Friday, December 16, 2022

Back to the NFL

Now that we're almost finished with high school football, college football, and the World Cup, and we've gotten basketball season underway, it is time to check back in on the NFL.  For months now, the NFL has been slogging through bye weeks, but now that's all over.  Before last night, every team had played 13 games, and there were four weeks left.  Oh, and we start getting games on Saturday.  Sadly, we no longer have the AP Pro 32, but Dan Hanzus at gives us the following top 10:

1.  Philadelphia:  12-1
2.  San Francisco:  9-4
3.  Cincinnati:  9-4
4.  Buffalo:  10-3
5.  Kansas City:  10-3
6.  Dallas:  10-3
7.  Minnesota:  10-3
8.  Baltimore:  9-4
9.  San Diego:  7-6
10.  Detroit:  6-7

The Dolphins (8-5) are number 11.  Washington (7-5-1) is number 14.

Last night San Francisco beat Seattle to move to 10-4.  There are no games between top 10 teams this week -- the closest we get is tomorrow's 7:15 CST game between the Dolphins and Bills.  But I'm sure we'll have more drama before the season is over.


  1. This is interesting: "DVOA is a method of evaluating teams, units, or players. It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: Five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent. DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better than the average team, and a quarterback with a DVOA of -20.0% is 20 percent worse than the average quarterback. Because DVOA measures scoring, defenses are better when they are negative."

    I think this sounds like a worthy pursuit. I've always felt like the line of demarcation of success on a play should be net yards against down and distance relative to number of downs until fourth. So, for example, on first-and-10, a gain of four yards or more is a success for the offense because it has three downs to gain the 10 yards before having to decide whether to make other plans. A gain of three or fewer means first down was a successful play for the defense. On second-and-six, then, a gain of three or more yards means success for the offense; on third-and-one, a gain of one or more ... and so forth.

  2. Also, I'd like to see this sort of calculation applied to every player on the field for a given play, so, at the end of a game, you could have a ranking of number of successful plays vs. unsuccessful plays in which each player participated. Some version of this probably already exists.

  3. I've watched all of the NFL games this season (pretty much), and here are the 10 best teams right now:

    1. 49ers
    2. Eagles
    3. Bengals
    4. Chiefs
    5. Bills
    6. Cowboys
    7. Chargers
    8. Dolphins
    9. Lions
    10. Jaguars

    So it looks like Hanzus is doing an OK job. Lions beat Vikings by 11 just last Sunday.

    1. I think is going to be the Bengals year. At the beginning of the year I thought they were going to be a mess and have to fire their head coach at the end of the year, but they have really improved this year. And they have a better defense than they did last year and a much better offense.

  4. After Saturday's games, I stand by my rankings.

  5. When I was a kid, this was the last weekend of the season, because each team only played 14 games. And only four teams in each conference made the playoffs. Under that regime, the playoffs would look like this (home teams listed first):

    Buffalo (11-3) v. Baltimore (9-5)
    Kansas City (11-3) v. Cincinnati (10-4)

    Philadelphia (13-1) v. San Francisco (10-4)
    Minnesota (11-3) v. Dallas (10-4)

    Personally, I'd be fine with those playoffs right now, especially if the Vikings would play Dallas at Metropolitan Stadium.

    1. Wow! This was a great idea to note this. In fact, I don't remember seeing anyone note this at the 12-game, 14-game or 16-game regular seasons. It's neat to think about.

  6. For the 1977 NFL playoffs, the divisional round was scheduled for a weekend when Christmas was on a Sunday, like it is this year. So the NFL schedule worked like this:

    Saturday, December 24:
    Baltimore v. Oakland
    Denver v. Pittsburgh

    Monday, December 26:
    Dallas v. Chicago
    Los Angeles v. Minnesota

    Sunday, January 1:
    Conference Championships

    Monday, January 2:
    Cotton Bowl: (1) Texas v. (5) Notre Dame
    Sugar Bowl: (3) Alabama v. (9) Ohio St.
    Rose Bowl: (4) Michigan v. (13) Washington
    Orange Bowl: (2) Oklahoma v. (6) Arkansas

  7. Now I remember this whole season with unusual clarity, but I had completely forgotten that they didn't have playoff games on Sunday, December 25. On the other hand, I know that I didn't watch the two NFC games on the 26th, which is very unusual for me. And now I realize that we were probably traveling on that day, which is why I didn't see the games.

  8. It's a shame, because that Rams/Vikings game turned out to be the last really muddy playoff game in the history of the NFL, and I would have enjoyed it a lot.