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16 Oct 2012

Week 6 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Are you ready for some upheaval? The New York Giants take their huge win over San Francisco (covered in this week's Any Given Sunday) and ride it up the DVOA charts all the way from number eight to number one. The Giants look even more like the best team in the league if you consider that their Week 1 loss to Dallas now looks like an extreme outlier. The Giants had a -40.9% DVOA for that game, but have over 20% DVOA in every one of their games since (including their narrow Week 4 loss to Philadelphia).

The Giants weren't the only team to see their placement in DVOA change dramatically this week. A dozen different teams moved up or down by at least four places in this week's DVOA ratings. The Colts and Chargers stand out as the biggest drops, while the Jets, Bucs, and Giants had the biggest gains.

This season continues to be defined by two trends: first, a ridiculous number of late comebacks and otherwise close games mean that advanced stats like DVOA rank the teams in an order very different from simple wins and losses; and second, that the NFC is far, far superior to the AFC.

Six of the top seven teams right now have at least two losses. Three of them are just 3-3. This is the first time in DVOA history that four different two-loss (or three-loss) teams are in the top five after Week 6. However, it's pretty clear that this close-game thing has been increasing in importance over the past few years. From 1991 through 2004, an average of 1.2 teams per year were in the top five after Week 6 despite multiple losses. There have been at least two of these teams in the top five after Week 6 in every season since 2006. Last week, the Packers were the second-best 2-3 team in DVOA history, and this week they are the second-best 3-3 team in DVOA history (once again behind the 2005 Chargers). The Broncos are the fourth-best 3-3 team in DVOA history, behind the 2005 Chargers, the Packers, and the 2008 Eagles.

The flip side of these 4-2 and 3-3 teams at the top of our ratings is that the teams with the best win-loss records are ranked eight, nine, and ten. Eighth-ranked Atlanta has the third-lowest DVOA for any 6-0 team in the DVOA era, behind only the 2000 Vikings (1.2%) and the 2006 Colts (9.2%). I suppose there's worse company to keep; the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game that year, and the Colts won the Super Bowl after Bob Sanders got healthy and their defense suddenly woke up in the playoffs. (Vince Verhei explains why the Falcons aren't as good as their record in this ESPN Insider article.)

To be honest, the fact that 4-2 and 3-3 teams rank so high in DVOA makes me feel more confident about the ratings, not less. If I want to figure out who can make a playoff run in a year with so many close games, I would rather put my faith in teams that have streaks of dominant play -- albeit inconsistent streaks -- rather than teams riding a couple of lucky bounces and three-point victories to the top of the standings. And despite the fact that the win-loss records look all mixed up on the DVOA ratings table, it's interesting to note that only one team is over 0% with a losing record (2-3 Tampa Bay at 0.6%) and only one team is under 0% with a winning record (4-2 Arizona at -6.6%).

Of course, not all close games and late comebacks are created equal. Of the four games from Week 6 with big fourth-quarter comebacks, one particularly stands out. From the mention above that the Chargers dropped significantly in DVOA this week, you can probably guess which game that is. These are all ratings for the whole games, not just the fourth quarters, with the opponent adjustments removed:

Big Comebacks! VOA for Four Week 6 Games
TEN -12.1% -0.8% 0.4% -10.8%
PIT 7.9% -14.3% -17.2% 5.0%
SEA 19.6% -5.6% -11.4% 13.8%
NE -1.5% 14.1% 8.1% -7.5%
DET 4.3% -7.8% 2.2% 14.3%
PHI -13.8% 7.1% 6.1% -14.8%
DEN 37.4% -43.9% -6.5% 74.7%
SD -45.0% 31.1% 6.2% -69.8%

Over at Grantland, our old buddy Bill Barnwell does a good job of pointing out that the Broncos weren't really playing that badly when they were down 24-0 at halftime of last night's game. Yes, they had struggles in the first half, but not struggles that would be commensurate with a 24-0 deficit. But the second half was a stomping that requires a thesaurus to describe properly. Should we go with bewildering? Overwhelming? Gargantuan? Monumental? How about "elephantine?"

First Half
DEN -33.8% 14.4% -6.5% -54.7%
SD 7.1% -39.9% 7.6% 54.5%
Second Half
DEN 88.1% -99.4% 0.0% 187.5%
SD -100.0% 86.4% -1.3% -187.7%

Moving on to the other big trend of 2012, power has gradually been sliding from the AFC over to the NFC over the last couple of seasons, but I've got to imagine this is about as extreme as it can get. Not only are the top four teams by DVOA all NFC teams, but so are 10 of the top 15 teams. Even worse, the bottom eight teams in the league are all AFC teams. The teams ranked 29-31 right now are all from the same division, the AFC South.

Of course, everything in the NFL is cyclical. A few years ago, the AFC was perhaps as dominant as the NFC is right now. Check out the DVOA ratings from 2004, when the AFC had the top five teams and the NFC had only two teams in the top dozen.

The massive conference imbalance has a major effect on the Football Outsiders playoff odds. Despite a wrenching loss and wins for all three of their division rivals, the Patriots' playoff odds only dropped by five percentage points this week. Even if they lose their division -- which now happens in one-third of all our simulations -- which two teams are going to get past them for a wild card spot? Houston has it even better than the Patriots do. The Texans got clobbered by Green Bay, dropped from second to ninth in DVOA, and still saw their playoff odds drop by less than one percent! It's just really hard to imagine that a loss to an NFC opponent is going to kill an AFC team's playoff chances this year.

If DVOA is any guide, there are four teams clearly favored to win the four AFC divisions: Denver, Houston, New England, and Baltimore. DVOA doesn't know about Baltimore's injuries, of course, but Pittsburgh isn't exactly a prime example of health right now either. Because the rest of the conference is so far behind those four teams -- the only other AFC team with a positive DVOA is Miami -- those four AFC teams each have more than a 20 percent chance of making the Super Bowl. The NFC has much more competition, so Atlanta is currently the only team listed with more than a 20 percent chance to make the Super Bowl (because, despite their lower DVOA, they are currently in pole position for the number-one seed). 

* * * * *

All stats pages should now be updated (or, at least, will be in the next few minutes) except for snap counts, which should be updated to include Week 6 sometime late this afternoon. FO Premium stats will be updated later this evening.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through six 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.

Because it is early in the season, opponent strength is at only 60 percent; it will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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

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

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

1 NYG 34.6% 8 30.1% 2 4-2 30.1% 1 -1.8% 15 2.7% 13
2 GB 34.1% 6 31.9% 1 3-3 25.7% 3 -8.1% 11 0.2% 18
3 CHI 33.6% 3 28.9% 3 4-1 -7.7% 23 -34.1% 1 7.1% 3
4 SF 31.8% 1 25.4% 5 4-2 18.3% 4 -18.3% 3 -4.8% 25
5 DEN 27.6% 9 23.5% 6 3-3 16.1% 6 -11.8% 8 -0.3% 19
6 NE 25.1% 5 27.5% 4 3-3 28.4% 2 3.8% 18 0.5% 16
7 SEA 23.5% 10 16.2% 8 4-2 -7.1% 22 -25.0% 2 5.6% 7
8 ATL 18.7% 4 19.1% 7 6-0 7.0% 10 -7.3% 12 4.4% 10
9 HOU 18.2% 2 15.2% 9 5-1 10.5% 9 -16.7% 4 -9.1% 30
10 BAL 15.9% 11 14.7% 10 5-1 12.3% 8 2.8% 17 6.4% 5
11 MIN 13.9% 7 8.0% 11 4-2 -1.1% 15 -5.6% 13 9.3% 2
12 MIA 12.0% 12 7.6% 12 3-3 -3.4% 18 -11.0% 10 4.4% 11
13 STL 1.7% 13 -7.5% 22 3-3 -8.7% 24 -12.8% 7 -2.4% 22
14 WAS 0.7% 20 -0.4% 13 3-3 16.2% 5 5.3% 21 -10.2% 32
15 TB 0.6% 23 -1.1% 14 2-3 -6.8% 21 -13.1% 6 -5.7% 26
16 DET -1.3% 15 -2.4% 17 2-3 15.2% 7 6.4% 22 -10.1% 31
17 NYJ -2.4% 26 -1.4% 15 3-3 -15.3% 27 -2.0% 14 10.9% 1
18 DAL -5.7% 19 -3.3% 18 2-3 2.3% 13 1.2% 16 -6.8% 28
19 ARI -6.6% 14 -9.2% 23 4-2 -22.8% 30 -13.4% 5 2.7% 12
20 PHI -9.2% 17 -6.8% 21 3-3 -15.0% 26 -11.7% 9 -5.8% 27
21 PIT -10.4% 21 -1.9% 16 2-3 3.2% 12 10.4% 24 -3.2% 24
22 CAR -11.4% 22 -6.4% 20 1-4 -3.8% 19 4.9% 20 -2.7% 23
23 CIN -13.0% 25 -10.7% 24 3-3 -2.4% 16 15.2% 26 4.6% 8
24 NO -14.1% 24 -6.3% 19 1-4 6.7% 11 22.1% 32 1.4% 15
25 SD -15.3% 16 -13.4% 25 3-3 -12.8% 25 4.7% 19 2.2% 14
26 OAK -20.2% 29 -16.4% 26 1-4 -0.4% 14 12.8% 25 -7.0% 29
27 BUF -21.0% 28 -16.5% 27 3-3 -5.3% 20 20.4% 31 4.6% 9
28 CLE -21.5% 27 -21.8% 29 1-5 -18.3% 28 9.6% 23 6.3% 6
29 IND -22.2% 18 -20.0% 28 2-3 -2.6% 17 18.7% 29 -0.9% 21
30 TEN -40.2% 32 -32.7% 30 2-4 -28.1% 32 18.6% 28 6.5% 4
31 JAC -41.1% 31 -33.4% 32 1-4 -22.5% 29 18.8% 30 0.2% 17
32 KC -42.3% 30 -33.2% 31 1-5 -25.8% 31 15.6% 27 -0.9% 20
  • 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 NYG 34.6% 4-2 33.4% 4.7 4 -2.6% 21 1.8% 9 18.6% 28
2 GB 34.1% 3-3 25.1% 4.5 6 11.8% 3 0.7% 11 14.9% 26
3 CHI 33.6% 4-1 41.0% 5.1 2 -6.7% 25 6.8% 8 20.3% 29
4 SF 31.8% 4-2 31.3% 4.8 3 9.6% 5 9.4% 5 31.4% 31
5 DEN 27.6% 3-3 23.7% 5.4 1 2.7% 12 -16.4% 32 7.9% 10
6 NE 25.1% 3-3 31.6% 4.4 7 -0.1% 16 -1.3% 16 9.5% 16
7 SEA 23.5% 4-2 15.2% 4.6 5 6.2% 8 9.3% 6 4.3% 4
8 ATL 18.7% 6-0 28.8% 4.1 9 -10.1% 29 -2.7% 18 13.2% 21
9 HOU 18.2% 5-1 22.0% 4.3 8 -1.7% 19 -6.0% 26 14.4% 25
10 BAL 15.9% 5-1 21.8% 3.6 12 -11.1% 30 -1.0% 14 14.1% 23
11 MIN 13.9% 4-2 21.7% 3.9 11 -12.1% 32 17.1% 2 3.7% 3
12 MIA 12.0% 3-3 13.2% 4.1 10 -3.7% 23 -4.2% 22 8.7% 12
13 STL 1.7% 3-3 -1.6% 2.9 15 10.3% 4 13.1% 3 1.9% 2
14 WAS 0.7% 3-3 7.8% 2.6 18 1.3% 15 1.2% 10 9.2% 14
15 TB 0.6% 2-3 6.5% 2.7 16 -4.8% 24 -0.3% 13 8.7% 13
16 DET -1.3% 2-3 -1.8% 2.9 14 -0.4% 17 12.7% 4 6.1% 8
17 NYJ -2.4% 3-3 1.3% 2.9 13 1.4% 14 -3.7% 21 31.2% 30
18 DAL -5.7% 2-3 -15.3% 2.7 17 21.6% 1 -3.1% 19 11.7% 18
19 ARI -6.6% 4-2 -8.1% 2.3 22 5.4% 10 18.5% 1 5.1% 6
20 PHI -9.2% 3-3 -11.2% 2.4 19 1.8% 13 0.5% 12 4.7% 5
21 PIT -10.4% 2-3 -1.8% 2.1 24 -8.9% 27 -5.9% 25 9.7% 17
22 CAR -11.4% 1-4 -14.6% 2.4 21 12.7% 2 -2.3% 17 12.5% 19
23 CIN -13.0% 3-3 -3.0% 2.2 23 -9.2% 28 -3.5% 20 14.1% 24
24 NO -14.1% 1-4 -7.2% 1.8 27 -6.8% 26 7.8% 7 1.9% 1
25 SD -15.3% 3-3 -7.7% 1.7 28 -11.7% 31 -7.7% 27 12.8% 20
26 OAK -20.2% 1-4 -18.8% 1.8 25 6.5% 7 -14.3% 31 15.5% 27
27 BUF -21.0% 3-3 -21.7% 2.4 20 -2.7% 22 -1.3% 15 32.0% 32
28 CLE -21.5% 1-5 -13.0% 1.7 29 -1.0% 18 -8.2% 29 9.5% 15
29 IND -22.2% 2-3 -26.2% 1.8 26 7.6% 6 -12.2% 30 8.3% 11
30 TEN -40.2% 2-4 -41.2% 0.5 32 5.0% 11 -5.2% 23 6.1% 7
31 JAC -41.1% 1-4 -43.1% 0.7 31 6.1% 9 -5.3% 24 7.8% 9
32 KC -42.3% 1-5 -48.0% 0.7 30 -2.5% 20 -7.9% 28 13.7% 22

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Oct 2012

196 comments, Last at 26 Nov 2012, 8:24pm by Symbol ds6707


by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:57pm

Funny, I was planning to ask if you had a DVOA number for the Pats' 4th quarter defense for Sunday games. But you have all of their fourth quarter numbers! Nice anticipation.

That was a dreadful quarter. Don't quite understand it.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:00pm

Sorry, didn't make it clear. That first table is the FULL GAME ratings for those four games, not just fourth quarters.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:04pm

Do you have quarter-by-quarter splits? It seemed to me that the Pats played considerably better for the first 50 minutes than they did for the last ten. (And this has become a well-established pattern by now).

by Anonmouse (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 7:47am

It would be nice to see the Pat's stay in the hurry up offense until they are up by 2 scores. Their defense can't get a stop when they need one and their offense can't move the ball enough without the no huddle.
The recipe has been the same too many times: Up by two scores, go into slow clock burning offense, fail and punt, defense allows score, continue with slow closck burning offense, fail and punt, defense allows score, lose game.
Ideally, better defense would be the best choice but sticking with the hurry up may do the trick as well. In both the Baltimore and Seattle losses, going to the hurry up after allowing the first score at the very worst would have left more time on the clock for the offense after the go ahead score by Seattle/Baltimore.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:52pm

23 - 10 is 2 scores, so I assume you mean 3+ but, I may be mistaken in your meaning.

However, I wonder, would your opinion change if the Seahawks didn't drop so many picks including a likely 100 yard pick 6 from Thomas? More plays doesn't help the team ahead, unless they stop being the team ahead. If the Patriots used the whole clock once they were up by 2 tds that might well have burned quite a lot of clock, then how does Wilson comeback?

Once they're up, they should want to reduce the number of plays left to swing momentum back the other way as much as possible. That doesn't mean they have to run all the time, they should still attack the defense in the manner that's most effective. And very late in the game, that might well mean running when it is not expected to work because killing a timeout or burning 40 seconds is as valuable as the mathmatically expected return on a play that might stop the clock.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 2:19pm

More plays reduces variance which helps the better team. Even if that team is already ahead. A couple fluke touchdowns and the lead can be gone, unless the team ahead has grown the lead even more.

by MJK :: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:21pm

I think the bigger issue is related to something Purds (I think?) brought up a couple of weeks back. When a team gets down versus the Pats, they change their defensive style to something that actually stops them half the time.

When there's a lot of game left, a team has to respect the deep pass even though the Pats aren't great at it, because there's much more cost to giving up a 30 - 100 yard pass than there is to giving up a 6 yard pass. They have to repsect the deeper game. Hence the NE TE's (and now Lloyd) can clear the underneath routes, letting Welker and Woodhead and whichever TE didn't clear down the seam catch those short yarders and keep the Pats offense moving.

But when you're down by a lot and time is short, you get desparate. Giving up a first down is just as bad as giving up a long play...and in some cases worse, because even if you give up a deep TD, at least you get the ball back and save some clock. So teams start moving their safeties up, turn up the blitz pressure, focus on stopping the run, and do their best to clog the underneath routes. Because the Pats aren't a great deep passing team, this severly impairs their offense. Even if they too advantage and threw deep all three plays of a down set, odds are probably only about 50% or less that they would convert. But they almost always try to run at least once, which fails, and leads to the pattern you describe.

To summarize: A defense that cares just as much about stopping a 6 yard gain as stopping a 30 yard gain will do better against the Pats style of offense. And opposing defense shift into that mode late when down.

by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:07pm

It looks to me like that chart is the DVOA for the whole game, not just the 4th quarter. Hopefully Aaron can chime in to confirm either way.

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:59pm

The Giants are #1?!!

This is bad. Very bad. I don't like this at all. The Giants play their best when Coughlin is on the verge of being fired.

by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:10pm

My reaction exactly. We've seen this movie before, and seems like you can set your (regular season) calendar to October when the Giants pull off a performance like this in the Coughlin era. Now waiting for the other shoe to drop when they lay a complete egg in some game starting around week 9.

by CeeBee (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:52pm

...and win back-to-back games to end the season and start on a tear that ends up with a championship?

by Dales :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:04pm
by BJR :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:25am

Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't the Giants patrolling the top of the DVOA rankings for most of the 2008 regular season after their previous Super Bowl victory?

by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:56am

Yes but for different reasons. In 2008 their offensive line started destroying the opposition whereas this year they are probably holding the team back.

by GK (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:45am

While nowhere near the 2008 unit that had an ESPN Magazine cover proclaiming them the NFL's collective MVPs (http://mms.businesswire.com/bwapps/mediaserver/ViewMedia?mgid=166962&vid...), the offensive line this year is a (surprising) strength, not the disaster it was in 2011.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:02am

That was the year they rushed for 2,500 yards, with Jacobs, Ward, & Bradshaw each averaging over 5 YPC. As a whole, that team was better than either of the two Super Bowl teams, but Eli wasn't nearly this good yet.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:22am

And look what happened to them! Their star receiver shot himself in the leg and got sent to prison. Do you want Cruz to go to prison? I don't want Cruz to go to prison.

FO's power is strange and terrifying.

by Dangerdonkey (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:02pm

So basically the Seahawks and the Bears are the exact same team. The Seahawks are slightly better on offense, and the Bears are just a smidge ahead on Defense ans Special Teams. Interesting how some sports pundants have te Bears locking down their division and in the same breath put the Seahawks in 3rd in the NFC West. Either this is a problem of perception,or the NFC West is just that good. When did that happen?!?

by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:09pm

Don't the Bears play in the same division as the Packers? Anyone who has the Bears locking down that division is insane. Yes they've got the lead and all, but...I saw that GB offense wake up and look like it can play. They aren't going down easy. There's no lock there at all. And for that matter, the Vikings are a surprise team this season too. There's a lot of football left before we have any real idea who's going to win that division.

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:17pm

Yeah, this Bears fan is pretty nervous about the people who seem to think that they're going to run away with the division. If the Packers had lost Sunday night, especially if it was an ugly loss, maybe. But I think that game showed that whatever their flaws, they're still a darn good team.

I'm very glad that the Bears are 4-1 and the Packers are 3-3, but I won't be completely convinced that the Bears are going to finish ahead of them until it happens. I'm less concerned about Minnesota and Detroit, although I also am anxious to see how the Bears play them.

I'm still waiting for Cutler to put together a really great game, and one where the Bears win decisively over a pretty good team without the help of defensive scoring. IMHO, they're lucky to be 4-1 because the offense just hasn't looked that good yet.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:20pm

I don't think I would characterize a 9.1% difference in defensive DVOA as a smidge.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:19pm

Seattle is similar to Chicago, but lesser in all aspects. 0.6% stronger on offense (negligible), 9.1% weaker on defense (significant), and 1.5% weaker on ST (noticeable for ST which have a smaller range). I also don't know anyone who is handing the North to Chicago. Most of the division games are still on the schedule (there have been 2 NFC N vs NFC N games so far). Chicago is in the drivers seat, but I've heard people backing all 4 of the teams to win the division, though it's mostly GB of Chicago.

The West has played a few more divisional games though San Fran still hasn't any (as they have mostly been doing their tour of the North). Seattle's weakness is the two divisional losses, though I still generally hear the West is now San Fran vs Seattle, since a lot of folks don't trust Arizona to hold up due to no offense (DVOA agrees) and some of the St. Louis injuries are hurting them and causing worry. I haven't really heard any pundits putting Seattle 3rd in that division. By record they are 2nd.

All that being said the NFC North and NFC West are both beastly.

2. GB 34.1 (25.7; -8.1; 0.2)
3. CHI 33.6 (-7.7; -34.1; 7.1)
11. MIN 13.9 (-1.1; -5.6; 9.3)
16. DET -1.3 (15.2; 6.4; -10.1)

8. AVG 20.1 (8; -10.4; 1.65)

4. SF 31.8 (18.3; -18.3; -4.8)
7. SEA 23.5 (-7.1; -25.0; 5.6)
13. STL 1.7 (-8.7; -12.8; -2.4)
19. ARI -6.6 (-22.8; -13.4; 2.7)

11. AVG 12.6 (-5.1; -17.4; 0.3)

I know averaging the DVOA numbers is not kosher, but the worst team in the North being better than half the league is a little crazy, and then the West isn't that much weaker, with each of their teams ranking about 3 spots lower than the North "counterpart" (2v4; 3v7; 11v13; 16v19)

Lot of football left and I don't think things will stay this way, but for now, two divisions with two top 10 (7 actually) teams each, that play each other as well (most of the games yet to be played) and most of the divisional games for each yet to be played, should make for some more good football with challenging match-ups. It's just nice that the two best divisions in the NFL get to play each other so we should get a lot of information about them.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:32pm

This packer team reminds me a bit of their superbowl team. The injuries, the lack of a run game, the inconsistent and unreliable o line. The defense was better then, but the offense is better now. Overall though, this is still a very scary team and the only teams that I see beating them are ones who really can get any semblance off pass rush- I just don't think you can play coverage against rodgers and their scheme. Whatever Rodgers' incredible skills are(and he has so many), he still takes way too many sacks for my liking and thats really the last remaining flaw in his game as I see it.

by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:49pm

Offensively, it hinges on McCarthy's willingness to work more WCO principles (rb running patterns, using the field horizontally) instead of the four verticals he loves so much, and on the OL holding up, which has been a challenge this season (2nd in sacks allowed).

Don't get me wrong, Rodgers does hold the ball, but a big part of the blame is on Mike Martz, I mean McCarthy.

Also helps when teams run cover 1 and cover 0 bump coverage.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:02pm

I've said for years the only way to play Green Bay was 2-man.

by Ddude (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:59pm

Interesting. North holds the crown I guess. Crazy how bad the offensive DVOA is collectively LOL. But without having looked at the average for other conferences, it seems the NFC West is the best defensive conference.

by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:11pm

San Diego was-100% on offense in the 2nd half last night. I'm being serious when I ask this, but is that the lowest possible score? Granted, when your offense has 4 turnovers and -14 points scored, I'm not sure how it could be worse.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:48pm

Don't think so. I'm guessing 0% = average assumes the defense gives up some good plays to the offense. Doing 100% worse is roughly (very roughly) giving up 100% more value to the offense than an average D would. Really, there isn't a theoretical limit to how bad a defense could be. I guess there is an actual limit though, since giving up a touchdown on every snap would be the worst possible performance, though that would be adjusted for situation, so even it's tough to figure out what worst possible would be.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:51pm

I believe there is a theoretical worst defense. You would have to give up a 99 yard TD on every play.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:59pm

Even then, time in the game, score of the game, etc. has an effect. I think the actual limit would probably have events occurring instantaneously, which is impossible. But since I didn't write up the formula, I'm not really sure.

by Yaguar :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:19pm

That only gets you the worst possible VOA. Opponent adjustments make DVOA unbounded in either direction.

In practice, the worst NFL team ends up around -40% DVOA and the best NFL team ends up around +40%, but it doesn't have to be that way. You could easily widen the spread between best team and worst team if you forced some teams to start scrubs, or high school players, or worse yet, Vernon Gholston.

by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:12pm

I'm curious whether DVOA was more impressed with the Giants' or Packers' win on Sunday, and where those 2 games rank for the season to date.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:16pm

The Bears currently have the 3rd best pass defense in DVOA history, behind the 2002 Bucs and the 1991 Eagles.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:28pm

I can't see it lasting. They are playing lights out but I don't know if they can keep that up.

by Jim W. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:42pm

I don't think so either because the frequency of their interceptions is extremely high. Their defensive INT rate is 6.5%. League average is 2.8%.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:45pm

Well that's pretty much how you play defense this well. The 91 Eagles had a 5.6% pick rate, and the 02 Bucs were 6%.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:43pm

The main thing that scares me is there is no depth at all in the secondary. If any starter gets hurt that opens up a huge weakness. Still you got to love the talent and depth on the defensive line. They're just overwhelming offensive lines and it's beautiful to watch.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:49pm

I'd say there is more depth in the secondary (Steltz is passable as a SS, Hayden should be OK as a backup CB) than there is at linebacker. Imagine 54 or 55 going down and there is a huge drop off to whoever comes in, also if you lost one of them you might end up needing more DBs on passing downs.

But yeah, the line is crazy good and deep. Quite a few who could get better too - Paea, Melton, Wooton, Mclellin - a rather stocked cupboard of pass rushers.

by Roch Bear :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:52pm

One measure of depth might be how much is lost from the starter. In that case, during preseason it seemed the Bear's depth at SS and left CB were good. FS and right CB, fair. Now, the loss of any DB seems to be a problem.

Is the September Jenning real?

by putnamp :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:53pm

Their schedule gets a good deal harder from here on out, so that should provide some more informative data on e.g. their defense and it's interception rate.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:22pm

Kudos, Kudos, Kudos. I posted here yesterday that I thought NYG, CHI and GB were the three best teams-- it is rare that I am so in synch with the cold hard facts. And the rest of the top 10 looks about what I would have said as well. One of these top 4 NFC teams will go to the SB and be the solid favorite to win it-- whether they draw Manning, Brady or someone else as opposition. They each have something relatively unique-- more than the more garden variety good teams such as ATL and HOUS. GB still has an explosive passing game and has improved defensively. NYG and Manning are simply a much better offensive team than they were last year and showed their defensive prowess Sunday. The Bears with Marshall and a defense defying age and a healthy Cutler and Forte are legit contenders. San Francisco's Achilles Heel is at QB-- but I wouldn't count out Harbaugh's ability to use Smith, Gore and Co. appropriately, or the prospect that they could still get at least one home game in January. Of course injuries and the vagaries of the schedule and week-to-week performance will shake these ratings up-- but for now this metric is far better than any of the gutless "Falcons Must be Number One" rankings the armchair experts are spewing on the various other sites. Nobody believes the Falcons are the best team-- nobody-- only FO has the gumption to prove it.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:31pm

IDK about solid favorite. NE has lost all its games by a few pts and has a few blowouts in their win column. The Broncos have the makings to be fearsome, they've just shot themselves in the foot with some unusually stupid plays going against them. No one should be a solid favorite over either team or houston for that matter and in fact, I would probably only favor the giants and sf over Ne at this point in the season. Ne's offense is still very powerful and more balanced than the packers.

by nat :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:32pm

An interesting characteristic of the Broncos-Chargers game is how many plays the Broncos' defense faced in the second half: 39.

Normally, when a defense plays well, it will face fewer snaps. Not so in this extreme case, due to defensive scores.

So while the Broncos' defense was somewhat more dominant than the offense in the second half (11% better by VOA), they had many more plays (39-27, 44% more) , and thus had much more total impact on the comeback.

The uninitiated may gush over Peyton's late game genius, but those in the know will see this game as either a defense-led comeback or a Rivers meltdown, or both. Peyton deserves a strong assist for an excellent half of football. But look to Rivers and the Chargers vs the Broncos' defense for the real story in this one.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:33pm

It feels like you have a strange axe to grind with regards to Manning. I'm not just basing it off this comment but previous one's. Be that as it may, I would say it was maybe 60 40 in favor of the chargers meltdown, but it wasn't like the chargers defense really played lousy in the second half. Manning had to make tough throws into some tight windows(the plays to Tamme and Stokley in particular). I also thought the running game was non existent for the broncos and manning had to noticeably dodge many defenders on several of his pass plays(that funny hurdle play).

by nat :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:48pm

I don't have an axe to grind, exactly. I don't like to see credit go to the wrong players. Brady's first Super Bowl MVP wasn't deserved, for example. Peyton's excellent receiving corps for most of his career are always ignored, as are his excellent pass protecting lines. Eli's first Super Bowl MVP should have gone to anyone on the D line, or to the group. The list can go on and on.

In this case, the Bronco's D induced the worst one half meltdown by a well-regarded QB I can remember, for decades. It annoys me to see Manning getting credit for it. He doesn't play defense.

Don't get me wrong. He had a great half. But this was the defense's day. Who but a complete jerk would deny them the credit?

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:54pm

Fair enough,

though I quibble a bit with a few things. I certainly don't want to turn this into a brady v manning debate because it feels like its headed that way. I'll simply just say a few tid bits:

Peyton's career is pretty long and Will said replied this to me and its true, careers and situations aren't static. At one time, Peyton did indeed have an excellent receiving core and very good o line. However, that wasn't continuous, in either respects. MDS wrote this back in 2006 how the o line really wasn't that great and by 2008 it was bad. 2010 it was horrendous. This isn't just my opinion, Pff backs this up as well. I could link their articles but I'm lazy. His receivers were great yes, but again, post 2007, harrison was done and it became reggie wayne and clark carrying the load. Gonzo was injured off and on and it became a pierre garcon and collie show. Not coincidentally, manning's numbers dipped but thats really to be expected since most people blindly just assume qbs do everything and the rest of the team is useless - so I agree with you there.

Otherwise, we pretty much agree.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:55pm

Who was a better candidate for the Super Bowl MVP than Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI?

I think part of the reason he won was that his poise was amazing for a player with so little experience.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:06pm

Reportedly they had fan voting as part of it that year, and without the fan voting, Ty Law would have won the award.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:25pm

Tom Brady was the qb of an offense that scored a measly 13 pts total. Considering how much of a defensive game this was, I would've seconded it to Ty Law. I actually thought Brady played poorly- you don't have to turn the ball over to be a horrible qb- just ask david carr. Now of course, brady wasn't stupendously awful either, but the brady of 2001 would be a marginal starter in todays nfl with that kind of production.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:29pm

Count me among those that thought Ty Law was robbed.

by Michael19531 :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:13am

I'm a Pats fan who worships the ground Tom Brady walks on, but I thought Ty Law should've won it too.

FYI, my girlfriend at the time made a compelling argument for Adam Vinitieri.

by Julio (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:00am

Brady deserved it as much as anyone
for what was a total team win. The
defense was possessed, hard hitting
from everyone. Remember Antwan Harris
zeroing in on Proehl and hitting him
like a guided missle to cause a fumble?
Brady stayed cool, made no big mistakes
and most importantly with less than 2
min left, led the drive that led to
the winning score. He certainly deserved

by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:43pm

It took both teams playing extremely well to mount a 24 point comeback. I can't envision a scenario where an offense, alone, makes up a 24 point deficit. No matter how many points you score, if your defense isn't stepping up and either preventing the other team from scoring (or, as the Broncos did, scoring on defense) then offense alone won't do it.

Likewise, defensive scores are much more rare than offensive scores. While I have seen games where there are 3 TDs between defense and special teams, if the offense does not step up, a 24 point deficit is not going to get closed.

So yes, I want to agree that this was a team effort for the Broncos, but that is not going to reduce the value of PFM in the game. 12 of 13 passes for 3 TDs in the second half? That's some stellar quarter back play right there, aided by an offensive line that shut out the Bolt's pass rush and receivers that quit tripping over random blades of grass and dropping every 4th well thrown pass.

There is no single hero to the game. It took a lot of heroes to turn that game around, and PFM is one of them.

by Yaguar :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:45pm

This was a serious contender for most efficient half Peyton has ever played.

12/13 for 167 yards, TDs on three of four drives. He ran a draw after an OPI call on the fourth drive when leading by 4.

Better, I think, was the first half of his first playoff game against the Broncos. Four passing TDs, over 300 yards, and two incompletions. They scored 4 TDs and a field goal on five drives. The field goal, which made the score 31-3, was the result of a 55-second drill at the end of the half - attempted because Manning ran out of time, not downs.

An honorable mention is the first half of the "no punts" game against the Chiefs in the playoffs. On three drives, the Colts scored three touchdowns. This game had very few drives because both offenses played slowly and deliberately. Priest Holmes and Edgerrin James combined for 50 attempts and 300 rushing yards.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:58pm

In terms of perfection of Manning- (not necessarily the one's I thought he played the best in-those take into factors like pass rush, field conditions, opposing d,etc), but just in terms of aesthetics- that Chiefs playoff game is pretty damn hard to top.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:15pm

Considering the opponent, what he did in the 2009 AFC Title Game was about as good as anything I have seen.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:23pm

that was my second favorite game of his- and tied for second with Rodgers' atlanta game as the best qb performance I've ever seen.

The best? 2006 colts pats. In a game where his entire offense was trying to lose him the game(the blocking was horrid, the receivers ran the wrong routes, clark dropped a ton of passes, the backs could gain no yardage), he basically took that entire team on his back and forced them to win.

I remember collinsworth stating before the game how he thought NE was going to blowout the colts. Then when they previewed the AFC champ game, he said something like, "Manning played about as brilliantly as I've ever seen any qb play and they still nearly lost. Even if he plays slightly worse than that this game, the colts won't win."

It really was the best single qb performance I've ever seen.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:21am

I forgot to add this one, i don't know why i keep forgetting, just to show I'm not a complete homer- That warner performance over the packers in the 09 playoffs was surreal.

I actually think it was probably even better than Peyton or Rodgers' performances against the chiefs and falcons.

2 funny things about that game- 1- the packers had i think the 2nd best pass defense in football(blowing the cardinals out badly in week 17) and yet somehow got absolutely toasted 2- aaron rodgers was amazing that game as well, but it gets completely forgotten because of what warner did.

Just to add a few more since there are so many great ones:

Favre's performance against the raiders in his post father dying game.

Bradys had many memorable ones but for my money, the best brady game was the cowboys 2007 showdown where his offense passed all over the undefeated 13-3 cowboys.

Mike Vick performance in 2010 against the Redskins

Drew Brees- Again so many to choose, probably that 5 td game against the Pats on MNF 2009

Theres a lot of others, but those are the ones that come to mind instantly.

Im actually curious to hear which games Pats fans felt brady individually played the best in. For instance, that 45-7 crushing of the Jets = Brady was awesome but so was his team. That cowboys was more signature bradyesque dominance.

by Yaguar :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:57am

All-time best is Marino over the 1985 Bears. The Bears defense had allowed 29 points over the last six games. Marino had 31 by halftime.

Marino didn't just beat the greatest defense of all time. He humiliated them on national TV.

by Marko :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 1:22pm

While Marino undoubtedly played an incredible game that night, he did have some unbelievable luck on one of his TD passes. The pass bounced off the helmet of an onrushing defensive lineman (Dan Hampton), went high in the air and continued downfield about 20 or 30 yards because of the force with which the ball was thrown, and landed in the hands of WR Mark Clayton, who waltzed into the end zone untouched for a 42 yard TD reception. That Dolphins were already ahead at the time 31-17, but that play kind of symbolized that night. I think the presence of so many members of the 1972 Dolphins on the Dolphins' sideline that night had some impact on the game. I have rarely if ever seen a team so fired up for a game.

And then the Bears filmed The Super Bowl Shuffle the next morning in Chicago. Some of the Bears later said that loss helped them by getting them to refocus and ensuring that they didn't get complacent on their way to winning the Super Bowl.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:21am

The 2009 Packers were the #2 pass defense in DVOA, but in their three games against good offenses, they were absolutely torched, first twice by Favre in Week 4 and Week 8 and then be Roethlisberger in Week 15.

by makerowner (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:24pm

For me it's the 2007 divisional game against Jacksonville. Brady was 26/28 or 263 yards and 3 touchdowns, and iirc both the incompletions were drops. One of the TDs was a beautiful fake statue of liberty play.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:46pm

I think more people are seeing this as a Charger's collapse than a Bronco's comeback.

by Briguy :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:48pm

Manning did have I believe 160 DYAR in the 2nd half. That's hardly an "assist." Both the offense and defense played out of their minds that second half.

Outscoring an opponent 35-0 in one half requires a lot of things to go right. That's not going to happen if one side of the ball is dragging the other along for the ride.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:48pm

While I agree that the defense (or equivalently Rivers) was more important to the outcame than Manning, "A strong assist" is selling his 143 (!) second half DYAR short.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:37pm

Where do I find fumbles/fumbles lost data?

by Jimmy :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:51pm

Have you tried nfl.com?

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:04pm

'Course I have. That site is so bad it's rediculous. MAybe Fumble data is burried somewhere in the stats section, but its so damn hard to navigate.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:12pm

www.pro-football-reference.com is the best site for doing stats research.

by Walshmobile :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:43pm

How much are the Cundiff 31 yard fg misses and blocked punts killing Washington ST rating?

by prs130 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:04pm

The Eagles offense is really underperforming... they should fire their defensive coordinator

by Sophandros :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:07pm

It's posts like this that are why we need a "like" button on this site.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Sophandros :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:06pm

If these rankings persist, I predict that the FOMBC will rear its ugly head once again, and the beauty of it will be that the fan base that first awakened this mighty beast would be the one to summon it from the deeps once again.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Just Another Falcons Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:20pm

The Saints are clearly ranked too low because you aren't considering their suspensions. Sophandros's gut ranking is way better than this. Geaux Saints!

Is that what you had in mind?

As a Falcon fan who for once has been able to watch most of their games this season, I definitely feel lucky to be 6-0. I might quibble about being ranked behind Denver, given what we did to them, but I'm not looking forward to the Giants game or even the Eagles game.

by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:57pm

The Falcons confused a still rusty Peyton Manning for a quarter and forced him into enough mistakes to put the game away in the first quarter...except for that part where they didn't put the game away, Manning got over the confusion, came back from a ridiculous deficit and the Broncos were a single 3rd down stop from having a chance to win. A 3rd down play, I'll add, that had an unflagged pick play from the offense that should've been flagged.

Sure, the Falcons won and deserve credit for winning. They're a damn good team, but it's hard to quibble over their ranking vis-a-vis the Broncos, especially if you compare how each team has played their common opponents.

For example, the Falcons let the Raiders hang in there and very nearly lost to them whereas the Broncos made the Raiders look like a very, very bad team. You might say it's a case of a good team relaxing and playing down to their competition. Heck it might even be good for them to come away with such a close victory. I think it opens up a case to say that the Falcons have played slightly worse than their record indicates, and the next couple of games should show us for sure.

by Sophandros :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:58am

"As a Falcon fan who for once has been able to watch most of their games this season, I definitely feel lucky to be 6-0."

Well, you're no fun. :)

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:50am

I have looked it up before and come up empty: What is this FO message boards curse?

by Jeremy Billones :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:02am

Thought it used to be in the Glossary. (Catholic Match Girl is still there.)

When a team with a good record is ranked low in DVOA, a portion of the fan base will come on the the FO Message Boards and disparage FO stats for innacuracy. The team will then face a team with a worse record and better FO stats, and get crushed. That portion of the fan base will then disappear from the boards.

The term was coined after the Atlanta Falcons fanbase performed the feat. Not sure of the year.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:13am

so alluring, so disapproving, oh Catholic Match girl, where have you gone?

by TomC :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:44pm

You forgot "creepy." Or maybe we just have different taste.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:09am

more silent resentment and repressed guilt for me then

by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:16am

Under the 'About' tab, look for 'Glossary of Terms' and you will find this,

FO Message Board Curse: Term used to describe the tendency of NFL teams to lose games after their fans flood the FO message boards with angry complaints about a low appearance in the DVOA ratings. Examples in 2005 include the 3-0 Washington Redskins losing to Denver in Week 5, the 5-1 Broncos losing to the New York Giants in Week 7, and, most famously, the 6-2 Atlanta Falcons losing to the previously 1-7 Green Bay Packers in Week 10.

To that list I would add the guy who spent a good couple of weeks on the discussion forum attempting to shred FO's prediction that the Rams were a poor team (I can't remember exactly when it was but it was just before the Rams became possibly the worst team in football). Personally I avoid this particular curse like the plague.

by DGL :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:21am

It was exacerbated by the fact that, that season, FO provided the foxsports.com football power rankings - leading to a vast influx of "casual" readers flooding to the site to bitch with little to no attempt to actually understand DVOA.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:34am

I assume that in this instance 'casual readers', the casual refers to those who move their lips whilst reading.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:26pm

I think they would be more accurately called Bandwagoners.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:46pm

That site's description of a stat nerd is all wrong, at least for the stat nerds lurking around here. For example, he posits:

"The RB gets 15 yards to his stat total, however so much went into that single play that no statistic can take this all into account. But don't try and tell a Stat Nerd that."

That's pretty much the opposite of the zen of FO.

by Ryan D. :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:20am

Falcons fans got pissed when DVOA said their 6-2 team wasn't very good. They stormed the threads in large numbers, bitching about everything, and calling DVOA garbage. The Falcons then finished 2-6, to go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. DVOA rated them perfectly based on performance before their win-loss record (finally) indicated they were craptasticly overrated that season.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:38pm

You could also look at the influx of niner fans after weeks two and three this year, they all turned up to shout at Aaron's preseason projection and since then the niners are 2-2. That could be chalked up to the more generic 'tempting fate'.

by Kurt :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:24pm

Let's be honest. Giants fans broke the curse in 2007.

by mrh :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:07pm

The Rams look like the team that DAVE forgot.

by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:07pm

In the "Special Super Bowl Matchups" in the playoff odds report, shouldn't there be an entry for "Cutler Revenge Bowl" (Den/Chi)? I calculate the odds at 3.8%, a lot more likely than most of the other scenarios. (As a Broncos fan, I'd love to see this matchup, esp. if Dumervil and Miller stay healthy and Manning & Co. can build a lead...)

by JasonK :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:16pm

Also, the "Super Bowl XXI Rematch" should be renamed "MANNINGPOCALYPSE"

by Ben :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:18pm

Or perhaps:


by Richie :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:20pm

Cutler AND Marshall's revenge.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:44pm

Should the Bears lose I would like the game to be called The Battle of Little Big Clowns.

by ZZ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:09pm

Pretty incredible that through 6 weeks, GB has already gone against the #1, #2, #3, and #4 ranked Defenses in DVOA

by Nevic (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:29pm

And this is probably why you had all of the "What is wrong with the Packers offense" narrative before the Houston game. Good defenses will cause the offense to play worse. (I guess that really didn't hold true against HOU though...)

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:56pm

You also had that narrative because GB's offense (prior to this week) really looked much worse than last year's, and no one expected that. Last year's GB offense didn't really care how good your defense was. This year's has looked off, based on (probably unrealistic) expectations.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:46pm

I have no idea why anyone expected yet another historically great year from the GB offense. Last year was Aaron Rodgers' Brady 2007/Manning 2004/Brees 2011. It was a career year for their quarterback. He will still be very, very good (he has been, for chrissake he's completing close to 70% in this "down" year). But you shouldn't expect 40+ TD's in 15 games every year. No quarterback has ever thrown for 40 more than twice. No modern quarterback, even though passing has come to dominate, has thrown for more than 40 touchdowns more than once.

A reasonable regression-to-the-mean expectation for Rodgers would be something like 400 of 600 for 4500-4700 yards and 35ish TD/ 10 INT. And that's before you factor in the injuries to receivers.

by MJK :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:45pm

I have an idea why...fantasy football. People remember all those points Green Pay players put up against their fantasy teams last year, jumped all over them this year, and are pissed they aren't getting the production they wanted.

It's the same phenomenon when people see a stock double in value, buy a bunch of it, and then get mad when it only grows 5%.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:17pm

We should expect a dropoff, but not nearly to the level we've seen.

Manning 2004: 58.9% DVOA
Manning 2005: 41.7% DVOA
Manning 2006: 51.3% DVOA

Brady 2007: 54.1% DVOA
Brady 2009: 40.4% DVOA
Brady 2010: 46.7% DVOA

Rodgers 2011: 46.6% DVOA
Rodgers 2012: 19.1% DVOA

Rodgers regressing to his mean should be a moderate decline to a DVOA around 30%, and merely being the best QB in the league.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:24pm

Let's wait until the end of the season. His DVOA from negative two weeks ago to near 20% now. There is still room for him to rise quite a bit by the end of the year.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:47pm

Opponent adjustments will likely push his early-season games higher, too.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:37pm

And they have the 1, 5, 7, 13, and 15 on the schedule still. So that gets them 10 games against defenses in the top half the league (Min is 13 and they play them twice still). It is silly that having to play the #1, #5, #7, and #13 ranked defenses is a significantly easier schedule.

They do get some games against soft D's though as they do get to play #22 twice, #30, #28 in the future. Of course they didn't do so well against #32 and #29 who they already had on their schedule.

Huh, they face 1(x2),2,3,4,5,7,13(x2),15,22(x2),28,29,30,32.

So yeah they pretty much have feast or famine. 6 games vs the Top 5 def, and 4 vs the bottom 5.

by kbukie :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:14pm

What are the odds of a DEN-CHI Super Bowl, which one might dub "Cutler's (and Marshall's) Revenge"?

by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:00pm

Revenge. Or Comeuppance, depending on how that game actually goes.

I mean, what if evil Cutler shows up and throws 4 picks and butterfingers Marshall shows up and drops 4 very catchable balls? Because that's not an unlikely scenario for that dynamic duo. I loved 'em in Denver but Cutler can really have bad days.

by Anonmouse (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 8:15am

The perfect highlight would be this: Cutler make a terrible throw that hits Marshall in the hands on the sideline, but Marshall drops it.

by kbukie :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:16pm

Interesting that the worst NFC team according to DAVE is the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals.

by ammek :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:29pm

"This is the first time in DVOA history that four different two-loss (or three-loss) teams are in the top five after Week 6."

In addition to the prevalence of close games, does the schedule have something to do with this? For instance, the 3-3 Packers have played half of their games against teams that finished top of their division last year (Niners, Saints, Texans), as have the 3-3 Broncos (Patriots, Falcons, Texans); the 3-3 Patriots have played two such games (Broncos, Ravens). Between them, that's eight — they'll only have four more between now and the end of the season.

By contrast, they've only played four divisional opponents between them — a further 14 of those games remain on the schedule. This is partly because the networks like to have blockbuster games early in the year, partly because of the decision to make all the games on week 17 division games (which I hate). DVOA should better approximate their win-loss records once, say, the Broncos have faced the Chiefs and the Patriots have played the Jets.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:04pm

I know a lot of the teams ahead of the Seahawks defense lost, and a couple spectacularly, but the Hawks still must have got a wopper of an opponant adjustment from the Pats.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:41pm

Well, their total DVOA didn't change much; nor did their defensive DVOA. Are you talking about their defensive SOS? Because that went from dead last to 7th in one week. I imagine a large whack of that was because of the Patriots, but the Dallas and Green Bay offenses also did their part.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:54pm

I thought their Def Dvoa was worse, and the improvement giving up 400 yards seemed really large to me. Maybe I remember incorrectly. The SOS should probably jump up a chunk after the 9ers on Thursday. That's when the 'easy' part of the schedule starts and we start preparing for a lot more of that home cooking come November.

I think I see what happened. I read Miami's def out of their row, I actually did it again. NM

by James-London :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:17pm

Pleasantly surprised by the Dolphins this year, soul-crushing WTF? losses aside. I thought they'd be legitimately awful, but they're actually competent. I suspect the gap between them and STL, WAS & TB flatters them somewhat, but competence, especially on offense is welcome.

With JAX, IND, & TEN, plus BUF x2 and NYJ, I can see eight wins. Anyone want to convince me that two more forom NE x2 SEA & the 49ers are possible?
Thought not.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:32pm

The Seahawks don't travel well, particularly east. The Dolphins host the Seahawks, and they've got a decent defense, if it's a 10am/1pm start, I'd say you could pencil it in as a win, but I probably wouldn't put any money on it.

I don't think the Pats dropping one is out of the question either, it's something they tend to do from time to time, so it depends on how you read the Pats losses, and how they'll bounce back from them. With Wake, a few colossal plays, or mounting Patriot injuries, it's not something I would count out.

by Scanner (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:15pm

Speaking of the Seahawks, broadly speaking that's fair since cross-country flights stink, but this year they DID win @ Carolina. That's exactly what you'd expect if this iteration of the Hawks were a little more durable mentally than the Holmgren-era crew.

...That said, it IS a 10 am game....

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:42pm

True, I didn't forget that. But Carolina is something of an inconsistant group. And their greatest strength (running) isn't anywhere near as good as it was last year, and probably the greatest and most consistant strength of the Seahawks is run defense. That's an obvious oversimplification given Cam and the option stuff. But if everything else is locked up, does that give Browner more time to study how to defeat the option? With all of that, the home/away split for the @Carolina game and the visiting Pats is a swing of 35 point DVOA differential, resulting in somewhat comparable point differentials. That's nuts, I know. But I've seen this for years.

Miami is better than Carolina, and incidentally New England, where that damages the Seahawks most, defense.

I'm not dogging the Seahawks, I just think they're quite aways from the point where they can talk shit about opposing teams and their fans before flying cross country; as the the Patriots do. The Pats are monsters on the road against the spread, so I suppose they'll talk until someone shuts them up. The Seahawks are that team at home.

It's a winnable game for the Seahawks, that secondary is no joke for league MVP all everything quarterbacks. Tannahill makes rookie moves, he may pay dearly. But I'm realistic, I try to keep my expectations similarly so.

by James-London :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:40pm

That's one more attempt than I expected! Seattle possibly, but that D scares me.
A split with NE? Brady's been known to pitch 4INT howlers against Miami, but while Jason Taylor may still haunt Brady's nightmares, he won't be on the field this year...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:58pm

You've got Cameron Wake and 7 weeks of teams emphasizing hitting Brady, Hernandez and Welker to keep them from feeling comfortable. One of them is nicked up, and two are on the wrong side of young. If Brady is sitting on his ass throwing interceptions, he could easily lose and for some reason he'll do that against Miami. Not saying it's gonna happen, just wouldn't be particularly surprised if it did.

But yeah, that D for my Hawks is a monster. They can win a lot of ways. It's a different kind from the overwhelming pressure I've come to associate with excellent defenses. There's not the wild fear, or panic on the other side of the ball. They'll hit of course, but it feels more like I'm watching them slowly strangle an offense till the light just goes out of their eyes.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:59pm

The Dolphins could beat the Pats and the Seahawks.

Right now anybody with a QB could beat the Pats. Could is the operative word, though.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:55pm

The implication in this post almost brings tears of joy to my eyes.

A QB. F-I-N-A-L-L-Y.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by MJK :: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:15pm

I don't know. Assuming you consider Fitzpatrick to be a QB, then the Pats are 2-1 versus teams with QB, and 1-2 versus teams without a QB.

Having a viable QB doesn't seem to be a discriminator as to what it takes to beat the Pats. Having a defense that can shut them down (and, playing them at home) seem to be the more important points.

by Chiefs Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:31pm

The Chiefs are clearly ranked too high because the NFL should expand to Los Angeles and KC should drop a spot immediately, even before the franchise is awarded to anyone.

by Cogitus :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:40pm

8 out of the bottom 9 teams are AFC teams. Some realignment in the future?

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:01pm

Its really not too much of a surprise about the AFC south. They were all pretty successful for much of the 2000 decade and are at long last coming back to earth- or falling way down if you'd prefer that term.

The jags problems stem from frittered away draft picks on dlinemen(harvey and quentin groves) along with Alulu despite being completely devoid of any skill position talent. Gabbert soon followed and that pretty much sums them up.

Tennessee, to me, serves as a warning sign to the Eagles imo. They had a successful coach and organization, but they just never got to the top of the mountain. The dejected and demanding fan bases became complacent and demanded a change and thus, were replaced. Of course, replacing a nearly great organization and taking a chance on an unknown has its huge risks and the titans are suffering for it imo. Say what you want about fisher or reid, their teams play well and are usually competitive, but its hard to say where the titans are now.

Finally- the colts talent had been eroding all the way back in 2008. The qb, receivers, and d ends carried them while the rest of the roster was crumbling all around them. 2010 was the straw that broke the camel's neck(pun intended) and now they are in complete rebuild.

The texans, unlike the jags and titans, picked a fine time to be going through their successful upswing as there's no peyton manning in his prime blocking their way to the playoffs.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:16pm

They had a successful coach and organization, but they just never got to the top of the mountain. The dejected and demanding fan bases became complacent and demanded a change and thus, were replaced.

I wonder how often this happens? It's the team I'm most familiar with, but the 49ers replacing Steve Mariucci with Dennis Erickson had to be one of the worst of those.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:30pm

Not that you're being serious, but this is just a cyclical thing. Five years ago the Pats, Colts, and Steelers (and maybe the Ravens) were clearly the class of the NFL. They've all aged.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:47pm

The Patriots aren't really an old team, and they are still the class of the NFL generally. They did make the Super Bowl last year.

by bucko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:17pm

Green Bay is second? Really???


by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:01pm

Beating the crap out of a previously undefeated and highly-rated Houston team will do that.

Let's not forget that DVOA isn't fooled by the bad refereeing of the game in Seattle.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:07pm

DVOA is fooled. In DVOA terms, that counts as a TD for the Seahawks and a big play allowed by the Packers.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:46pm

OK, let me rephrase that: DVOA doesn't look at W-L as much as some systems do. IIRC, it thought the Packers actually played better that week. (Which is what I meant by DVOA 'wasn't fooled'. I didn't mean that it ignored the play. Of course, I might simply be wrong. That happens, too.)

by Anonmouse (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 8:23am

You apparently did not agree with or did not read this:
If link doesn't work, search "Shame on the Angry Mob: Golden Tate’s Touchdown Was Legit" by Scott Kacsmar.
A pretty good breakdown of the play and a supporting argument against the missed OPI call.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:29am

Interesting, I've been saying the exact same thing. I would diverge from his opinion where he says that OPI is never called on a hail mary, it's a rare call but it does get called in truly blatant cases like the Tate shove.

by Some guy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 4:59pm

Its a good writeup, but its missing one piece. He never actually establishes that Golden Tate "c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game." He considers control established within the first 4 frames of the video, but never identifies whether control is maintained (even if by one hand) through the rest of the video (he merely claims that it is). The ball staying in one place while held by another player is not representative of control (otherwise I could argue that I'm controlling a ball when I have a hand stuck between the ball and the player with two hands on the ball).

I would stipulate that there wasn't enough to overturn the call, but without showing c) (which he himself quoted as a requirement), he doesn't show "a call that was right".

by Will Allen :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 1:36am

If Golden Tate establishes control by having one hand in contact with the ball, then the receivers coaches in the NFL need to be teaching a new technique, to promote receptions via simulteaneous possession rulings. Hell, let the DB catch the ball, as long as you can get a hand on it too!

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:19pm

bright side

Well, the Steeler D didn't fall to league worst as I expected it would

down side

Tomlin continued to allow lack of discipline to permeate through the team and organization. What a joke only suspending Ta'amu 2 weeks.

Velvet Sky fan

by bubqr :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:40am

I even forgot you existed. I missed you, OmarTomlin.

by Dales :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 7:52pm

New pattern being cemented by the Giants:

(1) Win the Super Bowl
(2) Get good
(3) ?
(4) Profit!

by CeeBee (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:39am

I fully expect the Giants to get smoked by the Redskins this week, have the media completely write them off, then play the "nobody believes in us" card, then make the playoffs, then...

Like clockwork, really.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:09pm

Tampa jumps from 23 to 15 based on their pasting of #32 Kansas City. Had much confusion. Then noticed the Giants jumping to #1, and realized opponent adjustments are kicking in.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:31pm

It still seems extremely weird to me that Peyton Effin' Manning was a free agent a few short months ago. Peyton. Effin'. Manning.


by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:09pm

You mean Mr. Noodle Arm, who, as per one scout "can't throw the football anymore"? Yeah, it is a little odd that he was a free agent.

Imagine what his numbers would be if he had a real arm?

by Joseph :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:47pm

While we're on the subject, there was also a "Mr. Destroyed Shoulder" back a few years ago. He turned out to be pretty good, although it wasn't a shock that he was a FA at that time.

(Hint: he won a SB MVP 3 yrs. ago)

by peterplaysbass :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 4:57pm

Yet "Mr. Destroyed Knee" who was also a FA that year (and had a 39 TD pro bowl year on his resume) was chosen over Mr. Shoulder.

I wish Brees had gone to the Phins.

I hate the Saints.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:12pm

Well, he was the most highly sought-after free agent in NFL history.

And he was only a free agent because the Colts didn't want to make a balloon payment of $25 million* six months before they could see whether his arm would be useful this season. Given how bad the Colts would have been even with Manning, it's hard to argue with Irsay's decision.

*not bothering to look up the exact number, but I think it was in this neighborhood.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:27pm


After the saints game, I found myself actively rooting for the colts to lose so that they specifically land luck. I love peyton, he's far and away my favorite player, but I was thinking about the fandom of the colts for the next decade and as great as Peyton is, he can't guarantee me another 10 years of qb play. Beyond the money, this made sense from a football standpoint because it does no one good to have andrew luck sit for three years behind peyton anymore than for peyton to be grooming his eventual replacement.

by Ben :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:42pm

With how much Luck has had to scramble this season due to protection break downs, I suspect Manning is happy not to be playing behind that line. And, as great as Manning is, this would still be a bad Colts team with him on it.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:11pm

Oh, I have no issue with Irsay's decision, and as a fan of whatever provides the most entertaining football, I'm happy to see Manning in Denver, and Luck in Indy, but it is just plain weird to me that a qb who quite evidently is playing at a HOF level was out on the street.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:51pm

What was weird to me were all the people saying he was washed up. It was possible, but betting against a player of that caliber just isn't smart.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 11:58pm

Seconded. You just don't expect such a franchise changing player like that ever being available via trade or free agency. I'm trying to think of the last few players over this decade that were big free agents/trade acquisitions while also being known quantities.

The few: Peppers, Jared Allen, Randy Moss(though maybe not known quantity since he was viewed as a malcontent and declining), To(see the moss comment). No one like Manning.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:09am

I'm trying to come up with examples in other sports. Baseball is the one sport where these types of players are routinely available in FA, but as the one sport without a salary cap and extreme wage restrictions in rookie contracts, it is understandable. We just had a player of a Manning-type level in Pujols be available, not to mention A-Rod in his first 10-year contract back in 2001. Basketball we had the LeBron situation, but that's a whole other animal.

In football it is really rare. Favre, I guess, considering how great he was in 2009, but he was older than Manning is now.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:15am

One issue is; baseball really is the ultimate team sport in a lot of ways because I don't think even three hall of fame players alone can win you a WS. It really tests the entirety of your roster.

The nfl is like that too, except for the qb position. I hate giving qbs all the credit, but Manning and a few others really do just change everything fundamentally about your football team. Before his acquisition, I bet the entire world had denver penciled for massive regression, probably right there with the chiefs right now. Instead, they are in the drivers seat in the division. Of course its not all Manning, but a great Qb enhances the rest of your roster in so many ways. I disagree with people, if Peyton were on the colts right now, they would be a wildcard team. Suddenly, their passing game would be top 10 and their pass rushers would start accumulating sacks. Of course they aren't a great team but thats what a hall of fame qb can do.

by Zieg (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:16pm

Didn't the Marlins essentially buy a World Series a while back? Spent like $200 million, won the world series, slashed payroll and disappeared out of the standings again? Not saying its a lock but an open wallet sure doesn't hurt.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:52am

The thing about Favre was that he was obviously at least a decade past his peak, although obviously still capable of terrific play. Manning's drop off hasn't lasted nearly as long and can mostly be attributed to the quality of the team around him. I understand that nobody knew for sure how he would heal, but once he started working out for teams, I was about 95% certain that we would see what we are currently seeing.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:21am

With all due respect I'd give Reggie White the "most sought-after free agent ever" tag.

Colts absolutely made the right decision with Manning. Uncertain health, a huge contract, and a potential franchise quarterback in Luck made that one a no-brainer.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:55pm

I won't turn this into a political discussion since my comment is politically neutral and I know this is the wrong forum for this, but I can't help it. The Presidential debates just make me shake my head at how both candidates are completely misleading the public with some faulty economic logic. Why oh why is economics the only serious subject that everyone in the world feels needs to have some opinion on; try forming an opinion on quantum physics through a few presidential debates

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:14pm

I appreciate the sentiment, but you are right; this ain't the place for it, unless Nobel economists start getting hired to coach NFL teams.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:22pm

I bet at least a few NFL teams employ full time economists

by JasonK :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:44am

... But only to determine pricing for stadium concessions and parking passes.

by Marko :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:34pm

A Nobel economist might be better as a GM or other front office type. We do know that being a Princeton grad doesn't make you a good NFL head coach.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 1:56am

He's not a Nobelist, but Belichick was an economics major, wasn't he?

by Marko :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:28am

Are you sure he wasn't a film major?

by RickD :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:33pm

"Why oh why is economics the only serious subject that everyone in the world feels needs to have some opinion on?"

Evolutionary scientists for you on line 1.

by MJK :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 10:49pm

Atmospheric scientists studying global warming on line 2...

by Michael19531 :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:31am

The Patriots defense this season must have the biggest dichotomy between run defense and pass defense in DVOA history.

Do you think that the cause of the Pats pass defense problems are 1) Crappy defensive backs, 2) an inconsistent pass rush 3) the coaching staff is asking said crappy d backs to do things they're not capable of doing or 4) all or some of the above.

For example, I thought Devin McCourty was a real up and coming star in 2010, but he's been God awful in 2011 and in 2012. It seems like every wr he covers but up ridiculous numbers like Demarious Thomas did last week. I think Thomas had 8 catches on 9 targets for 188 yards. And when he's (McCourty)not getting turned inside and out, he's commiting pass interference.

To me, it looks like whenever McCourty is in man coverage, he just doesn't react to the ball early enough and his man is always in good position to make a catch. McCourty has faced some good competition, but I'm confident that Baltimore's Torrey Smith and Thomas aren't Canton bound.

IMO, if your dbs can't play man-on-man, then you should stop asking them to.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:01am

I have to say, I've never hated the Pats d as much as other people do. Let me say it like this: I thought last year's defense had current Saints defense like talent and yet played much better than the saints defense has thus far.

I feel like their whole secondary last year was a mixture of second rate staters/special teamers forced into action because Belichick preferred guys who were coachable than actually physically talented. They jettisoned their long time veteran dbs in sanders, merriweather, Wilhite, butler and a slew of others. They had one decent/above average coverage linebacker in mayo and absolutely no pass rush outside of Ninkovich and occasionally wilfork. Somehow through all of this, Belichick cobbled an awful defense from what should have been an otherwise all time lousy unit. It was almost inexplicable that this defense wasn't exposed until the final drive of the superbowl.

All this to say, I'm really surprised Belichick didn't go out of his way to fix this secondary. Idk whats happened to Mccourty or whats going on with Dowling, but its once again the same old gaping sore from last year showing up each week. The improvement from spikes and additions of jones and hightower have helped a lot, but the lack of serious talent acquisition for the back end has me baffled.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:28pm

What about
5) crappy coaching?

I don't see a big difference between your #1 and #3 (they both use the phrase "crappy d backs")

It's not like McCourty is a bad player. But he's an inconsistent player.

I think the secondary has a huge morale problem, and that also speaks to coaching. They seem to crack under pressure consistently. Players that they can cover for three quarters often get open in the fourth.

This secondary is mistake-prone. They're not lacking in physical skills. If they are mistake-prone, either they're dumb or they're not being trained properly. I don't think they're dumb.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:45pm

I think his point in #3 is that dbs can be crappy in some ways than others, and the scheme is emphasizing their crappiness rather than minimizing it.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:11pm

Is it the same thing to say crappy coaching if A) Belichick purposely uses crappy Dbs who are coachable than more talented dbs who are less coachable vs B) Even though hes saddled with crappy Dbs who are more coachable, he makes them look slightly less crappier than they would otherwise look in the hands of a lesser coach.

by jackinabox (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:39am

Wow - This is pretty encouraging for a long time Denver fan. I'd assumed the first month was going to be challenging offensively for Denver as Manning and company got familiar with each other, but they are seemingly coming together much faster and in a much effective fashion that expected.

Now if the defence can come together in the first half of games and fumble recoveries return to the norm (which will happen), this team could be a real threat in the 2nd half.

by theosu :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 1:14am

I don't particularly understand how the Browns beat the Bengals by 10, but move down in the rankings while the Bengals moved up. Yes, it was in Cleveland, but that's just bizarre.

by Coop16 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:48pm

I agree with you, Theosu. I was hoping to see the Browns move up a couple of slots after winning for the first time in 11 months. However, I can't really say that I believe the team is any good, so it's hard to argue too strenuously against the #28 ranking. They won't win many games this year, that's a given. I'm particularly disappointed in the defense, which was supposed to be pretty decent. I guess all we can do is grit our teeth and suffer through another season while hoping that a combination of new ownership and youthful roster foretells a step forward in the near future. Lord knows there have been precious few steps forward for this franchise. It just boggles the mind that they've been this bad for this long.

by JimZipCode :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 1:28am

I don't understand something about the Playoff Odds. Baltimore vs Denver: Balt has a 2 game lead over the 2nd place team in their division, and has 10.7 mean wins, 2.8 more than the next team. Denver has no lead in their division, they are tied; and they have 10.2 mean wins, which is half a game less than Baltimore. Yet Denver is slightly more likely to make the playoffs 95.1% vs 93.7%. What gives?

I see that the difference is slight, I'm just surprised at the direction. Is it because Denver has a higher DAVE? But wouldn't that be reflected in the mean wins?

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:20am

sure it's not a commentary on Pitts/Cin vs. SD?? Browns, Raiders and Chiefs going nowhere fast, but Ravens have two competitors for the postseason within their division, the Broncos only one, whom they have already defeated.

by Jerry :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 4:58am

According to the table, Denver has the easiest remaining schedule, while Baltimore has the 14th hardest. So the Broncos currently have a 92% chance of winning their division, while the Ravens are merely at 82%.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:15am

Denver's remaining schedule could have them undefeated over the remainder of the season.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:19am

I just have no faith in what Denver does, they seem particularly dedicated to playing pretty much to the tone set by their opponants, but insist on spotting them points. Commendable sportsmanship, but I don't think it's a reliable way to win football games.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:16am

Cylical conference performance is one of the strangest aspects of the post-merger NFL. As marked by Super Bowl victories, a small sample size but ultimately what we all pay most attention to, the periods of conference domination are hardly brief. Meaning it be a while before Houston or Indianapolis or maybe even Dah Raiduhs breaks the drought. (And no, I don't think it will be New England. Belichick-Brady has seen its last SB-- win or appearance)

After the first two Packer routs, we witnessed the following:

AFC/AFL Victories in:

1968, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 78, 79, 80-- 11 of 13, with only the Cowboys (twice) breaking the trend.

Followed by an even longer period of NFC dominance:

1981, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96-- 15 of 16, with only Marcus Allen and the Raiders defying the NFC gauntlet. Oh, those poor devotees of the Bills and Broncos, who suffered as much as the Viking fans did in the earlier period.

And with Mike Holmgren's Ole defense and subsequent Brett Favre failure on 4th down, the Broncos ushered in a somewhat shorter reversion to the AFC:

1997, 98, 2000, 01, 03, 04, 05, 06-- 6 of 8, with the countertrends being the Greatest Show on Turf and Gruden's revenge. Patriots and Steelers and Manning ascendant.

Eli broke up the party, and we have seen NFC wins, now, in 2007, 09, 10, 11-- 4 of the last 5, and I would suspect we may be in for another long run, particularly given the NFC quality of under 30 QBS, from Rodgers to Ryan to Cutler to Stafford to Griffin to Wilson to Newton to Ponder to Bradford. Yes, the other guys have Flacco and Dalton and Luck and Tannehill and Locker (and Sanchez and Tebow) but I have to give the overall edge to the NFC.

This thing makes no sense, really. But so do a lot of other things, and I for one ain't gonna fight it until one day 3 or 5 or 7 years from now when we realize that the worm has turned again.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:39am

I agree with your point. But I would be very, very surprised if there is ever another 13 year undefeated run by one conference. I'd even be fairly surprised to see an 8 year run in the near future. I think the biggest differences between the prolonged dominance eras (68-80 and 81-96) are (in no particular order) A) Free agency in full effect B) Salary Cap C) Expansion D) (Seeming) accelerated development of QB's.
I don't know what the yearly turnover in playoff teams was like in those time periods (but I'd guess it was lower when there were only four then five from each conference) but the nearly 50% annual turnover of playoff teams just introduces a huge obstacle to predicting anything.
But of course, as you mentioned, Super Bowls might not be the best way to evaluate conference dominance anyway due to the small sample size and various other factors.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:00am

That run in the '70s included 5 champions that were NFL/NFC teams until 1970.

(edit) In fact, it's kinda strange to think of the fact that only 12 of 46 titles have been won by original AFL franchises

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:27am

True enough, yet they are only 10 out of 32 (admittedly, some of the 32 are more recent entries) so 12/46 is not that far off. But the fails have been legion.

San Diego-- 1 SB appearance (1994)-- now more than a decade of Schottenheimer then Turner underachieving;

Kansas City-- 1 SB appearance (1969)-- again the curse of Schottenheimer with several near-misses. Close to oblivion now.

Miami-- 2 early titles, and 2 SB appearances in the 1980s-- none since 1984. Marino didn't get back; Shula went into a glide path, Jimmy couldn't revive them-- let's see how Philbin does. But the bloom went off this rose a long time ago-- lately all they've done is teased us with good first halves of seasons;

JETS-- 1 SB appearance (1968) Give Rex credit for getting close twice. More than a lot of Manginis, Parcells and a host of others were able to do. But 44 years and counting without a command performance?? Weak.

Bills-- Marv, we hardly knew ye. A terrific run, but as in poker, the 2nd best hand is rarely a good thing. They have set a standard with the 4 straight SB defeats that will probably never be matched-- both for the excellence of getting there and then the frustration of never winning.

Bengals-- I think they count, right?? Got in the AFL just under the wire. Two SB appearances but a deserved reputation for ineptitude, at all levels of the organization.

Oilers/Titans-- Bum got 'em close abnd probably deserved to go once. Fisher got 'em even closer. But no cigar... and none in sight.

But then you have ths success stories of the Pats, particularly since 2001, the best team in the league; the Raiders, not for a decade, but they had a stretch from the late 60s through mid 1980s where they, like the Patriots now, were the best team in the league in terms of overall record; and the Broncos, with 6 SB appearances capped off by the end of career Elway wins.

Yet if you had to rank franchises by level of frustration and inexplicable decline for this entire period, thus excluding the more recent expansion teams, the Bengals/Jets/Chargers/Chiefs/Bills/Dolphins are all right up there, balanced out by maybe the Falcons/Vikings/Eagles/Lions on the NFC side.

by NYMike :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:39pm

KC was also in the first AFL-NFL Championship Game, later renamed Super Bowl I.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:55pm

San Diego-- I don't think Schottenheimer underacheived. The playoffs were sample size theater. Schottenheimer was a good coach who was let go because of bad breaks, not bad coaching.

Kansas City-- Again, good or at least decent coaching combined with talent and the single elimination factor. The Trent Green Chiefs probably deserved an SB shot, but by then Manning and Brady were in the way.

Miami-- A bad team basically since Marino. We'll see if Tannehill develops.

JETS-- Bad drafting has wasted the careers of some very decent offensive linemen. Gholston? Sanchez? Yeesh. They traded UP for Sanchez.

Bills-- Patriots in the way. Also bad drafting.

Bengals-- Organizational ineptitude wasting some very good drafting in this decade. Of course, they also get credit for Akili.

Oilers/Titans-- If Fisher had been allowed to draft who he wanted instead of Vince Young, they might have earned the opportunity to lose to Indy in the AFC Championship more often.

by Michael19531 :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:39am

Man, I'm looking forward to Thursday's Seahawks/Niners game. Their rivalry could replace the Steelers/Ravens as my favorite NFL street fight.

If 'Hawks DB Richard Sherman is barking after beating the Pats, I wonder what he's gonna say if Seattle beats the Niners.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:47am

My brother, I can almost assure you the phrase "My brother" will be involved, my brother.

by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:06am

"Eighth-ranked Atlanta has the third-lowest DVOA for any 6-0 team in the DVOA era, behind only the 2000 Vikings (1.2%) and the 2006 Colts (9.2%). I suppose there's worse company to keep; the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game that year, and the Colts won the Super Bowl after Bob Sanders got healthy and their defense suddenly woke up in the playoffs. (Vince Verhei explains why the Falcons aren't as good as their record in this ESPN Insider article.)"

I remember that 2000 Vikings team very well. Lost 41-0 to the Giants in the NFC Championships. That was a very average team - good offence, terrible defence but they won most of their close games, had a fairly easy schedule got a break when NO beat StL in the 1st round of the playoffs and all of sudden they are in the NFC Championships. I figure if they had somehow beat New York through some crazy stroke of luck they would have lost 102-0 against Baltimore.

by JimZipCode :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:00pm

Could have been an interesting game. The offense of Daunte, Robt Smith, Randy Moss & Cris Carter vs the Ravens D. That bad defense vs the Ravens bad offense. How were those Vikes on spec teams? Ravens scored a kickoff return TD in that SB.

by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 1:28pm

Vikings in 2000
Overall DVOA: -6.3% (22nd)
Offence: 18.5% (5th)
Defence: 26% (31st)
ST: 1.2% (15th)

not so surprising that they were 5-11 the next year.

by Zack :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:12am

edit: answered my own question

by Ddude (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:56pm

Wow, the Rams are continuing to improve. I love their consistency. Imagine having an OL and that team would surely be in the top 10. Should be 4-2, absolutely destroyed the Fins on offense and defense, just not in special teams and the scoreboard. Oh well, onto the Packers.

by Jovins :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 2:29am

It's ok, Vikings went from 4.2 expected wins last week to 3.9 this week! I don't really know how that works.

by Ditka (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:59pm

Chicago has played 5 games and has an estimated wins of 5.1, best team of all time?!?

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:32pm

Estimated wins pretends teams play during their bye week.

by TomC :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:52pm

That's how it usually works, yes, but in this case the extra one tenth of a win comes from residual Ditka winner sauce still lightly coating the Soldier Field home locker room.

by MdM (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:40am

Weird for this Eagles fan to see them ranked so low nowadays and the fanbase absent. It was more fun when they were overrated!

What's up with the offense? Is it Vick? The O-line? Is it possible for it to get to average?

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