Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Photo: USA Today Sports Images

It's no surprise to see the New Orleans Saints on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings through Week 12 of the 2020 season. We've had the Saints at No. 1 for a few weeks now, and they just demolished the Denver Broncos 31-3 on Sunday. But now we're stuck addressing the question of what to do about that very strange game.

Some readers have argued that we should simply not count Sunday's game in the same way that our 1987 stats do not count the strikebreaker games in Weeks 4-6 of that season. The problem is that it's a lot easier to eliminate three full weeks of games than it is to eliminate a single game during the season. Do we pretend that the Saints and Broncos had a bye week? That would require reprogramming our systems to deal with dual bye weeks, which is hard enough with the past 1993 data; at least that year, every team had two bye weeks. What about the fact that the Denver defense and New Orleans offense also took the field? Yes, New Orleans was starting a backup quarterback, but we've always counted every game in DVOA even when teams were stuck with second-string and third-string quarterbacks. The New Orleans offense and Denver defense and both special teams should be counted for Sunday's game. With the 1987 games, there were whole teams that were using completely different rosters with no regular players crossing the picket lines. In Sunday's game, we had one team that had to use one unprepared practice squad player.

So we're going with the idea that Sunday's game counts for DVOA, with the knowledge that we need to talk about it with a bit of a mental asterisk. That asterisk also includes the waves that emanate from Sunday's weirdness and hit other teams. The ratings for the Denver offense and New Orleans defense are affected, but so are the opponent adjustments for every team that has played against Denver or New Orleans this year, and the opponent adjustments for every team that has played a team that has played against Denver or New Orleans this year. For the most part, we're just going to have to live with it. However, just like we adjust our ratings for backup quarterbacks when we put them through the playoff odds simulator, so too we are going to adjust the Saints and Broncos for last week's game in the ratings we use to project the rest of the season.

The good news is that one single game has less of an impact on DVOA than you might think. Denver was already dead last in offensive DVOA before this week and they only dropped another two percentage points. Right now the Saints have a lead of almost 10 percentage points in overall DVOA, with 38.3% compared to Pittsburgh at 28.6% (with the Steelers yet to play this week, of course). The Saints are at -21.3% defensive DVOA, which is second in the league behind the Steelers. Take out this week's game, and the Saints go to -18.1% defensive DVOA, which would still be third in the league. And they would still have an overall lead of 6.5% over the Steelers.

It's after New Orleans and Pittsburgh that the weirdness sets in, because the No. 3 team is... the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drop just one spot from last week. They stay one spot ahead of the team that just beat them, the Kansas City Chiefs.

I will note here that the weighted DVOA ratings which lower the strength of early-season games have Kansas City ahead of Tampa Bay. Still, this is going to look strange to a lot of people. I keep writing about this. Most advanced metrics around the Internet have Kansas City as the No. 1 team. We don't. Meanwhile, the conventional wisdom is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are struggling and could even miss the playoffs. We have them still as one of the top teams in the league.

Some of what's going on here is adjustments for schedule strength. Kansas City's schedule ranks 27th so far this season. Tampa Bay's schedule ranks third, behind only Chicago and Carolina. In our non-adjusted VOA numbers, the Chiefs are still behind New Orleans and Pittsburgh but clearly lead Tampa Bay, 27.4% to 22.8%.

I also want to point out that DVOA is definitely in agreement with other analytic methods that the Kansas City passing game is something special. Despite the adjustment for the easy schedule, and despite heavy adjustments for the fact that the offensive levels around the league are so high this year, Kansas City is on pace to rank as one of the best passing games we have ever measured. However, I do want to take issue with all the people who have been saying that what Kansas City is doing this year is "unprecendented." One of the teams that has a higher passing DVOA than Kansas City is... Kansas City themselves, just two years ago. That Chiefs team two years ago averaged 0.35 yards per play more than this year's team. That's not specifically because of rushing, either. The 2018 Chiefs averaged 0.40 net yards per pass more than the 2020 Chiefs, despite playing in a less impressive offensive environment league-wide.

Here are the best pass offenses over a full season, and where the current Chiefs would stand among them. These are version 7.3 of DVOA, so scrambles are included as pass plays, though that doesn't matter much with most of these teams. I put the two Chiefs teams in red:

2007 NE 73.7%
2011 GB 67.8%
2004 IND 67.5%
2010 NE 66.3%
2018 KC 63.5%
1991 WAS 63.1%
2020 KC* 60.7%
2013 DEN 59.6%
1992 SF 59.4%
2009 SD 59.2%
2006 IND 56.6%
1987 SF** 56.3%
* through Week 12
** 12 games, no strikebreaker games

As an aside, it's worth noting that most of the quarterbacks on these teams won the MVP award, making Mahomes the clear frontrunner for this season. The exceptions were Mark Rypien of the 1991 Redskins (lost to Thurman Thomas); Philip Rivers of the 2009 Chargers (lost to Peyton Manning); and Joe Montana of the 1987 49ers (lost to John Elway). Montana did win the MVP in 1989, and that 1989 49ers team is 13th on this list.

Boy, am I looking forward to finishing up 1984 to figure out where Dan Marino and the Dolphins land on this list. But I digress... Clearly the Kansas City pass game is not keeping the Chiefs out of the No. 1 spot in DVOA. Everything else is. It's not that the Chiefs are terrible in the other parts of the game, but they aren't good.

The Chiefs are just 15th in rushing DVOA, though that has improved in recent weeks. Kansas City had -22.9% DVOA on rushing plays through Week 4, but that's gone to 4.3% DVOA since Week 5, which ranks fourth in that period. That's one reason the Chiefs are better in weighted DVOA than in full-season DVOA.

Kansas City ranks 17th in defensive DVOA. Unlike the running game, that hasn't improved in recent weeks. Kansas City's two best defensive games of the year were Weeks 3 and 4.

The Chiefs are also 23rd in special teams DVOA. This one is a surprise because the great Dave Toub is still the coordinator and the Chiefs had one of our best preseason projections for special teams. However, a lot of this special teams rating is one bad game way back in Week 3. The Chiefs' special teams are probably fine the rest of the year.

Anyway, if we put all the numbers together, we end up with the Kansas City Chiefs as the No. 4 team in DVOA for the season. There's definitely something to the argument that Kansas City should be considered stronger than its total DVOA because pass offense is the most predictable and consistent part of the game. I've played around with different combinations of offense, defense, and special teams to try to account for this in DVOA and I don't have anything that I'm comfortable with yet, but it does matter. It matters that the Chiefs are the best at the most predictive thing, while the three teams ahead of them are the top three defenses and defenses are less consistent than offenses.

But there's also something to the fact that Kansas City has had problems putting opponents away. In Week 9, they let a mediocre Carolina team get within two points in the fourth quarter. The Panthers had a shot at a game-winning field goal and just couldn't get the ball close enough. Two weeks ago, they needed a last-minute drive to beat the Raiders. This week, they let the Buccaneers score two touchdowns on them in the fourth quarter. Did Kansas City's win expectancy stay above 75% despite these Tampa Bay scores? Yes, but these scores were not in "garbage time." The Chiefs were trying to stop the Bucs from moving the ball. They were trying to move the ball themselves on offense. They didn't do a good job of either in the final 22 minutes. What Tampa Bay did in the second half does give us data about these teams going forward.

So then, what about Tampa Bay? As noted above, some of what's going on with Tampa Bay is schedule. Take away the schedule adjustments and the Bucs drop from sixth to eighth on offense and from third to fifth on defense. There's also an issue with yardage that gets counted in DVOA but not in traditional stats. Add in that yardage -- stuff like defensive pass interference and yards lost from aborted snaps and intentional grounding -- and Tampa Bay's yards per play on offense goes from 5.81 (12th) to 6.02 (ninth), a lot closer to their unadjusted offensive rating. Tom Brady leads the NFL with 16 DPI calls for 297 yards.

The football commentariat is writing off the Bucs because they've lost three out of four, but two of those losses came by just a field goal. Yes, the second Saints game in Week 9 was a debacle. A close loss to the Bears with a lot of penalties was a little embarassing. But the Bucs are not some kind of disaster right now. Take out the Saints game, and the Bucs have just been good on offense in the last three weeks as they were in the first eight weeks! The defense has gotten worse, but has still played above average over the last three weeks once we adjust for strong opponents.

Tampa Bay by Week, 2020
Weeks 1-8 16.4% -24.0%
Week 9 -72.5% 20.5%
Weeks 10-12 16.7% -8.7%

The Bucs have a schedule full of games where both teams had positive DVOA after opponent adjustments. In fact, the Saints faceplant in Week 9 is the only game all year where Tampa Bay has a negative DVOA. They aren't the only ones, by the way. The other top four teams also have positive DVOA for almost every game:

  • New Orleans as of now has no games with negative DVOA. We wrote earlier this season about the surprising results in their losses, particularly the Week 2 Raiders game in which DVOA rated the Saints better than the Raiders. The only game that comes close to zero is the Week 7 win over Carolina, 27-24, which is currently at 1.0% DVOA. The last four New Orleans wins all have single-game ratings over 50%.
  • Undefeated Pittsburgh does have two games under zero, but those ratings are in single digits: -2.0% for the Week 5 win over Philadelphia and -5.3% for the Week 9 win over Dallas.
  • Right now, Kansas City's only negative rating is not for the Week 5 loss to Las Vegas but rather, surprisingly, for the Week 1 win over Houston. That's also in single digits at -8.1%.

Tampa Bay's schedule gets much easier after the bye week, ranking 28th the rest of the way. My best guess is that the Bucs will finish the season either 4-0 or 3-1 and get into the playoffs, and we'll hear about how Bruce Arians and Tom Brady solved their disagreements over the offensive scheme and the Bucs are coming into the playoffs hot and in reality nothing will have really changed except that they aren't going to have a game like Week 9 again.

Let's hit the rest of this week's list. Green Bay moves up four spots to fifth with the big win over Chicago. Tennessee's big win over Indianapolis moves the Titans up one to 12th and the Colts down three to eighth. The Seahawks also move down three spots to ninth after a "close" win over a poor Eagles team. Yes, the final Hail Mary touchdown counts in our numbers. The game was close enough that it still counts at full strength. At some point, I do plan on doing more work on adjusting DVOA for current win expectancy which may help with things like this. Seattle's defensive DVOA would go from 8.5% to 7.7% without that play, so they would still be in ninth place. I'm assuming that a COVID-ravaged Baltimore squad is going to drop after Wednesday which would move the Colts and Seahawks back up a spot, but we'll have to see.

Other big moves this week include Houston moving up three spaces to 17th, Detroit moving down five spaces to 24th, and Las Vegas moving down four spaces to 18th.

There's one other team I want to talk about today, which is the 8-3 Cleveland Browns. You've probably heard that the Browns are not very good for an 8-3 team. DVOA agrees and has them all the way down at No. 22. The Browns have actually been outscored by opponents this year despite being 8-3. Their schedule ranks 29th. Cleveland has negative DVOA for this week's win over Jacksonville as well as last week's win over Philadelphia due to opponent adjustments. DVOA also thinks they were outplayed by Indianapolis despite winning back in Week 5. As a result of all of this, the Browns have the worst DVOA ever for an 8-3 team, by a substantial amount:

WORST 8-3 TEAMS BY DVOA, 1985-2020
2020 CLE -9.6% 22
2010 CHI -3.3% 18
2019 BUF -1.1% 12
1997 MIN -0.4% 16
2003 STL 1.1% 18
2001 MIA 1.2% 14
2014 CIN* 1.3% 17
1987 MIN** 1.5% 12
2015 MIN 1.5% 13
2003 CAR 2.4% 16
2019 GB 4.4% 10
1995 BUF 4.7% 12
* Actually 8-3-1
** No strikebreaker games

The good news for Cleveland fans is that all of the teams on this table made the playoffs despite their low DVOA ratings. The 2003 Panthers even made it to the Super Bowl. The latest playoff odds report has Cleveland making the postseason 67.3% of the time. But this low rating is why we have Cleveland (Week 16) as the most likely win that would prevent the New York Jets from a 0-16 season. Cleveland is still favored, of course, but it's the most likely Jets win.

Speaking of the Jets and 0-16, let's finish up the week with updated odds for all the extreme possibilities we've been tracking the last couple weeks. The Steelers odds here include a backup quarterback penalty for Baltimore in the simulation of Wednesday's game.

  • Pittsburgh goes 16-0: 18.1% (up from 15.7%)
  • New York Jets go 0-16: 32.8% (up from 20.9%)
  • Entire NFC East has a losing record: 84.2% (up from 80.4%)
  • Entire NFC East is 6-9-1 or worse: 41.5% (up from 36.5%)
  • Entire NFC East is 5-10-1 or worse: 4.4% (up from 4.1%)

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 12. We'll be updating everything again on Thursday morning once the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game is (hopefully) in the books.

Big news! The entire DVOA database has now been updated to the new version 7.3 of DVOA that counts scrambles as pass plays and fixes adjustments for defenses playing indoors. All the FO+ pages as well as the free pages going all the way back to 1985 now represent updated numbers. The only exception, as of now, is that DVOA "as of a Specific Week" is still the older version for the years 1985-1998, as it takes a lot of time to re-run every single week of past years. We're gradually getting to them, though!

Also, a reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats, now require registration to view. This is not a paywall! You only need to register (for free) and then log in to the site to view these pages. While you're at it, you can get a seven-day trial of FO+ and check out the FO+ features like a deeper DVOA database, weekly fantasy projections, and picks against the spread.

* * * * *

Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through 12 weeks of 2020, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for performance indoors and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

WEIGHTED DVOA gives recent games more strength than older games to get a better idea of how well teams are playing now.

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

1 NO 38.3% 1 42.7% 1 9-2 12.6% 5 -21.3% 2 4.4% 5
2 PIT 28.6% 3 30.8% 2 10-0 1.9% 15 -24.2% 1 2.5% 10
3 TB 26.3% 2 24.7% 4 7-5 11.2% 6 -16.2% 3 -1.1% 20
4 KC 25.3% 4 26.9% 3 10-1 30.0% 1 3.0% 17 -1.7% 23
5 GB 18.4% 9 17.1% 6 8-3 27.0% 2 6.5% 18 -2.1% 25
6 LAR 17.0% 7 17.5% 5 7-4 11.1% 7 -12.3% 6 -6.4% 29
7 BAL 16.7% 8 12.3% 10 6-4 -4.8% 22 -11.7% 7 9.8% 2
8 IND 15.7% 5 15.7% 7 7-4 1.1% 17 -11.5% 8 3.1% 9
9 SEA 14.6% 6 13.7% 8 8-3 16.3% 4 8.5% 26 6.7% 3
10 MIA 10.2% 10 13.4% 9 7-4 -1.3% 18 -1.3% 14 10.2% 1
11 BUF 9.9% 12 11.9% 11 8-3 7.7% 8 1.2% 16 3.5% 8
12 TEN 7.7% 13 8.0% 12 8-3 23.5% 3 9.0% 28 -6.7% 30
13 ARI 5.5% 11 6.8% 13 6-5 3.8% 13 -4.7% 11 -3.1% 26
14 SF 4.6% 15 4.1% 14 5-6 -1.4% 19 -5.9% 9 0.1% 16
15 MIN 3.6% 16 2.4% 15 5-6 7.3% 9 -4.1% 12 -7.8% 31
16 CAR -0.7% 17 -1.3% 16 4-8 5.7% 10 7.3% 22 0.9% 15

For the full table, including DAVE, schedule strength, and non-adjusted VOA, visit the Football Outsiders DVOA database.


106 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2020, 2:10pm

3 need a second *

on the no strike breaker games legend.   The second one, for 8-3 squads.

4 The AR Tampa Curse

Green Bay is clearly ranked too low because Aaron Rodgers is cursed when playing in Tampa Bay because of that thing he said about our Sharon ( (c) Terry Pratchett ) and that curse helped to animate the corpse of Phillip Rivers in Indy as well. Knucklebone readings is way better than this. GB fans understand that heroes have to have an achilles heel, playing in Tampa is Rodgers and you and your ripple effects can suck it!


I also get this is weeks after the TB game but the article talking about ripple effects brought it back to mind

Seriously though without that game would GB still be just a slightly worse version of KC? They are 3% worse on offense, 3.6% worse on defense and 0.4% worse on special teams than KC. Though Denver special teams sneak in making then rank 2 behind KC in special teams instead of just one spot.


Some notes on just how bad he plays against Tampa Bay in Tampa Bay

  • A list of his 10 worst games by passer rating, 3 of them at TB.
  • Sort his games by AY/A and the 4 games at TB are 4th, 6th, 21st, and 94th worst (out of 192).
    Now lets adjust that. Game #1 was coming in as a back-up to Favre in 05, Game #2 he was injured in the first half, Game #3 was another back-up appearance for Favre in 05.
    So that puts things at 1, 3, 16 (a few more back-up appearances) and 88ish (I didn't comb everything out)
  • That goes with his 3rd, 7th, 14th worst completion percentages as a starter.
  • He has 4 career games with 3 INT, 2 of them against TB
  • He has 16 games with 2 or 3 INT (never thrown more than 3), 3 of them against TB
  • He has 2 games with 2+ INT and 0 TD, 1 against TB
  • 3 pick 6's, 2 against TB
  • 88 career INT. 8 of them in the 4 games at TB. That's 9% of his career INT in 2% of his games.
  • 9 starts with a comp % under 50, 2 of them at TB another at 51.9% was at TB  
  • His good game at TB was only so so for him 31-40-318-1-0 but he did lose a fumble so he has a turnover in every game there.
  • He's never faced the same opposing starting QB twice in TB 

 The Games (I use ISO date formats so YYYY-MM-DD)
List from best to worst AY/A

2014-12-21 20-3 victory 11-4 GB beats the 2-13 Josh McCown led Bucs

  • Rodgers was 31-40 for 318 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack, 1 fumble lost. 
  • Week 16 Quick Reads gives him 97 DYAR (97 Pass, 0 rush), though the formatting on that page has some issues now.
  • This was his 17th best completion percentage as a starter at 77.5% so there is that.
  • McCown was sacked 7 times and threw an INT, and the score was still only 20-3.
  • He was coming off the flu and playing with a strained calf, maybe that's the anti voodoo recipe!

2009-11-08 28-38 loss 4-4 GB falls to the 1-7 Josh Freeman led Bucs

  • Rodgers was 17-35 for 266 with 2 TD, 3 INT, 6 sacks
  • Third 3 INT game of his career (of 4 total)
  • Week 9 Quick Reads gives him -52 DYAR (-70 Pass, 18 rush)
  • First pick 6 of his career
  • 7th worst comp % in game started (48.6%)
  • 7 INT on the year, 43% of the season total in this game

2008-09-28 21-30 loss 2-2 GB falls to the 3-1 Brian Griese led Bucs

  • Rodgers went 14-27 for 165, 2 TD, 3 INT, 3 sacks
  • First season as an NFL starter
  • First 3 INT game of career (had his second one a month later in NO)
  • We don't really have 2008 Quick Reads
  • 14th worst comp % (51.0%)
  • Missed a series in the 4th quarter with a shoulder injury.
  • I remember the grumbling after this game about him not being a good NFL starter.
  • 13 INTs that year, 23% of them were in this game 

2020-10-18 10-38 loss 4-1 GB falls to the 4-2 Tom Brady led Bucs

  • Rodgers went 16-35 for 160, 0 TD, 2 INT, 4 sacks
  • Throws 2 or more INTs in a game for only the 16th time in his career
  • Throws 3rd pick 6 of his career
  • 1 of 2 games with multiple INT and 0 TD
  • Week 6 Quick Reads gives him -137 DYAR (-143 pass, 6 rush)
  • Had 0 INT coming into the game. Now has 4 on the year so currently 50% in this one game
  • 3rd worst Completion Percentage in a game started (45.7%)
    He's at 68.5% on the season, which would be his best season (68.3% in 2011). Take this game out and he's at 70.8%

17 +1, I really enjoyed that…

+1, I really enjoyed that trip down memory lane. Well, I enjoyed the summary - not so much the memories of some of those games.

Really, going back to the Dungy era, Tampa has been a bit of a house of horrors for the Pack. Especially in the late 90s/early 00s, just a lot of losses that were significant to the playoff picture, usually in the late afternoon slot on FOX or on Monday Night on ABC, one year Favre got hurt to give way to Matt Hasselbeck, another year Clifton almost suffered a career-ending injury on that cheap shot from Sapp... Funny enough, the last two games they won there in 2003 and 2014, I can actually specifically remember not being able to watch either of those games.

21 Oh the Clifton game...

I used to like Sapp as a competitor. Part of that may have been the way he and Favre interacted. It appeared they respected the way the other played the game and appreciated the skill and how they got after things. But that hit on Clifton. I hated Sapp after that.

But I agree Tampa has been pretty nasty for them the last 2 or 3 decades and there have been some wildly different teams that they have faced in that span too.

33 Paul Zimmerman

did a great job discussing on how Sapp saw the opportunity and completely calculated everything to destroy Clifton. Sapp really should have received far more blowback for that hit.  This was not a "whoops, hey, just happened, sorry" situation.  Sapp knew EXACTLY what he was doing and with careful deliberation blindsided a player.  Pretty despicable.

58 run over by a bus

In reply to by big10freak

I still haven't forgiven Sapp for near single-highhandedly destroying the 49ers' 1997 season.  If memory serves, his grotesque face-masking of Rice led to him blowing out his knee. 

28 Well with that game I think…

Well with that game I think GB is ranked almost perfectly. They strike me as just a step below a legitimate Super Bowl Favourite, precisely because they're the type of team to walk into TB and get absolutely schlonged.

I can't see that happening to KC.

65 Fortunately

Barring losses to both Tennessee and some team the Packers should NOT lose to-- and even then the Bucs would have to run the table-- possible but either the Vikings or the Falcons (play TB twice) could trip them up-- they won't have to worry about playing in TB.

OTOH, a first or second round matchup in a very frigid Lambeau is entirely possible. 


I don't have any issue with this game being counted and I'm glad you left it alone.

However I would really like to see a version of DVOA with week 17 rest games removed. Yes there would be subjectivity involved, but these games usually affect the best teams and sometimes put a serious dent in their ratings.

Like when I saw the best ever pass DVOA table, my first thought was how the 2004 Colts and 1991 Redskins sat their starters in week 17 and artificially depressed their DVOA. It's kind of a cloud hanging over the ratings of many historically great teams/units.

10 NO-DEN game-Isn't DVOA meant to be predictive?

In reply to by Red

Thanks for throwing this game out for playoff odds.  However, if DVOA is meant to be a predictive stat (which I thought it was), why was Den offense and NO defense included?  Or is DVOA simply a statement of facts stat, that is, this is what happened, and here are the results?


15 So we're going with the idea…

So we're going with the idea that Sunday's game counts for DVOA, with the knowledge that we need to talk about it with a bit of a mental asterisk. That asterisk also includes the waves that eminate from Sunday's weirdness and hit other teams. The ratings for the Denver offense and New Orleans defense are effected, but so are the opponent adjustments for every team that has played against Denver or New Orleans this year, and the opponent adjustments for every team that has played a team that has played against Denver or New Orleans this year. For the most part, we're just going to have to live with it. However, just like we adjust our ratings for backup quarterbacks when we put them through the playoff odds simulator, so too we are going to adjust the Saints and Broncos for last week's game in the ratings we use to project the rest of the season.

The good news is that one single game has less of an impact on DVOA than you might think. Denver was already dead last in offensive DVOA before this week and they only dropped another two percentage points.

61 "Or is DVOA simply a…

"Or is DVOA simply a statement of facts stat"

'Descriptive' is the term you're looking for here. DVOA's a balance between a predictive and descriptive stat. You can improve predictivity somewhat, for instance, by going to weighted DVOA, although that hurts the *long-term* predictivity.

If you look in the FAQ under "does it work," it's a balance between same-year wins (descriptive) and year-to-year correlation (predictive).

73 I've always thought DVOA…

I've always thought DVOA should try to be the best descriptive or predictive stat out there instead of awkwardly straddling the line between both. Although in the case of NO-DEN, the plays where Denver had the ball don't tell us anything useful about current team quality or future performance.

The question is: Where do you draw the line on which plays/games to omit? Should the Cowboys game with DiNucci be tossed from the sample? I don't know the answer, but intuitively it seems like DVOA would be better with at least some of these plays removed.

105 when to toss/outlier

At least statistically you wouldn't really toss anything if you're trying to get an assessment of a team. Using info about how a team plays in a particular condition contributes to the subjective assessment of those teams. Now perhaps what you can say is what the value of Dak might be in their system versus DiNucci but it also can highlight flaws in the system when a single part of that system is heavily relied on to achieve the other contributing stats to DVOA. Any time you are looking at teams from a DVOA perspective you can look at DVOA contributors to either negative or positive to assess if its likely those factors will play a role in the up and coming game (example Dak versus DiNucci) or cold weather, run defense, etc.  But that really is the limit of predictability. There isn't really enough data points to differentiate between an up and coming condition and past performance of that condition without some heavy subjectivity. 


The only real reason to remove even extreme outliers here is if you were trying to setup some "perfect normal" type test condition of what team is best. Which doesn't much happen in NFL.

7 Thanks for NFC East %ages, and now for the QB updates

DVOA's of NFC East QB's on their passes

Dalton   -33.9% (best one playing this upcoming week)

Smith    -38.3%

Wentz   -38.4%  (only NFC East QB to play all games once Jones misses Sunday)

McCoy   -72.3% 2020  

McCoy   -73.8% 2019 (in case you do not like that his sample of passes is too small in 2020)

My apology for previously listing Hoyer in lieu of McCoy.  I mistook the prior Cleveland Browns QB's.  FYI, Hoyer is clearly better posting a fabulous -53.1% DVOA in 2019 and -63.7% DVOA this year.  Who could confuse these two?

Daniel Jones:  NFC East superstar:  -20.8% 

How bad is this:  Lets take away the negative sign and look at positive QB's.  The only ones over 30% DVOA are:

Patrick Mahomes:  40.7%

Aaron Rodgers:      35.5%

Basically these QB's are as bad as Mahomes/Rodgers are good.

Oh my Eagles what do you do with the Wentz contract?  Are the Eagles doomed for years?  At least the others are backups.


8 I think you have to hope…

I think you have to hope this was just a bad year and hes unlikely to be this horrible again.


The conundrum though is, if he's not this bad, does that mean he's still not good? The longer this nightmare goes on, the more unlikely it is Wentz will go back to being a net positive. 


I'm trying to remember another qb I thought was pretty good and instead was basically God awful the entire year for reasons unrelated to injury. The only one that comes to mind is Flacco. Rivers had a down year in 2012 but it was never this bad.

11 I certainly hope he's never…

I certainly hope he's never his bad again... cuz he's on pace for the worst DYAR season ever! He's at -829 through 11 games, which prorates to -1,206... well ahead of Rosen's -1,145 in 2018.

Don't worry Eagles fans, 2017 Wentz is right around the corner! He's still the same guy he was then- just ask him.

25 DYAR shows Wentz is mostly in rookie company

Since DYAR is cumulative, this list shows that it is hard to be awful and not be replaced, unless you are a high first round pick on a bad team.  Here are the worst passing DYAR's of the past 20 years.

This shows that Wentz is playing like a rookie QB that was drafted by a bad team.

2018   Josh Rosen          -1145     2018 10th overall pick

2011:  Blaine Gabbert     -1010    2011 10th overall pick

2014   Blake Bortles         -955     2014 3rd overall pick Congratulations JAX for getting two of these guys!

2016   Jared Goff             -881      2016 1st pick

2009   Jamarcus Russell  -834     2007 1st pick, only non-rookie until Wentz

2020   Carson Wentz       -829      (11 games)  2016 number 2 pick

34 It's the entire offense…

It's the entire offense. They don't run well, the line doesn't block well, and the receivers don't get open. It's not like he's missing a WR standing around by himself in space. The line and the WRs got old and injured, and all at the same time.

He's also never been quite the same since the knee injury.

53 Good call on context

In 2005 Brett Favre had Will Whitticker at right guard acting the role of turnstile, his second best receiver was I guess Robert Ferguson, and no running game.  Favre tossed a career high 29 interceptions in his efforts to generate offense.


Next year the guard play improves, Greg Jennings is drafted and Ahman Green returns from injury to rush for a 1000 plus yards.  The interceptions drop to 18


Now by DVOA there was no improvement for the Packers offense.  But things sure looked better as the season progressed from the fan perspective FWIW

12 Flacco/Wentz

We always will take a championship, the danger is giving the QB too much credit when it is not deserved and boxing yourself in for years like the Ravens did with Flacco. Wentz looks worse than Flacco ever did, his offensive line is awful but when you sign a QB for the big bucks, it leaves fewer dollars elsewhere, so a few key injuries and the disaster is on.  I think the Eagles should have been clued in a bit, in that they moved forward to a championship with Nick Foles.  Maybe if Foles played the whole season they would have won the championship, given Foles the big bucks and now Philadelphia would hate on Foles.

My concern with the Ravens now is that Jackson is overrated and that they may not win a championship during his rookie contract and may sign him to what will become a disaster contract.  If the Ravens win a championship I will take it and accept the suffering that may occur from a bad contract.

18 I've watched Jackson a lot…

In reply to by jheidelberg

I've watched Jackson a lot this year. I like a lot of his game and if you know me I hate running quarterbacks almost as a principal. 

Jackson's floor is a pretty good qb. If that's all he ever is, he'll be a mild overpay not an albatross

69 Wentz wasn't actually given …

In reply to by jheidelberg

Wentz wasn't actually given "the big bucks." That contract's actually quite low compared to other franchise QBs. Obviously it's hard for them to move on from Wentz, but in my mind, that's still insane: looking over Wentz's career, this year sticks out as a *serious* outlier, and given, well, *waves hand at 2020*, it's smart to just say "yeah, whatever" and punt 2020 and work on 2021.

79 So true about the outlier

It seems like this Wentz season is a historic outlier.  Can anyone think of a QB in the prime of his career (not looking for the suddenly washed up drop off or career altering injury) that had a season such as Wentz is having, and then either returned to form, was forever bad, or somewhere in the middle?

82 The only injury that would…

The only injury that would possibly fit that description was the concussion suffered in the playoffs last year against Seattle. Prior to that he was red-hot down the stretch with a group of practice squad worse than this year's. And I don't think he has missed a snap this year due to injury.

13 It gets more depressing for…

It gets more depressing for the Eagles. If the cap goes down to ~176 mil as projected, the Eagles will be 84 million over the cap. And that's with a terrible offense. Even assuming cuts, trades, retirements, and restructuring, they're in cap hell and won't be able to improve their team at all. 

24 From 2017-2019 Wentz had 81…

From 2017-2019 Wentz had 81 TDs and 21 INTs while completing 65% of his passes. He played extremely well down the stretch last year. He has played like ass this year no doubt about it, but assuming there are substantial changes to the coaching staff next year I would bet on Wentz reverting to form. That's 40 games of high performance vs 11 games of crap, and there are a lot of mitigating circumstances with the crap games like the putrid offensive line. I think they should bench him this year and see what they have in Hurts, but I'm not yet that concerned about Wentz long-term.

9 Aaron, what do the ratings…

Aaron, what do the ratings look like if you just take out the Broncos' offensive/Saints' defensive plays? You could leave the other plays, as offense and defense are (theoretically) independent. Denver only ran 43 plays, so removing those wouldn't have too much of an impact on NO/DEN season totals (2-3% of overall plays). I understand your hesitancy to do so, but this game is such a comical outlier that I think outright removal is the way to go.

40 Aaron already said…

Aaron already said specifically what the NO side of the ledger would be, and approximately for DEN

The good news is that one single game has less of an impact on DVOA than you might think. Denver was already dead last in offensive DVOA before this week and they only dropped another two percentage points. Right now the Saints have a lead of almost 10 percentage points in overall DVOA, with 38.3% compared to Pittsburgh at 28.6% (with the Steelers yet to play this week, of course). The Saints are at -21.3% defensive DVOA, which is second in the league behind the Steelers. Take out this week's game, and the Saints go to -18.1% defensive DVOA, which would still be third in the league. And they would still have an overall lead of 6.5% over the Steelers.

I agree with not deleting this game, or the NO defense subset. If he did so he would have to asterisk the 2020 Saints in all future reports. He dutifully already does so in reference to all 1987 teams, and no doubt will likewise do so for 1982. But also, we're not done. If he takes out those plays, depending on what happens against a depleted Ravens team, there may be arguments to exclude that game, or subsets of that game (i mean, replacement long snapper, all it would take is a couple of errant snaps for Justin Tucker to maybe miss ones he wouldn't otherwise, and you're taking out ST rankings for that game?), and then asterisk that one too.

Depending on how the rest of this season goes, it may be 2020 will get a blanket asterisk. But to have it simply be for one team, and then what's the text for the asterisk - * week 12 matchup against DEN not included because Drew Lock failed to wear a mask?

14 Mahomes

I see Mahomes is on pace for another 2,000 DYAR season. Man I love that kid.

19 Mahomes is the best qb in…

In reply to by BigBen07

Mahomes is the best qb in the nfl, but we have to remember he is not alone. He has top to bottom the best offensive supporting cast and the best offensive head coach in the NFL. 


I have no reason to root against him. My own team is not a contender and he seems like a great kid plus he's fun as hell to watch. But we need to get some perspective that it's not just one big Mahomes show that we're watching.

as an aside this is the modern-day version of Brett favre and I mean that in a good way. His style brings all of the good in Favre. That's who he reminds me off.

22 as an aside this is the…

as an aside this is the modern-day version of Brett favre and I mean that in a good way. His style brings all of the good in Favre. That's who he reminds me off.

Exactly. He plays with such exuberance and has that gunslinger attitude that Favre was labeled with. He does seem to a genuinely good person too from all the stuff I see about him in the local media. The numbers he puts up are nuts too of course. Though people forget how good Favre was at his best because he did have several mediocre and a few bad seasons.

Some personal history that ties this stuff together. I was 10 in 85 when the Bears won that Super Bowl, and it was a big deal because they had their training camp in my little hometown in the southwest corn of Wisconsin. I was hooked on the sport before that and having Walter Payton in my living room at one point as a kid just cemented things even more. So I did follow the Bears for a few years and rooted hard for them. But I was in WI, and my dad is a lifelong Packers fan. So in the late 80's I split my time between the Bears and Packers watching whatever the local station was showing. Most of my family, myself included, worked at the Bears training camps over the summers while we were in High School. One of my brothers is still a die hard Bears fan in part because of that. My allegiance continually shifted more to the Packers though, that happens when you bond with your father over something. I really started following them in the Majkowski days. Then this dude name Favre gets put in a game and the first pass he throws is batted and he catches it and well the rest is history.

Fast forward a couple decades. I've lived in KC for the last 7 years now so I watch a lot of KC football too and it really does bring back memories of those mid 90's Favre years. There is a reason he threepeated the MVP award. Like Mahomes there were some other MVP, HoF QB's around too, but they both bring/brought something special to the field. Mahomes is playing a different era as we've mentioned and is less turnover prone. I suspect that like Favre if/when the talent around him diminishes he'll still be great and be able to "lift the team on his shoulders".

I love Rodgers, I love the lack of turnovers, I love the precision on his passes, the back shoulder throws to Nelson, man. He just feels more ... clinical I guess is a word, than Favre or Mahomes. You don't get that same kids on the playground feel with Rodgers. 

So in summary, it's good to be a Packers fan living in KC right now!

23 Try to era adjust. Where…

Try to era adjust. Where does Favre rank if he were in todays game? People will poke fun at the ints, but that was part of the era and his receiving core was never the best in the league. 

Rodgers at his apex was maybe the best qb I ever saw. It would come down to him and 06 Manning to me but I am biased. However, the era has to be taken into account in some of this. 

31 Favre would still be a stud…

Favre would still be a stud in todays game. I have some data from a post back in 2011 where I was responding to people saying we hadn't seen anything like what Rodgers was doing. Then I found some peak Favre numbers from a similar situation. They were 9 games into the 2011 season sitting at 9-0 and Rodgers had gaudy numbers. So I took those 9 plus the 4 2010 playoff (including super bowl) and last 3 of 2010 and had the following.

Rodger's during a peak stretch.
356 of 503 (70.8%); 4,642 yards; 42 TD; 7 INT; 37 sacks; 121.5 Rating. Packers are 15-1 (4-0 post season). 

Brett Favre (end of 95 + playoffs + first 6 games of 96)
353 of 517 (68.3%); 4,243 yards; 49 TD; 7 INT; 32 sacks; 119.1 rating. Packers were 14-2 (2-1 post season)

Now we know Rodgers 2011 numbers were better than that 343-502-4643-45-6 with 36 sacks in just 15 games but I'm just doing some copy paste here from old data I found because I've been reorganizing some of my data and knew where some of these notes were.


That's what people forget about Favre. That stretch includes playoff games (lost to Dallas in the NFCGC), but he put up modern day QB numbers for 16 game stretches back in the 90's. You can find those for other QB's too and that may not even be the best 16 game stretch of his career. That was just handy data and I can't recall how thorough 2011 me was. Rodgers has also had better stretches since then as well, but those numbers are from his 3rd and 4th years as a starter. They are from Favre's 4th and 5th years as a starter. This is Mahomes 3rd year as a starter. All 3 of those QB's didn't start in year 1 it's an interesting comparison. At their peaks Rodgers probably had the worst coaching with McCarthy. Mahomes has Andy Reid. Favre had Holmgren, and interestingly enough Andy Reid, though Reid wasn't the QB coach until 97, which is after the data I posted that data was with Marty Mornhinweg. Of course worst is relative here, McCarthy was an above average game planning and prep coach, but he is not as good as Holmgren or Reid.

Favre had a career INT % of 3.3%, however 12 of his 19 years as a starter were under that. His bad seasons were bad. I don't know what the NFL average was from 1992 - 2010. Lets look at some other notable QB's who had career overlap with Favre.

  • Drew Brees is at 2.3% with a significant drop off over the last 4 years.
  • Eli Manning had a career rate of 3.0% with a similar 9 of 16 being under that.
  • Tom Brady 1.8%.
  • Philip Rivers 2.6%.
  • Steve Young 2.8%.
  • Troy Aikman 3.0%.
  • Jim Kelly 3.7%
  • John Elway 3.1%
  • Warren Moon 3.4%
  • Kurt Warner 3.1%
  • Payton Manning 2.7%

So yes we poke fun at Favre's INT, it's certainly not the 1.4 of Rodgers or 1.3 of Mahomes. He also did tend to throw more picks than the best QB's playing at the same time as him too. He also had a 5.0% TD rate, which fits right in with a lot of those other great QB's too. Rodgers at 6.2 and Mahomes at 7.0 are the crazy numbers for that. (Brees and Brady 5.4, P Manning 5.7, Aikman 3.5, Elway 4.1, Young 5.4, Kelly 5.0). Of course Rodgers also has a 6.7% sack rate, Favre was only 4.9%. Manning 3.1, Elway 6.6,  Aikman 5.2, Kelly 6.3, Young 7.9, Brady 4.7, Brees 3.8, Mahomes 3.7. I should have just put all that in the list....

That was the stark difference during the first couple Rodgers seasons. We went from a great QB who threw a few more ints than normal but took sacks at closer to a league average to a QB who didn't throw picks, but got sacked all the time. I remember how different that felt. At the time their TD% were close since Rodgers was in the 5.4% range until that 2011. So it just felt very different. Peak Favre 

Rodgers had a lot of bad breaks with defense losing him close games early in his career. Favre got hyped a lot for bringing the Packers back and winning close games. I know that biases me, but I still haven't fully been able to shake the feeling that peak Favre was a bit better at "finding a way to win" quoted intentionally for the nonsensical phrase it is. Non peak Favre could find ways to lose, spectacularly. So I still tend to lean Favre if I have to win that one game. If I'm trying to have a perfect season though it's Rodgers (or peak Manning I did love watching him play too as he was pretty unique). 


I gotta stop rambling. All that said if you dropped peak Favre into today's game with the same level of coaching he got during his peak years which really means drop peak Favre in place of Mahomes and you'd have similar but not as good of results. Brett wasn't quite as athletic as Patrick is. His rushing numbers, which aren't the whole story, were in the 180 yards with 2 TD's a season in that time frame. Rodgers was in the 250 yards 3TD range, and oddly so is Mahomes.

I tend to think that peak Favre transported to current KC would be slightly worse that Mahomes. He is a little less physically gifted, I think he was a bit more aggressive which would lead to a few more INT. I don't think he would be quite as accurate, in part because of the aggression. So instead of the 291-423-3497-30-2 we have now, it might be more like 282-423-3350-29-5. Still an amazing stat line, still probably 10-1, but not quite as good. 

On the aggression I remember reading the stories of him dislocating WR fingers, in practice, because of how hard he threw. Not to mention some of the dropped INT for similar reasons. He had so much confidence in his arm, and he had a cannon. But you didn't see some of the touch passes that Rodgers and Mahomes put out there. I also think that if you swapped Rodgers and Mahomes with the magical system catch up, that you'd see similar results for both of them. I think Mahomes on the 2020 Packers and Rodgers on the 2020 Chiefs would like a lot like what se see on the actually 2020 Chiefs and Packers. I think Rodgers and Mahomes are slightly better than era adjusted Favre, even after all my defense of him. Perhaps some of that is still bitterness of the retired, not retired, retired, not retired which was really the only contract leverage he had so I get it, but man it wore thin. But I also think there are ceilings for HoF caliber players and all three of them are clearly in that category, with the assumption that Mahomes career follows a similar arc to the other 2. He only has 3 seasons as a starter. Favre had 19, Rodgers is at 13.

48 I don't think this will ever…

I don't think this will ever happen, but I'd love to see Mahomes in a metaphorical vacuum where the coaches change, the talent changes and he's sort of the lone constant. 

Mahomes is doing some pretty supernatural things right now but KC plays and has the personnel to play too all of his strengths and mitigate some of his worst impulses. Throwing across your body without having your feet set is usually death for a qb, but it leads to tds for KC because 1) Mahomes has a ridiculous physical skillset, 2) His receivers are so good at knowing how to get open in a sandlot situation and 3) Andy Reid will aggressively hunt a mismatch when he can find it that the whole defense is on its heels. 


I am planning to do a more rigorous analysis of era adjusting this offseason trying to understand the trend that has occurred and possibly pick out change points in time. I've said in the past, while pass offenses have skyrocketed, the run offense sans the QB appears to have declined over this period. That's also an interesting topic worth exploring. 

32 Favre was a man out of time

Your question on era adjustment for Favre is a great one. I feel that Favre has a hindrance to hits reputation because of when he played. He starts just after all the top QBs of the 80s, but also isn't quite of the same time as Aikman and Young. He is also of a different generation to Brady and Manning, despite overlaps with all these players. I think he was alone at the top of the league for a good five years and that the lack of a rival has left us a little bit confused when it comes to era adjustment.

For example, I think people are pretty good at understanding that the 80s were a different time for QBs, but it's easy to compare Elway with Montana with Marino, see that they were all really good,and have some sort of baseline for 'great quarterback'. The same for comparing play in the 2000s to the current decade - Manning and Brady give a pretty good baseline for 'great' and you can work from there.

The game changed so much during Favre's (very long) career that this is hard to do for him, and I think the lack of a meaningful rival leaves him a little left out of the conversation,and harder to judge 

36 Isn't Aikman, or a lesser…

Isn't Aikman, or a lesser extent, Young, those guys?

Aikman is badly over-rated, but ringz has a certain appeal with a certain audience, and it's not like Favre doesn't get reflected GB glory.

46 The problem is, both Aikman…

The problem is, both Aikman and Young did not last long enough; basically beginning and ending in the 90s so we never got to see how they looked in the 2000s. Effectively, Favre's contemporaries are a blend of 80s guys(Marino, Kelly); 90s guys(the two above), and the 2000s guys. 

51 IMO what's most remarkable…

IMO what's most remarkable about Favre's career, is that his best season by DYAR/DVOA was 2009! Also his third best season was 2007. There were some wild fluctuations toward the end of his career, which are hard to explain, but he could still hang with the very best of 'em. 

Kind of a shame he didn't make the Super Bowl either of those two years when he was a hair's breadth away; a Favre/Brady or Favre/Peyton SB would have been cool from an historical perspective. Eli and Drew Brees aren't complaining though. 

39 Topical Favre chat

Late-career Favre, yes. But from 1992 to 2003 he is at 103 in Int%+, compared with an average of 100. Of course that average includes lots of Mirer/Leaf type players, and it's true that Favre was often playing with a lead, back when trailing teams used to throw interceptions more frequently. Still, his generosity has been overplayed, and seen through the lens of his later years (and some high-profile playoff picks).

One of Favre's strengths was his durability at a time when QBs weren't protected as much as they are now. I think that skill would have less value in the current era. Moreover, he was inconsistent and at times seemed uncoachable, especially compared with the machine-like top-tier QBs that followed him.

In the 1990s Favre had okay receivers and a mostly good offensive line, but nothing like the quality that Rodgers has had at those positions, and probably less than Mahomes.

41 Favre essentially always had…

Favre essentially always had an elite WR1 (Freeman or Driver), occasionally an elite WR2, a PB-level TE, and a stud RB more often than not, paired with a good to great O-line.

GB's talent level wasn't as high as Dallas' or SF's in that era, but is consistent with or better than what Brady had during the Pats' dynasty.

45 Donald Driver was a pretty…

Donald Driver was a pretty good receiver. He was not even close to being any kind of superstar or an elite anything. I don't think Freeman was elite either.  Probowl tight end in that era does not mean the same thing as probowl tight end in this one.


By contrast, Brady's supporting cast is really a tail of two eras. The first pre moss era I will grant you was nothing special at all. But the latter half was until the literal very end.

49 Outside of 2007-2009, when…

Outside of 2007-2009, when they had both Moss and Welker, the Brady Pats were usually constituted of a very good WR1, a good to great TE, a law-firm RB, and a great line.

This varied -- sometimes not great WR1, sometimes peak-Dillon at RB, sometimes two TE1s. But it was usually two studs and a great line. That's not dissimilar to Favre's setup.

I don't think Driver or Freeman were Hall guys, but they were very good.

66 They haven't had a real era…

They haven't had a real era-defining receiver, but since the merger the Packers must have a claim to the deepest set of very good WRs of any team. My personal order would go: Sharpe, Nelson, Lofton, Adams, Freeman, Jennings, Driver, Cobb, Robert Brooks, James Jones, Javon Walker, Phil Epps. I doubt there are many teams whose tenth best receiver either led the league in TDs once, or came within 25 yards of leading the league in receiving yards.

The Packers' depth chart for 2011 (Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Driver, Cobb: this excludes Jermichael Finley, the non-blocking tight end) is incredible. The worst of those receivers caught 433 passes and 51 TDs in a career that lasted nine years.

27 Mahomes

I'm not convinced Mahomes is the Best QB.  I think numerous QBs would win MVP's behind Greatest Show on Turf level Offensive Talent around him. 

I think he is obviously better than Watson, but if their draft orders were swapped Watson would have a ring and an MVP and Mahomes would be an afterthought on a bad Texans team.

**It is also seemingly forgotten that Mahomes was pretty bad in the Super Bowl (Not Trubisky bad of course). 

30 I love him, but Kurt Warner…

In reply to by Q

I love him, but Kurt Warner might also be in that overrated category. He looked all-world in St Louis, but so did Trent Green before he got injured, and so did Marc Bulger when he stepped in for Warner when he got injured. When you have the best OLine in the league, a HOF back in Faulk, two HOF WR's in Holt and Bruce, and two other legitimate weapons (Hakim, Prohl) it's not that hard to do well.

It's actually more impressive what he did in Arizona, but even then he had a young Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. 

I mean I love the guy, and think he probably deserves that HOF nod, but he and Mahomes are in that same boat. Elite QB's surrounded by elite talent and an elite coaching staff.

50 Interesting Take

In reply to by Q

Let's start with this - I've been a Chiefs fan for 40 years, so I know I'll be accused of being biased: 

I've watched a ton of football, including peak Montana, Young, Marino, Elway, Favre, Manning, Brees and Rodgers. If given the choice, I'd take Mahomes over *all* of them. He allegedly has a photographic memory for the game, and doesn't seem to make the same mistake twice. He can make all the throws, even throws with touch. He's a good scrambler and seems to pick his spots well. 

His offensive weapons are great, no doubt. A potential HOF TE and WR with world class speed really help a lot. But his O line isn't that good this year, and yet he never seems rattled when there is pressure. It's unbelievable he's this good this fast. My comparison for him has always been Marino. He just blew up as soon as he became the full time starter. 

**It is also seemingly forgotten that Mahomes was pretty bad in the Super Bowl (Not Trubisky bad of course).

This seems right, except by most metrics I've seen, Mahomes has never actually played a "below average" game in the NFL. It was *pretty bad* for him, is all I'll say. 

I think we're witnessing something great. It helps having a HOF caliber coach, but I think he'd be good or even great if Adam Gase were his head coach.  <shudder>

54 I'd like to see him do this…

I'd like to see him do this with a weaker supporting cast before I start to say he's the Goat and do it for a long enough period of time.

Look, as a fan, I don't think its possible to separate out your biases and that's OK! I certainly was beyond biased with PM and wouldn't even entertain arguments for Brady and/or era. Its kind of hard to do that when your qb and the offense are smashing records. Something fans of the other elite qbs will undoubtedly understand.

I have aged since then and obviously its now been a long time since the Colts had a unanimous hall of famer at Qb. I will say, however, that in that period of time, I've kind of made peace with the fact that not only will PM not be considered the GOAT, he probably is edged out by Brady overall once career length is factored into it. I think had both retired in 2015, it would be more of a discussion(along with others), but Brady's career length is pretty ridiculous and his heights rival just about anyone else's. Even if you think Mahomes right now is better than anything Brady did(and I do not btw), he would need to play at this level for a really long time for him to snatch that title away from even the non rings loving crowd. 


Edit and finally I hard disagree with your last comment. Adam Gase would wreck Mahomes. You are seriously underestimating Gase's abilities here. 

57 That's fair

That's fair about the supporting cast. Except for the offensive line, which this year in particular hasn't been that good, yet he's still dealing it at a very high level. I've watched every game by Mahomes in his career so far, and it's been a joy to see someone so good so fast. The supporting cast helps, but he seems to make them *all* look good at some point. I hope he always has good to great WR and TE, but I think at some point KC will have less talented WRs and that will show whether he can adjust or not. I'd bet big money on the kid right now. 

I didn't say he was the GOAT, but if he keeps this pace up... then we can have a conversation. He's a 3rd year starter, and if he gets, say, 3 more SB titles, now we can discuss. 

And LOL about Gase. I'm glad that won't be a problem. 

74 The Chiefs have great…

In reply to by barf

The Chiefs have great offensive weapons, but Mahomes makes them even greater. Over four seasons with Alex Smith, Kelce averaged 4.9 catches and 61.9 yards per game; with Mahomes, that's jumped to 6.4 catches and 82.4 yards. Tyreek Hill went from 57.3 yards a game with Smith to 86.2 yards a game with Mahomes.

60 Adam Gase would wreck…

Adam Gase would wreck Mahomes.

A sufficiently bad coach and surrounding talent can ruin any player.

Joe Montana is in the GOAT discussion. His coaches spent half a decade trying to convince management to ship him out so they could start Steve Young instead, because they regarded Young as better. And when replacing Montana, his numbers were pretty similar.

Young was flat-out terrible on some wretched Tampa Bay teams.

\see also Tarkenton and Warner's years in the wilderness with NYG

62 I've watched a ton of…

In reply to by barf

I've watched a ton of football, including peak Montana, Young, Marino, Elway, Favre, Manning, Brees and Rodgers. If given the choice, I'd take Mahomes over *all* of them. He allegedly has a photographic memory for the game, and doesn't seem to make the same mistake twice. He can make all the throws, even throws with touch. He's a good scrambler and seems to pick his spots well. 

The era adjustment is really hard.

Manning and Brady were big already by the time the defensive holding rules changes, and Manning played in the era when a 1:1 TD:INT ratio was acceptable. 

Elway played back when it was still legal to murder a QB on the field, although if you chased him into the stands to do it it was a 5 yard penalty, because the league was getting soft even then.

Some guys I don't think translate into that era. I can't see Brees prospering at all in a league when you could still piledrive a QB into the frozen turf well after the play. Brady I have a harder time interpreting. He could have been Marino, but he could have folded under all the extra hits, too. Manning I think would have Marino'd things.

Mahomes, unless we assume he walks into Reid right off the bat, would probably be on an Elway or Young trajectory -- stuck playing hero ball for bad teams until he walked into the right situation. But he could have been Mooned, too, and ended up in Canada. Or he could have been Cunningham -- 110% tools, and no one capable of teaching skill.

63 I'm not sure Watson is all…

In reply to by Q

I'm not sure Watson is all that far behind Mahomes. Their college situations were basically the inverse of their pro situations, and they basically flipped in behavior. Watson is doing really well in a really shitty situation in Houston.

64 True

It's a good time for QBs in the NFL. I'd have been fine if Watson was drafted by KC, but am glad they picked Mahomes (duh). 

38 Andy Reid teams always make it close

It is difficult to account for in objective metrics, but Reid calls the game differently when he has a big lead.  He becomes ultra conservative on offense and defense in an effort to just waste clock.  It's bit them a couple of times in the playoffs (@IND in 2013 blew 28 point lead, TEN in 2018 blew 21-3 halftime lead) and has almost got them a few times in the regular season even since Mahomes started (as an example, Chiefs led Baltimore 30-13 in the 3rd last season only to win 33-28).

It is simply how he coaches.  The difference now is Mahomes and the offense is good enough that they can flip the switch and change the momentum back instantly, turning those classic Andy Reid clock management flops into wins.




42 Agree

I left at halftime and I couldn’t believe they only won by 3. Must’ve become bored.

Let’s not go too gaga over Mahomes’ supporting cast here. Hill is a freak and Kelce of course. (And the match with Reid). But the OL at this point is average at best and the supporting receivers and running game aren’t very exciting. When Favre was in Super Bowls they were running the ball very well IIRC.

44 Is there another team who's…

In reply to by beargoggles

Is there another team who's skill talent is better than this group? Kelce and Hill are playing like future HOFs and Watkins is turbocharged as a third or 4th option. 


Plus Andy Reid adds further juice to this flame thrower.

43 out of the cellar!

After their best defensive game of the season, the Patriots climb to 31nd in defensive DVOA.  Woo-hoo!

They were in danger of going from the #1 defense of 2019 to the #32 defense of 2020.  (Though I wouldn't say they are no longer "in danger" of that happening.)  


52 LOL

To be fair, they've played without a lot of their starters on D, so I'd cut them a bit of slack. It speaks to Belichick's coaching that they're still competing well this year. 

55 Just throw out one game a year for every team?

I wonder if DVOA would be more or less predictive if you threw out one outlier game every year for every team.  We know football is a weird game with huge 'any given Sunday' games that at least look non-predictive.  Starting QB isn't playing.  Temp is -20F.  Replacement level receiver busts out 200 yards receiving before returning to replacement level next week.  Team captain suffers horrific injury and everyone is thrown off emotionally.  etc. etc. etc.

On the other hand, with only 16 games in a year, that's a lot to throw out.

72 I believe they looked into this

I believe this was looked into years back - probably more around the resting starters games, but even things like the 2009 Pats 59-0 win over Tennessee in a blizzard or similarly odd games like that.


From my memory the response was that it doesn't change as much as you think from a season-wide perspective and reduced the ability to forecast.

102 My thought isn't to throw…

My thought isn't to throw out the whole game, but throw out the individual unit performance. Did the Defense play way above expected average for a single game? Then throw that defensive performance out.


The problem I keep coming back to is; How can that possibly work, logistically speaking? How can you account for one outlier performance with regards to the rest of the league, since each team is, effectively, graded on the performance of all the other teams?


I don't have the math background to figure it out, which is why I come here.

59 Third paragraph: eminate and…

Third paragraph: eminate and effected. I'm actually not sure, but it sounds to me like emanate and affected were what was meant?

There was a clear typo later in the article, but I lost track of it.

67 NFC Playoff Scenarios

I will try to make this as simple as possible-- and I confess i do not know who wins tiebreakers between SEA and either NO or GB  (Packers have the tiebreaker vs the Saints since they beat them)

#1 seed:  NO, GB or SEA

#2 seed: Ditto

#3 seed: Ditto-- though I suppose the Rams are still an outside chance for this

#4 seed: NFC Least winner

#5 seed: TB or LAR (outside chance SEA)

#6 seed: TB or LAR-- chance of ARIZ or MINN

#7 seed: ARIZ or MINN-- chance of LAR, CHI, ATL

For argument sake, I am going to assume that the current positions basically hold and that by virtue of an easier schedule the Seahawks pip the Packers for the #2 seed...

So NO gets the bye and the first weekend is NFC East-- let's say the Giants-- host TB; GB hosts the Rams; SEA hosts the Cardinals  (NOTE: There is a chance that either this week, or the following week, will be Bubbled. Without question the Conference Championship weekend will be bubbled)

My guess is that either the Rams or the Cardinals pull off an upset-- let's say it is ARIZ. Then we may have a bubble-- no home field.. NO would play ARIZ  and GB would play TB... I can't see Murray winning two games in a row-- GB and TB is a pick-em game at a neutral field. So the Saints would play a NFC title game either against a team they beat both times this season, or a team who beat them. The difference between the top WC spot-- who would journey to a NFC East site-- and the next-- who will have to play either SEA or GB at their field-- is enormous. The Rams have four eminently loseable games, however-- two vs ARIZ, NE home and SEA away-- so right now TB, for all their internal tension, may have the simplest route-- if there's a bubble-- a wild card team has ever had to get to the SB...


68 One More Thing re Bubble

If there is a bubble, wouldn't it extend to the SB?  And if so, then that means unless the SB location is going to change, the Bucs would be playing at home. Which may mean that there will be two bubbles--one for the conference playoffs, and another for the SB-- to reduce the competitive advantage Tampa Bay would get...

70 So basically, just playing against the Eagles lowers your DVOA

Because until the hail mary, the Seahawks had held the Eagles to their lowest yardage total all season.  Instead, it was the second fewest.  Better than the Rams, Steelers or Ravens, three of the best defenses.  Let's not forget that Pittsburgh was about to be trailing Philly with 3 mins left had they not missed a FG..

Pittsburgh lost nearly 10% of defensive DVOA and Seattle lost 1.5%.  It seems like teams are being punished simply for playing Philly.

84 So you don't think it's…

So you don't think it's curious at all that somehow, coincidentally, when the Seahawks defense plays super-well and holds the Eagles to its lowest yardage total, the Eagles defense magically plays super-well and holds the Seahawks to their lowest yardage total?

It was a relatively short game, with several very long drives. Tends to mess with basic box score statistics. It was not, for instance, the lowest, or even second lowest EPA on offense even if you take out the final Hail Mary.

99 Not sure how you consider a game with 23 drives total

relativiely short game with several very long drives.  The Eagles had 11 drives.  They had drives of 5 yds, 1 yd., -11 yds, -4 yds, 8 yds, then a 75 yard drive that should have ended with intentional grounding that landed right in front of the line judge.  And that was just the first half.


100 And Seattle left so many points on the board it wasn't funny

It wasn't so much Philly "holding" sEattle, as it was Seattle missing a LOT of opporunities.  Two 4th down conversions, the Metcalf drop.

In any event, the point still stands.  Seattle shut down Philly's defense better than any team ever has until that hail mary and they STILL lost DVOA?  There's faulty math here.  Performances need to be compared to the season overall for each team.  I

85 Opponent adjustments of other games factor in

Your DVOA rating for the week at this point of the season gets adjusted for past opponents played.  Logic tells me that when the offense of past opponents played is poor for the week, your defensive DVOA will decline even if you were on a bye.  I think this is part of what happened to Seattle.

83 "Broncos to keep Blake…

"Broncos to keep Blake Bortles away from facility to prevent future void at quarterback"

Actual headline right now on NFL.com.

If they picked up that story from The Onion, I wouldn't be surprised.


86 Been out of the loop. Why…

Been out of the loop. Why the move to top 16 only?

(edit) Ah, see Aaron wants us to click to the database. Makes sense.

91 Anyways, something I'm…

Anyways, something I'm curious about, and sorry if it's been covered to death, but has the forced experiment in crowd noise removal shown anything with regard to offense vs. defense, pass rushing, motion penalties, etc.?

92 I don't think we've talked…

I don't think we've talked about it at all. HFA has markedly reduced, but this year is so weird it's not straightforward why that is.

Also officials have strenuously avoided calling offensive holding, which has shot up offensive numbers.

93 My guess would have been…

My guess would have been that teams with bad offensive lines, especially at tackle, would have been helped significantly on the road. Strange year to suddenly back off on o-line holding; maybe they thought that with covid absences they needed to reduce qb injuries as much as possible.

96 There was some weird idea…

There was some weird idea early in the season that it was helping kickers or something like that, but I haven't checked if it's stuck around. In fact short kicks (which are by far the most common, thanks to PATs) are clearly not affected because the XP% is actually currently lower than last year.