 29
18 CIN -2.8% 16 -2.8% 19 2-3 -3.1% 19 -0.3% 16 0.0% 16
19 WAS -4.2% 19 -0.9% 17 3-3 5.7% 16 10.0% 23 0.1% 15
20 DET -4.6% 18 -9.9% 23 1-5 -4.1% 22 7.8% 22 7.3% 5
21 MIN -5.6% 21 -0.1% 16 2-3 -17.1% 27 -9.1% 6 2.4% 10
22 DEN -7.5% 25 -7.2% 22 2-4 11.6% 12 15.5% 28 -3.5% 25
23 SF -8.2% 27 -10.1% 24 1-5 -13.1% 26 -6.8% 7 -1.9% 21
24 CHI -11.5% 24 -7.0% 21 4-2 -23.3% 30 -3.3% 11 8.6% 2
25 CLE -13.6% 23 -15.1% 25 1-5 -3.5% 20 10.9% 26 0.8% 13
26 TB -16.3% 17 -15.6% 26 3-2 -7.4% 24 6.8% 20 -2.1% 22
27 JAC -20.7% 26 -19.0% 27 3-3 -4.0% 21 24.3% 30 7.6% 3
28 STL -24.2% 28 -23.6% 28 3-3 -18.1% 28 2.6% 19 -3.5% 24
29 BUF -38.8% 30 -31.2% 29 0-5 -11.0% 25 30.1% 32 2.3% 11
30 OAK -39.5% 29 -37.8% 32 2-4 -20.8% 29 17.3% 29 -1.3% 18
31 CAR -42.3% 31 -32.9% 30 0-5 -49.1% 32 -10.0% 5 -3.2% 23
32 ARI -49.0% 32 -37.2% 31 3-2 -39.1% 31 10.2% 25 0.2% 14
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).

1 PIT 32.6% 4-1 31.6% 4.4 4 4.5% 8 -5.8% 24 10.8% 15
2 NYG 30.0% 4-2 26.9% 4.5 2 -2.6% 24 2.8% 12 26.4% 28
3 NE 29.0% 4-1 30.4% 4.3 5 -1.6% 20 1.5% 15 10.6% 14
4 TEN 27.6% 4-2 30.7% 4.5 3 -1.3% 19 5.8% 7 12.6% 17
5 NYJ 23.3% 5-1 32.0% 4.2 6 -2.1% 21 0.1% 18 4.9% 6
6 PHI 23.3% 4-2 31.4% 4.5 1 -2.2% 22 7.6% 3 8.2% 10
7 KC 20.2% 3-2 17.9% 4.0 7 0.7% 16 -16.2% 31 13.3% 18
8 IND 14.3% 4-2 14.0% 3.8 9 3.1% 12 5.3% 9 14.1% 19
9 NO 13.4% 4-2 14.6% 3.7 11 -18.0% 32 -3.5% 22 5.8% 8
10 ATL 13.2% 4-2 9.9% 3.6 12 -0.3% 18 -9.8% 28 14.4% 20
11 BAL 11.5% 4-2 7.9% 3.8 8 10.2% 2 -5.5% 23 4.4% 5
12 GB 11.3% 3-3 16.4% 3.8 10 -6.2% 26 5.7% 8 10.5% 13
13 SD 10.6% 2-4 16.9% 3.3 14 -17.2% 31 2.6% 14 24.1% 27
14 SEA 9.9% 3-2 8.9% 3.6 13 -8.2% 29 -13.8% 30 17.5% 22
15 HOU 0.7% 4-2 1.1% 2.9 16 3.0% 13 8.9% 1 21.1% 25
16 MIA -1.4% 3-2 1.9% 3.2 15 3.8% 10 1.2% 16 15.0% 21
17 DAL -2.7% 1-4 -6.0% 2.7 21 1.4% 15 6.1% 6 17.6% 23
18 CIN -2.8% 2-3 1.4% 2.7 22 -6.3% 27 8.9% 2 8.2% 9
19 WAS -4.2% 3-3 -4.8% 2.7 20 3.8% 11 4.9% 10 4.3% 4
20 DET -4.6% 1-5 -6.4% 2.6 23 3.9% 9 -1.7% 21 9.6% 11
21 MIN -5.6% 2-3 -12.3% 2.8 19 5.6% 6 -1.3% 19 3.9% 2
22 DEN -7.5% 2-4 -6.6% 2.5 25 11.0% 1 -9.8% 29 4.0% 3
23 SF -8.2% 1-5 -15.3% 2.9 17 6.7% 5 -18.1% 32 30.0% 31
24 CHI -11.5% 4-2 -7.2% 2.2 27 0.3% 17 2.7% 13 30.0% 30
25 CLE -13.6% 1-5 -12.2% 2.4 26 9.7% 3 0.4% 17 1.9% 1
26 TB -16.3% 3-2 -15.2% 2.8 18 -2.5% 23 -6.5% 25 23.7% 26
27 JAC -20.7% 3-3 -25.9% 2.5 24 4.9% 7 3.4% 11 27.8% 29
28 STL -24.2% 3-3 -14.2% 2.0 28 -12.8% 30 -7.5% 27 18.1% 24
29 BUF -38.8% 0-5 -37.8% 0.8 32 8.3% 4 7.0% 5 5.6% 7
30 OAK -39.5% 2-4 -28.6% 1.2 30 -7.1% 28 7.1% 4 11.8% 16
31 CAR -42.3% 0-5 -42.9% 0.8 31 2.5% 14 -1.6% 20 10.4% 12
32 ARI -49.0% 3-2 -44.6% 1.2 29 -5.3% 25 -6.8% 26 33.2% 32

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 19 Oct 2010

247 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2010, 7:08pm by Semigruntled Eagles fan


by EStreet :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 12:54pm

What is the record for combined 'good offense, bad defense' rating? Houston being +30.9% on offense and +28.5% on defense is pretty lopsided between D and O, but I'm sure there have been worse. Just curious.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:03pm

Without looking it up, I will guess that the top 5 has to include the Chiefs team from ... I don't know, 2003? coached by Vermeil, QB'ed by Trent Green, that lost to the Colts in the playoffs in a game which had something like 1 punt.

EDIT: I was wrong, that Chiefs team was 32.2% on offense, but only 7.5% on defense. I was also wrong in that the game featured ZERO punts, not one.

Here are all the teams I could find that had offensive and defensive DVOA over 10%, ordered by the lower of the two ratings. This year's Houston team would indeed be the most extreme ever, if their ratings stay the same for the rest of the year.

2010 HOU 30.9 / 28.5
2008 DEN 24.0 / 24.7
2004 MIN 18.4 / 23.0
2004 KC 32.9 / 17.1
2004 GB 18.3 / 16.4
2002 KC 38.0 / 15.1
2008 HOU 11.0 / 17.9
1997 CIN 14.6 / 14.2
2000 SF 17.8 / 14.4
2010 NE 35.7 / 14.3
2000 STL 25.9 / 13.5
1996 BAL 17.7 / 13.5
2010 DEN 11.6 / 15.5
1995 DEN 19.6 / 11.0
2008 NO 21.1 / 10.7
2008 ATL 12.9 / 10.6
2008 JAC 12.6 / 10.2
2010 DAL 13.1 / 10.1

by EStreet :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:07pm

Sweet. Thanks for posting that. I guess Houston is the lopsided champ for now.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:26pm

I was surprised Indy never made this list so I looked it up. The only 2 years over 10% on D in the Manning era were 1998 and 2001, which were also the 2 worst years on offense of the Manning era.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 8:45am

do this through week 6 each year, and I bet a few teams top Houston.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 10/23/2010 - 5:05pm

You may well be right, and of course some regression to the mean should be expected. On the other hand, the causative factors kind of suggest we should expect the split to get even more extreme: the offense has played 4 out of 6 games to daye with its starting left tackle suspended, has had the best receiver in football significantly limited by injury from Week 2 onwards, has had a pro bowl tight end gradually working his way back from injury, and has lost its talented, dangerous WR3-deep threat for several games. All of these guys should be pretty much full go after the bye, which means teams will not be able to emulate the Giants' game plan of crowding the box to stop the run, frequently fielding extra defensive linemen, and simply relying on the pass rush to get to Schaub before the Texans' banged-up receivers could get open deep. The defense, on the other hand, has just lost one of its few really excellent players to IR. The injury situations, past and present, suggest that if anything, the offense ought to get better and the defense, to the extent such a thing is possible, even worse.

I expect regression to win out, of course. But I really wouldn't be too surprised if this team is still at or very near the top of that list come season's end.

by Tofino :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 5:02pm

Cincinnati from about 4 years ago has to be in this conversation. I recall a ton of 38-35 type games.

edit: Woops, somehow missed the giant wall o' rankings.

by milo :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:14pm

How do the NYG get a D bump in VOA with the 24th ranked schedule. Shouldn't they get a hit, like the 4 teams behind them with the the 19-22 ranked schedule? Shouldn't NO get a bigger D hit to VOA with the 32nd ranked schedule than teams with harder schedules? How does SEA get a D bump with the 29th ranked schedule? Shouldn't that be a hit?

What exactly does the D in DVOA mean again?

Does it mean that teams that do well in DVOA vs VOA employ more frequen successful plays by down and distance vs. teams that employ fewer successful plays but get a larger proportion of big plays?

Because if that's the case, maybe you should rearrange the tables to put the adjustment from VOA to DVOA in the first table - away from the strength of schedule in the second. It's just confusing things (for me, at least).

by apk3000 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:47pm

Maybe because even though they're playing overall lower ranked teams, they're playing good defenses?

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:24pm

Kind of a stretch. Here's the DVOA rankings of the defenses they've played:

CAR - 5th
IND - 21st
TEN - 2nd
CHI - 11th
HOU - 31st
DET - 22nd

Mean defensive DVOA of Giants opponents: +1.72, which would rank 19th among NFL teams.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:38pm

This comes up very single week. More things go into DVOA than just opponent adjustments. There are also some fumble adjustments or something. I don't remember what specifically.

by mr. miyagi (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:15pm

it is remarkable how the bottom five in ST DVOA is a who's who of teams whose record should really be better. I know this is usually the case, but it is pretty stark so far this year...

by Chase (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:20pm

Looking forward to the TEN-PHI game next week (otherwise known as the quasi-backup QB bowl)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:32pm

Anybody who says they have useful insight as to who will win the NFC oughta' be makin' their omelettes with more conventional mushrooms. And fire their 300 pound Samoan attorney.

I'd say the snapshot of the Vikings is a fairly good representation; good on defense, above average special teams, bad on offense. The reason for optimism is that blitz pick-up is something that can improve significantly over the course of a half season, the receiving corps has obviously improved in the last 10 days and is scheduled to make further significant strides, and the schedule is getting much easier after week 8. The reason for pessimism is that their qb production has a high risk of collapsing at any point, for a variety of reasons, they can't afford another injury to a cornerback, and their offensive line in general has been substandard, I think mostly due to poor play at the center position.

I haven't watched Dallas a lot this year, and I probably am being influenced too much by their game against the Vikings, but their defensive rank seems low, and their offensive rank seems high.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:19pm


Very apt. You know, of course, that Hunter S Thompson was a big NFL fan (well, gambling on the NFL, which probably led to an actual appreciation of the game). In one of his books he mentioned a campaign flight with Nixon during which they talked football for a couple hours. What I'd pay to have seen that!

by billsfan :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:56pm

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. IIRC, it was in the back of a limo (possibly in NH), and HST was only allowed there because he agreed to talk about nothing but football.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:40pm

At some obscure level, I think Hunter appreciated Nixon, principally because ol' Milhous was incapable of completely hiding his essential mendacity. This likely prompted Thompson's observation, after seeing the '76 Democratic Convention, of, iirc, "When you get to know Carter, you're gonna love Nixon!"

by billsfan :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:52am

Not to get wildly off-topic, or violate the "no politics rule" (after all, it's history, not politics), but Nixon continues to be severely underrated.

His biggest negative, exposing the public to the fact that (surprise!) all politicians are power-hungry crooks and liars, should really be considered a huge positive. Despite being a Republican, his progressive credentials are impeccable, e.g. the EPA, OSHA, Clean Air Act, etc. Did more for the environment than any of his successors. Pulled the US out of an unpopular war with an ill-defined goal halfway around the world.

(I also like the Eagles)

by RowdyRoddyPiper :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:41pm

HST actually started out in sports journalism. Always had a great appreciation for the NFL and not just from a gambling angle. In fact his suicide note was titled Football Season is Over. According to his biographer, he always considered the Super Bowl the high water mark for the year.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:54pm

Thanks, all. Never a dull moment around here. Especially with the giant lizards climbing up the walls....

by Wanker79 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:33pm

It looks like all the parity this year is because nobody can put together a good offense with a good defense. I guess you can count the Giants at 11th and 1st, but after them you have to go all the way down to the Packers and Chargers before you hit someone with a top 10 offense and defense. And those three teams are the three worst special teams in the league.

Former Eagles Fan. Go JETS!

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:48pm

I would argue that perhaps PIT has put together Good O, Good D, and S.T. This week, they're OFF DVOA is in the postive side of the average range, whereas last week it was just on the other side of the negative - they've swung 10 percentage points from last week. I suspect the first four games are going to cause DVOA to underestimate PIT's offense for a while.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 6:24am

About that parity - note how many AFC teams are in the top half, and how many NFC teams are not.

6 NFC teams in the top 16 by DVOA. There may not be any real stand-out individual teams, but at this rate the Pro Bowl will be a massive snoozer.

Or...even more of a snoozer than it usually is.

by Paddypat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:35pm

I'm a little confused by the NE defensive ranking this week. As a thoughtful observer, I have the sense that the NE defense is increasingly showing signs of improvement. It's not consistent, but one would imagine some evidence of trending improvement in the numbers. If NE goes out and actually has an impressive defensive showing in the next few weeks, and then proceeds to build on its improvement, I have the sense that DVOA will be quite slow to track the turnaround. I wonder if this is a more general problem, that DVOA fails to distinguish between teams that are simply weak and perhaps even trending down, such as say Jacksonville in the secondary, and teams that are showing on-field evidence of improvement but still have a ways to go. It seems to me that the positive evidence from the Patriots is how they are periodically able to string together multiple series of strong defensive play, as opposed to a more distributed performance in line with the overall stats that they have been producing.

by Guy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:35pm

Pat's defense dropped by 1% from 13.3% to 14.3% and stayed at the same ranking.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:45pm

The problem right now is that the NE defense goes long stretches of the game doing the worst thing imaginable, i.e. allowing opponents to convert 3rd and long. How many times did the Ravens do that on Sunday?

In many ways, the Patriots defense is already pretty good. But they're not getting credit for putting the opponent in 3rd and long when they turn around and cough of the big gainer to allow a 1st down.

At least, that's my read on the situation.

by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:05am

Right, but hasn't it been shown that 3rd down DVOA being significantly different from other-down DVOA tends to regress to that other-down number?

by Eddo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:23am

I thought that phenomenon was a year-to-year thing, and that you wouldn't necessarily expect it to correct itself within a season.

by CaffeineMan :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:42pm

Pretty much what RickD said and I'll add the following: The Ravens are a middle-of-the-pack offense according to DVOA. It looked to me like the Ravens walked all over them all game long, until the last five drives, which went punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.

My subjective opinion is that the Pats D has improved from "Getting beaten like a rented mule and needing the offense to win a shootout" to "Getting beaten like a rented mule most of the game but making just enough plays to pull it out". That difference isn't quantifiable, nor, statistically, can you use it to demonstrate an improvement trend.

I find that last game hugely encouraging, however. They're just going to have to improve by a lot more before DVOA notices it. Baby steps. They just might have an average D (in Weighted DVOA) by the end of the year...

by countertorque :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:13pm

DVOA does not track trends. It weights each play of the season compared to the average for that down/distance/etc. It does not care whether the play occurred in week 1, week 6, or week 17. If you add more above average plays than below in a certain week, that will make DVOA go up that week.

Weighted DVOA, which will show up later in the season tracks a teams trend, by discounting plays from earlier games.

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:46pm

I just dont get DVOA. As a Steelers fan, I was more impressed with their victories over Tennessee and Atlanta. Those wins werent enough to get them into first place, but beating up on a hapless Cleveland team was?

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:55pm

You are reading too much into rankings. This most recent game bumped Pitt up from ~25 to ~32 (which seems reasonable considering how well they played) while the three teams ahead of them in week 5 all had lowered their DVOA.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:15pm

Rankings just don't matter for DVOA, even if we've been trained to look at stats that way our whole lives. I just kind of group them in tiers and call it a day. DVOA doesn't really think there's much measurable difference between PIT's and TEN's defense, but they have to put one as #1 and one as #2 even though that ordering doesn't mean anything.

Also, don't forget that early season numbers are just wonky. If/when they get recalibrated at the end of the year with proper "D" values, they'll probably look better.

by Pass to Set Up ... :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:49pm

I think this might be a Guts vs. Stomps thing. Apparently Football Outsiders give significant weight to large margin victories over bad teams, as opposed to closer victories over decent/good teams.

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:21pm

Actually, it is not a Guts vs. Stomps thing. DVOA is based strictly on performance on a play-by-play basis, not a game-by-game basis.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:41pm

I didn't know that DVOA factored in margin of victory

by Mystyc :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:56pm

It doesn't. In fact, it doesn't factor in victory at all. But it does factor in every scoring play a team makes (and allows) in each game. "Stomps" happen to include a lot more of those than "Guts," and DVOA doles out appropriate credit.

by V (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:04pm

That was a great article. Hey Aaron, how about an update? I have been wondering if the Stomps are better phenomenon may be related to team health. Teams that win easily may be more willing to let guys rest a bit more, and may be a little less desperate for that play on the very edge.

I also wonder if strong teams in crappy divisions or with particularly weak schedules come out ahead vs teams that had to beat a lot of tough opponents. This kinda seems to be the implication of the Stomps, but not quite.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:13pm

DVOA will basically rate close wins (and losses, for that matter) as draws.* Teams don't get extra credit for "knowing how to win." Suppose that long run Pittsburgh had to beat the Falcons in overtime had instead been a pick-six for Atlanta; PIT's DVOA for that game would be hardly any different, because that wouldn't change anything about the prior 120-ish plays. Convincing wins over bad teams are usually more impressive than close wins against good teams -- especially this year, when no teams are really that good.

* As another commenter noted, DVOA really doesn't consider whether a team wins, loses, or draws in a given game. It judges every play by the circumstances of the game at that time, regardless of what the final result is. It's just faster to say "DVOA rates close wins as draws" than to say "the total value of every play in a close win will be very similar to the total value of a close loss or draw, all else being equal."

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:40pm

I see, but I'm not sure if I totally agree. Yes, the Steelers beat up on the Browns but they were supposed to.

I guess what I am saying is that the immeasurables (like gutting out 3 wins with your 3rd and 4th string QB's against pretty good teams) means more to me than whooping a perenial loser.

Stats are fun to play with, but I dont think anything can really beat the eyeball test.

by ammek :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:02pm

So, did you watch every play of all 14 games last weekend, then?

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:39pm

And can your eyeball test results be broken down into offense and defense, down, distance, game situation, passing vs. rushing, etc., to tell us not just who will win, but why they will win?

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:43pm

I'll tell you this much: Mark Sanchez passes my eyeball test!

He's dreamy is what I am saying.

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:25am

Well, not exactly....but I would hazard a guess that somewhat knowledgable football fan could pick the winner of a game just as reliably as DVOA. Is that what DVOA is for? You are saying that the team with a higher DVOA should beat a team with lower DVOA every time...has that ever been tested? What is DVOA's win% per se?

by countertorque :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:18pm

No. The team with the higher DVOA is more likely to win. If there's a big delta in DVOA, the win is more likely. If there's a small delta, it's a crap shoot. Nothing can predict the actual winner every time. There's too much luck.

by Some_FF-Player_in_nawlins (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 2:55pm

At DVOA's core, it's a useful tool for comparing different aspects of teams to find out which one is better at certain things than others. Saying that a Team ranked 3rd in DVOA will beat a team ranked 7th in DVOA 90% of the time is a real stretch though because those rankings don't tell you much. Their could be a group of teams with very close DVOA scores from 3rd to 7th and have a very small statistical difference between them, but the rankings will make it seem that they are quite far apart.

Another issue with using the ranking to compare teams is that it doesn't take into account their individual strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a team has a strong positive offense DVOA and it plays a strong positive defense dvoa, the expectations is that the offense of that team with the high offense DVOA will succeed at making positive plays very often throughout the game. However, items like special teams and the relative ranks of the the other offense and defense in the stadium can also impact the outcome of the game. This means that DVOA rankings can not be used as a reliable predictor of future onfield performance for an entire team.

What it does mean, though, is that when you compare offense to defense, it IS reliable (to as reasonable statistical degree, the game of football does include the possibility of luck influencing the outcome of games, not limited to fumble bounces, officiating, weather favoring one team over another, time and location of games, etc) in predicting wether one will be successful against the other.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:31pm

"What it does mean, though, is that when you compare offense to defense, it IS reliable (to as reasonable statistical degree, the game of football does include the possibility of luck influencing the outcome of games, not limited to fumble bounces, officiating, weather favoring one team over another, time and location of games, etc) in predicting wether one will be successful against the other."

Is there any evidence, other than intuitive and anecdotal to support this. I mean, ideally this is what we assume when we look at DVOA, but is there support for this. To be able to demonstrate this, would be a huge plus for FO, but I don't recall this ever being posited or tested. Additionally, this is where the discussion of heterogeneity of variance and different means last week comes into play. Since the the scales of measurement may differ, at certain points it may not be possible to determine whether a teams OFF is greater than the oppositions DEF.

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:22am

Of course not. Why dont you read what I wrote before making comments.

I was saying that in Pittsburgh's games (which yes smartass I watched them all), I found their wins over Atlanta and Tennessee to be more impressive than their win over Cleveland. Yet here the Cleveland win seems to be weighed more heavily because they blew them out.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:47am

PIT's offensive DVOA improved markedly from week 5(4) to 6. DEF DVOA fell off slightly over the same time period. The ATL and TEN wins were impressive from a defensive perspective. The offense, not so much. The defense did not look as dominant against CLE. The marked improvement in the offense (AEB by the blowout) is indeed the key to the move.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:00pm

Well, the idea behind this site is to design and test stats to assist your eyeballs, so that a) when you see something you believe, but can't understand, they can help, and b) when you see something you don't believe, you can check to see if there's something you're missing. The stats here aren't trying to replace what you see; they're simply here to help tell the story.

Unfortunately, if what you want is purely subjective in nature, there isn't going to be much here that will please you.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:05pm

I guess what I am saying is that the immeasurables (like gutting out 3 wins with your 3rd and 4th string QB's against pretty good teams) means more to me than whooping a perenial loser.

According to our research (available right here!), blowout wins over bad teams are better indicators of playoff success than close wins over good teams.

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:18am

Does that article really show any kind of statistical meaning?

Couldnt that just as easily mean that if you play a bunch of shitty teams during the year that maybe you are better rested than a team that had to claw their way to victory against a tougher schedule?

Couldnt it also mean that since you got to play against such shitty teams that you end up with a better record and a higher seed in the playoffs (i.e. home field)?

It in no way proves that a team who beats a 1-15 team by 30 points is any better than a team who beats a 12-4 team by 3.

That article is silly.

by crack (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:37am

Welcome to Football Outsiders!

by Theo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:47am

"According to our research (available right here!), blowout wins over bad teams are better indicators of playoff success than close wins over good teams."
There's no word chinese in there.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:52am

Sounds to me like you're confusing a good game (fun to watch, exciting, etc.) with a game that's significant in a statistical sense.

by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:29am

Not to mention confusing "one game" and "statistically signficant."

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:45am

Some games are more predictive than other games. That's what the Guts vs. Stomps article is all about.

by SamWyatt (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:17pm

Yes, it shows that there is a greater statistical correlation to playoff success for killing opponents than there is to merely squeaking by.

No, it could not just as easily mean that you are rested more, because the article covers a variety of teams. Unless you are positing that each and every one of those teams played a 'cake' schedule, which is unlikely.

I believe, and others can correct me if I am mistaken, that home field advantage is minimal in at least the first round of the playoffs.

Nothing on this blog really proves anything. And any sports blog that actually 'proves' something is likely fraudulent.

Vehemently sticking to your convictions in the face of contrary statistical evidence is silly.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:39pm

The article does not show a correlation, it only implies one.

It would seem that in order to accumulate a larger number of stomps, one must play a larger number of cake opponents. In order to be a stomp, the opponent had to finish below .500 for the season.

Being better rested may not be the relevant factor, but getting to play a larger number of shitty teams certainly could be relevant, and while home field may not matter in the first round, getting a by may matter.

I think the important take home from the article is that Guts wins are not a particularly good indicator due to the potential role of luck in the game (i.e. the game turning on one or two plays). Morevoer, it is this phenomena that makes the playoffs a wide open race to the finish.

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:21pm

And just as importantly, correlation does not equal causation.

It also showed that blowing out GOOD teams isnt as important as blowing out BAD teams.

"It would seem that in order to accumulate a larger number of stomps, one must play a larger number of cake opponents."

And that would increase the chance of a good record, which would increase the chance of a bye, which would increase the chances of getting to the Conference Championship game (since you would only have to win one playoff game to do so).

All the article really says is that if a team wins the games it should, it will have a better chance to go deep in the playoffs. Hardly ground-breaking analysis.

by Eddo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 2:13pm

"It also showed that blowing out GOOD teams isnt as important as blowing out BAD teams."

No, for a few reasons:

1. It didn't show anything was more "important", just predictive.

2. It showed that blowouts were more predictive than close wins. Since there are so few blowouts of good teams, there wasn't a large enough sample to show anything definitive about those games. The article definitely implies that blowing out good teams (DOMINATES) would be more predictive than blowing out bad teams (STOMPS).

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:32pm

It did not demonstrate any predictive ability, it demonstrated an association between two apparently related variables.

by DaveRichters :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 12:14pm

1. It didn't show anything was more "important", just predictive.

It didn't show that at all. In fact, the opposite may be true. The article doesn't really examine the issue. It could be that either GUTS or STOMPS are correlated with advancing in the playoffs. It was a shoddy examination. Statistically flawed. The base rates for Gs and Ss were not mentioned, and the author did not look at Gs and Ss of teams that did not make the championship games. I think FO should hire an actual statistician at some point.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 12:30pm


by Eddo :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 12:41pm

You're actually right, I was moreso critiquing the use of the word important. The Guts vs. Stomps article, on the whole, shows nothing.

The premise behind it sounds good, though there's no proof presented either way.

I agree that FO writers should probably not keep citing Guts vs. Stomps without doing more research first.

by SamWyatt (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:04pm

Yes, I chose my words carefully to not use causation.

I believe that the article would be more persuasive if it showed the statistics for all of the playoff participants. As it is, it is a analysis of only the participants in the last two rounds, and it would be interesting to see more. Since it does not investigate the other participants, any discussion of 'better chances of getting to the Conference Championship game' would not be demonstrative for either side. The appendix goes into a little more, but the records are not as complete as the above statistics.

No, what the article really says is that the conventional wisdom idea of 'finding a way to win against a good opponent' is not as indicative of playoff success as crushing a lesser opponent is.

by SamWyatt (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 3:40pm

Show/Imply-Kinda semantics argument, no?

You are completely right about this, I should not have relied purely upon memory from when I initially read the article.

You are right, it may matter, but it also may not. I thought that since re-districting it was inconclusive, so I did not make an allusion to them.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:56pm

It in no way proves that a team who beats a 1-15 team by 30 points is any better than a team who beats a 12-4 team by 3.

You're right. It shows that beating a 12-4 team by 3 is less predictive than beating a 1-15 team by 30.

Watch any given game with a 1-score differential, and I guarantee you'll be able to identify at least a half-dozen individual plays (dropped interceptions, bad spots, fumble luck, blown assignments) which could have turned the game in the other direction. In a blowout, luck is made largely irrelevant - who cares about a dropped interception on a 28-point bloodbath? It comes down to two things:

1. A 3 point win (or loss) against a 12-4 team mostly indicates the two teams are rougly even, and a rematch could go either way.

2. A 30 point win (or loss) indicates there's a pretty significant difference in the abilities of the two teams.

The problem is that, as fans, we're mostly interested in comparing the relative strengths of two good teams, and what guts & stomps tells us is that beyond a certain level, the good teams can more or less even, and victory is more about a few individual matchups and random bounces of the ball than the inherent superiority of either side.

In other words, the Pats basically playing Baltimore to a tie tells us less about either team than the Pats stomping on Buffalo. The former says the two teams are roughly equal, which is neither definitive nor helpful. The latter says that Buffalo is really bad, which is definitive, but not especially helpful.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:37pm

I think a lot of people are very uncomfortable with how large a role luck plays in any close game, which may just be another manifestation of people being uncomfortable with the role luck plays in our lives in general. The illusion of control is what keeps a good deal of terror at bay. Better to think that you won your wager of the house payment, or lost it, because of your insight, or lack thereof, rather than because the ball bounced right, instead of left and out of bounds.

Personally, I've come to enjoy the game more, as I've come to accept that luck plays a large role in the outcome of any close game.

by spenczar :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:53am

Actually, whooping a perrenial loser means a lot. Think of it this way: Suppose I sit you down and show you the schedule for the 2023 season. You obviously have no idea who is good and who is bad. All teams are pretty much equal.

I then show you the results for a few weeks, and it starts to become clear who is good and who is bad, at least to some extent, but you can't really be sure. Now, one of those good teams plays a bad team. There are several possible results:

Good team loses ---> You now think the good team is only okay, and the bad team might be a little better.

Good team barely wins ---> You are a little hesitant in saying the good team is good, and the bad team might be a little better.

Good team crushes (ie, the expected outcome) --> You are more confident that the good team is good and the bad team is bad.

In other words, when the expected outcome happens, it doesn't mean a lot less. It makes us much more confident, since bad teams very rarely crush other teams. In fact, it's a better indicator, since we can be almost certain that luck was not an influence when one team crushes another. Close wins over good teams are often just coin tosses - a punt return can win the game. Big wins, even over bad teams, mean a lot.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:51pm

I know Aaron has run the simulations tens of thousands of time, but my instinct is to think that the opponent adjustments are not strong enough.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:53pm

I wish there was some commentator with guts to call out Mike Tomlin for his failures as a head coach. Just look at his waste of the talent assembled on this roster!

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:01pm

The Steelers are clearly ranked too high, because Tomlin has kept Hell on the leash, and thus prevented a 19-0 season!!!! Clearly, Ptssburgh rulz, and only Omar Tomlin is preventing them from taking their place among the greates teamz of all-tyme!!!

by billsfan :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:16pm


(I also like the Eagles)

by Kurt :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:19pm


Edit: Dammit I'm slow this week.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 6:32am

If it really took you 3 minutes (2:16 pm vs. 2:19 pm) to type four letters (5, counting the caps lock button)...then yes, you are indeed slow this week.

We'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you had a really long captcha.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 6:37am

He doesn't need to type in a captcha.

by Kurt :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 8:33am

It took me three minutes to read the article and the first 18 or whatever comments. In my defense, I only had to consult a dictionary like six times.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:23pm

We're still trying to figure out if we are supposed to hate our OC for calling too many run plays, or too many pass plays.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:34pm

All template nonsense aside, it's been kind of an interesting week for me to think about (so I can avoid work) how coaches are hired. The University of Minnesota concluded this week that losing to South Dakota and Northern Illinois wasn't acceptable after having spent 300 million on a new stadium, so they fired their coach, a guy whose previous accomplishments had been being able recruit guys at Texas, and being a tight end coach in the NFL. When the process began that resulted in him being hired, the AD at Minnesota had, reasonably enough, called Gopher alumnus Tony Dungy, and asked him who might be a good man for the job. Dungy informed him that he knew of a young coach named Tomlin who was really, really, good, and wouild be interested in head coaching at the college level. Anybody with knowledge of coaching football who had come into contact with Tomlin reported that the guy obviously had the managerial and leadership skill to be good. The brain trust at the University of Minnesota, naturally enough, wouldn't give him an interview, probably because they thought he was too young or something, and instead hired a guy whose principal talent is spewing b.s..

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:40pm

Gah - that sounds frustrating. I don't know college ball, so is that Dungy-referenced Tomlin related to Mike Tomlin? If so, he stinks and I hate him.

Anyway, I think part of the problem with hiring coaches is that it's so hard to judge them - I mean, is Norv Turner one of the worst coaches in the league or a guy who consistently somehow ends up coaching good teams and is probably a good coach? I remember as a kid thinking that Rich Kotite did ok as the Eagles coach and that Buddy Ryan made a giant mess of things, but history sees Kotite as one of the worst coaches in history and Ryan as an above average coach. Hell, even Ray Rhodes seem to do ok for a couple years. But is that just because he inherited Kotite's team?

by RickD :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:47pm

It would be a weird story if it were about "Nate Tomlin," a barfly currently serving drinks in Tijuana.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:55pm

O.K., I see now you were not kidding. I won't get into a debate about Tomlin, but I will ask one thing. How large a sample size will you need, and what winning percentage will you need, before you will concede that a coach doesn't stink?

Norv Turner has a large enough sample size, and a winning percentage that is high enough (or low enough) to conclude that he is likely an average coach, with the caveat that every average coach has their unique strengths and weakenesses. Ray Rhodes got fired fairly quickly by two teams, so I suspect he wasn't very good. Buddy Ryan was pretty much what he appeared to be; a head coach who was far too disinterested in 40 percent of his football team. I think we can look at the transition from Kotite to Parcells with the Jets, and get a good idea of Kotite's rank.

The coaching evaluations that really strike me as nonsensical are the ones where you have a huge sample size, like Schottenheimer's, and an outstanding winning percentage with widely disparate front offices and rosters, and the conclusion that the guy wasn't a great coach, based upon 19 playoff games. Really silly stuff.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:11pm

I misread what you said: I thought that hiring process was happening this week. I didn't realize the scenario was taking place years in the past. I thought there was a strange coincidence to which you were alluding. So, I was joking - that is, I was asking if it were some guy I didn't know and immediately saying I hated him. Not the best joke and based on a misunderstanding.

But I think you're being pretty quick with the Eagles coaches there: Buddy Ryan took his team to the playoffs 3 times in 5 seasons. Kotite had a winning record with the Eagles and took his team to the playoffs 1 time, but went 10-6 one year and missed it (2 of Ryan's playoff teams went 10-6.) Ray Rhodes took the Eagles to the playoffs twice after inheriting the team from Kotite. The standard story is: Ryan was really good at some things, Kotite stinks for all-time and Ray Rhodes is somewhere in the middle. They all had fairly similar results as coaches though. Maybe Kotite is the worst, but not by much. Sure, Andy Reid is better than all of them (and is better than Vermeil by any measure), but how often does a team get an Andy Reid who goes the playoffs 8 times in a decade? Or does it not matter if Rhodes or Kotite or Ryan is the better coach?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:15pm

I need to stop sniffing glue at lunchtime.....

Oh, I think Ryan WAS really good in some ways, and if all we had to work with in regards to Kotite or Rhodes was their tenure with the Eagles, I wouldn't be drawing any strong conclusions about them. I do think drawing fine distinctions among coaches, based upon small sample sizes, with one organization, is a pretty dubious enterprise.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:18pm

Yeah, that's why I find it strange that there are such set-in-stone conventional wisdoms about coaches. Ask just about anybody: Ryan was clearly better than Ray Rhodes, who was clearly better than Rich Kotite, who was clearly one of the worst coaches in history. Well, not based on what I saw...

by RickD :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:42pm

Did you watch Kotite coach the Jets?

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:12pm

Yes - but why does that outweigh 4 years with the Eagles? Fielding a competitive team in a division that fielded 3 different SB champs in 3 years? The results on Kotite's career are mixed at worst...

by Dean :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:17pm

Don't you mean, inheriting a borderline Super Bowl caliber team and running it into the ground?

I'd be curious to see DVOA on those Eagles. I suspect that you'd see that Kotites Eagles got worse every year.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:22pm

Just looking look through the years.

Ryan took a team that hadn't had a winning season in 4 years and built a team that won at least 10 games 3 years running. Kotite look that team and turned it into 7-9.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:45pm

But Ryan coached against slightly weaker NFC East competition. Kotite's 10-6 team couldn't even make the playoffs. And then Ray Rhodes built a team that hadn't won 10 games in 2 years and took it to the playoffs twice? It just seems circular. And more than a little unclear.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:59pm

Look at the point differentials.

Kotite's first 10-6 team was lucky to be that good compared to Ryan's teams. He had one incredible year in 1992, and everything else was average or worse.

If anything, Rhodes is overrated as he only managed one year with positive point differential.

by JSA (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:09pm

But might winning more than the point differential says you should be a sign of good coaching, not bad?

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:14pm

Doubtful, if you were really a good coach, you would be doing well enough not to need 2 minute drills to win.

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:00pm

There are two things going on here.

First, It's not just the overall record, but the trajectory.

In the three years prior to Buddy's arrival in Philly, the Eagles had 5, 6, and 7 wins. With his arrival, they had 5, 7, 10, 11, and 10 wins. Kotite took over and then continued with 10, 11, 7, and 8 wins - not terrible, but one could reasonably conclude he took over a winning team stocked with defensive talent, and made them mediocre. Taking over a bad (4,8, and 6 wins) Jets team the next year, and making it godawful (3, and 1 wins) had all the appearance of a continued, precipitous drop - especially when Parcells followed up the 1-15 season with 9, 12, and 8 wins (the latter with Ray Lucas at the helm).

Second, the thing about Buddy Ryan is that he has really, really obvious strengths and deficiencies. He's been great at spotting, developing, and coaching defensive talent. He's been godawful in... pretty much every other aspect of the game. He is remembered fondly because hardly anyone (including himself) would disagree with those assessments, and so he's given credit for the good parts. He also has an excellent (and deserved) record as a coordinator, dating back to Super Bowl III and the '68 Jets.

Kottite, really didn't have any obvious strengths, so all of the deficiencies during his Jets tenure got laid at his feet, perhaps unfairly, but not undeservedly.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:21pm

So it's Kotite's fault Norman Braman wouldn't pay to keep Reggie White and that Jerome Brown died in a car accident?

by Semigruntled Eagles fan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:16am

I believe Kotite receives blame for his tenure in Philly primarily for two reasons. Firstly, he was supposed to be an offensive-minded coach who would develop an offense to complement the defense he inherited from Buddy Ryan; however, the Eagles offense didn't seem to improve under his tenure, and in two of his four seasons the offense collapsed after Randall Cunningham was lost to injury. Even in the seasons he wasn't injured, Cunningham didn't progress as a pocket-passer QB under Kotite. Whether Cunningham's failure to develop as a QB is more Kotite's fault or his own, Cunningham's season with the 1998 Vikings demonstrated that he could in fact play QB properly, which reflects poorly on Kotite's ability to develop QBs (especially given that both of the seasons when RC went down with injury, poor QB play became a heavy drag on the team's record).

Secondly (and I believe, more importantly), he is remembered as a terrible coach because he led the Eagles, in consecutive seasons, to record-setting (or tying) collapses after good starts:

1993 - The Eagles began the season 4-0, and then lost 6 consecutive games after losing Cunningham to injury (scoring 17 or fewer points in the next nine games). I believe this record (most consecutive losses after a 4-0 start) still stands. The Eagles finished the season 8-8, with a 3 game winning streak - the only three games in which they scored 20 or more points after losing Cunningham. Interestingly, they actually had the 8th best offensive DVOA in 1993, although it was only 1.1%.

1994 - The Eagles began the season 7-2, and then lost the last 7 games, obviously at least tying the worst finish after a 7-2 start. Prior to the slide, he had already made a laughable mistake in game management, going for a 2pt conversion when the Eagles scored a touchdown against Dallas down 24-7, leaving the Eagles down 24-13 instead of 24-14. He blamed this mistake on the heavy rainfall that day, as it caused his 2pt conversion chart to become illegible. This sort of bumbling sticks with a coach's image in Philadelphia, as I'm sure you're aware.

I was certainly too young to consider with any amount of objectivity who was blame during those seasons, and I agree that there's really not much evidence that Ray Rhodes was in any way superior to Kotite as a head coach. However, Rhodes at least has had some solid seasons as a defensive coordinator after his tenure with the Eagles. Kotite's last four seasons in the NFL (i.e. after Buddy's defense had two seasons to regress to the mean): good start collapsed to 8-8 (injury to starting QB), good start collapsed to 7-9, 3-13 (worst in NFL), 1-15 (worst in NFL)- I don't believe he's held any coaching position since.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:02am

Also, after that 7-2 start, Kotite put out not so subtle hints that he wanted a contract extension before dropping those seven games, implying that the team didn't want to play for him. That also was the implication of the final Ray Rhodes team - that his "they're coming to rape your wives" rah-rah speeches weren't getting the team motivated anymore, and he had lost the team. Of course, I always thought his demose was due to the fact that his OC (Dana Bible) wasn't an NFL coach and Bobby Hoying sucked.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:11pm

...stop sniffing glue...

Especially if you are an air traffic controller in the movie Airplane!

by Geo B :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:11pm

@ chemical burn: so what's your issue with Tomlin? Just curious - the Steelers this week seem to be everyone's consensus #1 team. Not much he could have done last year after Troy P. and Aaron Smith went out.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:15pm

Oh, no! I'm joking. I'm good-naturedly lampooning frequent poster FireOmarTomlin!

by Jetspete :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:00pm

Unless i'm wrong, wasnt Mike Tomlin with the Vikings around the time the Gophers hired Brewster? You would figure the Gopher brass knew of him before Dungy's guidance. Also, Brewster was hired on 1/15/07 (per wiki), one week before Tomlin was hired as coach of the Steelers. Tomlin was already being interviewed for other jobs in the NFL when Brester was hired. My guess is that if they did not interview Tomlin, it was because they felt they had no shot at a guy already coveted by the NFL.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:10pm

Tomlin was far from a sure thing, in terms of getting a head coaching job that year, and if you won't even meet with a guy, you reduce your chances to zero.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:26pm

Yup, the story line at the time was that the Rooneys were deciding between Grimm and Whiz, two white guys, and had to bring in a minority candidate to fill the... you guessed it, Rooney rule.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:27pm

Actually, I believe they had already fulfilled the Rooney rule by interviewing Ron Rivera. Grimm and Whiz were the leading candidates as soon as Cowher retired, but somehow Tomlin's interview won him the job.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:02pm

No no no. They concluded that losing to Purdue wasn't acceptable. Credit where credit is due! :)

(I know what you mean ... "we" were just happy not to be the focus of criticism for a week.)

by spenczar :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:40pm

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, of course, managed to put together the third-rated DVOA pass defense in Buffalo last year, and without Fewell, the Bills are dead last in defensive DVOA. Time to consider Fewell for some head coaching gigs?

I know that this will be the common reaction, but it really doesn't make any sense. Being a head coach is a radically different job than being a coordinator. It's an administrative and managerial job more than it's a strategic-thinker one. But every time we see a good coordinator, everyone leaps up and expects that he'll be a great coach, and the next thing you know, Mike Nolan is coaching your team.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:09am

Hey, agreed that there are lots of coordinators that didn't succeed as head coaches, but there've been lots of them that HAVE succeeded too. Jeff Fischer and Bill Belachik come to mind immediately, and I'm guessing a quick google would find a lot more (but I'm too miserable after the Phillies game to bother).

by KL (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:28am

I agree with this.

However, Fewell seemed to run things pretty well with the Bills last year (relatively speaking, of course). He wouldn't have been my first choice for head coach for the Bills last offseason (I liked Frazier) but you could make a worse choice, especially if you decide to essentially ignore candidates that didn't have an offensive background.

by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:40pm

Out of these teams, which of the following does not fit: Steelers, Jets, Chiefs, Ravens?

Each of those teams has a top-half ranking in every category. I really like how well Kansas City rates at this point. They are ranked surprisingly high in every way, and it is good to see them doing them well. Too bad the Lions are some time off from those sort of rankings, but I will be afraid of these teams in The Year We All Shall Perish.

by LetsGoJets (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:08pm

Ratings are spot on, though to me the two best AFC teams look like Tennessee and Pittsburgh (who look like at the end of the year could be one of the greatest teams of the decade) and in the NFC the Giants and....? It would be really cool to see a Jets-Giants Superbowl in the house that Jerry Jones built. I hope that happens. Don't see anybody beating the Steelers though, for the rest of the year (15-1) or in the playoffs. This is coming from a Jets fan too.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:40pm

Really> Best of the decade? I have seen 3 Steelers games this year and am I not blown away. They squeaked out an OT win vs. an Atlanta team that is being wildly over-rated. Maybe the Eagles are a bad match-up for them, but they just looked like super-chumps this weekend. And the Steelers did not exactly blow their doors off. (back-up QB, yeah, yeah) I saw Pittsburgh's loss, which was an ugly loss to a bad team. And the I saw them beat the Browns this weekend, which was not a exactly an impressive victory. Taking down Colt McCoy and Browns team without their best player will no go down in history as an all-time beat-down. Their defense looks good, but who have they played? Nobody worth mentioning. The Titans and Falcons? Give me a break... The Top ranked offense they've played is the Falcons at 13th. And that offense is nothing to write home about. Let me know when they start taking down real offenses...

by RickD :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:46pm

The Ravens are not a "bad team" by any stretch of the imagination.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:59pm

Fair enough that the Ravens aren't bad. How about on the good side of mediocre? And my point isn't that the Steelers are not one of the best teams in the NFL in 2010, but that they are not some juggernaut. They are certainly not even in the conversation so far for best of the decade. Probably not even in the conversation for best 25 teams of the decade. And all the talk about them being a really impressive team seems premature in a season where nobody looks amazing. And their highly-touted strength is their defense... who hasn't beaten anyone ranked higher than 13th in DVOA.

Is that reduced of subjectivity enough?

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:47pm

Best of the decade may be hyperbole, but they are the only top 10 DVOA team whose strength of schedule is a single digit (ie top 10). The ATL team you reference is one of the Top 10 DVOA teams, and the loss to BAL was to the number 11 team.

So I suggest you consider filtering your qualitative assessment through the quantitative filter, or at least use the mad lib.

Alternatively, and I hope this is the case, maybe my sarcasm detector is on the fritz.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:02pm

Again, I am responding directly to someone who called them the best of the decade. They are one of the best teams this year... but they still have a lot to prove, no?

Anyway, just last week in the DVOA commentary thread, we were discussing how useless to FO schedule rankings are and I stand by that - completely unrelated to the Steelers this year...

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:08pm

For instance, do you really think the Steelers (8 in schedule difficultly) have played that much harder of a slate than the Jets (ranked 21.)

Here are their opponents/DVOA rankings:


Looks pretty darn similar, right? And the Jets are ranked 13 spaces lower than Pittsburgh in the schedule rankings. Give me a break...

by K (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:38pm

If you use the actual DVOA numbers rather than the ranks, you find that there is a gaping chasm between #28 and #29 with the Bills on the wrong side of it.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:41pm

So then drop the Bills from the conversation. The Steelers have played one less game, anyway. The schedules look nearly identical in terms of difficultly.

But the Jets having played the Bills means the Jets have faced a schedule 13 slots behind the Steelers? What about that makes sense?

by Mystyc :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:40pm

Once again, look at the numbers, not the ratings. The Steelers' and Jets' schedules are only 6.6% DVOA apart, not 13 "slots." For comparison, Seattle is about the same distance below the Jets as the Steelers are above them, but the 'Hawks are only at 29th, or 8 "slots" down.

And the Bills are currently at -38.8% DVOA. Over 6 games, yes, that makes about an average difference of -6.6%

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:55pm

So you must see why I'm complaining about with these ranking: they are an aggregate of the DVOA rankings of the opposition - meaning that playing an additional game against a bad team lowers the Jets "strength of schedule." Which does not make sense for the simple reason that playing a game means there is a chance of incurring a loss, while not playing a game can obviously not affect a team's win/loss record.

The Jets and Steelers have played a very similar slate of opponents across 5 games. Additionally, the Jets have played a very bad team. Why does it make sense that the Jets "strength of schedule" is rated as having been notably easier than the Steelers?

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:22pm

"playing an additional game against a bad team lowers the Jets "strength of schedule." Which does not make sense for the simple reason that playing a game means there is a chance of incurring a loss, while not playing a game can obviously not affect a team's win/loss record."

You can't be serious. You do know that every team has to play 16 games, right? The choice is not "Bills or a bye." It's "Bills or some other team." Filling one of your 16 schedule slots with the Bills is better than filling it with an average team (or with ANY other team that the Jets or Steelers have played so far).

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:35pm

"Bills or a bye" - aha! But for the moment it is. Especially if you factor in that the Steelers will play the 24th ranked schedule going forward in the future. That is, the Steelers are slated once they get over their bye to play a some team like the Bills at some point (hence the weak "SOS" ranking), so in effect the comparison for the moment IS Bills or a bye.

I would like someone to argue that the Steelers have played a notably more difficult schedule than the Jets at this point. Someone make that argument and stop trying to pick at the edges of what I am saying.

Is anyone here arguing that?

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:20pm

Yes, many people are arguing that. Here are their opponents/DVOA ratings:



They both played Baltimore, so throw those out. Titans are about equal to NE, so throw those out. That leaves:


AVERAGE: -14.7

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:30pm

But look at that: the Jets have played virtually identical schedule, just with one additional game! Forget averaging the DVOA - if the same team played those slates, you could reasonably expect them to have the same record in either case... only with an additional win (more likely than a loss) after playing the Jets slate. If anything, you could expect the team to win more frequently playing the Steelers' slate.

So, citing FO's rank of the Steelers schedule as the 8th hardest in the league as a measure of their success remains unconvincing. I'm surprised anyone is even disputing this.

by Mystyc :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:24pm

"Forget averaging the DVOA - if the same team played those slates, you could reasonably expect them to have the same record in either case... only with an additional win (more likely than a loss) after playing the Jets slate. If anything, you could expect the team to win more frequently playing the Steelers' slate."

You realize those two sentences are directly contradictory, right? Sloppy troll is sloppy.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:27pm

How the heck is chemical burn a troll?

Is disagreement automatically considered trolling here, or what?

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:52pm

Is disagreement automatically considered trolling here, or what?

No, but chemical burn is starting an argument about schedule strength, and basing his view on two obviously contradictory statements. So either chemical burn is incredibly stupid, or he's just trying to provoke a pointless argument*. We're giving him the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he's not incredibly stupid. And frankly, the idea that chemical burn is a complete moron doesn't track with the comments he usually makes on FO. When he says something like this, it becomes obvious that he is either trolling, or just not paying attention:

But look at that: the Jets have played virtually identical schedule, just with one additional game! Forget averaging the DVOA - if the same team played those slates, you could reasonably expect them to have the same record in either case... only with an additional win (more likely than a loss) after playing the Jets slate. If anything, you could expect the team to win more frequently playing the Steelers' slate.

If playing the Jets slate results in identical results, except for an additional win, then you would expect the team to win more frequently playing the Jets slate, not the Steelers' slate. After all, when you win, your winning percentage goes up, not down. This is really, really, incredibly obvious, so either chemical burn has suddenly lost 50 IQ points, or he's trolling. Which seems more likely to you?

*I guess it's also possible that he's just really drunk, but I would expect more typos in that case.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:59pm

I think he's just not expressing himself well. My interpretation is that he means the Steelers' slate is more difficult than [the Jets' slate MINUS the Bills game].

by Dales :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:00pm

I think you guys are misreading what CB is saying.

I think he is saying:
* there are roughly analogous games on both teams' schedule, with the exception of the Bills/Jets matching.
* both the Steelers and Jets would be expected to win a game with the Bills in frequencies that are high enough to consider it a 'would win' for both of them.
* that of the remaining 'paired' games, if anything one would consider the Steelers' matchups to have been slightly easier.

I am not saying that I agree with that method (seems to me that it would make just as much sense to pull any other team out of the Jets played schedule, and say that "both the Jets and Steelers would have beaten that team at nearly the same rate, and when looking at the remaining schedule, the Jets' was much easier"-- in other words, it feels cherry picked).

But it certainly seems to me to be an easy-to-follow argument, and far from a trolling one.

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:59pm

Ok, I think I see what you're getting at. If that is what chemical burn was trying to say, he was being extremely inarticulate, but I guess he wasn't being a complete moron, or a troll.

From what you've said, I'd guess his argument goes something like this:
If you discount the possibility of the Steelers losing to the Bills (because the Bills suck), then their chances of being undefeated (or of having one loss, or two losses, etc) are the same after that game as before it, and so their schedule strength should be the same, too. And if the Steelers had instead played the Jets schedule, their chances of being undefeated (or one loss, etc) would be slightly lower, and so the Jets schedule strength should be higher.

And, more specifically, the Jets are 5-1, including a 4-1 record in games not played against the Bills. The Steelers are also 4-1 in games not played against the Bills. And since the non-Bills schedules of the two teams are basically the same, the Steelers' 4-1 record shouldn't be considered so impressive by FO's SOS rankings, considering that the Jets had the same record when they had played (virtually) the same schedule.

That does make a lot more sense than the argument he seemed to be making, although I'm not sure if I really buy it.

I guess the best answer I can give to chemical burn is that FO's SOS ratings are meant to correlate pretty closely with expected winning%, so that if a team has a "harder" schedule, they should have a lower expected winning% than they would if they had played an "easier" schedule. Of course, since the Steelers are 4-1, they do have a lower winning% than the 5-1 Jets. This makes sense, since the Steelers have played a "harder" schedule than the Jets, so you'd expect them to have a lower winning% if they weren't much better than the Jets. And according to DVOA, they aren't much better than the Jets, so it tracks with the argument you were making. It's just a different approach to the question of how to compute SOS.

by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:27am

"Ok, I think I see what you're getting at. If that is what chemical burn was trying to say, he was being extremely inarticulate, but I guess he wasn't being a complete moron, or a troll. "

When pretty much everyone but you understands what hes trying to say...

by BSR :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:40am

Seriously, its not that hard to follow.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:32pm

After all, when you win, your winning percentage goes up, not down. This is really, really, incredibly obvious, so either chemical burn has suddenly lost 50 IQ points, or he's trolling. Which seems more likely to you?

I call false dichotomy. It's more likely to me that he hasn't expressed what he's trying to say very well.

It seems to be a fairly simple argument:
- He believes that the two slates produce identical results except for the Bills game, which only one team gets.
- Therefore he thinks it worth ignoring the Bills game as an outlier.
- He therefore believes that two slates produce now produce identical results, maybe even more likely to get a better record vs. Steelers' slate.
- Therefore his conclusion is that one Bills game is having far too much influence on the Jets' SOS ranking.

Whether or not you agree with the argument, I really don't think his responses merit an accusation of trolling.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:41pm

First, you keep tossing aside the additional win from the Bills as if it doesn't matter. If you're going to just ignore the easiest game on the Jets' schedule, OF COURSE their schedule doesn't look as easy. But why would you do that? One guaranteed win is HUGE when you've only played 6 games (or even when you've played 16).


if the same team played those slates, you could reasonably expect them to have the same record in either case... only with an additional win (more likely than a loss) after playing the Jets slate. If anything, you could expect the team to win more frequently playing the Steelers' slate.

I don't think that last sentence is true. The first one I could agree with (but again, I don't know why you would throw out the easiest part of the season for the Jets, but not for the Steelers). I was curious to try to think this through more systematically. I can't easily convert DVOA differences into expected winning percentages, so this is probably a waste of time, but I'll give it a shot...

Let's just say that if you are at least 30 points better than a team, you have a 100% chance of winning. At least 20 points better, 75% chance. 10 points better, 67% chance. 5 points better, 60% chance. Within 5, 50% chance. (By the way, I made these percentages up at the start - I didn't game the system to make my argument look better.)

Here are the schedules again, with the expected wins in each game of four hypothetical teams with DVOA's of 0, 10, 23.3 (Jets), and 32.6 (Steelers):

Tenn/27.6 ... 0.25, 0.33, 0.5, 0.6
Atl/13.2 ... 0.33, 0.5, 0.67, 0.67
Bal/11.5 ... 0.33, 0.5, 0.67, 0.75
Cle/-13.6 ... 0.67, 0.75, 1, 1
TB/-16.3 ... 0.67, 0.75, 1, 1
EXPECTED W% ... 0.450, 0.566, 0.768, 0.804

NE/29.0 ... 0.25, 0.33, 0.4, 0.5
Balt/11.5 ... 0.33, 0.5, 0.67, 0.75
Miami/-1.4 ... 0.5, 0.67, 0.75, 1
Vikings/-5.6 ... 0.6, 0.67, 0.75, 1
Den/-7.5 ... 0.6, 0.67, 1, 1
Bill/-38.8 ... 1, 1, 1, 1
EXPECTED W%: 0.547, 0.640, 0.767, 0.875
EXPECTED W% (IGNORING BILLS): 0.456, 0.568, 0.714, 0.850

Well, hmm. Maybe therein lies the rub. Using my admittedly crude and incorrect win% model, a team as good as the Jets would have the same winning percentage against either schedule. Meanwhile, a team as good as the Steelers would do far better against the Jets' schedule. (As would an average team.) It's probably partly due to the fact that I'm using a step function, but it may also have to do with the slight difference between DEN/MIN and CLE/TB. That difference matters the most to a team that is about as good as the Jets. So if you were viewing this situation through the POV of a Jets fan, you might think the SOS rating is way off. However, viewing it from the POV of a better or worse team, the Jets' schedule is "clearly" better.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, there is no one number that can be used to summarize SOS. But for an elite team (which is what they all aspire to be) or for an average team, the Steelers' schedule has been more difficult than the Jets'.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:22am

1) The folks who are saying I was inarticulate are correct about what I was trying to say.

2) My point is not whether the Jets or Steelers have had a harder slate - my point is that citing FO's SOS numbers is dubious because it says the 2 slates were wildly different in terms of difficulty, which has been proven by the extended discussion to simply be not the case. The point is not whether the Steelers had a harder slate: they not have a WILDLY, NOTABLY harder slate that would justify the wild, notable difference in their SOS numbers.

It boils down to: they played a very comparable slate, the main difference being the Jets played an additional game against a very weak opponent (the Bills.) FO ranks them at opposite ends of the difficulty curve.

What I am not saying: DVOA is wrong, the Steelers are ranked too high because their slate was easy, the Jets played a harder slate, we should ignore the Bills game when ranking the teams, the Jets are under-rated, the Jets played a harder schedule, anything that deserves mean-spirited ad hominem attacks.

by Eddo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:25am

You have some interesting points, but I think the major reason you're seeing a discrepancy right now is simply based on the number of games played. Comparing the mean of a set of 5 values to that of a set of 6 is going to give some interesting-looking results.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:27am

The point is not whether the Steelers had a harder slate: they not have a WILDLY, NOTABLY harder slate that would justify the wild, notable difference in their SOS numbers.

As someone upthread pointed out, there is no wild, notable difference in their SOS numbers, if you actually pay attention to the values, not just the rankings. The Steelers have faced an average opponent of +4.5%. A team with that DVOA would be the 15th best team in the league. The Jets have faced an average of -2.1%. A team with that DVOA would be 17th in the league.

It boils down to: they played a very comparable slate, the main difference being the Jets played an additional game against a very weak opponent (the Bills.) FO ranks them at opposite ends of the difficulty curve.

No, the Jets are nowhere near the lower end of the difficulty scale. The SOS's range from +11% to -18%, with an average of -0.3%, a median of 0.5%, and a standard deviation of 7.2%. The Jets have a SOS that is one quarter of one standard deviation below average.

by Mystyc :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:31pm

Because the Jets had the opportunity to play 60 minutes against a truly terrible team. You can't pretend there's no upside to that. If you want to take the Bills out of the SOS, you have to take all the Jets' plays against the Bills out of their DVOA, too. All 38 points' worth.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:37pm

No problem. Take away the Bills/Jets DVOA rankings. This isn't about DVOA. This is about the strength of schedule rankings. The question is "who has played a more difficult schedule" and FO's answer is very unsatisfying.

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:02pm

Fine, then. Let's not talk about DVOA. Screw it. Just win, baby! If we look at the expected winning% for a team facing the Steelers schedule vs. the Jets schedule, and assume that "The Jets and Steelers have played a very similar slate of opponents across 5 games. Additionally, the Jets have played a very bad team", then we would find that the expected winning% would be higher for the team playing the Jets schedule. After all, the team would have the same winning% after the first 5 games of each schedule. But if it then played the Bills, it would very likely win, and it's winning% would go up. So, if the same team would have a higher winning% after 6 games of the Jets schedule than it would after 5 games of the Steelers schedule, then it only makes sense to say that the Jets schedule is easier. There you go.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:11pm

One common way of calculating SOS is to determine what the odds of an average team going undefeated against the schedule is. Or the odds of a good (say, 15% DVOA) team going undefeated. Or the odds of a bad team going undefeated. (Those would all result in slightly different SOS rankings.) Is that more what you are looking for?

EDIT: I was actually thinking of the expected winning percentage, used by Alex above. Not the chance of going undefeated. Though I suppose that is another way you could look at it.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:37pm

Ha - yes, that is more what I am looking for - I wrote this right up above earlier in the thread...

I'm curious if there is some advantage to calculating SOS the way FO does - it just some obviously wrong. To my mind there's a big difference between playing 4 teams with a 0.0% DVOA versus playing 3 teams with a negative -50.0% and one team with a 150.0% but FO would rank those schedules exactly the same...

by MurphyZero :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:04pm

Please remember these are statistics. They function just like any other statistic. Given a set of data, there's any number of statistics that can be used to represent that set of data.

For example, in the following set of data: 1,2,3,3,3,3,4,4,6,7,8,9,12,13,14,20

The following are all valid statistics:
Minimum: 1
Mode: 3
Median: 5
Mean: 7
Maximum: 20

So, which one is the best one to use? Depends on what you are trying to compare. If the numbers represent the 'strength' of the opponent, then the maximum is one you'd want to consider for the odds of a team going 16-0. The minimum for 0-16. The median might be appropriate to estimate a winning record.
Rather than trying to compare teams by comparing 16, or 48, or 1000 numbers, you try to pick one number, or 3, or some small set to try to compare teams. If you choose your method well, the statistics are just as valid for comparison. Of course you can create examples that show where the statistics don't explain the underlying data well. That's why statisticians never talk about 100% accurate, always 99%, or 98, or 95, or in extreme cases, 80%. Truthfully, given the small sample set of the NFL, 80% is optimistic.

by xtimmygx :: Sun, 10/24/2010 - 3:07pm

I think chemical burn and you are both correct. The way that DVOA calculates SOS is clearly flawed in some ways. We can all imagine a fake scenario where you can play the middle teams in the league (9th-24th) or the top and bottom 1/4 of the league (1st-8th and 24th-32nd). However, you always have to consider what kind of team would want a certain schedule.
-If Team A is the 8th best team in the league they would want a schedule that was full of average teams. Those ranked 9th through 24th. That should lead to them winning the most games, with the idea that all of their opponents are worse than them.
However, Team B, which is the 23rd best team in the league would probably want to play the second schedule type as they get games against 8 teams that they are better than.
Team C which is in the best team in the league would want the schedule against the mediocre teams because they have a reasonably good chance of winning all 16 games, where if they had to play the top and bottom they could very easily lose some close games to a couple of the top teams.

The point of this long post is that I believe that the SOS should be modified to be more similar to what is using in Fremeau's (sp?) FEI index where, if memory serves me correct the SOS of schedule is based upon the chance that an elite team would go undefeated. In college teams going undefeated is fairly common (generally at least 1 or 2 a year). However, in the NFL this is not as common, but winning 12 or 13 games is kind of the equivalent. Perhaps SOS should be based a teams likelihood of winning some number of games (perhaps 11, 12, 13; an amount usually guaranteed to get you into the playoffs).

by RickD :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:01pm

You don't get to just drop the Bills from consideration. The Jets have played 3 games against fairly weak teams while the Steelers have played only 2. When you're talking about the SOS through only 6 weeks, that's fairly significant.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:15pm

Fair enough and agreed, although I'll take issue with the characterization of how well they've played in their wins (and loss for that matter). DEF DVOA, S.T. DVOA and OFF DVOA look about right to me.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:42pm

Well, I will say the subjective part is that I think Atlanta really stinks. Or, actually, after their game on Sunday versus the Eagles, I am shocked they rate as a Top 10 team. And since they're one of the Steelers 2 wins over decent opponents (and a squeaky win, at that) I am not blown away by what the Steelers have thus far accomplished.

Also, I think I misunderstood the "best of the decade" remark - they meant best franchise over the past 10 years and, yes, they are obviously in that conversation with the Colts and Pats. (and, I meekly add... Eagles?) I would rate the Steelers over the Colts if only because of the strength of their division. (And SB wins count for something, too.)

by Dean :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:57pm

I actually disagree there. They were one of my preseason picks to go to the NFC Championship Game. Injuries have derailed Green Bay, but as nobody else has emerged, I don't see any reason to jump off the Atlanta bandwagon. They've got flaws, but so does everybody else.

Of course, you may feel free to hold onto that quote and use it against me in January if they step on their crank.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:58pm

Weren't you just saying you don't watch the Eagles play anymore? You obviously didn't see what a complete nothing of a performance the Falcons put up. 31-17 is closer than the game actually was. The Falcons couldn't move the ball and couldn't stop the Eagles. The Eagles punted twice (once in kill-the-clock mode starring Eldra Buckley) and had a pass tipped TWICE for an int. If the Falcons are a legit team, the showed none of it on Sunday...

by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:50am

Guilty as charged.

Maybe they had a bad week? Maybe they just had matchup problems against the Eagles for some reason? Or maybe I misjudged them?

Like I said, feel free and file it away and use it in January if applicable.

Oh, and I was at a bar on Sunday, but was paying more attention to the Rams than anyone else.

by BJR :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:45am

I don't know whether they are a 'legit' team or not, but Atlanta has a real opportunity to win their division and get a first round bye. They already beaten the Saints (in NO) so have that tie-breaker, and they still have 4 games remaining on their schedule against Tampa and Carolina. The way the NFC is looking right now, 10 wins could be enough for first or second seed.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:22pm

Yeah, I guess they could easily be the #1 or #2 seed in the NFC. They play what looks like an easier schedule than the Giants and no one is exactly blowing the conference open. Damn, there are just no good teams this year. I guess if Giants, Steelers and Jets keep it up, there will be three impressive teams, but this is such an amazingly weak year...

by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:56pm

Somebody will emerge. They always do.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:34pm

I don't know. It felt like in 2005 & 2006 no one from the NFC emerged as a really good team and the SB losers both years faded quickly in the following seasons (the hallmark of a team that's probably not so well constructed)...

by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:42pm

We're not going to see The '85 Bears this year. But someone will emerge as better than everyone else, even if they're not going to make anyones all time list.

And if they don't, then it's wide open, and that might even be better.

by Eddo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 2:16pm

Everyone remembers the Bears' craptacular Super Bowl, but they had clearly emerged as the best NFC team. They were #1 or #2 in DVOA for most of the year, and finished three games ahead of the next-best team in the conference.

Addtionally, in 2005, the Seahawks were pretty clearly the best overall NFC team.


DVOA doesn't necessarily back me up, but it still suggests the NFC had good teams in 2006. There were six teams with a total DVOA over 20%, two of which were NFC teams (Eagles and Bears).

In 2005, two of the seven 20%+ DVOA teams were NFC teams (Seahawks and Redskins).

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 8:30am

"and a squeaky win, at that" but with Dennis Dixon at QB.

Revealing my homerism here (I'm almost as blind as RJ in this area, but try to restrain it - especially after last year when my joyous recaction to PIT's last second win over GB I made my 10 y.o. son, a GB fan, cry), but the Mainstream seems to be all over how well PIT has done w/o Ben. The response at this site has been quietly muted. I hoped for a 2-2 start, but expected a 1-3 start. So, while the wins may not have been impressive (in quality of play and/or opponent) I think they've exceeded expectations significantly.

by JSA (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:13pm

Isn't this year the first year of the decade(at least according to conventional labeling, if not technically correct)?

by RickD :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:06pm

I was thinking about saying something like that.

In common parlance, the **x0 year is grouped with the **xy years after all. We think of 1970 as the first year of the 70s, 1980 as the first year of the 80s, etc.

This Steelers team looks good, but nobody this year is close to the '06 Colts or '07 Patriots.

Of course, it's still early.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 11:04pm

Um, just checking, but the 06 Colts sucked. (by Colts standards) Just ask Maurice Jones-Drew and his "we were going for 400 (rushing yards) but got tired" game.

I think you meant the 05 Colts (top AFC seed toppled by Pittsburgh) or even the 07 Colts (Freeney's broken foot and the incredible Patriots year put a stop to them). But the 06 Colts... aside from their late-season surge and a nice playoff run, a team only a mother could love.

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 11:18pm

Um, just checking, but the 06 Colts sucked. (by Colts standards)

I love how you guys can look at a team that was 7th in DVOA, and went on to win the Super Bowl, and say that it sucked, and not be sarcastic. I wish I could do that with the teams I root for.

In any case, I agree that they were not the strongest Colts team of recent years, and certainly not the best team of the decade, or even particularly close.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 4:52pm

The NFL playoffs are very few games, and therefore very random. The Colts won the SB in 2006, but may or may not have been the best team in football. They probably were the best team in football in 2005 even by DVOA (which isn't kind to Tampa 2 defenses).

It's no secret I am a Colts fan. But let's be realistic, the two Super Bowls they attended were not the best Colts teams of the decade.

by Alex51 :: Sat, 10/23/2010 - 12:10am

I'm not saying I disagree. You're right, the 2006 Colts likely weren't the best team in football that year, and certainly weren't the best Colts team of the decade. But I'm still a little jealous of someone who can have the following conversation:

Colts Fan: We had a down year in 2006.
Lions Fan: Yeah, I know what that's like. What was your record?
Colts Fan: 12-4. Actually, if you count the four playoff games we won, it'd be 16-4. But yeah, we sucked that year.
Lions Fan: ?!?

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:48pm

Isnt this the first year of the decade? And if they are the best team this year, arent they automatically the best of the decade (so far)?

And I find it funny that you poo-poo the fact that they still won with a 36 year old backup QB that was a cast off from the Lions.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:16pm

People used to understand that "10" was the last year in a decade, not the first. They celebrated the beginning of the 20th century in 1901, for instance, not 1900. It made for some very boring articles in Jan. 1, 2000 along the lines of "what was happening in the news 100 years ago?" since nothing special was happening.

Somewhere along the way we got stupider about that stuff.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 8:17pm

A decade is just 10 years; you can start it whenever you want.

Now, if you claimed that the year 2000 was the 200th decade that would be different.

by Anymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:24pm

The Saints will beat the Steelers on Halloween night. Mark my words.

by Mystyc :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:06pm

I could see them dropping a couple more, just because football is a crazy sport. But even if the Steelers do take the Super Bowl (knock on wood), I think team-of-the-decade honors have to be at the VERY least shared with the Patriots. The Pats also (in the world where the Steelers win) had 3 championships, and they had some really compelling drama (16-0, the whole Moss saga) that will probably be remembered long after the Steelers' off years.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:29am

mysty, as much as i dislike NE, theres no doubt pats are team of decade even with a steelers SB win. When i think of team of decade, i think of the dominant team that 50 years from now we will remember. And you cant write the history of the NFL without the Belichick era Pats.

here's how i would measure team of the decade: Amount of times in the decade that team is on national TV (4:00 doubleheader game, sunday night, monday night, playoff, thanksgiving). thats a true measure of what the public wants to see, and ultimately will remember. My assumption is that would either be the Pats or the Colts, with steelers possibly fourth to Philly

by MooseAndSquirrel (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:05pm

I you wish to identify a "Team of the Decade" for the 00s, you cannot pick the Patriots. Such a title should be an honor, and you should not honor cheating. The Patriots should have been given the SMU treatment not be hailed as "Team of the Decade."

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/22/2010 - 6:08pm

Got proof?

No? Shut up.

by luvrhino :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:15pm

Having at least a league-average offensive line would be nice before anointing them one of the best of the decade (depending on when you start your decades). They appear to be an improvement over last year, at least.

I don't see 15-1 as very likely. I'd be thrilled with 13-3, a #1 seed, and, most importantly, a healthy team heading into the playoffs.

by JasonK :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:22pm

I'd rank the reasons for the Giants' defensive improvement as such:

1) Competent professionals at Safety. Phillips + Rolle + Grant is just worlds better than the Michael Johnson + C.C. Brown + Aaron Rouse group that the team used for most of 2009.

2) DL health. Canty, Tuck, Bernard, and Cofield were all limited due to injuries in 2009 (some of which weren't even disclosed until after the season), and all of them look much more effective this year, particularly against the run.

3) Coaching. Fewell has done well (apart from getting too clever by half against Indy, activating only 2 DTs and using Dime as the base defense), replacing Sheridan, who was pretty clearly in over his head.

by Dales :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:39pm

I believe the three reasons are:

1) Better play (due to health or whatever) on the interior of the defensive line. When the Giants DTs are ineffective, then the outside pass rush gets pushed by the QB deep entirely too often, and the back seven gets picked apart.

2) The linebackers are not as bad as last year. Pierce simply did not have the speed any longer, so inexperienced as he is, Goff has been a big upgrade.

3) Upgrade in coaching, as you described.

To my eyes, the first one I listed is the biggest.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:40am

As Jason says (and I've mentioned in previous weeks' threads) You HAVE to include the improved safety play, too. I think it's the #2 reason behind the improvement in DT health. Antrel Rolle + Kenny Phillips + Deon Grant is just a huge, huge, huge improvement over CC Brown, Aaron Rouse, and Michael Johnson.

by Dales :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:29pm

Yes, I agree and it was a glaring omission from my list.

I'd say that #1 on my list is still the top thing. So far this year, when the middle of the DL has been effective, our defense has been dominant. When it hasn't been as effective (the Colts game, parts of the Ten game) it has not been.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:44pm

Wow, the SOS disparities are pretty interesting. Steelers have been commanding against a tough schedule that gets ridiculously easier. Yikes. Balt goes from 2 to 23 as well. Grrrrr.

Oakland has the inverse, going from 28 to 4. And then Denver makes the trip from 1 to 29. Not sure if they have the horsepower to overtake KC, but the sked looks favorable.

Poor, poor Buffalo. (and Seattle is their inverse--how can the sked get any easier than 29th? Somehow!)

Good luck, Houston.

by ammek :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:48pm

Denver has to be the favorite for the "late season turnaround" by virtue of its past & future schedules. I will be delighted if it manages one, if only because the "good starter, bad finisher" trope has replaced "Dallas can't win in December" as the most boring and predictable in the game.

DVOA isn't buying into the Rams — presumably because of the Lions blowout and opponent adjustments. It's really hard to judge teams that were terrible last year (see also: Chiefs, Lions, Browns, Bucs) because every fluke play really feels like a fluke.

Oakland #32! Is DAVE drunk?

by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:55pm

NFC teams with Positive DVOA (6 teams):

Giants (30%)
Eagles (23.3%)
Saints (13.4%)
Falcons (13.2%)
Packers (11.3%)
Seahawks (9.9%)

That's 1 from every division + 2 Wildcards.

Of course, the playoff odds will be different since these teams play very different schedules. The Packers have 3 losses, each of the other teams has 2.

NFC teams with DVOA below -10% (5 teams)

Bears (-11.5%)
Bucs (-16.3%)
Rams (-24.2%)
Panthers (-42.3%)
Arizona (-49.0%)

The parity is mostly in the NFC right now. 10 of the 16 teams have a DVOA between 13.4% and -11.5%, a difference of only 24.9%.

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:12pm

I find it sort of amazing that Carolina has a top-5 defense (though admittedly -10.0% is good but nowhere near dominant) and yet the offense is so bad that it remains the #31 team in the league with a truly awful -42.3% DVOA.

by Joseph :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:00pm

I am betting that this has to do with: "the offense turns the ball over in its own half 3x per game, so when the D holds them to 13 points, they have a good D" more than "the defense holds teams to 3 & out 1/3 of drives, and without points 80% of drives."

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:21pm

not goignt o read through 98 posgts but if thing say giants are 2nd then thing broken. no way are Gints 2nd best tema.

as for Raiders, who cares what dvoa says anymore. Raiders lose no ground in afc west on sunday so all is well for anyother wwek

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:30pm

I'm inclined to agree somewhat. I think they're getting way too much credit for pounding the Bears' powderpuff o-line. I guess the best way to put it is that the Giants are the worst team in the NFC, except for all the others.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:33pm

I think we can all agree though that the Giants have proven capable of playing at a high level in a way that, say, the Saints or Bears have not? Whether that high level of performance is based purely on advantageous match-ups remains to be seen, but they have laid the lumber pretty impressively at times this season...

by Treima6 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:26pm

Their very high variance rank goes a long way toward explaining my misgivings.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:21am

Giants are clearly ranked too high because rj has stopped caring about DVOA and thing broken (ouch!).

by cfn_ms :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 7:21pm

It does seem odd to see a 3-2 team last. Is it mainly a function of them getting REALLY slapped around in their losses, or does DVOA think there's something really wrong with their wins (obviously they've gotten pretty lucky w/ their wins, two of which were close and the third of which had a +3 TO margin; but is DVOA saying they got obscenely lucky or just that the wins don't much move the dial?)

by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:08pm

-The 2 biggest plays by the Cardinals QB against the Saints:
1) fumbling the ball on 3rd down so an offensive lineman could advance it for a touchdown.
2) fumbling the ball so an offensive lineman could fall on it for a first down.

-The Cardinals defense scored touchdowns on 2 turnovers.

-The Saints missed a 29 yard field goal.

Despite all this, the Cardinals only won by 10 points.

So it's fair to say DVOA didn't give the Cardinals credit for most of the stuff in that game.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:24pm

Their two losses are by an AVERAGE of 32.5 points. Their three wins are by a TOTAL of 15 points. So yes, they have made many, MANY more bad plays than good plays.

by TomC :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:10pm

Point differential can cut both ways here. The Bears, who have a +15 differential, are 24th, behind eight teams with negative differential (including the -46 49ers).

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:42pm

OK, but that makes Chicago the anomaly. Arizona has certainly been one of the worst teams in the league this year, and their ranking shouldn't be surprising.

by cfn_ms :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:55pm

No question they've been one of the worst. I'm just surprised they'd be dead last. I figured somewhere between 25th and 30th would have made a bit more sense. I'm not struggling to see why they're worse than, say, Dallas (1-4 and rated much higher). I'm struggling to see why they're worse than Buffalo AND Carolina AND Oakland AND San Francisco.

Carolina seems especially weird, since they're winless against an only marginally tougher schedule, and four of their five losses were double-digits. They didn't have any games where they REALLY got slaughtered, but it seems to me like there's been a consistent pattern of not being competitive, even against some very mediocre opponents (most notably Chicago and Tampa, neither of which DVOA much likes).

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:35pm

Arizona also had the 25th easiest schedule.

If you look at estimated wins they've above a number of teams.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:22am

as opposed to analyzing why Arizona is the worst in the league, i would ask how is Arizona 3-2? is it because of superior coaching that willed them to 3 wins? are they a classic type of team that is significantly better at home than on the road, and faced impossible road tests at SD and at ATL?

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:08pm

Combination of playing a team with a rookie QB making his first start (St. Louis), a scraped one-point home victory over an awful Oakland side who missed three field goals, and nigh-obscene fumble luck against the Saints (fumbled 4 times, recovered all 4, also scored two touchdowns after fumbles). Opposing kickers are also 7/12 in Arizona's wins, well below league-average.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:44pm

Green Bay is clearly ranked too high because no system on the planet can take into account just how clueless Shawn Slocum is as special teams coach.

by Semigruntled Eagles fan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:50am

Clearly you haven't been watching San Diego games this year. This past week, they had a field goal blocked when their kicker slipped, gave up a 42 yd punt return, and improved their special teams DVOA by almost 10% (from -21.3% to -19.3%).

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 5:14pm

Eagles fans... Only in Philadelphia is an improvement of 2% called a 10% improvement. Of course, I'd feel that way too if I had bad memories of Reno Mahe.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 6:13pm

It's a delta of 10%.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 6:39pm

I'm not sure it is. If my current weight is 21% below average for my height, and I gain a little bit of weight, so that now I'm only 19% below average, I didn't get 10% heavier. I got 81/79 - 1 = 2.5% heavier.

Or, to stick with DVOA, if a team's ST defense improved from 0.1% to 2.1%, would you say they improved by 2000%?

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 7:50pm

I could be wrong. It's also possible the other poster did the math and the Chargers played 10% better than their season average to cause a 2% change in total DVOA.

by spenczar :: Sat, 10/23/2010 - 3:33pm

You're both right, dummies. The 2%-ers are referring to an improvement of 2 percentage points. The 10%ers are referring to an improvement of 10 percent. The two are different concepts and either is acceptable.


by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:41am

Not that anyone is listening or reading or cares at this point, but this illustrates a problem that I, and undoubtedly others, have raised before. Because DVOA is reported as a percentage, it is not only a difficult concept to get one's head around, but to make comparisons using DVOA is difficult, b/c the meaning is unclear.

I and others have suggested FO consider a metric that makes more sense. DVOA is highly correlated with wins, and I've suggested that one way to understand DVOA is in the framework of wins. That is, a team with a DVOA of "X" is playing like a team that typically wins "Y" games. DEF and OFF DVOA could/should be described in yards/game, pts./game or some other variable that has a high correlation.

The formula for converting DVOA to wins:

y = 13.785x + 7.9307 where X = DVOA expressed as a decimal

The formula for converting OFFDVOA to points:

y = 380.83x + 341.05
y/16 = points/game

Formula for DEFDVOA to points:

y = 406.5x + 343.09
y/16 = points/game

So, after week 6, PIT (is playing like a team that typically wins 12 (12.42461) games, with an offense that produces approximately 23 (23.1) pts/game and a defense that gives up 16 (16.1) pts/game.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 5:33pm


Don't they actually do the reverse of this for special teams? They figure out the special teams value in points, and then convert it to the DVOA scale. How bad are San Diego's special teams? -20% ... which means? Almost 5 points worse than average per game. WOW. That's like 2 missed field goals.

by morrongiello :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:06pm

If there's an easy conversion over to points per game or wins per season, I don't see why it really matters how they express it. They're just running a query and doing some formulas. Whatever you do with the data is kinda your own business.

But I will say this. If they did convert it over for you before giving it to you, you'd be losing information.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/27/2010 - 10:49am

Agreed, it does add variance, but when trying to understand what DVOA means, I think there is some value into converting to a meaningful (face valid) stat. You do have to realize the water now becomes muddied in a different way.

by Semigruntled Eagles fan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/30/2010 - 7:08pm

I hadn't noticed the discussion I set off, but Audacity is correct - I had initially been referring to delta change, without having done the (proper) calculations beforehand. However, as the raw special teams DVOA is 1/3 as important as Offensive and Defensive DVOA, and the values given are adjusted to take the proportions into account, I believe the raw numbers would be more like 64% -> 58%, yielding a 16.7% improvement in their special teams performance (42/36-1).

If anybody does read this, and sees that I am terribly mistaken, let me know the next time I post in one of the "week x open discussion" threads; it's unlikely that I'll check back to this page otherwise.

by Dales :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 11:26pm

Basis points, people. Gets rid of that ambiguity in talking percentage changes.

by anton (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 11:36pm

I wish there was something in the nfl that would have something equivalent to a 7 game playoff series so dvoa would be more accurate... stupid injuries messing up with this request..

by SirKev (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:18am

Maybe I'm being a pessimistic Steelers fan (which I usually am) but I'm not seeing the dominance in the defense that others are. Watching the Browns game I expected to see more 3 and outs especially in the 2nd half with all the Browns playmakers off the field. It seems less like a shutdown defense and more like one relying on forcing/getting turnovers to stop drives. I think back to the Tenn game how close that was and how they needed every single turnover the Titans offered to close that game out.

I'm worried that we won't win a game against a good offense that has 0-1 turnovers because we can't consistently shutdown the opposition.

Tell me I'm missing something / not seeing something correctly because it is hard for me not to be concerned.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 5:37am

While I have only seen the Steelers once (BAL) this year, I just think you are a spoiled Steelers fan, and have lost feeling with what a good defense looks like. I might be just as dilusional - I'm a Broncos fan...

by dbostedo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:30am

As a total Steelers homer I'd agree that it's probably the result of being spoiled.

It's kind of like how Colts fans can look at a 10 win season and talk about how their team sucked. (If they ever had only 10 wins, that is.)

by countertorque :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:07pm

It seems like you don't think the Steelers defense gets any credit for the Titans turnovers. You've seen how the Titans offense has done against other defenses in the league, right?

If I tell you that the Steelers have given up a league low 12.0 points per game, does that make you feel better? The next best team is at 15.8 points per game, btw.

I'll admit that the Browns moved the ball better than I expected they would.

by Willsy :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 8:42am

Will Allen are you out there?

I am a Viking's tragic in Sydney and would like to chat. Could we swap e mail addresses via Football Outsiders?



by MattR :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:49am

It's been a while since FO has written on Norv Turner. How does his tenure at the Chargers mirror or differ his previous head coaching efforts?

Turner seems to be finding new ways to lose. If I remember correctly, at the Redskins he was known for squandering leads. Now he seems to have pioneered a process of spotting opponents double-digit leads and then forcing Rivers to work fourth quarter miracles (which have fallen short of late).

I'd be interested in hearing intelligent FO diagnosis (versus what the Union Trib is writing).

by BritPop :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:21am

Are there home/road splits on DVOA? If a team has played much better at home than on the road (according to DVOA), is it expected to continue or revert?

I ask specifically with regard to the Patriots@Chargers game on Sunday; the Chargers "Home DVOA" must look impressive compared to the Pats "Road DVOA", right?

by BritPop :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:23am

Are there home/road splits on DVOA? If a team has played much better at home than on the road (according to DVOA), is it expected to continue or revert?

I ask specifically with regard to the Patriots@Chargers game on Sunday; the Chargers "Home DVOA" must look impressive compared to the Pats "Road DVOA", right?

by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:53pm

Why would you expect the Patriots road DVOA to be bad?

They've played 2 games on the road. They lost to the #5 team in the league +24%, and blew out the number 16 team in the league.

I'd honestly be surprised if the Patriots Road DVOA isn't higher than the Charger's total DVOA.

by BritPop :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 7:57am

Possibly...but aside from the "Chung is King" explosion in Miami, they've looked less-than-spectacular on the road. Although if he's going to repeat that performance, I guess SD is the place it would happen...

by BritPop :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:24am

Damn..I always hate that guy...now I am that guy...

by JasonK :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:50am

Quick nitpick on the Playoff Odds page:

The odd SB matchups table lists a BAL-WAS game as the "Capital Bowl." Two things:

1) Washington, DC, is the U.S. Capitol. The national "capital," I suppose, is the Federal Reserve.

2) Given stadium locations, a Maryland-related monicker would probably be more appropriate, anyway. (Chesapeake Bowl? Crabcake Bowl? MD-295 Bowl?)

by apk3000 :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:13am

No, the Capitol is the building with the dome. A capital would be the seat of a government.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:16am

Which one is in my wallet?

by Theo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:24am

a = wAllet
o = dOme

by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:30am

Neither, some big hairy dude wearing animal skins mugged me.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:59am


by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:57pm

Can I at least have my lunch money back? I'm kinda hungry.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:16am

I believe that Washington, D.C., is the U.S. Capital but the Capitol is located within it. "Capital" is right for the official seat of government while the Capitol is the building where Congress meets. I think.

My dictionary and dictionary.com agree, but I take both of those with a healthy dose of salt.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:25am

The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam.
The capitol of the netherlands would be Den Hague, where the governmnent is seated.

by Weszilla (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:41am


by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:54am

Especially considering the extraordinary confidence I exhibited.

by Eddo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 2:08pm

Um, Theo simply confirmed what you said. I wouldn't say you've been "pwned".

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:05pm

If you're pwned, I hope you saved the ticket, so you can get yourself out of hock.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 7:42pm

Neither would I.

by Anonymus (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:55am

From Merriam-Webster.com

Capitol: 1a) a building in which a state legislative body meets; 1b) a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out.

Capital: 3a) a city serving as a seat of government.

Therefore, the US capital is Washington; and the US Capitol, the Congress.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:07pm

To continue the nit-pickery, "the Congress" is not a building and therefore cannot be a capitol. The Congress (usually referred to without the definite article) is a collection of people. Where they meet is a capitol, and it is just called "The United State Capitol".

Therefore, the US capital is Washington, D.C.; and the US capitol is the United States Capitol.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 2:03pm

Apparently none of you guys are hockey fans.


That ought to have ended the argument a lot faster.

As for the Capitol, that's on Capitol Hill.


It's not the entire district. It's just a building.

The Redskins are not a Maryland team, they are a DC team. They have huge support in the District and in Virginia and their fan base would not take well to anything that ignored them.

It wouldn't make sense to call such a matchup the Chesapeake Bowl, since DC is not on the Bay. Crabcakes are a Baltimore specialty but not really a big deal in DC.

When the two teams play in the pre-season, the locals call it the Battle of the Beltways. (495 around DC, 695 around Baltimore).

Nobody calls the BW Parkway "MD-295". It's the BW Parkway. (Just like the airport on the Yellow Line is "National Airport," not "Reagan Airport" while the one near Baltimore is "BWI," not "Thurgood Marshall Airport".

Not that any of this matters. Even the most ardent local fan would concede that the Redskins don't have a chance in h*ll of making the Super Bowl.

(I'm a Pats fan living in the DC suburbs.)

by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:56pm

I'm in DCI, and I've heard plenty of people call it Reagan airport.

(also a Pats fan, but in the city)

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 1:03pm

Nfl used to have capital division. Othrrs century, coastal and central.1967-69 if remember correctly. Someone look it up

by Pass to Set Up ... :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 3:59pm
by Dean :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 4:19pm

As far as I'm concerned, the NFC still has a Central division. The Bucs don't play in it anymore, but I still call it Central.

Of course, I still refer to the division where the Flyers play as the Patrick Division.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 8:05pm

That's funny as I believe Chicago is North of every single AFC "North" team.

by Eddo :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 11:10am

The AFC North/South/East split was totally botched, from a geographic point of view. You have Indianapolis in the South, even though it's north of Cincinnati, which is in the North.

Ideally, they should have had:
East: New England, Buffalo, New York, Baltimore
South: Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee
North: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis

The insistence of keeping Miami with its old East division rivals caused a weird split.

The same thing happened in the NFC, by keeping the Cowboys in the East, but it didn't have the same impact on the other divisions. Considering St. Louis doesn't really fit the N/S/E/W distinction, the West probably makes the most sense. Given that, the NFC already had four western and four southern teams, so Dallas could slide into the East without much weirdness.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 11:11pm

Every NFC North team is geographically north of every AFC North team.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 11:22pm

Yes, that was my point. Chicago is the furthest south team in the NFC North.

by MJSNJ (not verified) :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 9:28am

As a massive Giants homer, I'm particularly enjoying my teams' resurgence on D. Even when the Giants were mediocre, they always seemed to have a competent defense. The end of last year was just really really weird for Giants fans.

Anyway, its enlightening to look at their next oppponent, Dallas', DVOA numbers in light of their start. Most stories I've read are struggling to explain their 1-4 record; most are using the "undisiplined team" angle. DVOA clearly shows that their defense just isn't playing well, in spite of their high rankings in the "usual" statistics (YPG, etc.). The Giants have seemed lately to play well on offense against Dallas, here's to hoping for that to continue.