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Football Outsider Record Projections

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  1. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #12 Jersey

    I've been reading through the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac, and they're pretty high on the Pats this year. The mean projections have the Pats as #3 in the NFL behind the Ravens and Colts:

    2010 Mean Projection: 10.3 wins
    On the Clock (0-3): 0%
    Loserville (4-6): 4%
    Mediocrity (7-8): 18%
    Playoff Contender (9-10): 33%
    Super Bowl Contender (11+): 45%
    Projected Average Opponent: 4.5% (7th)


    the highest mean projection is 11.6: basically, the idea is that everyone who finishes with over 11 wins outperformed expectations, so 10.3 is quite good as a baseline. The closest teams behind us are the Steelers (9.9), Jets (9.8), Falcons (9.6), and Packers (9.4).

    I know that there's a lot of debate on this board for how applicable these types of statistics really are, and I think that this year's Patriots team represents an ideal data point. While most reports that you'll read will speak of the Pats as an above average team, FO's projections place the Pats solidly in the NFL elite (this was before the Ty Warren injury news, I have to wonder if that changes anything).

    Personally, I'm pumped. I'm a huge FO fan, and after reading this writeup, it reinforces a lot of what I already thought about the Pats, and also has me rethinking the Jets (a little more worried about them) and the Dolphins (a little less). Definitely an awesome read, I'd recommend it to everyone.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  2. PatsChamp88

    PatsChamp88 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Link us up!
  3. BlueThunder

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    #87 Jersey

    Pats have already lost enough starters to almost level the playing field for the mighty Jets......(Warren,Holt,Mankins,Kaczur)and altho I admit I was in favor of giving the youngsters a shot at WR over keeping Holt for one year, the loss could be significant if we end up with Tate being another Chad J.(Don't see that happening tho)

    Jets lose Greene for any extended period of time and I'm not convinced they'd be anything special. And if Revis doesn't show up, I'm not sure they'll get to 9 wins....

    JMHO
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  4. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #12 Jersey

    Warren is definitely a significant loss, but I didn't have Holt starting anyways, and only one of Kaczur/Mankins was going to be a starter. I'm still not convinced that Connolly is a significant downgrade from Kaczur; not having Mankins is the real issue.

    And every team loses some people. The Jets' rankings were done with the assumption that Revis would play, for example. If his holdout extends into the regular season, he impacts the Jets far more than any of our guys do us (FO said that he is without a question, by far the most important defensive player in the NFL).
  5. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #12 Jersey

  6. PatsChamp88

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  7. BradyFTW!

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    #12 Jersey

    Fair enough, but as of now there are huge holes to fill at both DE spots. Even if Gerard Warren can fill one of them (and I don't think that's impossible), there's still the other one. I don't have a whole lot of confidence in Lewis, Brace, Wright, or Pryor to do it. Won't kill us against most teams, but the ones that can run it down our throat probably will, which just means we'll need Spikes and Mayo to go nuts.
  8. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Holt wasn't likely to make the final 53 man roster never mind start. Mankins and Kazcur played the same position and there is still a slight chance the Pats come to a deal with Mankins of some sort.
  9. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    FO is an intriguing source, still trying to understand that DOVA thing though.. at least they try to look at things somewhat intelligently.
  10. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Rookie

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    On the other hand who did the Pats have last year at RDE and LDE?

    An injured Jarvis Green, overworked Mike Wright, and low round rookie, Mo Pryor; and at LDE a hobbling Ty Warren, and/or a raw rookie NT Ron Brace? Despite not having a true SILB, or established SS to back them up, they still allowed only a mediocre 110 rushing yards per game, not a horrendous 200 ypg, and were exploited only by the elite opponents.

    This club is already better than that, based on the ILB and SS improvements, nevermind the two ex-starting vet FA acquisitions.
  11. Nathan

    Nathan Rookie

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    I'm a big fan of FO as it is one of the few places on the internet that has good football discussion in the comment sections. DVOA is one of the only stats of theirs I've taken the time to understand cause they reference it so often. Here's the breakdown from the FO Almanac this year, edited a bit by me:



    DVOA breaks down every single play of the NFL season, assigning each play a value based on both total yards and yards towards a first down... On first down, a play is considered a success if it gains 45 percent of needed yards; on second down, a play needs to gain 60 percent of needed yards; on third or fourth down, only gaining a new first down is considered success.

    A successful play is worth one point, an unsuccessful play zero points with fractional points in between (for example, eight yards on third-and-10 is worth 0.54 “success points”). Extra points are awarded for big plays, gradually increasing to three points for 10 yards (assuming those yards result in a first down), four points for 20 yards, and five points for 40 yards or more. Losing three or more yards is -1 point. Interceptions average -6 points, with an adjustment for the length of the pass and the location of the interception (since an interception tipped at the line is more likely to produce a long return than an interception on a 40- yard pass). A fumble is worth anywhere from -1.7 to -4.0 points depending on how often a fumble in that situation is lost to the defense — no matter who actually recovers the fumble. Red zone plays are worth 25 percent more for teams (and 10 percent more for players), and there is a bonus given for a touchdown that acknowledges that the goal line is significantly more difficult to cross than the previous 99 yards.

    Every single play run in the NFL gets a “success value” based on this system, and then that number gets compared to the average success values of plays in similar situations for all players, adjusted for a number of variables. These include down and distance, field location, time remaining in game, and the team’s lead or deficit in the game score. Teams are always compared to the overall offensive average, as the team made its own choice whether to pass or rush. When it comes to individual players, however, rushing plays are compared to other rushing plays, passing plays to other passing plays, tight ends to tight ends, wideouts to wideouts, and so on.

    You will find DVOA used in this book in a lot of different ways — because it takes every single play into account, it can be used to measure a player or a team’s performance in any situation. All Pittsburgh third downs can be compared to how an average team does on third down. Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson can each be compared to how an average quarterback performs in the red zone, or with a lead, or in the second half of the game.

    One of the hardest parts of understanding a new statistic is interpreting its scale, or what numbers represent good performance or bad performance. We’ve made that easy with DVOA. In all cases, 0% represents league-average. A positive DVOA represents a situation that favors the offense, while a negative DVOA represents a situation that favors the defense. This is why the best offenses have positive DVOA ratings (last year, New England led the league at +29.6%) and the best defenses have negative DVOA ratings (with the New York Jets number one at -23.4%). For teams, the best and worst ratings tend to be around +/-30%; for players, they tend to be around +/- 45%.
  12. BradyFTW!

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    #12 Jersey

    Ty Warren wasn't 100% last year, but he was still better than Mike Wright. Whoever we replace him with is a significant downgrade. And on the other side, it's not so much about replacing last year as replacing the year before. Last year was just a textbook example in why you need two effective DEs in this defense. The fact that it was just as bad last year as it's likely to be this year isn't much consolation.

    Is it possible that between Deaderick, Pryor, Brace, and Warren (Wright is what he is), two of those guys might really surprise us and do well? Sure, it's possible, and when we only needed one of them to come through, I was comfortable with that level of uncertainty. I was actually pretty pumped about a Warren-Wilfork-Warren line. But needing that cast of guys to turn out two viable starters makes it overwhelmingly likely that there will be at least one weak spot. So I do think that the Pats will have an above average defense; they were average last year, and on the whole they've improved. But as long as there is weakness on the line, teams that can exploit it (like the Ravens) will. Having Spikes and Mayo present and at full health will help, but it's going to be a major and recurring problem nonetheless, just like it was last year.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  13. Nathan

    Nathan Rookie

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    here's a thought regarding dvoa... it's 1st and ten on your own 50. you rush for 4 yards (failure according to dvoa). 2nd and 6 and you rush for 3 yards (failure according to dvoa). now it's 3rd and 3 from their 43, pretty good down and distance for a deep shot. you go play action, the threat of the run is enough to get the safety to bite and you connect over the top for a td.

    in hindsight, were those first 2 plays really failures?
  14. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    Well that 110 Y/G number is misleading. They were in the bottom 3rd of the league allowing 4.4 YPC.
  15. drpatriot

    drpatriot Rookie

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    I emailed FootballOutsiders with this very question. Here was their response:

    So there you go.
  16. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    One measure doesnt make the other misleading.
  17. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    Maybe not in general, but in this context. As it was presented the yards per game number was given to support the notion that the run defense was not that bad last year. In reality it was pretty bad.
  18. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Personally, I think these sites that try to measure teams and players based on formulas are a waste of time (although can be an interesting read none the less) because football is not a game that can be measured in stats except for select stats and positions. But I will say that Football Outsiders' DVOA is far more accurate than some of the other sites (Pro Football Focus) that others have been hyping.
  19. stinkypete

    stinkypete Rookie

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    I think there is some usefulness in these advanced statistics. The DVOA can be used to identify which teams overachieved despite mediocre play, and which teams disappointed despite dominant performance. I would say it is a pretty good indicator of which teams are primed for a playoff run and which are going to decline.

    For example, in 2008, the Packers went 6-10 despite a DVOA which, IIRC, ranked in the top 10. The conclusion, the Packers were a playoff team but the breaks didn't go their way, which is so often the case in the NFL. In 2009, the Packers dominated.

    Using the 2009 rankings to make similar predictions, the Steelers should return to playoff form and the Bengals return to mediocrity.
  20. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    I think the statistics are very useful and not waste of time at all, unless you need accurate predictions. It's not just football that doesn't lend itself to accurate predictions though. I mean unless you are Nostradamus or Bruce Bueno de Mesquita you probably can't predict anything involving humans with high accuracy :p
  21. Rob0729

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    Stats in football are very misleading. It isn't like baseball where stats are hard and fast. Based on stats last year, the Pats had a top rated defense. They were near the top in points and yards allowed. The reality is that they were closer to middle of the pack.
  22. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    The problem here is you lump every single statistic into this mythical beast called "stats". Baseball is further along with sabermetrics because of the huge sample sizes that they have to work with. But the basic/simple traditional statistics in Baseball have huge flaws as well (BA, ERA etc...).

    Based on Football Outsiders "stats" for example, the Patriots had a very mediocre/middle-pack defense last year. You can (almost) always find one or two statistics to support any opinion, but that is an indication of the person(s) using the statistics not the statistics themselves.

    For example, Points Allowed tells you exactly how many points opponents scored per game. It does NOT directly tell you how well the defense played, and anyone using it alone to prove something is a flaw in their statistical analysis not the statistic itself nor statistics in general.

    FO's statistics are much more in depth than simple yardage/points accumulations and are much more accurate in depicting how well a unit actually played.
  23. PatsFanSince74

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    When people say that predictive models in sports are "useless," what they are really saying is that reality seldom produces an "average" (or "mean") outcome. And, in that sense, they are right.

    The mean output of any predictive model is always accompanied by a distribution of possible outcomes around that mean. Statisticians derive a "Standard Deviation" to describe the range of divergence from the mean of the possible outcomes at different levels of confidence, usually described as 68.2% (one sigma), 95.4% (two sigma) or 99.6% (three sigma).

    So, if FO says a team is most likely to have 10.3 wins in a particular season, it's really important to understand the Standard Deviation around that mean.

    For example, if the StDev is 0.2, then the model is saying that in 68.2% of possible outcomes, the team wins between 10.1 and 10.5 games; that in 95.4% of outcomes, the team wins between 9.9 and 10.7 games; and that in 99.6% of outcomes, the team wins between 9.7 and 10.9 games. In other words, if you trust the model, you'd be pretty comfortable betting a few bucks straight up on a 10 win season, since the model effectively says that there is a 99.6% chance that it will win between 9.7 and 10.9 games.

    But, if the Standard Deviation is a lot higher, say 1.0, then the model is saying that in 68.2% of possible outcomes, the team wins between 9.3 and 11.3 games; that in 95.4% of outcomes, the team wins between 8.3 and 12.3 games; and that in 99.6% of outcomes, the team wins between 7.3 and 13.3 games. In that case, you might keep your money in your pocket or look for some odds from your betting partner. And, you would want to find another model.

    I'll just leave it there, but it's not even that simple, as the "shape" of the distribution of possible outcomes also comes into play.
  24. Rob0729

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    FO is better than most, but there are still plenty of flaws in their point system. A game like the Pats vs. Titans last year will skew any statistical analysis over a season. Baseball doesn't have this problem because one game doesn't affect the overall statistics in a 162 game season as it does in a 16 game season.
  25. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    I guess we can just throw out all statistics and just go by our eyes (which have far more inherent flaws than even basic statistics).

    Good stuff. I think I just get a little irked when people so easily dismiss statistics as lies. People are so much more forgiving of human error than mathematical and statistical error. We should get a little contest going here and compete against FO's model. Fans vs. Statistics, the duel!
  26. Rob0729

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    Stats have their purpose, but they can be very misleading even if you have a stat formula like the DVOA. People throw around the DVOA and other lesser stats formulas as if they are the be all and end all. The problem is especially in the NFL a lot of stats can be very misleading including stats that are used to calcalculate the DVOA.

    Use whatever you want, but I find that, although Football Outsider seems to be the best stat service out there, they can be wrong a lot because of the inherent flaw in some of the data. Personally, I use my eye, stats, and expert analysis to make my decision. I don't think any one of those sources are infalible on their own. My guess is that when Belichick analyzes opponents and players does not go on stats alone or his eyes alone.
  27. emoney_33

    emoney_33 Rookie

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    I think DVOA does a very good job at portraying how the units performed in a given year. I'm not really inclined to look into any predictive models though.

    What inherent flaws are there and are there examples of them being wrong a lot?

    Of course, statistics are only one piece of the puzzle and should never be used strictly as infallible. Note that my only beef was that you said statistics were -useless- in football. I'm sure BB uses just about everything he has at his disposal, including decades of experience that the human brain may subconsciously process and display as a "gut feeling" :D
  28. BradyFTW!

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    #12 Jersey

    It's not stats that are misleading: you're just picking misleading stats. According to DVOA, the Pats had the 16th ranked defense in the NFL: the very definition of middle of the pack. Even before I saw that stat, my eyes told me that that was the case. Where it's more difficult, I think, is where your eyes don't totally match up with the stats. For example, Brady had the highest DVOA of any quarterback in the NFL last year, because he faced a historically hard group of pass defenses. I watched every Pats game multiple times, and it never would have occurred to me that Brady was the top QB in the NFL in 2009. But hey, that just goes to show you how much strength of schedule affects QB play. It's the polar opposite of 2008, where Cassel was identified as being not nearly as good as his stats, because he faced one of the easiest defensive schedules in the NFL (we did draw the NFC west...).

    Stats can be done pretty accurately in the NFL, as long as situational elements are corrected for. Like the 59-0 Titans game, as you mentioned before; any statistic that adjusts for strength of opponent and score discrepancy will appropriately devalue the stats amassed in that game (DVOA does that).
  29. BradyFTW!

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    #12 Jersey

    Some other interesting observations from Aaron Schatz on the Patriots:



    • Patriots fans thought their team was fading at the end of games, and they were right. The Patriots had the best offensive DVOA in the league through the first three quarters, then ranked 18th in the fourth quarter and overtime.
    • The Patriots led the league in time of possession per drive, the only team that held the ball for more than three minutes of game time in an average drive.
    • Tom Brady faced only three pass rushers on a league-high 10 percent of passes.
    • The Patriots allowed 9.6 yards per pass on running back screens; only the Jets gave up more average yards on screens.

    Also, in case it isn't clear by now, all of FO's rankings point to the Pats being a better-than-10-win team last year, specifically, based on all other statistics, it's saying that they should most likely have won 11-12 games, but got more bad breaks than good ones. All of which makes them a candidate to rebound this year.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  30. Deus Irae

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    Well, they were one bad call in the Colts game from being an 11 win team, so there it is.
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