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17 Sep 2013

Week 2 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

So far, 2013 has not been a very good season for the Football Outsiders preseason forecast. Actually, 2013 so far hasn't been a very good season for most anybody's preseason forecast... except at the very top. Many members of the NFL commentariat predicted a Super Bowl appearance for Denver, Seattle, or even both. Denver and Seattle started the season with the two highest mean win projections from Football Outsiders. Denver and Seattle have been the two best teams in the NFL through the first two weeks.

After that, things look a little bit goofy. Right now, Kansas City is third in VOA. The Chiefs were last year's 30th-ranked defense. This year, they rank No. 1. Obviously, we're not including opponent adjustments after just two weeks, and eventually there's going to be a big adjustment for every team that plays Jacksonville. Still, it certainly looks like the Chiefs have done a lot to plug the holes between all of those Pro Bowlers from a year ago. (It helps that one of those holes, Dontari Poe, certainly seems to have taken his own leap to a Pro Bowl level.)

Miami at 2-0 is also an early surprise, and the Dolphins have been very balanced. They rank in the top ten in all three phases of the game.

On the other hand, the six lowest teams in the league include three teams we had projected to go to the postseason -- Washington, San Francisco, and the defending champion Ravens -- plus the New York Giants, who everyone expected to be in playoff contention. Again, opponent adjustments will really change things here. The 49ers have played two of the best teams in the league. The Giants got clobbered by Denver, clearly the top team in the league right now. But did they have to get clobbered by quite so much? Yikes.

What's interesting here is that the strange results of 2013 so far have generally seemed like strange results because of how we projected teams coming into 2013 and what we know about teams historically. One thing we haven't seen is teams that are particularly deceiving at 2-0 or 0-2. Last year, for example, the Cardinals were the third-worst 2-0 team in DVOA history. This year, every 2-0 team has a positive VOA and every 0-2 team has a negative VOA.

That fact probably surprises you if you've been watching the New England Patriots. Given how bad the Patriots have looked in their first two games, it wouldn't be ridiculous to expect them to rank among the "worst 2-0 teams ever." You may be shocked to see them ranked 11th in VOA through Week 2. The reason they are so high? The units you don't see. We've all seen the Patriots receivers play like a bad high school team. However, you may not have noticed that the rest of the time, the Patriots were playing shockingly good defense and their usual great special teams. So the Patriots' ratings look completely wacko: 27th in offense, fourth in defense. This will change going forward, of course. Opponent adjustments will ding the defense because shutting down Geno Smith isn't that difficult. But at the same time, opponent adjustments may boost the early performance of the New England offense because they played the Jets. Yes, we saw the Jets secondary didn't play very well last Thursday night, so perhaps the Jets defense won't return to the greatness I was predicting before the season began. But that team has a great front line, and whatever else may be wrong with him, Rex Ryan still designs an excellent defensive scheme.

(The other change going forward: We'll have to see what the injury to Matthew Slater does to New England's special teams. Over the past few years, Chicago and New England have been the two positive exceptions to the rule that special teams performance is rarely consistent from year to year.)

One other team that's interesting to look at is Washington. There's a good debate to be had about how much to write-off Washington's ability to score points in the second half of games where they are getting blown out in the first half. The policy at Football Outsiders has always been to compare like with like. We want to adjust the offensive rating of a team playing from way behind by comparing them to the average team playing from way behind. And what we've found is that the difference between how well an offense plays when way behind and how well an offense plays in a close game is MUCH smaller than most fans would expect. Therefore, we end up giving credit to an offense like Washington's that comes back from a big deficit, even if they don't come back enough to win the game (in the case of Week 1) or make it close (in the case of Week 2). The DVOA system is based on the idea that this strong play is still evidence that the Washington offense is a good offense; they just happen to have a crazy first half/second half split through two weeks. And so, Washington below is listed as sixth in offense and dead last in defense.

Obviously, a lot of fans and even analysts will feel differently about this. And so, look at our quarterback stats page and the difference between DVOA and ESPN's Total QBR for Robert Griffin III. (Yes, I've got it listed as DVOA in some places, VOA in others... it's the same thing this early in the season, don't get caught up in how many letters are in the name.) Right now, Griffin ranks 11th in the league in YAR (total value) and 14th in VOA (value per play). Yet ESPN's Total QBR ranks him a dismal 31st out of 33 quarterbacks. That's a huge difference, based almost entirely on the question of what we learn or don't learn from Griffin's strong offensive play in the second half of the last two games. In the first half of games, Griffin right now has 1.9 QBR. In the second half, he has 75.9 QBR. Washington was never above 10 percent win expectancy after halftime in either game, so basically, RG3 starts out as Blaine Gabbert and then turns into Aaron Rodgers once his defense has enjoyed 30 minutes of total nuclear meltdown.

In many ways, the difference between VOA and QBR is caught up in how much you want your rating to be predictive vs. descriptive of the past. Both VOA and QBR are neither purely predictive nor purely descriptive. They both are sort of somewhere in between, but VOA is closer to predictive and QBR is closer to descriptive. This is not a controversial statement, and the folks at ESPN Stats and Information would certainly agree. They added the clutch weighting to QBR in order to have it better line up with a list of which quarterbacks were helping their teams win close games, even if those quarterbacks weren't necessarily actually playing better than other quarterbacks -- who may play better in the first half, or may share a locker room with a terrible defense. It's two ways to analyze the same data. Neither is more right. It's the difference between them that tells the story, or at least part of the story. In this case, it's the story of what is and is not going well for RG3 this season. (This is why I've always been an advocate of more stats, rather than trying to create one rating that synthesizes a player's entire performance into a single number.) 

As to the readers who will of course slag Total QBR because they are suspicious of anything created by the Worldwide Leader: Have you considered reading Basketball on Paper?

* * * * *

During the 2013 season, we'll be partnering with EA Sports to bring special Football Outsiders-branded items to Madden 25 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 2 are:

  • WR Steve Johnson, BUF: 8 catches on 10 passes, 111 yards, game-winning touchdown, led all WR in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards above Replacement).
  • LG James Carpenter, SEA: Came off the bench to abuse the San Francisco defensive line as the Seahawks ran for 172 yards.
  • DT Dontari Poe, KC: Two sacks and overall domination of Cowboys rookie Travis Frederick.
  • DT Kawann Short, CAR: Three quarterback hits, two assists, and a tackle.
  • CB Richard Sherman, SEA: Only allowed one completion in man coverage according to game charting, which was a "failed completion" that didn't convert third-and-long; also had an interception. (He did allow a second completion, but that was in a zone.)

If you came to our article because you love Madden Ultimate Team and wanted to see who would be the special Football Outsiders players this weekend, and you want to know more about Football Outsiders advanced stats and analysis, please feel free to send us your questions (info-at-footballoutsiders.com) or ask the regular readers by contributing to the discussion thread below.

One thing I neglected to mention when we first announced this deal: special Football Outsiders players are available not only on XBox 360 and Playstation 3 but also in the mobile (iOS/Android) version of Madden 25 Ultimate Team. It's Football Outsiders on your phone, and Football Outsiders in your pants!

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with 2013, including playoff odds, snap counts, and for the first time this season, offensive line and defensive line. The FO Premium splits database will also be updated with 2013 sometime this evening... and, as a special bonus, it will be updated with 1989 and 1990 as well. Also, you may have noticed we have a new green drop-down stats menu at the top of the site. It condenses the stat listing to make it easier to find the right page. Mouse over the listings for either Drive Stats or College Stats to get a more expanded list of those two categories.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through two weeks of 2013, 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 VOA 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.

There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why offense and defense are listed as VOA right now rather than DVOA. 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 VOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 75 percent of DAVE.

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 DEN 72.1% 2 33.0% 1 2-0 47.1% 2 -13.6% 7 11.4% 1
2 SEA 47.9% 9 27.9% 2 2-0 5.8% 13 -32.6% 2 9.5% 2
3 KC 44.3% 1 -1.4% 17 2-0 7.9% 12 -37.5% 1 -1.1% 18
4 GB 30.8% 16 25.5% 3 1-1 63.7% 1 31.8% 31 -1.1% 17
5 MIA 30.0% 3 0.9% 15 2-0 11.7% 9 -12.1% 9 6.2% 6
6 PHI 23.1% 8 4.4% 11 1-1 37.8% 3 21.9% 29 7.1% 5
7 CHI 22.4% 5 5.0% 9 2-0 13.6% 7 -7.1% 12 1.8% 13
8 BUF 21.9% 7 -5.6% 21 1-1 9.4% 10 -11.1% 10 1.5% 14
9 IND 14.8% 6 -1.5% 18 1-1 26.3% 4 9.7% 24 -1.7% 21
10 CIN 11.8% 18 7.1% 7 1-1 8.9% 11 -0.9% 15 2.0% 12
11 NE 10.9% 21 21.2% 4 2-0 -17.8% 27 -24.6% 4 4.2% 8
12 NO 7.9% 15 7.9% 6 2-0 -3.3% 19 -12.3% 8 -1.2% 19
13 ATL 6.9% 20 5.0% 10 1-1 12.4% 8 11.3% 26 5.8% 7
14 STL 3.7% 10 -11.9% 26 1-1 5.0% 14 9.4% 23 8.2% 4
15 TEN 3.2% 4 -12.1% 27 1-1 -17.2% 26 -20.0% 6 0.4% 16
16 HOU 1.5% 11 5.0% 8 2-0 4.8% 15 -9.4% 11 -12.7% 31
17 DET -2.8% 13 -2.5% 19 1-1 4.7% 16 -5.1% 14 -12.6% 30
18 SD -4.5% 23 -6.5% 22 1-1 24.8% 5 29.8% 30 0.4% 15
19 TB -7.4% 17 1.5% 14 0-2 -34.0% 29 -23.4% 5 3.2% 11
20 CAR -8.6% 19 9.6% 5 0-2 1.5% 17 6.7% 21 -3.5% 22
21 DAL -8.7% 22 -7.1% 23 1-1 -14.9% 25 2.2% 17 8.4% 3
22 NYJ -9.3% 14 -7.5% 24 1-1 -39.4% 31 -26.2% 3 3.9% 9
23 OAK -13.4% 26 -15.7% 29 1-1 -0.8% 18 2.4% 19 -10.1% 29
24 ARI -16.6% 25 -12.4% 28 1-1 -9.7% 21 2.3% 18 -4.6% 24
25 PIT -19.1% 28 -4.7% 20 0-2 -21.3% 28 1.5% 16 3.7% 10
26 MIN -24.0% 27 -16.9% 31 0-2 -13.5% 23 9.1% 22 -1.4% 20
27 BAL -29.3% 31 2.1% 13 1-1 -8.5% 20 12.7% 27 -8.2% 27
28 SF -32.2% 12 3.3% 12 1-1 -10.4% 22 13.8% 28 -8.0% 26
29 CLE -37.8% 30 -16.9% 30 0-2 -37.0% 30 -6.8% 13 -7.5% 25
30 NYG -39.5% 24 -7.9% 25 0-2 -14.4% 24 9.9% 25 -15.2% 32
31 WAS -45.5% 29 0.4% 16 0-2 15.7% 6 51.3% 32 -9.8% 28
32 JAC -74.5% 32 -35.0% 32 0-2 -67.6% 32 2.8% 20 -4.0% 23

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 17 Sep 2013

161 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2013, 11:52am by mitch


by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:01pm

I still have trouble believing that the Patriots are as good as DVOA sees them.

Also surprised to see Cincy at #7 ... I can't wait to find out more in the next couple of weeks as they take on Green Bay and New England.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:22pm

They aren't the 4th best defense in the league, but the probably aren't going to end the season as the 5th worst offense, either. The total seems reasonable for now.

by Leyoz :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:11pm

As much as I would like to see the Patriots really crash and burn, I will believe it when I see it.

If they get 2nd seed in the AFC I will not be suprised.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:16pm

But doesn't that speak to the level of the AFC more than the Patriots? Then again, I can't remember a year where so few teams have really distinguished themselves through two weeks.

I believe the Broncos are the only one of the 2-0 teams to win both games by more than 7 points. You can make an argument that three of the 2-0 teams were a handful of plays away from 0-2 (especially New Orleans and Houston). I guess some of the 1-1 teams may go on a run, and I'm sure a few will (I like the winner of GB @ CIN to go on a nice run going forward), but as Scott Kacsmar wrote today, the league has been historically close so far this season.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:48pm

I don't think it's so much that so few teams have distinguished themselves as much as we're not ready to accept that the teams that have, KC and Miami in particular, are really that good.

The man with no sig

by RickD :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:11am

Really, after the Broncos, who is the other power in the AFC? Pittsburgh looked awful on Monday. The Ravens have lost half of their best players from last season and looked unimpressive in their one victory, over hapless Cleveland. Do we really think the rest of the AFC West is back? Certainly not the Raiders.

The Chiefs and Dolphins have great bandwagons right now, but I'm still suspicious of both. In the South, the Texans are 2-0 but not in an impressive fashion. And the Colts are definitely regressing to what their defense is.

As for the Patriots, their offense last Thursday was missing its best WR and best RB from Week 1 as well as their all-Pro tight end. All of those guys will eventually be back.

Two months from now the standings won't care that their first two wins were unimpressive.

So while the Broncos certainly look like the class of the AFC right now, the field is thin below them.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:44am

I think that Houston will pull it together and be very good. The Patriots probably will as well, but I could also see them failing to click on offense and continue to look really uninspired on defense. Baltimore and Pittsburgh will get better, but I doubt either ends up looking good at the end of the season.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:10pm

If there's one thing for sure, its that the Pats will get back their injured players (one with a back injury) at full strength and suffer no more injuries, and the other teams in the AFC will not get back their players from injury and suffer more injuries. The Pats will have young players improve throughout the season, while other AFC teams' young players will hit the rookie wall or prove to be ineffective. Teams that have played well in the early part of the season will prove to be not good, and teams that have played well in the previous years but have struggled in the parts of the first two games of the season have been exposed as being in decline and nothing more than average.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 4:31pm

If I'm reading this right then every team but the Pats will be bad. That's even more pessimistic than me (unless you're a Pats fan). Or this is sarcasm, Poe's law and all.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:29pm

Yeah, your sarcasm detector may be bit faulty.

The man with no sig

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:29am

I hope that was good for you.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 4:06am

VOA. All VOA sees is that NE has played to games and been the better team in both. The system doesn't know that the jets and bills probably be bad.

by tballgame (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 10:41am

That's right. VOA isn't considering opponents, so it sees no difference between New England's defense playing the Jets and Buffalo and SF's defense playing Seattle and Green Bay. When that changes and/or when the Pats play Atlanta and New Orleans, that ranking is going to move.

Also, when Arizona was one of the worst 2-0 teams ever in 2012 (despite the fact that the two wins were against Seattle and New England), it was because VOA does discount some in game events that are not predictive/repeatable/skill-based. The games featured 2 opponent missed field goals, a blocked punt, only 6 drives by Arizona that lasted more than 5 plays or 30 yards (compared to 14 for the Patriots and Seahawks). Thus, VOA indicated Arizona had not outplayed their competition.

VOA is just showing, based on its measurements, the Pats slightly outplayed their opposition to date.

by killwer :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:07pm

I dont like ESPNs QBR because of the clutch factor.

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:51pm

You and the FO guys need to read this about the changes made to QBR during the offseason. The "clutch factor" now de-emphasizes performance during blowouts rather than emphasizing performance during clutch situations.


by RickD :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:13am

I dislike Total QBR because it's called "Total" but it's not a total.

by garrett343434 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:27pm

When Peyton manning's first game was only the SIXTH best performance OF WEEK ONE, something is wrong.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:12pm

QBR is a rate stat, not a counting stat.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:30am

As I said, it's dumb to have a rate stat called "Total". The word "total" implies summation.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:48am

I think total is meant to reference the portion of QB attributes that go into the measurement.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 1:10am

like sacks, fumbles, rushing, etc. As opposed to just a pure passer rating built on comp percentage, TDs, INTs, and yards.

It's certainly an improvement over passer rating.

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:24pm

But it is an improvement over pfr's Adjusted Net Yard per Attempt?

It seems about the same to me, with the draw back of being proprietary, whereas you can calculate any/a yourself.

by theslothook :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 3:13pm

QBR takes into account many charting variables that are not recorded in the standard game logs. For instance, it takes into account pressure on throws as well as qb scrambles, etc. I think for the most part, its a pretty effective stat. Opponent adjustment is obviously needed, but the biggest difference I think between anya and QBR is it attempts to add quality to the type of yards you're getting, while anya is agnostic about the type of yards

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 3:24pm

Which means you have to trust ESPN's scouts implicitly.

by theslothook :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 4:27pm

Yeah well, we do that with PFF. We do as well somewhat with FO gamecharting. We also have to trust FO somewhat when take DVOA at face value. We know their general methods, but not their weighting. In fact, their weights were designed to best correlate for the future, but those sort of things are highly dynamic and likely change within years, if not week to week.

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 4:40pm

I don't trust PFF's numbers at all.

FO's DVOA numbers do not require any subjective opinions, and I do trust the game charting less than DVOA.

by Jerry :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 6:08pm

+1, with no disrespect to game charters.

by a_man (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:16pm

My god, it's gonna take a while to get BAL's defensive VOA down to respectable levels after that Denver game, I guess.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:39pm

The Brown's opponent adjustments won't help much either.

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:15pm

Yes but once weighted DVOA is in effect that first game (80% or something) will become less relevant. And once the Broncos offense is recognized as top shelf, that game will not be as bad (though still bad). Regardless of how bad the Browns offense turns out to be, I'd guess the Ravens D would look good in that game (they gained 4.2 YPP).

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:22pm

QBR has a lot to like and a lot to dislike. The lunatic clutch factor has to go. For a stat designed by statisticians, I have to believe they pandered to the talking heads on that one. Btw, Chiefs were not the worst defense last year, but were ranked 30th, so they were close.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:23pm

Oops! Correct. I shall fix.

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:54pm

I'll post this one more time so hopefully more people see it and stop incorrectly referring to the QBR clutch factor.


by nottom :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:37pm

While the "Clutch Factor" has certainly gotten a bad rap, it isn't all that different than WPA from Brian Burke's Advanced NFL Stats. They both weigh performance during high-leverage situations more heavily than others but, although people might not agree with Burke's measure, they don't call it talking-head nonsense either.

by whckandrw (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:23pm

The thing is if we were sane, or at least very serious about evaluating football players rather than very serious about spending some of our free time thinking about football, which we find cool as entertainment, we would call all single number ratings of player performance talking head nonsense because they don't improve our understanding of football. Abstracting something as complex as player performance over an entire season into one number is really only useful in debates like whether Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL. Which only matter to talking heads, fans and allpro teams. One place it does not matter: in determining how to win football games as an NFL team.

by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:54pm

Not at all true. In baseball, in particular, metrics like this were used explicitly to make teams better by studying numbers to find players that were successful statistically but not as much in conventional wisdom, and to avoid players who were successful in conventional wisdom but not actually statistically. And it changed how the game is managed.

by Led :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:23am

I think the comment to which you replied may be a bit overstated, but surely the differences between football and baseball -- and, particularly, the degree to which player performance in football is vastly more dependent on the performance of the other players on the field than in baseball -- render individual stats IN ISOLATION relatively useless. It's true that you don't make the perfect the enemy of the good, but it's also true that a little knowledge is dangerous. As long as you understand the limitations of the stats (which FO fully discloses and explains) and use them intelligently together with other information, they're a good thing. (No to mention fun!) But if you ignore those limitations, you end up with analysis that's not meaningfully more intelligent than pure punditry.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:31pm

This ain't baseball.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 1:13am


With the interconnectedness of nearly every player, and only 16 games to measure instead of 162, it's like comparing apples and armadillos.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:14am

" we would call all single number ratings of player performance talking head nonsense because they don't improve our understanding of football. "

Not only is this untrue, but its basically an appeal to ignorance. Shame on you.

by Kal :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:22pm

That negative offense DVOA by JAX is pretty incredible. Can't wait to see if they can hit the historical lows this season. A full 25 percentage points below the next worst team!

Also bad news for the rest of the league right now: the only team that has a top offense without having a bad defense is Denver.

by Duke :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:43pm

So either you believe that top offenses end after the top 6, or bad defenses start at position 12.

*end obvious Bears boosting*

by TomC :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:02pm

Yep, Bears ratings are still in Wacko-ville (OFF > DEF > ST). I don't care how genius-y Trestman is and how clutch-y Cutler has suddenly decided to be, I will boldly predict that ordering will be different by the end of the year.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:07pm

The Bear's defense has not looked impressive in either game. If the offense falls out of the top 10, I don't like their chances at the playoffs.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:43pm

Well, that's not quite fair to them. Sure, AJ Green torched the secondary, but a lot of the damage in the first game came from poor tackling, which wasn't nearly as big a problem in the second game.

Speaking of which: they limited AD to slightly under 4 yards per carry, and forced Ponder to throw. Of course they looked bad: it was man coverage nearly the entire time, and Ponder played above his normal skill level.

I'm extremely curious to see how the Bears fare against the Lions.

by TomC :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:56am

I honestly think the only aspect of the Bears defense that is missing is the pass rush. If you believe that this is the year that Peppers' age has caught up with him, that might be a season-long issue, in which case I agree with tuluse that they will have to outscore people. But I'm not ready to say that yet.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:47pm

I'm definitely concerned about the lack of a pass rush. I have a suspicion that Peppers might not be useful anymore (although to be fair, he was apparently really sick on Sunday).

I think that as long as the defense stays above-average and the offense continues to improve, they'll be fine. After all of the offseason comments from Cutler and Trestman and company about how the new offense was going to take time to gel, I'm pretty optimistic after the first two games. Yes, there were plenty of mistakes and lots to improve upon, but after years of watching offensive linemen get tossed aside by pass rushes, blown timeouts in the first quarter of just about every game, tight ends that can neither catch nor block, JaMarcus Webb, etc, I like what I'm seeing. Throw in the fact that they are (luckily) 2-0 to start the season and I think they could win the NFC North.

Also, through two games, Long and Mills have looked insanely good for two rookies. It's really weird to watch a Bears game and see that the offensive line might be a strength now rather than a weakness.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:49pm

Yeah. It's not even that they're terrible in comparison to the league as a whole, it's that they're terrible in comparison to the Jets and Browns.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:21pm

And they face Seattle next. On the road.

Since Seattle can't hold Jacksonville to negative points, there's been some joking talk at the Seahawks' SB Nation blog that they might be able to hold them to negative yards. It's been done twice before since 1940, most recently in 1979 to the Seahawks themselves. The worst anyone's managed this century is Cleveland in 2004 against Buffalo, when they got 26 yards.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:32pm

On that note, if they shutout the Jags (or allow only a safety - which I wouldn't normally bring up, but since the Jags have already accomplished that feat so far...), they can set a new record for fewest points allowed through three games. The 2001 Packers and 2004 Seahawks allowed 13, the current record. The Seahawks of today are at 10.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 7:13am

the raiders held them to 7 yards in the second half, up to the point when they started to play prevent.

by TomC :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:59am

I hadn't realized that was the matchup this week until I looked at the point spreads. Definitely the earliest in a season I can remember seeing a 20-point spread (in the NFL). And given how unimpressive Seattle's offense has been, that means that Vegas thinks a shutout is likely.

by tballgame (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 10:45am

Or Vegas thinks the SF and Carolina defenses are materially better than Jax's

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 11:53am

I'm sure I saw an article about "trap games" once that said they didn't exist ... nonetheless I'm going to pretend they do and say that Jacksonville represents one for Seattle particularly given that they have the Texans the following week. Professional or otherwise it's hard for players on a good team not to be arrogant and to come out less pumped up for playing against a crappy team. While I expect the Seahawks to still win it, I'm not sure it'll be the blowout that Vegas seems to think.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:21pm

Well, the last two times they faced wretched offenses at home last year, they held the Jets to 185 yards and 0 offensive points, and the Cardinals to 154 yards and 0 offensive points. I have a feeling the defense is in a record-breaking mood this year, and FO has shown they're significantly better at home.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:27pm

I'm pretty sure that if trap games do exist, Jacksonville is not even good enough to trap another NFL team.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 4:06pm

Nice :-)

by Dean :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:33pm

I recall the article, and the hard part was defining what constituted a "trap" in the first place. It's a moving target. Sort of like "elite" with less media overkill.

by EricL :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 11:55am

I know Vegas lines predict nothing other than trying to balance where the money goes, but if you look at the combined spread+over/under, we're looking at a 30-10 result.

Somehow, I can't see Jacksonville scoring as many points against the Seahawks defense as Carolina and SF combined. But, then, that's why they play the games.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 11:49pm

Points aren't only scored by the offense. Carolina almost had a pick-6 against Wilson in the first game, for instance, and last year the Jets scored on a fumble return for their only points of the game.

by osiris43@gmail.com :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:17pm

Vegas only cares about getting the money split semi-evenly and they think to do that, this game requires a big spread. It opened in some places at 21 and was bet down so there are plenty of people out there who think a cover of that magnitude might be hard especially coming off a huge win on Sunday night against a hated division rival.

In 12 games with point spreads 19 or more, only 2 have covered.


by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:36pm

I see that the 2007 Patriots are featured a whooping 4 times there, and failed to cover every single time. They really seemed to ease off the throttle late in the year.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:05pm

Ever since AJ Feeley and the Eagles nearly beat NE in Week 11, the Pats have been quite awful at covering double digit lines. THey're a huge public money team, so lines still get inflated. Great value going against NE when they're double digit favorites (last week, for instance).

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:40pm

THe pats actually won that game. But they were very close to losing against a team that everyone thought was overmatched.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 10:01pm

Right. I believe that was the first time they failed to cover one of the big spreads that year. They won, but barely. Start of the end of the 'Eff-You' Pats, that really only showed up after that in the Pittsburgh game.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:46pm

All I know is that the dumbass line made me plenty of money in the Superbowl that year. Shame I ran out of time to take the under on total points scored.

by RedDwarf (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 4:27pm

And they've done that without Von Miller or Champ Bailey in the lineup. If the Clady injury isn't the straw that breaks the camel's back along the offensive line (lousy place to get concentrated injuries), they should just get better as a team.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 4:34pm

If anyone can overcome massive O-Line injuries, it is Peyton. Von Miller is the key. If he comes back and plays close to 2012 level, they should be fine. Of course, he was that good in 2012, and they still lost, but I still see Denver as the best team in the AFC.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:25pm

How badly did the Bears beat the Vikings, by VOA?

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:31am

I would think it wasn't all that bad. The Bears' turnovers all came when they had decent field position, including 1st and Goal from the 1. That's got to hammer their offensive rating. Hester went wild on ST, but the Vikes had a TD, and given the situation, I doubt Carlson's fumble hurt too badly.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:35pm

Yikes, SF's numbers are stunning until you remember that opponent adjustments haven't kicked in yet, but still...

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:51pm

I've been reduced to praying to Buddha, Allah, Ganesh and Jebus that the 49ers numbers are going to improve. And also that we try that esoteric offensive play called the 'lead iso', a little known wrinkle against teams that are crashing the outside run that has only really been an NFL staple for sixty years.

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:57pm

I think things will get a lot better moving forward. Look, they played GB in week 1, a team that basically sold out exclusively to stop the run at all costs. Then the next week they played a team that is extremely good defensively and it felt like everyone on the team never showed up. I wouldn't take these two games as an omen honestly.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:05pm

Except that after the Colts we have a four day week leading into a road game against the Rams followed by the Texans. And the fates of football seem to be determined to exact revenge on two good years of injury luck with four major players now out.

What really worries me is that if Seattle get home field advantage and the road to the Superbowl goes through the Clink then that dratted crowd will get even louder and I don't see them losing under those circumstances.

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:07pm

Personally, I'd be more concerned with the receivers. There really looks like no help is on the way there.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:11pm

Other than Manningham and then Crabtree, the top two from last year, you are spot on.

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:14pm

Both are coming off serious injuries...

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:58pm

Plus potential development from Patton and McDonald at tight end.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:14am

I was surprised the 9ers didn't play Chris Harper. He was drafted for physicality, practiced to develop that physicality against the Seahawks secondary for weeks, and the Seahawks thought well enough of his efforts to try to stash him on the practice squad before the 9ers signed him. I think he was active, but I don't think I saw him. Certainly by the time the weather delay finished it was pretty apparent that the 9ers didn't really have any better ideas. Seems like that's the exact guy you want to play with a chip on his shoulder in a game when one's receivers are being handled by his clearly more physical former team.

Of course no one is paying me millions to guide their billion dollar entertainment corporation to preeminence, so I assume I've grossly oversimplified the situation.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:54am
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:49am

That's too bad. I'd like to see him get a real shot.

by Scott Jeter (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:42pm

I don't understand how Mario Williams was not one of the stars, he had 4.5 sacks, and set a team record for buffalo.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:02pm

Madden Ultimate Team picks 10 players of the week earlier in the week. They were called the "fantasy players" last year... I think they are called something else this year. We can't pick any of those players for our five players. So that took out, among other players, Mario Williams. The general idea of the FO players is to find guys a bit more under the radar.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:46pm

"Over the past few years, Chicago and New England have been the two positive exceptions to the rule that special teams performance is rarely consistent from year to year"

Didn't Buffalo have few year streak with good/great special teams?

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 6:51pm

I know you guys have thought of this but is there any way we can get a page with the teams sorted by DAVE? Thanks!

by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:17pm

The problem is that HAL says he's afraid he can't do that.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 10:08pm

Name not Dave but would be happy to srot tems in order 1-3#. Top five woudk be seahskws, broblns, texanz, bears, saimts

by peterplaysbass :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:09am

Bears clearly due for an enormous collapse since they are the only team spelled correctly by RaiderJoe.

By extension, the Broblns simply have to win it all this year.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 10:02am

If I didn't have the context, I would have had no idea who the hell the "Broblns" were. Instead of the Broncos, I would have thought it was the Browns and Lions merged into one uber-cursed/snakebitten franchise.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:34pm

Would they then have to close down the Factory of Sadness due to bankruptcy?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:45pm

The Factory of Sadness would need government bailout money to stay open.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:21pm

Couldn't they just move it to Toledo?

by Dean :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:10pm

Only if you mean Toledo, Spain.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:49pm

At least then this hypothetical football team would have good quality steel for bladed weapons, which could be used Last Boy Scout-style.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 3:17pm

Only if windmills are involved.

by TomC :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:09pm

The relative ratings of Carolina and Buffalo sort of surprise me. They both lost close games in week 1, then they played each other in a close game in week 2. I guess the gap will probably close when opponent adjustments kick in and everyone that played Seattle jumps several points.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:24am

Actually, I started looking at the chart at the bottom, and then read upwards until I saw CAR. Quite confused on how high they are ranked, but then again, they played a top team to a draw, and had a decent team beat.

After spending a week being inundated by "The sky is falling" on my usual chat board, I am going to have to think about this for a while.

by bobrulz :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:22pm

I can't find the article, but I'm fairly confident that the guy whose primarily responsible for creating the QBR system stated that they tossed out the clutch factor this year because they found out what everybody already knows - quarterbacks play just as well in the clutch as they do at any other point of a game.

by CowboysFAN (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 7:55pm

At least QB's not named Tony Romo...

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:57pm

Considering he has the highest career rating in the 4th quarter among active quarterbacks, you just might have a point.

by billium99 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:08pm

Or Tim Tebow. I know we don't use such language at FO, but as a Bronco fan and atheist, I've never screamed louder at my TV than two years ago, every game, all season.

Why Jacksonville did not snatch him up that off-season...it's just foolhardy. He may never be an "NFL-caliber QB" - but Jags current roster of QBs really are?

Hell maybe Tebow will never be a DVOA consideration for QB, but football players operate in a psychological state that very few of us understand, and I watched elite veterans bend down to pray with Tebow at the end of games - he made believers out of even hardened veterans, and they played above their level, for that kid!

Tim "God-Boy" Tebow may be the answer on several different teams right now, but none as much as the Jags. But it doesn't matter. Too much NFL dogma is working against him.


And did I mention ticket sales and jerseys? I didn't!!!


by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:00pm

Why would the Jags want to be mediocre this year when they can be the worst and get themselves an elite player? Not that I necessarily agree that Tebow would be an improvement. Yes, people like him personally, but remember, even granting him "4th quarter kid" status, Tebow is useless unless your defense holds the the opposition to under 10 points through three quarters.

The man with no sig

by Jerry :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:29pm

The link is in comments 27 and 28 above.

by maxnote :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:18pm

Could we see the VOA for the Seahawks/49ers game? I'm curious to see exactly how dominant Seattle's defense was.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 9:11pm

Assuming that this weeks' VOA is a play-weighted average of the last two games, then something like

SF -79.7 6.3
SEA 2.6 -70.5

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:03pm

Meaning that SFs terrible VOA is mostly the result of one horrible game. Probably not as big a deal as people are making it out to be. Unless you expected them to be the best team in the league... that's pretty much out, I think.

The man with no sig

by coremill :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:20pm

I'm surprised the disparity is that big. The SF offense value isn't a shock (and will look better after opponent adjustments), but I'm surprised the D graded out as below average against Seattle. Are the penalties a big factor there?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 3:27pm

I do have access to premium and his numbers aren't far off. I have two questions though: are the personal foul penalties included, as you have asked? Secondly, is Kaepernick's scrambling included under rushing DVOA or passing?

BTW, it's the passing DVOA that's really, really bad.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:21pm

Has to be rushing DVOA. There's no way to tell a scramble from a designed run in a box score.

Teams with mobile quarterbacks will have their passing DVOA boosted because of that, since an incomplete pass/sack turns into a quarterback scramble, likely for positive yardage. The same happened with Newton last week.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:05am

FYI, this information for all teams, for all games, for all years we have data, is available for Premium subscribers.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:53pm

I'm glad that VOA is showing my worries about the GB defense to not all just be in my head. It feels a bit like 2011 again. An offensive that is nutso and a defense that does just enough but has clear weaknesses. I know I know, no Burnett and no Hayward. That still won't make up for Jones and Hawk as the ILB's and Nick Perry not seeming to be improving at all as an outside rusher to compliment Matthews. At least I feel comfortable with the D-line, which I haven't in years past. I'm not sure the players in the secondary are awful, but I'm also not sure that the new plan to just leave Williams and Shields on a side instead of matching them to receivers is going to work either. Of course Capers may have felt that way too as he put Williams in the slot for about 30 snaps against Washington and had Shields and House on the outside.

Alright enough homercentricism for now.

by ericogg :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:40pm

As another displaced GB fan (San Diego) I am worried that the coaches aren't doing enough to address this. Although it's only 2 games in, seems like they're not scheming enough to bring pressure. It's one thing to watch Matthews get double teamed and have an excuse but when there is then 3.5 (RB perhaps) to go 1 on 1 with the other 3 rushers it doesn't exactly shift the opportunity to the defense.

There needs to be some changing on how often more than just 4 are being sent, it doesn't seem like it's enough to do what GB should be doing best. Hurry the QB, bad throws, opportunistic corners (Shields, Tramon, Hayward when back).

by mm(old) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 8:59pm

Saints Running Backs:

Mark Ingram: 17 runs, -54.3% VOA
Pierre Thomas: 14 runs, 27.8% VOA.

Can anyone get this info to Sean Payton? It seems he is the only one watching Saints' games who doesn't intuitively know this.

BTW Aaron, will you have the possibility in the future of using Snap data to provide DVOA numbers for teams with a given player in the game? It would be interesting to have a number for Saint's DVOA on all plays with Pierre Thomas on the field (even on plays he doesn't touch the ball), and compare that to numbers for Ingram & Darren Sproles.

I'm sure there's a lot of interesting things questions you could do with that data. It would help show how certain players are good blockers or good decoys when they don't get the ball.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:16pm

The NFL's snap data only gives snap totals for a game. It doesn't tell you which 22 players are on the field for each snap. To track that, you would need financial resources that far outstrip what I have for Football Outsiders.

by Cuenca Guy :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:50pm

All you need is NFL GameRewind (around $50 with the All-22) and lots and lots and lots of time.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 10:05pm

Rankings are crap now. No way are Raiders only 2 things ahead of crappy Steelesr. Raiders annihilated Jaguars and almost beat Cotls. Steelers lose at home to Titans and lose to Bengals. This not good tema. Steelers are crap. Horrible running attaxk, crap receivers, defense aging, ofensice line turdful. Defense okay.

Raiders solid everywhere. Good up and comingers at QB and head coach.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 10:38pm

Turdful is epic. That should be added to the dictionary.

by DA (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 10:19pm

I think GB's Defense will move up the rankings a decent bit over the year.

Game 1 they played a team (SF) that had an entire Offseason to Game Plan for them.
Yes, GB did too but SF Coaches >>>>>>>> GB Coaches. Not surprisingly, GB could not force turnovers (common for them vs SF) and mix ups with their safeties ended up in the Defense get torched.

Game 2, they shut out Wash in the 1st Half and then went into classic McCarthy take foot off pedal mode: Run, Run, Pass, Punt and Loose coverage.

The Pass Rush obviously is a concern and Perry does not impress me that much so far. I think their D Line is a decent bit better with both Jolly and Jones. The LBs I think are similar compared to last year. The secondary I would think is either equal or slightly better this year (hard to say)

by ericogg :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:34pm

Being a Packer fan I chalk week one up to they wanted to see what Kaepernick could do against a zone. He did well, and outplayed the coached defense. I was shocked there wasn't half time adjustments to go into Man or more pressure but thought it could be because the coaching staff felt they didn't have the personnel to do this for that game.

Either way, SF is a good team, Kaepernick can pass or run GB's defense to death clearly.

Week two they looked good, but partially because Washington's offense is so bad right now. GB has a big problem like you said about getting pressure which has to do with scheme I believe more than personnel. When you're only sending 4 against SF or 4 against Washington's run first offense, it's not going to generate too much pressure. There needs to be 5 and 6 man blitzes in man coverage, but the question is who do they send, and who stays to cover while some guys are hurt?

GB's defense will get better (there is no other way to go) but if the scheme doesn't change I don't envision much better. I'd GUESS a 31 to 23 type shift is about it.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 10:48pm

I would have loved to read BASKETBALL ON PAPER 25 years ago, before watching an NBA game became almost as much fun as a root canal.

by MJK :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:29pm

Regarding the Patriots: If their offense is ranked so poorly at the end of the year, I'll be surprised. Of course, if their starters at the end of the year at the "skill" positions are Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Michael Hoomanawanui (sp???), and LeGarrett Blount, I will also be surprised. And if those are their starters throughout the year, they deserve a terrible offensive ranking!

by RickD :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:39am

Well, they did have Ridley in their last game. I know it was easy to miss - he had a bad game. But the Pats really haven't been able to run on the Jets in years. Whatever Rex Ryan's flaws are, he can design a defense that stops the run.

Gronk is 50-50 for Sunday. Presumably that means he'll be back for the Falcons game. Amendola will likely be a couple weeks more, and Vereen a few weeks more than that.

I think, though, that the only way that the offense can be considered "elite" this season is if the rookie WRs dramatically improve. Dobson in particular is supposed to have a pretty high ceiling. (I refuse to use the word "upside".)

by Led :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:31am

Given their history, isn't it reasonable to expect Gronk and Amendola to miss more time this year even after they return from their current injuries? I think expecting more than 8 healthy games from either of them is aggressive.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:18am

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.

Amendola is just as healthy and durable as Wes Welker. We've proven that. Pay no attention to how often he gets hurt or how many games he misses. He's just a bounce away from going on a Favreian streak, wherein in 2030 he's hawking discount jeans and losing fumbles against the Saints.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 4:56pm

Any reason why you have to act like a jackass? If anything Patriot fans are more down on Amendola than they should be, certainly they aren't acting as if he is an iron man. And the comment beneath this does a fine job of refuting the main gist of this point.

Not only did you create a straw man, you entirely fabricated an argument than no one was even making, so you are basically mocking yourself. Really strange.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:32am

He leads a rich interior life.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:23am

Gronkowski has never started less than 11 games.
Amendola played 1 game in the season he blew out his elbow in week 1, but other than that, he has played 11, 16, and 14 games.

So why the hell should 8 games be the expectation?

by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 11:17am

Because he is already injured.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:52pm

You're making the assumption that hes going to get injured again though, and there's no reason to do that.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:24pm

Other than his established history of being built like a china doll?

He's the Bob Sanders of wide receivers.

Wes Welker: Danny Amendola
Troy Polamalu: Bob Sanders

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:38pm

The only real difference between Welker and Amendola injury-wise is that Welker's major injury happened in week 16, and Amendola's in Week 1.

I'd argue that Welker's had a far more negative affect on his team's season that Amendola's.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:55pm

It's an interesting question, though - is the timing of injuries a random occurrences, or indicative of extended wear & tear? Was it pure chance that Welker was injured later in the year, or is he just more durable and lasted longer? Does Amendola's early injury make him more likely to be injured again later on, or is it a random occurance?

Hell if I know.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:18pm

I think it's mostly random, with a slight amount of skill. You've had the most opportunities to be injured by week 16, so lets say injuries work like a die roll. A really durable player is only injured on a 6, while an Amendola is injured on a 3-6. As the opportunities to roll a 6 increase you would expect it to happen more. So a week 16 injury means the player has had the most opportunities to be hurt, while in early weeks there have just been fewer opportunities.

However, I believe wear and tear do add up and as the year goes on, the odds of being injured increase, but I bet it's not a big difference.

That said, an early injury that takes you out for a few weeks probably makes it less likely to be injured later. You have less wear and tear from actually playing, and you've decreased your opportunities for injury. It depends what the injury is of course. Something like a high ankle sprain would cause more of the wear and tear effect than playing in the games.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 2:01pm

It seems like it should be possible to do an analysis of new names on team Injury Reports and/or the IR/PUP list and find out whether the incidence of injury league wide is higher late in the season than early. While it wouldn't answer questions about individual players durability, it might give some insight into how much "wear and tear" contributes to major injury.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:01pm

So if we compare Welker and Amendola's injury years, we find that Welker was able to play 14 games before getting injured, and Amendola was able to 1 game before getting injured. Therefore, Welker is 14x less likely than Amendola to suffer a season ending injury in a single game, given those data points.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:38pm

That's not even considering their entire careers, as I noted in another thread. I mean, if you compare both players' career started games, you'll find Welker played an enormous amount of games before getting injured, while Amendola started a few. Saying that Amendola is as durable as Welker is right there with "Tim Tebow rocks" as the falsest football ideas I've ever heard.

The man with no sig

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:56am

Not really.

Mind you, I'm a big Welker fan and wish the Pats had retained him. But this kind of analysis you guys are doing to estimate "durability" is just so much crap.

You're throwing away all the knowledge we have of the human body and postulating that "will be injured" is a 1-parameter variable with an i.i.d. distribution, where the parameter varies from player, and can be easily validated by simply seeing how quickly a player is injured the first few times.

That's just not even remotely scientific.

What you can do is say "Gronkowski has a history of back issues, and is more likely to have a flare up of the same condition."

What you cannot do is say "Danny Amendola injured his elbow in 2011 and his groin in 2013 therefore he is more likely to be injured again in some third way in 2013."

"Built like a china doll" is not literally true.

Yes, Amendola hurt his groin. That's gotta be one of the most common injuries at the WR position. The fact that he hurt his wrist two years ago is, at this point, completely irrelevant.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 9:17am

So you're saying durability has nothing to do with not getting injured vs playing time? Cause that's what I'm saying. Some people simply have more resilient bodies, are better "built", just like any other machine, and so can withstand more abuse. Is that truly throwing out all we know about the human body? I seriously doubt it.

The man with no sig

by Independent George :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 11:58am

I think I agree with you, but there is another plausible theory - that injuries in one part of the body tend to cascade as the player changes his form to compensate, leading to additional injury. And that slighter-built payers are more prone to accumulated injuries, just as heavier players are more prone to back or knee injuries.

I freely admit I don't know that any of this applies; I'm not a doctor, and human physiology is so random that it's hard to generalize about things like this.

I'm just saying that in some cases, there might actually be a sound scientific premise underlying the anecdotal 'conventional wisdom', and it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 9:35am

"... and human physiology is so random..."

I think that pretty much says it all. Do we really need elaborate theories to say some players are more injury-prone than others?

The man with no sig

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:48am

Well, if you think one sampling is a good way to estimate the value of a random variable...

by Cuenca Guy :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:55pm

No one seems to get your sarcasm. This is the 2nd woosh.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:47am

And this is where you veer wildly away from making a cogent argument involving facts and degenerate into pure nonsensical name-calling.

"Other than his established history of being built like a china doll" is the kind of argument I expect at Yahoo or ESPN.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:36am

Gronkowski played 16 games as a rookie and 16 games as a 2nd year player.

And even last season he played 11 games.

by peterplaysbass :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 9:14am

Vereen will be a big help when he returns.

by Anonymous456 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:59pm

"The Pats really haven't been able to run on the Jets in years."

In 6 games against the Jets prior to this one, the Pats run yardage has been: 131, 152, 60, 152, 113, 101.

by Buck B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:45pm

KC Defense is clearly poor because FO predicted they would be worst in the league but VOA after two games is best in the league. This means that the actual results of the games are "strange".

by AnonymousQ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:32am

Basically they are saying that anyone who plays Jax is more difficult to rank because the quality of their offense diverges so much from even an average offense.

by SFC B :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 8:12am

Is the Texans' Special Teams ranking all Bullock's missed FGs? Their actual punting and kick-offs have been better this year, and they're doing a very good job of defending returns.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 4:47pm

You can see it all broken down in the separate DVOA page for STs, but you've guessed correctly.

by ericogg :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:20pm

One quick comment I have is that the quick blog says that teams that do well on Offense in blowouts is about the same as offense in close games, but what I might argue or offer in a different way is that defenses have a different motivation. Are they really playing as hard when they're up 24. Is it that big of a deal to give up a TD when your offense is continuing to score and just keeping the distance?

Looking at the Washington adjustments that need to be made I'd say certainly that probably no adjustments need to be made to their defense DVOA but I'd say there needs to be some value adjusted to the offensive DVOA once down a certain amount (what that amount is I don't know).

Perhaps looking at Defensive DVOA when up by >16 points (2 scores when having to go for two) versus <14 points (Two normal scores) and using those differences in Defensive DVOA to adjust the offensive power of teams that excel when down by more than two scores.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:56pm

"...the quick blog says that teams that do well on Offense in blowouts is about the same as offense in close games."


That's not really what it says. It's actually "...the difference between how well an offense plays when way behind and how well an offense plays in a close game is MUCH smaller than most fans would expect."

They're only saying the difference isn't as big as they think most people would expect. It doesn't say there's no difference, or that they treat the offense equally in those cases.

And there IS some adjustment to the offensive team's DVOA when they are down a lot of points (based on the typical performance change in offenses for that scenario). So the change in defensive tactics is already accounted for there. (As is the change in defense itself, when accounted for being up by a lot of points.)

by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 3:56pm

To piggyback off what is being said here, people often forget that while defenses change strategy while they're up by a bunch of points, so does the offense that's working to get back. The offense have to throw the ball more, play more uptempo, and take risks down the field that they wouldn't take if they had the lead, in which they can play more conservatively. So things tend to balance out.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 5:41pm

Ouch. I just noticed that VOA has the Washington defense rating almost as badly as the Jacksonville offense. I'm sure opponent adjustments will see that rise a touch, but yeowsers.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:44pm

Their top two DBs are Brandon Meriweather and Deangelo Hall. Why would you expect anything else?

by Perfundle :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:03am

"Kickoff returns and punt returns are judged on return yardage only."

Watching the NE-NY game and then SF-Seattle game, it seems that this way of judging punt returns leaves out the yards gained from not allowing an unfielded ball to roll forwards. I would think that Tate's insane rushes into traffic to field punts probably saved a few yards, while the Jets had one the the worst non-fumbling punt return games I had ever seen (either no one was back at all, or Wilson would not even bother to field it, and when he did, he got tackled hilariously easily).

by Jerry :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:15am

Beyond the usual issue of sticking to the play-by-play, there's absolutely no way of even estimating how many yards a given punt would have rolled if not picked up.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 6:00pm

Especially since some punts bounce backwards or sideways when they hit the field.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 1:20am

Jeez, SF looks terrible this year; Colts are sure to kill 'em this weekend!

Either that, or these results will look a bit different for each team this time next week.....

by MattA1978 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 2:44pm

I like that Jacksonville is so bad that you don't feel the need to include them on the payoff odds report. Well done FO, well done.

by mitch (not verified) :: Sun, 09/22/2013 - 11:52am

Denver sitting up there with a monster DVOA is playing way over their heads, as evidenced by the best teams in the DVOA era being around 40.

Denver is playing on a unsustainable level and has only one way to go and that is down.

Expect a huge regression this week or next for Denver.

Same principle would apply to the Jags.

Have fun and enjoy the games.