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16 Sep 2014

Week 2 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

How much can we learn from one huge early victory?

That's the big question this week after Washington dismantled Jacksonville on Sunday, 41-10. It was a huge single-game performance according to our DVOA metric. Washington currently gets 115.5% DVOA for this game. There were only two games better than that in all of the 2013 season: Philadelphia when it beat Chicago 54-11 in Week 16 (125.1%) and Seattle in the Super Bowl (125.2%). Jacksonville is currently at -117.9% DVOA for this game. There was only one game worse than that in all of the 2013 season: Green Bay's 40-10 Thanksgiving loss to Detroit (-140.5%).

Of course, the important word in there is "currently." The 2013 single-game DVOA ratings listed in that paragraph incorporate opponent adjustments; that's a big reason why Seattle's rating for the Super Bowl was so high. The ratings for Washington-Jacksonville do not include opponent adjustments. We do not include opponent adjustments in our numbers until Week 4 because this early in the season, it is hard to tell which results are "real" and which results are "fluky." Our research has suggested that we have enough data to start doing opponent adjustments after four games. After Week 4, we do the opponent adjustments at 40 percent their usual strength, and then that goes up by 10 percent each week until we reach full strength after Week 10.

And yet, we do know there's a strong chance that Washington's rating will drop for this game. We know that Jacksonville was one of the worst teams in the league last year. We forecast before the season that the Jaguars would be one of the worst teams in the league this year, and there's no reason after two games to think that's not going to be the case. But right now, no opponent adjustments, and as a result, you will see below that we rank Washington as the No. 2 team in the entire NFL after two games, trailing only Denver. That's all about this one game; Washington was No. 22 after Week 1. Our DAVE formula which incorporates the preseason forecast is a little more relaxed about Washington but still has it at No. 13.

There is one possible way to adjust games like this for the quality of opponents even without enough data to do our usual opponent adjustments. We could adjust early games by DAVE, thus incorporating the preseason projection not only into our ratings but also into adjustments of those ratings. I've never had the time to fully set this up, in part because it would take more work than simply "use DAVE instead of DVOA" -- the opponent adjustments are different for passing and rushing, and different by down, and it isn't as simple as just "apply opponent's DVOA to team's rating to get the adjusted rating." But let's see what happens if we do that.

For each of the first two games, I simply subtracted the opponent's DAVE on the opposite side of the ball from each team's DVOA for the game. So, for example, Arizona's offense had -1.9% DVOA for Week 1. San Diego's defensive DAVE is 5.0%. Therefore, our adjusted Week 1 offensive rating for Arizona is -6.9%. Special teams don't usually include opponent adjustments, so special teams are added in with no adjustments.

The resulting numbers are not as different from the actual numbers as you might expect. Here's a look at the overall top dozen teams, both with actual Week 1-2 DVOA and with our new "DAVE-adjusted" numbers.

Rk Team Actual
Wk 1-2 DVOA
x Rk Team "DAVE-Adjusted"
Week 1-2 DVOA
1 DEN 46.8% x 1 BUF 38.8%
2 WAS 40.4% x 2 SEA 36.7%
3 BUF 33.8% x 3 DEN 33.9%
4 CIN 33.1% x 4 WAS 31.3%
5 SEA 29.2% x 5 CIN 28.6%
6 CAR 26.1% x 6 CAR 26.2%
7 DET 23.8% x 7 NE 21.3%
8 ARI 23.6% x 8 CHI 19.7%
9 NE 21.5% x 9 DET 18.3%
10 PHI 16.7% x 10 ARI 17.2%
11 CHI 14.4% x 11 GB 17.1%
12 GB 10.2% x 12 BAL 14.5%

Denver takes a big hit because both Kansas City and Indianapolis are below average in DAVE. Washington takes a bit of a hit for Jacksonville, but Houston is now seen as a roughly average team so Week 1 doesn't get adjusted much. Seattle moves up a bit, and look who is now on top: Buffalo, whose two opponents each won their other game.

These changes would have even less impact on our playoff odds, because those are based on DAVE, which is currently only 25 percent based on 2014 results. Washington, to give an example, would drop from 3.3% DAVE to 1.0% DAVE. It's not much change.

Another way to try to figure out what this big early win means for Washington is to look at similar teams throughout DVOA history. Right now, Washington has 40.4% DVOA. From 1989-2013, there were 33 teams that were 1-1 with a DVOA rating between 30% and 50% -- for the most part, although there are a couple exceptions, these are teams that like Washington had one huge win in the first two weeks of the season. These teams averaged 11.8% DVOA for the entire season, finishing an average of tenth in the league, with 9.4 wins.

Only ten of these teams were coming off seasons with a below-average DVOA, but surprisingly, these ten teams didn't do any worse over the course of the next season than the other 23 teams in our study group. These teams ended up averaging 7.8% DVOA, ranking 12th in the league, with 9.7 wins.

These teams, for those curious:

  • The Browns went 3-13 in 1990, but in the second game of 1991 they slammed the Patriots 20-0. But that Patriots team was one of the worst teams in the league, so that win really didn't mean too much in the long run. The Browns ended the season 6-10 with a DVOA of 1.0%, 15th in the NFL.
  • Also in 1991, the Broncos were coming off a 5-11 year but opened the season with a 45-14 stomping of Cincinnati before losing 16-13 at the Raiders in Week 2. Cincinnati, like the Patriots, ended up as one of the five worst teams in the league in 1991. But for Denver, that win did seem to signal improvement. The Broncos ended up 12-4, though they were only 12th in DVOA in 1991.
  • The 1993 Packers had been 9-7 the year before but only 18th in DVOA. They beat the Rams 36-6 in the first week of the season, then lost to the Eagles 20-17. The Rams were not quite as bad as the 1991 Patriots or the current Jaguars, but they were 20th in DVOA in 1992 and 23rd in 1993. However, that big early win was an indication that the Packers had improved. Weird fact: the Packers went 9-7 for three straight years from 1992 to 1994 but finished 18th, ninth, and fourth in DVOA before finally breaking through with a double-digit win season in 1995.
  • The 1997 Jets were coming off a 1-15 year but hired Bill Parcells and opened the season with a 41-3 blowout in Seattle before losing to Buffalo 28-22 at home. Seattle wasn't a horrible team; it ended up 8-8 and 21st in DVOA out of 30 teams. The Jets finished the year 9-7 with 2.6% DVOA.
  • Washington went 6-10 in 1998, then lost their 1999 opener to Dallas in overtime. In Week 2, Washington went to the Meadowlands and tore the Giants apart 50-21. The Giants ended up 22nd in DVOA, the Cowboys ended up ninth, and Washington ended up seventh, going 10-6 to win the NFC East.
  • In 2000, the Saints won their division at 10-6 but actually were slightly below average with -0.9% DVOA. They started the 2011 season with a 24-6 victory at Buffalo, but lost to the Giants in Week 2. The Saints ended up losing their last four games to finish 7-9 that year, and their DVOA dropped to 21st at -8.7%.
  • The 2004 NFC West was the worst four-team division DVOA has ever measured. Seattle won the division at 9-7 with -2.7% DVOA, 15th in the league. The next year, of course, they won the NFC Championship. Was the early season a signal of how good the Seahawks would be? That's a strange question. In Week 1, the Seahawks had a positive DVOA despite losing to Jacksonville 26-14, even without opponent adjustments. Jacksonville recovered all four fumbles in that game, and Josh Scobee hit four field goals. In Week 2, the Seahawks had 63.8% DVOA -- again, without opponent adjustments -- but only beat Atlanta 21-18. Just giving it a cursory glance, with that one it is really hard to figure out why the system loved Seattle so much in that game. But it did, and in the long run it clearly looks like it was right about something with the beginning of that Seahawks season.
  • The 2005 Bears also fall into our little study group. They were horrid with -27.1% DVOA in 2004. In 2005, they lost on the road to Washington 9-7 and then beat Detroit at home 38-6. That Detroit team -- are you sensing a trend? -- ended up as one of the worst in the league, 29th in DVOA in 2005. The Bears ended up with -0.9% DVOA, 15th in the league, but somehow went 11-5 to win the NFC North.
  • The Eagles were slightly below average in 2005. They started the 2006 season by beating Houston 24-10 in a game that was much bigger by DVOA than by points scored. (The Eagles ended up with almost twice as many yards as the Texans.) Houston was -- here we go again -- one of the worst teams in the league that year, finishing 31st in DVOA. However, that Eagles win seemed to be a sign that the team had bounced back to their 2004 Super Bowl form. The Eagles ended up fourth in DVOA for the year and finished 10-6.
  • The final team in our group is the 2012 Vikings. The 2011 Vikings had gone 3-13, 29th in DVOA, in the aborted Donovan McNabb year. But the start for the 2012 team isn't really comparable to this year's Washington start. Minnesota's first two games were both very close, but the Vikings had a higher-than-you-might-expect DVOA rating for each of them. It wasn't like the other teams listed here where the season started with one huge game and one average or below average game.

Which of these teams might be most similar to Washington? I leave that to you all to discuss in the comments.

* * * * *

Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 2 are:

  • LE Calais Campbell, ARI (24 HOURS ONLY): Sack, 3 hurries, 9 run tackles for a combined gain of just 13 yards.
  • P Ryan Allen, NE: Worth 1.6 estimated points of field position. Two punts inside the 10, two more inside the 20, and the fifth went 53 yards.
  • ROLB Quinton Coples, NYJ: Sack, 4 QB hits, 2 hurries.
  • RB DeMarco Murray, DAL: Led all RB this week in rushing value with 48 total DYAR (29 runs, 167 yards, and a touchdown).
  • RT Seantrel Henderson, BUF: Kept Cameron Wake without a sack or hurry.

By the way, I've noticed some questions on Twitter about why certain players are or are not chosen as FO stars. There are a few elements that go into these choices. First, of course, we need guys who had good weeks. Second, over time we want to make sure we get a good mix of positions -- including punters and kickers! -- with players from every team. Third, we can't choose players who are on Madden Ultimate Team's "Team of the Week," which is announced by the Madden folks on Mondays. Four, sometimes we specifically leave room to add a player from Monday's game and sometimes we don't. (That's part of why there's no Darren Sproles this week.) And finally, sometimes we can't choose certain players because there currently isn't room to offer new, higher-rated editions of those players without messing up the balance of the game. So if you ask "why didn't Football Outsiders pick Player X," the answer will usually be one of those five reasons.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with 2014 data! That includes for the first time offensive lines, defensive lines, and defense vs. receivers, plus the FO Premium database. Snap counts and playoff odds are also fully updated.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through two weeks of 2014, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

Please note that there are no opponent adjustments in DVOA until after Week 4. (It's still called DVOA below because I honestly didn't feel like going through and changing all the tables manually this year. You folks know what's up, anyway.) In addition, our second weekly table which includes schedule strength, variation, and Estimated Wins will appear beginning after Week 4.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 75 percent of DAVE.

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

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

1 DEN 46.8% 9 29.7% 1 2-0 41.3% 1 -9.2% 11 -3.7% 21
2 WAS 40.4% 22 3.3% 13 1-1 11.6% 9 -37.8% 1 -9.1% 28
3 BUF 33.8% 10 7.0% 11 2-0 12.3% 7 -4.7% 14 16.8% 1
4 CIN 33.1% 11 11.6% 5 2-0 22.6% 3 -14.9% 8 -4.4% 24
5 SEA 29.2% 1 19.7% 2 1-1 38.4% 2 7.0% 21 -2.2% 16
6 CAR 26.1% 6 7.7% 10 2-0 3.1% 15 -26.8% 2 -3.8% 23
7 DET 23.8% 3 0.7% 16 1-1 11.8% 8 -25.2% 3 -13.2% 31
8 ARI 23.6% 15 2.8% 14 2-0 -3.9% 22 -22.1% 5 5.5% 3
9 NE 21.5% 20 15.9% 3 1-1 -6.5% 24 -25.2% 4 2.9% 8
10 PHI 16.7% 14 7.8% 9 2-0 1.8% 16 -18.6% 6 -3.7% 22
11 CHI 14.4% 16 10.4% 6 1-1 10.8% 10 -8.7% 13 -5.1% 27
12 GB 10.2% 27 14.1% 4 1-1 10.7% 11 9.0% 23 8.5% 2
13 BAL 6.7% 21 -2.6% 18 1-1 1.1% 17 -10.7% 10 -5.1% 26
14 TEN 5.5% 4 -2.9% 20 1-1 -1.9% 20 -11.0% 9 -3.6% 20
15 SF 3.6% 5 8.8% 8 1-1 3.5% 13 0.6% 17 0.8% 12
16 ATL 1.9% 7 -2.5% 17 1-1 18.2% 6 20.7% 29 4.4% 6
17 CLE 1.6% 17 -9.7% 27 1-1 22.2% 5 23.9% 30 3.3% 7
18 HOU 0.1% 19 -6.8% 24 2-0 3.4% 14 -1.7% 16 -5.0% 25
19 DAL -1.7% 30 -6.2% 22 1-1 1.0% 18 7.2% 22 4.5% 5
20 NO -1.9% 23 8.9% 7 0-2 22.3% 4 28.8% 31 4.6% 4
21 NYJ -2.6% 8 -2.9% 19 1-1 -4.9% 23 -2.0% 15 0.3% 13
22 PIT -4.6% 12 1.3% 15 1-1 5.2% 12 11.7% 25 1.9% 10
23 MIA -11.7% 13 -7.2% 25 1-1 -2.0% 21 -9.2% 12 -18.8% 32
24 MIN -14.4% 2 -4.4% 21 1-1 -27.4% 30 -15.8% 7 -2.7% 17
25 SD -14.9% 26 4.3% 12 1-1 -1.2% 19 15.9% 27 2.3% 9
26 TB -22.9% 28 -6.3% 23 0-2 -16.1% 26 3.5% 18 -3.3% 19
27 OAK -27.3% 25 -20.4% 31 0-2 -20.3% 28 5.1% 20 -1.9% 15
28 IND -30.8% 24 -8.8% 26 0-2 -12.5% 25 19.8% 28 1.5% 11
29 STL -42.1% 32 -12.4% 28 1-1 -26.4% 29 14.8% 26 -0.9% 14
30 KC -49.4% 29 -17.8% 30 0-2 -16.6% 27 29.9% 32 -2.9% 18
31 NYG -52.0% 31 -17.1% 29 0-2 -30.8% 31 9.8% 24 -11.4% 30
32 JAC -53.1% 18 -23.6% 32 0-2 -38.8% 32 4.7% 19 -9.6% 29

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Sep 2014

76 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2014, 11:14am by CharlieAdam14


by gdejong :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:04pm

Minnesota was doing so well..

by gdejong :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:14pm

About the Dave-adjusted ratings:

I feel like the method above unfairly penalizes certain teams. Part of the reason that Indy and KC have bad DVOA ratings is because they played the Broncos. Really, for this calculation a DAVE' rating should be calculated using only the non-Broncos games for Indy and KC. And that rating should be used to adjust the Broncos DVOA.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 8:54pm


Sounds really ad hoc to me.

by gdejong :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:47am

No more ad hoc than the DAVE-adjusted ratings that place Buffalo up top, above.

What I'm saying is that the DAVE-adjusted ratings are somewhat circular at the moment.

Denver has a 46.8% DVOA. But a 33.9% DAVE-adjusted DVOA.

Presumably the calculation is somewhat along these lines:

DAVE-adjusted DVOA = 46.8% + .5 x (-17.8% - 8.8%) = 33.5%
(where -17.8% and -8.8% represent the DAVE's of Denver's opponents, KC and Indy)

But those -17.8% and -8.8% exaggerate how bad KC and Indy are. After all, they played Denver, and the Broncos can make most teams look bad.

The actual adjustment should be based on the DAVE's of the opponents excluding games against the Broncos. I can see that the Chiefs' DAVE after week 1 was -11.7%.
The Colts' DAVE excluding the Broncos game is tougher to calculate, but it looks like it should be about -4.5%. (By coincidence, the Colts had a DVOA of -30.9% after week 1 and -30.8% after week 2. That means they had essentially 2 games with the same DVOA. So the -4.5% DVOA after week 1 seems like a good estimate of their DAVE excluding the Broncos game).

Using the new data:

Den DAVE-adjusted DVOA = 46.8% +.5 x (-11.7% - 4.5%) = 38.7%

by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:36pm

Are you suggesting that each team should be adjusted by the DVOA of their opponents excluding the games they actually played against their opponents?

So, for instance, Pittsburgh's DVOA should be adjusted by the DVOA of Cleveland and Baltimore, excluding the games against Pittsburgh?

To me that has a big problem in that you only using partial data. Sure Denver can make people look bad - but that also tells you something about the teams that they make look bad. And for bad teams, it would also make their opponents look good.

Strength of schedule and adjustments are always circular to some extent, but excluding games to me doesn't seem like it would be better.

And you can't consider Denver to be a special case of any kind - they're not. That would be ad hoc.

by nat :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 2:27pm

I'm pretty sure this exact idea has been proposed, and dropped after discussion, in the past.

Problems: too much additional calculation, excludes perfectly valid data, and can make two games - played at the exact same level against the same opponent - be scored quite differently by DVOA.

Any of the three would be enough to nix the idea.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:16pm

I guess I'm not shocked to see Denver at #1, but I still am surprised their D ranking is at #11.

Per drive, they've given up quite a bit of yards and points. I guess in teh Chiefs game they seemingly did really well on 1st and 2nd down, but their 3rd down was awful. If they can correct that issue of playing badly on 3rd down, that should push their D-rank even higher.

These will change when opponent adjustments set in, but it is strange to see Seattle with the #21 defense and New England with the #24 offense.

by BJR :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:54pm

I've certainly been disappointed with Denver's pass rush in the two games thus far. Up 2 scores on Sunday you'd ave expected them to be able pin their ears back and start teeing off on Alex Smith. Perhaps Miller is still feeling his way back and Ware has lost a step? Or perhaps they are getting close and I'm not noticing and the sacks will arrive soon enough.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 8:55pm

Well, to me, the rush has seemed fine from the edges and maybe the push up the middle hasn't been as good as hoped. But overall, the rush has seemed ok except that a couple of third and long plays came with a three man rush which sometimes leads to coverage sacks, but can also just lead to a QB holding the ball forever until somebody gets open.

Miller has had his playing time cut a bit so far, but Ware has 1.5 sacks in two games which isn't bad when you also consider that he also had what appeared to be a game ending strip sack that was ruled an incomplete pass.

Overall, watching a team dominate on first and second down only to give up a couple of improbable first downs is maddening, but it suggests regression to the mean.

Oh, and it's also important to remember that a couple of those improbably conversions happened because of penalties that don't count against VOA.

by BJR :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 9:46am

This site has Denver's adjusted sack rate at 5.5%, which is dead middle of the pack through two weeks. So not bad, but I guess I'd just expect slightly better given the reputation of the edge rushers against opponents who were behind for large portions of the game and so obviously forced to pass. And Alex Smith in particular has not been adept at avoiding sacks through his careers.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 5:43pm

I'm as shocked as anyone that Denver's defense is in/near the top third, especially given their awful 3rd down performance and lack of turnovers.

These are the reasons I could think of as to why, but if anyone knows more definitively, please post.
1. Jekyll and Hyde.... Their first half performance (good in both games) has counterbalanced their awful second halves.
2. Bend but don't break.... They've had several goal line stands (4 I think) late in both games.
3. Competition over-rated due to last years DVOA.
4. ?????????

by MattSz :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:18pm

SD didn't get much of a boost after taking down Seattle. There DAVE went from 5.8 to 4.3, and they're DVOA rank went from 26 to 25. What gives?

by BJR :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:56pm

For certain they will be getting a major boost in offensive DVOA for this performance by the end of the year. Still, I'm surprised they don't rate higher anyway. Regardless of the opponent it seemed like a very efficient offensive performance. Chase Stuart posted a table on twitter on Sunday night ranking this week's QBs by ANY/A over average (a stat I would expect to correlate reasonably well with DVOA) and I think Rivers was third. They didn't have much success in the run game, but I still would have thought the overall result would be better than 19th in offensive DVOA, or was their performance in week 1 that bad?

Edit: just seen quick reads where Rivers ranks third. I guess this weeks rushing performance and last weeks overall performance must just have been bad.

by Schlom :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 8:06pm

I'm confused by that one as well. They are the second lowest 1 loss team ranked (ahead of the Rams), below the 0-2 Saints, and barely above the 0-2 Raiders who have been outscored by 21 points over the first two game.

by Amp :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 8:12pm

Also SD playoff odds dropped by 13.7%, which seems strange after winning a game that they probably lost more times than not in the simulations?

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:53pm

That was an error in the original "CHANGE" column in the playoff odds. It's been fixed. Their playoff odds did go up roughly five percent this week.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:00pm

What gives? You're looking at numbers that cannot tell the difference between beating Seattle and beating Jacksonville. SD will start getting the boost once opponent adjustments are included.

by wdreusike :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:10pm

With DAVE taking more of the season into account than preseason projections, Week 2 weighs more heavily, but so does Week 1. It seems DVOA sees their Week 1 performance as more bad than their Week 2 was good. Compared to the fairly high preseason projection (ranked 6 at 10.4%) Week 2 was perhaps better, but Week 1 was much worse.

by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:48pm

Their Offensive DVOA jumped from -33.2 to -1.2, their Defense fell from 9.6 to 15.9 and Special Teams fell from 5.2 to 2.8

So as you can see, they actually improved their Offense markedly which passes the eyeball test since their Offense looked far better in the Seattle game. Their DAVE went down because the weight of the non-opponent adjusted DVOA increased and it shows up as low. Honestly, I think their Defense has looked Far better than this indicates, but I'm not sure opponent adjustments will improve that much.

I don't know if that helps much, but I suspect we'll see a nice increase when opponent adjustments get added in.

by icecon :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 8:30pm

The team that seems to have disappointed the most (performed far below preseason expectations on both sides of the ball) is the Giants. That might be saying something about the Lions and Cardinals. Or it might just be saying a lot about the Giants...

The article talks about teams that did well, but I would be curious to know how damning such a below expectation performance over the first two games typically is.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 8:59pm

I don't think the expectations for the Giants were all that high. Their DAVE is pretty low, after all.

by icecon :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:05am

FO rated(s) their defense highly. And although the offense was never expected to be particularly good, 29th in the NFL is certainly very low.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:25pm

I think the biggest disappointer is probably Tampa Bay, though I struggled to understand why everyone was so high on them in the first place. I think they will be better with Glennon... but they have issues.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:54am

I think people saw a talented roster (especially on defense), a competent, non-crazy coaching staff, and Josh McCown's 2013 (while ignoring the rest of his career), and automatically assumed they'd contend for the playoffs. On the face of it, not an unreasonable assumption.

by Mr.Morden :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:26pm

Still no "John Fox reunion special" (car-den) listed among the special Super Bowl matchups.

by kamiyu206 :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:27pm

Damn Buffalo. Half of their DVOA came from ST performance, which is astonishing.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:49pm

That's nothing. By an amazing coincidence, Miami's ST DVOA more than doubles its offensive and defensive DVOA in the opposite direction.

Who, me?

by Czar :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:02pm

I have attended both games and the result does not surprise me at all. Part of it is the new punter. Less lackluster punts. I think the coverage units have performed vastly better as well. Of course, a C.J. Spiller TD return will help out too.

by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:43am

After all these years with crummy special teams, though, the offseason commitment to getting better players seems to pass the eye test. Perhaps the Music City Curse is finally fading? ;)

I think DAVE has the team about right. Yes, I'm excited about a team that's 11th - it's been a long slog since 1999.

by batesbruce :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:45pm

Wow, I better take a screen shot! Skins haven't been this high in DVOA since ... ever. Look fast it all tumbles after Philly.

by Lance :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 8:31am


by Duke :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:07am

And finally, sometimes we can't choose certain players because there currently isn't room to offer new, higher-rated editions of those players without messing up the balance of the game.

Interesting--do you have any examples of stat boosts that would have been too unbalancing? I'm just curious where Madden can be broken.

No, I'm not Jon Bois.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:31am

Chicago currently has the 7th best passing defense (probably due to all the picks).

Interestingly there are 6 defenses with -20% or better pass defense. Which seems high to me even for this year. The Bears are close with -18.9, which might improve if Fuller is actually good and not just a fluke.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:34am

One does sort of get the sense, watching these games, that defense is taking a lunge back into prominence so far. I have not seen the sort of consistent, powerful offenses out of anyone that I recall from years past at this point. Could just be a slow start to the offenses, because there have definitely been good quarters and halves, but not many really "great" games.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:41am

I'm loving it. Give me defense all day.

by Peregrine :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:20am

I'm with you. Shootouts bore me. For me, the perfect game ends something like 20-17.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 5:51pm

Honestly, I'm more of a 0-3 or 12-9 kind of guy. All these scores make me dizzy.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 5:58pm

You say that in jest, but one of my favorite games ever watching in the regular season was a Week 15 game in 2008, when Pittsburgh won 13-9 in Baltimore. Some of the best defense I have ever seen occured in that game.

I, for one, am happy that scoring and ridiculous 5,000 yard passing seasons may have plateaued.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:30pm

One of my all time favorite games was the 2005 Bears beating the Panthers 13-3. Orton was sharp, but the receivers were dropping everything, and on the other side the Bears just smothered.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:57pm

I too have had a backlash against the offensive explosion - though I think most of it is coming from offensive innovations and the one year lockout than say the rule changes.

And while I love great defensive games - one of the most fun games for me was the Indy Kc playoff game in 2003.

by ChrisS :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:15pm

One of my formative football watching experiences was watching Dallas beat the Lions 5-0. As a Lions fan it started me young to expect disappointment. The Cowboys just had a great defense, the CB's were Renfro and Adderly. The Lions could only counter with Lem Barney and Dick LeBeau, no wonder there were only 130 combined passing yards on 38 attempts.

by bubqr :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:26am

The Eagles, despite leading the NFL in yards/points, left a ton of points on the field the first 2 weeks. And they did so with an average to below-average Nick Foles, 3 OLinemen injured, and LeSean McCoy not being his 2013 self. Their offense could be scary once/if things start clicking.

by Eddo :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:42am

Alternatively, you could say that what's happening right now (the offensive production not matching the "eye test") is unsustainable.

The Eagles are a very curious team right now, I'm interested to see which way it goes.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:15am

McCoy not being himself probably is the result of the line issue. No idea at all what the problem with Foles is, though - that's the real question going forward for this team.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 3:32pm

I really think Foles is feeling the pressure - there's been a very strange willingness by fans and the media to discredit his accomplishments as a QB (it's Kelly's system, not him... despite Vick's and Barkley's awful numbers in the same system) combined with Kelly's weird unwillingness to anoint him the "franchise QB" (whatever the hell that means) and he looks like he's just uncomfortable out on the field. Everyone just seems to be willing to write him off no matter what he does. He gets nitpicked by the notorious Philly media and I swear I've never seen a successful QB get so criticized for his ball placement - he had 5 drops on Sunday where the WR got BOTH hands on the ball and the announcers and fans came down on Foles for the drops. I've just never seen that.

Now, once the game gets out of hand and he HAS to go play well, he's been up to the task. He gets in the zone when he has to, which is a good thing, ultimately I think. Whatever else is going on, he's been saddled with three substandard WR's - Maclin and Cooper have been getting zero separation on their deep routes (and dropping catchable balls with regularity.) Cooper turned back into a pumpkin and Maclin was never a #1 even before multiple knee surgeries. Matthews is a rookie who doesn't have a great feel for the game yet, his poor route-running combines with his stone hands to make him one of the very worst #3's in the league, which is saying something. His most talented pass-catchers Ertz and Sproles have both looked phenomenal, but of course Foles has nothing to do with that. (I mean, watch the Ertz catches on the corner routes, the ball literally couldn't been thrown better.) Factor in the disastrous o-line situation and the weak running game and Foles is in a position where the whole damn thing is on his shoulders. Unfortunately, he doesn't look comfortable because he knows that he's a few bad games away from getting the hook because for some reason he gets zero benefit of the doubt...

I mean for comparison, think about how much you hear about Luck's comebacks in games where his interceptions and high sack rate caused the problems, but I haven't heard anything about Foles in these two comebacks other "he's not sustaining his numbers from last year" and anyone could do the same thing in Kelly's system (except for Vick or Barkley, I guess) and his ball placement isn't perfect. I mean, he's gotten nothing from McCoy, nothing from Maclin, nothing from Cooper, nothing from his o-line, been saddled with some horrible play-calling especially in short-yardage and the redzone and all you hear is "his throws have been high and he's holding on to the ball too long." Of course he hasn't been playing with confidence...

by bubqr :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:33pm

I see your point about how the (Philly/national) media predicting a fall back to Earth this season, the seemingly reluctant support from the organisation early on, could affect Foles' confidence. Maybe that, coupled with Sanchez very good preseason puts a lot of pressure on him and he's letting it affect his play.
I also agree with your points about the WR corps, where Cooper has looked nothing short of abysmal(his best play being a PI call in the EZ, on a ball he would surely have dropped), Matthews has had as many drops than catches(at least it seems so), and Maclin has not played like a #1 WR(I would still not rate him as badly as you do). Ertz, McCoy and Sproles however have been good to very good weapon in the passing/screen game, especially that last game where probably more than half the yardage was YAC.

What has been frustrating is that while he has had an overall average receiving corps, the offensive scheme has been just amazingly good (and the Jags/Colts defense pretty bad), but Foles execution was far from it.

I am disappointed not only because of his poor passes (4/5 pretty bad ones in week 1, 5/6 this week), especially last game's missed swing passes(2,3?) that I found infuriating, but the missed opportunities. After reading Sheil Kapadia's article last week, I went and re-watched the first game myself, and it was clear he left something along the lines of 3/4 long throws that could have been TDs on the field, including 2 where the WR was open by 10 yards or so. He could have had 500 yards easily, and I really don't think that's an hyperbole. The last time I remember seeing that many guys running wide open in the secondary must have been the 2008(?) game where Kevin Curtis(!) had over 200 yards vs the Lions. This week, he once again had Maclin open 3 times along the sideline (2 overthrows, one INT), and Matthews once on another potential big gainer.

We'll see how it goes, but right now I am as excited by the potential for this offense to be even better than last year than nervous about Foles' ability to execute it well enough.

by Red :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:45am

Against the Colts, Foles passed for 331 yards. However, only 98 of those came through the air, with the other 233 via YAC. Darren Sproles did most of the work in that game, so it's disingenuous to suggest that Foles deserves more credit when most of his yards came from screen passes. In the Jags game, he missed a lot of open receivers, and his only big play came on an egregious blown coverage.

"despite Vick's and Barkley's awful numbers in the same system"

This is factually false. Yes, Barkley was awful, but Vick posted numbers well above league average. In 2013, Vick averaged 8.6 Y/A with a 2.1% INT rate. That is very good production.

Nick Foles = System QB

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 9:28am

And I'm fine with him being a system QB, as long as he flourishes in it like last year. Also, I can't blame Foles for the high percentage of his yards being YAC - that's Kelly's whole scheme, to get a man in open space with lots of room to run. The fact that Foles gets it there is all to his credit - he's doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing. The problem lies in that at the start of the last two games he hasn't gotten all the throws to the open guys.

by ElJefe :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 10:34am

To me, Kelly's system is the equivalent of an analytically-driven NBA offense. In basketball, the numbers say you should only shoot layups and three-pointers and avoid mid-range jumpers like the plague. It seems like the Eagles throw more screens than other teams, and also more passes >20 yards downfield, so they must be skimping on the shallow crosses and digs that are staples of more conventional passing offenses. I'm sure there are numbers to confirm/refute this; I'll have to do a little research.

But this addresses a couple of the earlier posters: Foles is hitting the screens (big YAC) just fine, but hasn't hit the deep balls to his WRs, although he has to the TEs. Last season he seemed much more accurate on the deep balls. If he regains that touch we could start seeing 500+ yards from the Eagles offense.

I'm not sure Foles is a "system quarterback", but his first two games this season have made me change the prism through which I view him. By the end of last season I was wondering "what % of Peyton Manning is Nick Foles"; the two have similar body types and (I thought) vision and touch. Now my comparison is ... Mark Rypien.

Which makes it logical to compare Chip Kelly to Joe Gibbs, the only coach to win Super Bowls with three different QBs, on the strength of a fairly-innovative approach to offense. I think this comparison makes a lot of sense.

Overeducated Layabout

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 10:29am

If he needs to get his confidence from the media and fans, he's screwed. At least I'm sure the coaching staff doesn't give a darn what people think. It's a bottom line business.

Who, me?

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:34am

Washington is clearly ranked too high because come on, I'm a Skins fan and even I don't buy it. Ranking teams by number of major injuries to the starting QB is way better than this. HTTR! Go Skins! & etc.

by usernaim250 :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 7:57am

I'm a dvoa and a Redskins fan. The whole point of the article is that an early blowout win is a positive indicator, but is unlikely to mean better than a middle of the pack finish. Also, raw stats like yards and point differential also put the team near the top so it's not like dvoa is out of line.

by chubbrock320 :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 7:18am

Why did you choose coples over Demario Davis from the jets who had 2 sacks? Was it cause of the hurries coples had?

by Malene_copenhagen :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:00am

And with the number 1 pass defense, ladies and gentlemen, the NE Patriots. There's something we haven't seen in a while.

by N8- :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:10am

Packers #2 Special Teams? Please double-check your calculations, there is clearly something wrong here.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:58am

Just guessing, here, but they probably get a boost from the Earl Thomas Punt Returning Experience.

by big10freak :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:03pm

GB had a good special teams day against the Jets. Harris had a big return. Coverage units didn't stink. Crosby nailed all his field goals including one from about Milwaukee.

Pretty stunning

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:21pm

The lesson early on from Detroit's special teams ranking is to repeat one of FO's mantras: STOP DRAFTING KICKERS!

by ammek :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:37pm

Five no-name AFC North running backs in the top 11 by YAR. Been a while since that division was known for crappy run defense. It's the most intriguing division in the league, the only one where I can imagine any of the four teams winning it.

Jacksonville looks set to join the exclusive 100 Club of teams whose cumulative DVOA over three seasons is -100 or worse. It needs just -29 DVOA this year to join this list of greats:

Det 07-09 (-129) and 08-10 (-101)
StL 07-09 (-125) and 08-10 (-111)
SFO 04-06 (-117) and 05-07 (-102)
Ind 91-93 (-112) and 90-92 (-100)
NwE 90-92 (-110)
Ari 02-04 (-102)

The Lions of course managed to accumulate -100 DVOA in just two seasons (2008-09), a truly unique feat of ineptitude.

Oakland could also join the 100 Club after this season if it finishes with a not inconceivable DVOA of -38.

by ammek :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 3:05pm

Jacksonville's Adjusted Line Yards entry is a sight for sore eyes.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:19pm

Are you calling Le'Veon Bell no-name?

by TomC :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:47pm

Good offense, decent defense, terrible special teams: that's my Bears for you, just like always.

Oh wait, hang on...

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 3:18pm

Which makes me wonder if Bears fans are enjoying the new paradigm shift for the sake of variety or experiencing painful nostalgia for the good ol days.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 3:46pm

Obviously I like have a compentent offense, but I do miss stifling defense and attention to detail special teams. So all in all a mixed bag.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 4:12pm

I don't know if Marshall has broken this record yet, but the stat that seemed to define the bears as an organization was that the franchise leader in receptions is still Payton.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 4:54pm

That's nothing. Until Amani Cooper came along, the Giants' all-time leader in receiving yards (not receptions, receiving YARDS) was Frank Gifford. And Gifford is still second behind Cooper.

In fact, third and fourth place on that list are also running backs: Tiki Barber and Joe Morrison. Yeesh.


by LyleNM :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 5:51pm

I think you need to turn off Autocorrect.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 5:52pm

What? What mistake did I make?

by LyleNM :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 5:55pm

Amani Toomer not Amani Cooper.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 6:49pm


Not Autocorrect. Just a brainlock combining Amani Toomer and Amari Cooper into one person. I suspect I will do that a lot for the next half-decade or so.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:44pm

You're going to love this. Marshall isn't even threatening, he's 12th all times in receptions. The active Bear with the most Bear receptions? Matt Forte.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:47pm

you're absolutely right. I love this. Where receivers(used to) go to die indeed.

by TomC :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 6:26pm

I'm OK with a switch between good O and good D once every few decades (and I understand it's well-nigh impossible to have both for any sustained period), but the specials piss me off, because I think they can always be good without taking too much away from either of the main units; it just takes a few roster spots and (as tuluse says), attention to detail. I have already fantasized about an alternate reality in which Emery and Trestman offered Dave Toub a huge raise, some sort of title, and some guaranteed roster spots---but the fact that he made a lateral move to KC says to me they probably didn't try very hard at all to keep him, which was a huge mistake.

by dank067 :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:52am

Toub interviewed for the head coaching spot when Lovie got fired. Trestman and Emery probably would have paid him whatever he wanted, but you don't usually see assistant coaches stick around when they've been interviewed but passed over.

by jklps :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 5:53pm

I am a DVOA/FO fan and a Washington fan(but not of the owner).

I see what the numbers say. I still don't believe in this team as Jacksonville stinks.

4 or 5 wins max.