The 2011 Falcons: A Model of Consistency

I wrote this as a comment in the thread over there, but I thought it's better to repost it as a FanPost, since the topic seems to be a season-defining one and was recently discussed here. I thought I'd take a different approach this time.

We have been hearing a lot about the (in)consistency of the Falcons this year, and I thought we might take a look at the DVOA-variance, which measures how wild each team's DVOA-numbers for each game bounce around during a season. A low variance means each game was pretty similar in terms of efficiency, while a high variance means that the team had amazing games and incredibly bad games mixed in one season.

The gist of it is that I think we might underestimate how inconsistent other teams are. In DVOA, our variance on the year is 3.1%, first in the league. Hit the jump for some historical context.

To give you a context on this season alone, here’s what FO wrote about why the Packers were undefeated back in Week 13:

If the Packers are not a dominant team, how have they managed to go 12-0 this season? The main answer is consistency. The Packers have been absurdly consistent. After this week, the Packers lead the league with 3.3% variance. If that number holds until the end of the season, it would be the lowest variance of any team in the DVOA era, surpassing last year’s Atlanta Falcons who were at 4.9%.

(Of course, we have since then surpassed the Packers in consistency.) Now that quote actually reads like last year’s Falcons had the lowest Variance of any team in the DVOA-era ever. And it means a ton that we are on the way to shatter that record with this year’s team. But I took a look, and by their own report, the Falcons were second last year with 5.2%, just behind BAL who had 5.1%. Don't know why they got that mixed up.

Our consistency is actually a pretty amazing new development of the last two years, looking at our ranks in DVOA variance:

2008: 19.0% – 23rd
2009: 9.8% – 6th
2010: 5.2% – 2nd
2011 (up until Week 15): 3.1% – 1st

If that number even remotely holds up til the end of the season, we would have played two of the three most consistent seasons in the NFL since 1992. And since no team ever cracked the 5%-mark, our 3.1% on this year just seems astonishing.

So while our perception is that we were wildly inconsistent, it does seem like we played most of our games at a pretty similar level of efficiency. At least far more similar than most other teams, who seems to bounce around way more than we do.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>

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