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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

13 Dec 2011

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Hey, look who's back on top this week! The undefeated Green Bay Packers slip into the top spot in DVOA, which now agrees with pretty much every other power ranking system on the Internet either subjective or objective. It's still close though -- in reality, what we have is a pack of four teams who are very tight at the top: Green Bay, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. Although Green Bay had its best single-game DVOA of the season against Oakland (+55.6%), the mild decline of the previous few weeks means the Packers are not number one in Weighted DVOA. That honor belongs to Pittsburgh. Houston is second in Weighted DVOA, although that's a bit of a mirage, as their rating is mostly built by the four-game string of games before Matt Schaub was injured. Houston's DVOA over the last three games is just 5.5%. By the end of the season, the Week 7-10 games will drop a bit in strength in the Weighted DVOA formula, which will drop Houston a little bit.

It's also interesting to note that Green Bay's offensive DVOA drops out of the number one slot this week -- ever so slightly behind New England. The difference is tiny, and both teams along with New Orleans rank among the most powerful offenses we've ever measured.

Top 12 Offensive DVOA as of Week 14, 1992-2011
2007 NE 50.6%
2010 NE 48.7%
2002 KC 41.8%
2004 IND 39.0%
1998 DEN 35.6%
2011 NE 35.3%
1995 DAL 35.2%
2011 GB 35.1%
2004 KC 33.8%
2011 NO 33.7%
1993 SF 33.0%
1992 SF 33.0%

The current offensive ratings are much like the current total ratings, with the top three reversed in Weighted DVOA. By Weighted DVOA, the top offense right now belongs to New Orleans, then Green Bay and New England.

* * * * *

This week, I decided to only produce the playoff odds report which is adjusted for injured quarterbacks in Chicago and Houston. It's pretty obvious at this point that the offenses have declined for both teams. What's interesting is that the offenses have declined roughly the same amount, even though they started from different places. Houston has dropped from 25.5% offensive DVOA to -4.0%, a drop of 29.5%. Chicago has dropped from -1.5% offensive DVOA to -34.0%, a drop of -32.5%. 

Last week's adjustments were based on the difference between each team's offensive DVOA before the quarterback change and after. I reduced each team's Weighted DVOA by half that amount. This week, I did the same thing, only I reduced each team's Weighted DVOA by three-fourths of the amount. Next week, I'll adjust by the entire amount. It's not very scientific, but we've never done this sort of thing with the playoff odds before, so I'm just sort of playing it by ear.

By the way, we're no longer adjusting Kansas City, as the drop with Tyler Palko hasn't been very large. Kansas City had -17.4% offensive DVOA through Week 11, -24.0% after, a drop of less than seven percentage points.

* * * * *

I don't have anything else particularly interesting to say about the DVOA ratings today so I thought instead I would look through and point out some of the interesting numbers in our offensive and defensive line stats.

  • New Orleans is the top team in offensive Adjusted Line Yards, by a healthy amount. Tennessee is the team on the bottom, by a similarly healthy amount.
  • If you look at the directional numbers, you'll see that New Orleans has been excellent running left or center, but not so great running to the right. New England, which ranks second in ALY, is the opposite: excellent running right or center, not so great running to the left. And Houston, which ranks third in ALY, is at its best running straight up the gut.
  • Chicago leads the league in ALY on defense, but they're actually not very good in short-yardage situations (67 percent conversions, which ranks 21st). They also have given up some really long runs, so they're 19th in Second Level Yards per carry and 27th in Open Field Yards per carry.
  • San Francisco, on the other hand, has given up almost no runs of note. They rank second in ALY, first in short-yardage success, first in SLY allowed and second in OFY allowed. The weird thing is that they don't stuff a lot of runners behind the line -- only 16 percent of runs stopped for a loss or no gain, which ranks 29th in the NFL.
  • Looking for perhaps the biggest reason why the Packers' pass defense has struggled this year? Look at the decline in the pass rush. The 2010 Packers ranked fourth in Adjusted Sack Rate. The 2011 Packers are just 30th. Total numbers hide the drop a little bit because Green Bay opponents have to throw so many passes.
  • Baltimore has moved in the other direction. We said during the offseason that the Ravens' biggest problem was finding a pass rush after they ranked just 27th in ASR in 2010. This year, the Ravens are first overall.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2011, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.

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

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

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

1 GB 28.8% 2 26.5% 3 13-0 35.1% 2 9.1% 21 2.9% 7
2 HOU 27.8% 1 30.5% 2 10-3 18.4% 6 -8.4% 6 1.1% 13
3 PIT 27.5% 3 32.4% 1 10-3 19.4% 5 -5.9% 9 2.3% 9
4 BAL 27.1% 4 26.2% 4 10-3 9.4% 10 -21.1% 1 -3.5% 29
5 NE 23.3% 5 20.7% 5 10-3 35.3% 1 15.0% 29 3.0% 6
6 NYJ 23.0% 6 19.9% 7 8-5 6.0% 15 -12.3% 2 4.7% 4
7 ATL 17.8% 9 20.5% 6 8-5 9.3% 11 -8.1% 7 0.4% 18
8 SF 17.6% 7 15.1% 9 10-3 -2.3% 21 -11.5% 3 8.4% 2
9 NO 17.1% 8 17.3% 8 10-3 33.7% 3 16.1% 30 -0.4% 19
10 TEN 12.3% 11 7.9% 11 7-6 8.9% 12 1.7% 13 5.1% 3
11 CHI 10.8% 10 12.7% 10 7-6 -8.6% 26 -9.4% 5 10.0% 1
12 DET 8.0% 13 7.5% 12 8-5 6.2% 14 -7.7% 8 -5.9% 31
13 NYG 7.1% 12 7.5% 13 7-6 15.5% 7 9.7% 23 1.2% 11
14 DAL 6.4% 14 5.1% 14 7-6 11.6% 9 3.9% 15 -1.3% 23
15 CIN 4.0% 16 4.8% 15 7-6 5.7% 16 3.7% 14 2.0% 10
16 PHI 2.9% 15 3.6% 17 5-8 7.0% 13 4.5% 16 0.5% 17
17 SD -0.3% 21 3.6% 16 6-7 14.6% 8 12.5% 26 -2.4% 25
18 MIA -2.5% 17 1.4% 18 4-9 -3.4% 22 0.3% 11 1.2% 12
19 DEN -2.8% 19 -0.2% 20 8-5 -1.5% 19 5.0% 18 3.7% 5
20 SEA -4.4% 23 1.1% 19 6-7 -6.3% 24 -1.0% 10 1.0% 14
21 CAR -4.8% 20 -1.5% 21 4-9 19.7% 4 18.6% 31 -6.0% 32
22 OAK -6.5% 18 -10.5% 22 7-6 1.7% 18 7.2% 19 -1.0% 22
23 WAS -10.9% 25 -13.9% 24 4-9 -9.1% 27 1.3% 12 -0.5% 21
24 BUF -11.5% 22 -21.8% 29 5-8 5.1% 17 14.8% 28 -1.8% 24
25 JAC -13.3% 28 -11.2% 23 4-9 -21.2% 31 -10.8% 4 -2.9% 27
26 TB -16.7% 24 -22.3% 30 4-9 -3.8% 23 13.8% 27 1.0% 15
27 CLE -16.8% 26 -15.2% 25 4-9 -7.1% 25 9.2% 22 -0.5% 20
28 MIN -16.9% 27 -20.0% 28 2-11 -2.3% 20 11.6% 25 -3.0% 28
29 ARI -19.1% 30 -17.7% 27 6-7 -12.9% 28 8.5% 20 2.3% 8
30 KC -22.8% 29 -16.5% 26 5-8 -18.9% 30 4.6% 17 0.7% 16
31 STL -38.9% 31 -38.6% 31 2-11 -26.1% 32 9.9% 24 -2.8% 26
32 IND -39.1% 32 -41.7% 32 0-13 -13.8% 29 19.7% 32 -5.6% 30
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • 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 GB 28.8% 13-0 31.2% 10.8 1 -2.0% 29 -1.4% 18 3.9% 2
2 HOU 27.8% 10-3 30.4% 9.0 5 -1.1% 25 -10.5% 31 15.9% 25
3 PIT 27.5% 10-3 27.0% 9.6 3 -0.2% 20 -12.7% 32 14.9% 21
4 BAL 27.1% 10-3 24.6% 9.8 2 2.1% 11 -4.4% 24 20.1% 28
5 NE 23.3% 10-3 24.5% 9.5 4 -2.1% 30 -5.6% 27 10.5% 10
6 NYJ 23.0% 8-5 23.4% 8.1 8 -0.2% 19 2.5% 16 12.8% 14
7 ATL 17.8% 8-5 15.6% 8.7 6 1.6% 12 -4.3% 23 3.1% 1
8 SF 17.6% 10-3 22.5% 8.1 9 -4.6% 32 -5.3% 26 5.8% 4
9 NO 17.1% 10-3 17.8% 8.6 7 -2.7% 31 -1.3% 17 12.8% 15
10 TEN 12.3% 7-6 14.7% 7.7 10 0.9% 15 -8.2% 29 16.4% 26
11 CHI 10.8% 7-6 11.5% 7.5 11 0.9% 16 2.5% 15 12.9% 16
12 DET 8.0% 8-5 10.6% 7.4 12 0.8% 17 7.3% 7 8.3% 7
13 NYG 7.1% 7-6 4.4% 7.2 14 1.1% 14 6.2% 10 16.9% 27
14 DAL 6.4% 7-6 9.9% 7.2 15 -1.9% 28 -2.2% 19 15.5% 23
15 CIN 4.0% 7-6 7.6% 7.4 13 5.7% 3 -10.3% 30 6.9% 6
16 PHI 2.9% 5-8 4.7% 6.4 18 -0.3% 21 6.2% 11 13.6% 19
17 SD -0.3% 6-7 5.9% 6.0 21 -0.7% 23 9.5% 4 15.8% 24
18 MIA -2.5% 4-9 -1.9% 6.6 16 1.5% 13 11.6% 3 11.8% 12
19 DEN -2.8% 8-5 -2.2% 6.5 17 2.9% 9 -3.7% 22 6.6% 5
20 SEA -4.4% 6-7 -1.9% 6.4 19 -1.6% 27 3.1% 14 13.5% 18
21 CAR -4.8% 4-9 -4.2% 5.9 22 -1.6% 26 9.4% 5 14.9% 20
22 OAK -6.5% 7-6 -3.4% 6.3 20 2.9% 8 -5.1% 25 23.5% 31
23 WAS -10.9% 4-9 -15.7% 5.5 24 -0.9% 24 -2.3% 20 12.6% 13
24 BUF -11.5% 5-8 -11.4% 5.6 23 4.0% 6 6.0% 12 30.3% 32
25 JAC -13.3% 4-9 -13.3% 4.9 27 6.8% 2 -3.0% 21 15.2% 22
26 TB -16.7% 4-9 -21.7% 5.1 26 9.4% 1 6.4% 9 21.8% 29
27 CLE -16.8% 4-9 -11.6% 5.1 25 -0.2% 18 11.8% 2 4.8% 3
28 MIN -16.9% 2-11 -17.7% 4.7 29 4.0% 5 5.7% 13 13.3% 17
29 ARI -19.1% 6-7 -14.7% 4.7 28 -0.7% 22 -5.7% 28 10.8% 11
30 KC -22.8% 5-8 -22.8% 4.6 30 2.3% 10 6.5% 8 22.6% 30
31 STL -38.9% 2-11 -43.6% 2.6 31 4.0% 7 16.3% 1 8.6% 8
32 IND -39.1% 0-13 -44.2% 2.2 32 5.0% 4 8.9% 6 9.9% 9

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 13 Dec 2011

260 comments, Last at 20 Dec 2011, 12:33pm by anonymous 74


by Meh (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:43pm

New Orleans at 9 is so meh to me. In this case, the stats don't tell the story. Atlanta over New Orleans says alot. Even the year they won the SB and started 13-0; the Saints were only 6th overall. On a neutral field would you really take 8 teams over the Saints?

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:00pm

Yes, I would. In their dome, I would take 0 teams over New Orleans. I don't know the DVOA splits, but conventional stats shows that NO is just nowhere near as close to as good outside of New Orleans, and it doesn't even seem to be a outdoor/indoor thing after struggling in STL and having a above average, but unspectacular game in ATL.

by milo :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:30pm

"Nowhere near as close to as good outside of New Orleans" doesn't sound like the team with the most away victories over the last three years in the league to me. That team is, in fact, NO.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:18pm

I didn't realize that the abilities of the 2009-2010 Saints to win outside of NO helps the 2011 Saints come January playing outside New Orleans.

This year, they have been worse. Brees' numbers in road games are a lot lower than his numbers at home (which are basically along the lines of what Rodgers is doing).

by TomC :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:02pm

Atlanta over New Orleans says alot.

I'm guessing that by this you mean: "Anyone with a pair of eyes can tell the Saints are far better than the Falcons, so your ratings are obviously wrong." However, if that's true, why did the NO/ATL game go into overtime? Really should have been a blow-out, right?

I'm guessing NO's DVOA is being severely dragged down by losses to TB and STL. That should also drag down anyone's non-scientific, football-intuition-based rating---no truly excellent team would lose to both of those terrible squads.

by nath :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:07pm

New Orleans opened as a 3-point favorite AT Atlanta which translates into roughly a six-point favorite on a neutral field. That's a big margin-- Vegas clearly thinks NO is significantly better than ATL.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:46pm

Didn't we already have a discussion that Vegas' lines don't represent just how likely a team is to win/cover, but also a way to make sure that the money is bet in a way that the books make money regardless of the outcome?

Regardless, is single TD spread really THAT indicative of Vegas thinking that NO is significantly better than ATL? To me anything within a single score is basically a toss-up.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:48pm

Six points is a lot. Remember that three points on the road is like nine points at home. It's unusual to be favored on the road.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:48pm

But Vegas has been wrong all season with regards to NO.
6-0 at home ATS.
0-5-1 on the road ATS until this week.
Now, it seems the books have come around to this fact with the last game (even though NO almost lost that one too), but it's clear New Orleans is a different team away from home.

by Anonmouse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 9:22am

The only way to determine if Vegas was wrong is to present the amount of betting on each side. If New Orleans is 6-0 at home ATS and there was equal betting on each side, then Vegas was right. The outcome of the game is irrelevant. Vegas wants equal betting on each side, period.

by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 1:27pm

Well by those standards, since Vegas will move the line until there's equal betting on both sides, Vegas is never wrong. But my definition of them being wrong is if the line needs to move a lot, or if certain trends don't get corrected. In this last game, I believe the line started at NO -5 and moved to -3.5, which seems like the line is still being set too high. Bettors should not be able to go 11-1-1 following extremely simple rules.

by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:03pm

I probably would take at least at 8 teams over NO on a Neutral Grass Field. That being said, I think NO is the 2nd Best Team in the NFC and a Top 5 Team Overall

by OmrothLol (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:29pm

The match in Atlanta was pretty bloody close.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:31pm

You would have a solid argument for any of the teams ranked higher than them to be favored on a neutral field, except maybe the inexplicably DVOA-friendly Jets and the Falcons.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:42pm

I'm not sure the Schaub-less Texans could beat the Saints right now, though it might be a good match.

The difference in DVOA between NO and ATL is small enough that it probably can be neglected. I think the perception comes from ATL's defense not getting as much attention as NO's offense. That's just life in the present-day NFL.

by Supadome (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:25pm

The Texans, with Schaub, couldn't beat the Saints back in week 3. It was a good match.

Teams which gained over 300 yards against Houston, 2011

1. Saints 454
2. Ravens 402
3. Falcons 337
4. Dolphins 306

Carolina may make this list. That will be a good match.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:36pm

The Texans, with Schaub, couldn't beat the Saints back in week 3... on the road.

Actually, Houston had the best performance against New Orleans on the road. Who know what would happen away from New Orleans right now.

Although, I don't know about all this neutral field business. Each year there are two neutral field games out of 267; there's not a lot of data on them.

by nick thunderdome (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:00pm

Two? The Super Bowl and what? the Pro Bowl?

Anyway, we're up to 2 (or 3) this year; Jets and Giants both play in the same stadium and will be playing later this year. That's pretty much a neutral field - neither team will be using the visiting team locker room.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:08pm

This: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NFL_International_Series
I don't see "home team designations" as meaning anything.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:30pm

It means tiny flags on each seat and home team cheerleaders.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:11pm

Game every year in London.

edit: Perfundle beat me to it.

by Supadome (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:12pm

Good point. Neutral is a theoretical construct anyway. But I crunched these numbers for Saints point differential

Saints Home +21.5
Saints Away Even

This gives some credence to lower rankings on neutral fields.

I believe that the Saints will get little/no attention from certain national sports outlets until they win a game where it's below freezing (see 2006 NFC Championship Game). This skew doesn't to affect other southern dome teams like Dallas or Atlanta for some reason. Maybe it's just my homerism?

by Overrated (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:57pm

It's your homerism. It's talked about with every southern team, dome or not.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:20pm

Well, after some research, it seems it's mainly because of Brees.

Here are the split stats for the last four years (since Rodgers became the starter):

Manning: 93.0 QBR at home, 97.8 on the road
Brady: 109.1/99.3
Rodgers: 108.7/100.6
Brees: 110.1/90.4

That's an amazing split in passer rating, and it's not even a one-year phenomenon.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:38pm

If you are counting the last four years for Manning as 2008, 2009 and 2010 (since he hasn't played this season) that coincides with the opening of the Luke. Odd that his passer rating is nearly 5 points better on the road.

by Supadome (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 8:33pm

Interesting. I calculated the same for two other southern dome QBs:

Romo 97.6 H / 93.9 A
Ryan 95.7 H / 80.6 A

So both Ryan and Brees QBR drop ~17% when on the road. And they play very similar schedules. This might be an actual thing.

Ryan has a similar split, where Romo is "consistent". (Although I got lazy and just averaged by year, and Romo's 2010 was 87 H / 102 A in 6 G, so had I weighted his seasons/games properly, he would have about an 8 point split.)

It's too bad PFR doesn't break splits into dome/grass or even stadium. Except that I have other things that I should be doing.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:18pm

"On a neutral field would you really take 8 teams over the Saints?"

It hardly seems fair to play 88 against 11. But yeah, I'd take the other 8 teams.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:45pm

I wouldn't be so certain. If the opponent plays defense like http://www.footballoutsiders.com/images/TDZ/Walkthrough100611-1.jpg, with Graham instead of Johnson, then New Orleans has a chance.

On the offensive side, even supposing there's no "88 men on the field" flag, think of all the pre-snap penalties!

by nuclearbdgr :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:45pm

Packers ST is in the top ten! Hide the women and children!

by Turin :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:10pm

Green Bay is clearly the big winner from the new kickoff rule.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:48pm

Yes and no. Looking at the breakdowns here, these are the points over average for each of the 5 areas of special teams that FO tracks.

AREA . 2011 . 2010 . Change
FG/XP: 6.1 . .-0.1 . . 6.2
KICKS: 1.4 . .-7.0 . . 8.4
K.RET: 6.2 . .-6.1 . .12.3
PUNT: -5.6 . . 3.5 . .-9.1
P.RET: 5.6 . .-2.4 . . 8.0
TOTAL:13.7 . -12.1 . .25.8

The biggest positive change is in kickoff return, and while the new rules could affect that, I think Randall Cobb affects that more than the rule change espcially when you look at the affect he has had on punt returns as well.

Next is kick off coverage (KICKS above) and yeah, I do think the new rule helps there. If Crosby can't boot it through the endzone he has been getting the kicks up more giving more time for the coverage unit to get down field. Still they are only getting 1.4 points more than average so it's still not great. Of course as I've mentioned several of the Packers draft picks played on coverage units in college, I really think the 2011 draft board was done with an if guys were close the ones with better special teams potential got the nod even over a player that might have been a bit better on offense or defense.

Punt return is pretty obviously the affect of Cobb. Though again some of these other rookies are blocking on the punt return units as well.

FG/XP is just Crosby having a career year and is fair to count as luck.

Punts is actually surprising but has been trending upwards from it's low of around -11 (I think) back in week 5 or 6. The Packers don't punt a lot (3.2 a game this year vs 4.4 a game last year), so the needle doesn't move a lot. That unit, recently, is playing a lot more like the 3.5 it was last year. Masthay got himself another special teams player of the week award recently. The Packers being 4th in weighted ST DVOA vs the 7th overall I think is mostly because the punting is much closer to last year than the rest of this year.

The rules certainly help, but I think there was a concerted effort to improve ST in the draft this year, and why not? It was clearly the weakest unit of the three last year and the players that are helping with it aren't only good for ST. When the roster has finally been rebuilt well enough you can afford to shift focus a bit like that. It won't happen next year as I expect the majority of the draft on the defensive side of the ball and the old attitude of if they can help ST, great, if not, oh well.

Just digging a little deeper on it. It's still crazy considering how bad special teams were the last few years, and I still think Shawn Slocumb is a poor ST Coordinator, give the Packers Dave Toub and I bet all the units are 10-20% better than what they are right now.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:35pm

The punting numbers for the Packers make me wonder about a few other things, things I don't have the answers for, but there are a lot of bright people here, so maybe someone does.

The Pats and the Packers give up a lot of yards. I'm wondering if the average field position start for their opponents is unusually bad, with a combination of the new kickoff rules (both these teams score a *lot*), and the fact that these teams hardly ever go three-and-out, so even on non-scoring drives would pin their opponents extra deep. I don't have the numbers, but it seems possible. This would give their opponents the opportunity to gain more yards, whether successfully or not, than the average team.

When you combine that with the observation that both defenses pretty much suck, you may have some explanation for the apparent disparity between statistical ratings and results. They don't suck as much as we think (and the stats seem to show) because their opponents have so much field to cover. It would also explain how they can give up so many yards and relatively few points: their opponents have farther to go to get in scoring position. Add to that the fact that the Pats and the Packers play ahead and thus teams eschew field goals, leading to some 4th down conversions and some scoring failures, and maybe we have a more complete picture.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:03pm

In fact the numbers are right here on FO (not updated yet for this week, but will be in a few hours, I'm guessing):
(Look under LOS/Dr in the Defense section)
So yes, GB and NE's opponents do have bad field position. But it's only around 2.5 yards worse than the average starting position. Their opponents average 10 drives per game, meaning an extra 25 yards that their opponents can get per game due to field position, which doesn't seem like a lot.

Now, something else that might play a slight role is this: GB averages 0.7 drives less than their opponents. This is mainly due to their 7 defensive and special teams TDs, forcing the defense to be out there for two straight drives.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:50pm

I have been reduced to rooting for my favored team to continue to have the biggest shortfall of actual wins to estimated wins, in order to secure higher draft picks for a team that should have won more games.


by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:36am

Same here with Miami

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:52pm

We're Number One!! We're Number One!! Oops-- of course there's another asterisk, based on the weighted results. Yet if one simply looks at points, for the first 6 weeks, the Packers averaged 33 pts a game, and allowed 20. In their last 7 games, the corresponding numbers are 39 and 23, a bit better. For the last 5 games, they are 38 and 20, better still. But so what-- wins are wins.

We don't need no stinkin' weights!!

But Aaron is dead right about the Packers' pass rush-- Mike Neal, to quote Bob McGinn today in the Journal-Sentinel, has been "just a guy" for his 4 games in the lineup after a preseason injury. Obviously Cullen Jenkins was more than that last year.

Five more than fascinating playoff tests looming (only three can actually occur, of course)-- 1) Giants in 2nd Rd (presuming NY wins division and WC game) in the "2007 two-fer"-- a chance to once again deny the Packers at Lambeau and once again upend history over a team that recently defeated them 38-35 in New Jersey; 2) Saints in rematch of wild and wooly opener between past two SB winners; 3) A Steeler rematch in SB. Never happened in NFL before in successive seasons, but was once a staple in baseball and definitely in NBA; 4) Patriots. Belichick and Brady try to deny Packers from attaining what they almost achieved themselves; 5) dare I say it-- Tebow! God vs. Lombardi-- not sure who wins that one.

Of course, it will probably wind up Detroit-San Francisco-Baltimore, but whatever.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:02pm

The Cowboys and Bills met in the Super Bowl in successive seasons.

Anyway, I like that gauntlet of teams (Giants, Saints, Steelers). I would like Giants, Saints, Ravens, because after having to outscore Eli and Drew, you then get the league's best defense. Just to mix things up.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:05pm

The Giants Gallic edge rusher could once again establish that this position is 2nd only to the qb, in terms of potential influence on a game's outcome, in a playoff game against the Packers.

I think a 49ers/Packers play off game might be quite entertaining.

by Turin :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:06pm

Dallas beat Buffalo in the Super Bowl in consecutive years.

Also, Lombardi in a blowout. :)

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:14pm

I knew as I typed it was probably wrong. I guess I lost my helmet there for a moment!! THX for the correction.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:34pm

Of course, the game Thurman Thomas lost his helmet was Super Bowl XXVI against the Redskins.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:57pm

I would add a GB-Niners playoff game to your list of fascinating scenarios. No one's paying any attention to the Niners this season (probably because their offense is bad). But they have excellent special teams, and one of the best defenses in the league this year.

The intriguing thing would be, of course, how their defense deals with the Packers offense, but just as fascinating would be how their generally inept offense fares against the porous Packers' D.

And it would have some history behind it...the last time the Niners were among the NFL elites, their perennial NFC competitors were the Giants and the Packers.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:42pm

Add the Cowboys in the early 90s and the Bears in the mid 80s.

by Mr. X (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:52pm

The link above for the revised playoff odds is broken, just like the Bears offense.

by Dejspin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:54pm

Can you clue us in on what the Packers DVOA vs the Raiders was before Aaron Rodgers left the game? Or even just in the first half? I imagine that the 4th quarter was once again a huge drain on their DVOA.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:00pm

no real point going there. Aaron and others have explained they haven't seen any reason to adjust for garbage time based on results in previous years. Packers are simply the exception that proves the rule here-- if there was a first 3 Quarters DVOA, would think the Packers would dominate and begin to show they are more of a historically dominant team than they are currently credited for, but then again that would discount some teams (any one in particular that comes to mind??? Hmmmm..... maybe they play in the Mountain Time Zone??) and their ability to rally late.

I'm just watching the games, but to me the Packers are pretty close to what McCarthy said on Sunday-- unbeatable if they play reasonably well, at least to this crop of opponents. And so far they have played at least reasonably well in every key test going back an entire year and, now, 19 games-- so this will all sort out by February.

by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:12pm

Too bad GB's lack of willingness to run up the score will likely prevent them from setting the Points Scored Record for the Season. As of 2 or so weeks ago when I checked, basically the entire difference in points scored for the 2011 Packers vs 2007 Patriots came from the Differnce in 4th Quarter Scoring

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:23pm

Which is also a commentary on Belichick--at least that season in the storm of Spygate when, to quote Bill Simmons, Pats were in "Eff-You" mode that entire year.

But-- and this may be getting way too deep into the head games-- did that "crush them every chance we can" mentality (Remember Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma team) lead to a worse performance once they were in a game where clearly that wasn't going to happen? Or was the final Giants loss simply a reflection of a series of closer than expected outcomes (Ravens, Giants the first time, one of the earlier playoff games) as the Pats had already lost their edge?

So is the Packers' consistency and seeming unwillingness to play "EFF-You" football in the 4th Quarter a better predictor of success in three playoff games-- or are we simply in Billy Beane "crapshoot" land regardless?? We need a DPPA-- Deep Philosophical Psychological Adjustment.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:40am

The "crush them every chance we can" mentality certainly never seemed to hurt the dominant Australia cricket team of the mid 90s-mid 00s. Obviously they lost games every now and again - we're talking about a period of more than a decade here - but they won three consecutive World Cups and were the #1 ranked test match team for God knows how long. Even when they did get in a tough spot - the 2005 Ashes series away against a very strong #2 ranked England team, for example - they battled like crazy and almost pulled off wins from a couple of seemingly impossible positions.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:06pm

Possibly, but I think the far easier explanation is that Dan Koppen and the rest of the Patriots' interior line simply couldn't handle the Giants "Four Aces" pass rush when all four of them were playing the best game of their career. And even then, the Giants needed a magical ball-grabbing helmet and some Asante Samuel butterfingers to win.

Your point would tend to imply that the Pats had somehow gotten "soft" and unable to execute in tight, game-deciding situations because they had scored too many points earlier in the season. But that doesn't hold up. When the game was tight and the Pats were down with little time left, they executed a beautiful drive against a defense playing teriffically to go down the field and score a TD. Unfortunately, they did so with just a little to much time left on the clock.

I don't think having scored fewer points earlier in the season would have somehow magically make Asante Samuel hold onto the errant ball that Eli threw, or would have helped Richard Seymour sack Eli before he got off the wing and the prayer that became the helmet catch, or would have helped Rodney Harrison dislodge the ball from Tyree's hands (strike that...from his hand and head). It also probably wouldn't have helped Randy Moss corral either of the two near-Hail Mary's that Brady threw to him at the very end of the game.

by DejSpin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:17pm

I would say that there is a point in asking, and I'm not just posting this be a jerk about the way that FO calculates DVOA (you all know who I'm talking about). I'm honestly just interested to know how not playing the last 1/3 of the game affected their overall DVOA. After all this was the Packers best game of the season, even with all that garbage time. It seems like it could potentially have been one of the best DVOA games ever if they had kept the pedal to the floor, and won 67-0. But instead the Packers made like an NHL team with a 3 goal lead and made the game unwatchable by clogging up the middle of the ice for the whole third period.

by raorao (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:59pm

Woah, the Niners rush defense DVOA (-34.4%) is better than any team's rush offense DVOA in the NFL (Carolina has the best with a DVOA of +29.7%). All Jim Harbaugh needs is a time machine and he can win the superbowl in 1973.

by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:08pm

I'm not so sure. As much as the 49ers Passing Game and Offense can struggle, could you imagine them trying to complete passes without all the rule that currently favor offenses. Limited Passing Game in 2011=No Passing Game at all in the 70s

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:39pm

Well, the 1974 Steelers won the Super Bowl with a dominating defense and 172 rushing yards per game while their QBs combined to complete 43% of their passes for 12 TDs, 21 interceptions, and a 48.9 rating. Could Alex Smith really be that much worse? I think the 49ers would do just fine.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:09pm

BTW, Playoff Odds suggests that the Packers have a 15.8% chance of losing at least two of their remaining three games. I would go to Vegas and bet my house, my firstborn, and my expected income for the remainder of my life if you could let me bet at 1/6 on the Packers winning twice. And yes, even if there is a slight prospect that McCarthy pulls the plug after this week-- whioch obviously is NOT reflected in the DVOA odds. If anyone seriously believes that the Chiefs with Palko and the Bears playing at Lambeau with Hanie at QB can win, well be my guest. I would bet you couldn't get 1/20 odds in Vegas for that bet.

The true 16-0 odds have to be well over 50% now. I'd say the Packers are 90% to win at KC, probably 90% to beat the Bears, and maybe 75% to beat Detroit. Which is just over 60% to be perfect.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:15pm

Remember, DVOA doesn't account for injuries. It doesn't know that Cutler isn't playing for the Bears.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:31pm

But Aaron said he adjusted the Playoff Odds report for the QB injuries. So if those numbers are being used, then the projection does know in this case.

Really the projection is just goofy. 40% change to go 16-0, but only 43% chance to 15-1 or better? It's like the projection expects GB to play exactly one game they are likely to lose, and the other two games the other team might as well not even show up. The percentages are too close for anything else to make sense.

I'm guessing there was some kind of mistake updating those odds. If the numbers were added together instead of inclusive (which is how they are normally presented), then GB would have an 83% chance of going 15-1 or better, which would be much more reasonable.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:47pm

Are the numbers normally inclusive? It says 15-1, not 15-1 and better.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:02pm

yes, the 43% is 15-1 and 15-1 only

by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:09pm

I don't think I've ever seen a 15-1 that is smaller than a 16-0, or a 1-15 that is smaller than 0-16, though I suppose that isn't definitive. However, with only one team vying for each type of "perfection" and no access to previous weeks data I can't be sure.

Maybe I've just assumed they were inclusive because I've never seen odds that would contradict this (e.g., 15-1 lower than 16-0, or similar, or odds that added up to more than 100%), however, now that I think about it that would be expected in most cases, since 15-1 will always be easier to achieve than 16-0, and the only way the odds would add up to 100% is for a 15-0 team entering it's final game.

Aaron, if you read this can you clarify whether the final record projection odds are exclusive of each other?

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:22pm

Your assumptions go out the window as the difficulty of the victories eases.

If the Packers were 50% to win each game, then the odds at this juncture would be:

16-0 12.5%
13-3 12.5%
and the two in-between outcomes, 15-1 and 14-2, would be identical at 37.5%

If the Packers were/are 70% to win each game, then the odds would be:

16-0 34.3%
13-3 2.7%
14-2 18.9%
15-1 44.1%-- the most likely outcome

But if the Packers climb to 80% to win each game, then the odds would be 51.2% to go 16-0, and it would become the most likely, by far, actual outcome.

It is patently obvious that the 15-1 odds number is exclusive of any other result-- as without it, DVOA would be saying that the likeliest outcome would be for the Packers to lose at least two more games, which is absurd.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:52pm

That's true. It also doesn't know that Greg Jennings is injured.

by DejSpin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:44pm

In the end, the "Any Given Sunday" nature of the NFL still applies. Look at the other end of the spectrum. The Colts have a 74% of winning one game and a 29% chance of winning two games. If anyone wants to let me bet 1:3 or 1:4 that the Colts won't win two games, let me know. Those numbers seem out of line, but I'm sure that's how FO has them modeled based on past results.

by DGL :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:12pm

Exactly. That 15.8% includes all the reasons that the Packers could lose two or more games, including a run of incredibly bad luck, deciding to rest starters, a New Years' Day ice storm at Lambeau, an injury to Rogers, and so on, and so on. When you think of all the things that could go wrong to cause the Pack to lose two or three of its remaining games, and then say that the chance of that happening is around the same as throwing exactly three heads on three consecutive tosses, well, it doesn't sound that unreasonable.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:29pm

You could spin it any whch way you want it-- maybe there will be a nuclear holocaust on Dec 24, maybe there will be a volcanic eruption at Yellowstone (real possibility, btw-- and much of the Plains States will be flattened when it happens), etc, etc...

I am going to come back to something I said a number of weeks ago-- too many 100 year floods are happening these days in sports to be treated as within normal statistical variation, even on the outside of same. Tebow is yet another example.

The models are flawed. Conditions are changing. By definition they are rear-views, and thus are never truly "predictive". The Packers ain't losing 2 games-- you know it, God and Tebow know it, the Chiefs, Bears and Lions know it-- not 15.8% of the time, not 1.588888888888888% of the time. It's an absurd statistical attempt to measure something that is beyond DVOA's grasp. But I give FO credit for trying-- almost everybody else doesn't lift a finger.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:29pm

Certainly the Packers have a good chance of going 16-0.

But the chances of GB losing at least one of the next three games are much bigger than 1.58%. They are bigger, even assuming that GB doesn't have a critical injury or bizarre calls going against them-- there's a chance they might just get outplayed for 60 minutes and lose. That wouldn't make me think the Chiefs, Bears, or Lions are better than GB; no matter what happens the rest of the season, GB has established themselves as a (or the) top team this season.

But the paucity of winless teams in NFL history suggests that these upsets do happen to good teams; there are many examples. There's no reason it can't happen to GB too.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:34pm

My apologies-- you're talking about the odds of losing two games! That's weird to contemplate, but I'd still put it at least at 1%. I would agree that 15% seems too high-- maybe that number is high to match examples in NFL history of teams collapsing? A key injury or other tumultuous event is possible, I suppose; but I certainly hope that doesn't happen!

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:20pm

Detroit is the most formidable team left on the Packers' schedule and if they've lost their chance at an unbeaten season and have clinched the #1 seed, it's hard to argue that there's any reason for them to play their starters in Week 17 (at least not for the whole game). I can easily see 14-2 if the Packers somehow lose one of their next two games.

I think the odds of them being 15-0 going into the Detroit game are pretty high, though...but I would go so far as to say I'd favor Detroit in week 17 if the Packers aren't unbeaten and if they've clinched the #1 seed.

by DGL :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:33pm

The four most dangerous words in any type of analysis are, "This time it's different."

Because, usually, it's not.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:34pm

If the Lions go into game 16 needing a win to make the playoffs, you think they wouldn't at least consider Ndomastomping Rodgers? When he got hurt last year, that same Packers offense put up 3 pts.

I'd say there's more than a 16% chance a desperate Lions team beats a Packers team playing in poor conditions, even if they have to play dirty to do it.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:57pm

I'm on record as saying the Lions are 25% to win that game-- the 15.8 number are the odds DVOA gives to the Packers losing twice. I went on a rant, but actually i think the chances that the Packers lose at least two of the remaining three games are about 5-6%, at most-- a far cry from 15.8.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:58pm

First off, Rodgers' concussion last year was his own damn fault for not sliding. No Lion player hit him in the head on that play.

Second, it would be stupid to blatantly go out of the way to injure Rodgers, knowing that it would probably lead to a suspended starter for the playoffs. As nasty as some of the Lions players have been, they haven't done anything that got an opponent carted off the field, unlike, say, James Harrison.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:30pm

Nick Fairley, Andre Fluellen... doesn't have to be a STARTER...

But, Detroit's reputation for dirty play is exaggerated and there is no reason to believe they'll play dirty against GB any more than anyone else. Rodgers needs to learn to avoid contact. Throwing the ball away now and then might hurt his passing numbers, but it will give him more seasons to acquire them in.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:42pm

Agreed-- he just blamed himself for the blindside hit which caused the "fumble" vs Raiders-- said he should have thrown ball away.

by MCS :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 3:00pm

You do realize that video is readily available on the internet right?

#55 clearly hits Rodgers in the head with his shoulder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vHm0YoDo-c&feature=related

However, I agree that if Rodgers had slid he could have avoided the injury.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:13pm

15.8% does sound improbable, but you remember 2009? Two 13-0 teams? Take a wild guess on how many of them lost at least 2 games in their last 3.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:23pm

One of those teams (NO) had a DVOA higher after 13 games than the Packers have right now. And that same team lost two games while playing their starters, and one of them was at home to a team that was, I beleive, 2-12 at the time.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:28pm

Something you need to factor into your considerations. Since the 49ers have now lost a 3rd game, the Packers only need one more victory to clinch the #1 seed. By Monday morning, they might well be into a "rest their starters mode."

I seem to recall the Colts lost 2 of their final three a few years ago doing that, after they had started 13-0. (Googles)

Why yes, it was only two years ago!


Nobody really thought either the Jets or the Bills were a better team, but the Colts didn't play to win.

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:38pm

And that was with a team that really didn't have anything to play for. New Orleans that year did have something to play for (home field advantage in the NFC) and they still lost all three games.

by Supadome (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:26pm

They wound up with #1 seed anyway though. Vikings lost to Carolina the same week that Saints lost to Dallas, so they kept their 3 game lead with 2 to go. Vikes lost again the next week, and Saints laid down against TB, which is when I learned not to spend ridiculous sums on late season field level tickets.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:12pm

Not just much of the Plains states. We're talking a worldwide catastrophe if (or rather when) Yellowstone blows. Not only would it be as powerful as some huge number of nuclear weapons going off in Wyoming, and would it probably kill all life within almost a thousand mile radius, but it would coat most of the rest of North America in nasty volcanic ash (completely crushing our food production capability), and create a dust cloud that would screw the planet's climate for decades afterwards (messing with the rest of the world's food production).

Aftershocks could also tip off other seismic events around the continent, further compounding the problem.

And geologically, we're due. From what I've read, the explosion is going to happen very soon, plus or minus a couple hundred thousand years.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:41pm

This always leads me to the same thought, if it's going to wipe us all out the why not try and do something about it? The magma chamber is going to release a massive amount of energy at some stage, why not attempt to take some of that energy away by using it as the world's largest geothermal power source? It would make the Hoover dam look like chicken feed. I don't really care how pretty it is when leaving it alone will definitely lead to a mass extinction?

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:44pm

I'm not any kind of physist, nor do I play one on tv, but I imagine what you are proposing is near impossible. If we could control volcanoes to any degree, wouldn't it have been done with smaller ones near populated areas first?

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 12:17pm

Not saying it would be simple but if you can deal with the temperatures inside a nuclear reactor then you might be able to at least think about it. If it's a choice between being annihilated or trying then maybe we should at least think about it? I would have thought the biggest problem would be the chance of inadvertently setting the damn thing off, there's quite a lot of pressure down there.

by nuclearbdgr :: Fri, 12/16/2011 - 4:34pm

Temperatures inside reactors (especially commercial power reactors) does not get extraordinarily high - you don't want the fuel to melt.

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:15pm

Frankly, I think the Packers are 90%+ to beat the Bears at this point even if they rest all of their starters. If they're still going full speed, I don't see how the Bears even have a chance.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:24pm

That's crazy talk. The Bears will be playing for any number of reasons not the least of which is pride.

I could easily see Lovie pulling out all the stops including some halfback options or Hester taking direct snaps.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:33pm

have you seen the two teams play recently? I think 90% is about right, but if it isn't it is low. Caleb Hanie cannot get more than 14-17 pts on the board in the best of circumstances, and you could put Butkus c. 1967 alongside Uhrlacher and the Packers won't score less than 20. Not this Packer team. C'mon, Man.

The Lions do have an outside shot because they still have an offense.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:36pm

Been watching/attending games for a long time. I don't know you from Adam but fans like you make me grimace.

Because I have seen WAY TOO MANY good Packer teams get blindsided by wild, weird stuff.

by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:41pm

"We're only going to score 17 points? Ha, ha...okay." -Tom Brady.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:01pm

Leave it to Packer fans to overestimate their odds of winning any game.

Take this homer stuff back to ESPN. Stop trying to ruin the commentary on this site.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:09pm

Overestimate?? based on what?? DVOA said that the Broncos, as of 5 weeks ago, had virtually no chance of making the playoffs. And it said, as of a few weeks ago, that the Packers had a similarly poor chance of going undefeated. When Aaron listed the actual DVOA-odds for the Packers remaining 5 games, they were 51% to beat the Giants, and basically about 70% to win the other 4. 7 teams were judged as having a higher win expectancy for Games 12-16 than the Packers.

I said then and i continue to say now that, aside from the defense issues we've all been discussing for some time now (garbage time/value of INTs, etc..) this model grossly underestimated the Packers' actual odds of winning. I was not smart enough to see the Broncos coming, but I believe that in both cases the model has simply failed to properly gauge two outliers-- not because they are outliers and these results are well within the model's range, but instead because no model is perfect, including DVOA. Real-time events cause any model to change-- and in this case I would think DVOA will readjust for these and other differences that this season is causing.

I am well aware of the flaws of after-the-fact/results based analysis-- believe me, I know all the theory and foibles. But I have been saying it all before the fact-- call me a homer if you wish, but there is another possibility-- that in this particular case I-- or more correctly, the Packers' skill set-- am/is more close to the truth than DVOA.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:27pm

The Packers won against NYG by 3 points. How does that make any kind of case against DVOA-odds? In fact, I'd argue it makes a stronger case for it.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:49pm

well, we've trod this ground already-- I'll simply say, as the Win Expectancy tables bear out, that there were very few moments throughout that 2nd half where the Packers were less than a 60-65% favorite to win that game. And several where they were over 75%. I think 70% was a much truer assessment of the Packers odds of winning that game-- the Giants played a terrific football game, the Packers did not-- and there was the outcome. Do you believe the Raiders had a 30% chance of winning on Sunday? If yes, you agree with DVOA. And mind you I am no longer challenging DVOA's overall assessment of the Packer defense-- I think it is more right than wrong-- but I am challenging the win expectancy rates their model produces.

Truer odds were at least 85% that the Packers-- a 12-13 pt favorite-- would win vs. oakland.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:04pm

I never said I agreed with DVOA. I don't. But a small point differential supports a smaller win percentage, not a bigger one.

by TomC :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:15pm

Really? I'm a Bears fan, and I don't think the Hanie-led Bears beat the current Packers more than one time out of ten.

[edit: just to clarify, the "really?" was directed at LionInAZ, not Paul M.]

by PackAttack (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:14pm

Leave it to Lions fans to whine.

We're 13-0 buddy. Go Pack!!

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:09pm

If the Bears had Jay Cutler and Matt Forte healthy, then I'd agree they have a chance; with Caleb Hanie I will be pleasantly surprised if the Bears-Packers game is more competitive than the Raiders-Packers game was on Sunday. Playing for pride/an outside shot at making the playoffs is one thing, but I just don't see the Bears making something out of the nothing that is their offense right now. (And I'm a Bears fan, so it pains me to say all this. I would have liked nothing better than for the Bears to take out the Packers' chance of an undefeated season).

Also, I will be pleasantly surprised if I ever see Lovie pulling out all the stops in any game, ever.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:47am

Rest all their starters? Just rest Rodgers and I think it's 50/50. It's not like the Packers have a defense, while the Bears do. Yeah, they lost to the Denver Tebows, but all the cool kids are doing it these days.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by nat :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:53pm

Could you publish the rankings/numbers for First-Three-Quarters DVOA? Paul M had an interesting question. (And you might do the same for Fourth-Quarter DVOA, because you would be right to fear the wrath of {parts of the fanbase} otherwise)

In theory, this all-but-late DVOA should avoid the prevent-defense, garbage time, hail-mary, shut-the-offense down, play-the-backups issues - while still being a large enough sample to characterize each team pretty well.


by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:20pm

In the 4th quarter, the Packers rank 2nd in Offense DVOA and 24th in Defense DVOA. I believe that doesn't include the last game. Basically very similar to where they are overall.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:21pm

The Bears are clearly ranked too high because Caleb Hanie is not only bad, but unlucky. MSPHLS (Marion Barber Stupid Plays per High Leverage Situation) is way better than this. Jay Cutler 4 mvp!

by akn :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:12am

I swear Hanie walks under 13 ladders while letting 13 black cats lead the way to practice every day.

Though I'm chalking up this week's excruciating loss to karmic vengeance for the 2006 Arizona Cardinals "They are who we thought they were" win. I would have loved to see Lovie blow his top after the game, but we know that will never happen.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:57pm

I was shocked to see Hanie ranked #23 in Quick Reads this week, directly below Tim Tebow. (Granted, there's a 23 DYAR gap between them, and both had negative total DYAR). He really didn't play that badly on Sunday; he just didn't play well either. (And arguably a big reason the Bears lost was that with Hanie at QB, there was no question that they were going to run the ball three times and punt late in the 4th quarter. Put Cutler in the game and I think they really would have tried for first downs. Of course, put Cutler in and the lead would have likely been too big at that point for even Tebow to catch them).

by Mikey :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:32pm

Bills down to 29th in Weighted DVOA. Is this the farthest fall for a former #1 team? Or at least, one ranking #1 so late in the season?

by fudgeface (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:34pm

Tebow is clearly ranked too low because of a lack of media coverage for Tebow. TEBOA is way better than this. I will Tebow that you fix your shoddy rankings before Tebow wins the Super Bowl and triggers a reimagining of the entire sport.

by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 3:58pm

It is funny how Buffalo is 32nd in Variance when in all realilty they have been consistent.

-Beginning of the Year people did not know how to Defend their Gimmick Offense so they were consistently putting up tons of Points and won some Shootouts

-Later in the Year teams figured out how to Slow Down their Gimmick Offense (and Fred Jackson being hurt has not helped) so now they consistently stink.

**I understand that DVOA just sees multiple good games and multiple bad games but yet they have been consistent all year (consistently good early) and (consistently bad recently)

by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:09pm

Do you understand what "variance" means? Aaron has said that the variance column is literally that -- running the Excel variance function on the team's individual game DVOAs.

Variance is not affected by the order things happen in.

The variance of the sequence (1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20) is identical to the variance of the sequence (1, 20, 1, 20, 1, 20, 1, 20, 1, 20).

by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:14pm

I don't think you guys really disagree on what variance is measuring. QQ is pointing out that there are different kinds of variance worth considering.

In some cases a high variance would indicate that you can't guess what a team will do next week (DVOAs all over the place throughout the season). In the Bills case, you can predict them much more easily due to the distribution.

It's a valid point if you want to use variance to do any sort of prediction of future performance. If there were a weighted variance the Bills would be much lower, and this might be better for predicting future success.

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:28pm

"Bullseye!" exclaimed the statistician.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:05pm

If you look at the top defensive lines the top six are all 4-3 teams and conversely the bottom five or six teams are all 3-4s, including some very good run defenses (SF BAL, though one caveat, are the Bills a 3-4 or a 4-3? I haven't been interested enough to watch them this year).

In second level yards the trend is reversed and the 3-4 teams rise to the top. This makes some sense to me as most modern 4-3 teams use their linemen in a one gap scheme and so are more likely to penetrate into the backfield and bust up the play whereas most 3-4 linemen are two gapping, holding up their areas of the field and trying to create a wall of linemen. The 3-4 teams also have more second level defenders so their better performance in that metric makes sense too.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:22pm

I just really enjoy football come December. It's likely imagined but I sense a difference among the teams still in the hunt. Hint more urgency. Like players can taste the playoffs.

Just a great time.

by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:25pm

I still don't know what to think about the Lions. They could go 0-3 or 3-0 (if Green Bay loses week 16 and rests starters which yeah not going to happen). Oakland and San Diego are both tough opponents, and I'm in a history-based denial that the Lions are possibly good enough to beat both. That means we're looking at a 9-7 record and needing a lot of luck to get the WC spot.

Competition: I assume neither Arizona nor Seattle are going to win out. So the threats are Bears and Cowboys/Giants. The Bears are much worse than the Lions but have a much easier schedule as well. The Cowboys could plausibly either win out or lose out (though if they lost to Tampa that would be bad). The Giants have a tougher schedule, but the game lead in the division.

Conclusion: There isn't one. Lions need to beat Oakland and San Diego and try to beat the Packer too. I just don't see it happening.

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:56pm

I think you worry too much.

Though I confess to not understand your tie-break situation.

Dallas and Giants must still play each other, meaning one of them gets a 7th loss for sure. And you only have to worry about one.

I would think, despite the home field difference, that your chances against a cratering Raider team without its best player are about as good as the Bears against a Seahawk team which has now won 5 of 6.

San Diego could be eliminated by Christmas and have little to play for. Bears and Hanie have no chance vs. pack-- you have a fighting chance

Just win the next two and you're in and then clap at Lambeau as we go 16-0 and who knows? We may meet again in a couple more weeks. But seriously I think you and the falcons are clear favorites for WC now.

by JasonK :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:26pm

Yeah, per the Playoff Odds page, ATL is 86% likely to get a wildcard (plus the 9% chance they take the NFCS, in which case NO slides into that spot), and DET is 74% likely to take the other one. The remaining contenders are Chicago (14%), the NFCW also-ran (14%!), and the NFCE also-ran (only 3%).

The Giants and Dallas have pretty terrible tiebreakers with the rest of the NFC-- in case of a 9-7 (the best record the non-division-winner can have) tie, they usually lose. Particularly with Detroit, who beat Dallas head-to-head, and who (I think) would probably have a better Conference record than the Giants.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:54pm

Detroit is 4-5 against the NFC with 1 game left (@GB). Dallas is 5-2 against the NFC with two left (PHI, @NYG), but a head-to-head loss to Detroit. NYG are 3-5 against the NFC with two left (WAS, DAL).

Detroit is better off with NYG winning the NFCE and Dallas losing the head-to-head for the wildcard. If Dallas wins, and NYG finishes +1 vs Detroit in the last 3, then there are no head-to-heads and likely even conference records. If it came to it, DET and NYG likely also tie for the 3rd tiebreak (common opponents). Both are 1-4, with one left -- but both would likely lose that game (DET&GB, NYGvsDAL) to result in a WC showoff. Detroit is +87 in point differential at the moment, which is the 4th tiebreak. Detroit, unless it totally ganks a game, likely wins that, and sings hosannas to Tim Tebow and Drew Brees.

by JasonK :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:07pm

I count DET at 6-5 in NFC games (wins against Bucs, VikesX2, Cowboys, Bears, Panthers; losses to Niners, Falcons, Bears, Pack, Saints) with GB left, while NYG is 4-6 (wins against Rams, Eagles, Cards, Cowboys; losses to Skins, Seahawks, Eagles, Niners, Saints, Packers) with WAS & DAL left. The only way they tie in Conference record is if DET loses to GB, and NYG beats both WAS & DAL. But in that instance, NYG wins the NFCE at 9-7 (at best, DAL also be 9-7, but NYG would have swept the head-to-head games).

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:30am

My bad. For some reason I was treating StL, TB, and CAR as NCAA teams or something.

by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:20pm

Well I wasn't really doing tie-break math so much as stream-of-consciousness Lions fan panic. When you haven't made the playoffs in longer than the Texans (among others) and they finally did...

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:27pm

Having watched a very good GB team lose to an awful Indy team the presumption of GB fans that 'of course' GB is a better than some high percentage to win in each of its remaining games to be pretty dangerous talk.

Let's stay grounded shall we?

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:37pm

OK-- I'm going all Mora/Iverson on you for this one.

I presume you mean the pre-season game.

"Pre-season??? Pre-season???"

We talkin' about "pre-season", man. We talkin' about pre-season.

You know Aaron Rodgers once lost a game of tiddlywinks as a kid, too.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:41pm

No. How about the 1997 season? Ring any bells?

Good grief. Who cares about pre-season other than the concession workers?

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:46pm

OK, sorry. But that was then and this is now. I see a discipline and business-like even-handed approach that may not have been as prevalent in 1997. And they have something very real to shoot for. that said, the Lions game, as I said before, is the one that worries me.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:49pm

No apologies necessary.

Just calm down already.

Deep breaths big fella. Deep breaths

by Perfundle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:49pm

I'm pretty sure he means this game:


The records of the teams shown are for after the game, so you had a 8-2 team losing to a 0-10 team.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:58pm
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:29pm

Don't be silly, Aaron.

Don't you realize that GB is obviously so transcendent that it is immune to the forces that impinge on all other, lesser NFL teams (even such schlubs as the 1985 Bears)? Thus your appeal to history is irrelevant and laughable.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:37pm

You're confusing Green Bay with Denver. A natural, but avoidable error.

by DejSpin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:17pm

PatsFan and LioninAZ,

Your whining and jealousy is annoying if not predictable.

That being said, I think that the vast majority of Packers fans here are intelligent enough to realize that the "Any Given Sunday" nature of the NFL means that even in the best matchup, there is still a 5-10% chance of losing ANY game (After all, Rodgers has been knocked out of over 5% of his career games. We're 0-3 in those I believe). If you're paying attention, you would notice that a good amount of Packers comments on these forums relate to DVOA not doing an adequate job of measuring the Packers dominance this year, because of how it values playing with a large lead, so while people may quibble about certain odds, the odds are still pretty high that we will lose a game (hopefully not in the playoffs).

So to clarify, it has nothing to do with Green Bay being "transcendent" (we're merely very good, we're no 2007 Patriots), or having "superior history" (we do, especially compared to the Lions), but thanks for bashing any way.

by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 9:26pm

I disagree about GB "not being the 2007 Patriots". Even if we ignore the 19 Straight Wins and the 19 Straight Games of Never Trailing in the 4th Quarter, GB simply has not come as close to losing as the 2007 Patriots came.

In 2007, the Pats came much closer to losing to Balt, Indy, and Philly than GB has come to losing any game this year. Yes GB this year does not have the insane blowouts like NE did (52-7, 56-10) but they also have not needed opponent's timeouts to have saved them from a loss

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:32am

You've been within 30 seconds of overtime twice this year.

by NYMike :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:06am

I for one am a Packer fan who would not begin to compare this team to the 2007 Patriots regular season accomplishments. It took something like 14 games for them to even play a close game. The Packers have only stomped the Denver Broncos (as opposed to the Denver Tebows). And the Vikings once. The rest of the time, they've been content to win without the bloodshed.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:40pm

Being 30 seconds from OT is not nearly as close to losing as thinking the game is over and finding out the other team called a Time Out or even being behind late in the 4th Quarter.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:23pm

The 2011 Packers have not played any team of the caliber of the 2007 Colts. And I'm really not seeing a huge difference between Packers-Giants 2011 and Pats-Giants 2011.

The toughest team the Packers have faced this year was New Orleans, and that was Week 1, in Green Bay.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 9:36pm

That being said, I think that the vast majority of Packers fans here are intelligent enough to realize that the "Any Given Sunday" nature of the NFL means that even in the best matchup, there is still a 5-10% chance of losing ANY game

Wouldn't have thought so from the more vocal Packer fans here this year. (Gives a Wave to Certain Packer Fans in the Audience!)

by JMM* (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 10:18am

"...there is still a 5-10% chance of losing ANY game ..."

There is evidence that the chance of losing any game is closer to 25%.


by nat :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 10:43am

Or try this:
Take a season's worth of games. Try to assign a ranking to the teams that minimizes the number of upsets. No matter what you try, you can't do better than around 20% upsets.

Split series, rock-paper-scissors sets, and longer "beat loops" all conspire to guarantee that a sizable portion of games are upsets by mathematical necessity.

If you assume that all upsets are the result of play-clumping, fumble luck, or other non-predictive factors that could equally go either way, you see how at least 40% of game results might be driven by non-predictive "luck" rather than predictable dominance of one team over another.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:19pm

Packer fans appeal to history incessantly to show that the Packers are superior to every other team in the NFL.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:17pm

Ahhh, yes. A punt return for a TD is enough to change a game (TB over NO)

Man, Tom Brady had a bad day in that 2nd game. I had never heard of those MIA guys who grabbed those 4 INTs until today.

It's anyone's guess how Denver lost that third game. Fatigue, maybe? I mean we're talking Kent Graham beating Elway.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:54am

Sammy Knight was a pretty solid player for many years. Ayanbadejo was strictly a special teamer. Antonio Freeman was a young guy that never gelled.

IIRC, the Miami passrush was killing it that day.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:30pm

The Ravens have a top 10 offense!!!!

When has THAT ever happened???

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:02pm

2009 and No. 1 in 1996

by JimZipCode :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 10:04am

So, not very often.

Funny how easy it is to forget the Vinny Ravens, with their explosive offense and utter lack of defense. Vinny in the Pro Bowl. Up is down, black is white, dogs and cats living together...

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:33pm

Tampa only drops two spots after giving up 41 to the Jags? I'd think they should have dropped to 33, with the Pottsville Maroons being placed somewhere above them.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:34am

Can't. By NFL edict, the Pottsville Maroons lose all tiebreaks due to geographic crossover with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Frankfort Yellowjackets.

by leviramsey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:36pm

We have a winner!

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:44pm


Is it possible for you to have your rational side hang here but when you feel the need to be overly exuberant take that to Yahoo or Fox boards?

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:48pm

I'll try, but nothing about nothing is rational in the NFL these days, is it?? At least I'm not trying to explain the Sermon on the Mount, loaves and fishes, and the Resurrection every week unlike Bronco fans.

by Peregrine :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:49pm

You should tone down your exuberance if only for the possibility that you're greatly annoying the football gods. Don't annoy the football gods. Their karma is much badder than yours.

Or you could do what Tim Tebow would do and check out Proverbs 16:18.

by nat :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:45pm

Tim Tebow might also recommend you check out Matthew 6:5 as long as we're quoting scripture.

Oh, wait a minute...

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:32pm

Might I suggest having a glance at 1st Chronicles 9:42. "And Ahaz begat Jarah; and Jarah begat Alemeth, and Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begat Moza;" I think that speaks for itself.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:00pm

Heresy! Everybody knows that there's only one God, and his noodly appendage favors those who wear edible attire!

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:07am

Has anyone tried licking Tebow's uniform recently?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:35am

Besides Skip Bayless?

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:20pm

Yes, please, save the homer stuff for the ESPN boards.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:34pm

Funny that it's constantly you arguing with Packers fans. Can we apply the same advice for haters?

by kevin M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 4:46pm

The Giants are 11th in special teams? Statues should be erected for Lawrence Tynes and Steve Weatherford because they've totally limited the opportunities for those awful special teams units to have to make plays.

by PackAttack (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 5:50pm

Packers, Packers, Packers!!!!! Stuff it DVOA!!!

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:53pm

We are going to become the most hated team/fanbase in football, aren't we? Remember, people, we got rid of Favre. That should count for something, right?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:20pm

Look, you've got your insufferables just like every fanbase does. And right now, they have a cause about which to be insufferable. But by and large, I find GB fans (the kind that are always fans whether the team has just won a super bowl or gone 4-12) to be a reasonable and civil bunch.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:01pm

My only complaint about GB fans is that I'm a Bears fan stuck in their midst. Generally, I don't find them particularly annoying.

Actually, what I hate most about GB is that there's very little to hate about them. They're not a dirty team, none of their stars are obnoxious, and they just go out there and win. I'd be happier if I could work up a better reason not to like them than "they're division rivals of my team, and they're having a much better season than my team is."

by TomC :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:31pm

Actually, what I hate most about GB is that there's very little to hate about them. They're not a dirty team, none of their stars are obnoxious, and they just go out there and win.

That's been basically true since the beginning of the Reggie White era (even Favre was not truly obnoxious until he started the retirement crap), but boy was it not true before that. The 1980's Packers were the dirtiest, most low-class bunch of so-and-so's in the league, led by their dirty so-and-so coach (Forrest Gregg). They also didn't win very much, so they weren't as much in the public consciousness as the more successful dirty teams (like the Raiders).

by AF_Cheddarhead (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:10pm

You have that right. Packer fans didn't trumpet it too loud because those of us that have been around since the sixties were almost ashamed of the BS that the team did on the field.

Losing is one thing, losing and being dirty is a different thing.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:35am

Whenever there is anything close to a consensus best team in football, its fan base is the most insufferable in the league.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:37am

Other fans take solace in the fact that when the Pack are down, there's no other professional team in any sport within a 2 hour drive, and even then, it's the Brewers and the Bucks, who are Cubs-level cursed franchises. So basically, when the Pack are sub-.500, the entirety of GB is on suicide watch.

And that makes us happy.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:19pm

Hmn. I don't think I quite understand. I've never heard of such "other" sports. Why don't they play football like everybody else?

by Nathan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:31pm

^ Congratulations on making the Packers unlikeable. You've done the impossible. This shit is intolerable.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 11:05pm

I know. And I'm a Packers fan.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:52am

Eh, I don't dislike the Packers, and every team with a strong track record of success has a nontrivial element of their fanbase who idiotically think that the success of the team they root for reflects on them somehow. If I were to allow idiots connected to the things I take pleasure in to ruin my fun, like watching good football teams play, my list of pleasures, like good whisky and wine, would grow much smaller.

If Rodgers and Co. crush all in their path from here on out, especially in the playoffs, to become one of the historically great teams, it'll be a fun thing to watch, and it'll be fun to watch if they get upset. The thing I really would not like as much is to see them win two of three playoff games by 7 points or less, and then listen to fans who claim that a team which could have fallen short of the trophy if a ball had bounced a different way, or a flag had not been thrown, accomplished something as impressive as a team which just crushed three playoff opponents. If the games are good, I'll still enjoy them a lot, but I really like to keep a seperate pedestal for teams which removed randomness from their playoff games.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:11am

"my list of pleasures, like good whisky and wine, would grow much smaller."

"My whisky's grown much smaller" is a brilliant euphemism for drinking.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:35am

I agree. It's tiresome.

Here are a couple of DVOA points concerning the Packers that have nothing to do with win streaks or exceptions-proving-rules. Firstly, the run defense. Most of the debate about the Packer D this year has focused on the secondary and (as in Aaron's commentary) the pass rush. But the run defense ranks dead last in VOA. Although Green Bay has low variance overall, it shut down Adrian Peterson in one game out of two, and kept tabs on Oakland's and Carolina's running games. It's hard to get a hold on the unit's performance, because opponents don't run on the Pack very much. But I'd use DVOA to underline how the various aspects of a team are related: because of the Packers' coverage issues, they've stayed in a 2-4 front for much of the season, leaving them vulnerable to the run.

Another puzzler is the run offense, which ranks #7 in DVOA though only 27th in both pure yardage and yards per attempt. Part of the extra value is that the RBs have only fumbled twice on rushing plays. Part of it is that opponents focus on stopping the pass. Still, it's interesting that six of the top ten pass offenses are also top-ten rush offenses — and that fairly workmanlike rushing teams such as Green Bay and New England rank so highly. Houston is the only one of the six that has more rush attempts than the NFL average. Not only has 'run-to-win' been disproven, but it looks as though 'win-to-run' is on its way out too.

The 2011 Packers may become only the 10th team in the 16-game era to finish with a points differential of +100 or more while averaging less than 100 yards rushing per game. The 2007 Packers also managed this, while last year's championship team barely missed out by averaging 100.2 rushing yards per regular-season game. If Green Bay is doing anything historic at all, it's probably this.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:16am

"Not only has 'run-to-win' been disproven, but it looks as though 'win-to-run' is on its way out too."

The Texans most definitely do both - even with Schaub in the line-up. Combine probably the best run-blocking line in football with two very good or better runners who are both capable of handling 20+ carries a game and a defense that can shut bad opposing offenses down almost completely and you have a recipe for some 1970s stat lines.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:13pm

I've been tracking stuff for the last couple of weeks on some of this.

GB DVOA Splits the last 7 weeks.

Pass O: 81.8, 82.2, 79.8, 75.2, 73.3, 73.7, 69.1
Rush O: 01.9, 06.7, 05.9, 09.8, 10.1, 08.2, 09.3
Pass D: 14.7, 17.5, 13.7, 19.1, 15.8, 14.2, 08.9
Rush D: -2.5, -0.3, 01.8, 02.0, 06.5, 09.4, 09.5

So yes, the run defense has been spiraling pretty poorly. It wasn't great last year and for some of the reasons you point out, though this year they haven't been playing as much 2-4-5 as last year. It hasn't really corresponded with the Pass D getting much better either. The Oakland game clearly had a huge effect on things.

The pass offense has declined, but the rush offense did trend up some. Rodgers is fairly efficient running the other rushers not so much.
Rodgers: 53 DYAR and 15.4% DVOA
Starks: 66 DYAR and 3.8% DVOA (and is still the primary rusher)
Grant: 31 DYAR and -1.1% DVOA
Kuhn: 12 and 0.3%

So without Rodgers that rush offense would not look as good. It is worth noting that Starks and Grant (when both healthy) tended to have opposite days. One would be OK to good and the other would be awful to poor. It was rare they were both OK or both bad. This also helps explain why the total DVOA is noticably higher than either of the main ball carriers. They are fairly decent in power situations when running this year which helps with the DVOA as well.

Though as noted they don't need much of a running game, though they are better than last year, and that might help account for the offense having a bit easier getting and holding leads (though most of that is Rodgers passing).

I still have plenty of concerns about the run defense though it got worse as the season went on last year as well. Some of it is the situations, other teams aren't running as much, and they pick when to run fairly well when they do because GB is defending the pass. But it's like the pass D, they will do alright for 2 or 3 plays in a row then get gashed for a big gain. They give up a lot of 10+ yard plays (heck a lot of 20+ yard plays).

Injuries play a part, Collins covered mistakes up last year through play and through communication. Peprah and Burnett don't look as good without Collins. Burnett is a 2nd year player who came out a year early (he is only 22, and I think is the youngest player on the D, well Lawerence Guy who is on IR might be younger) so you expect some of that. He also played with a club cast for I think 6 games. Peprah might be showing his biggest weakness is reading/communicating what the offense is doing. His physical tools while not top shelf are certainly started quality. This could be what keeps him as a back-up. Shields has been banged up some but no worse than last year. Williams was also injured missed some games and clearly was not himself for about 6 more games. But even without that he hasn't played as well, though some of that is still problems with the safeties where he is playing like he thinks he has help, and then he doesn't, but not always. Last year was a career year for him so slipping a bit is understandable, then injury, then other issues that "out of his control" explains most of it I think.

But it's still clearly a problem.

I'm wondering if we'll see some rotation at the ILB spot when Hawk and Bishop come back. Capers did this in previous seasons (before injuries took away the depth). Hawk and even Barnett were rotated out on some downs for Chillar, generally on passing downs. We've seen the last couple of weeks where Smith or Francois has had good coverage on wide receivers (not just a TE or back) and perhaps now after seeing game play from them young back-ups at the same or higher level on passing downs some of that will come back. I commented last year about my worries about the pass coverage skill of Bishop and and Hawk compared other 3-4 ILB's as being only average at best. I think Hawk is worse than average in the pass game, and perhaps a bit of rotation will not only get some better skill at that aspect in the game, but help keep players fresh. If the score is like it was in the Oakland game it would even look like it was just in the guise of getting a bit more "safe" rest for starters.

Cullen Jenkins was never replaced. I had high hopes for Neal (and I still do) but as has been stated he has only been "just a guy". That still might help some by adding depth and I still have high hopes for next year for him (at least he hasn't gotten reinjured I had worries he would be another Justin Harrell) but I don't expect any real improvement this year for the line.

So I expect the run D to continue to degrade (or least not get any better). I think the pass D might actually be improving. It did improve after the Giants game, and I think I covered where that improvement came earlier, but it's not going to be like it was last year there are still vulnerabilities and they are repeatedly exposed. But if the trend really is that it's becoming an "average" pass D, the run D getting worse shouldn't be a huge issue because even with the offensive decline, the O is still so good that they should still be playing ahead, even in the playoffs so the other teams run game won't be as serious of a threat.

I still think DVOA covers them pretty well and I've said before if Rodgers this year were only as good as Brees or Brady this year that this team, like NO and NE, would probably have 2 or 3 losses. But Rodgers is playing through one of the best QB seasons we've seen and helps cover up the flaws. The defense does take the ball away very well which helps make up for some of the mistakes they repeatedly make. Some of that is skill, some of that is luck that it's all coming together now, and some of it is that they do have good coaching to keep back-ups ready to go so injury drop off is lower than expected.

I'm having a lot of fun watching it, but it could easily not be as awesome as it has been. It's the best Packers offense I've watched (I've only really been watching since the mid 80's) but I'm still not sure it's the best Packers team I've watched (those mid 90's teams were great too) but that doesn't take away from this team being uniquely special. Be it pure luck, pure skill, or a combination of both they are doing something I've never seen a Packers team do before.

by nat :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:25pm

One thing I did notice when I looked back to 2007 was how much shorter and to the point posts were then. I was going to drop the hint on one of PaulM's posts, and then I saw this.

I've posted the occasional long comment myself, so I sympathize. But pick one or two points and stick to them. Then make your points quickly and clearly, and then


by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:14pm

In 2007, was the comment system still the one where there were no actual threads, but just a list of comments where people would have to start with "re:##" to reply?

That might be some part of the reason. I remember when I was sick and I decided to read the Audibles threads from the 2006 postseason (my favorite postseason of the decade - sad the Super Bowl wasn't all that great), and it was a real challenge to try to follow specific conversations.

by nat :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 4:02pm

In 2007, was the comment system still the one where there were no actual threads...?

Yes, it was still like that in 2007.

It's strange that having threaded comments leads to wordiness. You would have thought it would have had the opposite effect. Well, live and learn.

One other thought: today's comments may look longer - and certainly take up more space - because threading causes them to be more and more indented.

by BB Smith (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:41pm

Vegas has GB as a -14 favorite vs. KC. That is a 92%, lets be conservative and say 90%. I bet the game vs. the Bears will be at least -10 which is conservative. That is a 83% chance of winning. And I'll be really conservative and say that the game vs. the Lions is a -7 favorite (75%) and this doesn't account for resting starters because DVOA doesn't account for that. That is a 56% chance of going 16-0. In this scenario, GB has a 0.43% of going 13-3, 7.18% at 14-2, 36.38% at 15-1, 56.03% of 16-0. This method gives GB a 92.4% chance of being 15-1 or better compared to DVOA's 83% and mind you my numbers are fairly conservative. If you give the Packers a -14 vs. KC, -12 vs. Chicago, and -10 vs. Detroit which all seem fair and the last 2 could be higher, that gives GB a 68.0% chance of 16-0 or better than 2/3 which seems fair and 96.5% chance of 15-1 or better.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:58pm

Patriots fan here.

Were we this annoying four years ago? In my memory, we were all models of sportsmanship and decorum.

Yes, that must be right.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:33pm

Individuals of course differ. They do now and they did then. The overall breakdown feels... familiar, however.

by nat :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:33pm

You got me wondering. So I did a find on 'Pat' on the week 14 DVOA article from 2007. Yes, I know I'm insane.

Lots of "I HATE the PATRIOTS" stuff, a little "I get a little annoyed at all this Pats-Hate" and absolutely zero Pats fan gloating or homerism. The Pats fans who did post made quiet points, expressed understanding towards those who wanted a week 15 Miami win over the Pats (if that was the game) while disagreeing. They were still fans, and still liked their team and thought it was good. One prophetically feared going 16-0 and losing in the playoffs. It was all remarkably restrained on the part of Pats fans, considering what was going on at the time.

So, yes, if you remember the 2007 DVOA discussions as full of annoying Pats homerism and gloating, the problem was in your head, and not in the DVOA discussions - at least as far as week 14 goes.

It might be interesting to do a find on 'Pack' and 'GB' here. Perhaps the annoying Packers fans aren't actually being annoying. Maybe we're just annoyed because their team hasn't lost yet.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:18pm

I don't remember this kind of thing from Patriots fans. At least not at FO. I was just wondering if I was applying my usual pro-Patriots bias.

There's plenty of noise at ESPN.com, of course.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:54pm

Well, I hope as a Packer fan I haven't been annoying you. I come here to read the comments because that "other" site's comments are ad hominem attacks, snarky remarks, insults usually involving anatomically impossible suggestions, AND annoying fanaticism, the only thing that qualifies as a positive post at ESPN.com. Sometimes, I start reading them to gauge how other people are thinking, and then I remember where I am and that no one who is actually, you know, thinking is posting there. So I come here and try to learn something.

by armchair journe... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 10:34am

No, this is new. The blatant homer irrationality was, in years past, generally reserved for individual players. The most notable annoying posters I can recall, one a steelers fan and the other a giants fan, irrationally hated their own teams. Both are long gone. As much as I want to echo Will's whiskey aphorisms, I can't. The comments section has been one of my favorite reads on FO for going on six years, and its being poisoned. The absurd 51% string a few weeks back was one of the most inane threads I've ever seen, let alone on FO where I expect some semblance of rational, interesting dialogue. I never knew it was possible for Wisconsin folks to be unlikable. I'll take some solace in the knowledge that if the Vikings ever start 13-0, I can trust Will to keep that fanbase in check with weekly retellings of historic collapses.


by DGL :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:03pm

Eh, it's really not that bad. I think the Falcons at 6-2 outrage from '06 was far, far worse - IIRC, it was the genesis of both the FOMBC and the zlionsfan template. The tone then was along the lines of, "Clearly, you are a bunch of idiots and your rating system is fatally flawed." Now, it strikes me as much more along the lines of, "DVOA is fine as far as it goes, but the Packers are a unique team that DVOA just doesn't understand."

Which we've heard before numerous times, in both directions.

by armchair journe... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:15pm

Hmm. I think I came along just after that brouhaha, vaguest memories at best, if only of the zlions template addition.. And yes, there's always someone complaining about DVOA disrespect, but this is a chorus... And really, its not the "GB should be ranked higher" that bothers me (even though they've been consistently at the top anyway), its the perfect season nonsense thats been going on for a month now, littering the board, because somehow theres something seriously wrong with a system that tells you, hey, its pretty unlikely for a team to go 16-0. Is it remotely possible this might not be the. best. team. ever. ?


by Independent George :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:55pm

Now, it strikes me as much more along the lines of, "DVOA is fine as far as it goes, but the Packers are a unique team that DVOA just doesn't understand."

The thing is, that's a perfectly legitimate criticism. DVOA is not omnipotent, it's merely a useful metric which helps identify things not readily visible to our own lying eyes when watching a game. There are rational arguments to be had within the context of what DVOA can and cannot measure accurately, and how it meshes with our own anecdotal observations. That's actually what I love most about the comments here, and at Brian Burke's site - the way they merge the numbers with our eyeballs.

What's bugged me about the recent discourse is that, while not really trolling, it's also not very useful - it doesn't enhance my understanding of either football or of DVOA. It's not analysis or debate - it's just boosterism. Everybody is guilty of it from time to time, but for whatever reason, it seems worse this year (which is ironic, because if I recall correctly, the Peanut Gallery thought very highly of GB in 2010, when it wasn't always reflected in their w-L record).

In conclusion: can't we all just at least agree to hate the Cowboys?

by DGL :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:11pm

I endorse this message.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:22pm

I would disagree. I don't think "the Packers are a unique team that DVOA doesn't understand" is a legitimate criticism. I see nothing that they do that would set them apart as "unique" compared to other teams of recent years. They are similar to the 2006 Colts and the 2007 Patriots, but with a defense that isn't quite as good. But most of the criticism is nothing more than fannish denial of the relative weakness of the defense.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:40pm

I think you're a bit biased about the criticism then. There is plenty of good discussion if you filter out the fanboy noise and the superfluous punctuation (PaulM and others: one question mark or exclamation point is enough!). 4th quarter DVOA discrepancy had been mentioned, and has now been statistically debunked. The gambling nature of GB's defense and whether it can be kept up has also been analyzed, and in this aspect the 2007 Patriots are nowhere near GB: they had only 19 interception through 16 games. The fact that those Patriots were led by a coach who had a "take-no-prisoners" approach that year, the impossible-to-stop nature of GB's offense perhaps making the defense complacent, the fact that until recently, the defense had been playing lights-out in crunch time... lumping all this into "fannish denial" is not fair at all.

As for 2006 Colts...what? They were ranked 25th in Defensive DVOA, at 8.8%. That's right where GB is this year.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 3:43pm

This Packers team hasn't had to comeback in many games, and it's mainly attributed to the offense taking care of the football and being a juggernaut all-around.

But I would like to know how many points has this D given up when the game is tied or with a lead, how many points has this D given up when trailing, and how that compares to the rest of the league.

I say that because it appears to me most of the scoring comes when the Packers have a substantial (at least 1 possession) lead. I can only remember the Atlanta and Carolina games where the Packers have trailed by more than 1 possession, and only the Giants game where the opponent has tied the game after the Packers took a lead. An even better indicament would be to calculate the points based on possessions the other offense has had (because it can also be simply that the Packers offense scored before the other team had the chance to score).

It would attest to the so-called "lights-out" play in crunch time. That and redzone defense.

My perception is that a lot yardage and points are given up because of complacency, when the game seems won because of the offense, but my perception is completely biased...

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:09pm

"But I would like to know how many points has this D given up when the game is tied or with a lead."
All I know is that until the TB game, the Packers' defense, stretching back to the start of the winning streak, hadn't given up any points in the fourth quarter when the opponent was in position to tie or take the lead. They gave up 6 points while up 8 against TB, and 8 points while up 8 against NY.

But points given up is a volume stat, and points given up per opportunity would be better, but I'd imagine DVOA would be even better, and so Tuccitto answered this last week:

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:12pm

Thanks a lot for that (and thanks Tuccitto). I had no expectation that they would've been dominant, even in those instances, because it's pretty easy to see that other than forced turnovers they're not dominant. But their rankings in those situations are much, much better than overall DVOA and it does explain why they're on such winning streak.

Because that's the whole argument Packers fans have. How can this D, with basically the same personel and coachings staff as last year, be only the 24th best D in football? And other than Woodson, who's IMHO playing at least as well as last year, they're not an old D.

Can't wait for the playoffs, they won't have the luxury to coast during games, then we'll see if they can sustain an elite level of play for 60 minutes.

But then again, if they continue to force at least 2 turnovers per game, and with the way the offense holds onto the ball, maybe they will... With this offense, and winning the turnover battle by a good margin, they'll be though to beat, even if the D gives yards and points by the bunch...

by MCS :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 12:08pm

"How can this D, with basically the same personel and coachings staff as last year, be only the 24th best D in football?"

The loss of Cullen Jenkins. Also the shell formerly known as BJ Raji. Green Bay's DL is getting pushed around. A lot. That free's up offensive players to handle Matthews or the blitzing DB.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 12:10pm

I would also suggest that Woodson has been getting slower ever year to the point where he is unable to keep up with probably half the receivers in the NFL at this point. Plus, Nick Collins getting hurt. Those two things have made the secondary a lot worse.

by MCS :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 12:12pm

The Collins injury is critical. Kicking myself for forgetting to mention it.

Thanks Tuluse.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:19pm

Actually, while the 4th quarter DVOA article is interesting, it debunks nothing because it doesn't separate out competitive 4th quarters from garbage time. Plus, GB does play worse in 4th quarters, not just especially worse than other top teams.

Anyone reading this that has FO Premium should look at the the DVOA ratings for teams both by Quarters and Halves and Score Gap. There is actually some fairly strong evidence that the 4th quarter garbage time theory is correct for GB this year.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:03pm

I don't think it's realistic to expect a statistic to separate "garbage time" from "competitive time". What constitutes garbage time? How many comebacks have happenend in garbage time?

I'm not saying you're not correct (I've already talked about the feeling of complacency by the defense) but it's too much of a subjective measure to an otherwise objective stat.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:10pm

The FO Premium database breaks down game situation into categories like Late and Close (2nd half, margin of 8 points or less), and winning/losing big (8+ points) or small (7 or fewer points) across all parts of the game. The cutoffs are somewhat subjective, but they are applied uniformly for all teams in the Premium database.

Without divulging Premium database secrets, the DVOA breakdowns of GB, not only on offense but also on defense, seem to indicate that GB really can turn it on when it needs to. I wish Aaron would post something about this in addition to the other 4th quarter material, because the numbers are pretty fascinating.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:31pm

Yes on all acounts.

Personally, I have a problem with stats that overvalue yardage, because I don't think that it has correlated with wins and success since the 1970's. Would love to see how it compares with turnovers and QB rating (or ANY/A). How many times has a team that won the "yardage battle" won the game as opposed to those other measurables, and does the percentage decreases from decade to decade as I guess it does?

I understand the notion that yardage is a more predictable stat than turnovers, but there are football philosophies based on turnover differential (Martyball and their disciples, including Mike McCarthy), so I refute the notion that luck factors into turnovers, at least not sufficiently to discard them as statistically significant.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:58pm

That's all well and good, but I'm just not seeing enough Cowboys hate.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:16pm

Can we lift this discussion in a positive direction and learn something from it. I'm sure we can can all agree to hate the Cowboys. The question I put to you is "Cowboy hate, a priori or a posteriori?"

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 10:00am

Descartes wrote in his Fifth Meditation:

"It is certain that I no less find the idea of the Cowboys in my consciousness, that is the idea of a team supremely hateful, than that of any figure or number whatever: and I know with not less clearness and distinctness that an [actual and] eternal hatefulness pertains to their nature than that all which is demonstrable of any figure or number really belongs to the nature of that figure or number; and, therefore, although all the conclusions of the preceding Meditations were false, the hatefulness of the Cowboys would pass with me for a truth at least as certain as I ever judged any truth of mathematics to be."

For many years, this view of Cowboy hate as a priori was widely accepted, but Saul Kripke and others have more recently attacked this descriptivist approach, arguing that while the hatefulness of the Cowboys is indeed a necessary truth, it is still one we had to discover, and as such an example of a necessary a posteriori truth. David Chalmers, on the other hand, argues that the primary intension of "The Cowboys" is hateful only contingently and a posteriori, but the secondary intension necessarily and a priori, hence the confusion.

Who's for an irrational Chalmers-Kripke discussion thread?

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 1:30pm

"irrational Chalmers-Kripke discussion thread"

heh heh

by Jerry :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 7:35pm

Doesn't that go on on Yahoo all the time?

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:32pm

Works for me, as long as that surgically stretched crypt-keeper owns them. Not that I would stoop to such superficial attacks, of course.

by Anonymous Packers Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:59pm

Let's just remember that a handful of ultraexuberant fans of the Packers does not represent Wisconsin, nor does it represent even the Packer fan base. Its just the folks that show up here.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:22pm

A wise thing to remember any time someone is particularly vocal on behalf of a group that hasn't asked him to represent it.

by armchair journe... :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 1:40am

That line was more to the effect that I hadn't before acknowledged the possibility of a single disagreeable Wisconsin representative. Generally impossibly nice folks in that part of the country.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:34pm

Amazingly, no. There was a lot more Pats-hate in 2007 filling boards.

Pats fans were a lot more annoying in the Audibles after the 2006 win over the Chargers in the playoffs.

by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:12pm

Bookies don't care about who is actually likely to win, only who the betting public thinks is likely to win. And the public greatly underestimates the prevalence of upsets.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:34pm

I gave a lot of reasons why NE's defensive showing against Indy was flukey (despite the similarity to earlier games this year) but they were legitimately terrible against Washington. My only hope is that the Shanahan Effect was going full bore. He seems to be BB's Kryptonite no matter how good the Patriots' defense is.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:35pm

If not for an intentional safety and Clinton Portis not picking up 2 yards on 3rd and 2, a Broncos team QB-ed by Danny Kannell would have beaten the 2003 Pats.

Man, I like looking back at the days of the Colts-Pats-Broncos rock-paper-scissors.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:44pm

Well, Rex isn't great, but he's had some good games for the Redskins in the past two years. That he would exploit the Pats' defense was fairly predictable. But so were the sack/fumble/safety and the pick that ended the game.

If the Skins had a high quality QB, they would be a playoff contender. Sadly for Skins fans, the middle of the season was buried under John Beck suckitude.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:57pm

Is Shanahan the most over-rated coach of all-time? He couldn't figure out that Beck couldn't play.

by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:11pm

You know what would be nice? An additional column giving the difference between the current DVOA and the DVOA from, say, four weeks ago. To get some indication of how a team is trending. I think I would be really informative for teams that have greatly improved (DEN, SD) or worsened (BUF, OAK) vs. a month ago.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:32pm

There is weighted DVOA, which is pretty close to what you're asking for.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 11:15pm

To set the table a bit-- and this is not a Packer-centric comment-- there are fascinating stories to watch ahead:

There is a lot at atake for the 6-8 teams that have the best shot at winning the SB, and the 3-4 that are longshots but hardly impossibilities. I am going to leave Atlanta and Detroit (or the Bears if they somehow sneak in) out of this discussion. One of them will probably win it all.

for the Niners-- clearly the best team in the league from 1981-1997, a 15+ year period of dominance that only the Patriots in this era can even whiff at, and will probably fall short of unless their QB remains at a high level for another half-dozen years-- even a trip to the SB and not a victory would mean a return to greatness after 14 puzzling years rent with ownership struggles, QB woes, and bizarre coaching;

For the Giants-- another improbable 2007-like late run this would mean the cherry on top of Coughlin's sundae, and the likelihood that Manning Fils Younger would retire from the game with more championships that Manning Fils Elder (or Manning Pere) and would certainly deserve the term ELIte;

for the Saints-- 2 titles in 3 years, this one featuring at least one game away from the Big Easy, would mark them as a great, historical team, a laughable concept barely a half-dozen years ago, and would punch the ticket of QB and probably Head Coach as well into the Hall of Fame;

for the Ravens-- it would be a book-end to the great and turbulent career of Ray Lewis, surely one of the most charismatic defensive leaders of this or any era-- and bring new appreciation to the Garrincha of that defense, overshadowed by Pele: Ed Reed. And would be one more insult to the city of Cleveland and its proud pro football tradition, now 47 years without a championship and counting;

for the Texans-- Aw, crap. They can't without Schaub and Williams and with a half-baked Johnson, can they?? But if they do, all I can say is "How 'bout them Cowboys!!!!!"

for the Jets-- Rex will never have to pay for a meal in NY again. Joe Namath will never question them again. Mark Sanchez will be redeemed. J-E-T-S fans may wait another 42 years, but they won't care.

for the Steelers-- the mega dynasty of the Super Bowl Era. It would mean 7 titles, tying Green Bay for the most since 1960. 9 SB appearances, besting Dallas. Championships in 3 different decades. A run deserving of comparison to the Steel Curtain teams-- 3 titles and a runner-up in 7 years-- and where would we place Big Ben in the QB pantheon then?? -- got to be in top 10 of the SB era if he's not already. Tomlin over Cowher??

For the Patriots-- it would make up, in part, for the one that got away. It would move them firmly into Steeler and 49er category with 4 titles in barely a decade-- it might very well place Brady alongside Montana as the greatest QB in history. it would cement Belichick's reputation as the greatest big game coach since Lombardi-- perhaps Walsh still deserves a higher place because of his innovative impact on the sport and his coaching tree, but BB would be in the pantheon with those other two and Shula and Landry.

For the Packers-- it would mean that Rodgers did something Favre never did (they have to win the SB, of course). if they also go 16-0, they would trump Miami and stretch the all-time win streak to 25. it would tie them with SF and Dallas just behind Pittsburgh for most SB titles. It would, given Rodgers' age, firmly establish them as the next dynasty (after GB-Pitt-Dallas-SF-Dallas again-NE and a host of others who came close) in the league, with clear potential to win who knows how many more.

For the Broncos-- Oh God, i can't go there. Bring George Burns back.

Should be hecka fun these next 7 weeks.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:33am

Worst Case Scenario(s) would be either New England, Pittsburgh, or Denver.

New England Wins-Have to Hear Nonstop People Proclaiming Brady the Greatest Player in NFL History and Bellichick the Greatst Coach in NFL History

Pittsburgh Wins-Have to Hear that maybe Ben is the Best QB in the League with a Chance at Best Ever and more about how Hines Ward should make the Hall of Fame.

Denver-ESPN permanently replaces Sportscenter with Tebowcenter

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:03am

This is why as a Colts fan, I'm rooting for Baltimore. That's the only scenario out of the 5 most likely (GB, NO, NE, PIT, BAL) that doesn't end with a "Super Bowl XLVI Winning QB > Manning" debate. Also, I love watching great defense (yeah, I'm one of those guys who felt like they were being submitted to a more talented version of teh WAC in weeks 1-4 when everyone was throwing for 300 yards), and Ed Reed is my favorite non-Colts player in the league, and he should get a ring before he retires.

by TomKelso :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:06am

I'm sure the biggest insult to the Browns tradition has been the way the Browns have played over the last dozen years. It's not like the Ravens claim any of that tradition as theirs, or ever have. And even Matt Stover is gone now; his presence on the SB team was apparently enough to justify the last bout of hand-wringing.

by akn :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:03am

It's remarkable how far you will go to add another Packers-homerific paragraph in the comments of these boards.

Doubly so, since you feel the need to preface the whole thing with "and this is not a Packer-centric comment." I mean, you're at the point where even you are acknowledging how annoying you are.

by David :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 6:17am

Paul M is kinda annoying, I guess, but I genuinely enjoyed that comment - it was interesting and led to some reasoned debate/responses

On the other hand, your comment is, um, well, kinda dick-ish

I mean, so's mine, but fuck, whatcha gonna do?

To get things back on track - as a niners fan, I am of course rooting for them to win, if only to give Trent Dilfer (who was a backup for Alex) some competition in the category of "Worst QB to win a SB" - regrettably, reality is going to intervene, I fear. Maybe a chance if they can secure the #2 seed, but I'm not expecting any thing good

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 3:37pm

I hope some can see that I was making a broader contribution, but obviously including the Packers as one of the teams that fortune may smile on and thus offering some thoughts about the implication of same, as I did for the others. I'm glad it spurred some subtantive reaction.

I will say that, whatever we think of his personal character, a Roethlisberger SB victory this year, including the expected impressive passing performances, would add to an already stellar postseason record-- the best from a W/L standpoint since Montana, I believe. There is a bit of a Brady and Bradshaw parallel-- as he was not asked to do all that much in the first title run, but has been getting progressively more important for Steeler success as the years go on. If we leave Starr, Unitas and Staubach (and Bradshaw, for that matter) out of the discussion on the grounds that the game has changed far too much since their heyday, we are left with Montana, Marino, Elway, Favre, Brady, Manning as a clear Big Six in some order-- with Ben, Young, Aikman, Rodgers and Brees (I know I'm missing somebody) in the next grouping (and yes I am projecting forward for Rodgers (and Brees to some extent) and maybe I shouldn't). That would make him Top 12 since 1980-- close to Top 10. If we include the three pre-1981 choices (outside of Bradshaw), he would have to lead this second list to make the Top 10 or replace someone on the first list-- and I frankly don't have a candidate though I guess Staubach comes closest. As for Philip Rivers I will choose to discount DVOA some because I can't blame Norv for all the postseason failure.

As for "annoying", well I said it once to explain this burst of participation and I'll say it one more time: My team is approaching history. Only two teams in the SB era have won 19 or more consecutive games-- the Packers are one; In another two weeks we may very well add that only two teams have won more than 14 straight games in the regular season in the SB era, and the Packers are one. The 2007 Patriots were, by the metrics, a better team-- no disputing that. And their failure to win the title may or may not be repeated by GB. But while this magic continues, I'll be in there in some fashion. And I would expect the next fan base-- even if it is another 30 years before all this happens again-- to do the same. The questions of "How good are they?", "Based on what?", and "Can they really do it?" and if they do (or don't), "Now what do we think?" are all relevant, interesting and fodder for a site such as this. I'll drop the double punctuation! ! (sort of)

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 3:55pm

Only two teams have won more than 14 straight games in one regular season. Some more have done it over multiple seasons (2009-2010 Colts, 2006-2008 Patriots, to just name two recent ones).

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:02pm

I meant to say "one" regular season-- sorry for the lack of clarity-- since wins over Chiefs and Bears put the Packers at 15-0.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:17pm

The man you forgot was Kurt Warner.

The man who was on the other side of the best playoff games of Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, and nevertheless had the better performance in both games.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:59pm

You are absolutely correct. Thx. A very strange career for a major sport at such a key position, but definitely Canton-worthy.

by armchair journe... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 10:37am

No, the only thing annoying about this post is Paul showing he's capable of writing something interesting, but that he prefers to fill up the boards with all that other crap instead.


by armchair journe... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:25pm

In a less snarky fashion.. @Paul M - This is good stuff, I think most of us prefer to read posts like this than to devolve in to debating homerish clutter.


by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:53pm

If you find someone annoying, it is more logical to ignore their posts than to read and complain about them

by armchair journe... :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 1:27am

yeah... except i was saying i like this post, and was complaining his others haven't been like this. Paul's ok when he takes off the green & gold glasses. i didn't get why the first commenter complained about this non-homer post.

i actually wrote the non-snark translation addendum specifically to avoid the misunderstanding you just made. sorry. next time i'll put a winky face for you.

now get off my lawn.

;) <<<< !

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:27am

"got to be in top 10 of the SB era if he's not already"

Seriously? It's not completely clear he's in the top two of his own draft class. A player who's never even been in the MVP conversation, and is clearly worse than at least four of his approximate contemporaries (Peyton, Brady, Brees, Rodgers) cannot possibly be one of the top 10 of the last half century.

"it might very well place Brady alongside Montana as the greatest QB in history"

I think you're really getting over-excited about the historic standing of quarterbacks. Montana's place alongside Unitas and Manning in the Greatest of All Time discussion hinges on his astonishing playoff performances, not just his Superbowl wins.

by pedropolis :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:26am

DVOA averages (back of the napkin) for Rivers (5 yrs), Roethlisberger (7 yrs), and Manning (6 years). The parentheses indicate the years I included, as Rivers and Manning both have dismal, abbreviated seasons to begin their careers. These values don't include this year (to Roethlisberger's detriment).

Rivers - 28.06
Roethlisberger - 22.2
Manning - 7.97

I'll leave wins and losses out of this, but by DVOA metrics, Roethlisberger is the second best QB from the '04 draft. I think it's completely clear he's better, at this stage, than Eli Manning. Matt Schaub has only been a starter for 4 years and is fragile, but when he plays his DVOA is comparable to Roethlisberger. I think the fact that Roethlisberger started as a rookie, though due to injury, needs to be valued as well. The others mates from his '04 class just haven't done it as long, or behind as porous an offensive line.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 7:26am

Don't get me wrong, if I was ranking them on their careers to date it would be Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning. I do think, though, that DVOA over-rates Roethlisberger's early seasons with their low attempt counts - the quality defense and run first offense undoubtedly made his life easier in that period. I guess what I was getting at is that with a fair chunk of all their careers likely still to come, absolutely any final ranking of their careers is still plausible, especially given the huge step forward Eli seems to have taken this year (I think he is very likely to age the best and play the longest of the three).

by troycapitated p... :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 11:17am

The Steelers were a run-heavy offense during Roethlisberger's first 2 seasons, but not always precisely run-first. While Roethlisberger often finished games with 18-25 attempts, it wasn't surprising for him to have only 3-5 of the attempts in the 2nd half when they were grinding out leads. Had he been with a coach who was less content to take the air out of the ball, even in the 3rd quarter, he would likely have finished with bigger numbers those 2 seasons.

by KB (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:00am

dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:18pm

I didn't realize that the abilities of the 2009-2010 Saints to win outside of NO helps the 2011 Saints come January playing outside New Orleans.

This year, they have been worse. Brees' numbers in road games are a lot lower than his numbers at home (which are basically along the lines of what Rodgers is doing).

This was one of the first posts but I believe he was implying Rodgers has been worse on the road which simply isn't true. Really his stats are nearly identical after looking them up. I believe on the road he has 20 td and 2 int with a 69.4% acc. At home he has 19 TDs 4 int and a 69.8% acc.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:06am

Not what I meant. What I meant was that Brees' home stats are in the realm of Rodgers total stats (obviously not the cumulative, because it is half the amount of games). The passer rating is about the same. Completion percentage is 3% higher, which somewhat cancels out the ypa being less. The 20/3 td/int lines up with Rodgers 39/6 total.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 7:32am

"Houston, which ranks third in ALY, is at its best running straight up the gut"

I'm willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of those successful middle runs are zone stretch plays that get cut back to the middle. I'm not sure that constitutes "running straight up the gut", which to me implies dive or iso type plays. Chris Myers is a very good centre if you want to run the former and a pretty bad one if you want to run the latter.

by billionsearnedmillionskilled (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:25am

Any stats here on how taking first possession in the second half corresponds with winning?

Pats seemed to me to always get it first in 2nd half so I looked it up, and indeed they've started the game with the ball just once this season -- the loss to the Bills.

Not sure how common this is, but it strikes me as an oddity that the Pats would be so lucky that they: a. win the coin toss and b. when they lose the coin toss, have the opposing team align (by accepting possession) with their apparent strategy to decline possession

by NYMike :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:10am

The Packers do the same thing. They defer a lot. Not always, but a lot. They like the idea that they could score to close out the half, then get the ball back.

by Nathan :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:56am

Yeah, with the Pats this is a product of Brady being so good at the 2 minute drill. I don't remember the Pats deferring a ton but the whole score at the half, get the ball back is something they do constantly. I never have as much faith that the Pats will score as I do just before the end of the 1st half.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:47pm

I'm pretty sure the Pats always defer if they win the coin toss.

by Nathan :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:31pm

That certainly lines up with the sense I get that they always seem to get the ball to start the 2nd half... I guess I never really watch the coin toss, actually.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:50am

I think the main takeaway from this week's rankings is that it confirms what a lot of NFL fans think, that the 2011 Packers are not a historically dominant team despite their 13-0 mark. As of now, the Packers will have to play only one of the top ten teams to get to the Super Bowl and their best reg season win was at team 8. The 91 Redskins played the expected second best team twice and murdered them both times. The 07 Pats, on the way to 18-1, beat teams 4 and 6 in the playoffs and beat teams 2,3,4 and 6 in the regular season.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:15pm

Was the 2nd best 1991 team Atlanta or Detroit?

That team was somewhat fortunate to avoid SF, who lost to Atlanta for the playoff tiebreaker. SF may have been the second best team that year.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 1:37pm

I don't think historical dominance should depend on a team's schedule. So you're saying that if you gave the 2007 Patriots GB's schedule this year they shouldn't be considered as historically dominant? Most likely they'd blow out their opponents more than what GB is doing this year and they'd have a similar DVOA to their 2007 year.

"As of now, the Packers will have to play only one of the top ten teams to get to the Super Bowl and their best reg season win was at team 8."
If Atlanta makes it as the fifth seed, GB could potentially play them, so that would make it two top ten teams. As for best reg season win, right now SF is number 8. Perhaps you're looking at last week's ranking? Or, if you're looking at weighted DVOA, where NO's number 8, Atlanta's ahead of them at number 6.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 4:02pm

I agree they haven't been historically dominant. At least not yet. But they've beaten #7 Atlanta, #11 Chicago, #12 Detroit, and #13 NY Giants on the road, along with #9 NO at home. We have yet to see the final rankings and who they would meet in the playoffs. If they do win the SB (again, that's a huge if), then I think they might be in the discussion as a historically dominant team. Even if they lucked out and got the AFC West this year.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:11pm

How tough was the 1972 Dolphin schedule?? Seems to me I read somewhere it was fairly easy. But I also remember the week after the Immaculate Reception game that Miami played that AFC championship game in Pittsburgh-- was that true, and if so, why? Were there pre-ordained home field set-ups based on which division winner advanced?? Maybe I'm wrong and it was in Miami. The game vs. the Redskins was in LA, i think-- the Coliseum; and the Redskins NFC Championship win over Dallas was definitely at RFK. 27-3 or something like that.

BTW, I went to Yankee Stadium and saw Miami beat the Giants that year-- I think it may have been in November or early December and was possibly their 10th or 11th straight win. Warfield was really good is all I remember. And the backfield of course with Mercury scooting all over the field. But the Gianst played them pretty tough that day. First and only football game I ever attended at that venue.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:17pm

Memory's clicking. It was 3 Rivers-- did Selig flip a coin in Hawaii at the previous year's Pro Bowl or something?? That is bizarre-- and your reward for an undefeated season is to play the conference championship game on the road. (Maybe it was a conflict with Orange Bowl??) I do remember a fake punt by Miami being crucial in that game. Maybe home field didn't depend on record back then-- wonder when that change occurred.

Redskins won 26-3 over Dallas.

by DGL :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:28pm

According to Wikipedia, home team for the playoffs was determined on a rotating schedule across the conferences (with the WC team always playing on the road) until 1975.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 5:31pm

thx alot

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 8:03pm

Whether or not GB is considered the Most Dominant Team, at worst they should be considered the Hardest to Beat Team Ever if they go 19-0. Not only would they be the 1st Ever 19-0 team but would be on a 25 Game Winning Streak which would be quite a bit above the previous record of 21.

In regards to Dominance, GB's 19 Straight Games without ever trailing in the 4th Quarter is a Sign of Dominance in some form, at least to many people. Considering that they have already shattered a 70 year old record length (the previous record was 14 games) it is pretty amazing. Even the 07 Pats needed some 4th Quarter Heroics to save their season.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 10:53am

It's interesting how much record variance has increased in the past decade.

The 1970s had a 14-0 season and an 0-14 season.

How many 15-1 or 14-2 teams have we seen, paired with 1-15 seasons? Remember when Miami almost beat NE in 2006 to spoil both perfect seasons? We might actually see two 16-0 teams and two 0-16 teams in a 5-year span. Where did that come from?

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 1:04pm

In the pursuit of wild-assed guessing, I will suppose that continual rule changes to promote passing has resulted in a game that has become extremely dependent, relative to previous decades, on quarterback play. The result is that a team with hugely deficient qb play increases the odds of getting an o-fer a season, and hugely superior qb play increases the odd of winning'em all.

I try to avoid nostalgia, but I do think sometimes that I preferred a game in which run blocking played a larger role.

by Tv on web (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:59pm

Honestly the turn of events was pretty unexpected! But it was pleasant, at least for me ...

by Ravens Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 8:54pm

Ravens are the only top team with horrible Special Teams. If they had even Average ST play they would be the best team according to the DVOA. Does this suggest the Ravens could potentially be the team to beat or that ST failures will bite them in the butt?

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 9:07pm

Ravens are also dead last among contenders in terms of consistency -- offensively, defensively and overall -- and I think that is far more troublesome than special teams. You could argue that they only play badly against bad opponents, but they could face Denver...

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:18pm

Just looking at it, if they get HFA, they are my team to beat (AFC at least). They've already beaten the current #2 by 13, the current #3 by 28 in Baltimore and by 4 in Pittsburgh, and beaten the #5 by 17 (really 13-3 if you take away all the D/ST scoring). They've had bad losses, but in DVOA, they've lost @#10 and @#20, so they aren't horrible.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 3:22pm

I mentioned a week or so back that I am charting the Packers' offense this year-- in the thought that something historic (I never contemplated a perfect season) might occur, and because I was curious. A couple of interesting windows are presented below (NOTE: I have deleted all Victory Formation Plays and first-half kneeldowns. Also, I did not include Flynn's extended play vs. the Raiders on Sunday, though his smaller contribution in an earlier game (Broncos, I believe) is included.

1st and 10 GB Performance

NO 25 Plays/198 YDS 7.9/Play
@CAR 18/189 10.5
@CHI 30/198 6.6
DEN 30/208 6.9
@ATL 24/159 6.6
SL 27/248 9.2
@MIN 26/209 8.0
@SD 23/178 7.7
MIN 23/86 3.7
TB 24/120 5.0
@DET 20/167 8.35
@NYG 35/184 5.3
OAK 19/185 9.7

Pretty clear speed bump beginning with the 2nd Viking game, but they were as good as ever vs. the Raiders, as this figure does not include the 47 yd Grant TD run, which occurred on 1st and 5.

McCarthy's play-calling tendencies are also fascinating-- again, this is all 1st and 10 situations.

GB 0-30 48 Pass, 45 Run

GB 31-50 57 Pass, 37 Run

Opp 49-30 35 Pass, 38 Run

Opp <30 36 Pass, 27 Run

For whatever reason, they run a lot more just barely inside opposition territory than they do as they approach or move into the red zone or even more strikingly than they do between their own 30 and the 50. it is also, by far, their least effective 1st down area-- even allowing for the longer potential TD plays inside their own territory. I happen to think Mccarthy does some "setting up" of the defenses on 1st down in these situations, but I can't prove it.

by anonymous 74 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 12:33pm

Looks like this week's games totally blew up the DVOA rankings. Like I've said before, it's just creating arbitrary weights that have little bearing in the real world. It's nice if you're into excel spreadsheets though.