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20 Dec 2011

Week 15 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

A slew of upsets in Week 15 leaves the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings more compact than ever. Even though their total DVOA dropped three percentage points, the Packers remain at number one this week, because most of the rest of the good teams also saw their DVOA ratings drop. Six of last week's top seven teams dropped in Week 15. That includes Atlanta, which dropped slightly in DVOA even though the Falcons whipped up on Jacksonville. (The Falcons got extra possessions by recovering all three of Jacksonville's fumbles, and the opponent adjustments for this game were pretty high.) New England is the only team from last week's top seven to go up in Week 15, and even there, the Patriots went up because of opponent adjustments on their past games, not because of their win over Denver. The Patriots get only 8.3% DVOA for this game; they recovered four of five fumbles in the game, and they actually averaged fewer yards per play than Denver (6.8 for Denver, 6.3 for New England).

With so many of the top teams falling in DVOA, the ratings have become really compact. Green Bay's run at perfection masked the fact that the NFL is full of parity this year. With DVOA of 25.8%, the Packers are the lowest-rated team to rank number one after Week 15 during the DVOA Era. This is only the third season when there was no team over 30% after Week 15; the others were 2001 (Philadelphia was No. 1 at 28.7%) and 1993 (San Francisco was No. 1 at 28.3%). Remember in recent years when the bottom of the DVOA commentary each week tracked the best DVOA teams ever and where that year's dominant team ranked as of whatever week? Yeah, that's not happening this year. In the DVOA era (1992-2011), the 2011 Packers rank just 58th among teams after Week 15.

The loss to Kansas City also meant that the argument that Aaron Rodgers is having the best quarterback season in NFL history took a hit. Rodgers has fallen behind Drew Brees and Tom Brady in passing DYAR, and while Green Bay still leads the league in passing DVOA, the Packers are now behind New England and New Orleans in total offensive DVOA. Their current pass offense DVOA of 66.0% would end the season as the fourth-best ever, behind the 2007 Patriots, 2010 Patriots, and 2004 Colts. Rodgers' total of 50 DYAR this week is lower than any one game that Peyton Manning had in his 2004 season, except for the Week 17 game he barely played in. However, it is not lower than any one game Brady had in 2007 -- thanks to opponent adjustments, Brady actually had negative DYAR in three of his final five games that year. (Of course, he had 525 combined passing DYAR in the other two.)

Getting back to the issue of 2011 parity: This year's top teams are generally one-sided, favoring either offense (Green Bay, New Orleans, New England) or defense (San Francisco, Baltimore, the Jets). Pittsburgh and Houston are balanced teams, but they both have quarterback injury issues right now. In the upper echelon, that leaves Atlanta, whch is good on both sides of the ball, but not great.

After the ninth-ranked Jets, there is a gap of about six percentage points before we get to a group of teams that are good but not really title contenders, consisting mostly of NFC East and NFC North teams. The Eagles are at the top of that group right now, which I'm sure will inspire more "DVOA inexplicably loves the Eagles" talk. This year, DVOA likes the Eagles because it is adding together all Philadelphia's plays, and the Eagles have a few big dominant wins and a few close losses. Philadelphia may be 6-8 but has actually outscored opponents 342-311.

Despite their loss to San Francisco last night (-16.8% DVOA for the game), the Steelers still rank number one in Weighted DVOA. They had cleared 25.0% DVOA in each of their last six games until last night. Just like the Packers, though, the Steelers' Weighted DVOA isn't that impressive historically. They rank 39th in Weighted DVOA as of Week 15 among teams of the DVOA Era.

The hottest team right now, in terms of the difference between total DVOA and Weighted DVOA, is not Pittsburgh but Seattle. The improvement is really recent, mostly just the last three weeks where Seattle has averaged 59.0% in wins over Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Chicago. It also helps that their worst game, the Week 2 24-0 loss to Pittsburgh, is pretty far back in the rearview mirror at this point. Here's a look at which teams have the biggest and smallest differences between total DVOA and Weighted DVOA:

Weighted DVOA Higher than Total DVOA
as of Week 15, 2011
  Weighted DVOA Lower than Total DVOA
as of Week 15, 2011
Team Total DVOA Rk Wei DVOA Rk Dif xx Team Total DVOA Rk Wei DVOA Rk Dif
SEA 1.4% 17 10.7% 11 9.4% xx BUF -11.0% 24 -25.6% 28 -14.6%
KC -17.0% 25 -9.2% 24 7.8% xx TB -18.4% 29 -27.9% 29 -9.6%
PIT 22.7% 3 30.3% 1 7.6% xx MIN -22.1% 30 -29.2% 30 -7.1%
SD 3.4% 16 9.4% 12 6.0% xx TEN 6.1% 15 2.0% 19 -4.1%
MIA -1.2% 19 4.4% 16 5.7% xx NYJ 16.2% 9 12.2% 10 -4.0%

Remember that Weighted DVOA still considers a larger sample than conventional wisdom which tends to define "hot" and "cold" by the last one or two weeks. Games don't significantly drop off in strength until they are nine weeks old (so, this week, Weeks 8-15 are still at or very close to full strength). This is the first week where a game has completely dropped out of Weighted DVOA, as we are no longer including Week 1 in this measure.

* * * * *

Once again this week, the playoff odds report is adjusted for injured quarterbacks in Chicago and Houston. The Weighted DVOA for each team is adjusted by the difference between the team's offensive DVOA before Week 12 and since Week 12. These differences are pretty significant, much larger than the usual dropoff from starter to reserve. Houston's offensive DVOA has dropped by 24.1%. Chicago's offensive DVOA has dropped by 26.9%.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 15 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 25.8% 1 22.1% 3 13-1 34.4% 3 11.1% 25 2.5% 8
2 NE 23.8% 5 24.1% 2 11-3 36.7% 1 16.5% 30 3.6% 5
3 PIT 22.7% 3 30.3% 1 10-4 16.7% 5 -4.2% 10 1.8% 11
4 HOU 22.6% 2 22.0% 4 10-4 15.6% 7 -5.7% 7 1.3% 15
5 SF 21.3% 8 20.3% 6 11-3 -0.7% 20 -13.4% 2 8.6% 2
6 BAL 19.9% 4 17.0% 8 10-4 7.4% 13 -15.8% 1 -3.4% 28
7 NO 18.1% 9 19.1% 7 11-3 34.9% 2 16.4% 29 -0.4% 20
8 ATL 17.5% 7 21.6% 5 9-5 10.7% 10 -7.3% 5 -0.5% 21
9 NYJ 16.2% 6 12.2% 10 8-6 0.4% 18 -10.0% 3 5.7% 3
10 PHI 10.3% 16 15.1% 9 6-8 10.6% 11 0.2% 12 -0.1% 17
11 DAL 9.0% 14 8.6% 14 8-6 13.8% 9 3.2% 15 -1.5% 23
12 DET 8.0% 12 9.3% 13 9-5 8.4% 12 -4.4% 8 -4.7% 30
13 CHI 7.0% 11 7.0% 15 7-7 -12.0% 28 -9.8% 4 9.1% 1
14 NYG 6.8% 13 3.8% 17 7-7 14.7% 8 9.4% 22 1.5% 13
15 TEN 6.1% 10 2.0% 19 7-7 3.5% 16 2.5% 14 5.1% 4
16 SD 3.4% 17 9.4% 12 7-7 16.6% 6 10.7% 24 -2.6% 26
17 SEA 1.4% 20 10.7% 11 7-7 -4.6% 23 -4.3% 9 1.6% 12
18 CIN -1.1% 15 -2.6% 21 8-6 1.8% 17 5.4% 17 2.5% 7
19 MIA -1.2% 18 4.4% 16 5-9 -2.8% 21 0.4% 13 2.0% 10
20 CAR -1.4% 21 3.3% 18 5-9 21.4% 4 16.7% 31 -6.0% 32
21 OAK -3.7% 22 -6.4% 22 7-7 6.0% 14 8.9% 21 -0.7% 22
22 DEN -3.7% 19 1.1% 20 8-6 0.0% 19 6.5% 18 2.8% 6
23 WAS -5.6% 23 -8.9% 23 5-9 -6.8% 26 -1.5% 11 -0.3% 19
24 BUF -11.0% 24 -25.6% 28 5-9 5.9% 15 14.4% 26 -2.5% 25
25 KC -17.0% 30 -9.2% 24 6-8 -15.1% 30 3.4% 16 1.4% 14
26 CLE -17.0% 27 -16.7% 25 4-10 -6.7% 25 10.2% 23 -0.2% 18
27 ARI -17.9% 29 -17.3% 27 7-7 -11.2% 27 8.7% 20 2.0% 9
28 JAC -18.3% 25 -17.3% 26 4-10 -22.6% 31 -7.1% 6 -2.8% 27
29 TB -18.4% 26 -27.9% 29 4-10 -4.1% 22 15.3% 28 1.1% 16
30 MIN -22.1% 28 -29.2% 30 2-12 -5.1% 24 14.6% 27 -2.4% 24
31 STL -34.7% 31 -31.6% 31 2-12 -24.0% 32 6.7% 19 -4.0% 29
32 IND -35.2% 32 -36.2% 32 1-13 -13.1% 29 17.0% 32 -5.1% 31
  • 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 25.8% 13-1 28.9% 10.9 1 -2.9% 30 7.5% 10 5.6% 3
2 NE 23.8% 11-3 25.4% 10.3 2 -0.7% 24 -6.1% 25 10.7% 10
3 PIT 22.7% 10-4 22.6% 9.8 4 0.1% 19 -25.9% 32 14.9% 18
4 HOU 22.6% 10-4 25.7% 9.1 8 -2.6% 28 -14.6% 30 16.7% 21
5 SF 21.3% 11-3 23.7% 9.2 7 -2.0% 27 -16.7% 31 7.0% 4
6 BAL 19.9% 10-4 18.7% 9.9 3 0.7% 17 -9.1% 27 25.1% 30
7 NO 18.1% 11-3 20.2% 9.4 5 -5.1% 32 8.1% 9 12.3% 12
8 ATL 17.5% 9-5 17.0% 9.3 6 0.2% 18 -0.1% 21 3.1% 1
9 NYJ 16.2% 8-6 14.4% 8.0 10 1.3% 14 2.8% 11 22.0% 28
10 PHI 10.3% 6-8 11.0% 7.6 13 2.2% 10 1.7% 17 19.3% 26
11 DAL 9.0% 8-6 13.2% 8.0 9 -1.0% 26 8.6% 7 13.2% 15
12 DET 8.0% 9-5 10.5% 8.0 11 0.0% 20 14.6% 4 8.3% 7
13 CHI 7.0% 7-7 6.9% 7.5 16 1.9% 12 1.8% 15 14.6% 17
14 NYG 6.8% 7-7 3.0% 7.8 12 3.2% 9 12.6% 5 16.1% 20
15 TEN 6.1% 7-7 11.5% 7.3 17 -2.8% 29 2.2% 14 18.3% 25
16 SD 3.4% 7-7 8.6% 6.8 21 -0.1% 21 2.2% 12 17.7% 24
17 SEA 1.4% 7-7 2.4% 7.5 14 -0.2% 23 1.7% 16 17.1% 22
18 CIN -1.1% 8-6 5.9% 7.5 15 1.1% 16 1.0% 18 8.2% 6
19 MIA -1.2% 5-9 -2.4% 7.2 18 1.7% 13 20.0% 3 11.5% 11
20 CAR -1.4% 5-9 -1.1% 6.7 22 -0.9% 25 -0.1% 22 17.7% 23
21 OAK -3.7% 7-7 -1.0% 7.1 19 2.0% 11 -6.8% 26 22.6% 29
22 DEN -3.7% 8-6 -3.4% 7.0 20 3.5% 7 -14.0% 28 7.2% 5
23 WAS -5.6% 5-9 -12.4% 6.4 23 1.2% 15 -5.9% 24 13.0% 14
24 BUF -11.0% 5-9 -9.8% 6.0 24 3.9% 6 10.1% 6 29.0% 32
25 KC -17.0% 6-8 -19.3% 5.5 26 4.0% 5 -3.7% 23 25.3% 31
26 CLE -17.0% 4-10 -10.3% 5.6 25 -2.9% 31 21.3% 2 5.4% 2
27 ARI -17.9% 7-7 -13.5% 5.2 28 -0.2% 22 0.1% 20 10.4% 9
28 JAC -18.3% 4-10 -18.4% 4.9 29 5.4% 2 -14.6% 29 14.6% 16
29 TB -18.4% 4-10 -24.0% 5.4 27 8.0% 1 8.1% 8 20.6% 27
30 MIN -22.1% 2-12 -24.0% 4.4 30 4.9% 4 0.7% 19 15.3% 19
31 STL -34.7% 2-12 -40.5% 3.2 31 5.2% 3 22.0% 1 8.8% 8
32 IND -35.2% 1-13 -38.6% 3.0 32 3.3% 8 2.2% 13 13.0% 13

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 20 Dec 2011

162 comments, Last at 23 Dec 2011, 3:15am by JimZipCode


by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:13pm

Well I suppose a recurrence of "DVOA inexplicably loves the Eagles" would at this point be a nice relief from "DVOA inexplicably loves the Jets", even though both seem to actually have been more-or-less explained...?

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

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:58pm

Clearly DVOA's favorite color is green.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:31pm

It is kind of funny how NYJ is exactly one spot above Philly. I could see how a Philly troll wouldn't take kindly to that. ;-)

by The Voice (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:38pm

I don't think it's funny at all. Take the balance of the two teams' seasons as a whole and it's suprising the Eagles are only 1 spot lower. It's actually amazing the Birds are as high as they are all things considered.

by Rikki (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:17pm

This could be trouble for the Seahawks. Their 2012 expectations will be unrealistically high, like those of the 2006 Dolphins, who finished 2005 6-0.

by Frankenstooge (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:50pm

See also 1986 Seahawks - who beat their last five opponents 167-74, missed the playoffs, and became a Super Bowl favorite the following year - only to walk into a players' strike, finish 9-6, lose a wildcard game, and DRAFT BRIAN FAKKING BOSWORTH.

by Alaska Jack :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:09pm

Hey can I ask a question? Even though everybody remembers the Boz being run over by Bo, and then retiring early due to (steriod-induced?) arthritis, I actually remember him as playing pretty well otherwise. I mean, LOTS of guys got run over by Bo (who was perhaps the most freakish specimen in the history of a league filled with freakish specimens.)

Am I remembering wrong? Was the Boz any good?

- aj

by Noto Rious (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:32pm

Just from memory, I thought the Boz was okay. Solid-but-unspectacular. He wasn't a blitzer and he wasn't great in coverage, but he was a solid run-stopper.

Also, the "run over by Bo Jackson" story that always gets brought up isn't even really true, the replay is on youtube, he almost certainly would've eventually brought him down but it was a short yardage goal line play so it ended before it got to that point.

The truth is by the time Boz got drafted the Seahawks defense was in decline at multiple positions. The d-line got manhandled in the Bo Jackson/Raiders Monday night massacre.

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:41pm

The Pro Football Writers voted Boz to their All-Rookie Team, so it's not like he was horrible in his first year. It's absurd the way people talk about the famous Bo Jackson play like it's an indictment of Boz's entire life. It was a good run by Bo but it's not like it was embarrassing for the Boz -- Bo crossed the goal line as Boz was dragging him down. Plays like that happen every Sunday.

by beargoggles :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:14am

Agree with the replay comment, which I watched recently. Touchdown runs like that are pretty frequent, although there was a bit of a pancake element. It was much less ridiculous than many other Bo runs on the highlight real I watched. I think it would be forgotten if it weren't MNF and if he didnt' rush for like 200 yards that day.

Re: Boz as a player overall, I don't really remember if he was any good. Probably better than Tony Mandarich :)

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:56am

The legacy of Bozworth is that he wasn't a class act. The economic wisdom of his choices, biochemical experiments, is graded out on it's own plane. But he wasn't the class act that Kenny Easley, Curt Warner, Steve Largent, or any of the other number apparently fantastic people who played for the Seahawks were. He didn't play bigger, or as big as those guys, and he was way more into self promotion. He would have been remembered fondly as a Raider, but because of peculiarities in presentation he was evicerated on Almost Live! I'll grant that that's an absurdly high measuring stick, but that's what the measuring stick was, and to some extent still is.

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:18am

My recollection is that Boz was hugely hyped coming out of Oklahoma, and that Mr. Bosworth was part of the process. So if he was only OK, and I don't remember him being more than that, he was a disappointment. (I do remember some offensive linemen who played against him being dismissive in their postgame comments.)

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:13pm

Could their 2012 expectations be more unrealistic than the expectations for 2011?

by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:00pm

As far as I can make out, the Seahawks are just kind of an unrealistic team. I mean, they've got a vague chance at playoffs and I'm not quite sure how.

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

by Kal :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:04pm

It's not that hard to figure out. They've beaten two teams that they were not projected to beat and only one of those teams is fairly inexplicable (NYG on the road, what the heck?). Beating the Ravens was because of turnovers. Beating Chicago at Chicago when the bears are seriously hurting from injury. That's not that surprising. The only odd thing is the collapse of the teams in front of them, but even then all it takes is Detroit to win and Seattle is immediately eliminated.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 7:10pm

Well as long as we're going to whine about injuries, do I get to note the decimation of the Seahawks O-line, cornerbacks, couple wrs and qb playing with a partially torn pectoral muscle?

At least the Raven's game involved fumble luck, the Giants on the other hand have pretty much played some shade of jekyll and hyde since oh at least 2005. At some point people just have to accept that's who they are. The only luck involved in the Giants game is that they didn't get 50 hung on them in their own house.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:19pm

Green Bay is clearly ranked too high because they just lost to Kansas City and the ball doesn't lie. Evaluating team strength based on what happened last week is way better than this. Teh Pukers barely even have a full roster of offensive players left. #1 bleh, more like # done!

by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:24pm

Wow, I actually expected the Charger's Offensive DVOA to improve greatly since it looked like they destroyed the top defense in football (they did not punt the entire game). I guess I expected it to jump as much as it did when they were playing the Jaguars (8 rankings) who were at that time #2. Oh well, I'll take the 2 percentage points raised anyway.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:39pm

No way Raiders 21st vest team. Tha t is not right. Shoukd at leastvbe in top 14 realistically

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:43pm

You're forgetting DVOA's East Coast bias adjustment.

by Dales :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:24am

I cannot believe no one else called out this brilliant post.

by beargoggles :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:17am

Uh...maybe 3 weeks ago. But nice to have you back, RJ. If you like Sierra Nevada, you'll love Dogfish Head Palos Santos whatever brown ale which clocks in at 12% alchohol and had me typing like you the other night.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:39pm

"The loss to Kansas City also meant that the argument that Aaron Rodgers is having the best quarterback season in NFL history took a hit. Rodgers has fallen behind Drew Brees and Tom Brady in passing DYAR, and while Green Bay still leads the league in passing DVOA, the Packers are now behind New England and New Orleans in total offensive DVOA."

The argument that coffee is the best beverage took a hit. Coffee has fallen behind soda and orange juice in raw beverage consumption, and while coffee still leads in per-capita beverage enjoyment, coffee is now behind soda and orange juice in non-beverage uses.

If the argument is that Rodgers is not having the best quarterback season, what is the utility of pointing out that the non-QB portions of the NE and NO offenses are better? That's completely non-sequitor.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:53pm

I agree there might be faulty logic on Aaron's part, but there is some on yours as well.

Green Bay's receiving weapons outclasses NE's by leaps and bounds. More than enough to balance out NE's advantage at OL and RB, at least until this past weekend when GB's line took a hit. On top of that, ranking them by passing DYAR removes the rushing part of the non-QB players from the equation, making it a reasonable way to rank QB play. Especially when you consider that GB probably has the best receivers of the group.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:03pm

Two comments:

1. Welker leads the NFL in receiving yards and Gronkowski is tied for the lead in receiving TDs. You're really running with the argument that GB has better receiving weapons than NE? Better WRs as a group, perhaps. But NE has two TEs better than anything GB has. Indeed, Hernandez, the #2 TE, has more receptions than any Packer, and more receiving yardage than Finley (who also can't {or doesn't} block).

2. I didn't have a problem with the passing DYAR portion. I had a problem with the comment regarding non-passing DYAR. Was Manning somehow a lesser QB when Faulk/James left, and total Colt DYAR dropped despite passing numbers remaining constant?

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:19pm

I agree that total DVOA is largely meaningless if you are simply looking at QB, barring their being nothing else that can differentiate the players.

Yes, GB's receiving weapons are much, much better than NE's. NE has Welker - who wouldn't be the same player in most any other scheme, and virtually nothing else at WR. Branch is scrappy, but brittle and easily taken out of a game. Ocho is mostly a waste and, up until Branch was hurt, had been seeing less snaps than Tiquan Underwood, who is a waiver wire guy signed 4 weeks ago. That's it now that Edelman is primarily a defensive scrimage player.

Ask any NE fan and they'll tell you, WR is either the #2 or #3 need on the entire team after safety and DE/OLB.

As for the TE's, sure Gronk is superior to anyone GB has, but the same could be said about Jennings. Finley and Henandez pretty much cancel each other out. That means you essentially have Welker/Branch/Ocho/Underwood vs Driver/James/Nelson/Cobb. That is a serious win for GB, and that doesn't even account for any of GB's other TEs because I don't know them well enough.

I know this sounds like two billionaires arguing over who has more money compared to some other rosters in this league, but GB has a significantly better receiver/TE corps than NE.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:04pm

Welker is the most successful WR over the last 5 years. You can easily make the argument that while GB has more receiving depth, NE has the better top-line talent. Even I discounted Welker until I looked at his numbers.

(Welker may play the slot, but he's NE #1 receiver, and there's substantial utility in a WR whose primary attribute is that he's always open)

I don't buy that he's a system guy, either. I think Welker would be fantastically successful in Indy, in NO, in San Diego, in Jersey/A or Jersey/B, in Chicago, or in Detroit. Each of those offenses could use an underneath guy who usually catches the ball and is almost always open. He was hugely under-appreciated in Miami, despite putting up similar per-game stats to his NE years in that last year.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:43pm

Pretty much no one can cover Welker. Even Revis has said he has trouble with Welker.

The idea that hes a system guy is ridiculous. He's a possesion receiver, and the best one in football. The fact that hes not really a deep ball guy doesn't mean he isn't good.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:18pm

I've been a Welker fan since 2004, so I'm well aware of his abilities. Walking into Gillete prior to the Miami game in 2006, I told my friend I'd be ordering a custom 83 jersey with Wes' name on it in the hopes that NE would trade for him that offseason. He is phenominal, but that doesn't change the fact that his skillset is a very unique one that many teams's offense wouldn't make great use of.

Green Bay is one of the teams that would, so I probably should have left that out of my earlier comment.

I don't disagree that NE has the superior top, but as good as those two are, I'd prefer more diversity. When you can have James Jones and Donald Driver as your 4th and 5th option, someone is going to have a serious mismatch.

by MJK :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:09pm

Having Jones and Driver as your 4th and 5th option speaks to depth, which I agree the Packers have more of, and which does make a difference, but diversity is even more important.

All of the Pats playmakers in the receiving game are inside (usually short field) guys...Welker is a slot possession receiver that works the middle of the field, and their next best two receiving options are Gronk and Hernandez, both TE's. They have three guys that are very good at working the inside of the field on short and intermediate passes. But they have very little talent on the edges or to provide a deep threat. The three losses this season all came to teams that had the personnel to clog up the short-to-intermediate inside passing lanes and dare Brady to throw to his edge WR's. With Branch being too slow now to get open consistently, and Ochocinco dropping balls as if they were live ferrets, this ends up being a pretty good game plan. (Conversley, the Pats tend to excel against teams that have good corners but lack inside talent in their safety and linebacking corps).

The Packers have more diversity and can hurt you all over the field. They have Jennings as a very good possession receiver who is still somewhat of a deep threat. They have Finley to work the middle of the field. They have Nelson as a true deep threat. Driver and Jones are good 4th and 5th options. Heck, even Randall Cobb is probably better than Ochocinco or Tiquan Underwood. The only part of the field where they truly lack a playmaking receiver is coming out of the backfield...I don't think much of either Grant, Starks, or Kuhn as a receiving threat.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:16pm

Very well said. I implied this, but never came out and said it. Not sure if I could have as well as you have here. ;-)

by Joseph :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 10:41pm

IMO, this is where the Pack kill everybody (oops, I mean except KC). They can spread you out with 4/5 receivers (including Finley), and their #4/#5 receivers are better than everybody's #4/#5 DB's. Rodgers will locate the best matchup before the snap, and then will make the throw. IMO, this is where they killed the Saints. We couldn't stop their other receivers. Somebody always got open.

by EasyLikeSundayMorning (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:13am

Comparing Welker to other receivers shows that the position has multiple roles and skills. Welker is like a lead-off hitter. He catches an extremely high percent of balls (close to 70%) targeting him for short throws. And his YAC at or near the top of the league, so he doesn't just sit down after getting short throws (to stretch the analogy, after getting to first at a high rate, he then steals a lot bases). This is very valuable to an offense, as it gives predictable, repeatable chunks of yardage, like lower running plays. The fact that the Pats no longer have a Moss-like deep threat, allowing more coverage to be near him, makes his performance is all the more impressive. To get these catches, he's going over the middle and putting himself into position to be hit by much larger defenders.

That said, other WRs could be compared to power-oriented clean-up hitters, with much higher yards per catch and yards per target. These receivers tend to have higher risk and reward for their longer plays and stretch Ds in a different way. I haven't run the stats for this in a while, but over last season and through October 25 of this season, Welker averaged 11.8 YPC and 8.3 YPT. By comparison, over the same time, DeSean Jackson was and 21.3 and 10.7, Mike Wallace was 20.7 and 13.2, and Greg Jennings was 16.5 and 10.6. Again, this is not meant a slight to Welker, who is the best at what he does, but just to reinforce the idea that different receivers can play significantly different roles in their offenses.

by EasyLikeSundayMorning (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:15am

That should have read "longer running plays," not lower.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:18pm

It is amazingly odd for a Packer fan to argue that the Packers *don't* have the best WR/TE receiving corps in the league.

One might wonder how Aaron Rodgers has managed to throw 5 more TD passes than Brady this year.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:27pm

I'm not sure this comment is fair. GB having better receiving options doesn't discount Rodgers' remarkable season. I have no shame in admitting he's the best quarterback I've watched this year.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:49pm

It's extremely fair considering that some commenters above are trying to discount Brady's season by claiming that he has better receiving options than the Packers.
Can't have it both ways.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 9:02am

As another Packers fan, I'd also argue Brees along with Brady has arguably as good or better receiving corps. Henderson, Colston, Meacham, Moore, and Graham are an excellent WR/TE corps, plus they can also use Sproles in a variety of combinations. I'm not saying they are definitely better, but one could argue any of the Saints, Pats, or Pack have the best receiving corps and make a reasonable case.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:24am

I would say each offense has different strengths, and none is hugely different in the talent they can put on the field.

GB has the deepest WR corps in my opinion. I'd take their #2, #3, #4, and #5 over the other teams. They are best suited to handle injuries at WR (Chiefs game notwithstanding, the O-line played a big part of the problems there). Finley has ability, but he might be the 4th best TE among these three teams with the way he's dropping the ball right now. Backs are only so-so, both at running and receiving.

NE is very top heavy. Welker is as good as any WR among the three teams, and Gronk is probably the best TE right now, with Hernandez also very good. However if Welker or Gronk would be injured it would hurt NE more than either other team losing a starting WR or TE.

NO is the most balanced. They have good pass catchers at WR, TE, and RB.

As long as the offenses are relatively healthy, I don't think that the argument that one QB is doing more to make up for his teammates argument holds much water.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:26pm

I've watched a few Saints game and I never came away as impressed with the receiving group as I was when watching GB, though I admit to not including Sproles into that discussion. Add him in and it might be a different story.

I still don't think there is any reasonable way to justify NE having the best receiving corps of the three. Any case you make would be mighty thin when the team has useless guys like Tiquan Underwood and Ochocinco running routes. Green Bay probably has multiple guys on their practice squad better than those two.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:41pm

Of course, the fundamental problem with discussing the quality of a receiving corps among teams with elite QB's is that there's always a bit of a "chicken or egg" issue. E.g., people may say that Brees is helped by having good receivers, but other people say that the receivers are helped by having Drew Brees. Obviously, Henderson and company wouldn't look quite as good with Caleb Hanie throwing them the ball.

There are, of course, exceptions. I'm pretty sure both Welker and Jennings would be very good playing anywhere, for any legitimate NFL starter (thereby excluding the Caleb Hanie's of the world). Probably Gronk, and maybe Nelson as well (haven't watched enough Packers games this year to say for sure, but in the ones I've watched, Nelson looks like a very good WR). Driver WAS an elite WR...not sure if he still is. But I think a lot of the other guys on all these teams are merely competent-to-good WR's who profit by playing for one of the three best active QB's right now.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:33pm

It wasn't faulty logic, it was just sticking two different somewhat-related comments in one sentence. I suppose I should have connected Rodgers' falling in passing DYAR to the Packers falling behind the 10 Pats, 07 Pats, 04 Colts in passing DVOA.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:06pm

Those would have been valid points.

And while the larger argument would have been interesting (Was StL Warner better than AZ Warner because of having Faulk versus having the corpse of Edge James?), that wasn't the argument you were making.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:56pm

"The argument that coffee is the best beverage took a hit. Coffee has fallen behind soda and orange juice in raw beverage consumption, and while coffee still leads in per-capita beverage enjoyment, coffee is now behind soda and orange juice in non-beverage uses."

On the contrary, I believe the Seahawks win improves coffee's DVOA compared to other beverages, especially since the Bucs and Jags both lost this week.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:47pm

"they actually averaged fewer yards per play than Denver (6.8 for Denver, 6.3 for New England)"

I can see why this would be an issue for the system, but the distribution of those yards was quite volatile. I'd be willing to bet that Denver had at least 15 ypp after their first 2 or even 3 drives. From there until the garbage time TD, they ran for 3.9 a carry and Tebow was something like 2-5 for 35 yards. The problem was that all those drives combined barely amounted to the same number of plays as Denver's opening jaunt.

Then, of course, Denver had a 5 or 6 play, 80 yard drive that bumps the average up again.

I'd take NE's consistent 6.3 over Denver's every day of the week. It is reminiscent of NY's offense supposedly being so good against NE in the first game due to their unsuccessful drives all being so short that they didn't have much weight on the per-play measure.

All that said, I can't really begrudge the system for not liking NE's defensive performance much. That opening quarter was brutal enough to drag all but pure dominance the rest of the way into the red.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:50pm

I'm off my Packer high horse (I watched the game-- didn't need DVOA to tell me what was wrong) but am sincerely flummoxed about the league this year and in total agreement with Aaron re: parity. And am coming to the belief that if either Philly or SD or both could get into the tourney, they could easily either get to the SB or at least the conference championship game.

That said, a few thoughts.

In the NFC, I am going to assume the Saints beat the Falcons and get the 2 seed while the Packers beat the Bears and get the 1 seed and then rest half their team and allow the Lions to beat out Atlanta as the 5 seed with the Falcons slipping to 6. And for argument's sake, with no conviction behind it, Dallas beats the Giants and wins the East.

So the matchups would be Detroit at Dallas, and Atlanta at SF. I could see both games going either way. A Falcon victory lands them in Lambeau; otherwise SF goes to NO and the Pack gets the Lion-Cowboy winner. I think the Saints beat whoever comes to the Dome; I think the Packers biggest worry would be Dallas. I don't think Detroit has enough, particularly on pass defense, to win twice in Lambeau in 3 weeks, even with the first game being against a depleted Packer squad; and I think the Packers simply have Ryan and the Falcons' number. But Romo on a roll-- that game worries me, as does the Saints rematch from Week One, despite the differing weather conditions and NO's record of never winning a road playoff game.

I rate the Saints as slight favorites to represent the NFC, unless the Packers offensive injury situation eases substantially-- meaning both Bulaga and Clifton return; and both Jennings and Starks get back close to 100% effectiveness.

I don't see NO (or GB) losing the Super Bowl. Flacco can't score enough; Big Ben won't have time to heal the next couple of weeks and their defense isn't strong enough; Brady/Rodgers-Brees would be a great shootout but in the end I think NO or GB may be slightly better on both sides of the ball. The other three AFC teams inspire little or no confidence-- Denver was exposed by NE, Cincinnati is workmanlike, Houston sans Schaub not much better, the Jets one more ill-timed Sanchez INT from never even reaching the playoffs, let alone the AFC title game again. San Diego is probably a better team than all of those also-rans, but Norv is Norv.

by Peregrine :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:24pm

The Niners have the inside track on the #2 seed due to a better conference record than the Saints. I believe they finish at Seattle and at St Louis, so it's certainly feasible. Big difference in the roads traveled by a #2 and a #3 seed.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:31pm

thx for that-- makes the two divisional games on Saturday/Monday in NFC South and West absolutely crucial. Seattle at home is a better bet to win than Falcons in Superdome, but that's why they play the games. NO and SF offer totally opposite challenges to the Packers at Lambeau should that be the NFC title game-- it might depend on the weather as to which is the bigger threat.

by MJK :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:30pm

I think you're undervaluing the Niners. First off, I think if both the Niners and the Saints win out, the Niners get the #2 seed (based on best in-conference record). Second, it's not even clear that that would happen. The Niners have the pathetic Rams and the Seahawks left on their schedule, while the Saints have a tough matchup vs the Falcons and then a game against the Panthers, who are better than people give them credit for and who gave the Saints all they could handle the first time they played. So it's quite likely the Saints will have to play on wildcard weekend, and if they end up facing the Niners, they will do so in SF. At home, I like the Niners chances over anyone, including the Saints.

I've watched a bit of them this season, and that is one of the best defenses I've seen in a while (of course, I'm a Patriots fan, so seeing any good defense is refreshing). I can totally see them doing to Green Bay what the Chiefs did, only better because they have a more competent secondary. The Saints can beat anyone, especially if they are at home...but have been a bit inconsistent this year and could easily have a bad game, especially against a defense like the Niners. And I think neither the Saints nor the Packers defense could keep the Niners offense from doing enough to stay in the game till the end. In short, I could see the Niners in the SB as easily as the Saints or Pack.

Also...even if we accept your premise that NE isn't quite as good on both sides of the ball as GB, I think they would have at least a 40-45% chance of winning on a neutral field. I agree that Green Bay would be favored, but it would be a heck of a shootout, and either team COULD win. Hence, your statement that you can't see NO or GB losing the SB is perhaps a little strong...

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:35pm

Hey, I couldn't see the Packers losing to KC, so of course I could be wrong. I understand SF's advantage in terms of conference record, but the game against Seahawks is a tougher win than Saints over Falcons at Superdome. Watch the Lambeau weather-- 15 degrees/windy/snowy is a lot tougher for Brees than 30 degrees and calm. But like I said I'm scared about the Packers first game, partic. if it's Dallas.

by Alex K (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:32pm

The Packers 13-1 record doesn't look very impressive without wins against a single good AFC team or San Francisco. I know the offense looks good, but this team feasts on turnovers, hit a lot of teams at just the right point in the season (for instance I don't think they would beat the Saints if they played this week), and have a really terrible defense.

I don't think Flacco scoring enough would be an issue, because I bet the Ravens d could hold the score down especially if Jennings isn't completely healthy, and the Ravens could just use Ray Rice to chew the clock. I think the Steelers would actually ruin them, especially due to the poor health of the Packers line. As far as GB being slightly better than NE on both sides of the ball, that may be true but on the sideline I think Belichick would have a huge advantage. The way to stop the Patriots offense is to have better personnel everywhere and take both TEs and Welker out of the game, which I really doubt GB could do, considering their defense is almost exactly as bad as NEs, just has had the luxury of facing more bad teams.

This may just be homerism but at the same time, if the Patriots were to make the Superbowl (a dicey proposition because I think Baltimore and Pittsburgh could both beat them handily on a good day), I would rather see the Packers than the Saints or the 49ers (the one team I would bet on to shut down the Patriots offense even more than Baltimore and Pittsburgh).

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:50pm

well, we can play this all day, but they have 13 wins and a whole lot of other teams don't even have 12, or 11. They played the Saints in the week when supposedly those off-season workouts would have benefited NO most-- and who won that game??

The Packers have played one sub-par game and a few mediocre ones; I've seen Baltimore stink up the joint several times and Pittsburgh was pretty godawful last night as well. As for Belichick, somehow that sideline genius hasn't worked particularly well in the postseason the last three games they've played.

Jennings would have 7 weeks of recovery time by the SB-- yes, there would be two games in there as well, but I would think he'd be in pretty good game shape by then. As for the offensive line, if Belaga and Clifton are both out, I wouldn't pick the Packers over anybody good in either league, whatever the location. But if they are playing, and the site is Indy, I think the Patriots are the biggest threat but i still think GB-- or the Saints-- win a shoot-out over any of the 3 top AFC teams.

by jimbohead :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:44pm

As a 49ers fan, I'd have to say that the Pats are the best AFC matchup for the niners, in my view. A one dimensional offense revolving around TE production (presumably with Willis back in at mlb; they've been doing some interesting things having their ridiculous fast mlbs cover TEs, rather than their olbs, which are more like DEs), with a piss-poor defense that can't get a pass rush? Yes please.

I most fear NO at home though. Their blitz schemes would render the 49ers offense catatonic, just like the Ravens did, except they have an offense to turn the whole thing into the football version of a japanese gore flick on the field. Packers minus their three top tackles and half of Jennings doesn't scare me that much.

by Vataha (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:21pm

Tom Brady vs. Alex Smith in the Super Bowl... I'll take the "one dimension", thanks.

by jimbohead :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:30pm

A valid point if they were both playing SF defense, with the same running game. However, it's better stated as "[Tom Brady and his offense v. SF def] v. [Alex Smith and his offense v. NE def]". I'm not saying SF would run away with it - 10 years of futility have given me more humility than that - just that it's an ideal matchup. This is especially true if SF off. struggles mostly with teams who get great pressure, which NE doesn't really do well.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 5:21pm

Where does this idea come from that quarterbacks play each other? They don't, not since the introduction of two-squad play in 1950.

Hard to imagine what position Brady would play on a defense, but I'd imagine Smith could make a passable FS.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 5:23pm

I've thought SF has covered TEs amazingly well this year, too, but Brooks looked really bad in coverage Monday night against Heath Miller. He LOOKED like a DE trying to cover a TE.

by MJK :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:29pm

I would like that matchup just because I'm a fan of both teams (a dis-placed New Englander who married a Niners fan and now lives in the Bay Area). It would be intriguing.

When the Niners had the ball, they would see an improvement in offensive production, because the New England defense IS really bad. However, the one thing that the New England defense is decent at is red zone defense (as evidenced by the fact they're 32 in yards given up, but something like 13th in points allowed). So I still see Akers having a busy day.

When the Pats had the ball, I agree, the Niners are uniquely equipped to give them trouble--Smith matches up well against Light and would give Brady some difficulty, while their excellent LB's would do much to make life difficult for Welker and the TE's. However, Brady is still really good, and even teams that "shut down" the Pats offense this year still struggled to hold them under 20 points. They would still get TD's...just fewer of them.

I see the game being something like 14-15 or 21-19 in the 4th quarter, and it could go either way. In SF, I definitely would like the Niners' chances. In Foxboro, I think the Patriots would win. In the SB on a neutral field, I think the Niners would have a *slight* edge, but I wouldn't bet money either way...

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:34pm

New England is 23rd in points per drive, and that's with the 2nd best starting field position in the league.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 3:57pm

I'm amazed that Baltimore has a positive offensive DVOA. Every time I watch them, they can't move the ball for their life. Even when they have their monthly point explosions, it is usually the defense setting up short fields or scoring outright.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:26pm

Pitt has now struggled in three out of their last four games, with only one genuinely impressive performance in their last six. Not exactly what I would consider the best "weighted" team, but what do I know?

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:44pm

DVOA is like women. Just when you think you know them, they change completely.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:47pm

It is the 20th of the month. That was always when I needed to start worrying about what Ex-Mrs. SFC B was going to be angry about.

by TomC :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:29pm

And, with that, the last remaining female FO reader stalks off in disgust.

by giraffesturbation (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 10:54pm

Making her the first woman to leave for a reason other than math.

by jackofarcades (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:27am

Shut the fuck up with the women jokes. They're dumb and distasteful and don't belong in a football discussion.

by White Rose Duelist :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 11:30am

I am amused by the idea of anyone dropping a f-bomb calling someone else "distasteful".

by TC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:31pm

oh good, I had almost forgotten why this is one of the last places on the internet where I still need to use a gender-neutral nickname! cheers!

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:48pm

This is has to be the most misogynist thread I've ever seen on FO. Usually, we just talk about football, I swear!

I remember Cathy W used to post a lot, but I guess her Eagles are just no fun to talk about anymore.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:32pm

Lighten up, Francis.

by MJ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:18pm

You know, some women actually have a sense of humor and laugh at comments like this. Oh no, did that just scramble everything up again? What will happen next week? Jacksonville topping DVOA?

by jackofarcades (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 8:03pm

Hey buddy, fuck you too. Women who don't laugh at these jokes aren't humorless.

Stop trying to make it seem like people who don't want to hear off-topic and off-color jokes are unreasonable.

by akn :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:49pm

You just replied to (and insulted) a woman with a sense of humor, genius.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 10:13am

If you wish not to see off-color or tastless humor in a message board, there is this little wheel button on most computer mice or the "Page Down" button on the keybord. Try them.

by Zheng :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:53pm

Not all women are like that. For example, my wife doesn't get that way once a month. For her, it's pretty much constant.

by TomC :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:30am

You guys are frickin' priceless. It's like talking football with 100 Henny Youngmans.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:25pm

Mrs SFC B probably wonders why Mr SFC B is clueless all the time, but lets it build up until the 20th, when she decides to blow off some steam.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:04am

Yes dear. Sounds good.

by Sander :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 4:58pm

How can the Bucs have had the toughest schedule in the league, while the Panthers have had the 25th schedule in the league? The only difference between the Panthers and Buccaneers' schedule is a Falcons game instead of Saints game, a Cardinals game instead of a Niners game and a Redskins game instead of a Cowboys game. Is that really enough to produce such a huge difference?

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:05pm

The Bucs had to play the Panthers while the Panthers had to play Bucs is another difference.

by Sander :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:08pm

True, and that's a surprisingly large difference, too.

by MJK :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:52pm

Also, Falcons < Saints, Redskins < Cowboys, and Cardinals << Niners.

Plus, as others have mentioned, the Panthers had to play the Bucs twice, while the Bucs got to play the Panthers twice.

For five out of fourteen games, the Panthers had the easier opponent. And in the case of Niners versus Cardinals, the MUCH easier opponent. If all five of those unbalances in the schedule translate into wins, 5 wins is a very big deal in an NFL season (it's the difference between going, say, 11-5 and 6-10). Even three wins is huge (11-5 teams are generally thought of as playoff calibur, 8-8 teams are mediocre, and 5-11 teams are bad).

by Sander :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:01pm

The Bucs and Panthers have played only once so far, so that makes it four games. Are different opponents for 4 of 14 games enough to go from the hardest to one of the easiest schedules in the NFL?

by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:27pm

Hmm. I believe the schedule numbers are just the average of the DVOA of the teams played. So, with TB's past schedule at 8% and CAR's past schedule at -0.9%, we should get a difference of 124.6% between them when we look at unmatched opponents.

ATL: 17.5%
ARI: -17.9%
WAS: -5.6%
TB: -18.4%

NO: 18.1%
SF: 21.3%
DAL: 9.0%
CAR: -1.4%

The total difference is only 71.4%. What am I missing? It's not an HFA adjustment - TB has played more home games to date.

by Mr. X (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:47pm

Your playoff odds link is broken again..., just like last week.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 5:59pm

It's working fine for me.

by TomC :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:33pm

I think he means it's broken because the page it links to doesn't show a 100% chance for the Packers to go 16-0.

(Yes, cheap shot, I know, but what else do Bears fans have left?)

by Yaguar :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 6:49pm

Again, are you sure about those playoff odds numbers? You have the 49ers winning 1.0 games, total, in away games against the Rams and the Seahawks. Presumably they are favorites against the Rams and dogs against the Seahawks, with 1 win on average.

Let's say that again. You think the 49ers are the underdog against the Seahawks. Vegas (probably correctly) thinks the reverse; Seattle is a +125 bet, meaning you could make money off of even a 45% confidence in their victory.

But it's not that you disagree with Vegas once, or twice, or even dozens of times. It's that you're systematically biased against a particular type of team; good ones. You consistently give the good teams lower odds to win their games than you should. (And conversely, you keep overestimating the chances of wins for inferior teams.)

How about the Ravens? 1.3 wins from a game at home vs Cleveland and a game at Cincinnati? Really? You have a demonstrably excellent team facing a poor one and an average one, and you think they'll lose 0.7 games? The odds on the Browns game are +475/-650, meaning that Vegas places their chances between 13 and 17 percent. I doubt Cincinnati will be favored either. So where are the 0.7 losses coming from?

Meanwhile, the bad teams systematically get favored way more than they should. Where are the Browns getting their 0.5 wins from? Their away game in Baltimore, or their home game against the Steelers? The Ravens and Steelers are both 10-4 (71.4%) teams, facing a 4-10 team (28.6%), and you think that they'll have a 75% win percentage? That's barely better than they've done so far, against much more difficult teams than the Browns.

For the record, I am not a homer for any of these teams, or the Packers. I am a Colts fan. You shouldn't be expecting us to make 0.8 wins in our last two games either, even if one of them is at Jacksonville.

I am actually the reverse of the much-maligned zlionsfan template troll. I believe you are underestimating the predictive power of DVOA and being too conservative.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:18pm

Look at Weighted DVOA. Recent results treats the Seahawks like a game against Philly, Dallas, or Detroit.

SF is 2-1, with a +4 pt differential against that group, and all four games were decided in the last 3:00. It's not that much of a stretch to call that a 50-50 game.

by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:30pm

They're using 20% for the Niners DVOA and 10% for the 'Hawks. If I remember right, home field is worth about 17%. So the Seahawks are favored in the simulation that mkaes up the Playoff Odds Report.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:37pm

I'm shutting up on this subject after KC over GB-- (Or Indy winning)-- I am duly humbled. More interesting question concerns home field in the playoffs-- a whole lot of teams without it having been winning games and even getting to/winning the SB in recent years, yet I recall a stretch in the 80s/90s, partic. in the NFC, when it was everything in the postseason.

Note to self: Now is not the time to begin crowing over fact that Packers have not lost at Lambeau since last October. UWGB might beat them there if Bulaga and Clifton are out.

But I wonder what is gone haywire in the league to cause so many road underdogs to prevail in the postseason in recent years-- any theories on this??

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:48pm

Stronger wild card teams and weaker division winners due to the move to an 8 division structure?

by MCS :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 9:29am

Nice take on the Phoenix. Not everybody knows that they don't even have a football team.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:06pm

Also that SF has one less day to prepare.

The NFL shafted SF this year with its scheduling. One game with three days to prepare, flying to Baltimore, one game with four days, flying to Seattle.

Would it be that bloody difficult to ensure that a team that plays on Monday wouldn't have to play on Saturday? Or one that plays on Thanksgiving wouldn't have to travel three time zones to do it?

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:01pm

It wasn't that long ago that the Chargers had to play two road games against AFC East teams coming off their bye weeks. If you don't like it, demand that the 49ers move to Omaha or Topeka.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:04pm

They couldn't be the 49ers if they were in those cities. Omaha Corn perhaps? (No idea where Topeka is)

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:16pm

Omaha Red Nuggets
Topeja tornadoes

Those are good nanes if 49ers move ti obe of those cities

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:41pm

Sure they could. After all the LA Lakers started in Minneapolis, the Dodgers in Brooklyn, and the Jazz in New Orleans.

But we could entertain the idea of the Omaha Corndogs or the Topeka Brownbacks.
(Topeka is the state capitol of Kansas, you slacker.)

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:52pm

Pretty sure the NFL has now decreed that franchises which switch cities will in future leave the name and colours behind à la Ravens.

by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 10:20pm

I thought that was due to some oddity with the city of Cleveland having some claim on the name/colors from way back whenever, not an NFL dictum.

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

by Dejspin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 11:12pm

The names/colors thing was the result of a lawsuit settlement. Similar settlements have happened in other sports (Seattle Sonics come to mind), but it is by no means universal or guaranteed.

"The Baltimore Ravens came into existence in 1995 when Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, announced his intention to relocate his team from Cleveland to Baltimore. The resulting controversy ended when representatives of Cleveland and the NFL reached a settlement on February 8, 1996. The agreement stipulated that the Browns' name, colors, uniform design and franchise records would remain in Cleveland. The franchise history included Browns club records and connections with Pro Football Hall of Fame players. A new team started by Al Lerner to begin play in 1999 would be regarded as the "reactivated" Cleveland Browns. Modell's Baltimore team, while retaining all current player contracts, would officially be the expansion team, a "new franchise."[2] Not all players, staff or front office would make the move to Baltimore, however."


by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:52am

Yeah, I guess for some reason the possible legal precedent set by the Browns-Ravens settlement had somehow grown in my head into something more definite.

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 11:53pm

Yeah, you mean à la Browns. If there were such a just and fair policy, the beautiful Colts uniform, and the name and records, would be in Baltimore where they belong.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:51am

Give it up, you stole a franchise, too.

If Pittsburgh left town, they would likely have to give up the hypocycloid logo, though.

by JimZipCode :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 3:15am

Did not. The NFL gave us a spare one they weren't using, and restocked Cleveland.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:49am

Nah, I mean à la Ravens. They did the leaving. Actually, maybe this is one of them thar primary/secondary intension issues.

And I know this was not the case in the past; my (very possibly mistaken) understanding was that it had been decided that it would be in the future.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 10:59pm

OK mister clever, having a go at the Limey, what's the county town of Sussex?

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:03am

East or West?

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:30am

True. At least in CA the "49ers" ensure that every sports fan in the state with three brain cells to rub together knows what year the gold rush started. Has there ever been mining of any sort in Kansas or Nebraska?

If we're moving to small cities, I vote for Truth or Consequences, NM. The Truth or Consequences 49ers would be the most delightful mouthful in sportscaster's mouths.

by beargoggles :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:31am

IT's Saturday? Ugh. I already hated the 49ers chances in this game. All the cards are aligned for the #3 seed after a full 24 hours of preening around the Bay Area. If anybody can prevent a letdown, it's Harbaugh, and hopefully they got it out of their system vs the Cards.

Still, 4 days rest, at a very difficult stadium against a rapidly improving team who still has a (long) shot at the playoffs. Plus there's the Carroll revenge factor, which probably isn't relevant, but still.

The scheduling is pretty stupid, although who it benefits is pretty random. Steelers played on Monday 11 days after a Thursday nighter. How does that make any sense? Monday to Saturday is even more ridiculous, can't the NFL program their computers to prevent this?

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:35am

I would love to see you try and make an NFL schedule. It is approximately 100X harder than you are giving it credit for.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:57am

You could switch the Saturday game with basically any Sunday game (except the one with the Steelers in it) and have a fairer schedule, while only impacting four teams.

by DGL :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:20pm

The only Sunday game is CHI-GB Sunday night. Apparently there's something else going on Sunday that the NFL chooses not to conflict with, though for the life of me I can't think of what.

by beargoggles :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:47pm

LOL. I guess I didn't realize ALL the games were on Saturday this week. It's because they don't want to go up against the NBA right? ;)

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:51pm

My bad, didn't realize that most of the regular games were moved to Saturday, since I was only planning on watching the Packers. I just checked, and the Packers also played on Christmas in 2005, which was the last time it fell on a Sunday.

Does seem to be a little odd to me that the NFL loads up Thanksgiving with games but would avoid Christmas. Presents are usually opened by noon, but Thanksgiving dinner always overlaps one of the games.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:59am

Yeah, I'm thinking the Seahawks will be favorites in this game. I'm guessing Brian Burke gives the 9ers a .4 on his win probability when that rolls out later this week. Of course, he doesn't count special teams at all, but then again, I don't think his home field advantage includes modifiers for specific stadiums, and I doubt he includes the disadvantage of less time to practice.

NO has to be pretty confident of getting the #2. That 2-point ARI loss is exasperating, because it matters more this year than most who gets the #2 vs. the #3 since the Saints are so good at home.

Disadvantage of having a team that wins low-scoring games...flukey wins and losses are more likely.

by greybeard :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 9:03pm

I find Burke's criticism of FO's statistics usually spot on. But then I look at Burke's use of statistics, especially for positions and say to myself he needs a guy like Brian Burke to set him straight.

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:07am

I like Burke's work, but I feel like he is too much a slave to his numbers. His system spits something out, and he makes broad conclusions without finding any nuance. His analysis of fourth-down decision-making is like this; if his WPA figures say one thing, it's the right answer, period.

He's also quite abrasive in his criticism of others. I liked FO's analysis of ESPN's QBR and Tanier's of Kerry Byrne's QB metric; in both cases, the point was made that the system in question had flaws, but FO didn't make fun or take a superior tone. Burke does that all the time (especially when criticizing FO).

That said, Burke's criticisms of FO are usually spot on, like you say. He's much less enjoyable to read, however.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:50pm

I imagine that's why his site has a much smaller following than FO's. He may be a better statistician, but he's not as good a writer, and hasn't created the community of writers that Aaron has. FO has proven to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things -- Michael David Smith, Doug Farrar, Mike Tanier, etc. etc. -- so they'll continue to attract good writers.

I also think Burke's stats lack in imagination what they gain in rigor, at least compared to FO's.

He seems like one of those guys who will automatically fight criticism of his own systems, then later, in the quiet, accept them. I remember a few weeks ago there were a spate of complaints that his weekly team rankings don't include special teams, and he got prickly. I remember a post of his saying "Devin Hester is the only exception to the special teams rule," or something like that, implying that special teams weren't worth tracking. Then the next week he had a post to his team rankings talking about how teams like SF and CHI will be underrated by his system, since they don't track special teams.

Well, I know that kind of guy -- never admit defeat, but change your mind later. A few of those guys over a pint or two of beer and the right attitude will provide hours of fun.

by greybeard :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 8:55pm

I agree. I do not understand why he thinks he can talk with authority about a 4th down decision that happened on a particular game based on what happens on the average. Going for on a 1st and goal on 2 yard line has entirely different probability of resulting for touchdown than the average, based on who is doing it, 49ers have a hard time doing it regardless of what league (historical) average is. I don't know what is so hard to understand that, especially for a guy who seems to know how to think critically when it comes to the statistical analysis of others.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:46pm

Well, I was wrong...he has SF clocking in at .53, and that's without considering their #2 special teams.

So, woot.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 7:34pm

One would think that a fan of a team that just lost to the Cards 2 weeks ago would understand the randomness factor.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:02pm

He says he's a Colts fan, they lose to everybody. Well nearly everybody.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:37pm

Ahh, I missed the Colts fan disclosure... I just assumed that he had to be a 49er fan from the first remarks.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:25pm

"How about the Ravens? 1.3 wins from a game at home vs Cleveland and a game at Cincinnati? Really? You have a demonstrably excellent team facing a poor one and an average one, and you think they'll lose 0.7 games? The odds on the Browns game are +475/-650, meaning that Vegas places their chances between 13 and 17 percent. I doubt Cincinnati will be favored either. So where are the 0.7 losses coming from?"

Given how the Ravens splits have been vs good teams/vs bad teams, 1.3 wins is very generous vs CLE + CIN. If it was vs NE + PIT it would be another matter. ;)

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 8:41pm

More to the point, the Ravens are 30th in variance, meaning they usually play a great game or a stinker, without much in between. They wouldn't be favored over Cincy by much (maybe -1 or 2) if they played this week, although maybe the line will be bigger if the Bengals continue to play like they have in recent weeks.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:34pm

You would think that anyone who has watched their performance this season would understand this, as opposed to anyone who just looks at their W-L record.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 9:56pm

I think you can probably get 0.8 wins out of the Jags and the TJ Yates, no Andre Johnson, no Mario Williams, division clinched, little shot at a bye Texans. Hell, I'd be worrying about tiebreakers with the Rams, if I were you. Would the Colts trade up to get Luck?

by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:21am

I don't think the Texans have "little shot" at a bye. If they win out and BAL loses one they're the 2 seed. They're not in control of their destiny, but they have an easier path to a bye than the Steelers do.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:12am

I guess I just don't see the Ravens losing.

Possibly wishful thinking: I'd rather see the Texans play a playoff game they might conceivably win before being stomped by New England, rather than have that happen coming off a bye.

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:32am

The Ravens play at Cincinnati in week 17. The Ravens have been very beatable on the road, and the Bengals could be fighting for a wild card spot.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 10:18am

If they get the 2 seed the Texans will most certainly not be stomped by New England in their first playoff game.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:04pm

Yes, that was a brainfart and a half. I'd got so used to assuming that the Patriots would be the #2 seed that I'd lost track of reality. Yes, playing the Ravens afterwards makes the bye rather more appealing. Obviously the Ravens would be favoured, but that's not a completely unimaginable upset, and at any rate shouldn't result in the kind of humiliating annihilation I would expect from the Pats.

by JimZipCode :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 11:59pm

Do the Ravens have a huge split between their DVOA in home games vs road games? An unusually high split? They certainly seem like 2 different teams, to the naked eye.

by beargoggles :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:35am

Agree on Baltimore, lame on the road, and still have a chance to cough the division away at Cincy week 17--I'm betting on it.

But Rivers was out of his mind Sunday night. If he has a normal game, it's probably very close.

How about a Eagles--Chargers Wasted Potential Bowl the week before the Super Bowl?

by BJR :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 9:34am

That's a scary game for Ravens fans. Bengals always play the Ravens super hard, not least if there is a playoff place on the line.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:18am

I'm surprised the Colts haven't passed the Rams yet. The Rams, to my eyes and measures, are the worst team in football by a decent margin.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:06am

As someone who has had no inclination to watch the Rams this year - what's happened to Howie's boy - hows he developing?

by Tim R :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 5:36am

He's one of the very few bright spots. Consistently getting pressure and sacks (13). About the only positive thing to come out of the season is that Long and Quinn could be a very good pass rushing tandem.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:52am

I think I would have preferred to have Suh in the middle of that unit, and taken my chances with who I could get to play quarterback, and I said so at the time.

by Tim R :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:21pm

Right now yeah that would look pretty good, but I don't think Bradford should be written off just yet. Injuries to him and the rest of the offense have really hindered an already short on talent group, McDaniels hasn't helped either.

by Peregrine :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:50pm

Question for any Rams or Vikings fans: any chance your team will draft a QB with that #2 or #3 pick? Do you think your team should do so?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:14pm

I can't imagine they would; both teams have lousy offensive lines and receiving corps, and it's not like Barkley, Griffin, or Landry Jones (presumably the next three QBs on the board after Luck) are the kind of sure-fire picks that are going to transform a team entirely. If Luck is sitting there, sure, but that's not happening.

Bradford's dealt with a huge number of offensive line injuries, and Ponder got thrown in in the middle of his rookie season with the short offseason and all sorts of other problems. Ponder doesn't strike me as someone I'm really confident in (I watch a fair amount of Vikings games, albeit half-heartedly on a second TV whilst screaming at Tampa on the big TV), but he at least has the promise of being decent if they can draft someone like Kalil to keep him upright.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:57pm

As things currently stand, this looks like a spectacularly good and deep free agent class at wide receiver. Both teams would be well advised to get their QBs a target in free agency and a left tackle in the draft, and find out what they've got in circumstances where a realistic assessment is possible.

Here are some wide receivers who will be unrestricted free agents absent a new contract or the franchise tag:

Wes Welker
Dwayne Bowe
Vincent Jackson
DeSean Jackson
Steve Johnson
Marques Colston
Robert Meachem
Brandon Lloyd*
Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garcon
Mario Manningham
Harry Douglas
Michael Crabtree

Not to mention the tight ends:

Jermichael Finley
Fred Davis
Tony Gonzalez
John Carlson

Although a few of those will doubtless be franchised or locked up (Welker, Davis), it really ought to be possible for the Rams and Bucs to get their guys some help there. Offensive line pickings are rather thinner on the ground, though there are potentially two standout guards (Nicks, Grubbs), and good if under-sized centers in Myers and Wells.

*Yes, I know Lloyd is already on the Rams. He and Bradford haven't exactly had a lot of time to develop an understanding, though, between the lack of an offseason and Bradford's injuries.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:08pm

Are you sure about Crabtree? I thought he signed a five year contract.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:05pm

Nope, 6 - evidently my original source was off on that one. He's not a free agent till 2014. My bad.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:01pm

Oh please, Vincent Jackson or Dwayne Bowe to the Bears. Get Cutler that big receiver he wants.

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:01am

Oh man, don't tease me.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:41pm

Outside of Luck, no qb is enough of a risk free pick for the Vikings to make it wise for them to not try to fill some other gaping hole, like at left tackle or cornerback. My impression is that it is easier to be confident that a high pick at offensive line is less likely to be a complete and total bust, so I hope they go in that direction.

This roster has so many needs that it makes little sense for them to draft a qb in the first round, unless they get a shot at the guy everyone says is the best prospect since Elway. Ponder may be o.k., so they may as well use the pick on another position.

by Peregrine :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 6:08pm

If I'm the Vikings GM, I put some serious consideration into taking a QB at #2 or #3. If you think Barkley / Griffin / Jones will be a better pro QB than Ponder, what's silly about taking one of them?

Because here's the bad news if you're a Vikings fan: Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler are both 28, and Matthew Stafford is 23. If Christian Ponder's ceiling is to be the 4th-best QB in the NFC North, the Vikings aren't going anywhere. Yes, other parts of the team need some help, but if it requires carpet bombing to solidify the QB position for the long term, so be it. It's a passing league.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 6:11pm

"If I'm the Vikings GM, I put some serious consideration into taking a QB at #2 or #3. If you think Barkley / Griffin / Jones will be a better pro QB than Ponder, what's silly about taking one of them?"

If you thought they would be better pro QBs why did you draft Ponder the year before they came out?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 6:27pm

I don't think anyone would deny that Ponder was a reach where he was taken, but, to use a common phrase, it is what it is. Honestly, though, you can survive with a decent QB if you have a good offensive line, but the converse is rarely true, and, if Kalil is sitting there, he seems a bigger priority than QB. Offensive line and secondary are huge problems for this team, and they're not winning the division for a few years minimum anyways.

I was watching the draft with a Vikes fan who screamed "THERE WILL BE BETTER QBs NEXT YEAR WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!" when Ponder was selected; that being said, if they take another QB at #2 or #3, his head will explode.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 9:57am

The Vikings do not know if Ponder will fail to be an above average NFL qb. They know for an absolute fact that they do not have an average left tackle on their roster. If there is a lt prospect who grades out extremely high, they best serve the odds by going in that direction.

by t.d. :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 6:04am

Tell that to the Rams (Jason Smith) or Jags (Eugene Monroe). Missing on anybody in the top five is devastating, potentially setting a team back years, and those teams thought they were shoring up their lines before drafting their franchise qb

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 9:53am

I did not say it was impossible to completely whiff on a top 5 o-line pick, merely that my impression is that it is less likely. In any case, you usually find out that it is a complete whiff more quickly than at qb. Unless you get to draft Luck, if the Vikings have a left tackle that grades out extremely high, that is the direction I would go. They don't know at this time that Ponder will fail to be an above average qb, and they know for an absolute fact that their roster does not contain an average left tackle.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:10pm

1. Left tackle "mega-busts" very often turn out to be very good guards instead.
2. With a slotted rookie wage scale, non-qb busts will not sink the franchise in the way they used to. QBs still will, because it's essentially impossible to overcome terrible quarterbacking.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:56am

After Tampa gave up 41 to Jacksonville, I'd argue you could easily put the Bucs at the bottom of the list based on current play. Actually, the Bucs and Rams are pretty similar this year; promising QBs who have had rough years, lousy WR play, terrible secondaries, and young DEs who have at least shown quite a bit of promise. I guess Tampa's better o-line vs. Steven Jackson is the tipping point.

by Mathew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:58am

Well let's see how objective this website really is. when it comes to comparing their methods to others.

I believe DVOA has been completely worthless in ranking the offense and defense of teams such as Carolina Panthers and just continued to perpetuate the irrational emphasis on less important stats such as yards and completely ignore the affect of turnovers.

Other more simplistic measurements, but far more telling, such as yards per point and turnovers in general have correctly predicted that Carolina's win-loss record as well as summarized it just by looking at the offense. The offense has been a poor offense all year long, and due to their offensive inefficiency and turnovers, it incorrectly ranked their defense much lower than what it actually deserves to be and offense much better.

In reality both the Panthers and Eagles have been stupid, inefficient offenses that couldn't possibly have been helped by an "average defense" or even a "top 10" ranked defense in this league. They have however killed their defenses in the typical rankings, and anytime they executed even average their defenses have stepped up to the challenge.

They are 5-0 when their quarterback doesn't turn over the ball. 0-9 when he does. Their defense have kept teams far below league average when they don't turn over the ball, yet Carolina's defense is constantly ranked low due to their offensive mistakes.

Number of turnovers are important, including those outside of those tracked by the turnover stats(fumbles and interceptions) such as 3 and outs, and punts. Better put, stalled drives. Places where turnovers take place are even more important.

Inversely, their offense have had issues scoring over 30 points a game even when the defense offered them excellent field position or multiple takeaways per game. I do not believe you will ever come to finding a more accurate measurement of offenses or defenses by complicating the measurement process while losing focus of the larger scope. You will in turn come out with more problems, more inaccuracies and more unexplainable phenomenons the more you try to break down a team's or player's criteria into smaller and smaller sub-categories and stats. The errors that arise from constantly tracking smaller, but yet still less important, measurements in vacuum-like fashion will outweigh any benefits, and will more inaccurately predict the larger goal and ultimate scope of the game: wins-losses.

A similar example would be ESPN's Total QB rating. The entire point of passer rating is that it still correlates highly to winning, and when ESPN decided to credit rushing QB's with additional contribution because of their effort with their legs, they overlooked some much more important aspects:

-the most efficient way of moving the football still remains the pass
-when a quarterback opts to rush instead of pass he's using a less efficient way
-in a game of specialists, it begins to work against both your running and passing game to allow one guy who's an expert in neither to make more plays, than dividing the same plays to players who are specialists at the position(a running back for a running play, an extremely efficient passer for a passing play)
-rushing by a quarterback is in essence, a mistake in the first place, and a failure at your primary job, if it wasn't designed. It's only useful as an absolute last resort. Quarterbacks who rush though generally get lazier at becoming more expert passers.
-including sacks as part of a quarterback's rating and grading it negatively is just as short sighted as a quarterback rushing the ball being credited positively. A sack, from the point of the game, is preferred to an interception and is considered a smarter decision than attempting to throw the ball away when you have a much higher chance of throwing an interception. The order is 1. completed pass 2. rush for positive yardage. 3. incompletion/sack. 5 interception. Of course depending on certain situations, if you are trying to run out the clock it may just be better to take a sack than throw an incompletion. However you look at it, rushing as a quarterback is still a plan B, and a failure to do your primary job which almost always results in better results when performed correctly by a specialist passer.
-TQBR incorrectly lists a winning quarterback who is a tremendous decision maker such as Tim Tebow as a bad quarterback, while QB passer rating has it right. His discipline, concentration, decision making ability such as choosing a sack or an incompletion over an interception or an unsure pass to an unexperienced group of receivers("intangibles) are more accurately measured by passer rating than Total Quarterback Rating. He's ranked higher than average. He would be ranked even higher if the NFL didn't also place ridiculous weights on yards although they do a better job of placing weights on interceptions but not good enough. It's also why most people don't realize he's on pace to set some serious records for interception efficiency and touchdown to interceptions percentage for a guy entering his second year and these two categories have more to do with a team's winning record than yards average and completion %. Passer rating inadvertently measures certain intangibles such as quick decision making, ability to read defenses, and quick reaction time, even if they are not directly reflected in the numbers being tracked. Which is why a guy like Tim Tebow is smart enough to realize a 40 yard sack loss at the end of the game means nothing, except probably in his Total Quarterback Rating.

The NFL would disagree that it was a "bad" decision and the NFL passer rating does not punish him for it. Which is correct, imo.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:12pm

I was wondering what your point was and then I got to;

TQBR incorrectly lists a winning quarterback who is a tremendous decision maker such as Tim Tebow as a bad quarterback

When the penny didn't so much drop as come flying out of space and crash through the Earth's crust.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:32pm

I'm so glad this turned into a "Tebow is AWESOME" comment. The way it started I thought we'd identified the rare "Crazed Panthers Fan". I don't know if my reality could withstand meeting a crazed Jaguars fan while in Wisconsin AND finding out that the Panthers have crazed fans.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:37pm

I'm just surprised a PFO comment this long didn't involve telling me where to buy Uggs.

by TOPHERchris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 7:01pm

The KC Chiefs *are clearly ranked because . is way better than this.