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11 Dec 2012

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

For a wonderful 24 hours, the Seattle Seahawks were the No. 1 team in DVOA for the first time since Week 1 of 2010 -- and the first time ever in Week 5 or later. Alas, it was not to be, as the Patriots went and clobbered the Texans. New England's victory had a total DVOA of 86.8%, which doesn't even come close to what Seattle did on Sunday. (I wrote about Seattle and the best DVOA games ever yesterday.) However, it was the Patriots' best game of the year, and it propelled them past the Seahawks and into first place.

Some big gaps have opened up between teams in our ratings, with some clear stratification through Week 14. The Patriots and Seahawks have now pulled ahead with two of the best total DVOA ratings of the last 20 years. A little bit behind those teams you will find Denver and San Francisco. Then there's a huge gap. In total DVOA, the gap between San Francisco and No. 5 Green Bay is about 13 percentage points; in weighted DVOA, the gap is between the 49ers and the No. 5 Giants, about 12 percentage points.

If there's one thing right now that FO readers should be telling other football fans who don't read FO, it's this: don't sleep on the Seattle Seahawks.

Yes, yes, I know, they should be 7-6 because of the Fail Mary or Goldengate or what I prefer to call it, "REF-POCALYPSE." That's nice, but it has nothing to do with how they've been playing the last few weeks. Driving home from the Patriots win ast night, the hosts on 98.5 The Sports Hub were talking about which top teams scared them as the Patriots' biggest competition, and they were talking about the Broncos, 49ers, Packers, and Giants ("even though they're inconsistent"). The Seahawks never came up. That's a mistake. This is a very good team right now. The Seahawks have not lost a game by more than a touchdown all season. It's not because they have a particularly bad record in close games; they've just played a lot of them. Seattle is 4-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less (including their win against Green Bay).

The Seahawks are now in the top five for DVOA in all three phases of the game, although it is interesting to note that their defense seems to be regressing at the same time that the offense and special teams have massively improved:

Seattle DVOA, Weeks 1-7 vs. 8-14
Weeks OFF
Weeks 1-7 -4.1% 20 -27.8% 2 1.9% 12 25.6%
Weeks 8-14 38.1% 2 -3.5% 13 12.0% 2 53.7%

It's interesting to note another team with virtually identical stats since Week 8:

New England DVOA, Weeks 1-7 vs. 8-14
Weeks OFF
Weeks 1-7 32.1% 1 3.9% 18 2.8% 10 31.0%
Weeks 8-14 40.5% 1 -3.7% 12 10.8% 3 55.0%

Something else both New England and Seattle have in common: both teams lost close games to Arizona during the Cardinals' four-game winning streak to start the year. That's a distant memory, isn't it? I received numerous tweets on Sunday asking me where the Cardinals stood among the worst offenses we've ever tracked. The surprising answer is: They don't.

That embarassment on Sunday dropped the Cardinals' offensive DVOA from -26.7% to -31.2%. They are now comfortably in last place. But that rating wouldn't make a list of the worst ten offenses we've ever tracked through Week 14. The Cardinals would rank 16th. The same thing is true if we break offensive DVOA down to passing and rushing. I don't have a spreadsheet that puts together how these splits develop week-by-week, so we'll have to compare the Cardinals to other teams over a full season instead of just 13 games, but... Arizona's passing DVOA of -32.1% doesn't even make the list of the worst 20 passing games in DVOA history. In fact, their running game is comparitively worse; the Cardinals and Raiders are basically tied at -20.1%, which would rank them 16th and 17th in DVOA history.

Remember, we changed DVOA this offseason to normalize every season to 0%, so the Cardinals do not miss the bottom of our lists simply because the current offensive environment of the NFL means that the worst offense now will get a lot more yardage than the worst offense 20 years ago. I'm not sure people realize just how bad the worst offenses of the last 20 years really were.

Twenty years ago, that Seattle franchise that walloped Arizona on Sunday had a team that couldn't even average 10 points per game. That team finished the year with offensive DVOA of -41.3% and passing DVOA of -65.3%. That's beyond pathetic, and way worse than what the Cardinals are doing this year, even after including this week's game. Between them, Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Dan McGwire had a completion rate of 48.3 percent, 67 sacks, and 23 picks with only nine touchdowns.

That's the worst passing offense we've tracked, but not the worst offense overall. That would be the 2002 expansion Texans, when David Carr took 76 sacks and the running game averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The Cardinals can't come close to the 2005 49ers, who had rookie Alex Smith and his 1-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That team started Ken Dorsey three times and Cody Pickett twice. They can't come close to the 2004 Bears team that was stuck starting Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, and Jonathan Quinn after Rex Grossman got hurt early. The Cardinals don't even have the worst offensive DVOA in franchise history. In fact, they don't even have the worst offensive DVOA in Ken Whisenhunt history. The 2010 Cardinals finished the year with -35.6% DVOA. That team's best quarterback was a UFL refugee named Richard Bartel. That was the season that inspired the Cardinals to go out and get Kevin Kolb. And I know people like to say horrible things about Kolb, and he certainly hasn't turned into a viable NFL starter, but can we be honest about the fact that a healthy Kevin Kolb (passing DVOA: -24.3%) would be better than the alternatives of John Skelton (-35.7%) and Ryan Lindley (-64.9%)?

The Cardinals are very bad, but not historically bad, and the same goes for the Jets, Jaguars, and Chiefs.

One last note: Atlanta and Indianapolis are still teams that have won a bunch of close games with very easy schedules. I don't have anything new to add about their low DVOA ratings.

* * * * *


Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 62.0% x 2007 NE 49.1% x 1991 PHI -40.0% x 2006 CHI 11.2%
1991 WAS 58.6% x 2010 NE 44.7% x 2002 TB -39.9% x 2011 CHI 10.8%
2004 PIT 45.1% x 1993 SF 39.4% x 2008 BAL -31.4% x 2001 PHI 10.7%
1998 DEN 43.4% x 1998 DEN 39.3% x 1995 SF -29.3% x 1994 CLE1 10.3%
1995 SF 41.9% x 2002 KC 38.2% x 2012 CHI -27.8% x 2012 BAL 10.3%
2012 NE 41.8% x 2004 IND 37.1% x 2008 PIT -27.0% x 2007 CHI 10.1%
2004 NE 40.9% x 1992 SF 35.7% x 2004 PIT -26.8% x 2000 MIA 9.9%
1999 STL 40.3% x 2012 NE 35.7% x 1991 NO -26.7% x 1998 DAL 9.8%
2002 TB 39.1% x 1995 DAL 33.7% x 1997 SF -26.6% x 1996 CAR 9.7%
2004 PHI 38.8% x 2004 KC 32.2% x 2004 BAL -24.8% x 2004 BUF 9.7%
2012 SEA 38.8% x 2003 KC 31.9% x 2006 CHI -24.7% x 1997 DAL 9.5%
1994 DAL 38.3% x 2011 NE 31.1% x 1998 MIA -24.4% x 2002 NO 9.2%

Yes, I know what you are saying to yourself at this point: "How the hell are the Chicago Bears still on this list?" Well, the Bears had a long way to drop. The Chicago defense "peaked" at -39.9% after Week 10. Their defensive rating has gotten worse each week since then, but they've still been above average. From Week 11 through Week 14, Chicago's defensive DVOA is -5.8%. There's a lot of opponent adjustment in that because the opponents have included two offenses in our top five, San Francisco and Seattle. Before the season, I definitely wasn't expecting to write things like "offenses in our top five include San Francisco and Seattle."

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2012, 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>

All stats pages should now be updated (or, at least, will be in the next few minutes) including snap counts and the FO Premium database.

Two general site notes: First, Any Given Sunday will appear tomorrow because of Rivers McCown's travel home. Second, please note that we're way behind on answering e-mails to the Football Outsiders general mailbag because both Rivers and I attended the game last night and were recovering/traveling home today. If you've e-mailed recently, have patience. Thanks!

1 NE 41.8% 1 45.8% 1 10-3 35.7% 1 0.3% 14 6.5% 3
2 SEA 38.8% 4 43.9% 2 8-5 15.4% 5 -16.7% 2 6.6% 2
3 DEN 35.5% 2 37.9% 3 10-3 18.5% 3 -14.5% 5 2.4% 10
4 SF 34.8% 3 33.8% 4 9-3-1 20.1% 2 -15.9% 4 -1.2% 22
5 GB 21.9% 5 16.2% 7 9-4 15.5% 4 -5.3% 9 1.1% 11
6 CHI 20.6% 6 21.1% 6 8-5 -12.8% 26 -27.8% 1 5.7% 5
7 NYG 20.3% 8 21.8% 5 8-5 13.4% 6 -3.5% 10 3.4% 9
8 HOU 15.1% 7 13.6% 8 11-2 4.8% 12 -16.6% 3 -6.3% 31
9 BAL 12.0% 9 9.8% 10 9-4 3.7% 16 2.0% 19 10.3% 1
10 WAS 5.3% 11 9.2% 11 7-6 12.2% 8 3.3% 21 -3.5% 27
11 ATL 5.2% 10 0.6% 14 11-2 4.1% 13 -0.7% 13 0.5% 14
12 CIN 4.7% 12 13.2% 9 7-6 3.9% 14 2.7% 20 3.5% 8
13 DET 2.3% 14 2.4% 12 4-9 12.8% 7 5.9% 24 -4.5% 28
14 TB 1.1% 13 0.4% 15 6-7 7.4% 10 1.3% 18 -5.0% 29
15 PIT -0.5% 15 2.1% 13 7-6 -4.0% 20 -3.1% 11 0.5% 15
16 CAR -1.6% 18 -1.4% 16 4-9 5.5% 11 0.7% 16 -6.5% 32
17 DAL -2.1% 16 -3.3% 18 7-6 3.7% 15 4.2% 22 -1.6% 24
18 MIN -5.1% 19 -8.8% 24 7-6 -3.5% 18 5.1% 23 3.6% 7
19 STL -5.3% 20 -6.3% 19 6-6-1 -8.7% 23 -6.6% 7 -3.2% 26
20 MIA -5.9% 21 -8.3% 23 5-8 -9.8% 25 -2.9% 12 1.0% 12
21 BUF -6.5% 22 -2.0% 17 5-8 -2.8% 17 7.5% 26 3.9% 6
22 NO -8.1% 17 -7.0% 21 5-8 8.1% 9 15.7% 31 -0.4% 17
23 SD -8.2% 23 -7.2% 22 5-8 -8.4% 22 0.6% 15 0.9% 13
24 NYJ -8.9% 25 -10.8% 25 6-7 -15.4% 27 -6.5% 8 0.1% 16
25 CLE -10.3% 26 -6.5% 20 5-8 -15.5% 28 1.2% 17 6.3% 4
26 PHI -18.2% 27 -22.1% 27 4-9 -9.8% 24 7.2% 25 -1.2% 21
27 ARI -18.5% 24 -24.6% 28 4-9 -31.2% 32 -13.6% 6 -0.9% 18
28 IND -20.1% 28 -19.0% 26 9-4 -3.7% 19 15.4% 30 -1.0% 20
29 TEN -29.1% 29 -27.1% 29 4-9 -17.9% 29 9.7% 27 -1.4% 23
30 OAK -31.9% 31 -31.7% 30 3-10 -8.1% 21 18.0% 32 -5.8% 30
31 JAC -34.8% 30 -32.7% 31 2-11 -20.9% 30 13.1% 28 -0.9% 19
32 KC -39.7% 32 -35.6% 32 2-11 -23.0% 31 13.7% 29 -3.1% 25
  • 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 NE 41.8% 10-3 43.4% 11.8 1 -0.6% 18 -2.0% 18 10.6% 10
2 SEA 38.8% 8-5 29.3% 10.5 4 4.3% 6 7.7% 10 14.8% 22
3 DEN 35.5% 10-3 35.0% 11.7 2 -4.8% 27 -12.7% 27 7.1% 7
4 SF 34.8% 9-3-1 31.7% 10.6 3 3.1% 9 20.7% 1 22.8% 31
5 GB 21.9% 9-4 14.6% 9.6 5 3.3% 8 -4.5% 23 11.3% 12
6 CHI 20.6% 8-5 17.9% 9.1 6 0.7% 14 1.9% 13 13.1% 19
7 NYG 20.3% 8-5 19.1% 8.2 7 2.3% 11 -0.3% 15 25.9% 32
8 HOU 15.1% 11-2 21.2% 7.5 9 -1.1% 20 -15.1% 30 12.3% 17
9 BAL 12.0% 9-4 16.0% 7.7 8 -4.2% 25 20.2% 2 16.5% 26
10 WAS 5.3% 7-6 7.6% 7.2 10 1.8% 13 -10.2% 26 11.3% 13
11 ATL 5.2% 11-2 12.6% 7.1 11 -7.4% 32 7.9% 9 12.0% 14
12 CIN 4.7% 7-6 11.4% 6.6 13 -5.4% 29 -2.2% 19 17.5% 27
13 DET 2.3% 4-9 -0.6% 6.4 15 2.7% 10 2.4% 11 5.5% 4
14 TB 1.1% 6-7 7.3% 7.0 12 -3.9% 24 -2.7% 21 6.2% 5
15 PIT -0.5% 7-6 3.0% 6.2 18 -4.3% 26 -2.5% 20 19.2% 30
16 CAR -1.6% 4-9 -2.5% 6.3 17 5.0% 5 -16.1% 31 12.1% 16
17 DAL -2.1% 7-6 -5.3% 6.5 14 6.2% 3 -1.1% 17 7.2% 8
18 MIN -5.1% 7-6 -4.9% 6.1 19 3.5% 7 10.6% 6 5.1% 1
19 STL -5.3% 6-6-1 -10.3% 6.0 20 10.9% 1 11.6% 5 6.8% 6
20 MIA -5.9% 5-8 -7.6% 6.3 16 0.5% 15 0.2% 14 16.4% 25
21 BUF -6.5% 5-8 -8.1% 5.6 23 -3.0% 22 8.0% 8 15.6% 24
22 NO -8.1% 5-8 -7.3% 4.9 25 2.3% 12 -0.9% 16 10.8% 11
23 SD -8.2% 5-8 -3.9% 5.0 24 -5.0% 28 -14.1% 28 5.5% 3
24 NYJ -8.9% 6-7 -10.3% 5.8 21 5.7% 4 -14.6% 29 17.9% 29
25 CLE -10.3% 5-8 1.0% 5.7 22 -5.7% 30 13.4% 4 13.9% 21
26 PHI -18.2% 4-9 -20.7% 4.2 27 0.2% 16 10.1% 7 12.1% 15
27 ARI -18.5% 4-9 -26.8% 3.7 28 9.7% 2 19.3% 3 17.5% 28
28 IND -20.1% 9-4 -10.9% 4.6 26 -6.0% 31 -3.2% 22 8.3% 9
29 TEN -29.1% 4-9 -28.9% 2.3 30 -0.5% 17 -7.3% 25 15.4% 23
30 OAK -31.9% 3-10 -28.1% 2.5 29 -1.0% 19 -16.5% 32 13.9% 20
31 JAC -34.8% 2-11 -31.7% 1.6 32 -3.2% 23 2.3% 12 5.4% 2
32 KC -39.7% 2-11 -43.8% 1.8 31 -1.3% 21 -5.5% 24 12.7% 18

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 11 Dec 2012

282 comments, Last at 18 Dec 2012, 9:19am by goldlw1


by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 6:50pm

I still think this year's offensive ratings are broken, I just don't regard San Francisco and Seattle's offenses as being that great. Is it just me taking too long to realign with reality or is there a statistical quirk somewhere?

by Tim R :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:01pm

Yeah I basically agree. I think it might be that we're underating the NFC West defenses as there does seem to be a quite a difference between the passing voa and dvoa.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:02pm

The Seahawks, 49ers, and Patriots have all played difficult schedules of opposing defenses, which is why the Seahawks and 49ers are higher than you expect and the Patriots are so far ahead of everybody else.

by zenbitz :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:24pm

not so sure Aaron.
SF is averaging 6 yards/play and is 3rd in VOA. Denver gets passed by them on opponent adjustments. They are 4th in EPA/P and 3rd in success rate (from Burkes' site this should be almost exactly VOA).

They don't run many plays (dead last in the NFL) but they don't turn the ball over much either (2nd to last). They are 6th in WPA which is pretty good considering the total number of plays is lower.

My conclusion is the SF has an efficient, if somewhat volatile and plodding offense, and that can't be waved away by opponents adjustments!

Seattle on the other hand... They are only above average in WPA (9th) so I guess they are kinda clutch, but are middle-of-the-pack by every other metric. In that case opponent adjustment bumps them to 5, but in the middle of a pack of 5 teams.

Both teams clearly benefitted from "solving" the Bears #1 pass defense (which may not be repeatable)

by speedegg :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:17pm

Yeah, but you're talking about 2 running teams that "solved" the Bears #1 pass defense. Sooooo....given that DVOA likes teams that get short, consistent gains (Eagles team of several seasons ago) instead of "big play" offenses because those shot plays are low percentage, it makes sense SF and Seattle are ranked high.

by Ghost Shock :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:22pm

Wilson passed for 293 yards against the Bears.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:57am

...given that DVOA likes teams that get short, consistent gains (Eagles team of several seasons ago) instead of "big play" offenses because those shot plays are low percentage....

Wrong. This has been refuted so many times that I don't want to do it again. Does anyone else have the energy?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 11:46am

I'll give it a whirl:

The more accurate statement would be that DVOA actually does love big plays, but it doesn't love teams that have a few big plays mixed with a lot of unsuccessful plays ("boom or bust").

In other words if offense A has 2 plays that gain no yards, but they get an 80 yard touchdown pass on 3rd down, they'll get a lower rating than offense B, which runs 2 plays that gain 5 yards each, then throws a 70 yard TD pass. Offense B is clearly more "efficient", because they ran two successful plays instead of two unsuccessful plays before their "big play".

That's my understanding of it, anyway. Corrections are welcome.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:36pm

That's conceptually right, but the math might not work out there: a 40+ yard pass on 3rd and 10 is way above the average, and two 0-yard gains on 1st and 10 and 2nd and 10 aren't *that* much below the average. Compared to the second team, where the last gain is on 1st and 10, and a 40+ yard pass on 1st and 10 might not be as far above the average as a 40+ yard pass on 3rd and 10 is.

But basically the simple examples like this are always that: too simple. If you have a team that goes incomplete, incomplete, 40+ yard TD *every series*, c'mon. That team will be scoring 50+ points per game, and have the highest DVOA ever. This is silly.

What people are *actually* thinking about are two teams, one of which (team A) has a drive which goes 30 yards, and punts, then a drive that goes 50 yards for a TD, compared to a team (team B) that goes 3-and-out, and punts, then goes 80 yards in 3 plays for a TD. Something like that.

The reason why DVOA would think the first team is 'better' is because it is. Why? Because the one thing I didn't add is that at the end of those two series, the score for team A's game is 7-0, and the score for team B's game is 7-3. Because team B's opponent scored a field goal because they had a short field. Is that the defense's fault? Hell no: they both have the same defense. Team A's opponent started out inside the 20: an 'average' defense can give the ball back to the offense around midfield at that point. Team B's opponent started out at their own 40. An average defense will probably give up a field goal at that point. (OK, tweak things a bit if you want, but the idea still stands).

It's not even about 'consistency', or 'efficiency', or any of that. It's much simpler. Every yard matters. Every yard that an offense gains is potentially a yard that their defense does not have to defend. And unless you score every drive (which, again, would make you the best offense ever), you better be gaining yards every drive, and very likely every play.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 9:50pm

Well said.

by Stew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:36am

But that example isn't fair either. Team A got the ball at midfield for their second drive, while Team B got it at their own 20. Team B's second drive was 30 yards longer. If Team A also got the ball at the 20 on their second drive and went 50 yards and kicked a field goal, are they still a better offense?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:32pm

Team A got the ball at midfield for their second drive because of what they did on the first drive!

Their first drive, team A gained 30 yards. Then they punted. Team B gained no yards. Then they punted. But those two drives weren't equal. Those 30 yards don't vanish: assuming equal special teams/defenses, those 30 yards will come back to the offense on the next drive. That's the point.

The example assumed that they got the ball back 30 yards forward (so the result of the punt/other team's drive/punt was zero yards) which is obviously optimistic, but in that case the other team got the ball inside the 20, so it's probably not that optimistic. You might have to adjust it a little and say that the first drive goes 30 yards, the second drive goes 60 yards, or something like that. But it's not by much.

If Team A also got the ball at the 20 on their second drive and went 50 yards and kicked a field goal, are they still a better offense?

If Team A got the ball at the 20 on their second drive, after giving the opportunity to pin the other team inside the 20, their defense or special teams are below average.

So yes, the offense is still better. An offense can't be rated by points scored, because the offense isn't solely responsible for points scored. Defense gives the offense the ball at the other team's 1, and they score: is the offense great, or the defense? Obviously the defense. The same argument applies with field position. It's not Team A's offense's fault that the defense/special teams are below average.

Assume Team A's opponent scores after being inside the 20 - say, at the 10. Then Team A gets the ball at the 20, and drives, and scores a field goal. They're down 7-3 now. But look at what happened: the offense has gained 80 yards on 2 drives, and the defense has given up 90 in one. Whose fault is it that they're losing?

Compare that to team B, where in 2 drives, the offense has gained 80 yards in 2 drives, and the defense gives up 30 in one (say the other team drives from their own 40 to team B's 30). The defense for team B is clearly significantly better than the defense for team A. That's the reason why Team A is losing 7-3, and team B is winning 7-3. Not the offense. The defense for Team A has given up three times the yards/drive.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:08am

So have the Packers, no? I'm far from convinced that Seattle has a better offense than Green Bay's.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:27am

Seattle's offense just scored back to back 50+ games which has happened 3 times in NFL history. Don't discount them due to the opponents they faced. Green Bay has faced back to back below average opponents how many times in NFL history?

How you can doubt Seattle's offense is beyond me. They started out poorly because Carroll put training wheels on Wilson, but the kid has grasped the offense at a fantastic rate. Kid's got a great work ethic. They've got Lynch, Rice and Golden Tate has vastly improved. They've got two great TE's.

I can only assume the doubt comes from simple east coast bias. Seattle simply doesn't have credibility. But the DVOA says otherwise and the historical offensive explosion concurs and when you look at the stars on that team, just waiting for a Russell Wilson to come along, you gotta admit, DVOA might be onto something.

by Aaron R (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:10pm

I agree. Something just isn't passing the smell test. I think opponent adjustments are making things REALLY swingy in this later portion of the season as some teams (Chicago, Arizona) who have high defensive rankings for the season have dropped off in recent weeks, and not just their defenses but their units as a whole. New England puts up a 59 burger on Indianapolis, but because they're a low-ranked defense (and turned it over so many times), it didn't affect them too much. Seattle puts up a 58 burger on Arizona (after an admittedly strong comeback in Chicago) and they are suddenly the 2nd-best team in the league., even though Arizona turned the ball over an absurd number of times. It's just weird.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:19pm

I suspect DVOA likes the way the Seahawks and 9ers prefer to close out games. "Ok we're up by 4, time to rip off 9 yard chunks in the run game until it's over." That's a lot of pretty valuable plays that aren't going to make any highlight package. DVOA counts them, Chris Berman doesn't.

by Brent :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:21pm

Seattle's offense is clearly ranked too high because the refs gave them a victory that they didn't earn. The smell test is way better than this. Teh saehwkz dont desserev to go th thq playffos and thell loose when thye gt thrr.

by CJ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:35pm

(A) Lay off the gin.

(B) The Seahawks/Packers game is an easy target for people who want to complain about the replacement refs without having to think too much, but the regular refs screw up a lot too. There have been many games this season decided by officiating mistakes, including mistakes made by the supposedly much better regular refs.

In a sense, it is really unfortunate that Seattle won that game -- not because they didn't deserve it (which is debatable), but because it put more pressure on the NFL to cave in on the ref situation without accomplishing any true reforms. The ref's union successfully defended the varying levels of (in)competence of the regular refs, while insulating them from any accountability whatsoever.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:31pm

re (b)

Your ad hominem doesn't help your argument any.

by CJ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:05am

It wasn't an ad hominem attack, it was an observation. However, I should have wrote that it is specifically the last play of the Seahawks/Packers game that is the easy target, as opposed to the Seahawks/Packers game overall. The greater point remains.

But since you mentioned "ad hominem", I will take this opportunity to point out that the gin comment in my earlier post was intended to be a lighthearted poke at the spelling of the previous post. No offense intended -- and if anyone was offended, I apologize.

by Brent :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:03am

I wasn't offended at all. No worries. My comment was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek anyway,but I'm not sure it came through very well. :-)

by dbostedo :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:50pm

In case you didn't realize, the bad spelling was intentional... it was a comment based on this section of the article :

"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="

by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:11am

I'm getting sick of the "Fail Mary" B.S. The fact is that the way the rules are written that call was correctly decided. Cold Hard Football Facts went over it a few weeks back. The replacement refs got that call right.

Bitch about the officiating if you wish. There were some other terrible calls in that game. The last play was not one of them.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:36am

Well, about 3% of the football watching nation agree with your OR cold football hard cheese or whatever the site is. People know a rotting corpse when they smell one. People know full well who had the ball, and esoteric technicalities in the rule book, or holes therein, don't alter the fact the that the defender had the ball and pulled it to his chest before the offensive guy even touched it. No one cares who was on the ground or off the ground or whatever. The simple fact is one referee called it an INT another called it a TD because the receiver EVENTUALLY was touching a part of the ball by the time he sidled up to see what was going on. EVERYBODY who watched that play who has watched more than three quarters of football know that was a TERRIBLE call. A conspiracy theory fringe percentage doesn't alter that reality.

by BlueTalon :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:04am

Hey toolkien, answer me this: At what point did the defender have 100% control of the ball?

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:39am

Objective Seattle resident here with no dog in this race: Defender had it first, therefore not simultaneous. When they hit the ground it might have been equal, and when they came up (or parted) it was Tate. But the defender had superior body position and the WR had to reach in to get the ball. It's hard to conclude (in slo-mo replay) that that's simultaneous, which is what was called. It could have gone either way, but most people--and not just casual fans/unwashed masses--thoght it was called wrong. And the day I take CHFF's word for ANYthing is the day the Bengals go on a spending spree AND Matt Millen gets a bust in Canton purely for his GM work. CHFF fills a niche, but it's only pretend-analytical. It's primarily attitude/humor/entertainment.

Oh, almost forgot Tate's blatant push-off before the jump ball. Regardless of what you think of the catch, there is no, no, no possible way you can say that push was legal. Ergo, the catch (even if it happened as ruled) should have been nullified.

by The Cizzle (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:47am

Fact: golden Tate touched th ball first. It's indisputable, look at a freeze frame. You don't need 2hands on the ball for "control". Tate has ball first, Jennings then grabs with two hands while Tate maintains his original hand on the ball the entire time. You can argue that Jennings "helped" him maintain control, but the fact his Tate touches the ball first, maintains hand on ball, touches ground first wi both feet, goes to ground, ball never leaves his original hand. TOUCHDOWN. Period.

PI on Hail Marys is NEVER called. You could also argue that another Seahawks receiver was interfered with, so shut up about that.

by BlueTalon :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:30am

You'd be right, except for one thing -- you're wrong. The defender did not have it first. Tate stopped the momentum of the ball with his left hand (btw, he is left handed) a millisecond before Jennings grabs the ball with both hands -- and the ball remained in Tate's hand throughout the entire process of the catch. Tate did not "reach in to get the ball" after Jennings pulled the ball into his chest -- Tate already had the ball in his hand when Jennings pulled the ball and Tate's arm into his chest. There was never any point at which control of the ball was not shared by both Tate and Jennings.

If you don't believe me, check out this video. (Scroll down the page to the 2nd Youtube video.)

Part of the reason for the mass hysteria involving that call is that the networks never showed all the camera angles, therefore you have come to your conclusion based on incomplete information, as did Tirico and Gruden.

Now, let's pretend for a moment that I am a complete homer, and my analysis is wrong. The video I linked is the camera angle that most closely approximates the view of the ref who signaled the TD. It was his judgment that there was simultaneous possession. It was also Tirico's judgment at the moment the play happened, as is obvious from the broadcast. Note: There is nothing in the rule about simultaneous possession regarding proximity to chest, body position, number of hands, or percentage of control. Tate had joint control of the ball from the very beginning of the catch, both in the video and in the judgment of the replacement ref on the field. And this was not contradicted by the regular NFL official in the booth.

If you want to make your case about OPI, I won't quibble, but you are wrong about the catch. More specifically, you are wrong about the premises on which your conclusion about the catch is based. You don't get to make up your own criteria ("body position") to determine what the NFL rule says or means.

by Some guy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:25pm

1) Yes, you can control a ball with one hand.
2) You can't prove that Tate controlled the ball with one hand, especially when that hand was trapped between the ball and the defender's body while the defender also controlled the ball.
3) Neither statement matters now except as fodder to continue arguing.

by BlueTalon :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:38pm

You both missed my point and made it for me. By virtue of stopping the momentum of the ball, and the ball remaining in place in his hand long enough for Jennings to grab it, Tate demonstrated some control of the ball. I never said Jennings didn't have any control of the ball, it's quite obvious he did.

It doesn't matter that in every other angle, there isn't clear video evidence that Tate had shared control of the ball -- the angle that is roughly the same as where the official was on the field shows enough evidence to make the simultaneous possession ruling not only justifiable, but reasonable, even if you don't think it was correct.

Interestingly, your statement that "the defender also controlled the ball" is tacit admission that Tate also controlled the ball.

Regarding argument fodder, please note that my posts and other like posts are in response to people insisting that the call was wrong, and complaining about how the season has gone as a result of it.

by DRohan :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:07am

Jeez, this crap again? If it was such an egregious call (and only 3% are on one side of the issue), then how the hell does it still cause arguments like the one you just re-started? The entire 4th quarter of that game was an atrocity by the refs. But the last play was simply an incredibly close play that was as gray as it gets, and on which it's impossible to find agreement. There is literally a worse call in EVERY F'ING GAME of EVERY F'ING WEEK.

by Meat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:39pm

I agree. I wish this discussion would end.. I have watched worse calls all season long that was not grey, but just a horrible call. The TD argument as we can see can go either way, and only homerism call it 100% either way. It was an iffy call no matter what and that 2nd half was full of horrible calls. There are games each week that are blown by bad calls.

by BlueTalon :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:46pm

"The TD argument as we can see can go either way, and only homerism call it 100% either way. It was an iffy call no matter what and that 2nd half was full of horrible calls. There are games each week that are blown by bad calls."

If more people thought this way, there would be less discussion.

by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:04pm

"Well, about 3% of the football watching nation agree with your OR cold football hard cheese or whatever the site is."

Becasue we all know that the best way to determine wether a callw as correct or not is the majority of the football-watching public, un-biased, informed savants taht they all are...

"don't alter the fact the that the defender had the ball and pulled it to his chest before the offensive guy even touched it."

And that is just either a bold-faced lie or proff that you haven't actually watched the play in question, since that is an untenable statement give that both players touched the ball simultaneously.

But of course, I wouldn't expect any less...

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:18pm

I love how everyone looks at that one play from the Green Bay vs Seattle game, and ignores the rest of the horrible officiating that took place in that game. What about the phantom PI call on Seattle during Green Bay's final scoring drive. If the ref's call that one right (or in this case, don't call it because it was clearly NOT a PI) then Green Bay is 4th and long and punts the ball, which means they dont get the 7, which means Seattle wins the game anyway. If you are going to look at bad calls in a game.. look at them all, then quit bitching and get over it. Seattle won, Green Bay lost, move on.

by jhsu1886 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 6:37pm

Thank you! Had Chancellor not be called for that phantom PI, Green Bay would not have scored a TD on that drive.

by Rules Lawyer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 8:54am

I don't want to belabor this but "Cold Hard Football Facts" clearly doesn't understand the rule. It was an interception because: 1. Jennings controlled the ball before Tate did (regardless of whether Tate got a hand on the ball first); and 2. Jennings did not lose control after that point. Although they do attempt to argue that #1 is incorrect, the argument is lost in a whole lot of mumbo jumbo about other things. Which player touched the ball first is irrelevant. Which player landed first is irrelevant. Anything that happened after both players were on the ground is irrelevant.

(For the record, longtime Seahawks fan living in Wisconsin.)

by CBPodge :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 9:29am

I agree with everything you say really. The only thing I'd add is that it wasn't clear immediately (on first viewing at full speed) who had the ball, and the only thing that was clear was the simulataneous possession at the end of the play. Once it was rule (understandably, but on reflection incorrectly) there was never enough on replay to overturn it by the standards required for replay, despite it being fairly clear what happened.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:53pm

So here's a picture of Jennings reaching into Tate's possetion and getting pitched forward for his trouble

Jennings didn't control shit, or if he did he chose to push the ball into Tate's chest (Thanks!). Jennings also released and restablished his grip on the ball as they both lay on the ground, and immediately after *that* is when the official signaled for a TD.

Funny thing is, Tate's been making insane plays like that all year. Outside of the game he's playing in, no one's talking about him.

by KB (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 6:06am

I thought people were saying that hit Tate's hand first. That clearly hit Jennings right hand before it touched Tate's. Also the picture clearly shows Tate trying to reach around Jennings not the other way around. Notice how Tate only had 1 hand on the ball and the other on Jennings wrist while Jennings had both hands on the ball and his arm in between Tate and the ball. Everything about that play screams interception.

I think people get confused by what the NFL said because they said it was correctly not overturn. Never said anything about the initial call(Besides that Offensive PI should of been called).

I agree there were worse calls in the game. On that final drive there were 2 HORRIBLE calls. The ball had already been intercepted but didn't count because of a disgustingly wrong roughing the passer. The worst call of all happened to be that Defensive PI called on Shields after he was shoved to the ground by Sidney Rice. That may be the worst call I've seen all year.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 6:43am

Tate bends Jennings into him. Jennings just follows the ball. Look at any picture of the play from the side, where Jennings feet are in the picture give and indication of where he jumped up.

And as Mike "GTFO" Pereira is fond of saying, that's a bang-bang play. The appearance is simultanious real-time, the burden is on the defensive player to seperate the runner from possession. This defender, if he controlled the ball, pushed its center of mass to the center of mass of the runner before twisting under the ball, on the ground, after it was over. What funny, is in the youtube videos of the catch, it doesn't even help Jennings maintain possession, he has to adjust his grip, and it's immediately after he does that the official makes the call. On every element he fails to demonstrate any control of the ball.

Now if you want to argue that Jennings is an idiot and drove the ball into Tate before trying to seperate it, thus tricking us all, fine. I prefer to think that Jennings is a colossal pussy perfectly representative of Cheese Nation and was defeated by Tate's left hand, because Tate didn't feel like showing off.

If everything screamed interception, the NFL wouldn't have sent the Packers a letter of "get over it."

Haha, roughing the passer. HAHAHAHAHAHA, in this NFL? Oh man, with the delicate Mr. Rodgers? Yeah, he's NEVER benefited from a ticky tack roughing call. While you're whining about that are you going to organize a letter writing campaign to credit the Seahawks Bobby Wagner with another pick, take up a collection for Earl Thomas? I'll totally wait to see the result. Seriously, though, that was the best part of your response. I'm in tears. Roughing the passer, oh man. Awesome.

But I want you to know, I don't even feel bad that the replacements let the Packers hold all they wanted in the second half. I really don't. Can you imagine the situation they were put in? If they let Rodgers get killed on national TV, they'd have to live their lives looking over their shoulders. Pushing their car down the block every morning, closing their eyes while starting it up, then waving to the wife and kids to pile in because it was all-clear today; that's no way to live life.

by Guest789 :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 8:20pm

"Tate bends Jennings into him. Jennings just follows the ball."
Because Jennings is holding the ball, and Tate is holding Jennings.

"The appearance is simultanious real-time, the burden is on the defensive player to seperate the runner from possession."
This is just wrong. As the rulebook says, it's not simultaneous if the defender has possession before the receiver. Jennings establishes the beginnings of control before Tate even touches it, you can see that he elevates higher.

"I prefer to think that Jennings is a colossal pussy perfectly representative of Cheese Nation"
Completely uncalled-for and immature, but not surprising given everything else you've said in this thread.

"If everything screamed interception, the NFL wouldn't have sent the Packers a letter of "get over it."
Yes, of course they would've. It's the NFL, and they didn't want to admit that the replacements screwed up.

Not even going to bother with the drivel that makes up the last two paragraphs.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 6:39am


This is an epic trolling.

Some people just can't grasp the subtleties of when simultaneous possession occurs, and they're usually Seahawk fans.
As a Packer fan I have to say : I don't care. Not one bit. You didn't earn it, but you can have it anyway. We'll see you at Lambeau and it'll end the same way it did the last time the Seahawks came to town for a playoff game.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:27am

Are you conflating the egregiously bad call by a person who had no business being on a an NFL field, making a CONTRIBUTORY assessment versus a MITIGATING assessment of the action of a play? There's a HUGE difference between calling a clear interception "dual possession", which happens MAYBE about twice a year and the endless "was the knee down", "did the ball come out", "was the hit high or late" type calls? People need to realize the scope of that call in Seattle was different to a huge degree than many of the calls which go on weekly in the NFL. Guys like Steve Young don't look like their parents just died in a car crash when a bang-bang play that happens on almost every down may have been screwed up by a ref. That call was so far beyond terrible that to conflate it with the average bang-bang screw up is an injustice.

The refs blow calls all the time. I'm not saying they don't. I HATE the fact that the game is pretty much in the hands of the refs with so many technically driven rules that get unevenly applied. But that Seattle call was SO terrible as to defy description. It's NOT an average run of the mill "oh well" type call that cuts both ways over time. That was a tearing of a victory from the Packers and handing it to the Seahawks by someone who didn't know what he was doing. That's MUCH different than a guy who DOES know what he is doing missing what happened as the play passes by in real time (and is not correctable by video evidence). That was a historically terrible call by an idiot.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:46am

Use your google machine and look for the NFL letter which I'll summerize for you.

"Yeah, there was an OPI which should have been called, but calls get missed. The rest of the play was properly officiated."

No "Dear Packers, shit happens, sorry." they got "Dear everyone, shit happens, tie goes to the runner, you'll get over it."

So yeah, go cry into your pillow. You could try kicking your little feet while you do it, some find it cathartic.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:59am

Oh, you got me. "The NFL said...." as if anybody with an IQ above their shoe size couldn't see how the NFL would spin the situation. They can SAY one thing, but ACTIONS speak LOUDER than words - the lock out ended TWO DAYS after that atrocious call. Talk is cheap, reality is defined by actions.

The SHOCK of people who have PLAYED THE DAMN GAME after that call tells it all. People who have played the game, reported on the game, watched the game, etc etc etc KNOW that was a terrible call. Catharsis has come and gone, and the Packers have overcome the kick in the nuts call, reducing their playoff chances by 20% for most of the year only to climb back to the 90+% chance they should have enjoyed all the while. But for a lunatic fringe to deny what actually happened isn't going to just float an by without comment. The "deniers" started it, after all.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:01am

You kick those little feet. Kick 'em. Kick the hell out of 'em.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:08am

I see you have the argumentation ability of a 4 year old. I am not a 4 year old. Our "discussion" is at an end. Only a fool argues with a fool.

by BlueTalon :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:18am

Lemme try this again.

Hey toolkien, at what point did the defender have 100% control of the ball?

by The Czzle (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:54am

The answer is he didn't. It's an absolute FACT that it was indeed a catch. Former players, reporters, etc made a big deal about it because of the previous weeks and ineptitude of the replacement refs. It was a culmination of things, and they were looking for a reason to complain to push the NFL to fixit, and they succeeded. Doesn't mean they are right. You can argue that the rules are dumb or that there should be a rule that "the player that SEEMS to have MORE possession gets the catch", but if you were to want such a generic rule like that you would be an idiot.

by Guest789 :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 6:21pm

What's wrong with you?


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:19pm

I lack the charitable disposition necessary to treat people in a manner better than which they deserve. Even worse, I lack the will, or even simple interest, to alter that circumstance.

It is not even debatable. Those officials who supervise the officiating reviewed the video, and with respect to the catch determined that the call should not have been overturned. Compare this to the statements of apology teams recieve throughout the seasons for actually egregious calls. That really is the end of it.

Elsewhere, and when so moved, I've provided more supportive, and utterly unnecessary, evidence. But as my response indicates, I don't believe it's my job to reform idiots. It may be my business enjoy the theater they produce should the mood strike me.

But your deep and abiding concern for my social habbits is noted, and may well be remembered forever. Perhaps that may comfort you.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 9:13am

Yes, clearly it's not debatable. All that 5,000 worlds of verbiage above your comment -- that's not debate.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:06pm

As much as you might like to believe otherwise, it isn't a debate. The NFL made it's ruling. Months ago. The supervisors who oversee all the officiating, replacements and regulars, said the touchdown should stand. No, apology from the league. And that was the end of everything but the crying.

I find the spectical to be absurd. And like a great many people, I enjoy the absurd. More over, as a Seahawks fan, I'm very much enjoying being on the other side of this for what feels like the first time ever. I suppose, after it fades, I'll even be a little sad to see it go. Just a little bit.

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 12:07pm

Yes, clearly. Two sides arguing for and against a ruling -- that's not debate.

by Insancipitory :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 1:08pm

Sides? Argument? You mean whining and ridicule? What you are calling "debate" barely rises to the presentation of opinion. It's a theater of ignorance and frustration, to pretend it's anything else is just silly.

by jimbohead :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 7:50pm

This very silly line of discussion needs a bit more silliness. Thank you Monty Python for anticipating our every need:


by LionInAZ :: Sat, 12/15/2012 - 4:38pm

I hope that's the Fish Slap Dance.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:16pm

It was a judgment call. It was not a bad call or a good call. It could have gone either way, and it is only talked about because it was in a high-leverage situation and the person making it didn't have the "credibility" (and I use that term loosely Ed Hochuli) of the regular refs.

Honestly, I think the replacements did a good job and would have been every bit as good as the regular refs if they had ejected a few players early on to get a message across.

by James354 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:03pm

You are so flat out wrong it's not even funny. I'm not a Seahawks fan but by the letter of the rule that call could have gone either way. Instinctively, yes, it should have been an interception but many rules are not intuituve. Look at this clear explanation: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/shame-the-angry-mob-golden-...

There have been far, far worse calls, such as when Testaverde's helmet fell into the endzone and he was stopped 3 yards short, yet they called it a TD. Or the Calvin Johnson TD from a few years ago. Or indisputable, clear fumbles, interceptions and other plays that cannot be defended and do happen more often than you are giving credit for. If anything, the Tate TD was murkier than those calls because it was hard to see exactly who was possesing the ball and different camera angles reveal different results.

What about the call in 1998 Niners-Packers playoff game when Rice, without a shadow of a doubt, fumbled the ball, yet they said he was down? Im a 49ers fan and was thrilled to beat the Packers but that was a much clearer bad call. Or several calls during Superbowl XL (Steelers-Seahawks) that completely changed that game. No, this is not some historic mistake by any stretch. It was a questionable call on a murky play at the very end of a MNF game involving the Packers, and the camera angle provided during the broadcast replays were misleading.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:31am


And Iraq has WMD's.

There have been plenty of actual frame by frame analysis of the Golden Tate Touchdown. Best one is by Cold Hard Football Facts. They show conclusively that he did, in fact, have a legitimate touchdown on that play. Just because the major networks repeatedly showed camera angles that made it look like a clear interception, doesn't mean it was. There are camera angles that clearly show Tate scored by any definition of a touchdown in the NFL.

It's tiring to hear that same old myth being regurgitated all season long.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:35am

"New England puts up a 59 burger on Indianapolis, but because they're a low-ranked defense (and turned it over so many times), it didn't affect them too much. Seattle puts up a 58 burger on Arizona (after an admittedly strong comeback in Chicago) and they are suddenly the 2nd-best team in the league., even though Arizona turned the ball over an absurd number of times."

New England's offensive DVOA went from 31.1 to 34.0 after the Colts game, a +2.9 change. Seattle's went from 12.9 to 15.4 after the Cardinals game, a +2.5 change. So in fact the Patriots were boosted more than the Seahawks! (Of course other games will affect this as well.)

However, Indianapolis scored 24 points, most of them before the game got out of hand (i.e the leverage was still high), so the Patriots got dinged on their defense, whereas Arizona was blanked. That's why New England's total DVOA only went from 34.4 to 39.3, while Seattle's went from 31.9 to 38.8.

Anyways, it's not like Seattle jumped from 12 to 2 in one week or something. They've been top 4 since week 10.

Finally, seahawks eat a lot of fish, and sometimes have rotting offal sticking to their beaks. That stuff certainly smells.

by scoleman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:15pm

If you think about it, the NFC West has the #2, 4, 6 and 7th ranked Defenses by DVOA. That means all those division matchups look really good for the offenses if they perform well. Both teams also did a great job on offense vs. the Bears, the #1 DVOA Defense. Both teams run the ball well, pass efficiently, not for a ton of yards. Both teams are effective in the red zone and minimize turnovers. Both teams have the benefit of good defense and special teams which give them more favorable field position often. Lastly, math is not biased of course so they can't be broken.

by seattleguy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:52am

Right on. People watch too much ESPN and smoke their crap. They simply haven't paid enough attention to the seahawks to see how efficient they are. Russell Wilson through 19 tds (total) and and only got 2 interceptions in the last few weeks. That's efficiency.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:16pm

You probably aren't adjusting correctly (there aren't many great offenses in the league this year). However, to an extent they probably benefit from the NFC west *defensive* feedback loop, in that they get credit for performing against six top flight defenses. Just like how SEC teams can lose 1 game and still get into the BCS championship. Once you get a certain percentage of teams in a league above a certain level you produce self reinforcement.

Now DVOA seems like it is less problematic this way than the BCS calculations but they can't (and probably don't want to) avoid it entirely. After all, the NFC west is easily the best division in football this year.

by scoleman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:22pm

"the NFC west is easily the best division in football this year."

You're right of course, with maybe some competition from the NFC North, but it is just shocking when that division was scoffed for having a 7-9 champion just 2 years ago.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:36pm

If the Vikings go to St. Louis and win on Sunday, which I don't think will happen, then I'd say the NFC North is pretty close to the NFC West, given that Arizona has apparently gone on vacation three weeks early.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:55pm

Vikings are a sneaky good team. I like their defense well enough, I like their offensive line well enough, and I like a couple of their complimentary skill players and AP is himself.

Ponder is perhaps what he's shown, perhaps not. The Tavaris Jackson I saw last year looked better than Ponder, while dealing with similar injuries, and while being injured himself. I think there's a very good chance that changes to the offense and how the Vikings develop their quarterbacks might well lead to surprising improvements in quarterback play. Now, I don't think Ponder or Tavaris Jackson might have been all-stars. But with the supporting cast, they don't really have to be for the Vikings to beat quality opponants.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:40pm

Well, they'll very likely be done after week 17, and will pretty likely be eliminatd before week 17, but I've enjoyed watching them more than I have some Vikings teams which have made the playoffs, or even won playoff games, because this team has one historically great player, a few other really good players, and a bunch of guys who are pretty darned physical. I'll take that, in terms of entertainment, over some Viking teams which played into January largely because two or three guys could play pitch and catch.

by Craig (Braintree, MA) (not verified) :: Sun, 12/16/2012 - 6:45pm

I don't get to see many of the games here in Massachusetts. I'll bet you were glad you were wrong about the Vikings today. I would love to see Harvin playing at what some considered MVP level and AD doing the same. They might be making a serious run. Back to reality. Why does Green Bay get the tie breaker if the Vikings and they tie?

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sun, 12/16/2012 - 10:20pm

Green Bay can finish no worse than 5-1 in division and 8-4 in conference. Minnesota can finish no better than 4-2 in division and 7-5 in conference. A tie breaker with Minn would come down to Division first, Green Bay wins. If they were in different divisions or tied on division record, it would go to head to head, that's tied (assuming Minn wins out and GB loses out), then conference, Green Bay wins that too.

Actually Head to Head may come in earlier when it's just two teams, I've been looking at 3 and 4 team stuff and division or conference comes into play to get it down to two teams first.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:30pm

You could argue that in terms of W-L combined with DVOA, the top two teams in the NFC West are in aggregate slightly better than the top two teams in the NFC North, but the bottom two teams in the NFC North are much better better than the bottom two teams in the NFC West (The Rams are decent, but the Cardinals really drag the pairing down).

by RoninX (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:39pm

Cardinals are really not nearly as bad as the Seahawks made them look last week. Sure, they've lost 9 in a row but they were in all those games until late (except vs. the 9ers and Seahawks). Their defense is still legit, even if they quit partway through the 2nd quarter last week.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:11am

How early in the game does a team need to quit in order to seen as ill-legit? Halfway through the first quarter? While the opening kickoff is sailing through the air?

(edit) That came out a little more harsh than I intended. The idea of a defense being legit, while quitting half way through the 2nd quarter, just strikes me as kinda' funny.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:08am

To be fair, the cards simply weren't winning that game after Sherman's pick 6. There was no chance of it. They had to play out the game because the NFL doesn't let you pick up your ball and go home, but every player in that game knew the game was over thanks to AZ's QB situation. I know a lot of football types are incensed about the Cards laying down, but that defense had been doing just about everything it possibly could to win games the previous 8 weeks and the offense just kept letting it down.

At some point isn't waving the white flag the smart thing to do? And isn't it possible that sometimes the time to do that actually is the middle of the second quarter?

Those are legitimate questions, and I'm not sure of the answer.

I guess my point is that you can question AZ's character if you wish and have a debate about intangibles like desire, but I think I'll take the evidence of the other 12 football games over the results of a flukey blowout.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:24am

This isn't complicated. If you are willing to accept the paycheck being deposited into your bank account, then you continue to play. There isn't anything intangible about it. The Cards defense isn't the first to be faced with a hopeless situation. Not all those units have quit.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:57am

Thats fair as far as it goes - but at some point even those cutting the paychecks (and even most fans who are ultimately paying for those checks) understand the concept of sunk costs. Lets assume for a moment that there was a less than 1% chance for AZ to win that game at 24-0. Playing that game out full tilt (as opposed to the 80% effort - yes totally off the cuff numbers here) almost certainly entails a greater than 1% additional chance of injury.

Nobody ever wants to see a player injured, but getting injured in a meaningless blowout is even worse.

I acknowledge that I've entered the land of hyperbole and hypothesis here, but weren't a lot of pundits up in arms about Schiano's tactic of rushing the kneedown? Seattle was for all intents and purposes in kneel down mode for 2 and a half quarters. Why is it inappropriate to go all out in one scenario and now the other?

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:24am

Actually, quitting may well increase the chance of injury. I thought the people yelping about the Bucs playing one more down were extremely foolish. It's a football game. Play football.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:21am

I wasn't referring to Arizona's defense in my comment. I realize they're good, and one bad game doesn't change that for me. I was referring to the team as a whole (the team that's lost 9 games in a row and has really bad overall DVOA rating). If over the next couple of offseasons, Arizona get's a real quarterback and at least an average offensive line, they could be pretty good team.

by Led :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:25am

Losing to the Jets is a morale killer!

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:37am

That's one way to look at it. Another way is that offenses that do well vs multiple strong defenses are good offenses, whether those defenses are in their division or not. Facing each team twice only makes the offense better. If you want to be the best you have to compete against the best.
The results speak for themselves. Seattle puts up back to back 50+ games - only the third team in NFL history to do so - once they go up against two poor defenses. And Arizona's defense isn't really that poor. Neither is Chicago's and Seattle went on two back to back 80+ yard drives to win the game against them.

I don't think anything smells except perhaps the smell of people's unwillingness to accept change. Seattle's become good offensively.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:43am

OK, I still think it was a catch but I'm never going to mention that Green Bay - Seattle game ever again.

by iron_greg :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:13pm

The thing I hate about DVOA (though I mostly love it) is that it makes me increasingly hopeless that my team (BAL) will reliably have a shot to go past the divisional round lol. If all I knew was 9-4 with a couple close losses I might be concerned by their play but optimistic maybe that something good could happen. Even though DVOA doesn't always correlate to who goes all the way, its a pretty good indicator and I can't help but assume the AFC championship is inevitably NE/DEN unless they face off in the div round.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:51pm

The last time the regular season DVOA champ won the Super Bowl was in 2002. There is correlation between being an upper echelon DVOA team and winning a championship. There is very little correlation between being the regular season DVOA champ and winning the last game of the year. What DVOA is best at, it seems to me, is pointing out those instances where the won-loss record deviates from how well a team has actually played.

(edit) To add on, here are the final regular season DVOA rankings of the eventual Super Bowl champ, since 2002.

2003 4th
2004 2nd
2005 4th
2006 7th
2007 14th
2008 4th
2009 6th
2010 4th
2011 12th

Come January, any team which gets good production from their qb or pass rushers will have a decent chance. Any team which gets good production from their qb AND their pass rushers will have an excellent chance.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:15pm

So, basically, the Giants break the system.

Actually, since we know the computer is an Eagles homer, this makes a lot of sense.

Further thought: the Iggles plummet in the very same year Tanier leaves FO. Coincidence? I think not.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 3:02pm

Clearly, what this proves is that it is best to come in 4th in the DVOA standings.

by In_Belichick_We... :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 4:57pm

You just invigorated the entire 49ers fan base.

by Glen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 6:52pm

The Patriots radio should be talking about the Seahawks because they've already lost to the Seahawks.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:11pm


Pats fans cannot believe that a Pete Carroll team could possibly be this good.

It's unclear which was worse: the loss to the Seahawks or the loss to the Cardinals.

by Athelas :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:15pm

I agree the Pete Carroll factor is the major reason, but also not enough respect for Russell Wilson.

by Anonymous3456 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:36pm

Wilson played a great game, but rugby guy and the other rookie aren't playing safety anymore.

by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:04pm

The loss to the Ravens. Definitely. Damn those scab refs!!!!

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:16pm

The loss to the Ravens (ha! I first typed 'loss to the refs') was, at least, not embarrassing. Nobody should be embarrassed to lose at Baltimore. From the perspective of the perceived level of the opponents, the home loss to Arizona is clearly the worst. But it really annoys me to see Pete Carroll win anywhere.

by iron_greg :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:15pm

Lol, uh Pats lost to the Ravens without the scab ref help. In fact they gave NE just as many calls, and this is indisputable. You just want to kid yourself that its other wise regarding the FG kick.

by MJK :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 12:51am

Well, they may have lost without ref help, but the Ravens didn't exactly win without ref help, either. Truth is, the officiating in that game was so terrible on both sides that I'm not entirely sure what team would have won, or even played better, had the game been officiated like an NFL game. It barely qualified as an NFL game. With real refs, it might have been 31-3 Ravens, or 31-3 Patriots, or 7-6, or 21-20. No one can say! I thought it was absolutely the worst officiated game I'd ever seen, until the Packers-Seahawks game the next night overshadowed it.

Like many Pats fans, I hate to see Carroll succeed, but I recognize that Cleveland fans probably feel the same about Belichick, so I've moved on. (Of course, Belichick didn't spend the intervening years cheating his way to several collegiate national championships and then skip town right before the hammer fell, but that's another matter). But for a Pats fan, the Arizona lost definitely stings the worst. No shame in losing to Baltimore on the road and a badly refereed game, by less than a FG. No shame in losing to a very good team (with the biggest home field advantage in the league) you don't play often on the road, by less than a FG.

There is shame in losing to a league doormat at home, even if it is by less than a FG, especially when said doormat does their best to lose, including fumbling the ball to you within FG range at the end of the game when leading by 1. And there is shame in the best offense in the league sputtering against said doormat at home.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 7:22am

"And there is shame in the best offense in the league sputtering against said doormat at home."

It's one of the little known facts that the Arizona defense is one of the best in the league, and they were playing their best early in the season. Lately, it's hard for them to avoid giving up points when their offense constantly gives up the ball to the other team in favorable field position.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 6:59pm

The Bears sure as hell don't look like the 6th best weighted team in the league to me. Maybe Cutler's (non) performance from Sunday is too fresh in my mind.

by Brent :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:04pm

Our brains tend to weigh recent games stronger than WDVOA does, I think. The Bears look bad over the past 4 or 5 games, but over the past 10 they're still pretty good. If we think it's a trend (I do) then the Bears aren't close to 6th best. If we think it's a couple bad games and they'll bounce back, then they still deserve a high ranking.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:05pm

I'll be shocked if the Bears finish any better than 9-7 this year. They are in full free-fall mode to my eyes.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:16pm

I wouldn't be shocked. I think they're lock to beat the Cardinals and 50/50 to beat the Lions.

I'll be very surprised if they do anything worthwhile in the playoffs.

by DRohan :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:12am

Will the Cards really lose 12 in a row after starting 4-0? That certainly has never happened before, right?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:47am

The Buccaneers came close to that last year, starting 4-2 (including a win over a Saints team that would finish 13-3) and then losing their last 10 in a row.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:09pm

The only teams to lose 12 straight to end the season in the 16-game era are the 1990 Patriots, the 2001 Panthers, and the 2008 Lions. Those three teams won a combined two games, so obviously none went 4-0 to start. The closest I can find are the aforementioned Buccaneers of last season and the 1999 49ers, each of which began the year 3-1 and then went 1-11 the rest of the way.

Something rather unrelated but interesting I came across while looking this up: the 1981 Baltimore Colts opened the season by beating the Patriots, then lost 14 straight, then beat the Patriots again. Those two wins were by a total of three points and the Patriots were also a 2-14 team that year, so it certainly wasn't impressive to beat them twice, but to bookend 14 consecutive losses with wins over the same team is just funny looking.
Note: I am NOT saying that this season was historically unique--I am not going to take the time to look that up. It just looks funny.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:14pm

The 1999 49ers should have an asterisk, because Steve Young's career being ended prematurely in week 3 had a lot to do with their collapse.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:17pm

I just realized that those are actually the only teams to lose 12 straight to end a 16-game season. There have been some non-16-game seasons played in the 16-game era that would not have come up in my search. Yes, I am a complete and utter fool.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:13pm

Me either. I think they might have just sustained too many injuries at this point.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:29pm

I'm really down on Cutler again, and I'm out of patience with the bad o-line explanation. Sunday, with his team desperately in need of getting the wound cauterized, he plays against a team which simply can't score, once 11 guys get coordinated to stop one running back. What the Bears need most from their highest paid player is 4 quarters of disciplined effort. Instead, they get a couple monumental f***-ups from their highest paid player, one when he lacks the discipline to execute simple mechanics, and bunch of minor f***-ups. His team loses. I hate guys like that ("hate" in the figurative, vicarious, sense, of course).

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:34pm

Fair enough. I will note that at various times this year, you could say that 4 of the Bears top 5 receivers have been hurt.

One might think as long as Marshal is healthy, it wouldn't matter, but it turns out there is a difference been Earl Bennett and Eric Weems.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:48pm

Oh, no doubt, and if Cutler was playing for a team which needed him to throw for 4 tds a game, Luck-style, in order to give his team a chance to win, I'd be more sympathetic. Instead, the guy has just refused to adjust his play to what would be best for his team, and thus take on the responsibility that comes with his placement on the payroll. I naturally watched the game Sunday more closey, but what I saw was pretty awful, given the context of the opponent, the standings, and it being week 14.

by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:45pm

As a Denver fan, I refer to this as "Down the Stretch" Jay Cutler. So many memories of the Great Collapse of 2008.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:42pm

Boy, people turn on Cutler quick. He and Marshall were the only reason that Seahawks game was close. Cutler move really well in the pocket and frankly (and embarrassingly) broke a couple of Seahawks defenders ankles when he converted about 3 first downs on the run.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:59pm

Quick? I've been critical of him since his days in Denver, for being very ill disciplined at times. I've gone back and forth, because he also at time displays tremendous talent. He was simply awful, from a mental aspect, last Sunday, especially given the context. That's inexcusable for a veteran qb who has the responsibility of being the highest paid guy on the team.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:51am

I've yet to figure out why Cutler gets so much slack. The narrative seems to be that "if he only had better talent around him, he'd be Canton bound". What QB above a certain threshold COULDN'T you say that about? People seem to have to bolster Cutler more than many, many other guys who have been saddled with mediocre to bad surrounding talent. Who was voting Chad Pennington to the HOF only if had had surrounding talent? I could list a half dozen more at least. Cutler has some skills there is no doubt, but he's basically Jeff George 2.0, and no one was lighting candles for him as I recall. Cutler is a mediocre QB who can zing a nice pass now and again. No more, no less.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:09am

Well, that's not completely accurate. Jeff George was the closest thing you'll see to a physical coward playing in the NFL. Cutler has his faults, and I'll hammer him for then when warranted, but being afraid to take a punch is not one of them.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:11pm

This "Jay Cutler is Jeff George" thing has gotten so tired. Cutler is skilled but undisciplined. We've seen it many times before. George is not the only or even the most compelling comparable.

by Brent :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:18am

Pennington never had the talent that Cutler does. When he first got to Chicago, I still thought he could be really good. Now, I think he is what he is, and it isn't good enough.

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:52pm

What Pennington had was an ability to read the defense almost as well as Brady and Manning, and the accuracy to put the ball in the right spot. Cutler has a better arm and a tougher body. By the way, Cutler may have better receivers, but the only year where Pennington played behind a line as weak as Cutler's was 2005. The rest of the time he was surrounded by Mangold, Mawae, D'brickashaw Ferguson, Jake Long and Fabini. And Pennington got to hand off to Curtis Martin.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:10pm

"And Pennington got to hand off to Curtis Martin."

You can debate whether Matt Forte and Curtis Martin are on the same level, but it's not as if Cutler hasn't had a decent running game to lean on.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:49pm

What QB above a certain threshold COULDN'T you say that about?

Well here's the thing. Cutler is the first QB above that threshold the Bears have had in at least 2 decades, maybe 6.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:11pm

Ya' know, when I think of those wonderful Bears teams of the latter half of the 80s, I think they may have been better off, given McMahon's fragility, to make a commitment to building an unorthodox attack with Doug Flutie. Yeah, he had obvious physical limits, but he had a great understanding of the game, and with terrific defense and good offensive line, they may have been able to get a few more January victories with him.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:19pm


In response to the previous comment, Kyle Orton has been a very decent NFL quarterback since his rookie season. He is now the backup in Dallas, but he is better than five or six starters I can think of offhand. Probably more.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:05pm

I love Kyle Orton, I wish he was the Bears backup right now. However, he is not as good as Cutler and he wouldn't be Canton bound if you put him on the 89 49ers.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:26pm


I didn't mean to imply that he was better than Cutler, just that he was better than every Bears quarterback of the 16 game era OTHER than Cutler. Which is possibly damning with faint praise, I understand.

I just mention Orton whenever I can because New York (Jets) DREAM of having Kyle Orton at the helm. Larry Fitzgerald has fantasies where he catches (mostly) accurate passes from Kyle Orton. Minnesota is a playoff team with Kyle Orton. Kyle Orton is also a better quarterback than the majority of the "young" quarterbacks the media obsesses over (at this point in their careers).

Any given year in the NFL there is a 28-34 year old quarterback who is better than 10 or 12 starters, but is not starting. Right now, that man is Kyle Orton. Nothing would make him a hall of famer. But he could improve a lot of teams.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:07pm

Fair enough.

by JohnJohnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:06pm

I actually think most teams in the NFL are trying to build their offenses on an unsustainable model. It feels like the vast majority of teams want their QB to be Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees, and so constantly look for that guy and build their offense in the hopes of getting that guy. The problem is that the vast majority of QBs in the league are going to be pedestrian at best, and most teams will probably be better off by building an offense modeled around a strong run game, a competent (if not terribly exciting) passing game and a strong defense.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 6:12pm

It's a nice thought, but that avenue was closed about 7-8 years ago, with the tight enforcement of contact with receivers. The rules environment so favors the top echelon qbs these days that trying to beat teams that have a qb like that, when your qb isn't that, in the playoffs, is just a major long shot. Thus, everybody constantly searches for their Peyton/Eli/Tom/Drew/Ben/Aaron, and perhaps a few other guys. It may be a while before we see two qbs of the caliber of Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson win titles within a few years of each other, and I don't think we will ever again see a team string together 3 titles in a decade with a Theismann, Williams, and Rypien, with another team getting one with a Hostetler in the same decade. The suits have decided that making qbs the focus of the game, with ever increasing intensity, sells ad spots at a higher price, and they are probably right. I like just about everything about today's game, compared to eras past, but that is the one element I do not like as much. I think it makes the game have less variety, and decreases the importance of sound offensive line play, which is part of the game I've really enjoyed since I was a kid.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:03pm

I was wondering why NE's defense DVOA didn't improve much after abusing one of the better offenses in the league...

Until looking down and seeing that Houston is actually *not* one of the better offenses in the league. ;-) In a surprising twist, it is this week's opponent that will be the bigger challenge to NE's defense.

And just to let my bitter colors show for a minute, as bad as the final play was in the Sea/GB game, the officiating the night before was significantly worse. One game involved an evenly played contest settled late via a questionable call whereas the other was a 17-24 point blowout that was systematically skewed into a game that came down to the final play.

NE had two third down stops, an incomplete that should have forced 3rd and 14, a huge sack that would have set up a third and goal from the 20 and not one, but two first downs called back - all on erroneous calls. We aren't talking about questionable, but bad enough that even the announcers became speechless after a while. And that doesn't even count the FG that probably wasn't at the very end!

I can take a close game that veers poorly due to a bad call. Hell, that happened this year in the AZ game on a questionable Gronk hold that negated a game winning Woodhead TD. But a blowout massaged into a loss is beyond infuriating.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:28pm

Well I remember the officiating during the game (NE/Bal) that you refer to. I remember it being infuriating. I remember thinking how hard it would be to convey just how bad the officiating was without sounding horribly biased.

And then the refs in Seattle bailed me out. I could complain about them instead!

But that holding call on McCourty remains special.

by Scanner (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:04pm

Interesting to note that San Francisco and Seattle look like rough flipped images of the other on offense and defense, with the only major separation coming from Seattle's special teams. I'm hoping @ Seattle on December 23rd's going to be one of the best games of the year.

by scoleman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:17pm

Yes, that should be epic. Could decide the NFC West too if the Pats win this week.

by Joe C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:21pm

Seahawks need to beat Buffalo too. Could be game of the year if the division is on the line.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:31pm

It's already been flexed into the SNF slot.

by Athelas :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:12pm

Look at the difference between wins and expected wins for Indy--that's epic!

by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:21pm

Houston, Atlanta and Indy have been hovering around 4 wins higher than their estimated win total for a few weeks now, which matches the general perception that they're not nearly as good as their record indicates (although I suppose Houston may only be earning that perception after Monday's blowout).

Seems like Manning always outperformed estimated wins with the Colts too.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:51am

I used to complain to Aaron, back when this site was like a three-man show, that DVOA and their various models underestimated the Colts. Year after year, their projections would be for 9-10 wins and year after year, Indy would rack up 12 or more. I attributed it to Manning and now the same thing gets laid at the feet of Luck? No, that's too weird. Until further notice, I blame it on the uniforms, or maybe the water in Indy. (Seriously, though, I believe DVOA places too much weight on ST, which always suck in Indy. Empirical evidence is surely against what is merely my gut feeling, however.) I guess I'd rather always outperform then underperform....

by Cybit (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:13pm

I also think that since close games are considered a statistical wash in terms of W-L record, a single team who has a really good QB, notorious for winning games at the last second, would consistently get underrated. I wonder whether there are enough single possession games in the 4Q to show Offensive DVOA for particular teams or quarterbacks. Might get an idea if specific teams are extraordinarily good at closing out games.

Also, because the SOS doesn't take into account injuries of teams, as well as potentially tanking a game, it also blows up in Seattle's favor when it comes to the Bears / Ravens, and defenses that have lost potency due to injuries. (Alternatively, it might be underestimating the Steelers, who finally got Polamalu back, and watching that defense turn into a beast).

DVOA is a fantastic measure, but it does not account for game specific context 100% (and that's obviously impossible). I need to crunch some numbers and see if I can't quantify some more context based matchup information.

by Andy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:16pm

How did Seattle go from 2nd in variance last week to 22nd this week? After 14 weeks, the decimation of Arizona has that big of an effect?

by RoninX (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:24pm

Its got to be that the 58-0 blowout 'corrected' the gap between Seattle's performance on a play to play basis and the expected point output (Seattle was both poorer than expected and unlucky in the red zone over the first several games).

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:29pm

Every play for the Seahawks seemed like it was either hugely valuable or a slight negative. There was absolutely no inbetween at all in that Cardinals game. Every run for the Seahawks seemed like it was less than 2 yards or 7+. It seemed like every pass was incomplete or 10 to 70 yards. For the Cardinals they either got 9 yards, a first down, nothing, or a turnover.

by archibaldcrane (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:16pm

It's surprising that Green Bay's weighted DVOA is lower than their total....considering they started 2-3 and have won 7 of their last 8.

by Dejspin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:01am

It's not really that surprising, as their only truly dominant win of the season was against the Texans, and that was 8 weeks ago. In the last 4 weeks they have beaten three mediocre by single digits (DET, MN, DET) and gotten absolutely throttled by a good team (NYG).
What I think is surprising is that they have a Top 10 defense, and they have been without Woodson and Matthews for big chunks of time. (Not to mention losing Bishop, Perry, and Smith for the season). I also think it is surprising that the offense has managed to look out of sync for most of the season, after almost never looking that way last year (with most of the same personnel). If you had told me coming into the season that the Packers would be -6% on Defense, and +1% on Special Teams, I would have bet we would be a Top 10 DVOA team of all time. The +34% offensive DVOA of 2011 seemed imminently repeatable this year, and that would have put us easily into the Top 10 all time, and essentially tied with the Patriots. But the offense has never looked right this year. If they can finally get everyone on the field, and on the same page, the top 5 receivers are still unmatched in the league (Cobb, Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Finley), and the running game is starting to look at least replacement level again. Pair that with a young, improving, above average defense and Green Bay has all the tools to make another run at a Super Bowl.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:24am

" I also think it is surprising that the offense has managed to look out of sync for most of the season, after almost never looking that way last year (with most of the same personnel)."

Well, it certainly looked that way in 2010 (with about the same number of injuries). The offensive line certainly isn't most of the same personnel, and that obviously is most of the problem. But yes, watching their offense has been a chore this year.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:45pm

The O-line turned over one player from last year, with Saturday replacing Wells at center. Until Bulaga and then Lang got hurt that was the only significant change.

The O-line has definitely played worse this year, even with a healthy Bulaga and Lang, but the injuries at both WR and RB have been just as significant.

by Rich A (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:53am

Would you put their top 5 over (in order of strength I'd say): Gronkowski, Welker, Hernandez, Lloyd, and either Vereen or Woodhead. I would've liked to have put Edelmann there but he's done for the season and while Branch and Brady have a great connection Branch doesn't have the ability to separate nearly the way he used to.

In terms of comparing these two groups I'd say Greenbay has more speed on the perimeter and height, and I think the speed that Cobb has is more than Vereen but the agility of the Patriots WR is higher I think. Further, having TE's and WR's who block make the running game viable. Gronk and Welker are great in this respect and I'd say Hernandez and Lloyd are about average in this respect. I have no idea how well GB run blocks.

I think the Patriots are stronger with how they manipulate the middle of the field, Gronk is way ahead of Finely, and I'd say Hernandez is as well. Welker is being his ridiculous self and Lloyd is now integrating into the system and clearly has in the past had the ability to make circus catches. The lateral agility and balance that Woodhead has is also quite incredible. Before his fumble last night he did break a few tackles.

If anything I think both of these groups are the best at YAC in the league. I think with GB this is a lot of scheme and pure speed, whereas with NE it's scheme and agility to break ankles the way point guards in basketball will get defenders to trip over themselves. When GB breaks a play they are ridiculously fast.

I think the receiving core in New England is going to look interesting next year with the addition of Demps to the roster (Now who do they keep Edelmann or Welker?). Now splitting out the RB to the edge takes on a whole new level of threat. They ran a fly with Vereen yesterday but he couldn't get behind the defense the way his wheel route allowed him to against the Jets.

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:27am

Based on DYAR this year, which, as a counting stat, punishes Jennings, Gronkowski, Nelson, and Hernandez for injury time, GB's top five has outperformed NE's top five 654 to 621.

by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:25pm

Hey, look, San Diego's up to a 1.3% chance of making the playoffs.

Given how strange the AFC North is playing out lately, I'm surprised to see Baltimore at 100% chance of making the playoffs. I guess the Steelers and Bengals have to win out, and Baltimore has to lose out, for them to miss.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:48pm

I think the Ravens have in fact clinched a playoff spot, but the NFL hasn't noticed this because it's schedule-dependent.

The NFL sees that the Bengals and Steelers are both 6-loss teams and that the Ravens are a 9-win team. They then think that both of these teams can win out, as you say. But since there's a Steelers-Bengals game on Week 16, that's impossible. At least one of these teams is going to be a 7-loss team. Either of those two teams can win that game and take the AFC North. But it's not possible for both of those teams to finish ahead of the Ravens. Even if the Ravens finish 0-3, they'll be ahead of one of those two teams. (according the the playoff machine's tiebreakers)

I've been playing with ESPN's playoff machine, and it gives the Ravens the 6 seed no matter how I decide that one game, even if I give the Bengals, Steelers, and Jets wins in all of their other games. (The Jets have 7 losses already, but it seems they could end up in a tie with Baltimore, but would lose that tiebreaker.)

So, congrats to the Ravens! You're in the playoffs already!

Edit: nope, I can get both of them ahead of the Ravens if they tie.

But I can see how the possibility of all of that happening is below .0001%

by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:07pm

Thanks, I experimented a while and didn't find that scenario. Not exactly the best-designed UI.

by Gomer_rs (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:59am

It's because the Steelers and Bengals can tie. If Bal loses out, and the Steelers and Bengals go 2-0-1 they can knock Ravens out of the playoffs.

by TonyWayne (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:45pm

I think it has to do with the overall remaining schedule. Pit/Cin have to play each other, so one of them will necessarily lose a 7th game. At this point, the most losses Baltimore can have is 7, so they'd be tied in some way.

Looking at the AFC overall, the scenario is that the AFC North + Wild Card + Wild Card will be composed of 3 teams from among: Bal, Pit, Cin, NYJ, and Ind.

I haven't looked at all their schedules, but perhaps there's some combination of games remaining that essentially mean Baltimore is already in, but when just looking at won-loss and a few initial tie-breakers, nobody is yet saying Baltimore has secured a spot in the playoffs.

by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:28pm

I know this is a classic FO response, but here goes: no way. Seattle is not only the best team in the NFC, with only the 49ers in their league, but they're one of the best teams of all time? The team with a Pythagorean-projected 11 wins, padded largely by destroying a truly awful team in a tailspin (yes, I know those games count as much as any other)? The team with losses to Arizona, St. Louis, Detroit, and Miami? I can believe they are an underrated and well-balanced team and especially tough at home, but not much farther than that.

by Joe C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:47pm

As a Seahawks I certainly won't put up a fight with anyone who thinks the niners are better, in fact I still think the niners are better. DVOA only goes back to 1991, so it doesn't really say Seattle is one of the best teams of all time, just top 15 of the past 20 years (which yeah I agree doesn't feel 100% accurate). The Patriots lost to the cards at home, should they not be no. 1? The niners lost to the rams on the road too and tied them at home, the Dolphins and Lions are both average or slightly below average teams and Seattle lost coin-flip games on the road to them, not really that damning, good teams loss games like that all the time. I don't really see who is better in the NFC, maybe the niners, but it's close to me.

by V (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:40pm

I have been wondering about DVOA opponent adjustments and their impact from a predictive standpoint. Does the system assume that every team is equal to the current rating for that same team for every week of the year? Consider the Patriots vs Cards game early. If memory serves, the Cardinals played against the 29th ranked defense then, but today get "credit" for playing the one currently in 14th place. On the other side, the Cards offense (and entire team) were playing much better during that early winning stretch than they are today. We all know from observation that teams have uncharacteristically good and bad stretches.

Another query about DVOA: Has there been any analysis about the relative values across the three segments (Off, Def, ST)? It "feels" like the Offensive numbers have a greater range from top to bottom than the Def or ST, and therefore an outsized impact for the teams at the extremes. Wouldn't that cause the best Offenses to be overrated in overall DVOA and the worst to be underrated in Overall? The ones in the middle would be the least affected, and therefore might help to hide the skew.

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:37am

The answer to your first question is that opponent adjustments are based on the season ratings without trying to adjust for the circumstances of any given week. While there's an obvious difference between, say, playing the Ravens with or without Ray Lewis, coming up with all the necessary adjustments would be difficult and probably subjective. Your question is entirely legitimate, but it's hard to come up with a good answer.

Since offense and defense are pretty much the inverse of each other, the wider distribution of offensive DVOA reflects the reality that there is more variation in offenses than defenses.

by johonny32 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:16am

As bland as the Dolphins are to watch they did hang in there against the Pats and 49ners the last two weeks. Basically one could argue the one play/player away that keep them from beating the Pats and 49ners turned the Dolphins way against Seattle. That's the NFL. Traveling across country to play Miami and losing a game that might have gone there way based on an iffy call isn't the death sentence to the future hope of a football team in the playoffs I imagine. I believe playoff teams general do better if they've lost to Miami during the year in one of those totally meaningless fluke stats :)

by ptp (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:02pm

A few things:

1- Seattle lost to some bad teams but look at who they've beaten. Their strength of victory is through the roof.
2- With that said, a lot of that Arizona game seems like a wash because AZ clearly quit sometime in the second quarter. Seattle punched them in the mouth to get them to quit but I don't think the latter half is all that meaningful. How do you tell DVOA that, though? How do you decide it objectively? Idk.

by zenbitz :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:33pm

This comes up every other week.

The way to do it is to measure the leverage of any given play (for example by WPA derivative) and downweight cases where the leverage is very low (ignore it when it's high).

For example, by the start 2nd quarter, Arizona's WPA was 0.07 - note that the score is only 17-0 at this point. By half time it's 38-0 but the Arizona's WPA has only dropped to 0.04. Those 20 points - and by extension - those yards, turnovers, and successes on offense and defense aren't really worth much.

You could simply multiply VOA/play by something like WPAlosingTeam when WPAlosingTeam is <0.10 (about 2 scores). If they get the score back quickly (WPA goes above 0.1) then everyone's plays count again.

DVOA does discount garbage time, but I don't know the algorithm.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:50pm

"The team with a Pythagorean-projected 11 wins, padded largely by destroying a truly awful team in a tailspin (yes, I know those games count as much as any other)?"

Not true. They had 9.7 projected wins last week.

by PFG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:59pm

The Ravens have NOT clinched. One scenario would be them going 0-3 while Pitt and Cincy each go 2-0-1.

by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:22pm

Post Deleted after I realized the Bengals and Stelers play this week, not the enxt one.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by STArnold (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:04pm

Bjorn ... You are right about those losses, but remember this ... alll those losses on the road. Arizona was Wilson's first start and they were in Red Zone until game ended. Lost a close game to still-in-playoff-hunt Rams in St. Louis and they had 4th-quarter leads in Detroit and Miami. Lame penalty on Thomas saved Fins. Seahawks are for real. Could they lose at Buffalo (Toronto)? Yes. But they are a top-5 NFL team.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:42pm

Also remember the 2010 Packers? They had some astoundingly bad losses on their resume: to the Lions and Redskins (both 6-10), and Dolphins (7-9) at home!

Yes, I know they had a lot of injuries, but they had enough depth that they shouldn't be losing to those three teams. The point is, a few losses to inferior teams is not a reason to discount the Seahawks.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:06am

To my mind the Seahawks are simply THINKING they can do it away from actually doing it.

When they signed Flynn, I thought they had a reasonably good defense and if Flynn, who had intelligence and a decently strong arm, could pick up the speed of the game quickly enough, the Seahawks could be a contender for a WC spot. Well, they drafted Wilson and they kicked that assessment up a notch. And they are a pretty solid team right now, and the way the NFL is - three shades of mediocre and a team just needs to win the turnover margin come the playoffs - Seattle has a good chance to take it all.

by Moon Hippo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:28am

Russell Wilson sure as hell thinks he can do it - the guy's self belief is through-the-roof-crazy...

by PFG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:07pm

In fact if the Steelers and Bengals both win this week and Baltimore loses, you could make the case that the teams should arrange a tie. I'm sure the NFL woul love that. If the game between them was a late game (and they knew the result of NYG/Balt) this might make even more sense.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:26pm

Sadly (or happily?), the Steelers-Bengals game is at 1:00 EST while the Giants/Ravens game is 4:25 EST.

There would be a higher likelihood of shenanigans like this if these games were on Week 17.

(Even higher if we were talking about international soccer competitions where arrangements of this type have led to simultaneous game play in many tournaments such as the World Cup.)

by leviramsey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:32am

West Germany v. Austria, 1982 (aka Anschlussball?) is the most famous instance of that.

by Anonymous- (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:23pm

Now that Indi is 9-4 and almost a lock for the playoffs, care to add Peyton Manning's revenge to the SB odds?

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:27pm

Peyton's revenge on whom? Another AFC team?

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:58am

Well, if you're gonna use logic....

And revenge is hardly the word. Irsay, knowing his team was in rebuild mode back in the summer openly said that he hopes the Broncos win the SB this year. Hard to get revenge against the guy who wishes you well. "Yeah, well take THAT Dad, I'm gonna go out and get straight A's, so there!"

by PFG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:28pm

I think the chances of a Denver vs Indy Super Bowl are quite low.

by Blak :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:47pm

Soooo, you're saying there's a chance?

by PFG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:21pm

With the current commish there is always a chance.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:59am

Okay then run the numbers and let us know.

by jamie_k74 :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:58pm

Unable to comment on the Playoff Odds page, so I'll put it in here:

Congratulations to the "Winners" of the 2012 Below Average Bowl! Buffalo, Miami, Cleveland & New Orleans; all have now dropped off both the Playoff Scenarios table and the On the Clock table, meaning they have no significant chance of playoff appearance or the top draft pick. If memory serves, a 5-8 record is pretty typical of BAB winners; this year it's necessary but not sufficient, with San Diego still scraping into the Playoff Scenarios table.

Runners up will emerge in the weeks ahead, as more teams miss out on the playoffs or the chance of the No. 1 draft pick.

by Andy S (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:26pm

When you state that Seattle is being overlooked as a team that may be able to take on the patriots, how can you overlook how bad they are on the road? They are a great home team and a terrible road team. I think their chances of winning three road games to even get to the Super Bowl are very small.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:32pm

They did recently beat Chicago on the road, so "terrible" might be a strong word to describe Seattle's body of work on the road. Also, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they take the division from SF (if SF loses to New England and Seattle on the road, and Seattle wins out.)

by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:39pm

If Seattle wins against Buffalo this week, which they're favored to do, they'll be 3-5 on the road. Guess what Green Bay's road record was in 2010, when they had to win three straight road games to make the Super Bowl.

by Andy S (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:50am

Ok all, I will say bad instead of terrible. So they are 2-5, is that not bad? To say Green Bay had a bad road record and won the Super Bowl is not really saying anything. Obviously there are hundreds of other teams with that record that did nothing. I still think I have a valid point although no one here seems to agree. Yes it is possible for them to win the division but then they would still likely have two road games.

Question - do the playoff odds (conf winner, sb winner) on this site take my point into consideration?

by Zach (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:50pm

A terrible road team? If you're just looking at record, sure, but they've been within one play of winning every single one of those road games. Furthermore, their losses have been to the #4, #13, #19, #20, and #27 teams in DVOA, and that loss to the Cardinals (#27) was in Week One, when the A) the Cardinals were healthy B) they hadn't quit on Whisenhut and C) the Seahawks refused to open the playbook for Russell Wilson. They were still two drops in the end zone on the final drive away from winning that game.

Whatever your perception of this team is, I guarantee you it doesn't mesh with reality. They clearly weren't this good early in the year, and that has a lot to do with the record, but they've also beaten some very good teams, blown out some mediocre-bad teams, and lost close games on the road.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:08pm

Like myself and others insinuated before, your description of Seattle could easily be a description of the 2010 Packers.

by AndrewM (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:07pm

Except they're not a terrible road team in the least. They have not lost all season by more than a TD. Total differentials for all losses, TOTAL, is 24 points. AND they got jobbed in Miami; that game was over on the interception that got called back on the lamest roughing call all season.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:35pm

Well, if the Pats beat the 49ers on Sunday (hardly an impossible scenario, given that the game is in Foxborough) and if the Seahawks beat the 49ers the following week (in Seattle) as well as winning their other two games, then the Seahawks will win the NFC West and wouldn't have to worry about winning three road games.

The 49ers are looking at consecutive road games against the top two teams according to DVOA. They are very far from having their division wrapped up.

I'm sure they wish they could have beaten the Rams at least once.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:11am

Seattle is not "terrible" on the road. They lost to Arizona in RW's first game and even then he had 7 shots in the red zone to win it. Play that game a few weeks later and they win.
St. Louis beat Seattle with 3 or was it 4 50+ yard field goals and a fake field goal where the refs didn't see Carroll signalling time out. And the Rams aren't that bad a team. Add to that Wilson is still on training wheels and not allowed to drive the car yet.
Miami? Want to know what the average win % of west coast teams on the east coast for a 10am game is? 22% So the Hawks odds were slim.
SF. By 7. No bitch there. btw, that's their largest margin of loss on the road.
Detroit they lost at the very end when their defense suddenly couldn't keep Pee Wee Herman out of a strip club, let alone Stafford from finding the receiver on a slant route. And they lost that game in the last seconds.

They've been in every single road loss all season long.

by The Danger! (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:35pm

What if …

Seattle somehow wins out, SF loses the next two, and the Packers/Giants each loose a game. Seattle then becomes the #2 seed. If the Falcons lose their first playoff game (like I think they will, and DVOA indicates), Seattle could have home field all the way to New Orleans.

Then consider their home/away split.

This could be a very scary team in a month …

by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:47pm

By a quirk of scheduling (they'll get Buffalo this week), Seattle is the only team in the league that hasn't faced a bottom-8 defense. The average team has faced 3.25, and only Philadelphia and St. Louis have faced only 1. I'm looking for at least 30 points against Buffalo.

by AndrewM (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:10pm

This is something right here. "Seattle has not faced a bottom-8 defense".

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:07pm

Minnesota has a chance to avg more yds per rush than pass....first team since the 2006 Falcons (who were 7-9). Before that is was the 2000 Bengals (who were 4-12).

When I hear Leslie Frazier say we need to run the ball and stop the run - that wins championships...I want to throw up.

by Trevorbeatz (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:08pm

Seattle looks like it could be poised for a Super Bowl appearance. I mean, of course, if a lot of things go right for them. I really do not see them getting to the SB without Home-field Advantage but also, I just cannot picture a Rookie QB in the SB. Wilson will make the mistakes a rookie makes somewhere down the line and his defense won't bail him out. It is still hard to believe that SEA is #2 DVOA... just seems strange...

Patriots look as if they could drop another 42+ points on San Francisco next Sunday Night. 49ers Defense is not all that much different from 49ers, though 49ers may be healthier then Houston's defense. Either way, I can see Patriots putting up at least 31 points on them. 49ers offense is about twice as good per the DVOA rankings then Houston's is so... maybe they score 14 points against New England (I'm discounting the final 7 HOU scored since it was like a pre-season game for final 6 min).

What would Pats offense be like with Gronkowski back in the mix? I hope everyone that played on MNF will be healthy for SNF.

by AndrewM (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:19pm

Check this out -- they even have a moon-shot at being the 1 seed.

by AndrewM (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:19pm

Check this out -- they even have a moon-shot at being the 1 seed.

by Athelas :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:35pm

The Patriots put Donte Stallworth on IR today.

by Cro-Mags :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 9:26am

Deion Branch is on speed dial.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:19pm

"49ers Defense is not all that much different from 49ers"

I would hope so.

"Either way, I can see Patriots putting up at least 31 points on them. 49ers offense is about twice as good per the DVOA rankings then Houston's is so... maybe they score 14 points against New England"

I don't think using the best game New England has played this year as the baseline is entirely reasonable.

"I just cannot picture a Rookie QB in the SB. Wilson will make the mistakes a rookie makes somewhere down the line and his defense won't bail him out."

Although it was his second year in the NFL, Brady in his first Super Bowl had as much game experience as Wilson would have, and while Brady didn't play particularly well, he didn't make any major mistakes either. Oh, and Wilson's defense certainly did bail him out against New England this year for the majority of the second, third and fourth quarters, before he led the comeback.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:40pm

Yes, the game against the Texans was the best, but it was hardly atypical in terms of their scoring output.

I think Wilson could do just fine in the playoffs. He looks like he doesn't get intimidated.

And there might be two other QBs in the NFC with fewer starts than Wilson (Kaepernick and RGIII, if he has to miss a start because of his knee and if the Redskins manage to make the playoffs).

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:42am

Scoring 31 is certainly possible, although SF hasn't given up that many yet this year.
But Houston's offense looked nothing like 11th best (in week 13) yesterday; Schaub did not play well at all, not all of it due to the Patriots' defense. Of course, who knows how well Kaepernick is going to do.

by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:50pm

"I just cannot picture a Rookie QB in the SB."

Ben Roethlisberger says, "Hi." (As a Seahawks fan, that is a particularly painful memory. Nonetheless, true.)

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:06am

Ben Roethlisberger's rookie season in 2004 says Hi right back.

by Paddy Pat :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:19am

Definitively not true. Roethlisberger was a rookie in 2004 and lost to the Pats in the playoffs after a very unconvincing win over the Jets. He was a sophomore in 2005.

by DMC :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:24pm

He may have been unimpressive in that playoff game but he did set the rookie passer rating record and pile up a few wins that season.

Passer rating
Rookie record: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004) 98.1

Robert Griffin III, Washington 104.4
Russell Wilson, Seahawks 95.2
Andrew Luck, Colts 76.1
Brandon Weeden, Browns 72.3
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins 72.3

by anderson721 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:13pm

Speaking of ref calls with a big impact, the Skins could easily miss the playoffs because a hack ref decided it was OK for Courtland Finnegan to knock Josh Morgan to the ground after the play, but a grievous assault for Morgan to respond by throwing the football at Finnegan. the Pats and Pack are still going to the playoffs. Unless they get real lucky, the Skins are not.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:18pm

Morgan has no one to blame but himself. Finnegan did give a little push with his hands after the play, but didn't "knock him down". Morgan completely lost his cool made an idiotic mental error.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:50pm

Gotta agree with the Piano on this one. Morgan has to know better.

Finnegan specializes at instigating. Refs will let some pushing and shoving go, but they won't tolerate a player throwing the ball in anger.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:31am

I just don't understand how players are still letting Finnegan get to them. He pulls that stuff every week, they must know he's going to try to wind them up so why do they let him? And why do the refs let him get away with it?

by Rick S (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 10:21pm

The rankings seem about right. I was surprised to see Seattle ahead of Denver, but given that Denver is slow to put teams away and often lets teams back in the game, I see how its possible. Patriots look like it will take a let down or a heroic performance to not make the SB. Denver (because of PFM), is the only team with a chance of knocking them off.

More surprising than Seattle at #2 is Indy as the 28th ranked team but being 9-4...Seattle has a very good chance to win the NFC West... Whoever wins NFC West should represent NFC in SB.

by Paul R :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:40pm

"More surprising than Seattle at #2 is Indy as the 28th ranked team but being 9-4..."

For a while now I've been wondering if it's possible for a team to go 16-0 and finish dead last in DVOA.
Indy, the 5th worst team in the league, has the 6th best win/loss record. Pretty close.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:08am

And if they win-out in undistinguished fashion, barely scraping by the Texans and Chiefs in turnover filled messes, they'd win their division and maybe even get a bye with that horrid DVOA. As much as they're sitting home right now weeping in their gatorade over the low DVOA, I suspect they'd be just fine with that. It's unlikely, but then again their whole season has been--DVOA agrees with that!

by Paul R :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:16pm

I think the secret formula is fumbled punts recovered in the end zone.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:19pm

I don't understand why the Seahawks are presented as some secret in paragraph three. The word is out. The cat is out of the bag. Even non-number people have figured it out.

I refuse to take one radio sampling as the tenor of the country. Even if you just go on the eye test and basic examination of the NFL, you've noticed how dangerous and talented the Seahawks are.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:48pm

I think if you watch a lot of ESPN or NFL Network, or read online sources a lot, the Seahawks are still underrated. They are still thought of a team with a strong defense that can be feisty at home, but they are not considered to be at the same level as the Giants, 49ers, Falcons, and Packers.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:13am

This blew me away. ESPN just got finsished spending half their minutes for the week on what it might mean that the Jets beat the Cardinals by a single point, the Seahawks obliterate them, and they don't get a mention during the MNF halftime weekly recap, but they do get Kornheiser and Edwards complaining that they were "running up the score."

At least NFL Network tried to put it in a historical context and highlight a couple of performances.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:58am

Regarding those four teams, the Giants and Packers just recently won Super Bowls after muddling through uninspiring regular seasons, so however they're playing, they have "championship pedigree," and indeed their offenses are extremely scary when they're "on." Atlanta and San Francisco happen to be the top 2 seeds, so of course they'll be talked up.

I think a more subtle issue is Seattle's schedule, specifically the back-loading of home games, division home games to boot. Before last week, people saw that 0-3 division record, and that's an ugly mark right there. If the two St. Louis games had been swapped and they'd won the first one, they'd be 9-4 right now, with a not-as-bad 2-4 record on the road, and a half-game out of the second seed. That'd be a lot more impressive.

by Rick S (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:20am

My feel for the national opinion of Seattle
1. Well respected, but no stars. Wilson breaks in same year as Luck and RGIII. Lynch not a national star.
2. They are thought of as unbalanced in terms of success at home vs road.
3. Even though SF & SEA are near top of DVOA, NFC West still thought of as a weak division that has had champions winning with 7-9 wins.

by Rick S (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:20am

My feel for the national opinion of Seattle
1. Well respected, but no stars. Wilson breaks in same year as Luck and RGIII. Lynch not a national star.
2. They are thought of as unbalanced in terms of success at home vs road.
3. Even though SF & SEA are near top of DVOA, NFC West still thought of as a weak division that has had champions winning with 7-9 wins.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 9:02am

Seahawks 20/1 to win the superbowl, behind Giants, Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Broncos, Texans and Pats.

I like the 10/1 each way on that.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:47am

Yo would think so, but most sports related websites who conduct power polls based on 'professional' staff opinion (a process that can be summed up as: rank teams according to W-L record, apply east coast bias) have the Seahawks as the 10-12th best team in the league. Pick Nits about their high DVOA rating but by any metric 10-12 is WAY too low for a team as good as they are.

by Anon12547862 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:33am

Hilarious. We're supposed go discount the beginning of the season for the Seahawks and look at how they're playing right now, but you don't discount the beginning of the Patriots' season?

Anyone that thinks the current incarnation of the Patriots would lose or have a close game with Seattle is absolutely delusional.

That's ok though, in 2 weeks once the Pats have crushed the 49ers and the Texans have crushed the Colts and Vikings and the 49ers beat the Seahawks, you all won't have shit to say about what is one of the best teams in NFL history.

And I'm fucking rolling on the floor at the insinuation that the Pats overperformed yesterday. Sorry NFL, that was business as usual. Hell, if Welker could catch the damn ball it would have been 50 or 60 to nothing.

The only aspect of the team that might regress a bit is the defense. But that's unlikely since they have been improving every week since signing Talib. And they didn't force many turnovers last night, if they return to their average then any regression in pass defense will be offset by more turnovers.

Last night wasn't even the Pats best performance of the year, they're going to ll through the rest of the NFL if no one else shows up. Unfinished business from 2007.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:51am

The ESPN message boards are missing you.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:55am

You've been saving that one up, I can tell. :)

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:11am

Not often I have an urge to kiss a Pats fan, but that was awesome.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:03am

End of 2010

W 39-26
W 31-28
W 45-24
W 45-3
W 36-7
W 31-27
W 34-3
W 38-7

Offense on a roll. And then...

L 21-28

Ryan eats roll. Delicious.

by Joe C (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:38am

You do realize this article states the Pats are the best team in the league and one of the best of the past 20 years??

by DRohan :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:27am

Not emphatically enough apparently.

by jebmak :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:21pm


by Other Dean (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:31pm

Is this Raider Joe's cousin?

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:22pm

They recovered a fumble in the end zone, had another fumble slip through the opponent's hands, and got a bunch of homer calls. This blowout reminds me of one in 2010, that was not repeated come playoff time. By the way, you needed to save this rant for next week, because you've jinxed them against the Niners now. Next week the talk may be about how much better the NFC is.

by Peepshowmopguy (not verified) :: Sat, 12/15/2012 - 2:05pm

Hold on, I'll get you a towel.

by Mr. X (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:35am

Along with the Fail Mary and Goldengate, you could also add The Immaculate Deception.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:16am

I've been thinking about Seattle and why these numbers don't mesh with my eyes. Yes, they are a respectable team who are rarely out of games and damn near impossible to beat at home, but they are not even close to being one of the best teams of the past 20 years.

I think some of the skew has to do with timely matchups against teams who weren't what DVOA thinks they are at that time.

Pack - Still developing an offensive identity.

Pats - Have pretty much taken off on both sides of the ball since that time. NE's offense was good back then, but not otherworldly, and the defensive back seven was a mess compared to how they are playing now.

Chicago - Not even close to the dominant defense that they'd been in the months leading up to this game.

AZ - DVOA still thinks these guys are the 6th best defense in the league, but they'd been trending down for weeks, and they clearly gave up midway through the 2nd quarter. Interestingly enough, Seattle might be getting a double NE bonus on this one, since it is likely that a good deal of AZ's DVOA figure is based on how easily they shut down NE.

So, Seattle gets credit for facing an all-time great team/offense, an all-time great defense, a top 4 offense and a top 6 defense - none of which were anywhere near that level at the time they actually faced.

by seattleguy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:57am

This is the problem. It is all perception. What does the last 20 years have to do with this year's DVOA rankings?

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:03am

Did you read my post past the first line? That "all-time" segment is inconsequential to the larger point.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:06am

"Pack - Still developing an offensive identity."

Given how their offense has performed recently (and I know about all the injuries), I think it's still under development.

"Pats - Have pretty much taken off on both sides of the ball since that time. NE's offense was good back then, but not otherworldly, and the defensive back seven was a mess compared to how they are playing now."

Week 5 DVOA
Offense: 32.4%
Defense: 1.6%

Week 14 DVOA
Offense: 35.7%
Defense: 0.3%

Hmm, not much difference, and in fact near-identical if you throw out their last game.

I'll give you Chicago, though it has to be said that they had clamped Seattle down to 10 points until the final two drives.

"AZ - DVOA still thinks these guys are the 6th best defense in the league, but they'd been trending down for weeks"

Arizona's defensive DVOA by week

8: -12.4%
9: -12.8%
10: -13.1% (Bye)
11: -17.7%
12: -16.5%
13: -17.2%
14: -13.6%

So, in fact, they'd been trending up since Smith murdered them in week 8. They held the Jets to 7, and it could've been 0 if McElroy hadn't come in. They held St. Louis' offense to 17 points and Atlanta's to 16, forcing 6 turnovers in the latter game. And while Rodgers did throw 4 TDs against them, they forced him into his most inaccurate game in two years.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:12am

Even though the Pack aren't the offense they were in 2011, they are much more cohesive now than they were to start the season.

The Patriots data is interesting, though it doesn't change the fact that they are substantially better on both side of the ball right now than they were in week 6, DVOA be damned.

As for AZ, they may have been trending up, but thta still doesn't discount how much the NE game (as well as a couple other early season performances) impact the numbers, nor does it take into consideration that they clearly waived the white flag early on.

You make some compelling counter arguments, but I'm holding fast on this one. Seattle is getting a mega-bump and I believe those four games are a major reason why.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:38am

Please prove in any way that the Patriots are substantially better on both sides of the ball than they were heading into that Seahawks game.

Coming into the Seahawks game, the Pats had just rushed for about 500 yards over the past two games. People thought they had some sort of untouchable ultra-speed hurry-up that was totally new for them. They were averaging more yards in those first five games than since.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:13pm

I think a week-by-week graph of the Patriots DVOA might be useful at this point.

The Pats had a very high DVOA in Week 1 against the Titans that propped their score up for several weeks.

The offense has been consistently good for most of the season, with only a few hiccups (most notably against Arizona and Miami).

The defense looked good at the start of the season but nosedived when they lost both of their starting safeties. Their secondary play was much worse until all of the following adjustments gelled:

a) McCourty switched to safety
b) trade for Talib
c) emergence of Dennard as a starter
d) return of injured safeties Gregory and Chung (who has lost playing time)

I would say that the Pats' defense during the five-week stretch from Week 3 (at Baltimore) through Week 7 (hosting Jets) was below the level it's at now. Flacco, Manning, and Wilson all looked comfortable against the defense for long stretches of the game, and even Fitzpatrick and Sanchez were able to move the ball.

I don't know how much better it is now, nor do I know what the numbers would or should say. That's just my impression as a Pats' fan. I'm feeling like the pass defense should be able to handle anybody they might face in the playoffs not named Manning or Rodgers. (With the caveat that I don't think the Redskins have a chance in hell of making the Super Bowl - nobody has figured out yet what to do about RGIII.)

by Bud Bundy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:41am

Uh, I think what you meant to say was

"The Patriots data is interesting, though it doesn't change MY PERCEPTION that they are substantially better on both side of the ball right now than they were in week 6, OBJECTIVE MEASUREMENTS be damned. "

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 7:17am

Thank you for posting exactly what I was thinking.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 9:38am

Sorry guys, objective measurements can be just as wrong as my perception. NE is substantially better at this point than they were in week 6. Any attempt to prove otherwise is quite silly, self-indulgent techni-babble at its finest.

I do find it amusing how much people cling to the idea that there can be no truth outside DVOA, though. I'm not trolling, I've followed and enjoyed this site since the early days when Easterbrook came over and they had 3 scroll bars on every screen. I understand exactly how it works, as well as the fact that this information is meant to *supplement*, not replace what our eyes tell us.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:10am

My super insightful analysis is that the team which plays the best starting in January will be the happiest come February. I'd say the Patriots have a good chance to be that team. I also think that any team whose defensive front has a good day running at Mr. Bundchen with wild enthusiasm might end up happier than the Patriots.

In other words, the future is undetermined, which is why some of us don't talk to our spouses enough on Sunday.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:16am

Yes, it was encouraging to see Tommy not flinching in the face of pretty good Texans pressure, but it is hard to forget him reacting to phantom pressure earier this year, and against the Giants.

FWIW, I don't dispute what DVOA is saying about NE *right now*, just that they were worse two months ago. Seattle's game winning drive came against a two safeties who see a combined 6-7 snaps a game now, for instance, and the starting CBs have been turned over as well.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:55am

Yeah, when the personnel has changed, you really don't have a good baseline to make comparisons. Belichik understands and exploits match-ups as well as anyone, which is not to say that other guys don't do it pretty well, too. I think the rest of the AFC is fortunate that the most difficult part of the Broncos schedule came early, before Longneck got things fully up and running, because I think the talent around him now may be as good as it ever was, and the altitude of Denver provides a better advantage than a dome in Indiapolis, given Longneck's ability to keep a defense from substituting. A lot could happen before January (never underestimate the effect on the playoffs of, say, a guard getting injured) which will have a big effect come January.

Once you get to the last game, individual match-ups will rule the day, and it is way too far out to make confident predictions as to what those match-ups will be, to say nothing of how they might turn out.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 11:35am

Frankly, the Patriots might be done in by what did them in last year -- a lack of WR speed to stretch a defense. With Stallworth going on IR and Branch's health a mystery, the Patriots are down to Lloyd, Welker, and primary ST player Slater. An injury to Lloyd, Welker, or Hernandez probably sinks them. If Branch is healthy, great. And then we'll see the likes of Jabbar Gaffney and PS on-and-off guys like Jeremy Ebert and Britt Davis.

I can easily envision a Super Bowl rematch with the game played out nearly identically.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 11:46am

People often write that they miss the days of clearly dominant teams like the 91 Redskins or 89 Niners. Not me. I think it is a lot more interesting to have a group of really good teams with signifcant flaws who try to minimize the effects of those significant flaws. The only thing I like less about today's game is the way the importance of o-line play has been reduced.

by Anonymous unknown (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:38pm

You forget Gronkowski is due back shortly

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:44pm

I can assure you I do not.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:21pm

You are definitely too well informed to forget Gronk, but I do think you are overlooking how much his "loss" allowed NY to run their gameplan in the SB. Even if we ignore that and assume he never comes back, Lloyd and a fresher Branch are assets they didn't have, as well as a dramatically upgraded RB corps.

You are right that NE is still susceptible to a similar game plan, but they also appear more capable of combating it.

by Anonymous unknown (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:29pm

Well, I guess I assumed that anyone discussing the NE receiver situation as precarious without mentioning Gronk must have forgotten that he is probably going to be back by the end of the regular season. If you are saying that you actually purposefully ignored that fact, I can't argue with that.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:56pm

Compared to week 6, were they substantially better in week 13, when they barely got 300 yards against Miami? Compared to now, were they substantially worse in week 5, when they went up 31-7 on Denver and had 250 yards rushing against one of the best rush defenses in the league? Note that I'm not relying on DVOA anymore.

Second, have you thought about how your arguments apply to Seattle itself? You don't think Seattle, at the start of the season, wasn't also developing an offensive identity, and how their offense has also taken off since then, by a far greater extent than New England?

I wouldn't rely on pure DVOA rankings either (and I understand those comments were directed toward someone else), but I'd also like some consistency in personal perception.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:28pm

Yes, NE is playing significantly better on both sides of the ball. I appreciate your willingness to use traditional stats, but you'll just have to trust me on this one. Even if you want to discount my belief that NE's offense is more cohesive, the defensive improvement is indisputable.

BTW, I've never said or implied that Seattle hasn't gotten better throughout the year. I just don't think they are historically good. If DVOA had them in the 15-20% range as the 6-8th best team in the league, I'd never have even brought it up.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:08pm

However, I'd just like to go back to those four games that you think has helped Seattle's ranking so much. Here are the changes to Seattle's DVOA rating after those four games:
Green Bay: -0.9%
New England: 1.8%
Chicago: 1.2%
Arizona: 6.9%

The Arizona game, obviously, is going to shift the needle a lot, but since Seattle were already in fourth place, it only bumped them up two spots. The other three games barely changed anything! Meanwhile:

Dallas: 16.5% - large jumps in all three phases (nobody beat Dallas by more)
Carolina: 6.7% - large jump in defense (nobody else held them to 13 first downs)
Minnesota: 9.0% - large jump in offense (nobody else got 28 first downs on them)
NY: 3.8%

Yes, DVOA is affected by more than the actual game, and if New England, for example, did better than expected, that would carry over as well. But it's much fainter than the effects of the actual game. The numbers say that games other than the ones you pointed out (other than Arizona) had much larger effects on Seattle's DVOA ranking.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:34pm

Great post. I'll rebut it mildly by pointing out that the first two games you mentioned happened early in the season when we tend to see more dramatic swings coming out of performances (though you could just as easily look at GB/NE as a counter argument - they came early on, too).

I point at NE specifically not because of how much it affected them in the immediate aftermath, but I wonder how much extra credit Seattle gradually receives as NE's DVOA steadily climbs.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 8:59am

Even though the Pack aren't the offense they were in 2011, they are much more cohesive now than they were to start the season.

The Packer offense has a lower DVOA now than it did when they were 2-3 after week 5 (and week 5's DVOA would have been higher still with full opponent adjustments). If the offense looks more cohesive, it's probably because recent opponents like the Lions and Jaguars are more accommodating than were the early-season defenses they faced (Niners, Seahawks, Bears, etc).

by Xao :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 6:51pm

If you're just going to ignore DVOA data, then why on earth would you care what it has to say about the Seahawks?

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 10:41am

You are right. No one should ever question why DVOA doesn't reconcile with their eyes.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:32am

How else will you ever come to realize you need glasses?

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:56am

John Skelton 2011 was better than this year's model. The mess of the Cardinals is largely tied to that offensive line. I think it's a mistake to think Kolb will make a significant difference.

by DRohan :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:34am

It's a long tradition in Arizona to have an unproductive o-line. Over the years they've had a number of "flops" at RB who did quite nicely after they escaped to run behind more effective blocking.

by jedmarshall :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 8:23am

I love that the Chiefs are so bad that they more than cancel having to play the Texans twice and give the Colts a below average schedule for the rest of the year.

by Thok :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 8:52am

How well does DVOA see the different Arizona QB's at a team level? I feel like it's turning some of the difference between Kolb and Skelton/Lindley into opponents ratings. Looking at DVOA/VOA by position, the gap between Kolb and Skelton/Lindley in VOA gets much smaller in DVOA.

by 9erGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:34pm

Seems like the 49ers should be expected to win fewer than 11.1 games.

They are DVOA underdogs @NE and @SEA. With 9 wins already, even if you give them a 100% chance to win at home vs. ARZ, that should be fewer than 2 wins - they are 9-3-1 currently. By my math, they should win about 10.6 - so maybe you're counting the tie as half a win? Doesn't help you win tiebreakers though - so seems like GB should have higher odd of getting a bye - more likely

by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:15pm

I was wondering the exact thing yesterday, but yes, it has to be that the tie counts as half a win, so if you assume Arizona is an automatic win, they are averaging a 30% chance of winning at NE and Seattle.

The fact that they are projected to have 10.6 wins does mean that they have a better chance at the bye than Green Bay, because they win the head-to-head tiebreaker.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:30pm

I'm guessing the tie is counted as half a win. If that's the way this machine is coded, then the simulation is only expecting an average of 1.6 wins out of their last three games. That sounds reasonable.

edit: and I don't think we have to worry about the 49ers being tied in the standings with anybody. Even if their average number of wins is close to GB's average, their average distance in the standings from Green Bay (i.e. |Wins(SF) - Wins(GB)|) is surely at least half a game, since with very high probability exactly one of those two numbers will be an integer.

by ammek :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:24pm

A word about Tampa Bay's run defense: astounding. In Adjusted Line Yards, they're one hundredth of a percentage point behind the best ever* (the 2006 Vikings) and look sure to join those Vikings, the '98 Chargers and '00 Ravens as the only teams with ALY below 3.00. What's most impressive is that they were 26th in ALY last year. Quite a turnaround.

The Bucs have also stuffed 35% of opponents' runs — I can't find any other team over 32%.

*since 1996, obviously

by NicholasWarino :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 2:44pm



2012: 35.7 (1st)
2011: 31.9 (3rd)
2010: 42.2 (1st)
2009: 26.4 (1st)
2008: 12.5 (7th) (BRADY INJURED)
2007: 43.5 (1st)
2006: 14.1 (4th)
2005: 17.5 (7th)
2004: 23.3 (3rd)
2003: 1.2 (14th)
2002: 7.2 (9th)
2001: 3.4 (11th) (BRADY ENTERS)
2000: -4.4 (22nd)


2012: 61.5 (1st)
2011: 55.3 (2nd)
2010: 67.5 (1st)
2009: 53.5 (2nd)
2008: 14.4 (15th)
2007: 72.7 (1st)
2006: 30.1 (5th)
2005: 46.6 (2nd)
2004: 47.4 (2nd)
2003: 18 (12th)
2002: 17.2 (10th)
2001: 14.3 (10th)
2000: 9.0 (15th)

So in Belichick's first year, with Bledsoe, the Pats have a slightly below average offense and a slightly above average passing offense. They improve in both counts next year and following two with Brady, but remain only above average. From 2004-2006, they become a very good offense with a passing attack that is elite, but not the best (Peyton's Colts are the gold standard). However, from 2007-now, the Patriots are clearly the best offensive in football and the best passing attack in football. They one exception is during the Cassell year when the Pats were merely a good offensive and passing team (they did improve as the year went on).

The last 5 Brady-Pats seasons (07, 09-12), they have averaged an offensive DVOA of 36% and a passing DVOA of 62%. The second best stretch over that period (2008-2012), is Green Bay at 18% OFF and 38% PASSOFF and New Orleans at 18% OFF and 33% PASSOFF. The Manning Colts and Broncos past 5 seasons are at 17% and 39%.

Long-story short, this "new normal" Pats offense is a step above everyone else. It would be interesting to compare it to some other previous dominant offenses over a multi-season stretch.

by JohnJohnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:22pm

"It would be interesting to compare it to some other previous dominant offenses over a multi-season stretch."

Steve Young's 49ers.

1991: 24.0 (2nd) (YOUNG STARTS 10 GAMES, MONTANA 6)
1993: 31.4 (1st) (BEGINNING OF FREE AGENCY)
1994: 18.9 (1st)
1995: 18.6 (5th) (YOUNG MISSES 5 GAMES)
1996: 10.0 (6th) (YOUNG MISSES 4 GAMES)
1997: 5.5 (10th)
1998: 28.8 (2nd)

1991: 43.1 (2nd)
1992: 51.8 (1st)
1993: 44.2 (1st)
1994: 51.2 (1st)
1995: 34.9 (4th)
1996: 22.7 (5th)
1997: 20.8 (7th)
1998: 44.3 (4th)
1999: -6.5(24th)

by NicholasWarino :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:30pm

Warner-Rams (1999-2001)

2001: 20.5% (2nd) (Also surprising)
2000: 26.7% (1st) (Warner only started 10 games)
1999: 17.7% (4th) (This still surprises me. They scored 526 points; 83 more points than Washington)

2001: 35.7% (1st)
2000: 32.6% (3rd)
1999: 40.5% (1st)

Surprisingly, according to DVOA, the 1999-2001 Rams were very good but not historically great offenses. I wonder why DVOA doesn't like them very much when they seemed like such a dominant offense at the time (only the 2007 Patriots seemed more dominant, and that was just the first half of the season).

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:45pm

They turned the ball over a lot for a great offense.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 4:58pm

They also had a ridiculously easy schedule of opposing defenses (The NFC West was train wreck in that era), so they lose a lot of points for opponent adjustments.

by Anonymousvvb (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 5:41pm

2006... The year of stone hands, I can still see his eyes as he drops that ball in the AFc championship game

by EricL :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 6:57pm

What's Seattle's offensive DVOA and VOA on the road so far? Best I can tell, the average defensive rank they've faced on the road to date is 10th. (Chi, SF, Ari, StL, Mia, Car, Det in descending order. Right now, they're averaging facing a 13.67 ranked defense at home - their remaining schedule will nearly equalize the home/road opposing quality.)

Given the likelihood of Seattle becoming a Wild Card, road performance is going to be key.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:57pm

The entire Seattle assessment is of course hugely influnced by a historic blowout of the Cardinals. Yet really good teams are generally the ones who win by really big margins. It would be curious to go back over the past 22 years and look at the historical performance of teams with high DVOAs from Week 10 on, perhaps discounting Week 17 for obvious reasons. Right now the Seahawks are cherry-picked into seeming greatness, but will they be back in a more ordinary "very good to great" pool after this weekend?

But I think what this tells me is that they might be a very smart pick to win the SB NEXT YEAR.

by peterplaysbass :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 3:28pm

Matt Moore - You'd love Minnesota. We've got fishing and hunting and good city life, too.

I'll shovel your driveway.


by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 6:07pm

Matt Moore might also look outside his window this offseason and see Larry Johnson holding a boombox over his head, John Cusak-style.

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 9:33pm

Is Larry Johnson planning a comeback?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 7:18am

Lol, I meant Larry Fitzgerald.

I'm not sure how I made that mistake.

by peterplaysbass :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 9:05am

Larry Johnson's old team needs someone like Moore too.

Epiphany: how 'bout Moore AND Fitz come to Minnesota? It just makes too much sense.

I'll shovel BOTH their driveways.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 9:48am

Adrian Peterson would probably join you in the shoveling if it would secure that scenario.

by dryheat :: Fri, 12/14/2012 - 3:50pm

When a guy like Moore is being talked of like a savior, well, maybe the Mayans were right.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Sat, 12/15/2012 - 8:40am

Vince Young put on offer on Twitter to be the saviour of the Cardinals, so by comparison Matt Moore is a step towards sanity.

by hh (not verified) :: Mon, 12/17/2012 - 11:23am

Why isn't this updated the next morning? I know you gotta wait for Monday Night to end buts its not like the Jets are to N'Oleans?

by j (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 8:04am

NYG 21 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to Atl .6 WDVOA
NYJ -10 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to Tenn -28.9 WDVOA
CHI 21.8 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to GB 16.8 WDVOA
DET 2.4 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to Arizona -24.6 WDVOA
TB .4 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to NO -7 WDVOA
Pitt 2.1 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to Dallas -3.3 WDVOA
STL -6.3 Weighted DVOA(WDVOA) lost to Minn -8.8 WDVOA

That's 9-7...not a very impressive SU predictor. Home field advantage cannot account for 19+ difference in DVOA (NYG, NYJ,Det,losses) Chicago and STL at home. The only acceptable losses are the TB and Pitt losses.

How does one reconcile this?

by goldlw1 :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 9:19am

I don't get it either. I am fairly new to this stuff, but I looked at some of the previous rankings and if I saw right, it doesn't exactly do a great job at predicting winners such as the Superbowl winner.