Football Outsiders: The Falcons are the NFL’s 13th-best team

That page in his hand? It’s a printout from Football Outsiders. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Last week, these fallible fingers typed a little something regarding the 2017 Atlanta Falcons, the gist of which was that the owner of said fingers could find no great failing in the team through four games, the most recent being a sobering loss to Buffalo. Well, here’s where I point to something that, also regarding the 2017 Atlanta Falcons, slows my roll.

According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) ratings, the Falcons are the NFL’s 13th-best team.

As mentioned a time or two, I put great stock in anything Football Outsiders offers, mostly because data has no eyeballs. These eyeballs have watched the Falcons play and have detected nothing egregiously wrong, but the same orbs have been fooled before. (And now, having invoked fingers and eyeballs, I end this Anatomy 101 lecture.)

We note that, data-wise, four games isn’t the biggest sample size. We also note that most of the human polls — the power rankings — have the Falcons comfortably among the league’s top five. (ESPN has them third, NFL.com fourth.) But the thing about data is that, cuing Belichick, is what it is. Numbers don’t carried away with how good the Falcons looked in the first half against Green Bay. Numbers simply are.

According to DVOA, the Falcons’ offense is the league’s seventh-best, which sounds a tad low when we note that the Falcons are third in yards per game. The defense is ranked 24th per DVOA, which isn’t what anybody in Flowery Branch had in mind. It’s also contrary to the total defense rankings, which likewise go by yards. The Falcons are 10th-best there. (DVOA has their special teams as fourth-best, so hooray for that.)

Writes Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders’ founder and editor-in-chief: “Atlanta is 2-1 in games decided by less than a touchdown, and those games were actually closer than the even the close final scores would indicate. Detroit, of course, came within 1 yard of making the Falcons 2-2.”

Don’t misunderstand. I still don’t believe the Falcons are anywhere near terrible. (Though 13th in a 32-team league isn’t far from mediocre, and the defensive ranking is sobering.) All of the above does, however, make me think, which is why I like stat-based sites in any sport. I’m a fan of thinking. Not very good at it, but a fan all the same.

Reader Comments 0

13 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

.That's really funny. The media had the Falcons in the Super Bowl before they played a game. Now they are 3-1 and they're dog meat. But that's the media.....the poison dealers.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

All I have to do is look at this list that has the Saints at #10 to know it is ridiculous.  The 2-2 Saints beat the Panthers but were slaughtered by the Patriots.


David McCallum
David McCallum

The bottom line is that even if the Falcons would have closed that SB out with a win, they would still not be getting any national respect. It's also an Atlanta perception thing as well. Here is all you need to know about this so-called logic by Football Outsiders opinion that the Falcons could be 1-3. Well, the Falcons could just easily be 4-0. Go suck on GB like you always do Football Outsiders. By the way way, team the Falcons beat handily. Right, they were injured. 


As for Bradley, he strikes me as wannabe NY sports writer; you know, the ones that whine about everything or write outrageous and ill-informed things just to illicit a response from people like me. The truth is - Bradley probably couldn't survive in NY because it would be the players who would run him out of that town. 

Carterev
Carterev

@David McCallum If Bradley could elicit the illicit in New York or elsewhere, he would be ineluctable.

mic404
mic404

This list has the Patriots 21st and the Saints 9th, really??? Bradley is a hater, this info is so misleading.

Berserker
Berserker

The Falcons started 2-2 last year. They got better as the season went on, especially the defense. This defense has a bunch of young players. They have 2 new coordinators. They have had injuries to Vic Beasley, Ricardo Allen, Ryan Schraeder, Julio Jones, and Mohamed Sanu. Matt Ryan has thrown 5 interceptions in 2 games, with only 5 TD for the season. Some of them bounced off the receiver's hands. Matt Ryan is not going to finish the season with a 1-1 TD-INT ratio. If he does then, this is not their year. But, I will believe it when I see it, with my eyeballs.

jcarson
jcarson

I agree that the Falcons have not played well but that is to be expected when you are adjusting to a new OC.  The Schraeder injury was also devastating for the OLine.  I see this team getting better as the season rolls along.  Luckily, the schedule started soft.

GTDano
GTDano

I'd much rather the Falcons not be playing their best early in the season. Like last year, the defense got rolling in latter part, and the only thing I'm worried about with the offense is injuries. Football Outsiders sounds like a site for nerds. Enjoy, Mark!

mgunter
mgunter

Its th NFL Bradley....... very few people care anymore!

Berserker
Berserker

Why are you here? Go play video games, if you hate sports.

David McCallum
David McCallum

I wonder where this site has GB ranked? I'd bet like everyone else they are sucking the nuts off Aaron Rodgers and GB. 

David McCallum
David McCallum

@mgunter Stop trying to count out the NFL. All this crap by people like you is wishful thinking. Compared to these other sports, on its worse day, no other sport in North America can compete. The only reason baseball will get a major boost in its ratings is because the Yankees and Dodgers are in it.