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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

29 Oct 2013

Week 8 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Denver remains on top of this week's Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, and the Broncos still rank as one of the top ten teams in DVOA history despite a bit of a decline in recent weeks. Seattle remains in second place, although the Seahawks' overall rating drops after last night's narrow win over St. Louis. Indianapolis is third, with Carolina a surprising fourth and Cincinnati climbing from 11th to fifth thanks to their 49-9 drubbing of the New York Jets. Chicago climbs two spots to sixth, even on a bye week, although DVOA of course doesn't take into account the effect of injuries (or McCowns) on a team's future peformance. Close behind the Bears are three other NFC contenders, the Saints, 49ers, and Packers, and...

Wait a minute. Where the hell are the 8-0 Kansas City Chiefs? 

The shocking answer is tenth place. The Chiefs drop six spots this week from fourth to tenth. Although many power rankings around the Internet will still have Kansas City in first place because they are slaves to ranking teams by win-loss record, it's pretty obvious that the Chiefs are not the best team in the league right now.

The biggest issue is schedule strength. We've pointed this out a few times this year, but the Chiefs' schedule has been phenomenally easy. The Chiefs have played only one opponent this year with an above-average DVOA, the Dallas Cowboys. If we take out the opponent adjustments and look at non-adjusted VOA, the Chiefs actually rank third in the league; the difference between the two ratings is more than 10 percentage points. Each week, as the opponent adjustments in our system become stronger and stronger, the Chiefs see their DVOA rating fall a little bit more. It doesn't help that the Chiefs have been declining a bit, with their three worst games by DVOA coming in the last three weeks. The game against Cleveland comes out as their worst of the year by DVOA, another reason for their big drop this week. In fact, DVOA has Cleveland outplaying the Chiefs this week even if we remove the opponent adjustments. The Browns gained 6.5 yards per play compared to just 4.7 yards per play for Kansas City, but were hurt by third-down efficiency (just 3-for-12) and the fact that they lost their one fumble while the Chiefs recovered theirs. Without opponent adjustments, that comes out to 19.5% DVOA for the Browns and -4.6% DVOA for the Chiefs. With opponent adjustments, it comes out to 28.1% DVOA for the Browns and -23.1% DVOA for the Chiefs.

(By the way, the Chiefs aren't the only team with huge opponent adjustments this season. Denver and San Diego have also had extremely easy schedules this season. Denver's gap between DVOA and VOA is almost as big as Kansas City's, but because the Broncos have been so good, the opponent adjustments don't knock them out of first place in our ratings.)

A couple weeks ago, we looked at where Kansas City stood among the "worst" 6-0 teams of all-time. At that point, the Chiefs weren't particularly low. However, only 14 teams since 1989 have made it to 8-0, and out of those teams, the Chiefs come out near the bottom. (Yes, one team that ranks below them ended up winning the Super Bowl, but remember that team got its best defensive player back from injury right before the playoffs.)

8-0 TEAMS, 1989-2013
Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 73.6%
1991 WAS 58.8%
2003 KC 44.4%
1998 DEN 38.8%
1990 NYG 38.1%
2005 IND 35.8%
2009 IND 31.2%
2009 NO 30.8%
2011 GB 27.7%
2008 TEN 24.0%
1990 SF 19.6%
2013 KC 17.6%
2006 IND 15.6%
2012 ATL 13.2%

(Ed. Note: This table originally left out the 2012 Falcons, but they have now been added.)

Despite the slight decline in recent weeks, the Chiefs have been one of the most consistent teams in the league, ranking second in variance. Which team comes out ahead of them? Why, it's the other team with a win-loss record much better than its DVOA rating, the 6-2 New England Patriots. The Patriots drop a slot to 13th this week despite their win over Miami, because their win over Miami has been like almost all their other games this year: slightly above average. Right now, every New England Patriots game falls in a tiny range between -3% DVOA and 15% DVOA except for the Week 5 loss to Cincinnati (-17.8%) and the Week 6 win over New Orleans (26.4%).

The idea of the Patriots as the most consistent team in the league seems ridiculous, because they seem so inconsistent from drive to drive. Nonetheless, the Patriots may not be the enigma that everyone thinks they are. The Patriots are not suddenly a bad team. They seem to be a slightly above-average team that plays most games slightly above-average. Maybe the reason the Patriots are so hard for people to judge is that their performance this year is so different from what we've come to expect from the Patriots in recent years. Their defense ranks sixth in DVOA and has been the most consistent in the league (variance of only 2.0%) despite all the injuries in recent weeks. The offense, on the other hand is just 20th in offensive DVOA (12th in variance). Even stranger, the offense is being carried in part by the running game. The Patriots rank 12th in rushing DVOA but 24th in passing DVOA.

It's hard to determine how to divy up the blame pie for Tom Brady's massive decline this year. Is his lack of accuracy related to the fact that he doesn't trust his new receivers? Is it related to age? An injury to his hand? How much do we blame the new receivers and how much do we blame Brady himself? What we do know is that Brady's year-to-year decline is one of the biggest for any quarterback in history.

For now, let's just look at quarterbacks since 1989 using DVOA ratings. After Week 8, Brady's DVOA rating stands at -16.6%. That's actually lower than replacement level, which is astonishing for a player who has led the league in passing DVOA three times and passing DYAR four times. As of right now, Brady's drop of over 50 percentage points in DVOA trails only Brett Favre's final season in Minnesota as the biggest year-to-year drop in DVOA for a quarterback with at least 300 passes in two straight seasons.

Biggest Passing DVOA Decline, 1990-2013 (min. 300 passes)
Player Year Team Age DVOA Y-1 Rank DVOA Rank Change
Brett Favre 2010 MIN 41 34.5% 4 -23.1% 38 -57.6%
Tom Brady 2013 NE 36 35.1% 1 -16.6% 29 -51.7%
Kerry Collins 1997 CAR 25 17.5% 6 -26.0% 41 -43.4%
Matt Hasselbeck 2006 SEA 31 32.2% 4 -10.6% 31 -42.8%
Brian Griese 2001 DEN 26 34.7% 2 -4.2% 24 -38.9%
Boomer Esiason 1990 CIN 29 28.1% 5 -10.8% 25 -38.9%
Mark Rypien 1993 WAS 31 13.3% 11 -25.3% 41 -38.6%
Jay Cutler 2009 CHI 26 17.0% 7 -21.4% 30 -38.4%
Chad Pennington 2003 NYJ 27 40.6% 1 3.1% 19 -37.4%
Jay Schroeder 1991 LARD 30 33.6% 1 -3.7% 21 -37.3%
Marc Bulger 2007 STL 30 16.7% 11 -19.7% 40 -36.4%
Jake Delhomme 2009 CAR 34 13.2% 10 -23.1% 32 -36.4%

One interesting thing about this list is that very few of the quarterbacks on the list are particularly old. A huge decline like this doesn't necessarily represent the end of a player's career. It's also worth noting that most of these players did not play a full season in the year listed in our table. There's a small sample size effect going on here, even given our minimum of 300 passes. That should give Patriots fans hope that while Brady may never be the Brady of 2007-2012 again, there's at least a pretty good chance he's going to be better than this over the last half of the 2013 season.

One last aside: Since I went to look if the Chiefs were the worst 8-0 team ever, I figured I should also look to see if the Patriots are the worst 6-2 team ever. No, they are not. They aren't even in the bottom 20. But the actual list of the worst 6-2 teams ever is really quirky. The three worst 6-2 teams in DVOA history were all the Detroit Lions. They had -17.1% DVOA in 2007 (finished 7-9), -10.9% DVOA in 1993 (finished 10-6), and -8.0% DVOA in 1991 (finished 12-4). Two other teams had negative DVOA at 6-2, and both were in 1998: Atlanta at -8.0% DVOA and Oakland at -5.4% DVOA. Those teams went two completely different directions after midseason. Atlanta went on a crazy hot streak, winning its final eight games while raising its DVOA all the way up to 18.8% for the season. They finished with 30.3% weighted DVOA. Oakland went 2-6 in the second half of the season, finishing 27th in the league with -18.3% DVOA.


Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 73.6% x 2007 NE 49.7% x 2005 SF -63.1% x 1992 SEA -49.7% x 2010 SD -19.9%
1991 WAS 62.8% x 1999 WAS 47.2% x 2013 JAC -62.2% x 2004 MIA -46.0% x 2008 MIN -17.6%
1996 GB 54.0% x 1998 DEN 40.8% x 1993 TB -60.9% x 2005 SF -45.5% x 2013 WAS -15.8%
2007 IND 48.7% x 2013 DEN 37.7% x 2009 DET -55.3% x 2010 CAR -44.4% x 1990 DEN -14.4%
1994 DAL 48.2% x 2000 IND 35.9% x 2005 MIN -54.1% x 1996 STL -42.3% x 1995 PHI -14.0%
2003 KC 45.2% x 2004 IND 35.5% x 2008 KC -53.3% x 1993 TB -40.8% x 1997 STL -13.7%
2006 CHI 44.3% x 2000 STL 35.5% x 1991 IND -52.2% x 2013 JAC -40.5% x 1996 ARI -13.4%
1999 STL 43.2% x 1992 SF 35.4% x 1996 STL -50.3% x 2002 HOU -40.3% x 1999 CIN -13.3%
2013 DEN 42.9% x 2005 DEN 34.9% x 2009 OAK -50.3% x 2009 OAK -39.8% x 1994 HOIL -12.3%
1998 DEN 41.9% x 2007 IND 34.7% x 2005 HOU -49.8% x 2006 OAK -39.2% x 1999 IND -12.1%
1990 CHI 41.1% x 1995 DAL 33.9% x 1998 WAS -49.3% x 1991 PHI -39.2% x 2000 CIN -11.8%
2009 NE 41.1% x 2002 KC 33.8% x 2000 CIN -48.6% x 2007 SF -39.1% x 2006 ARI -11.4%

I've kept these lists to 12 teams each week, but if we extended the lists by two teams each, the 2013 New York Giants would show up as 14th on the "Worst Special Teams Ever" list.

* * * * *

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 standard stats. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats, including DYAR, Defeats, and our game charting coverage stats for cornerbacks. 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, beginning Friday night.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 8 are:

  • LT David Bakhtiari, GB: Limited Jared Allen to three hurries with no sacks or QB hits.
  • C Alex Mack, CLE: No sacks or hurries allowed vs. NFL's best pass rush.
  • LE Robert Quinn, STL: Three sacks, three QB hits, and TFL. (We also assume there were some hurries, but we haven't had a chance to chart that yet.)
  • ROLB Marcus Benard, ARI: Sack, three QB hits, and two hurries.
  • SS Troy Polamalu, PIT (Limited Edition): Sack, INT, PD, and TFL.

Most of you are probably asking: Where is Calvin Johnson? Well, in order to provide some variety in the game, the Madden 25 folks have asked us not to choose players who have been featured as either special elite Football Outsiders stars or Madden 25 Team of the Week stars in recent weeks. This week, that prevented us from choosing a lot of players that we were considering otherwise, including not just Megatron but also Andy Dalton and Sean Lee. And of course we can't choose players who made this week's Madden Team of the Week, and this week those players include players with high DYAR like Andre Ellington, Marvin Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Kenny Stills. Other players we considered this week who didn't make the cut: Mike Tolbert, Joe Thomas, and Chris Long.

* * * * *

All 2013 stat pages are now updated or will be updated in the next few minutes, including snap counts, playoff odds, and the FO Premium database.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through eight 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.)

This week, we say goodbye to DAVE, our method which combines 2013 performance with our preseason projections. All numbers now represent 2013 only.

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.

Because it is early in the season, opponent strength is at only 80 percent; it will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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

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

1 DEN 42.9% 1 42.5% 1 7-1 37.7% 1 0.5% 18 5.6% 5
2 SEA 32.4% 2 32.2% 2 7-1 4.4% 14 -23.2% 1 4.9% 8
3 IND 26.1% 3 26.2% 3 5-2 17.1% 5 -4.4% 9 4.6% 9
4 CAR 23.5% 6 23.6% 4 4-3 12.8% 9 -9.9% 5 0.8% 14
5 CIN 22.4% 11 22.8% 5 6-2 7.5% 11 -11.0% 4 3.8% 11
6 CHI 20.9% 8 21.2% 6 4-3 17.0% 7 0.3% 17 4.2% 10
7 NO 20.5% 7 20.3% 8 6-1 17.8% 4 -2.9% 12 -0.1% 19
8 SF 20.0% 10 20.3% 7 6-2 17.1% 6 -2.1% 14 0.8% 15
9 GB 19.6% 5 19.6% 9 5-2 28.6% 2 6.1% 26 -2.8% 25
10 KC 17.6% 4 17.3% 10 8-0 -1.6% 16 -12.7% 3 6.5% 3
11 DAL 11.9% 9 12.2% 11 4-4 6.7% 12 2.1% 21 7.3% 2
12 DET 7.7% 14 7.8% 12 5-3 13.3% 8 3.8% 25 -1.8% 24
13 NE 7.2% 12 7.2% 13 6-2 -6.4% 20 -6.2% 6 7.4% 1
14 ARI 2.7% 19 3.2% 14 4-4 -14.6% 26 -17.2% 2 0.1% 18
15 SD 1.3% 13 1.2% 15 4-3 25.0% 3 22.8% 32 -1.0% 23
16 PIT -4.1% 18 -4.0% 16 2-5 -2.7% 17 0.8% 19 -0.6% 20
17 BUF -7.0% 17 -7.4% 17 3-5 -9.3% 21 -6.0% 7 -3.7% 27
18 ATL -7.7% 15 -8.0% 18 2-5 8.6% 10 15.6% 30 -0.7% 22
19 BAL -8.6% 23 -8.4% 19 3-4 -14.5% 25 -4.2% 10 1.7% 13
20 TEN -9.6% 21 -10.0% 21 3-4 -3.1% 18 -1.3% 15 -7.9% 29
21 CLE -9.8% 25 -9.7% 20 3-5 -11.4% 23 3.5% 23 5.1% 6
22 MIA -10.0% 22 -10.2% 22 3-4 -6.0% 19 3.3% 22 -0.7% 21
23 NYJ -11.2% 16 -11.3% 23 4-4 -22.1% 31 -5.9% 8 5.0% 7
24 PHI -12.4% 20 -12.2% 24 3-5 6.3% 13 13.5% 29 -5.2% 28
25 MIN -13.6% 27 -13.9% 25 1-6 -10.4% 22 8.9% 28 5.7% 4
26 STL -14.8% 26 -14.4% 26 3-5 -13.6% 24 3.7% 24 2.5% 12
27 TB -17.3% 24 -17.7% 27 0-7 -18.0% 30 -0.3% 16 0.5% 16
28 OAK -22.1% 28 -21.7% 28 3-4 -16.8% 28 1.8% 20 -3.4% 26
29 HOU -23.7% 30 -24.4% 30 2-5 -17.1% 29 -3.1% 11 -9.7% 30
30 WAS -24.2% 29 -24.3% 29 2-5 -0.4% 15 8.0% 27 -15.8% 32
31 NYG -25.3% 31 -24.8% 31 2-6 -16.5% 27 -2.4% 13 -11.2% 31
32 JAC -62.2% 32 -61.8% 32 0-8 -40.5% 32 22.1% 31 0.3% 17
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).

1 DEN 42.9% 7-1 52.1% 8.0 1 -14.6% 31 -1.3% 19 7.5% 13
2 SEA 32.4% 7-1 33.2% 6.1 3 -4.8% 28 -4.4% 23 14.5% 25
3 IND 26.1% 5-2 26.5% 6.1 2 0.3% 15 -11.2% 32 8.2% 14
4 CAR 23.5% 4-3 29.0% 5.1 9 -6.1% 29 1.6% 10 12.9% 23
5 CIN 22.4% 6-2 22.9% 5.7 6 2.9% 13 -3.4% 21 13.0% 24
6 CHI 20.9% 4-3 18.6% 5.8 4 -2.4% 23 0.0% 16 7.5% 12
7 NO 20.5% 6-1 27.5% 5.3 8 -1.6% 21 6.7% 7 8.3% 15
8 SF 20.0% 6-2 19.9% 4.9 12 -3.7% 27 1.9% 9 20.2% 30
9 GB 19.6% 5-2 22.6% 5.8 5 -0.9% 18 -0.2% 17 5.7% 9
10 KC 17.6% 8-0 29.2% 5.7 7 -19.1% 32 7.6% 4 4.2% 2
11 DAL 11.9% 4-4 16.3% 5.0 10 -0.9% 19 -4.6% 24 5.4% 7
12 DET 7.7% 5-3 5.6% 4.7 13 3.7% 9 -5.1% 26 4.4% 4
13 NE 7.2% 6-2 10.2% 4.9 11 -2.7% 24 0.4% 12 1.6% 1
14 ARI 2.7% 4-4 -0.6% 4.5 14 8.0% 4 -5.5% 27 9.4% 16
15 SD 1.3% 4-3 4.7% 4.2 15 -13.1% 30 6.9% 6 5.9% 11
16 PIT -4.1% 2-5 -6.5% 3.2 21 -3.1% 25 1.3% 11 4.3% 3
17 BUF -7.0% 3-5 -5.4% 3.7 17 4.2% 8 -11.0% 31 15.7% 26
18 ATL -7.7% 2-5 -4.4% 3.7 18 -3.3% 26 10.1% 2 5.3% 6
19 BAL -8.6% 3-4 -7.8% 3.4 20 1.1% 14 4.7% 8 11.1% 19
20 TEN -9.6% 3-4 -3.0% 3.0 25 4.6% 7 -9.7% 30 10.3% 18
21 CLE -9.8% 3-5 -4.5% 2.9 26 3.5% 10 -5.0% 25 11.5% 20
22 MIA -10.0% 3-4 -9.3% 3.0 23 3.0% 12 0.4% 13 12.6% 22
23 NYJ -11.2% 4-4 -10.3% 3.5 19 -1.1% 20 -2.9% 20 16.2% 27
24 PHI -12.4% 3-5 -11.5% 3.7 16 -2.3% 22 0.4% 14 21.0% 31
25 MIN -13.6% 1-6 -12.7% 3.1 22 4.7% 6 7.8% 3 11.5% 21
26 STL -14.8% 3-5 -16.3% 2.7 27 -0.4% 17 12.0% 1 18.6% 29
27 TB -17.3% 0-7 -17.3% 1.9 30 3.2% 11 7.2% 5 4.8% 5
28 OAK -22.1% 3-4 -16.9% 2.0 28 -0.4% 16 -1.0% 18 5.8% 10
29 HOU -23.7% 2-5 -23.8% 3.0 24 5.5% 5 -5.7% 28 21.6% 32
30 WAS -24.2% 2-5 -27.8% 1.9 29 9.8% 2 -3.7% 22 5.5% 8
31 NYG -25.3% 2-6 -33.5% 1.6 31 9.8% 3 0.3% 15 17.0% 28
32 JAC -62.2% 0-8 -65.4% 0.0 32 12.9% 1 -6.8% 29 9.6% 17

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 29 Oct 2013

194 comments, Last at 04 Nov 2013, 11:38pm by Ibis fan


by Doug vegas (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:40pm

Awesome to see you guys pick Mr. Polamalu as the LE card this week my MUT team has all the great Steelers players which allow me to dominate online in the game since my Steelers cant seem to do it on the field.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:43pm

What the heck? I thought Seattle played far worse than Kansas City. Seattle's defensive DVOA actually improved? I know that opponent adjustments are increasing, but that's still amazing. SF's, Arizona's and Carolina's big wins must've really helped here.

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:07pm

I think you've answered your own question. If you look at DVOA vs unadjusted DVOA Seattle doesn't lose very much. Why? Because if you look just at DVOA, Seattle has played a fairly brutal schedule to this point and KC (and to be fair Denver) have not.

Do note that Seattle ranks near the bottom in terms of variability and I think we saw some of that last night.

by CBPodge :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:16pm

I'd love to see how their variance is in their home games compared to their away games. It seems like they are consistently good at home, and consistently underwhelming on the road.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:07pm

Consistently underwhelming? I don't think so. The 12-7 win against Carolina was infinitely better than the atrocity last night, especially with opponent adjustments taken in. I would rank the five games Carolina > Arizona = Indy >> Houston >> St. Louis.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:22pm

At some point, you have to start really wondering if this offense is going to cost them big in the postseason. There offense hasn't been that great most of the year. AFter the 49er loss to the colts, I thought the hawks were a shoo in for the division. Now, I honestly would take SF to win the division, especially since they get a rematch at home.

by formido :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:34pm

Well, considering Seattle's starting tackles and Percy Harvin will be back by then, and when their starting tackles were playing their offensive DVOA was much higher, and SF's remaining schedule is harder, I wouldn't start polishing that division title for SF just yet.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:49pm

There were several games that were just awful, but I wouldn't say they haven't been great most of the year. They were great against #2 defense Arizona and #9 defense Indy and good in DVOA terms against Carolina and Tennessee. The fumbles have been a big issue, so at least that didn't happen last night.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:22pm

While I hate to threaten your attempts to rile the FOMBC, Seattle are at approximately 9% on the road, not exactly outstanding. They're over 60% at home though, if they get homefield they should be massive favourites to make the Superbowl... which isn't being held at the Clink.

Have FO ever looked to see who has the biggest ever home/road difference? 50% seems pretty massive.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:28pm

Assuming the Packers clear away from Detroit and the Seahawks stay above the 49ers, the race for the #1 seed in the NFC will be huge. Both the Saints and Seahawks have what seem to be huge advantages at Home. I can't see either team losing a home playoff game. The Packers, I guess, can travel well, but just avoiding trips to those two places is a huge gain.

Should be a fun race in the NFC, where the only other mystery seems to be who between Detroit & Carolina gets the #6 seed, and what terrible team wins the NFC East.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:43pm

I'm certainly not claiming they've been great on the road, but rather, I feel like they've been inconsistently underwhelming; I don't know if DVOA feels the same way.

Also, looking at the definition of FOMBC, it seems I'm actually doing the opposite of that in that I'm amazed at their high DVOA ranking.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:49pm

The FOMBC cuts both ways, 'tis a mysterious devil.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:50pm

Double post.

by formido :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:31pm

I don't know about underwhelming, but Seattle does have the most road wins in the NFL this year.

by EricL :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:47pm

Also, they and the New York Giants are the only teams in the league to have played five road games to this point.

So, they're sitting at 7-1 with five home games remaining against TB, MIN, NO (Monday), ARI, and STL. Only one of those games should be close, but hey - that's why they play them.

Their three remaining road games are at ATL (10am), at SF (short week after NO game), and at NYG (10am).

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:27pm

Yeah, of course Seattle's defense improved. They held St Louis to no touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a fumble (recovered by the Rams)despite their offense leaving them with pretty short fields a lot of the night. The only time the Rams really got anything going was on their last drive where Seattle tossed a 4 down goal-line stand on them.

The other reason they improved was that they're getting credit for shutting down Sam Bradford (who's had a pretty solid year) when they actually shut down Kellen Clemens. But hey, pretty much every defense has played a back up QB at some point this year, so don't hate on them too much for that.

The real shock is that their offense didn't drop more. I know they didn't turn the ball over, but that was brutal. 135 total yards and 80 of them on one play. Woof.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:44pm

True, the result was pretty good. I think it's because I saw them perform significantly worse than the stats indicate. Both interceptions were inaccurate balls thrown to wide-open receivers, and of course St. Louis missed a makeable field goal that would've changed the entire complexion of the game. They looked like how they looked last year, when they would give up a lot of yards, especially on the ground, but make up for it with turnovers, instead of how they had looked this year, when they would give up very few yards, including on the ground, and get turnovers on top of it.

by DJG (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:25pm

Watching the game I too felt the Seahawks D wasn't playing as well as they have been this year, but upon reflection I think I was being fooled by the bad position the putrid offense kept putting them. The D only gave up 4.3 yards-per-play, which is fewer than the season average for all 32 teams this year. As for the interceptions, only on one of them was the intended receiver open, on the other one he was well-covered and ran the wrong route. There was an open guy on the play, but you could probably say that about most interceptions. Forcing the QB to make the wrong read and capitalizing on it is a part of defense (and of course it helps when said QB is lousy). As for the field goal it was basically a coin toss (Zuerlein is exactly 50% in his career from 50+), so no surprise he missed it. In retrospect -- 96-yard drive to make it close aside -- this was actually a terrific game for the Hawks' D.

(For Seahawks commentary and analysis: Jim Zorn's Lemma.)

by DJG (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:35pm

As bad an offensive performance as we've seen in the Russell Wilson era. Although, the 80-yard play was a direct result of the eight-in-the-box, aggressive fronts the Rams played all night, so it doesn't make sense to isolate it from the overall total. The shame (from the perspective of a Seahawks fan) is that the Seahawks couldn't (didn't try to?) hit a few more of these one-on-one big passes to force the Rams to lighten up on the line.

(For Seahawks commentary and analysis: Jim Zorn's Lemma.)

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:32pm

Seattle entered the Rams game with the league's best red zone defensive DVOA, by far. I'd imagine that gap has only grown now.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:52pm

Hah, the Bears have taken the Vikings strategy of using the bye week to get better. Take that Will Allen.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:52pm

If Chicago is better than Green Bay (with or without Jay Cutler), I'm a prima ballerina on a spring afternoon.

by ebongreen :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:15pm

I think Chicago is a mirage as well - especially without Cutler - but the proof is in the playing. Give it seven days, and we'll see. :)

IMO The NFC North will come down to the Packers and Lions. With all respect to Stafford and Megatron, I'm confident the Packers have the edge in that matchup. They may not win at Det on Turkey Day, but even with a split I think Green Bay is likely to win the division. At some point the awful injury luck seems likely to abate... right?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:25pm

I agree the Packers are the superior team....but, have you looked at the Lions remaining schedule? Mostly it's Cakewalk City. They get to play the Bears without Briggs and Cutler, and then a bunch of dumpster fires. The only tough games are Green Bay and maybe Baltimore (and both of those are at home).

The Lions are so inconsistent that you can count on them to blow at least one or two winnable games, but I still think the Packers need to win the Thanksgiving Game to lock down the division. Otherwise they sweat it out till the end.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:32pm

Have you looked that Packers remaining schedule? They also get the Bears without Briggs and Cutler (the 20.9% DVOA is not to be trusted). Then it's Philly (-12.4%), then the New York Football Dumpster (-25.35), then Minnesota and whoever they might have at QB (-13.6%). They finally get a tough game, Turkey day in Detroit (7.7%), followed by the train wreck that is Atlanta (-7.7%), after that there is another possible real opponent in Dallas (11.9%), then it's Pittsburgh (-4.1%) and Chicago again. So they should end up 12-4 at worst and have a good shot at 14-2. Anything can happen of course, but the two Chicago games make their future schedule look harder than it is.

Detroit has an easier schedule with Tampa and Baltimore (instead of Dallas and another Chicago) but it's not much different than what GB has (other than of course GB and not Det).

It's possible if GB loses in Det they both end up 13-3, but GB should be the favorite in every game they have left, unless I'm really mistaken about Chicago and the issues they have been having. Det should be favored in every game expect vs GB.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:08am

All of that means that for the Packers, winning vs. losing on Turkey Day is the difference between being able to rest their starters in week 17 (or maybe even competing for a first round bye), vs needing to win out to stay ahead of the Lions in the division. Granted, you rightly point out that the Packers' schedule is only marginally harder than the Lions'.

by TomC :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:12pm

Chicago climbs two spots to sixth, even on a bye week, although DVOA of course doesn't take into account the effect of injuries (or McCowns) on a team's future peformance.

I am fairly confident that if you shell out the money for FO's premium picks this weekend, they will not be taking the Bears straight up.

(Speaking of which, I was curious what that line was, and it's Packers by 11.5! That's got to be some kind of record for teams with effectively identical DVOA.)

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:40am

The spreads are getting me. I keep getting the winner right but the spread giveth and the spread taketh away....

by DejSpin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:52pm

So the Packers absolutely throttle the Vikings and drop 4 spots and 3 percentage points in DVOA. And the Green Bay offense gains barely half a percentage point despite scoring on EVERY DRIVE of the game. Those must be some killer opponent adjustments for the Vikings. Just imagine how far they would have dropped if the punter had actually participated in the game.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:59pm

Throttled? Only on offense. The average yard per gain was pretty close, and Green bay only led by 7 at halftime. Green Bay's defense played quite poorly given the opponent.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:05pm

Green Bay's defense gave up two garbage time td's at the end of the game and one before the half that was the result of a phantom pass interference call. For the game's other 53 minutes, during which the game was decided, the Vikings offense did nothing.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:09pm

Well, yes, if you take out all the TDs a team scored (and DVOA doesn't know about phantom pass interference calls), they certainly look worse. Also, I wouldn't call a 11-play 62-yard drive in the first half nothing.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 10:21pm

Please,Perfundle, stop trying. Our eyes can see.... A huge flaw in this metric continues to be assigning equal value to garbage time TDS in an era when players are legitimately conscious of injury and just might avoid making certain plays when their team is 3-4 TDS ahead in the final 5 minutes that they would make any other time... It is a laughable result when the Packers can simply destroy Minnesota in-between a kickoff return (matched by a 93 yard Packer punt return later in the game) and two garbage touchdowns and yet their overall season performance can decline... Don't try to defend to indefensible...

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:48pm

That's what was said for the majority of 2011's blowouts too. In the end, the defense was as bad as advertised. Why is it that the elite defensive teams can consistently get huge blowouts, like Chicago and Denver last year? Or, to use a particularly illuminating example, the 2010 Packers? Let's see, 34-7 against Buffalo, 0 second-half points; 45-7 against Dallas, 0 second-half points; 31-3 against Minnesota, 0 second-half points; 34-16 against SF, 3 second-half points; 45-17 against NYG, 7 second-half points; 48-21 against Atlanta, 7 second-half points.

Shouldn't a mediocre defensive team use garbage time to practice their technique instead of coasting? It's a bad habit that McCarthy and Capers are enabling, and I fear it's going to burn them again in the playoffs; the players on defense should get into the routine of playing hard the entire game.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:06am

well, at the risk of going into dirty laundry, I'm not sure one game vs the Giants proves much of anything about 2011. The offensive coordinator's son died during that week, and as a result he was not part of any game planning. The QB had been benched the week before and was nowhere near as sharp in that game as he had been all season, particularly vis-a-vis a certain Number 85, Greg Jennings, who had missed the four previous games due to injury. The offense was, in a word, strangely ineffective that night. The defense made one unpardonable sin-- allowing a Hail Mary TD at the end of the half (a precursor of the play that, more than any other, doomed their 2012 season)-- but was not the biggest cause of that defeat.. But we'll see, i guess-- when Matthews, Perry and Brad Jones all return-- just how good this year's Packer defense is...

by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:08pm

Although Rodgers was certainly less accurate, the biggest problem of all was the three lost fumbles by the least-fumbling team in the NFL. Anyway, the Packers' defense played as badly as they did the first time around against the Giants, so my point was that they were as bad as they were in the regular season, and when the turnovers dried up (GB had been forcing the most turnovers per drive), they would need near-flawless execution from the offense every game, and you can't rely on that. I mean, saying that a defense that gives up that many points is not the biggest cause of the defeat is quite revealing how little faith the fans had in them that year, and how much they needed the offense to rescue them; who knows if the defensive players had had that mentality too.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:59am

I agree that it's a concern. Capers said as much after the game. But, DVOA would have us believe that this was a closely contested game, when it wasn't. I agree with the post above that it seems you're defending DVOA by pointing out its limitations. Like all other metrics, DVOA is simply data, meaningless without context and analysis.

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:02am

The last post was directed toward Perfundle, in case that wasn't evident.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:13pm

It's possible that it's a limitation of DVOA, but given past history, it could also be DVOA revealing a hidden truth about a team. DVOA's biggest limitation is in its inability to account for playing getting injured and coming back, and I feel the garbage time issue is nowhere near as bad. I mean, I was just as skeptical about this in years past, but I saw these bad garbage time teams continually go belly-up in the playoffs from bad defensive play.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:11am

What year is this? Is it 2011 again? You'd think Packers fans might have learned something since then, but I guess not.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:36am

It's the same guy as 2011, and both times was mostly just one prolific commenter. Let him stew in his logical fallacies.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:37pm

I'll add that while you see a phantom pass interference call, I saw a drive that had 6 out of 8 successful plays by DVOA other than that penalty. So how can they practice defending 2-minute drills like this? How about in the second half of blowouts, when the opponents are forced into one 2-minute drill after another? Minnesota scored both of their fourth-quarter TDs in less than two minutes. I can't help but feel that they were treating the second half of the Cincinnati game the same way when they went up 30-14, and what happens? A 65-yard TD drive in less than two minutes and a 95-yard TD drive in less than three minutes.

by DejSpin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:06pm

The defense only gave up 10 points while the game was still in doubt, and 7 of those required a highly suspect PI call. I would say throttled is accurate.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:16pm

You make it sound like they would have gotten nothing were it not for that call. It would've been 4th-and-1 from Green Bay's 40, and they surely would've gone for it, and probably get at least a field goal. Also, even with the penalty, Green Bay could've stopped them afterwards, and they didn't.

by TomC :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:14pm

I was expecting a gaggle of KC fans begging for the FOMBC this week, but I'll be much happier if it instead comes down on Green Bay.

by Treima :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:14pm

Green Bay is clearly ranked too low because they SMOTHERED the Vikings, and gifted them 31 points as a courtesy! Rankings based on number of awkward State Farm commercials is way better than this. Cutler should stop cruising for discount double-checks on sports medicine!

by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:11am

OK, I give. Minny had ONE effective drive while the game was in doubt. I'm sure Leslie Frazier was absolutely thrilled with his team's offensive performance.

by AnonA (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:00am

I have to agree that GB absolutely handled the Vikes in this game. Every1 knew that wasn't a PI. Vikes probably go for it but still who knows what happens if it weren't for that call.

Basically after that the offense did nothing until GB went into prevent and basically allowed Ponder to walk in for a TD plus gave up another TD. In the end those TD's weren't going to matter.

With the amount of Injuries on this team I completely understand playing that soft on defense when the game is that far out of reach. Like someone said, DVOA can't understand that but Human's should be able to.

by Brendan Scolari :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 11:16am

Where is the proof that playing prevent helps prevent injury? I don't see how letting the other team have long drives so your defense has to stay out on the field for a bunch of plays keeps them healthy.

by CBPodge :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:38am

DVOA only knows that there was pass interference, not whether it was potentially suspect.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:59pm

But garbage time just isn't the defense mailing it in, it's the Packer offense taking its foot off the gas as well. If the Packers had really tried all throughout the game, the score would have been a 3 TD win without a whole lot of sweat. But they go into complete safe mode on offense and play soft as butter on D to let the time drain. The problem with any metric system is that it simply doesn't take that "inflection" into account like sarcasm being lost in a comment section post. The end result is the Packers are stronger than the DVOA accounts for. Of course it works both ways, because there are times when the Packers are worse than their DVOA ranking seems to have them to be. In the end, DVOA seems to be a lot more about yards as its frame of reference when yards matter less and less. The Vikings had one strong drive the entire game, the rest is out of context.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:24pm

"play soft as butter on D to let the time drain"

Yep, the D really drained the time with the two TD drives that took less than 90 seconds. Oh, and the TD drive right before the half did the same.

"The problem with any metric system is that it simply doesn't take that "inflection" into account"

There was one that did: ESPN's QBR, with its weighted end-of-game performance (clutch, garbage time), and it got roundly criticized for it.

You have to ask yourself, if accounting for garbage time points is such an easy fix, why haven't they ever fixed it? Maybe they found that DVOA's predictive value got worse when they took it out, and I'd be inclined to believe that too.

by toolkien (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 9:08pm



Notice a whole lot of difference in the graphic of the chance of winning? Me neither.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:38pm

DVOA is not really measuring the probability of winning the game, during the game. If you use it to predict it is more the probability that a play will be a success. In the aggregate you can use that predict who will win a game in the future, or explain what happened in a game in the past. The points the Packers gave up late, which they've done this year already which lead to a fumble costing them the game, indicate it's likely to happen again, regardless of opponent.

Discounting garbage time has been tried, it made DVOA worse at predicting wins and losses. While we don't know the play sets, garbage time is compared to other garbage time, so it is already discounted some.

Besides it wasn't just the two TD's at the end of the game that messed up the numbers for the Packers. Their run defense was awful over the small number of plays that the Vikings actually ran on. 52%, way worse than any other game this year. Peterson who didn't really play much late, averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and gashed them for a few first downs. Ponder had some scrambles early that hurt them too.

The game wasn't really close, but it was still a one score at half and Minn had two decent drives, you can argue the PI all you want. Also while the GB offense was great on 3rd downs, it also ended up in 3rd down situations a lot, if you are using a per play metric to predict success, getting into 3rd down situations all the time is less likely to be successful than getting the next first down before then.

The numbers still have them as a Super Bowl contender, with only Seattle and New Orleans (both 1 loss teams) more likely to win it out of the NFC. The past has shown that a game like this can be predictive, and it's also shown that sometimes crap happens. We'll know next week, but I really don't think the numbers, when used descriptively, are all that off for this game.

by Perfundle :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:28pm

Good point on continually being in 3rd down. I had considered that myself as a reason why Green Bay's offense didn't go up more in DVOA, and more importantly, didn't feel that dominant when I was watching them. For as good an offense as they are, they still are having any amount of trouble in the red zone. They're only getting TDs 50% of the time this year (good for 20th), and they were 2-4 against Minnesota.

by Jerry :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:40pm

Aaron has written in the past about how he's looked at garbage time and made some adjustments to reflect the different strategies involved at that point, but that the results are still predictive enough that they're worth including.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:56pm

The tom brady thing is really just stunning. I expected a decline in his numbers, but this has been unfathomable. I have charted 2 of NE's games and watched 4 of them and in all 4, brady's inaccuracy just leaps off the screen. These are throws he's ad time to make and they've just sailed, or been behind, or underthrown. Anyone have any particular conjecture to why? Maybe its a receivers thing, but 06 brady was never like this. Nor was 09 brady coming off a knee injury and lost year. This is really just unbelievable. Part of me wonders if its just not an extreme string of bad luck with his timing that eventually will get sorted out.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:14pm

The lack of a Woodhead/Vareen to throw to/pick up blitzes on 3rd down has to have a huge affect. He always had that guy, (Faulk, Woodhead, Vareen) with great hands and a nose for the 1st down marker. Vareen won't be back until week 11.

by Trevor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:09pm

his name is Shane Vereen. not Vareen. Just sayin'

by RickD :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:41pm

It's pretty clear he's got some kind of hand injury that he doesn't want to talk about.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:56pm

He was terribly innacurate before the hand injury.

by bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:47pm

I haven't watched the patriots much this year, so I haven't seen Brady's throws (other than hilights/lowlights) but if his hand is as injured as it looks (the last photo I saw looked like he hand a water balloon hanging out of his sleeve) surely that's going to effect his accuracy. I have no idea of course how true any of that is, but I can't think of a reason for his play to just fall apart overnight the way it has.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:58pm

Has his hand been injured the whole year? I doubt it, especially since his accuracy has been off the whole year.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:30pm

Actually his accuracy has been all over the place, at least if we look at his completion percentage.

Week 1: @BUF 55.8%
Week 2: NYJ 48.7%
Week 3: TB 69.4%
Week 4: @ATL 64.5%
Week 5: @CIN 47.4%
Week 6: NO 58.1%
Week 7: @NYJ 47.8%
Week 8: MIA 59.1%

The worst games were against the tough defenses (Jets and Bengals).

Of course those numbers don't indicate just how bad some of the errant passes have been.

My hope, as a Pats fan, is that he manages to survive the Steelers game somehow and heal over the bye week.

by Jerry :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 4:24am

The Steelers are 31st in Adjusted Sack Rate so far this year, so Brady has a decent chance of surviving.

by Rambonious (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:10pm

John Clayton will almost assuredly blame Tom Brady's inaccuracy on Tim Tebow being in training camp with the Patriots this summer.

by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:33pm

Ooh. We could start a rumor that Tim Tebow actually didn't suck at passing, he had a virus that reduced his accuracy to sub-50%. That virus is contagious! Josh Freeman caught it too!

by MJK :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:21pm

One factor in the blame pie for Brady that isn't mentioned is the O-Line. Yes, he's been off from time to time when he has had plenty of time, but there have also been times (All of the Bengals game, the first half of the New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami games, for example) when the Pats' pass protection has been horrible. The problem, strangely, seems to be LG (Logan Mankins). I guess it's possible that Mankins is playing OK and it's the lack of a good blitz pickup back that's making it look like the guard's fault, but teams are definitely getting interior pressure on the left side of the line against the Pats.

Some of Brady's struggles (probably not all, but certainly some) might be that he's getting gun-shy and is hurrying his throws...sometimes because he's forced to, and sometimes when he has had plenty of time but maybe doesn't realize it, because he's had so many blind side quick sacks this year.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:24pm

In the games I charted, Cincy game was really a poor performance, but the NO game was just average I'd say. That said, Pff rated both his tackles really highly. And to be honest, saying hes been inaccurate is really not doing it justice. I'm saying, there are routine throws I've seen brady make for years that are just flat out being missed. If it were because of horrid pass protection or good coverage, that would be one thing, but its been a series of persistently inaccurate throws across the entire field. That's why I figure eventually, he's going to get this fixed. Its not like he's suddenly turned into Josh Freeman.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:21pm

But it's the same O-line that Brady had last season.

Whatever the issue is with the passing game, it's something that has changed since last season. Which means it's either the receiving corps, an injury, or a dramatic age-related decline in ability. I think it's a combination of the first two.

Which isn't to say that the pass blocking has been all that great. But the Falcons didn't sack him once. I think the Bengals were the most disruptive. This is an ongoing problem that the Pats have had against teams with very physical defensive lines (Bengals, 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens and Jets to some extent). And the problem's in the middle, not at the tackles (at least, not before Vollmer broke his leg). Mankins in particular isn't quite up to the task of handling the best interior linemen.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:01am

The line hasn't been great, but Brady is making them look worse than they are.

He just looks bad in every facet of the game. He's making poor decisions, and making them slowly. Teams are blitzing frequently because hes not making his progressions and hitting his hot reads.

He's just not a good NFL QB right now.

by MaineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:12pm

Most of Brady's past success, IMHO, had been built on quick reads and quick, short-to-intermediate throws to his first or second read - situations in which his mechanics (and consequent accuracy) had been mostly a matter of muscle memory. In 2013, with a brand new cast of targets, he's most often had to go deeper into his progressions, hang onto the ball just a tad longer, and be more deliberate on his throws, which has not served him well even in the past, mechanics-wise, especially now without his weekly phone conferences with Tom Martinez.

Also, though I have no statistical evidence for this, I believe a somewhat larger percentage of his attempts have been toward the boundaries and further down field than in the past - somewhat slower-developing plays that result in Brady hanging on to the ball just a tad longer and a more deliberate delivery.

Short version: when has time to think about the throw, he overthinks it. I believe he can and will adapt successfully and has already begun to show some signs of coming around. It seemed to me that his accuracy had improved a bit in the Miami game.

by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 10:49pm

I think that the lack of a third down back/outlet receiver option is a big part of his poor numbers and plays a significant role in the sack figures. That really doesn't explain lack of accuracy though. I haven't been charting, but I've noticed a lot of poor ball placement even on throws that appeared to be within range of his target. He throws many balls too high, and then many that are uncomfortably behind his targets or at their knees. This is new for Brady. I can understand the complete misses that we were seeing against Buffalo or New York (in the first game) where it was clear that he and his receivers were mis-communicating. The poor ball placement is not a feature of Tom's game that I can recall at any previous time in his career. He has always had a crisp release with good ball placement, usually leading his receivers in the direction he wants them to head to. I think he looked like himself through the first few games of the year and has fallen off a cliff since then. The rally in the first game of the year is not something that he would be capable of now, for example. That suggests an injury to me and one that happened around week 3-4. The hand might be it, although I haven't seen that mentioned until very recently. He could also have something nebulously wrong with his shoulder again... Very hard to say, but something is just plain wrong with him. One really wonders why they don't play Mallett. Players have backups for a reason.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:12pm

"Short version: when has time to think about the throw, he overthinks it. "

That's not it.

Whatever the issue is, it's not a mental issue. He's mentally the same QB he's been for many years.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:04am

According to what?

We've never seen him break down screaming at his own teammates before, and hes doing that this year, even when he is the problem.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:21am

I really think there was a change during the year that has been masked by overall poor team performance. Early, it really was a lot of communication issues with the receivers. Brady was accurate throwing to Amendola in week 1, and looked good hitting Vereen and Edelman. Things were rougher in week 2, but a lot of that was the lack of his 2 top targets from week 1. That was the game everyone remembers with Brady yelling at everyone. Week 3 he looked like himself--70 percent completion, 2 tds, one pick, 6+ change yards a pass. It was vintage Brady--2004-6 stuff. What you might expect from a smart, accurate qb with no receivers. He had a nice game against Atlanta that even looked like the 2009-12 Brady. 10+ yards a pass, 64 completion etc. Then he tanked the following week at Cincinnati and hasn't recovered. Low completion percentages, inaccurate passes, etc.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:21am

You know one thing that I hear that just baffles me. I keep hearing how tom brady is fine because they pats are 6-2. I mean, wow, I guess defenses will never be given credit ever in this world, unless their qbs are trent dilfer quality.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:04am

Are you serious? When has he NOT "broken down screaming at his own teammates"? He's the modern Dan Marino in that regard.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 9:20am

I can not remember a single time of Brady on the sideline cursing out his teammates.

Getting all fired up, sure. Yelling at opponents, sure. But never cursing out rookies who had made mistakes.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:49pm

Now we're well into the realm of fiction.

If you've never seen him yell at a teammate before, that's your issue. But he's done it. He hasn't done it much in recent years, because he always had Welker to throw to. And Gronk, Hernandez, and Randy Moss.

He yells at people who make stupid mistakes like running the wrong route.

"Screaming" seems a bit much.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:08pm

He probably feels safer yelling again now that Hernandez is off the team.

by J (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:49am

There is apparently some speculation that his hand is injured and it is affecting a lot of his performance.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:00pm

"The three worst 6-2 teams in DVOA history were all the Detroit Lions. They had -17.1% DVOA in 2007 (finished 7-9), -10.9% DVOA in 1993 (finished 10-6), and -8.0% DVOA in 1991 (finished 12-4)."

What about the 1999 team? They started 6-2, then finished 8-8. I remember them being on the list of worst teams to make the playoffs in the DVOA era. They predictably got hammered by Washington in the Wildcard round.

It's a fitting week to point out the fact that the '91 team, despite their hidden mediocrity, drubbed a superior Dallas team in the divisional round. Combine that with the 1994 week 3 Monday Night overtime upset, the 2011 week 4 comeback, and the game this past sunday, four of my most pleasant memories as a Lions fan have been against Dallas. It's getting to the point where I wish they could move to the NFC North.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:03pm

The 1999 Lions are a strange case. They started slow, and had -12.0% DVOA (22nd) at 2-2. Then they got hot and won four straight. That, and the increasing importance of opponent adjustments, had them all the way up to 15.9% DVOA (8th) at 6-2 after Week 9. Then they fell apart again, going 2-6 over the rest of the year and finishing with 3.0% DVOA (18th).

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 10:24am

Thanks Aaron.

Yea, that was a strange season. Nobody had any expectations for the Barry Sanders-less Lions that year. Yet they inexplicably defeated the Packers and Rams in first half of the year (I still can't explain how Gus Frerrotte out-dueled Kurt Warner). Then with everyone expecting great things from them, they just as inexplicably collapsed.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:17pm

Had a longer post. Look at Dallas vs Redskins vs Lions vs Dallas.


by Nick Wells (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:01pm

San Francisco, New Orleans, and three or four other teams could replace Green Bay in the above sentence, as well.

by maxnote :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:06pm

I'm sorry, DAVE...

by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:28pm

I wonder what the odds of GB finishing ahead of DEN in Offensive DVOA since DEN will be playing some pretty good defenses coming up and GB seems to be playing much easier teams.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:35pm

Because it happened this upcoming week, Super Bowl 41.5 seems to have been worth the hype. Two of the 4 best teams through 8 weeks in the DVOA era. My God, and how great it was for the two teams to play a great game. Looking back, both teams kind of peaked then. The Colts were the first team to even challenge New England that year, but their season was ruined long term when Marvin went down two weeks earlier and Freeney went down the next week (and a bunch of other people would go in and out of the lineup, making Craphonso Thorpe an active NFL receiver). The Eff-You Patriots kind of died with that game, as they were challenged for the firs time. They would show up two more times (the next week - 56-10 over Buffalo - and the Anthony Smith game), but they were never really the same after being challenged that first time.

Anyway, a nice trip down memory lane for one of the biggest regular season games of my lifetime.

As for the rankings, surprising NO is still relatively low. I guess I just imagine their offense having being better than it was, but I guess their run game is rather bad. The Patriots is shocking, and I feel like they'll end around 11-5, but you just never know with Belichick. @CAR on MNF in two weeks will be a good test. The Broncos defense in that 38-0 run looked downright scary for the first time all year. If they play like that (granted, it was against Washington), the Broncos may just keep their spot in the Top-10 overall DVOA even if their offense does fall a bit more.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 6:50pm

Is the injury to Brady's hand supposed to be something that's been around all season? If so then that could explain everything. I hadn't heard it mentioned until this week though.

by RickD :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 10:59pm

There's a belief that he injured his hand on the first play of the second half of the Jets' game, on the sack/fumble. His next pass was an awful pick six.

He was much better in the first half of the Jets' game than the second half.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:07am

That would make sense if he hadn't looked terrible all season.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:45pm

He hasn't looked "terrible all season."

He's had bad moments all season. But he also beat the Saints with a last-minute scoring drive. And he looked good against the Falcons and Bucs.

And really, in the first two weeks, his receivers were dropping passes left and right.

The receivers have gotten better, but he's gotten worse.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 5:55pm

He hasn't been Gabbert-level terrible, of course, but he's been very bad by his own standards. He's already had multiple games where he completed less than half his passes. That's shocking. That drive against the Saints is still only one drive, and it was the third attempt at a last minute rally, the first two of which had been miserable failures.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:17pm

He is starting to remind me of latter stage Tarkenton. He doesn't throw the ball nearly as well, but knowing where to go, and doing so quickly, goes a helluva long ways.

by Niners! (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:02pm

Fascinating fact: last week, the Niners had the 28th toughest Future Schedule. This week, they have the 9th toughest Future Schedule; a jump of 19 spots, just from playing Jacksonville. Yes, Jacksonville is that bad; their future opponents have the 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd toughest future schedules (they themselves have the 29th)!

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:52pm

I wish the contenders would stop scheduling out of conference creampuffs so late in the season. At least they'll pay for it when the next BCS poll comes out.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:29am

That one Jax game is probably a big part of Indy having the #32 ranked remaining schedule. And they have it in their last game. So even if they don't get an official bye week... okay, that's just tempting fate.

by CBPodge :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:50am

That is absolutely fantastic. The past schedules aren't quite as good: 32nd, 16th, 28th, 15th, 17th, 31st, 30th, 27th.

16th is Oakland, who has played Denver, Indy and KC.
15th is Indy, who has played San Fran, Seattle and Denver.
17th is St Louis, who has played San Francisco, Carolina and Seattle.

Basically, playing one game against the Jags is only properly cancelled out by playing games against three good teams.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:04am

I love the AFC South remaining schedules: 32nd, 30th, 29th, 28th. Almost perfect!

by JesusSinfulHands :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:17pm

Can we get odds on the KC-SF "Alex Smith's Revenge" in the Super Bowl Matchups section? Probably would be more compelling than any of the other ones on there right now.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:04pm

Good idea. Will add.

by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 7:28pm

Wow - you guys REALLY have this whole "Panthers are great - you just don't know it yet!" thing going on. I hope it continues...

by CBPodge :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:51am

I think Carolina also has a whole "Panthers are great - we just don't know it yet!" thing going on.

by Ryan D. :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 9:32am

If Deangelo Williams hadn't fumbled inside the 10 late in the 4th quarter against Seattle in week 1, and if EJ Manuel hadn't taken the Bills 80 yards down the field in the final minute in week 2, the Panthers could be 6-1 right now, tied for the best record in the NFC. They are two plays away from 6-1.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:45am

Rivera calls a timeout to set the Defense on the Bills game, and they might have made the stop...

by Hector Rex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:07pm

To be fair, Seattle then drove to the CAR 8 and ran out the clock. Had Williams not fumbled, Carolina scored, and the same drive ensued, Seattle kicks a chip shot FG to win the game.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 3:55pm

Naw, we'll just give Wilson his 1st half redzone fumble back with the Touchdown too. Then nothing changes.

by wiesengrund :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:07pm

However, only 13 teams since 1989 have made it to 8-0, and out of those teams, the Chiefs come out near the bottom.

While their play this year does deserve any omitted mention that can be concocted, I still think last year's Falcons are missing in that list.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:32pm

Wow, they actually did start 8-0; that they barely won some of those must've biased my memory. And lo and behold, they're still the worst 8-0 in DVOA history.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:06pm

Crud, you are correct. I forgot that the document I was using was just weekly DVOA from 1991-2011. I'll add them to the table above.

by Coop (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:11pm

Interesting, and (to a Browns fan) rather disturbing, to see the Browns' defense rated so low. I'm not arguing with the rating, I'm just disappointed. The Browns poured a lot of money into their defense in the offseason, as well as selecting defensive players with their first two draft picks this past spring, and to hear the Cleveland media guys tell it, the Browns' defense has been tough while the Browns' offense has been so pathetic that it's holding the team back. Well, DVOA has the Browns' offense rated 23rd, and the defense also rated 23rd. In other words, the team sucks equally on both sides of the ball. Man, if our defense is really as bad as our offense, that light at the end of the tunnel isn't a ray of hope, it's just an oncoming train. It's pretty discouraging to see that after all these years of lousy play, the team still isn't making any progress, even on the side of the ball that has supposedly been shored up with high draft picks and expensive free agents.

by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:17pm

The rankings are the same, but the defense does grade out a little better (3% below avg compared to the offense 11% below average) so, there is that as a positive...sorta.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:25pm

The D has been on a steady decline since being ranked 8th a few weeks ago.

The O has trended slightly up, and may do so in a more pronounced way in the near future, as I don't think this accounts for how Campbell will (hopefully) play every snap on O for the rest of the year.

by 3Monkies (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:25am

This is the first time I have watched the Browns and they look like they are a QB away from being pretty good. That call against Joe Thomas was horrendous and a typical call that benefits a lucky team like the Chiefs. Joe Hayden is a great player.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:44pm

JT has been getting a lot more false start/etc. penalties recently and may start not making Pro Bowls soon. He had some disappointing blemishes on an otherwise strong game by the OL (really hoping that Mack stays.)

Haden will finally make his first Pro Bowl (would have made it last year if not for the suspension.)

by TomC :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:18pm

I think it's worth pointing out that there is a clump of nearly indistinguishable (according to DVOA) teams from #4 to #10, so the Chiefs' dropping from 4 to 10 is nowhere near as significant as it sounds, and their ranking this week is not so much #10 as "not as good as DEN/SEA/IND but much better than most."

by Gaucho (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:59pm


by ShawnD (not verified) :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 9:48pm

Wow, is this Giantsjoe?

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 9:33pm

The Washington game was Denver's best game of the year by DVOA.

But, as a Broncos fan, the obvious reaction is joy to see our defense look utterly dominant.

by Ghost Shock :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 10:03pm

Denver has 8.0 estimated wins? Not buying it.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:33am

Yeah, I thought that seemed a bit steep.

As a Colts fan I was always used to seeing the Est Wins column about two games below their actual record when they were 6-0, 8-0, 9-0, etc. Right now they're actually below the estimated wins, suggesting they're better than their record. Whoo-hoo! Bring on that 32nd ranked closing schedule!

by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 10:16pm

I can only shake my head and laugh. First at another in a ceaseless series of extended entries concerning a fairly mediocre team based in Massachusetts. Patriots Outsiders hums on and on and on... the second is the drop in DVOA of a team playing on the road that led 41-17 with 5 minutes left in the game-- boy those garbage time Viking touchdowns sure impressed me a lot!! I'll just watch the games, and forget these stats, because they simply can not be trusted...

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:22pm

Please use the template for all complaints (see above)

by coboney :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:28pm

To help Paul out here I decided to do it for him...

Patriots is clearly ranked Too High because patriots are mediocre and Aaron is a Pats fan. Watching games and ignoring stats for clutchness is way better than this. Aaron and stats suck, packs are the best team in the league cause they beat Christian Ponder!

by beargoggles :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:03am

explain how a computer system can create bias for a franchise.
Ah, fahgeddaboutit
Rusty punter means playoff trouble.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:13am

You know, they are discussed by many people(including by me - a colts fan) because they are interesting at the moment. Mentioning how good the broncos are or the packers are feels like its stating the obvious(which it is) much like stating Jacksonville being terrible is a waste of time. Personally, the tom brady thing fascinates me because from a football theory standpoint, its fun to opine about various possibilities. Sorry we don't all devout all our entries towards touting the greatness of aaron rodgers,

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:35am

Plus--and let's be honest and not underestimate this--for Colts fans it's MUCH more enjoyable discussing the Patriots when they're not leaving smoking craters behind them every week.

by Go pats (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:25pm

yes Pats suck, Packers are the greatest NFL team since sliced bread and Rodgers is the greatest QB to ever step on the field yada yada yada. Didn't you predict last year or the year before that the Packers were so great that they would win the next 5 consecutive Super Bowls becasue no one would stand in their path??? How's that working out for you by the way?

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:12pm

I just wanted to point out that if I write about how the Patriots are dominant, I get criticized, and if I write about how the Pats are not as good as their record and their pretty boy quarterback is having an awful year, I also get criticized. I can't win.

Also, I'm tired of writing about the Broncos and Jaguars at this point. I had to write about someone else.

by Purds :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:46pm

I know it wasn't possible this week because of their bye, but how about writing about the Colts? As a fan, I can't figure them out.
Tried to say more but spam filter killed the comment over and over and over.

by Purds :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:47pm

I'll try in pieces. Each week, writers nationally focus on the Colt opponent, and not Indy, in discussing their game.

by Purds :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:48pm

For example, the SF/Indy game revealed more about Kapernick's problems and lack of receivers than anything about the Colts.

by Purds :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:49pm

I'd like to see analysis of how the Colts are winning.

by Purds :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:51pm

(Yes, I did like the Richardson article by Ben!) And, I really hate the spam filter. Makes me not want to post here.

by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 10:12am

Purds, can you send us the full comment you tried to post? That might help us to fix the spam filter so it isn't so troublesome. Also, I will tag you as a "star poster" so that the spam filter won't stop your comments in the future.

by Purds :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 3:05pm

Thanks. I'll send the post via email.

by coboney :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:26pm

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS is clearly ranked TOO HIGH because Their offensive line is offensive and could be better replaced by a bunch of people chosen from the stands price is right style. RANDOM FAN POLLING and VICTORIES IN UK is way better than this. Birds all suck and it rains in seattle too much to be godo team relying on fake fan noise, Sanfrancisco is best team in division!!!


First time Actually doing that. Felt somewhat cathartic.

by beargoggles :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:05am

That looked fun, I'm going to try it some time
As (apparently fellow) Niner fan, watching Rams and Texans blow games to Seahawks very frustrating. Division title unlikely even with win in revenge game. Injuring entire Seahawks offensive line + obnoxious Golden Tate way better than this.

by Buck B (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:25am

KC is clearly ranked too low because the subjective ranking system of W/L and PF/PA indicates KC is #1. Enver, outside, in Janury ... LOL

by Peter Mendes (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:57am

Why no Terrelle Pryor? Was really hoping for a madden ultimate team card after that Record run he had :(

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:20pm

Considering that he sucked the rest of the game, his performance doesn't merit special recognition.

by Anonymous Hippopotamus (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:40am

I still don't see my special super bowl matchup (you said in week 6 comments you'd add it).

Identity Crisis Bowl (CIN-NO)

Who Dey vs. Who Dat

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:10pm

It's in there, it just doesn't show up more than 0.1% of the time, which is surprising. But it is in the file.

by Anonymous Hippopotamus (not verified) :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 12:29pm

Really? I'm surprised by that too. How can CIN-SF show up 1.9% of the time and CIN-NO be below 0.1% (since NO has significantly better odds to get to the Super Bowl). I thought it'd be a little above IND-NO since CIN has just a little better odds at the Super Bowl.

by jimbohead :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 12:55pm

Monte Carlo is like that. Even if they're running 10,000 simulations, looking for the model to correctly differentiate between 0-5% likelihood is a fruitless endeavor. But it's definitely the appropriate model for this point in the season! Can you imagine trying to Markov chain analysis this far out from the superbowl? yikes.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:42am

Is there a Win to be found for the Jaguars on the remaining schedule?

@ Ten
vs Ari
@ Hou
@ Cle
vs Hou
vs Buf
vs Ten
@ Ind

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 7:12am

They obviously won't start favourite in any of those games (unless something drastic changes), but I'd say that all of their home games and @Cle are "winnable" even for Jacksonville.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:47pm

I'm not sure what the record for biggest favorite line is for the Browns since the return, but this one will be up there.

The game feels like it could be like the 2011 Browns/Rams game, though--one in which they were favored against a clearly inferior opponent but found a very Browns-like way to lose.

by Ian Chapman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 7:27am

Based on the Jax we've seen so far?


by Jon G (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 7:55am

@ and vs. Houston and vs. Buffalo seem most likely. Perhaps week 17 if the Colts play their backups.

I could also see them narrowly beating Cleveland or Arizona.

They wouldn't be favored in any of these games, but I think their best shot is probably vs. Houston at home.

by GrandVezir :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 8:37am

They wouldn't be favored in any of these games
I hear that BYE is a six-and-a-half-point favorite. (rimshot)

by Ben :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:31pm

It might depend on if the Colts have anything to play for in week 17.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:56pm

Aside from the Colts, none of those opponents are exactly lighting things up. And the Colts game is Week 17, when they might have nothing to play for.

Even if we, say, give them only a 10% chance of winning any of these 8 games in particular, the odds of winning at least one would be 1 - .9^8, i.e. about 57%.

by bucko (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 8:26am

I found the DVOA rankings to be their usual interesting reading and the griping Packer fans can please go to the Yahoo/FoxSports message boards to complain.

The injuries on defense have led to the special teams all but collapsing as guys are now starting who were previously playing on special teams. Not good

by Todd S. :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:11am

Internet nit-picking time!

Yes, the one team that ranks below them ended up winning the Super Bowl, but remember that team got its best defensive player back from injury right before the playoffs

I don't agree with Sanders being their best defensive player that year. You still had Freeney and Mathis on the DL; one or both of those 2 has to rate better. Getting Sanders back really shored up the run defense, which was very helpful for that slate of playoff opponents.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:23pm

Bob Sanders was probably their most important defensive player. Without him, the secondary couldn't hold long enough for Freeney/Mathis to get to the QB, and their run defense was a crime against humanity.

Shame he was basically Polamalu without the health

by 3Monkies (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:39am

It's early, but Denver and Seattle look lot be on a collision course for a SB matchup. Each matches up well against the others offense, Seattle with great CBs and pass rush while Denver's defense is very strong against the run.

Perhaps similar to 2006 Indy-Chi, but with Seattle having better QB and Denver a slightly better defense, factoring in Von Millers return.

by Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:56am

You may be correct that the Chiefs are the #10 team in the league.

But what if they defeat Denver twice but the Football Outsiders system still has Denver ranked higher?

Wouldn't that indicate your system has flaws?

Three things I think your ranking system may not account for:
- Strong defensive teams win with smaller margins of victory than strong offensive teams (lots of reason for that: if your O is good, you score fast, so your D is on the field more and more prone to collapses, so you need a 2-3 score lead to ensure a victory; if your D is good, you can feel fairly confident with a 1-point lead and your O just needs to take time off the clock and maybe score a FG if within safe range).
- Strong offensive teams w/ weak defenses tend to lose in the playoffs more often than strong defensive teams w/ weak offenses. Weather? Facing better game-planners?
- Consistency of performance: I could write 3 pages on this, but the point is KC has been extremely consistent at preventing 3rd down conversions, winning the field position battle, and holding onto the lead. Denver may score lots of points, and the defense may feast on teams passing excessively to try to keep up, but their ability to win due to facing weak defenses and turnover-prone QBs (as in the Dallas, NYG, and Redskins games) isn't predictive. They most likely wouldn't win those games in the playoffs.
Whereas the Chiefs have shut teams down in the 4th quarter, not by turnovers, but by having the offense execute a clock-killing drive and having the defense sack and prevent 3rd/4th down conversions. They have done it consistently enough to be well above 2 standard deviations, I would guess. It would be interesting to have you run the numbers.

Bonus point: field position battle.
You guys push the idea that field position is such an important, hidden part of the game that if you face 4th and short deep in your opponent's territory, you are better off going for it than kicking a FG. I don't have to run you through the math of that.
Well, apply that same logic to the Broncs and the Chiefs.
The Chiefs are winning games because their O can consistently convert 1-2 3rd downs. That is enough to allow Colquitt to pin the opponent deep inside their own territory, which increases the % chance to win. When the Chiefs get the ball back, they don't need to convert as many times before scoring. The O/D then work together to get the opponent back in that same position even after KC kicks off after a score.
Denver's O and D do not complement each other. While Denver's O can score plenty of points, it keeps the D on the field longer, risks more giveaways, and doesn't consistently keep the opponent pinned in their own territory.
The things they do contribute to higher FO ratings w/o setting up winning conditions as much as the Chiefs do.

I realize this is all just assertion. We'll have to see what happens in the 2 head-to-head games first.

I expect that the FO rankings will turn out to not be predictive in this case. It will be your job to figure out why, and improve the system to resolve the problem.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:52pm

Smaller margins of victory mean that a team is more vulnerable to 'fluke' events ie. fumble returns, blocked kicks. A team that is regularly ahead by two scores will be more likely to survive such an incident.

3rd down conversions are by their nature a smaller sample size metric and so less reliable as a long term indicator.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:37pm

Presumably those fluke events are only going to matter against weak teams, while when the two strong teams play against each other the game will be close anyway.

by Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 9:24pm

Interestingly, Chiefs haven't won on any fluke plays, like the Schottenheimer teams of 1995 and 1997 did.

In fact, the only reason some of the games have been as close as they were is the other team scored on some extremely-low-percentage plays:
Cleveland: flea-flicker
Houston: Long bomb (admittedly from a QB who was extremely prolific in college), but he hit on the first try
Tennessee: .02 seconds from being sacked, Fitz flings the ball to C. Johnson, who was not expecting it and just kind of standing there. He then uses his speed and a good block to score a 40+ yd TD.

I've thought about it for several minutes, and I can't remember any corresponding fluke play for the Chiefs. No long low-percentage plays, and ST/Def scores all came when Chiefs were already ahead, or tied 0-0 at the very start of the game.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:43pm

You've missed the point, I wasn't saying the Chiefs have scored oh any random plays.

The point is that there is variance in the result of every NFL game that has nothing to do with the strength of the teams: bad/missed calls, fumble luck, defensive TDs, weather, inopportune injury or even a player slipping at the wrong time. Every team is subject to these things but the larger a team's average margin of victory the more likely it is that the team will not lose as a result of one of them.

So a high octane offense that terms to create a high point differential will, over a down of time, be more likely to win more games than a defensive team that tends to win by only a few points.

For an example look at the Rams victory over the 49ers last year, the Rams couldn't move the ball all day but because the niners were a team that plays close defensive games they lost because of a dropped TD catch, a fumble near their own end zone and a missed field goal in overtime.

by Buck B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 2:11am

But "winning more games" isn't what the smart teams are trying to do. They are trying to win enough games, the right games, the last game.

by David :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 5:09am

Really? Really? Teams (sorry, *smart* teams) have worked out exactly what games are the "right" ones to win? Seriously? You're an idiot. Actually, to be fair, you may be very smart, but your proposition is idiotic, so going on the evidence I have available, you're an idiot.

Teams are absolutely trying to win as many games as possible. If that wasn't the case, then some "smart" teams would, by now, have not turned out for a game. I guess they didn't get your memo about only needing to win the "right" games.

If you, even for a second, believe that the goal of all teams is not to win as many games as possible, I don't know why you bother to visit this website. It's also not possible to have any form of meaningful communication with you about strategic or tactical thinking if our baselines for what would be 'successful' are so far apart.

By which I mean your baseline is stupid.

by Buck B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 11:27am

I think "successful" is winning the SB, however you get there. Winning games and winning the SB are related, but different, and sometimes inconsistent. A GM can make decisions that decrease the chance of winning a game while increasing the chance of winning a SB. A coach can make decisions that would increase the chance of winning a game while decreasing the chance of winning the SB. A player can make plays that increase the chance of winning a game while decreasing the chance of winning the SB. How? Lots of ways. I will leave that as an exercise for you to try to stretch your mind a bit.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 11:37am

Could you please give an example of a decision a coach can make that would 'increase the chance of winning a game while decreasing the chance of winning the SB'?

Honestly, this sounds awful lot like trolling. That makes no sense, even for people that believe in TEH RINGZZZZZ.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 11:57am

The only possible thing I can think of would be managing player health.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 12:32pm

I guess, but is that really a concern in Weeks 1-8, which this DVOA article is based off of.

Maybe resting guys late in blowouts, but I don't believe the Packers (or most teams this year) have done that.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 12:42pm

Player health is the most obvious, and the one that most applies to a contending team. But a team that's already eliminated or nearly eliminated if optimizing for super bowl wins across seasons would likely prefer to play backups in an effort to improve the future play of young players through experience, get better data for making decisions on who to keep in the off-season, and improve draft position.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:13pm

Yeah, that's another idea, but I don't see how these personnel decisions effect how FO is wrongly judging these teams by DVOA. The only potential issue, which they've covered and given their reasons for, is late in teh season rest-o-ramas. Those haven't happened yet. If we're looking at the Chiefs, or even Packers, rarely have either team rested their top guys (I think the Packers may have late in the Redskins win). I agree that late season FO may not be accurately judging team performance due to resting of players, but they've shown that the model works better to count those the same.

by Buck B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/01/2013 - 10:34am

KC and DEN play each other at least two times, possibly three. Assume they play three times. The third game is the only game that matters. Is that going to affect how you play the first two games? Yes. Player health and intelligence management are the two obvious categories of factors that may at times be inconsistent with the goal to win each game, as if all games have the same meaning. They don't.

by Perfundle :: Fri, 11/01/2013 - 4:23pm

No, it's not the only game that matters. What if the earlier games decide whose field the third game gets to be played on? In fact, I don't see how they don't.

by coremill :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 6:32pm

I can give an example of the opposite. The Niners pretty clearly held back a lot of their read-option packages with Kaepernick for the playoffs last year so that playoff opponents wouldn't be prepared for it (I think Greg Roman admitted as much later). And it probably cost them at least one game (at STL, where they lost in overtime 16-13).

by Perfundle :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 7:03pm

Heh, Seattle did that too against St. Louis last year, and they almost lost that one as well. At least Seattle's game didn't mean anything in terms of playoff seeding.

by Behemoth (not verified) :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 11:46am

Can we dial back the rhetoric here? Of course teams make strategic decisions all the time that could limit their chances of winning one particular game. In football, we've all known examples where certain teams rest players when a win would be relatively meaningless, often in weeks 16 and 17; whether or not it's a good practice or a poor one is open to debate - but it certainly has happened with very good organizations.

To borrow an example from baseball, didn't the Senators (sorry, the Nationals - change comes hard) sit down one of their uninjured stars a couple of years ago in an effort to try to preserve his health for many years, sacrificing short term wins - wins in the playoffs, no less) in a hope to achieve more in the long run? Again, the strategy may or may not have been wise, but it occurred.

Do you not think that, in retrospect, the Patriots and the Indigenous Persons regret their choices to put unhealthy Gronkowskis and Griffins back on the field seeking short term success?

In short, your premise is certainly open to debate. In light of that self-evident fact, wouldn't a less openly derogatory approach be more wise? Not to mention more civil ....

by greybeard :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 8:40pm

Calling someone idiot to his face. Wow. You must be the toughest guy on the internet.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:07pm

This was a decent if flawed post up until the last paragraph. It's their job to figure out why they couldn't predict the result of one or two games?

"Strong offensive teams w/ weak defenses tend to lose in the playoffs more often than strong defensive teams w/ weak offenses."

I would say that most strong defensive teams w/ weak offenses don't even make it to the playoffs, so there is survivor bias going on here. The strong defensive teams that make the playoffs typically have better offenses than the strong offensive teams have defenses.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 3:15pm

A few things:

You've stumbled on the tenuous nature of trying to link offense and defense together. Let me give you an example. Do the defenses of great offenses really suck as much as the numbers say? DO you remember when pittsburgh played the first 4 games without ben, their defense got better. Then suddenly when he came back in the same year, their defense declined somewhat. Coincidence? I think if your offense is great, opponents augment their playcalling - go for higher risk decisions, more throws, more 4th down gambles(which they should be doing anyways). These make the defense look worse, even by dvoa, than they probably are. On the other side, the reverse is also true of great defensive teams with weak offenses. The playcalling becomes less aggressive, more field position based, more runs, etc. Thus, its likely, at the extremes, the other side is being inflated/deflated.

by Rick S (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 4:43pm

Essentially, you are saying that the Chiefs are under-rated and should be getting more respect... I believe there is a format to submit those type of comments.

One could make the argument that teams that thrive/survive by having a positive turnover ratio and relying on a conservative offense (like KC in 2013, 1997 & Chi 2001, 05,06) fail more than many of the offensive minded teams, especially in today's NFL. KC's coach may be Andy Reid, but they are essentially playing "Marty-ball" as in Schottenheimer, which emphasizes a conservative offense that plays not to turn the ball over and relies on their defense to create turnovers. When the ball doesn't bounce their way - LOSE. When they need to score a lot to win a track meet - LOSE.

We have seen the Marty-ball script before and understand how it plays out in January.... "Men, I see a gleam..."

Perhaps Denver's offense is unsustainable or their defense brings them down like the Chargers of the 80s or Oilers of the 90s, but I feel much more confident in a team that can score and play situational defense than one that relies only on defense and turnover ratio. In regard to Denver's defense, they have had a ton of injuries and lost Von Miller for being a knucklehead. Getting Miller, who is one of the most impactful players in the league is a huge boost, and with him Denver's defense does compliment their offense in that they are good against the run which keeps teams from playing keep-away and they can rush the passer when ahead.

What makes Football Outsiders a great resource is that it is as objective as possible. Yes I have seen outliers, like the NYG winning a SB against the Patriots in 07 (with a miracle catch), or the the Eagles being rated on FO much better than their record indicates, but after mid-season, FO is usually spot on.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 6:44pm

Not saying you're wrong, but if you want to base your argument mainly on a bunch of anecdotal examples of teams with strong defenses and a lot of takeaways cratering in the playoffs, then you should also note how many teams with high-flying offenses have tanked in the playoffs.

by Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 9:27pm

No, essentially I'm saying that perhaps offense and defense shouldn't be weighted equally, but it took a rather extreme set of circumstances to bring that imbalance to light.

The quest is to be as successfully predictive as possible. They have made other adjustments based on lessons learned.

Maybe even if it plays out as I stipulated, maybe it doesn't require an adjustment. But that's a hypothetical worth considering, isn't it?

by David :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 5:05am

"The quest is to be as successfully predictive as possible"

That might be your quest, but FO (Aaron) have previously stated that they want DVOA to be both predictive and retrodictive, and that the current approach is a balance between the two.

Personally, my quest is to complete Jet Set Willy without POKEs, though I realise that this may be tricky...

by Erock (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 11:56am

I continue to be surprised that Green Bay's defense ranks so low. Other than some hiccups in the pass defense the first couple of weeks, they've looked good to me. They have good gap control, get good sack production, and are getting solid CB play from guys like Sam Shields and Davon House. How much of an impact do garbage-time touchdowns have on DVOA? The Packers shut down the Vikings until the game was out of reach. This is just one of the few instances where DVOA doesn't match what my eyes see.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 3:40pm

One of GB's biggest issues is that, unlike past years, they are getting almost no turnovers at all. Also, they are the absolute worst red-zone defense without adjusting for opponent strength, giving up the most points and the highest TD percentage per opponent red-zone trip. They were very bad at this last year and it's only gotten worse.

by hrudey (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:24pm

Jacksonville is clearly ranked too high because the site fears losing exclusive access to Shad Khan's moustache. Mike Martz' unfathomable analysisis way better than this. lol OPEN DATE has MOAR PRO BOWLERS, wait, no, that was ur sister and them PBA bowlers, mybad brah.

by fcbolt (not verified) :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 1:55pm

SD is clearly ranked right where they should be because their D sucks. John Pagano should be way better than this. I love SD, but without TOP dominance they will be toast.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Thu, 10/31/2013 - 12:30pm

"(Yes, one team that ranks below them ended up winning the Super Bowl, but remember that team got its best defensive player back from injury right before the playoffs.)"

You don;t need this caveat. You should entirely expect teams at 15.6% DVOA to occasionally win the Super Bowl. Have the courage of your convictions man and don't apologize for counterexamples that are not actually counterexamples, just because you are trying to head off criticism. Such over concern with criticism is how we ended up in the mess this website is partially helping to lead football out of.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Sat, 11/02/2013 - 7:06pm

This is late, but if you think that DVOA is being harsh on the Chiefs, check out Massey-Peabody Analytics' rating: http://massey-peabody.com/nfl-2013-current-power-rankings/
They have the Chiefs at 20th!… and the Panthers all the way up at third. I don't know anything about their methodology, but I find it fascinating that any statistical ranking can find an 8-0 team to be below average.

by Perfundle :: Sat, 11/02/2013 - 10:26pm

Well, they provide a rough sketch of their methodology, but it's fairly similar to FO's. A think the biggest culprit is the influence their preseason rankings are providing. It seems like an average performance doesn't move the rankings much from the previous week.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sun, 11/03/2013 - 7:47am

They are not trying to be descriptive at all, they are simply trying to be predictive while weighting things in such a way as to avoid outcome bias, chance, and over or under confidence. While they use play by play they cook a few things into the numbers that DVOA doesn't, like home field, and recent performance carries more weight than past performance (DVOA doesn't start doing that until weight DVOA shows up). They also do opponent and situation adjustments like DVOA.

KC has been playing bad teams and been playing worse each week. So those ranking are saying that they are playing like the 20th ranked team in the league right now. While they are trying to be purely predictive, they do still use preseason and past performance data, so yes the preseason stuff might be pulling KC down a bit too, but really I think the way they use opponent and situation adjustments is simply a bit stronger than what DVOA does and really hurts KC. You'll note that they also have NYG much higher. My guess is because the play by play, even against crappy teams, has looked better recently (and looking at the weekly ratings the improvements have come recently). Their predictive indicators have gotten a lot better, even in losses.

I do wonder what DVOA would like like if they had separate descriptive and predictive numbers. DVOA tries to be both, some of that is to help avoid the same things that Massey and Peabody talk about avoiding, but it's been said that they know certain things are more predictive. M-P gives those much more weight than I think DVOA does.

by Perfundle :: Sun, 11/03/2013 - 3:38pm

Well, their predictions on Kansas City are awful, then. Even though they're ranked 10th here, it's a very strong 10th and far ahead of 11th place. How did they drop significantly after beating Dallas? Then, they barely moved up after dominating the Giants, and New York barely moved down. I'd be interested in seeing how their predictions compare to FO's.

by Ibis fan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:38pm

How would you decipher a player like ed reed who doesn't get the stats of apolomalu because of nobody throws near him c,mon guys I nd an updated ed reed for my all miami hurricane team big fan of your guys work thank you