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Steelers DVOA Rankings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Here's you're weekly DVOA rankings from Football Outsiders good, bad and ugly style:

The Good: What else could this be really? The defense has dominated opponents despite missing key starters in several games this year. They rank first in the DVOA by nearly 10% with a -24%, second place is the Ravens with a ranking of -14.4%. They rank first in pass defense (no surprise there) at 21.1% and a close second in run defense at 28.1% (MIN is first with 28.4%). One of the things that did surprise me though is their rankings of the defense versus the #1, #2, and other receivers of the opposing team. The Steelers are ranked just 15th versus the #1 receiver, but recover by being 7th versus the #2 receiver and other receivers. I do wonder if teams are starting to try and keep their #1 receiver away from Ike since he has rebounded so well this season, maybe Big7BenMVP can give us some insight on that. Also what isn't so surprising is they're ranked 22nd against opposing tight ends but 1st against opposing running backs out of the backfield.

The Bad: If you guessed FWP and the running game you're dead on. With last week's fumbling performance, Parker fell all the way to 42nd in the DVOA rankings (only 47 players are ranked as backs with at least 75 carries). The past two games haven't been favorable conditions by any means and it's debatable whether the OL helps or hurts his chances of being successful. Something else to consider with regards to the running game is that Davenport is ranked 3rd of backs with 20-74 carries behind the same line. Before you dog pile me, I'm not in any way saying FWP should be replaced by Davenport, but it is odd that Davenport would be so successful (DVOA of 23.0%) while Parker is so unsuccessful (DVOA of -18.3%). One thing that helps Davenport is that he didn't play much in the Miami Mud Bowl and didn't play at all last week and Davenport has more touchdowns and zero fumbles which are both weighed heavily in these calculations. Here's something else I found very interesting. Parker's receiving DVOA is 11.8% (11th) and Davenport's is -23.8% (43rd) and they have nearly the same amount of receptions (22 & 20, respectively). So I'll throw this out there and see what you guys think. What if Davenport spelled Parker more on first and second down and Parker always stayed in on 3rd downs where he'd have a better shot at getting the ball out of the backfield? (Of course this all depends on if/when Davenport comes back from his mysterious elliptical injury)

The Ugly: Special Teams has been the black eye of the season so far although the past two games have quieted some of the rumblings, but hey running in a mud pit will slow even the fastest person down. I won't spend much time on this because we all know what the problems are and it at least looks like they're improving. The unit still ranks below average at -2.2% (21st) and that number is inflated by the success of Jeff Reed who is ranked 4th (7.3%) in FG/XP. Kickoffs, punts, and punt returns are still all below average though with kickoffs being the worst at -12.9% (only three teams are worse). Do you see the Steelers recent success in special teams coverage as a true sign of a turn around or as a product of the field conditions?

Other Individual Player Rankings:
Big Ben: 10th (21.2%)
Holmes: 1st (57.9%)
Ward: 41st (7.1%)
Miller: 1st (59.1%)
OL Power Rank: 21st
OL Stuffed Rank: 18th
OL Sack Rank: 32nd