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24 Sep 2013

Week 3 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The third week of the season actually didn't bring that many changes from the first two weeks of the season. The DVOA system certainly felt the New York Jets outplayed the Buffalo Bills by much more than the score indicated, as the Jets move up to 12th overall and the Bills move down from eighth to 19th. The Eagles and Rams dropped a good bit, and we've also got the Panthers jumping up into the top ten after dismantling the Giants, which puts their in-season rating much more in-line with our surprising preseason projection that had them as the top team in their division.

However, the big story of 2013 continues to be the big gap between Denver and Seattle and everyone else, along with the big gap on the other side between Jacksonville and everyone else. Obviously, these things are tied together, since the Seahawks clobbered the Jaguars this weekend. This will be our last week without opponent adjustments, and beginning next week we should have enough data to get a better idea of how much strength of schedule has impacted the stellar play of the Broncos and Seahawks as well as the horrible play of the Jaguars.

In the meantime, these teams rank among the best and worst teams we've ever seen through three games. Jacksonville stands out more than Seattle and Denver here. Through three games, they have a VOA rating of -91.0%, which is the lowest of any team in a dozen years and has only been surpassed by one team in the 25 years for which we have DVOA data: Washington in 2001. That team actually started the year with five straight losses, but the first three were really dismal. They lost to San Diego 30-3, got shut out 37-0 by Green Bay on Monday Night Football, and then lost their home opener 45-13 to Kansas City. Of course, that Washington team had one of the strangest, streakiest years in NFL history. They won five straight after starting 0-5, and eventually finished 8-8. I don't think the Jaguars will be finishing 8-8.

Worst Total VOA for 0-3 Teams, 1989-2013
Year Team VOA Final W-L
2001 WAS -92.1% 8-8
2013 JAC -91.0% --
2008 STL -85.8% 2-14
1993 TB -84.0% 5-11
2000 CIN -82.7% 4-12
2007 NO -74.9% 7-9
1999 CLE -73.0% 2-14
2008 DET -72.2% 0-16
2009 CLE -69.9% 5-11
1996 TB -69.8% 6-10
1996 SEA -69.7% 7-9
1989 DAL -68.0% 1-15

The Jaguars are also near the bottom if we look at just their offensive VOA of -68.2%. The only team with a lower offensive rating through three games was the expansion 2002 Houston Texans at 75.7%.

Flipping things around, the Seahawks and Broncos both appear on the list of the best dozen teams through three games. What's interesting is how few of these teams actually ended up dominating the league for the entire season. The top three teams are three of the greatest teams in NFL history, and yes, I'm including the 2007 Patriots in that statement despite the fact that they fell a couple minutes short of the perfect season. However, none of the other teams in the top ten finished better than 11-5. The 2001 and 2002 Chargers were basically the mirror image of Washington in 2001, starting the season off like gangbusters and then completely falling apart. And the ironic thing there, of course, is that the same head coach was in charge of the 2001 Washington team that started 0-5 but finished 8-8 and the 2002 San Diego team that started 6-1 but finished 8-8: Marty Schottenheimer. (For those who don't remember, the man who lost control of the 2001 Chargers and got fired to make way for Marty-ball was current Oregon State head coach Mike Riley.)

Best Total VOA for 3-0 Teams, 1989-2013
Year Team VOA Final W-L
1996 GB 94.4% 13-3
2007 NE 87.1% 16-0
1991 WAS 86.6% 14-2
2007 PIT 77.0% 10-6
1990 CHI 71.0% 11-5
2005 CIN 69.6% 11-5
2013 SEA 69.2% --
2002 SD 68.9% 8-8
2013 DEN 68.8% --
2001 SD 68.2% 5-11
2005 PIT* 66.8% 11-5
2009 BAL 65.8% 9-7
*2005 Steelers were actually 2-1, not 3-0.

The playoff odds report reflects just how far ahead the Seahawks and Broncos are compared to the rest of the league, especially since the Kansas City Chiefs (currently No. 3) had a lower preseason projection and thus a lower DAVE rating. The Seahawks have a 99.8 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 28.9 percent chance to win the Super Bowl. The Broncos have a 97.9 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 27.0 percent chance to win the Super Bowl. No other team is above 80 percent to make the playoffs or 8.0 percent to win the Super Bowl. Right now, either the Seahawks or the Broncos finish with a 16-0 regular season in over 5.0 percent of our simulations.

Strangely, the Jaguars are not currently the favorites to get the No. 1 overall selection in next year's draft. We currently have the New York Giants leading that race, thanks to a more difficult future schedule. Remember how the league keeps giving the Giants tougher opponents in the second half of the season, year after year? That's going to be a problem again this year, especially if the Washington defense can get its act together as Robert Griffin gets healthier.

(Ed. Note: Whoops. It turns out there was an error in the playoff odds equations which overestimated Jacksonville's chances of getting wins because their DAVE rating is so low. We've re-run the odds and Jacksonville is now the clear leader for the No. 1 overall pick, at 49.0 percent. Our apologies to Giants fans who were hoping to get Jadeveon Clowney to solve their pass rush problems.)

That does it for commentary this week; cutting it short so that I can get started on the KUBIAK midseason fantasy update. That should be available for download Thursday night or Friday morning.

* * * * *

Each week 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 3 are:

  • WR Eric Decker, DEN: Caught all eight targets for 133 yards, six first downs, and a touchdown
  • DE Charles Johnson, CAR: Sack, two QB hits, four QB hurries, and two run tackles for a yard or less
  • CB Leon Hall, CIN: Only allowed one completion covering Randall Cobb, a screen pass that gained 11 yards on third-and-12
  • RG Kyle Long and RT Jordan Mills, CHI: Key pieces of the improved Bears line that played very well against Pittsburgh and has allowed only three sacks on the season so far

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through three 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 55 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 SEA 69.2% 2 42.8% 1 3-0 21.9% 5 -39.6% 1 7.6% 2
2 DEN 68.8% 1 42.0% 2 3-0 51.1% 1 -8.3% 12 9.4% 1
3 KC 34.6% 3 6.4% 11 3-0 5.4% 14 -27.4% 3 1.8% 11
4 IND 22.7% 9 6.4% 10 2-1 26.2% 4 5.5% 21 2.0% 10
5 NO 21.1% 12 13.8% 6 3-0 4.3% 15 -15.9% 5 0.9% 14
6 CHI 19.9% 7 8.5% 8 3-0 6.2% 13 -10.7% 8 3.0% 8
7 CAR 18.4% 20 16.9% 5 1-2 8.4% 10 -11.8% 7 -1.8% 22
8 MIA 17.3% 5 3.0% 13 3-0 10.3% 8 0.0% 18 7.0% 4
9 GB 15.6% 4 20.1% 3 1-2 33.9% 2 19.5% 29 1.2% 13
10 CIN 15.1% 10 9.9% 7 2-1 7.9% 11 -7.5% 13 -0.3% 17
11 NE 13.7% 11 19.7% 4 3-0 -10.7% 23 -18.7% 4 5.7% 5
12 NYJ 12.7% 22 1.9% 14 2-1 -21.4% 28 -29.9% 2 4.3% 6
13 ATL 9.6% 13 6.7% 9 1-2 17.9% 7 6.9% 22 -1.4% 20
14 DAL 8.5% 21 0.2% 18 2-1 -0.4% 17 -8.5% 11 0.4% 15
15 PHI 6.3% 6 1.9% 15 1-2 21.3% 6 14.9% 26 0.0% 16
16 DET 4.5% 17 0.7% 16 2-1 10.0% 9 -4.3% 15 -9.8% 30
17 TEN -0.1% 15 -9.5% 25 2-1 -1.2% 18 -7.0% 14 -5.9% 26
18 SD -0.2% 18 -4.0% 20 1-2 28.1% 3 27.3% 31 -1.1% 19
19 BUF -1.8% 8 -8.9% 24 1-2 -4.9% 20 -1.4% 17 1.7% 12
20 HOU -6.6% 16 0.4% 17 2-1 -2.8% 19 -10.1% 10 -13.8% 32
21 TB -7.3% 19 -0.8% 19 0-3 -21.9% 29 -15.5% 6 -0.9% 18
22 BAL -7.7% 27 3.5% 12 2-1 -8.5% 21 1.6% 20 2.3% 9
23 PIT -12.0% 25 -5.3% 22 0-3 -17.6% 27 -2.4% 16 3.2% 7
24 MIN -16.7% 26 -15.5% 26 0-3 -14.3% 25 0.8% 19 -1.6% 21
25 STL -21.6% 14 -19.1% 28 1-2 -12.7% 24 16.4% 27 7.4% 3
26 CLE -23.5% 29 -16.0% 27 1-2 -30.2% 30 -10.2% 9 -3.4% 24
27 SF -29.8% 28 -5.1% 21 1-2 -8.8% 22 14.3% 24 -6.7% 28
28 ARI -31.3% 24 -20.1% 29 1-2 -14.4% 26 10.7% 23 -6.2% 27
29 OAK -34.2% 23 -24.5% 30 1-2 0.1% 16 26.0% 30 -8.3% 29
30 WAS -37.3% 31 -8.2% 23 0-3 6.3% 12 37.9% 32 -5.6% 25
31 NYG -59.8% 30 -25.5% 31 0-3 -31.9% 31 14.7% 25 -13.2% 31
32 JAC -91.0% 32 -52.9% 32 0-3 -68.2% 32 19.3% 28 -3.4% 23

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Sep 2013

258 comments, Last at 01 Oct 2013, 12:00pm by Crunch


by Led :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:17pm

Regression to the Marty.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:28pm

Bit disingenuous to say that the Broncos and Seahawks are the only teams with an over 80% chance of making the playoffs based on DAVE (which, incidentally, really doesn't seem to make much sense as a method of determining how good a team is on a year-to-year basis, and is specifically off when a team has experienced a large amount of personnel and /or schematic change over the offseason.) The Patriots and Bears are at 79%, and the Saints are roughly at 80%. It's still a massive gap, but not as big as it might appear.

Anyway, the Giants O-Line is really terrible, the Jaguars are all around abysmal, and Seattle still hasn't convinced me of anything (but the Broncos are going to win the super bowl barring injuries.)

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:34pm

Isn't right above the team you want to gate out where you would put the cutoff line? It's showing that there's at least a 97.9% - 80% = 17.9% percent gap between the two and the next team; seems pretty straightforward to me.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:47pm

Everybody here knows that DAVE is imperfect. It's a best estimate with imperfect information. It's used to give some sort of oppenent adjustments and to temper variance that occurs with a small sample size.

Anyhow, I'm a Broncos fan and I disagree with the notion that the Seahawks haven't been very impressive as well, though I think that we'll see Denver's defense improve once Champ Bailey and Von Miller return. Even losing Tony Carter and Duke Ihenacho seemed to have an effect during the Raiders game.

by Spuuky (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:51pm

Just curious, what exactly does Seattle have to do to "convince you of anything"? 3-0 with a top-5 rank in offense, defense, and special teams with a massive point differential isn't good enough?

@Car, SF, Jax isn't a noticeably easier schedule than Bal, @NYG, Oak, so I hope you aren't going to bring up anything opposition-related.

by Richie :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:09pm

I'm not sure anybody is suggesting that Seattle isn't one of the top 2 teams. But, 67% of their performance this year comes from home games (including one against a hapless Jacksonville team), where they play much better. Also, there is a chance that something is wrong with San Francisco, which will make that win even less impressive. Context is critical right now.

Same goes for Denver, who played against Oakland and the Giants, who have struggled.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:17pm

Well if you're going to put it like that, no team has convinced anybody of anything, so it's strange for him to single out only Seattle.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:30pm

They haven't convinced me that their defense can make up for offensive inconsistency. I'm a Bears fan, I'm probably still bitter about last year.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:40pm

How has Denver convinced you that their offense can make up for defensive inconsistency? Don't forget that they were down at halftime in their first two games.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:47pm

I don't think he will forget that, given they were leading at half against the Giants.

Also, it has been more offensive inconsistency. The defense has been consistently good for most of the game, and if they didn't give up some garbage points in each game, would look quite a bit better.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:57pm

Whoops, yeah, I thought they were behind 10-9.

As for the defense, I wouldn't call giving up 224 yards to the Giants and 262 yards to the Ravens in the first half consistently good. That doesn't sound like garbage-time yards to me.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:49pm

I was speaking more to garbage time points, but I get your point.

Either way, the broncos and SEahawks are the only two teams that have really separated themselves this year. So many of the 3-0, 2-1, or 1-2 teams could be anything in between (NE, CHI, NO, CIN, ATL, GB). Crazy year so far.

by Funkey Monkey :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:32am

I'm a seattle fan, but let's be fair. They probably should have lost the Carolina game (their only road game) if not for the fumble. And they were only up 5-0 at halftime of the niners game.

Denver on the other hand was only close for a 1/2 with the giants (also on the road) and have substantially better every time else.

3 games just isn't enough of a sample to really be drawing any conclusions yet.

by someguy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:53pm

You really can't say that because there was still 5 minutes left on the clock in that game. Who's to say what would have happened after that, there may have been a different fumble, there may have been an interception, there may have been a field goal, there may have been a failed fourth down, all would have led to the same result. Even if they did score a touchdown, the Seahawks drove down the field on the last drive, and who's to say that they wouldn't have scored if they didn't take a knee at the end of the game?

by DonksKickAsk (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:30pm

Thanks for being objective. All of this talk about who's better, hawks or broncos, is just that - yadda, yadda, yadda...

Hopefully this will be settled between our two teams in Feb 14, on the football field just like it should be. Will be an excellent game.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:54pm

The Bears defense last year couldn't make up for an utterly anemic offense. Sure, the Seahawks aren't terribly bad on offense, but they don't look like they really have a top-5 or maybe even top-10 offense, and I'm therefore very hesitant to believe that the Seahawks are really the best team in the league. The Packers in 2011 could make up for an atrocious defense, I think Denver's offense this year is comparable to or possibly even better than that, and the Denver defense isn't nearly as bad. As I said, the fact that I'm a Bears fan is a pretty major reason why I think this way.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 9:04pm

Considering exactly how good Seattle's offense was last year, I think it's fair to expect them to improve their current VOA especially given that Carolina has the look of a very good defense so far.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 9:45pm

"The Packers in 2011 could make up for an atrocious defense"
Not in the playoffs they couldn't.

"The Bears defense last year couldn't make up for an utterly anemic offense."
Even at 7-1 last year, Chicago was 25th in DVOA on offense. I don't know how much opponent adjustments will change Seattle's offensive ranking, but I doubt they'll drop below 10th (of course, next week's ranking will also include the Houston game). Not all good offenses look like the ones manned by the elite QB in their pass heavy systems.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 9:57pm

The single game that the Packers lost in the playoffs doesn't really outweigh the 15 they won in the regular season.

Seattle, before the Jags game that I'm going to dismiss as an outlier because the Jags are terrible, was 13th in Offense. Perhaps that will go up a lot, but until/unless it does, I'm not ready to call Seattle a better team than the Broncos.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:48pm

I don't think anybody was asking you to consider them better than the Broncos just to give them their due. Also, Seattle's offense put in a performance much better than the Jag's other two opponents. And they had a great day passing the ball against a good Carolina defense as well. Considering how good they were last year, their poor performance against San Fran shouldn't carry too much weight either.

Anyhow, their performance is good enough to deserve acknowledgement. I think that Denver's defense will improve as well, but I think it's a lot to expect both Denver and Seattle to continue this pace that would be a truly rare season, but we can acknowledge that even if they regress, they both appear special.

Though, it's also important to note that they were 11th and 12th respectively after week 3 last year.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:18am

And yet you don't dismiss Oakland as an outlier, whose defense is equally terrible?
In fact, Denver's defensive VOA actually got worse after playing Oakland. Sounds just as unimpressive as you're making Seattle's offense to be.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:26am

Oakland is miles better than Jacksonville on offense. I accept your point with regard to Peyton's performance.

I have said that Denver's defense isn't as impressive as their offense. I have also said that I think having a fantastic offense can compensate far more easily for a non-fantastic defense far more easily than a fantastic defense can compensate for a non-fantastic offense.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 4:59am

Oakland is also better on defense than Jacksonville. They shut Luck down pretty well for most of the Colts game after the initial 2 drives, and had the Jags offense shut down as well until pre-vent time.
And Denver this year - that's just not a fair test.

by Grammar Police (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:43pm

"But, 67% of their performance this year comes from home games (including one against a hapless Jacksonville team), where they play much better"

Pretty convenient then that they play 6 more games there

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:08pm

Well, 6 more games is only 46% of the remainder of their regular-season schedule, which is a decent fraction but quite a bit less than 67%, hence the possibility of some regression to the mean.

by EricL :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:21pm

Their schedule is very streaky. They have four of the next five on the road, with the next two being 10AM PDT starts.

by RickD :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:10am

If they cannot figure out how to deal with consecutive "10 AM PDT" starts there's not much to say.

by Glen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:56pm

"Context is critical."

Yes, it is, and the fact that the Seahawks beat a very underrated Carolina team (#7 DVOA, #7 Def, #8 Off) at 10AM on the road will speak more to the talent of Carolina over the course of the season than you give credit.

by RickD :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:12am

I'm pretty sure the game wasn't scheduled at 10 AM.

(Really sick of this particular whine by fans of west coast teams. 10 AM is hours later than the typical starting time for a marathon.)

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:23am

NFL games and marathons are somewhat dissimilar athletic competitions, so I don't know if using one to compare to the other makes much sense. Whining about anything is of limited utility, but a distinctly unwhiney bunch, the sharpies in the desert, seem to think that West Coast teams with a noon start on the East Coast have an additional impediment to winning. Perhaps the sharpies are making judgement on the moral fiber of the West Coast softies, but I doubt it.

by Glen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:37pm

It wasn't a response as a whine. It is documented that all west coast teams play significantly worse in the Central and Eastern time zone early games. CHFF had a pretty well researched article on it last April.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:30pm

I find this a particularly stupid comment. Marathon is an individual sport, football is a team sport. A marathoner can choose to sit out an event (at personal cost, granted); an NFL player has no such choice. The only thing that really matters here is the time lag problem, which can not be solved when there is only a week between games.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:59am

I'll also add that in most weather conditions, starting a marathon at noon would be a whole butt-load worse than starting at 8 a.m. Last year in Seattle the temp was 36 at the start and while I was a bit chilled in shorts and a t-shirt, I was unhappily warm when the sun came out three hours later lifting the thermometer to about 45. I was quite uncomfortable in the sun. How Olympians do it in August in places like Seoul or LA is beyond me.

The early hour is not the real issue for NFL teams--it's travel plus time change plus early hour. Football is a game of athletic bursts and stops and players need to focus and think about a complex variety of responsibilities totally dependent on what the other guys are doing. That requires some alertness and mental dexterity. Marathoners run a long, tedious line, generally straight (or with a pack) for a few hours. No starts/stops, not much to think about, and sometimes the only thing in your head is the last book you read or song you heard.

by CHawk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:01pm

Yeah, what's wrong with SF is that they lost 5 players to injury being outmuscled by Seattle while simultaneously losing all confidence.

If I could I would post a pic of Peyton Manning's expression while getting dominated by Seattle in Pre Season. Lol priceless

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:18am

You guys know pre-season games don't count in the standings, right?

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:26am

Manning's face looks like that every time he throws an incompletion.

Anyhow, the Broncos looked pretty bad all preseason and not just against Seattle and the season starts and suddenly they dominate. Any fan who's seen their team go winless in the preseason and then have an awesome year or go undefeated in the preseason and then blow chunks for the year has learned to take the results with a grain of salt and roll their eyes at a troll like you.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:37am

BTW, the Manning era Colts teams were laughably bad in the preseason. I believe they were 0-9 in '05 and '06. They started those years 13-0 and 9-0.

Preseason wins and losses mean so little.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:02am

I always thought that was a Polian thing--basically they were set at the key spots, so get all the marginal fence-sitters out there as much as possible, try some goofy stuff, etc. Get the young guys and bench sitters reps to see if they can emerge next year. Who cares about the results?

by dryheat :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:27pm

Wow....I haven't seen The Curse arounds these parts for several seasons now. And for a team ranked #1? Interesting.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:20pm

"Disingenuous" really isn't the word you want. Try "misleading" next time.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:29pm

I assumed the statement was purposefully misleading in an attempt at hyperbole. It's an appropriate usage of the word, I feel, but misleading is probably a bit better.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:58pm

I think "disingenuous" implies a degree of insincerity that isn't present here. Indeed, the way that they've described the range of values ("only ones great than 80%") is fairly standard. And it strongly implies that the next highest value is close to 80%, just as the term "15 game hitting streak" implies that the batter in question was hitless 16 games prior.

by Joel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:35pm

I agree that the Seahawks haven't shown the league anything. Now, if they had held opponents to less than 10 points per game, that would be something.

Wait, what?

by JonnyD (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:20am

Seems like a bad year for Denver to get to the Superbowl, if they get there - outside in New Jersey in Feb - I dont like Payton's chances of a good game. If they play a team with a half-decent defense and a good run game they will be in trouble (hello Seatle?).

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:11pm

I don't think Payton has to worry much about NJ in Feb against Seattle since they're in the same conference. They may have trouble with the AFC team if there's bad weather, they are a dome team in the south after all.

by dryheat :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:46pm

Are you giving the poster a hard time mis-spelling Manning's first name, not following the context of the thread, or somehow missed the moving of Seattle to the NFC a couple of decades ago?

by D2K :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 2:44pm

I understand what what he did, what I dont understand is how he did it? Does that make sense? I am assuming that he was talking about Sean Payton, simply from the context clues (dome team from the South in the same conference as Seattle), completely misinterpreting what he was responding too was a post about PEYTON Manning.

by Anonymous242424 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:00pm

Jon, if Seattle hasn't convinced you of anything then frankly you aren't able to be convinced.

by Neffarias_Bredd :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:28pm

Would it be too complicated to code this in as a flex table type thing? That way it'd be quick and easy to sort the teams by the different metrics.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:30pm

We get that request a lot. It's on the to do list.

by Neffarias_Bredd :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:38pm

I figured as much. Thanks for the article!

by Spleen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:29pm

Baltimore defense still not in the black (or red?), even after a allowing no TDs for two weeks.

by AJ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:35pm

Opponent adjustments await one more week...

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:31pm

You know that "regression to mean" that everyone was expecting the niners to suffer from last year? It's here just a season late.

by Neffarias_Bredd :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:35pm

I definitely think that San Fran has regressed this year. BUT, I think that once adjustments for opponents get factored in next week they'll get a very large boost. Even if it isn't back to where preseason projections put them.

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:47pm

I agree that San Fran will get a boost from Seattle, but I don't think they will get as much a boost from GB or Indy as we might have expected earlier. Frankly I think Seattle exposed San Fran. San Fran's wide out's can't get open on press man coverage, and if they can't do that, then opposing teams can stuff the box and that destroys the threat of the read option and the running game.

Remember that San Fran was 6-10 before going 13-3 and 11-4-1 and some serious regression to mean is probably in order. I believe we are starting to see this now. The game at St Loius this Thursday will tell us a lot.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:26pm

I agree - the Rams/9ers and a number of other games this weekend span the over/under achievers. Definitely a "will they be who we thought they were" flavor to this weekend.

by omaholic :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:27pm

I think we also saw how important Vernon Davis is to their offense right now (at least until Crabtree is back), which surprised me.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:32am

Indy is 4th and GB 9th in DVOA. Yeah, they'll get a boost.

The man with no sig

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 10:37pm

The regression of San Francisco has likely been greatly exaggerated. Losing the 1, 2, and 4 options in their passing game hasn't helped. The 49ers were the healthiest NFL team last year; even Justin Smith's injury was only in the last two games. Some regression was likely. But I still think they're one of the top NFC teams.

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:18pm

I'm not so sure. Like I said upthread the game on Thurday against the Rams will tell us a lot. I am guessing that Seattle has exposed the Niner offense and Kaepernick in particular. If the niners can't make teams pay for using press man coverage (and so far they haven't), then it's going to be a long season for San Fransisco. Like I said, this is a regression that has been coming for a while now. In short I think the NFL is starting to figure out Kaep and he isn't quite as good as adverised.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:49pm

Their injury luck definitely regressed to the mean.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:08am

For sure. What ticks me off (Colts fan) is that some teams seem to be perpetually missing 3-6 starters yet they never seem to progress upward to a healthy mean. The flip answer is "you need depth--that's why it's a 53 man roster" but then I se teams like SF last year and grind my teeth. Why can't my team have that health luck? Just last week they put three starters on IR, with one leaving the lineup the week before as well.

by panthersnbraves :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 3:32am

A lot of Panther's fans wonder about the Medical team, the conditioning, and maybe the grounds crew too? Something in the food?

Somehow they manage to put almost a quarter of the team out every year.

by AJ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:32pm

At what pt does firing Gus Bradley become a serious statement. Is jax talent really this much worse than league average or does coaching not having a sizeable effect here. Either that or mularky has been one hell of an underrated coach

by RolandDeschain :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:37pm

AJ, firing new coaches after one year is a surefire way to stay stuck at the bottom for a long time. Gotta give coaches a fair shake. Especially one that just worked with Pete Carroll who took a horrible team and made it elite in three short years.

by terry funk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:05pm

Yeah But Pete Carroll Replaced Jim Mora After Only One Year Of Being A Head Coach....

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:13pm

Yep and that was considered fairly contraversial at the time (not to mention a bit unfair to Jim Mora). The thing is that Mora was Ruskell's choice, and Ruskell by this time was persona non-grata (and for good reason). Ruskell in four years essentially destroyed the Seahawks turning them from a SB team to one of the least talented teams in the NFL. Since Mora was Ruskell's guy, he had to go.

by Neffarias_Bredd :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:37pm

I don't think it does at all this year. This is his first year with a team that really doesn't have any talent on it. Everyone in Jacksonville knew that this was going to be a rebuilding year and the most you can honestly expect is improvement by the end of the year.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:00pm

That's true, and it should be remembered that what was already a bad offense has lost its #1 receiver (Blackmon is suspended), its best tight end (Marcedes Lewis is injured, expected back this week), and its starting QB (though how much of a loss Gabbert is vs. Henne is open to debate). Tom Brady has struggled without Gronkowski and Amendola; we can't expect Chad Henne to play well without Blackmon and Lewis. (Whether you can expect Blaine Gabbert to play well even -with- Blackmon and Lewis is, of course, another matter.)

It's not a good roster, and it'll take more than one year to fix that. I'm confident the Khans know this, and I'll be surprised and disappointed if Bradley's job is in any real danger from purely a results standpoint.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:38pm

What kind of coach are you going to attract if you signal to them that they will get fired after one season if they can't fix the situation?

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:46pm

Its not unprecedented. The 07 dolphins went 1-15 under Cam Cameron. They subsequently fired him, hired tony Sparano and the team went 11-5 the next year. Not quite the same example, but Bill Callahan wasn't given more than 2 years as a coach. He coached one season to the sb, then got fired midway through the next year. We can debate whether those were worthwhile firings, but I think there is something to be said when you're the coach of a team that is THIS horrible. We're not saying Jax is any good, we're saying they are the worst team in dvoa history. And besides, what reason do they have for being any worse than last year offensively? Shouldn't they be better with joeckel at right tackle?

by Tino (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:53pm

what reason do they have for being any worse than last year offensively?

Seriously? I can think of 3:
Justin Blackmon suspended, Marcedes Lewis hurt, MJD hampered by injury

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:03pm

Yeah that's true, forgot about those.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:55pm

I think the main problem is that the whole staff must be terrible, so firing the top guy and promoting a coordinator isn't going to help the situation. Unless the coordinators are rebelling against the coach to get him fired.

Edit: of course it could just be an unlucky 3 weeks.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:08pm

All right, I'll amend my statement to say what kind of coach are you going to attract if you signal to them that they will get fired after one season if they can't fix the situation on a talentless team. Miami had 6-10 talent the year before (though I don't know the roster turnover between the two years), so to drop from that to 1-15 is pretty awful, especially the defense that dropped from 5th in DVOA to 31st. Jacksonville was a deserved 2-14 last year, so it's hard to expect Bradley to wring many wins from this roster.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:05pm

Mularkey was fired by this current ownership after only one year in the job. It's not an unreasonable question.

(There were other reasons, I believe, beyond just on-field results and performance which contributed to him being replaced.)

by Richie :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:15pm

There's also the part about considering firing a coach after 3 games (while one of his best players is suspended), and giving him the full season to work on things.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:32am

There is/was a vocal faction that was assuming Ron Rivera was going to get fired over the bye week - of course that assumed that the Panthers were going to lose to the Giants....

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:10am

A desperate man.

by Glen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:50pm

It's been three games. Give Gus a chance.

by michaelfox99 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:10am

I don't know a ton about JAX, but it's been 3 games. They might be worse than last year, but Bradley came in for a total rebuild. They are playing a lot of rookies. They have also had injuries to some key guys thus far. I don't think immediate improvement should be expected. He wants to set things on a different course. The important thing for Bradley is to improve as the season goes on, particularly on D.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:49pm

I'm surprised no one had brought up the Blaine Gabbert factor here. When you own the worst QB in the NFL, and hisvreplacement isn't even replacement value, you have an insoluble problem for any first year coach.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:03pm

Frazier managed it in his 2nd season.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:35pm

Are you sure about that?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 4:33pm

Ponder and Joe Webb? Yeah, I'm comfy with that.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:35pm

Are the Bears the least lucky team that has yet to actually be hurt by bad luck? All 3 games were 1 score well into the 4th quarter, and VOA thinks they're quite good.

by bkjsun :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:43pm

So opponent adjustments will be added for next's week DVOA ratings, but Kubiak update will come out before that? Is kubiak not going to be based on DVOA with opponent adjustments?

by Sifter :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:34pm

Yes I thought that was interesting, from memory the update was later last year, and therefore must have been DVOA-ised. Anyway...looking forward to the KUBIAK update - I need it!

by Vikes_Mike (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:45pm

Huh... I thought the Vikings would be worse. Well, we'll see after they lose to the Steelers.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:17pm

They are tied with NYG and JAX at 4.6 mean projected wins (i.e. their schedule is harder than the other lower DAVE teams, namely the Browns and Cards.)

The Steelers have a lower projected wins (6.1 vs. 6.3) than the Browns right now, if that gets your hopes up on their chances.

by revlisfootball :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:56pm

Anyone know when the premium database gets updated each week? It's one of my favorite tools to use, far superior than PFF in my honest opinion.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:41pm

It will usually be updated by Tuesday night. It is somewhat dependent on Sean McCall's day-job schedule.

by speedegg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:56pm

Interesting about the 2001 Washington team. Marty Schottenhemier said of all the teams he coached, he is most proud of that 8-8 Washington team. The shocked interviewer asked what about the Chargers, Chiefs, or Cleveland Browns? Schottenhemier replied because that Washington team was so dysfunctional it took so much just to turn things around and convince the players to believe in themselves. Washington was his hardest, and best, job which is why he is most proud of it.

That says a lot about the Washington team. The other funny thing? Schottenhemier took over for Norv Turner. The same Norv Turner that replaced him in San Diego after a 14-2 season.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:05pm

"Schottenhemier ... replaced ... in San Diego after a 14-2 season."

Hahaha, this never gets old.

by speedegg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:04am

Dude...you don't know how much that pains me.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 7:07pm

And it's all because Marlon McCree was an idiot.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:13am

Thanks, Marlon. The check is in the mail.

--Indianapolis Colts Fans

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:14pm

Reminds me of the 1999-2000 Orlando Magic team that Doc Rivers coached to a 41-41 record and one win away from the playoffs despite having a team of only role players who were picked to finish at the bottom by everyone; he got a Coach of the Year for that.

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:24pm

The other funny thing? Schottenhemier took over for Norv Turner. The same Norv Turner that replaced him in San Diego after a 14-2 season.

The third funny thing? Schottenheimer was replaced by Steve Spurrier. Which pretty much confirms the institutional culture Marty had to work with in Washington.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:58am

The fourth funny thing? When he was fired after a conflict with proto-genius, and That Great Humanist, A.J. Smith, it wasn't really so Norv could be hired, but rather because the conflict pertained to who would be hired as defensive coordinator. The Great Humanist hired his defensive coordinator before Norv, thus saddling a guy with enough deficiencies with an assistant, Ted Cottrell, who couldn't, I kid you not, communicate to his players as to how he wanted them to line up.

The fifth funny thing? The good defensive coordinator who left the Chargers, thus precipitating this rather notable huddled fornication, was one Wade Phillips. Where did the mediocre head coach go? Why to replace the one guy who might have been a superior (and certainly better recognized) turnaround specialist than Schottenheimer, one Bill Parcells.

Two guys with combined wins of well over 400 (!) games, for numerous franchises which were in the cellar when they arrived, left in disputes with ownership in the same month, so the intellectual titans in ownership could hire Wade Phillips as a head coach, Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator, and then to put the cherry on top, Norv Turner as head coach. Egads.

by speedegg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:35am

Sort of. That's the tip of the dysfunction iceberg. AJ Smith and Marty Schottenhemier's relationship deteriorated every year after GM John Butler died. It was generally accepted that 2006 would be Schottenhemier's last year since the team didn't extend his contract. Both would fight over large and small things. Everything from AJ Smith suspending Antonio Gates for holding out (one game suspension which they lost to Dallas, which cost them a playoff spot) to the coaches finding out players where traded by who didn't show up in the morning.

Officially, Schottenhemier was fired because he wanted to hire his brother as the secondary coach. Unofficially, Smith wanted Schottenhemier gone and Spanos sided with the GM. Supposedly Spanos said it was a conflict of interest to have family members working for each other and explicitly forbade it. Nevermind Spanos' sons worked in the scouting department or Schottenhemier's son was the QB coach. And hiring family members was something not explicitly in Schottenhemier's contract, HOWEVER his contract did say he could hire whomever he wanted to coach. So, Schottenhemier got fired for something he was allowed to do.

There's a lot more to it than that, but yeah. The three weeks after the playoff loss to the Patriots was the definition of a dysfunctional organization.

by arias :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:53pm

Damn. Wasn't aware of all the internal politics of the Chargers but it's crystal clear now why Archie was convinced they didn't have a clue as to what they were doing and Eli forced them to trade the pick to NY.

by tomdrees :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 4:43pm

Also: after being fired from the Redskins head coach jobto be replaced by Marty after 2000, Norv Turner then moved to the San Diego offensive coordinator position in 2001. Norv was then replaced AGAIN by Schottenheimer, who brought in Cam Cameron to coordinate the Chargers offense in 2002.

The lesson: if you are even thinking about replacing Norv Turner with Marty Schottenheimer in ANY WAY, expect your team to be great for half and awful for half of the next season.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:46pm

It really was an amazing coaching achievement. He took a dysfunctional organization with a gutted roster which started the season as the worst team in the past 25 years through 3 games, and by the end of the year, through sheer coaching force, dragged them to 3rd in the entire league by weighted DVOA! That's insane! His QB was Tony Banks! They cut Jeff George, the Week 1 starter, after 2 games because he was so bad! Not benched, cut! Their TEs combined for a statline of 37-409-4. Combined! (For reference, there were 30 TEs who surpassed that yardage total in 2012 alone.) In their first 5 games, they never totaled 125 passing yards- despite being behind in every game (and losing all of them)! Really, someone should write a book on that season.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:06am

I maintain that Marty Schottenheimer is the most underrated coach in NFL history. The man coached 25 full seasons (and one half-season in 1984), and had exactly two losing records the entire time.

Yes, he was far too conservative as a play caller, and didn't make the best game-day decisions. But he was also extremely unlucky (Earnest Byner, Marlon McCree), and was one of the best teachers to ever pace the sidelines.

by speedegg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:03am

There's more to that. He was conservative because he had to be, not necessarily because he wanted to be. That's not to say he didn't have his shortcomings. He never really believed in Drew Brees, as a former Linebacker and DC he relied too much on defense, he let Rodney Harrison go, etc. but situations forced his hand.

When he took over in Cleveland, the Kardiac Kids collapsed and the offense was the running game. When he started with the Chargers, Tomlinson was the best offensive player, Drew Brees was learning, the O-line was inconsistent, TE Antonio Gates was an undrafted basketball player, and their starting wide receivers consisted of a veteran dinosaur (Keenan McCardell) and undrafted free agent Eric Parker...and Cam Cameron was the Offensive Coordinator. Nothing to strike fear in the hearts of men.

Despite that the offense used motion, shifts, play action, trickeration (flea-flickers) etc, etc to get their receivers open. Not to bust on Cameron, but the Chargers offense was very different from the Ravens offense. I suspect Schottenhemier had a much larger hand in the offense than is acknowledged by people involved, but since he never won a Superbowl he'll probably be overlooked by history.

by Richie :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:19am


Unfortunately, I find myself constantly defending coaches and players (mostly QB's) who had less than expected success in the postseason.

by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:46pm

The Marlon McCree fumble is the kind of "God hates us" play that I'm used to seeing as a Cincinnati Bengal fan. I feel your pain, and wouldn't wish that kind of horror on my worst enemy.

Except the Stealers and 49ers. I definitely wish it on them.

by cjsocal (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:04pm

Last season, the Bears led the league in non-offensive td's with 10. They are at it again with 3 already after 3 weeks. Can they sustain this? Is this luck or a skill?

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:12pm

Returns are luck, but if you get a lot of turnovers, you increase your chance at a good returns.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:23pm

There's an anecdote I'd love to believe regarding the Michigan State football team this year (who are one of the worst offenses and one of the best defenses). Supposedly the defensive coach has his players practicing returning turnovers for touchdowns because he said they couldn't depend on the offense (the defense outscored the offense in the first two weeks). Now, Chicago's offense is not bad this year, but you wonder about previous years...

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:27pm

The Bears D does drill extensively on blocking during a return, but it's still mostly random where the turnover occurs. I think the more accurate way of putting it is that the Bears since the Lovie era trained very hard to at maximizing their outcome on a lucky break.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:33pm

Extensively? That seems like practice time that could be better used for more productive purposes. Well, perhaps the defense was so talented that they could afford this luxury.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:37pm

Fault Lovie Smith for what you will, but if you think he had problems preparing defensive players, well, we must be watching different teams.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:46pm

I never said he had problems in preparation; it's just something that doesn't feel worth it. As a Seahawks fan, I wouldn't expect or want their defense to be practicing it when there's so much more to work on (getting the turnovers in the first place, for instance).

by formido :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:31pm

I disagree. As a Seahawks fan I wish they would practice it. It's clear by now that Chicago's return prowess is more than luck. Defensive returns are huge opportunities to make yards and scores on a broken field. Tackling is a skill and offensive players don't practice it much.

Carroll says Seattle wants to be the best in the NFL at the scramble drill on offense. I see this as analogous for the defense. Part of Carroll's philosophy is making big plays and there's no play bigger than a pick 6, often a 10-14 point swing.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:48pm

Wilson has to scramble multiple times a game given the state of the offensive line, where the difference between scrambling and not scrambling is a possible first down completion and a drive-killing sack. Turnovers that actually have a chance to be returned for a score occur at most once per game on average, and whatever happens, the turnover and the momentum swing has already happened. What should be analogous for the defense is simply forcing the turnover, which is much easier to practice as well.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 10:27pm

I think it's more mindset than skill. Some defensive players consider every turnover a chance to score. Peanut Tillman has it, as do several other Bears. I don't know if Tillman brought with him or Lovie had that mentality. The Packers secondary got it when Woodson showed up. The early 2000's Bucs shad a streak where scored in several consecutive games. I'm sure someone could put together a list (if one doesn't already exist as a slide show on Bleacher Report).

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:56pm

But it's not just the return man - watch any Bears return on the all-22, and you'll see everybody racing to form a convoy to protect the returner. Every turnover turns into a punt return, and every player knows where to go. That's just great preparation.

Scoring is random, but what the Bears do is practice and discipline.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:38am

Delete post

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 10:29pm

Dupe post. I'm going to have to go back to the laptop. Stupid iPad.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:23am

In college, there is a productive purpose. It teaches your d-line how to block. =)

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:42am

Not sure which team it was, might have been Pre-Season - Interception return to about the opponents 20. The offense goes 3 and Out - LOSING yards. FG unit comes in and nails it.

I so wanted a way to give that 3 points to the Defense, because the Offense did less than nothing on that "Scoring Drive."

by Roch Bear :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:11pm

Seems plausible. Still,did you see the *immediate* excellent block by Anderson on the Bears following the Major Wright pick? That block was key to the return TD, I thought. Do they practice that transition? Do other NFL teams practice it?

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:01am

Yup - and that's what I'm talking about in my comment above. Scoring on a turnover is largely random - most of it depends on how the players are distributed around the area the turnover occurs - but the Bears really do maximize their opportunities on the return through practice and discipline. That's a holdover from the Lovie era - the Bears D basically treats every turnover as a punt return.

If you can watch the all-22, pay attention to how the players away from the ball behave. Everybody knows their assignment, and tries to form a path to the end zone.

by Dan :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:43am

I suspect that there is as much skill involved in turnover returns as there is in punt or kick returns. What I mean is that I'd guess that the best turnover return teams have a higher true probability of getting a TD on any given return than the worst turnover return teams, with about as big a spread between teams as there is with punts & kickoffs.

The problem is that the sample size is too small, which means that most of the variation that we see is just noise. So we say "turnover returns are just random" or "they're all luck", because we don't have enough data for the patterns to emerge.

The best quarterbacks complete about 67% of their passes and the worst complete about 57%. If quarterbacks only attempted 15 passes per year, we would be inclined to say that completing passes is just random - the guy who completed 13/15 isn't necessarily any better at completing passes than anyone else, and the guy who completed 6/15 isn't really that bad. And we would mostly be right, and the completion percentage leaderboard would change drastically from year to year. But we wouldn't be entirely right, because some quarterbacks really are better at completing their passes (good enough to expect an extra 1.5 completions per year compared with the worst passers).

by michaelfox99 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:30am

Thank you 122, great comment.

One quibble. You are right that, assuming there are real differences in TO return skill, it would still be hard to forecast TO return yardage due to data scarcity.

However, you can use ANOVA (Analysis of Variance, it's a statistical test) to ask whether there are indeed differences in average TO return from team to team. The test takes into account sample size. Basically, we look at the amount of variance from one TO return to the next for each team compared to the variance across teams.

by akn :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:49pm

ANOVA would probably prove to be quite useless for this purpose. I have a hard time believing that the noise is uncorrelated and Gaussian distributed. There are ways to correct, of course, but that requires an accurate noise model, and no one is even close to figuring that out for something like TO returns.

by speedegg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:49pm

ANOVA and Gaussian distribution? I love you, man.

by Richie :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:04pm

I don't remember the 2007 Saints being so terrible to start the season. But they sure got lit up:
Lost 41-10 at Indianapolis
Lost 31-14 at Tampa Bay
Lost 31-14 vs Tennessee

Then they lost a close one at home to Carolina, and finished the season by going 7-5 the rest of the way.

by mm(old) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:12am

That was after the Saints signed Jason David away from the Colts to improve their pass defense. Playing the Colts the first game of the year, Peyton Manning showed everyone how poor David was in man-to-man coverage.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:20am

I liked David as a Colt--had a good rookie year and much better in cover-2 zone coverage. Just a misuse of assets.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:26pm

At what point should the Jaguars start punting on 3rd down?

That's a seriously awful offense they've got there.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:56pm

I'm hoping they're so bad that they are the first team with the guts (or lack of PR fallout) to never punt! (Or get close to it.)

Although I suppose that could backfire, as they still wouldn't be successful, and it would encourage others to not be more aggressive.

by td (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 3:27am

yeah, but then the 3rd round pick on Anger will have been a waste!

by Paul R :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 2:58pm

Interesting idea. Punting on 3rd down could have a positive impact on their stats.

Or, they could also try going for it on first down.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:38pm

Interesting that DVOA again wasn't in awe of the Bengals. They only moved up from 15th to 13th in DVOA after the Packers game. And despite all the turnovers and Rodgers looking awful at times, Green Bay's offense only dropped from 1st to 2nd.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:52pm

Cincinnati got chewed up in the run game, though, other than the crucial fumble. And Green Bay only moved down one spot because they were so far ahead of the pack (non-Pack?) before; their offensive VOA got cut in half.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:16pm

No opponent adjustments makes a difference.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:31am

Adjustments make some difference, but there were some posters on here thinking the Bengals looked like Seattle on defense against the Packers. They're certainly not going to adjust up into that realm.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:17pm

GB's running game has been shockingly efficient for two weeks in a row.

They've basically had two good and one bad games passing, and two good and one bad games rushing. In both cases (passing vs WAS, running vs WAS and CIN), the goods have mostly been very good.

by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:55pm

I imagine Cincy will rise in the rankings once opponent adjustments kick in, as they played close with both the Bears (shoulda won) and the Packers (shoulda lost).

This is, of course, assuming they don't lay an egg against the Browns.

But I'm actually surprised that DVOA has treated them this well. Yeah, they're 2-1, but they're extremely inconsistent from game-to-game. Their D couldn't stop Chicago's offense when it mattered most, and their offense was atrocious against Green Bay's basement-dwelling defense. Hell, they're extremely inconsistent from drive-to-drive!

I'm gald that the Bengals look capable of beating good teams if a few breaks go their way, but I need to see a solid win over Cleveland and consistent play against the Patriots before I get excited about any post-season possibilities.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:14pm

DVOA disagrees with you on who should have won week 1.


30% difference in VOA in that game.

by DA (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 6:49pm

Jacksonville is a another good example of how spending a high pick on an LT basically makes 0 difference if you have nothing of value to protect. The pick is almost wasted unless they can someday acquire a very good QB. Getting a highly drafted LT in the hopes you 1 day can acquire a Top QB is like buying a Top of the Line Security System in case you 1 day can afford a new house.

Maybe Jax drafted the LT knowing that he would have no meaningful impact on their offense this year and could tank for a top QB in the 2014 Draft. If that is their thinking then I can understand their approach.

by Glen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:01pm

You mean like what Pete Carroll did with Seattle in 2010? By the time there was a QB to protect, Okung was the anchor of one of the better OL in the NFL.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 10:10pm

Carroll knew he would draft a rookie Pro Bowl QB in the third round. Brilliant planning.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:10am

No, he knew that he could keep taking chances on QBs until he found one that fit. Once he did, he'd already have a good supporting cast to take advantage of it.

You can't win without a QB, but if you have a high pick, it's not worth reaching for someone you're not certain of, when you can build your roster elsewhere.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:35am

Totally agree. Maybe Jacksonville actually learned something from the Gabbert fiasco.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:48pm

The Christian Ponder Fan Club says you don't know what the hell you are talking about!!!!

by arias :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 7:20pm

Carroll knew he would draft a rookie Pro Bowl QB in the third round. Brilliant planning.

If that were true then he wouldn't have guaranteed 10 million for a FA to ride pine for the year.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:08pm

But other option is there? If you're of the opinion that no great non-QB player is going to help the team immediately, should you just not select anyone? Your analogy would only work if you don't expect to get the chance to acquire a Top QB, whereas Jacksonville has that chance.

by DA (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:04pm

I'd argue that LT is much more tied to needing an above average QB to extract its value than other positions. I'd probably go Defense or Trade Down. RB and WR are generally not worth spending a Top 2 pick on and same with the other O Line spots.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:47am

The problem with trading down is convincing a potential partner there is something worth moving up for (spending two draft picks), when your team has already decided there isn't anyone worth ONE.

Either you have to be in the "We have so many needs one guy won't make a difference" mode, or "We need ooonnne player, and we think we can get him in Round 3."

by James-London :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:09pm

I'd guess the Jags agree with you, but even if they were ready to quit on Gabbert there wasn't any QB worthy of the #1 and they couldn't trade out. That leaves BPA. Last year was a bad year to suck.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:58pm

I disagree with this reasoning completely. We are spoiled in this modern era by an influx of incredible rookie quarterbacks and a continuing corruption of the game that favors the marquee signal caller. The long-standing meat and potatoes way to build a football club has always been from the lines up. An anchor at DT and DE and a fortified offensive line with a strong LT has always been the bulwark of a great team. We are used to seeing guys like Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning making lemonade out of their offensive lines in recent years, but a truly terrible team can go a long way by rebuilding the lines and placing a serviceable back and signal caller behind them--not someone great, but someone serviceable--a Jason Campbell or perhaps a Matt Flynn. With terrible line play you won't go anywhere. The slam-dunk marquee quarterback prospects that have done wonders for their teams in recent years were all drafted by teams with more overall roster talent than Jacksonville has anyway. If you put a strong QB prospect behind that line with those skill players, you're going to get David Carr.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:22am

Completely agree with drafting the dominant tackle prospect if no elite QB prospect is available. The Jets are a good example of a team able to have playoff success with a good o-line and terrible quarterback play. If you get lucky and draft a Russell Wilson in the middle rounds, you end up like Seattle, a prime Super Bowl contender. Once you get the franchise quarterback, you need to keep him from getting killed.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:32am

The Ravens won the last game in February in good measure because their offensive line, somewhat out of the blue, and due to some unusual circumstances, jelled into a good unit shortly after Thanksgiving. Blocking people still has a lot of value.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:12am

I don't feel strongly one way or the other about what you guys are debating in this part of the thread because I think there's more than one way to build a successful NFL team. Just chiming in to remind everyone that this very site has shown QBs deserve more blame for sacks and the OL deserves more credit for rush offense. In the context of building a successful roster, I'd imagine this suggests that if you want to go the run+D route, you prioritize solidifying your lines, and if you want to go the pass route, you prioritize solidifying the QB.

Again, I'm borderline agnostic here, but thought that was a valid data point to add to the discussion. Obviously, there a ton of other factors to consider, but it seems like a decent starting point from the perspective of "generic team X, all else equal." Anyway, as you were.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:05am

To echoe danny sentiments, even pressure stats are heavily skewed by the type of qb you have. I listened to more than a few bronco fans who claimed the offensive line was terrible with tim tebow. Switch him, and it becomes a strength(go figure).

Obviously, people take these to extremes. I think the chargers, steelers, bears, and now giants have all shown what happens when you start fielding a black hole for an oline. Even the best of receivers and qb are not going to compensate. But just how much do you invest in the o line is another question entirely. It seems to me, to really build a great o line, you would need at least 2 guys who were above average and no more than 1 guy below average. This actually is incredibly difficult to do and to pay all 5 of them is even more taxing on your salary cap. Its much easier, instead, to find mediocre players to fill your line and then pay one or two receivers and your qb. From an economics and even long term strategy, this feels far more effective than going lines first.

by cjfarls :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:42pm

To be fair, the o-line in front of Tebow was also very young (Walton, Beadles, Franklin) all with less than 2 years experience (but also all high draft picks with solid potential to improve). Part of the reason they got better with Manning is simply because they got more experienced and did in fact get better.

But yeah, all the handwringing about how Clady had declined and wasn't worth a big 2nd contract, etc. was probably more about protecting TT than it was any real decline in Clady's play.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 4:30pm

Watched a segment on Manning and all his pre-snap dance, and they broke it down. I think Saturday might have been helping?

I was not too surprised he was making route adjustments. What I did not know as he was making protection adjustments as well. They showed him recognizing a blitz situation, due to how the Safety and LB were setup, and he moved the RB into a place to pick it up. Then on a different play, he actually took the RB out of the backfield and basically guided him by the hand to stand in front of the overload on the right side. Dropped into shotgun and a quick First Down throw.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 4:50pm

If you want someone to compare Manning to doing that, watch the Packers Bengals game after Franklin comes into the game till the end of the game.

Rodgers walked Franklin into spots, and was pretty much always talking to him. I feel Franklin didn't look all that special in preseason because he was thinking about everything and his pass protection has been shoddy in practice so he hasn't seen the field. Rumor has it that when he had to go in for Starks he was basically told "Do what Aaron tells you for blocking assignments, and just try and hit the hole when you get the ball".

Rodgers did the dance differently than Manning does, but what he was doing on numerous snaps was some of the most similar to Manning I've seen on a consistent basis from any QB. All QB's do it, not nearly every play like Manning, but Rodgers was close to every play and I found myself thinking of Manning while watching it.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:32pm

I'm pretty sure Manning has been so blatant to just tell Moreno or Hillman to 'go there' and just point or grab them. Of course, he's been making protection adjustments for years, hence the 'G*****it Donald' moment where he rather quickly realized Donald Brown had screwed up.

However, nothing from this year will top his '24 is Mike' towards Charles Woodson right before Woodson did in fact blitz, and right before he changed Julius Thomas' route to a quick out which ended up being a TD. Maybe it is because we can hear him better than other QBs, but that whole sequence seemed like sorcery.

by theslothook :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 2:22pm

NFl.Com use to have an anatomy of a play series where they looked at a specific play design and broke it down. Greg Cosell ran it then. One of them which I will never forget(it had cool music), happened in 2009 against the texans. BAsically, manning is at the goal line and the texans decide to all out blitz. I remember greg was simply baffled at how manning knew the texans would all out blitz, especially since they showed nothing pre-snap. He said he watched it a few times and still couldn't tell what it was. In any case, Manning immediately adjusted the protections(telling clark not to run a route) and then designed a crossing route into the voided zone. On the surface, its a simple slant route for a td. Dig inside and you begin to realize why there are only a few people that will make that work.

by greybeard :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 4:18pm

This example could also be speaking the quality of the football analysis Greg Cosell does more so than the abilities of Payton Maning. Whenever I read Cosell I end up thinking that he already made up his mind about the players and fitting a narrative to it than analyzing the situation itself.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:16pm

I thought the better example was the smash-post to Welker, where he made sure Woodson saw him call the audible. He not only recognized the need for the audible, he called the audible in such a way that it intentionally mislead what he knew was a smart and observant DB.

Manning has spent 10 years developing an immunity to Iocane powder.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:59pm

If only he had Andre the Giant as the backup to Clady, he'da never taken that blind side shot two nights ago, what with Andre throwing a boulder at the DE.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:00pm

That's not very sportmanlike.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:04pm

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

by Independent George :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 3:39pm

But he's so used to blocking against multiple defenders, I don't know how well he'd do one-on-one.

by dryheat :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 4:21pm

Never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never quote this movie on an FO board.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:23am

Worked for Indy in 97/98/99. They got bookend tackles in rounds 1 & 2 the year BEFORE they drafted Manning. Add in another consecutive 3-13 season and they picked Edge James at #4 to make them suddenly relevant and perpetual playoff contenders (except for the years Edge was hurt in 2001 and Manning was hurt in 2011). And the season Edge was hurt enabled them to finish 6-10 and therefore "reach" to pick Freeney at #11.

by GBS :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:24pm

Somehow Stepfan Taylor was awarded Johnathon Franklin's stats on the running back page.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:57am

Oops. Fixing now.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:57pm

As someone who has been reading these DVOA charts for several years let me ask, now that its 2013, and Madden and espn and even vegas use this methodology, what tidbits on here are truly valuable and not considered "conventional wisdom?" Is KC better than your FO analysis and deserving of their top 3 ranking? what about the Ravens being below Houston?

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:27pm

These rankings are pretty tentative. They don't include opponent adjustments and with such a small sample, outlier performances can have a big effect. The Chiefs may be better or worse than these rankings, but they're likely at least a top ten team based on them.

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:45pm

This. Really what we really know at this point is that right now Denver and Seattle look to be the class of the NFL, and Jacksonville looks to be in a class of their own as well (and not in a good way). Past that we can surmise that some times are worse than expected and others a lot better, but with this little data so much, it's just that....an educated guess.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:00am

Teams also change a lot week to week and month to month. You're trying to track and evaluate a moving target. Teams like NE and SF are likely to change as their schemes develop, their rosters mesh, etc. Teams will also weaken due to injuries.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:45pm

I mean last year after week 3, Denver and Seattle ranked 11th and 12th in VOA.

by naik (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:53pm

how are these numbers impacted by the fact the seahawks had pulled most of their starters shortly after half time? I would be curious to see how it changes any of the stats.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 9:08pm

Buy the premium and you can look at the DVOA stats for any matchup.

by Paul R :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:56pm

My favorite thing about the NFL. Every season there are surprises.

Raiders/Cardinals Super Bowl in...2016?

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:25am

2015. The underdog Raiders pull off the massive upset in the Meadowlands when Geno Smith's sideways pass is ruled a lateral, and recovered by the Silver and Black. 1968 is finally avenged.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:19am


a sideways pass *is* a lateral.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:01am

As a Jets fan happy that Namath and co. got the chance to beat a weaker team than the Raiders in the Super Bowl, I agree with you. Not sure if a Raiders fan would call that Lamonica pass a lateral. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrYdH5DNApI

by Dean :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:29am

Maybe not THAT big a surprise.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:01am

The interesting thing about the playoff odds report is that the Broncos' future schedule suddenly seems much tougher than the Seahawks'.

They are listed as being much more likely than Denver to go 16-0 and a bit more likely to win their conference which is a stark change from the preseason expectation of a weak AFC and particularly AFC west.

by RGoddard (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:52am

With the weakening status of the NFC West, it is true the Broncos may have the tougher schedule. For the next few weeks, the Broncos get a break (Eagles and Jaguars at home and Cowboys in Dallas), but the Seahawks face Texans and Colts on the road. If the Seahawks are able to win both games, they will be the ones to beat. I also think that the Seahawks are likely to get stronger as the season goes on just because of their depth. The second level of players is competitive with most first string players in many positions. The Broncos do have the advantage of facing the tougher tests when Von Miller and Champ Bailey are back. But, again, they have a lot road games on the back half of their season. My gut says Seattle stays on top.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:28am

Unless one falters, I don't think we'll have any real idea if one is better for some time. The Colts looked great against the niners, but they didn't look so good against the Raiders, so what does it mean to beat them? It's hard to tell how good either of these teams are yet. It is reasonable to expect them both to regress from their current play, though it'd be interesting if they both turn out to be historically great in the same season.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:45am

The Seahawks just got back Clemons and Avril. They've been missing Browner and of course, Harvin is out. Also Okung has been out a game and a half and will be gone quite some time. Oh, and Irvin is suspended.

This team will only get better as these players return.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:16pm

I said that it's reasonable to expect them to regress, not get worse.

Though both teams are missing some of their best players, the odds that they both sustain such a historically good rating isn't likely. Eventually, Peyton will throw a pick or two and the Seahawks will drop one or two.

Anyhow, I think it's likely that Denver's defense will improve while it's offense regresses and Seattle's offense improves as it's defense regresses. I'd like to see both teams play great ball and it'd be cool to see two historically great teams meet in the Super Bowl.

by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:09am

I keep trying to move on, but I can't get over the way the first half of MNF ended — with Raiders coach Dennis Allen trying for a Hail Mary from the 50 instead of attempting a record-setting 68-yard field goal. I hope that, at least here on FO, folks feel my "Can't you do the math?!" pain.

The success rate for a Hail Mary from the 50 is, give or take, 1%. See:

Multiplied by 7 points, that means the actual play is worth a hypothetical 0.07 points. Allen makes this decision while literally standing next to Sebastian Janikowski, perhaps the best long-distance place kicker in history. Look up his success rates by distance here, they're ridiculous:

From 2009-12, he's at 83% from 40-49 yards and 68% at FIFTY PLUS. That's with only one game a year at Mile High. Basically, whatever your intuition is about success rates for average NFL kickers, add 10 yards for Seabass the Football Kicking Android. Then add another 5-10 for the game being in Denver. So really, a 68 yard kick here is more like a 50 yarder for a normal kicker at sea level. Let's call it 40%, meaning a hypothetical 1.2 points or so.

I was raised in the Church of John Elway. Few things give me as much pleasure as watching the Broncos pummel the Raiders. Yet this decision was so bad — basically, leaving about a point on the table AND missing a chance at history — that I was livid at Allen as if I were a Raiders fan.

P.S. Curious about average success rates by distance for average NFL kickers? See this appendix:

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:44am

Don't forget about the possibility of a Trindon Holliday return.

by rageon :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:20am

...and/or Trindon Holliday fumble.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:22am

And - as a Broncos fan - that's a really good point. Kicking a field goal allows the possibility of a return. It's happened to the Broncos three times most recently in 2002 in a game against the Raiders.

While Janikowski is a great kicker it's impossible to know what his chances of hitting from that range are. In my opinion an impossible to calculate chance of success with a chance of a TD return versus a small but calculable chance to make the Hail Mary is one of those decisions that stats can't help us out with very much since we don't have the data to compare.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:23am

Gah Raiders= Ravens in 148

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:22am

It's not like Oakland was going to win...

by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:48pm

Then why even suit up? You play to win the game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:23pm

Thank you, Herm.

Is the chance of being down 34-6 more debilitating than the bump for being down 27-10, coming off of an NFL-record kick?

Besides, no team that has made a FG of 62+ yards has gone on to lose the game. =)

by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:56pm

The odds of a Holliday return touchdown are about the same as those of a pick-6 on the Hail Mary — both surely even lower than the 1% odds on the Hail Mary working. Statistical analysis, in sports or in general, isn't about perfect knowledge. (If we had perfect knowledge of what had would happen, we wouldn't need to estimate it using statistics.) It's about extrapolating from what we do know to make decisions that increase our knowledge about the world, probabilistically. Read Nate Silver's book The Signal and the Noise — in particular the chapter on Bayesian thinking, Chapter 8, "Becoming less and less and less wrong."

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 8:10pm

It's incredibly difficult to tell what the odds of a touchdown return on a 68 yard field goal, but I'd wager that the odds of a returnable attempt at that distance, even in Denver are reasonably high. Assuming a returnable attempt, I think that the odds that Trindon Holliday takes it to the house aren't that low.

Of course, I think that a team like the Raiders should take a couple of risks in order to hang with a team like Denver, so I couldn't fault them for trying, either way, but I think that the odds of a return aren't negligible.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 8:41am

How can you possibly have enough data to figure out what the odds are on a return attempt on a 65+yd FG attempt? I love statistical analysis, but this is a situation where there are no statistics to analyze. The sample size of attempted 65 yd + kicks is way too small to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. The sample size is much much smaller than the sample of failed hail marys, and the situation fundamentally different.

I'm not saying the statistics say NOT to try the kick, just that there aren't any valid data points to let statistics guide us.

by shoutingloudly :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:54am

OK, fine, the sample size is virtually nonexistent. But multiply out the math on what we do know (and thus can estimate) to find the break-even point.

Extend the curve on RoboLeg's FG odds by distance and, no, really, we're still at about 40%. That's 1.2 points of "expected value" in economic terms. And we agree that the odds of a Hail Mary there are about 1%, for .07 points of expected value. The odds a Holliday return would need to reach break-even point? (1.2 - 0.07) / 7, or 16%. Even on standard returns (with blockers making lanes) of kickoffs and punts, excluding fair catches & uncatchable kicks, he's taken it to the house on 3.7% of returns (kicks and punts) in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The odds are a bit higher if we include the playoffs: 5.7%. Let's even use that as a ballpark (yes, imperfect) estimate since standard kick coverage team personnel and/or positions will also not be in play for the return coverage unit. (It's my understanding that this abnormal circumstance actually reduces the odds of a long return, but let's use it since it's at least a reasonable proximate for the figure we need to estimate.)

This 5.7% figure is still WAY too high, since "returnable kick" cannot be taken for granted in any case and is especially unlikely at Mile High. What are the odds that Janikowski will at least get it out of the end zone, from his own 42? Considering the very high rate of unreturnable kicks from the 30 at Mile High (it looks like 60% or more to me, informally, and it was probably 80% or higher when kickoffs were from the 35). It's surely even more likely than not from the 42 — and more likely still when the strongest-legged kicker in history is kicking. Framed even more broadly, what are the odds that such a kick will be unreturnable in general, whether due to distance or direction? (If it's not out of the back of the end zone, that's probably due to a serious shank in this case.) Even if we set it at 85%, I think it's too low, but we'd need a bunch of super-nerdy data (kickoff returnability by kicker leg strength at Mile High, basically) to hash it out to a reasonably-accurate-considering-the-lack-of-data degree.

Anyway, this argument has gone on too long, this response comes after a new slate of games have come and gone, and I'd be surprised if any of you are still reading. But I stand by the reasonableness of my (yes, of course) ballpark estimates — as well as the value of trying a (well, not TOO) serious attempt at statistical estimates despite very limited knowledge.

Back to the broader point: Allen didn't make this decision because he was too worried about a Holliday return. He noted the distance, thought "68 yards? That's Impossible!", and made a poorly-informed decision. In fact, here's what he said during the postgame:

Q: "You think at all about attempting a 67/68-yard field goal at the end of the half?"

A: “No, not really. I thought we had a better chance of being able to get a Hail Mary pass than really trying to attempt a 68-yard field goal."

(Q at 2:47)

When you're getting that much money to steer that valuable an organization (stop snickering), being THIS wrong about the odds of a situation —and even worse, not even considering those odds in the first place — is, frankly, inexcusable.

by shoutingloudly :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:57am

Oh, and I forgot to add: The odds of a strip sack/fumble returned for a TD in a Hail Mary situation are also non-zero. (Also not that high, but perhaps the approaching-1% level I'll grant on a Holliday return.) But Allen grants that he didn't even think about the odds of a successful field goal, so we're really in the weeds now.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 12:00pm

You're probably not reading this, but here goes.

By the time you've said "If we assume" or "I'll guess that" or "If we extend" more than once or twice in an analysis it's no longer an analysis. You're at the point that you're just couching a non statistical argument in statistical language. Janikowski's a good kicker, but his success rate from beyond 63 yds is 0%. Mile High is a good place to kick but Jason Elam (also a good kicker known for distance) never kicked one beyond 63 either.

Which isn't to say that a 68 yard kick is impossible.

Here's my argument.

1) The success rate for kicks beyond 63 yards in the NFL is 0% out of a tiny sample set.
2) The success rate for TD returns on missed touchdowns is greater than 0% but still an impossibly small sample set.

Given those two factors statistics cannot help with making this decision. We're at the point where any decision will be based on eye test and preconception.

Would it have been cool for Janikowski to break the record? Sure.
Is there any way to statistically determine the chance of success that kick, or the chances of a talented return man returning a kick for a TD on a play neither team has ever practiced? Nope.

by Ted Kwalick Knows (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:24am

Yes, I totally feel your pain here. Remember when Janikowski hit the upright from 65, or 67, or whatever? He deserves another shot from record distance. The fact that this was IN DENVER makes it far more egregious, of course. If you were going to design a situation to break the record, this would have had every element you could ask for.

Then too, he's in his 16th season and he's only going to have so many more chances to go back to Denver. Bottom line, opportunity knocked, and Allen decided not to answer the door.

by Ted Kwalick Knows (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:35am

Okay, here's what I was thinking of: In 2007, Janikowski hit the upright from 64 (in Oakland!) against the Texans. And it was several feet up the goalpost -- he might have had more distance on that thing than on the 63-yarder he actually did make (which was in Denver in 2011).

by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:57pm

Thanks, I actually didn't know about that. Crazy story. At SEA LEVEL. The man's a machine.

by Ted Kwalick Knows (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 9:41am

The 64-yarder that hit the upright in Oakland lives in a few places on Youtube. The CBS broadcast clip is there, as well as a clip shot from inside the stadium by a fan. The fans are practically celebrating and some of the Raiders are running downfield while the ball's in the air, and you can see that Shane Lechler, as the holder, takes a big jump into the air at the last second because he thinks it's going through. And then ... boing.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:28am

Agreed. They didn't really have all that much to play for and it would have been cool. I was looking forward to it.

by Anonymousxxx (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:27pm

Also don't forget, the Raiders aren't confident in their holder.

by BJR :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:33am

Saints having the 5th ranked defence is an eye-opener. They've faced Tampa and Arizona who certainly aren't among the league's top offences, but the early signs point towards a major improvement for this unit.

by CincySaint (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:39am

They also played ATL who is #7 in offensive DOA. I do think their defense is improved but it's unlikely it's a top 10 unit.

by BJR :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:54am

Sure. But even a slightly below average Saints defence would represent a major improvement on last year.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:15am

When you have the Saints offense, your defense only needs to improve from godawful to mediocre, to become a Superbowl contender.

by Ender (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:02am

Football hasn't changed this year. Talent will only take you so far. Staying healthy, cheating better than the other teams, getting lucky breaks and playing well for 3 weeks at the end of the season still rules all. Anyone saying this or that team is going to win the super bowl is just being silly, the best team in football is rarely the one that goes all the way.

by nat :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:42am

Strength of schedule is going to be interesting on this list. Of the undefeated teams, only Miami and New England have faced a scheduled with a positive VOA so far. Seattle and Denver have faced schedules with total VOA worse than -100. KC's opponents have been nearly as weak.

Things don't change much in the next three weeks in the AFC. Denver and KC continue with very easy schedules. Miami and New England continue with thougher ones. Because opponent adjustments come in gradually, expect Denver and KC to look strong to DVOA.

Around week 8, people will begin to wonder why Aaron hates Denver and KC, dropping their DVOA for no obvious reason. The reason will be that their easy schedules will start to matter to DVOA.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:58am

The Panthers played the top team to a standstill, lost to an average team on the last play, and stomped a poor team. I'm betting that FO is the only place they are going to get any love.

ESPN had the Panthers at the bottom right above the Jags, and NYG as the "0-2 team most likely to get their @#$ together."

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:32am

I think you are overrating the SoS effect on DVOA. If Denver continues winning all their games by a bunch of points, it won't matter who it is against, their DVOA will stay stellar (like Denver last year, who also had an easy schedule during their long win streak - or the 1999 Rams).

by Crunch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:40am

Maybe. Denver is beating up on bad Ds. (Except for Baltimore apparently. Baltimore has given up 367 yds passing and 1 TD in game 2 and 3 combined. The contrast between that and the 445 yds and 7 TDs in week 1 is pretty shocking.) But they're beating up on those Ds by a lot more than anyone else is. The stats should fall back to the pack some with strength of schedule, but I suspect that Denver(for the opposing D), Seattle(for the opposing O) and Jacksonville(for anyone playing against them) are going to generate some really shocking opponent adjustments later in the season.

In other words I don't think that Denver's creampuff schedule is going to be enough to bring them back to the pack considering how well they're excecuting offensively.

by nat :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:15pm

SoS will bring Denver somewhat back toward the pack. How could it not? But I agree they will still be one of the best teams around, if not the best.

Will their fans complain about how their DVOA is dropping as opponent adjustments kick in? Only time will tell.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:57pm

There will be an adjustment, I just don't think it will be as large as people expect it to be.

In addition to the Raven's numbers above Denver's performance against the Raiders (372 yds passing, 3 passing TDs, 164 Ru yds, 1 Ru TD) is a little greater than the output of the Colts and the Jaguars combined against the Raiders (361 yds pa, 3 pa Tds, 161 ru yds, 1 ru TD). The Giants numbers are closer.

Now there's not necessarily a direct correlation between the box score stats and the advanced stats, but it certainly seems like the Bronco's are dominating the teams they play against by a lot more than an average team would. If that remains the case I could see them holding on to a sizable margin in offensive DVOA despite strength of schedule.

As for fans complaining I'm always sort of amazed by people who complain about the measurement... it just makes no sense. Enjoy the success on the field.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:16pm

Its simply way too early to tell how opponent adjustments will affect the ratings. And its much less clear that opponent adj will bring Denver "back to the pack". I think its more likely that their overall offensive numbers will start to decline as the weeks go by and more film is available for defenses.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:35pm

I, for one, hope Manning throws for 6000+ yards with 4 1000+ yard receivers, 64 touchdowns and zero picks, but I doubt it happens. It would surprise me if Denver's defensive rating doesn't improve, though. Especially, injuries to Duke Ihenacho and Tony Carter seemed to allow an inordinately poor performance against Terrell Prior. Of course, nobody has forgotten about the return of Champ Bailey and Von Miller pending, either.

Now, if that NYG club is anything like the one that I watched last year, they'll go out and blow some teams out and have the highest variance in the league.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 6:38pm

Yup. I predict the Giants finish 3-13, with blowout wins against the Bears, Packers, the Seahawks.

by Bobman :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:31am

Independent George, you, sir, are the anti-raiderjoe.

by Independent George :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 9:00am

I also can't hold my liquor!

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:16pm

Its simply way too early to tell how opponent adjustments will affect the ratings. And its much less clear that opponent adj will bring Denver "back to the pack". I think its more likely that their overall offensive numbers will start to decline as the weeks go by and more film is available for defenses.

by Purds :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:53pm

Want to talk about weird schedules and trying to figure out strength of schedule based on opponents after three games?

NE, NYJ, TB, and BUF have been engaged in an oddly incestuous beginning of the season. In the 12 games they have played, they've gone against each other 10 times, and then once against NO and once against CAR. Hard to figure out who is good when you're just playing each other (obviously NE is the class of the group, but I mean it's hard to figure out if any of them are good or bad against the rest of the league because basically all they have done is play each other).


If we had opponent adjustments now, I am not sure what they heck it could add to regular VOA for that quad.

by nat :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 8:39am

Not sure what your point is here. The games and their VOA are in the books and will be figured into team VOAs always and in DVOAs increasing over the coming weeks. It's just arithmetic.

Also, the schedules of Denver's opponents don't overlap at all. I guess that means we should trust the Bronco's strength of schedule more than any other.

I said to expect complaints about opponent adjustments around week eight. I was wrong. They're starting already, even though opponent adjustments themselves haven't.

by Purds :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 9:57am

I'd love to respond, but the dumb spam filter won't allow anything more than "Yes, FO is the BEST EVER!" I hate using this site because of that filter.

by Purds :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 9:59am

I'll try to shorten: if four teams played no one but each other for three weeks, how could we determine their strength of schedule vis-a-vis the rest of the league? That's all I am saying.

by nat :: Fri, 09/27/2013 - 1:20pm

That's understood. It just has nothing to do with the point. Math is math. Teams that face opponents with weak VOAs will have larger downgrades in their DVOA as opponent adjustments come into play.

I'm not saying that Miami's and NE's opponents will continue to put up above average VOAs. I am saying that they have done so thus far, and that those numbers are in the books and will not change. Ditto for Denver and KC's weak opponents.

FWIW, I looked at the week 3 VOA leaders since 2007 (cutoff there because I was curious about that NE team). Every single time, the week 3 DVOA leader had a large drop to their week 8 DVOA. The smallest drop was 14.9 [edit - I had said 18.0]. The largest was 50.2. The average was around 28 [edit - had said 28.3]. Higher VOAs lead to larger drops, mostly, although the 2007 Patriots break that pattern a lot [edit - not a bit].

There are two things going on here. First, these leaders often are there because they face weak schedules at the start of the season. Second, there is always regression toward the mean to consider. Teams get on hot streaks where they play above themselves. These streaks seldom last eight games.

by nat :: Fri, 09/27/2013 - 3:03pm

I extended back to the beginning of Football Outsiders my look at week 3 VOA leaders to see how they fared in week 8. Over that ten year period, every single VOA leader had a large drop from their early VOA to their later DVOA. The drops ranged from 14.9 to a whopping 66.1.

So, here at week 3, VOA ranking is the best we have for actual performance and DAVE is probably the best we have for predicting future performance and actual "quality" of teams, the size of each team's VOA must be taken with a large dose of salt.

Even if a team goes 8-0, dominating each opponent by three or more scores and generating huge internet traffic about "running up the score", its DVOA in week 8 will be lower than its week 3 VOA. That's just how opponent adjustments work.

So, assuming Seattle or Denver end up at 8-0 with a series of dominating wins, we can expect their fans to be confused or even outraged that DVOA is grading them down with each game they play. The wisest of them will understand that their teams' gaudy VOAs in week 3 are not and never were a true measure of their quality on DVOA's scale. The least wise will complain about Aaron's or DVOA's biases, or will rag on their teams for growing weaker as the season goes on.

It will be interesting to see how those reactions split out in week 8.

It's even interesting right now. The wisest will look to DAVE or just consider VOA rankings (not size) at this point. The least wise will argue that VOA measures their team properly right now, while at the same time claiming that VOA cannot measure the strength of schedules (and thus foreshadow the opponent adjustments) at all.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 10:00am

Looking back up the thread I don't see anyone complaining about adjustments. There's a lot of speculation about how the Opponent adjustments will effect things, but I don't see anyone complaining.

by theslothook :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 2:15pm

Yeah pretty much...there's discussions about how the adjustments will work, almost none about it being unfair LOL.

I would actually put it this way, its highly unlikely that three games have revealed the true dvoa of any of these teams. Namely, its possible(though unlikely) that the giants turn it around and end up somewhere in the middle of the pack. Baltimore might even have a great defense by the end of the year. And denver(though unlikely) could hit a major wall and finish in the top 10 offensively, rather than maintain their record setting pace. I think I would only say to Nat, its not that opponent adjustments kick in at week 8 that explain why some teams drop and others don't, its mostly the change in performance that does it.

by panthersnbraves :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 10:56pm

Now you have me thinking. I was wondering if the first game or two of the season are the most variable for the League as a whole. A top team might be flat as they are putting the pieces together, and iirc there is a truism about Defenses usually being ahead of Offenses to start with?

Has someone already looked at early season variability? Is is impossible to do, since there is nothing to vary against? (Could you cheat and cut/paste weeks 1-3 and put them in the middle of the season and see what that would do statistically?)

by Dean :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:31am

I find it interesting to see the Rams ST ranked 3rd. They have forced the opposition to punt 14 times. 7 of those have been downed or have been touchbacks. The other 7 have been returned. Of those 7 punt returns, SIX have been called back for penalties. Granted, this is only one small aspect of special teams play, but rarely do you see something like this in a vacuum. The key 3 – Hekker, McQuaide, and Zeurlein are all very good (even if Zeurlein may not be as good as hyped a year ago), but the coverage and return players seem like part of the problem on this team, not part of the solution.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:15pm

Through the first 3 weeks Chicago's offensive line is ranked 2nd (!) in pass protection.

They're tied with the Lions for fewest sacks given up at 3, but Detroit passes more.

Jay Cutler has been sacked less than Peyton Manning.

Time for irrational over enthusiasm.

by TomC :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:45pm

That is in-fcking-sane (in a good way, of course).

Can we re-hire Tice for a day so we can fire him again? (and, for that matter, Martz and Angelo and...)

Seriously, though, I wonder how much of this is OL talent, how much is OL coaching, and how much is overall offensive scheme. I guess you can throw QB coaching in there as well.

Long and Mills are getting lots of love nationally, but I think the biggest upgrade has been Bushrod. Anyone who was seriously claiming he was going to be only a minor upgrade on Webb had never watched a Bears or Saints game. (As the FO boys always tell us, advanced stats are great, but you have to combine them with all the other ways of judging players, including your own eyeballs.)

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 4:25pm

I don't think Tice became a crappy o-line coach after doing really well with a lot of different personnel, over a fairly long period of time. I think the personnel sucked before Tice was there, and while he was there, and now it doesn't. I think Tice getting the play calling duties last year was a mistake, that took him away from what he is good at. I also think Tice may have gotten very desperate last year, as the chicken feces just wouldn't transform into something more palatable, and so he started doing some non-productive maneuvering. It's a hard temptation to resist when stuck with players who just can't play.

(edit) BTW, I am really extremely happy for Marc Trestman so far. Go Bears!

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:17pm

My knee-jerk reaction is to say that of course it's mostly talent. I agree with you that the biggest upgrade is Bushrod and that Webb was so terrible that just getting an average left tackle was going to make a huge difference. I'm also really pleasantly surprised by how good Long and Mills look. I was hoping that they'd look promising at this point but they've really played well in general, not just for rookies. If these guys hold up, will this be the biggest O-line upgrade from one year to the next in recent memory?

Giving it further thought, though, coaching and scheme probably have a lot to do with it too. It has to help that Cutler is getting the ball out quickly.

by mrh :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:37pm

How can you say Webb is terrible? He's the best QB in the league and would be all-Pro if not for the vast antiWebb conspiracy...

What's that? Oh, nevermind.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:51pm

Hi everyone. There was an error in the equation for FO playoff odds which overestimated the odds for wins for the Jaguars. A new playoff odds report is now posted with the Jaguars now listed at 49.0% to get the first overall pick.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:53pm

Oh, sure, Aaron let your hatred of all things horned and purple show through again; as if only Jaguar and Giants fans matter! We fans of a team in the middle of the continent, bereft of victories, with DAVE's poor opinion of us, have feelings, too!!!

by Dean :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 3:11pm

I can't wait for someone with a broken sarcasm detector to get ahold of this.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:11am

The funny thing is, the Giants would still get Clowney, and the Purple and Gold would still end up with the luxury of having Adrian Peterson lining up behind Taj Boyd, which would be simultaneously awesome and terrifying to opposing defenses.

by td (not verified) :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 4:03am

as a "Jaguar fan", my hope is they take a flier on Freeman, and pick Clowney #1 (I could be convinced that Bridgewater/Boyd are the better choice, but we haven't had a decent pass rusher since Tony Brackens, and neither quarterback seems to be regarded as a sure thing)

by TomC :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 10:26am

Those quotation marks might be the funniest thing on this thread. As a Bears fan who suffered through the 70s and early 80s, all I can say is: "It gets better."

(edited: I realize that could possibly be construed as trivializing the actual "It gets better" campaign. That is certainly not my intent; it was just the phrase that leapt to mind.)

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Sat, 09/28/2013 - 12:48pm

What do you think of the idea I've seen to take Weeden for a mid-to-late-rounder, not necessarily as more than a stopgap for the position itself, but also as a means to help Blackmon?

(This is a moot point because even once the Browns let Campbell go and draft the replacement for both Hoyer and Weeden, they will probably want to keep both on the roster as backups.)

by Buck B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 4:57pm

The main reason for statistical analysis is to get an idea of what will happen next. Seems like FO would provide some statistics on actual vs FO predicted results. Here is a simple look at the difference between WK 3 VOA and FO season prediction (WK3 VOA - Season predicted DVOA), most (apparently)under-rated teams first. Seems like you would look at this to figure out what is missing from the model. For example, when a team changes its GM, coaching staff, QB, and half the roster (while keeping the pro bowlers), maybe you ought to reduce the weight of its performance in the prior season... duh, DAVE.

KC 51.50%
DEN 49.00%
SEA 48.20%
IND 29.80%
MIA 26.30%
CHI 21.00%
NYJ 19.80%
TEN 17.30%
DAL 15.30%
NO 13.40%
BUF 13.10%
CIN 9.80%
PHI 9.80%
SD 7.20%
DET 7.10%
ATL 5.50%
CAR 2.90%
MIN -1.90%
STL -4.30%
GB -7.90%
TB -11.60%
HOU -12.50%
CLE -13.30%
NE -13.70%
PIT -15.00%
OAK -17.50%
ARI -20.10%
BAL -20.10%
SF -44.70%
WAS -55.90%
NYG -62.20%
JAC -69.00%

by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:30pm

A few things to think about :

1) "The main reason for statistical analysis is to get an idea of what will happen next."

Not quite - statistical analysis can be predictive, or they can tell you more about a team has already performed. DVOA and DYAR attempt to be a bit of both. They tell you who played better previously, and who's likely play better in the future. A statistical model designed purely to do only one or the other could exist.

2) "Seems like you would look at this to figure out what is missing from the model."

They do this all the time, hence the yearly changes to DVOA and DYAR when they find a factor that makes the statistics correlate better to what actually happened.

3) "Here is a simple look at the difference between WK 3 VOA and FO season prediction..."

That's not quite a valid comparison - DVOA doesn't try to model/predict the ups and downs of how a team is going to play. It's a model that will tell you the likelihood of a team playing at a certain level across a season, and you need that kind of sample size to get any accuracy.

But it's very unlikely that early week mdoels should match any season long predictions, simply because teams are not that consistent. Any 3 week set during the year will necessarily have much less accuracy against a model than the entire 16 week set. Otherwise, this would all be much simpler and we wouldn't have to have actual games.

If you take a look at DVOA ratings (assuming you think DVOA is a decent model) you'll see quite large week to week variations for many teams. No model, no matter how good, is going to tell you what a team will do on individual weeks, or even over a random 3 weeks.

That said, some sites (Salon.com maybe?) used to publish some end-of-season comparisons of various models against results, and if I recall, FO scored very very well.

4) "...maybe you ought to reduce the weight of its performance in the prior season... duh, DAVE."

Duh, DAVE does get reduced the further into the season you get. DAVE exists because it is better than straight DVOA at predicting early in the season, due to small sample size variation in DVOA when there haven't been many games played.

5) "...when a team changes its GM, coaching staff, QB, and half the roster (while keeping the pro bowlers), maybe you ought to reduce the weight of its performance in the prior season... duh, DAVE."

I assume you're a KC fan and think their DAVE should be higher? If there was a way to, with any amount of accuracy at all, make adjustments for those things, they would be included (maybe some are to some extent?). But there is likely no quantifiable way to do that that would improve the rankings. Those changes are too random in their actual effect on teams.

by mmeiselman :: Fri, 09/27/2013 - 1:43pm

How many mean wins should Dallas be downgraded after the announcement that Anthony Spencer is going on IR? .5 or so?

by mitch (not verified) :: Sat, 09/28/2013 - 12:30pm

This week could very well be the week we see big regressions from the 2 top teams, Seattle and Denver.

With a DVOA around 69 this is not maintainable over long periods, as evidenced by the best teams of the DVOA era being 35-40.

Unless those 2 teams are more than 50% better then the best teams, which we know they aren't then a regression is coming.

Same can be said for the Jaguars, they are not twice as bad as the worst teams of the DVOA therefore a regression is in the works.

I posted last week a regression could hit Denver last week and sure enough they failed to cover the closing line which shot all the way to 17 and then closed at 16.5.

Likely a winner fading the 2 top teams and backing the worst team this week.

by dmstorm22 :: Sat, 09/28/2013 - 2:03pm

It should be noted that Denver failed to cover by half a point, because they fumbled while trying to run out the clock and Oakland scored a garbage TD. That is not really regressing (though their overall VOA did drop - wasn't a great performance by Denver outside of Manning and the offense in general).

by mitch (not verified) :: Sun, 09/29/2013 - 10:20am

EXACTLY STORM, luck regression is what hit Denver at the end of that game.

Just pure bad luck. For Denver to be so highly ranked around 69 in DVOA means they've had alot of luck go their way thus far, luck comes and goes and we saw evidence of that last monday night.

Denver will likely regress even more this week and could lose this game out-right.

by Jocuri Gratuite (not verified) :: Sun, 09/29/2013 - 10:51am

This example could also be speaking the quality of the football analysis Greg Cosell does more so than the abilities of Payton Maning. Whenever I read Cosell I end up thinking that he already made up his mind about the players and fitting a narrative to it than analyzing the situation itself.