JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Tennessee Titans tries to get away from Jeremy Mincey #94 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during their season opener at EverBank Field on September 11, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Tennessee Titans. Last weekend was an eye opener, that's for sure. Just for kicks, I checked out Football Outsiders for this week's DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average for those who may be unfamiliar, for a full explanation, go here and read the last paragraph right above the tables. ) rankings. Surely, the Titans would rank nearly dead last in everything. I mean, come on, they screwed up nearly everything. But then again, wouldn't it be fitting if the Titans had actually played a decent game, at least according to DVOA, and still lost to a crappy team?
Well, sure enough, the numbers tell a puzzling story.
Directly from the site:
Each week, one or two teams will have a higher rating than their opponents, and lose anyway. It's more obvious early in the season, when only one or two games are actually going into each team's season rating. This week's "accidental loser" was Tennessee, which had a significantly higher VOA rating than Jacksonville. Way to play well at all the wrong times, guys.
Typical. If there's one thing I hate more than losing, it's losing a game that has evidence that says the outcomes should have been reversed. The saddest part of that last sentence is that it's probably true. If the Titans' defense had been able to start off strong and build some momentum, I get the feeling that they could have erased the passing game early and been better prepared to stop the run.
To my understanding, this week's DVOA rankings are based on another stat called DAVE, which stands for DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early. Basically, preseason projections count for about 90% and current VOA counts for the other 10. To some, this is god-mode trolling. How can you base a stat off of preseason garbage! That's heresy! Well yeah, but this week's rankings actually told a fairly accurate story. The Ravens and Bills, at least to me, were easily the two most impressive teams in week one. Regardless of the latter's staying power as a legitimate threat in the AFC, they turned in a pretty darn dominating performance against a team that went to the playoffs last year. From top to bottom, the rankings are Baltimore, Buffalo, Houston, New England, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Detroit, and Washington. And then the lowly Titans to round out the top ten. What a weird sentence. For whatever it's worth, Tennessee also ranks 26th in total DAVE right now, so there's that.
Something else I noticed was that, according to the stat heads, the Titans' offense was better than its' defense last weekend. The offense ranked ninth in the NFL with a 20.2% rating while the defense came in at seventeenth, recording a score of -0.6%. Fascinating stuff. Do I understand it? Kind of. Can I explain to you why the offense, a unit we've been brutalizing over the past few days and also failed the eye test miserably, apparently performed better than a unit that seems to have put up an average fight? Nope, but I'd bet it has something to do with Kenny Britt and his huge game.