The Patriots Really Are Good. San Francisco…Not So Much.

Patriots haven’t convinced you yet? If 14-0 is a fluke in your mind, consider these stats Football Outsiders:

  • The Patriots are 56% better than the average team in the NFL.
  • They are 20.6% better than the second best team.
  • I don’t even know how this is possible, but they are 95.9% better than the San Francisco 49ers

I know you’re saying, “what the hell does that mean?” These numbers are based on a team’s Defense-adjusted Value Over Average or DVOA. This is the brain child of Football Outsiders, a group of sports statisticians and fans alike who have the admirably nerdy goal of bringing new depths to statistical football analysis. 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 3rd-and-4 are worth more than five yards on 1st-and-10 and much more than five yards on 3rd-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.”

Their website has an in-depth explanation for those of you who are still hazy. The Patriots DVOA is 56%, the highest rating in NFL history. In fact, their DVOA is 9.4% higher than the next best team historically, the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

As a brief aside, the San Francisco 49ers of 2004-2007 are, apparently, the worst franchise ever. While they may never be able to match their record setting pace of 2005, in which they had an all-time low DVOA of -61.5% through week 14, three of their past four seasons rank among the 10 worst historical seasons through week 15.

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