Bills Come Back to Earth

Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 6 - The Buffalo Bills remain the No. 1 team in our DVOA ratings, even after last night's close loss to the Tennessee Titans. But boy, has the gap between the Bills and the rest of the league narrowed compared to a week ago. The No. 2 team both overall and specifically on defense is the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, and the gap between the two teams is much smaller now:

Buffalo-Arizona DVOA Gap, Weeks 5-6
Team/Unit Last Week Rk This Week Rk
Bills total DVOA 49.6% 1 38.2% 1
Cardinals total DVOA 31.3% 2 33.9% 2
Bills defense -43.2% 1 -31.4% 1
Cardinals defense -14.5% 4 -18.4% 2

After last night's loss, we probably can say goodbye to those "Best Team in DVOA Through X Games" lists for the rest of the season. A week ago, the Bills ranked No. 9 on the all-time list of DVOA through five games, and No. 2 on the same list specifically for defensive DVOA. Now, the Bills rank No. 41 on the all-time list of DVOA through six games, and No. 14 on the list for defensive DVOA.

The Cardinals are also a lot more consistent than the Bills this year. Even though they finished just three yards away from a touchdown that would have won the game, the Bills end up with negative DVOA for the game (-20.6%) and it would be negative (-12.0%) even if we remove the adjustments for playing a below-average Tennessee team. The Bills also had negative DVOA for their Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh. Arizona, on the other hand, has been between 15% and 50% for every game this year. Only the Minnesota Vikings come out with a lower week-to-week variance in DVOA than the Cardinals. So Buffalo has three games better than any game Arizona has played... but also two losses when Arizona has none.

Buffalo also surrenders the No. 1 spot in DAVE, the metric we use for our playoff odds simulation that combines DVOA with preseason projections to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now the top team in DAVE, combining their strong preseason projection with their current No. 4 rank in DVOA. The Bills are still our Super Bowl favorites, but the Baltimore Ravens have narrowly passed the Bills as our favorite for the AFC's No. 1 seed, 36.5% to 36.0%. The Bills have stronger Super Bowl chances than the Ravens because of their higher DAVE rating and because they have a better chance to finish with the No. 2 through No. 4 seeds given that the Ravens still face competition for the AFC North title while the Bills essentially have the AFC East sewn up.

Buffalo's loss affected a number of other teams because the opponent adjustments for playing the Bills defense were so strong before the Tennessee game brought them back to earth. For example, the table below says that the Kansas City Chiefs have the same ranking as they did a week ago, 14th. But yesterday, they did not. In the ratings I ran after the Sunday games, the Chiefs had moved up to 8.7% DVOA and ranked 11th. Changes in the opponent adjustments for playing Buffalo dropped Kansas City to 7.4% DVOA and back into 14th place. Pittsburgh also dropped a spot, from 15th yesterday to 16th today, and some other teams moved around because of small changes in the opponent adjustments not just for playing Buffalo and Tennessee but for playing all the other teams that have already played Buffalo and Tennessee.

Speaking of the Chiefs, we've got good news and bad news for Kansas City fans in this week's ratings. The bad news is that the Chiefs have fallen from the top spot in offense after a turnover-filled performance against a poor Washington defense. Tampa Bay is now our top offense for the season, followed by the Chiefs, the Rams, the Cowboys, and the Packers. The good news is that the Chiefs climbed out of the bottom spot on defense! Not only are the Chiefs no longer a historically bad defense, they aren't even the worst defense of this season! That spot belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have given up 6.3 net yards per play (29th in the league) to one of the easiest schedules of opposing offenses (also 29th in the league) with only two turnovers. Jacksonville's defense did improve a little bit this week with the win over Miami; Kansas City's defense just improved more and passed the Jaguars to move out of last place.

Back to discussing the top of our ratings: the Los Angeles Rams moved up from fifth to third this week but more significantly, their defense moved from 14th to fourth after clobbering the shorthanded New York Giants. (The Rams' offense actually got a little bit worse this week, somewhat countering some of the defensive improvement.) Green Bay moved up from 15th to 11th overall and it's worth noting that the Packers would be fifth overall if we didn't count their Week 1 debacle against New Orleans. Indianapolis moved up significantly from 24th to 15th after a huge win over Houston. Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and of course Tennessee were also on the rise.

Moving the other way, we can start with the Dallas Cowboys falling from second overall to fifth after a close win over New England. The Los Angeles Chargers went from the team whose relatively low DVOA confuses people to the team whose even lower DVOA still confuses people, as they fell from 11th to 17th. Denver fell from 18th to 22nd, and Carolina fell from 17th to 25th.

Run Funnels and Pass Funnels

The Chargers also stand out for another reason, which is a very one-sided defense. Los Angeles now has the worst run defense in the league this year according to DVOA, passing Kansas City at the bottom of our rankings after the big loss to Baltimore. Yet the Chargers also have the fifth-best pass defense in the league! That's a huge gap. If you have read Football Outsiders for a long time, you know that passing is generally more efficient than rushing. That's why almost every team will have a higher pass offense DVOA than run offense DVOA, and the same goes for defense. But this is not the case for the Chargers defense. The Chargers defense allows -8.8% DVOA on pass plays but 9.6% DVOA on run plays, so running the ball against them is actually more efficient than passing it.

This is very rare. There are only two other defenses with the same split so far this season. Minnesota ranks third against the pass but 28th against the run, and allows better efficiency on runs than passes. The other defense with a similar split is Buffalo, but for a different reason. The Bills have been so good against the pass this year that it has been more efficient to run against them, even though they rank sixth in the league against the run.

Here are the defenses with the biggest gaps between their rank against the pass and against the run, in both directions. Teams that are better on pass defense are generally known as "run funnels" and teams that are better on run defense are known as "pass funnels," terminology that comes from fantasy analyst Adam Levitan.

2021 Run Funnels as of Week 6
Team Pass Def Rk Run Def Rk Dif
LAC -8.8% 5 9.6% 32 27
MIN -14.0% 3 -3.3% 28 25
HOU 4.0% 11 -0.2% 29 18
CHI -5.9% 6 -8.7% 23 17
PHI 5.1% 12 -5.7% 25 13

The strongest team in the other direction is the Indianapolis Colts.

2021 Pass Funnels as of Week 6
Team Pass Def Rk Run Def Rk Dif
IND 27.6% 29 -38.3% 1 28
CLE 17.3% 20 -30.9% 3 17
WAS 26.8% 28 -14.6% 12 16
TB 8.6% 18 -24.6% 5 13
JAX 50.4% 32 -9.2% 22 10

Say Something Nice About the Lions

The Arizona Cardinals are undefeated and at the top of most non-stat based power rankings around the Internet. As noted above, we've got them second behind Buffalo. For the last undefeated team to be second in DVOA is not strange. More than half the 6-0 teams since 1983 were not first in DVOA, but most of the rest were second or third or something in the top five.

Most non-stat based power rankings will also have the Detroit Lions last. They're the last team without a win, after all. So you might be surprised to check out the full DVOA table and notice that they are currently 26th, ahead of six other teams. The Lions are not as horrible as you think! They've played a tough schedule, fourth in the league so far. They've also had those two games where they lost on long field goals at the end of regulation against the Ravens and the Vikings.

It turns out the Lions are one of the better 0-6 teams in DVOA history. Here's a look at the best teams in DVOA at 0-6 and how those teams finished off the year.

Best 0-6 Teams by DVOA, 1983-2021
Year Team DVOA Rk Final
1985 ATL -15.2% 22 4-12 -18.8% 24
2013 TB -15.9% 25 4-12 -5.2% 19
2001 DET -16.0% 23 2-14 -19.3% 26
2007 MIA -16.0% 22 1-15 -23.2% 28
1997 IND -20.1% 24 3-13 -19.9% 26
2017 SF -23.2% 27 6-10 -9.4% 21
2021 DET -23.5% 27 -- -- --
2011 MIA -25.1% 28 6-10 -2.4% 18
1985 TB -25.7% 26 2-14 -24.8% 26
2014 OAK -25.8% 29 3-13 -29.5% 30

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 6.

A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats, 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, fantasy football research tools, and picks against the spread.

* * * * *

Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through six weeks of 2021, 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 opponent and performance indoors and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. Opponent adjustments are currently at 60% strength and will increase 10% each week until Week 10. 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.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason forecast with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 65% preseason forecast and 35% actual performance for teams with five games played, and 55% preseason forecast and 45% actual performance for teams with six games played. It is not currently adjusted for any backup quarterbacks. (This is part of why Seattle is still in the top ten.)

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 BUF 38.2% 1 23.1% 2 4-2 5.7% 12 -31.4% 1 1.1% 12
2 ARI 33.9% 3 14.7% 5 6-0 11.2% 7 -18.4% 2 4.3% 4
3 LAR 30.9% 5 18.2% 3 5-1 22.4% 3 -12.5% 4 -4.0% 28
4 TB 29.2% 4 24.5% 1 5-1 29.3% 1 -0.6% 16 -0.7% 20
5 DAL 23.7% 2 13.7% 7 5-1 18.9% 4 -5.1% 10 -0.2% 16
6 BAL 20.0% 8 17.0% 4 5-1 10.0% 9 -1.3% 14 8.7% 1
7 CLE 17.6% 6 9.3% 10 3-3 11.1% 8 -2.0% 13 4.4% 3
8 NO 14.8% 7 8.2% 11 3-2 0.7% 17 -13.0% 3 1.1% 11
9 SEA 12.1% 9 11.1% 9 2-4 15.8% 6 5.5% 22 1.9% 9
10 SF 8.8% 10 7.9% 12 2-3 7.8% 10 -2.2% 12 -1.2% 21
11 GB 8.7% 15 12.2% 8 5-1 17.7% 5 5.6% 23 -3.4% 27
12 MIN 8.7% 13 6.7% 13 3-3 3.8% 13 -9.3% 6 -4.5% 29
13 CIN 8.6% 12 -0.1% 15 4-2 -4.8% 19 -12.1% 5 1.3% 10
14 KC 7.4% 14 14.7% 6 3-3 24.4% 2 21.1% 31 4.0% 5
15 IND 1.9% 24 -1.1% 17 2-4 2.1% 15 -0.3% 17 -0.5% 18
16 PIT 0.0% 21 2.5% 14 3-3 -5.7% 20 -5.2% 9 0.5% 14

Click here for the full table.


67 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2021, 12:40am

#1 by RickD // Oct 19, 2021 - 3:37pm

"the Bills essentially have the AFC East sewn up."

A 2-game lead with 11 games to go?

I mean, sure, they're better than their competition in the AFC East by quite a bit, but isn't it a bit early to give them the division?  


Points: 0

#2 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 3:51pm

But they also have the easiest remaining SOS. Out of the entire league too

Points: 0

#45 by RickD // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:33am

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

FO's own playoff odds has Buffalo at 65% to win the division.  I wouldn't use the phrase "sewn up" unless that were over 90%.

Points: 0

#48 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:59am

65% rounds up to 100%, 90% of the time.

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#49 by jheidelberg // Oct 20, 2021 - 11:06am

Check the report, even with the loss its over 93 percent to win the division.  I see what you did, it is Baltimore with a 65 percent chance.

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#6 by JonesJon // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:13pm

No one in the division seems likely to reach 5 wins before week 11. Which would mean just to get passed in the next month they'll have to lose home games to the Dolphins and Colts and road games to the Jets and Jags. Barring an Allen injury that division is going to be on ice by December

Points: 0

#24 by Tutenkharnage // Oct 19, 2021 - 7:11pm

... isn't it a bit early to give them the division?


Points: 0

#56 by DIVISION // Oct 20, 2021 - 8:49pm

No, it's not too early, Richard.

Who in the AFC East is good enough to make up ground?

Belichick goes 8-9 this year, in what will essentially be a learning experience for Mac Jones.

The Miami rebuild continues.  Apparently, Tua isn't very good and neither is Flores' defense.

The Jets?  


AFC East is done for this year.  The Bills:  Crown 'em.

Points: 0

#3 by jheidelberg // Oct 19, 2021 - 3:55pm

The Lions fans that post on this site regularly are knowledgeable and polite.  One even talked me out of my harsh criticism of their coach Dan Campbell a few weeks ago.  Campbell may need more support if they can not turn this around.

Points: 0

#37 by bedfordp // Oct 20, 2021 - 4:17am

Patricia left the Lions in such a mess. They have very few quality players never mind explosive game changers but the cap situation was horrendous. They have had to spend this season trying to clear it up for the future. They are currently carrying $57.5M in dead money. This season was always going to be a disaster no matter who was in charge

Points: 0

#65 by Joey-Harringto… // Oct 21, 2021 - 7:55am

In reply to by bedfordp

Yea, pretty much.  And as if this roster wasn't weak enough, they've also had shitty injury luck (third behind BAL and SEA as far as % of salary cap on IR).

I'm flabbergasted when I hear about Lions fans being surprised and angry that the 2021 Lions are bad.  Like, what did you expect?  They didn't actually come out and say it, but their actions told you that they were punting on this (and perhaps even next) season. 

They're essentially in the same position as the 2016-2017 Browns (hopefully they can omit the part with Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens).

Points: 0

#4 by theTDC // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:08pm

“(The Rams' offense actually got a little bit worse this week, somewhat countering some of the defensive improvement.)”

This might be a case where your model is too slow to factor in garbage time performance. The Rams took Stafford out for the fourth quarter, and replaced him with Wolford who went 0 for 2 and an INT. They also sat the LT Whitworth, Cooper Kupp, and Donald and Ramsey on defence. Even less important players got sat at the end. I mean if it’s not garbage time when that many starters are sitting I don’t know what is.

I’m curious if anyone has the splits for the first three quarters of DVOA. Could be that the garbage time adjustments are perfect, and the Giants are simply so bad that putting up 38 points on them in three quarters is barely above league average, especially when multiple turnovers give excellent field position.

Points: 0

#26 by justanothersteve // Oct 19, 2021 - 7:45pm

The DVOA debate concerning garbage time has been around as long as I've been here (about 15 years). Garbage time is a difficult thing to define much less assess. A score with Daniel Jones as the losing QB with time left would be defined and assessed a lot differently than if the QB is Mahomes or Brady. I'm fine giving Aaron and staff the benefit of the doubt with their explanation that it works out most of the time and garbage time performance turns out to be more predictive than the average fan might think. 

Points: 0

#27 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 8:08pm

How many ~99.9% WP games have the Falcons blown? IDK but it seems like multiple. So we never really know if that first TD to knock it down ~88% (or whatever) is "garbage" or whether or it's the start of a comeback. 

So what I'm trying to say is "garbage time" is post facto and even then it's iffy. 

Points: 0

#28 by theTDC // Oct 19, 2021 - 8:22pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I mean as a general statistical rule it might be, but not when one team is up 38-3 in the fourth quarter and is sitting the starting QB, LT, DT(Donald), CB, WR, and many others. If the plays there weren’t considered garbage time, I just think the model is wrong.

Points: 0

#30 by dank067 // Oct 19, 2021 - 9:04pm

My gut feeling is that when a team takes many or most of its own starters out, their performance in garbage time is not going to be very predictive of their own future performance. On the other hand, how the other team fares against opposing backups might still matter. That said, if you were to try to investigate garbage time performance (which I certainly haven't!), I'm sure it's extremely difficult to find a signal given how much of a variety there must be in things like substitution patterns, playcalling, etc. I feel certain there are instances where garbage time performance truly doesn't matter, but there's probably not an easy way to draw the line.

Points: 0

#41 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 20, 2021 - 8:30am

Just like the game I linked. And if they pull their starters and the other team starts scoring a lot...well, then it's not so garbage time.

If they don't get within a reasonable margin (1 score game I guess?) then yeah it's garbage time but I dont think it's always right to call garbage time in the moment. 

Points: 0

#57 by DIVISION // Oct 20, 2021 - 8:53pm

That's one issue with having such a top-heavy team.  When your starters come out, there's a huge drop-off in talent.

Garbage time is given a whole new meaning.

I don't think DVOA cares about your feelings, Rams fan.

At least Stafford is still rated highly, even though your offense isn't #1 in EPA.


Points: 0

#5 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:10pm

Cards and Bills both played @TN. Cards win by 25 and Bills lose by 3. And the Bills lost another game to a now .500 team. 

Amazing they're still above them. And it's not like all of Arizonas wins are that close. They're better ATS too.

Points: 0

#11 by richRod // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:38pm

When DVOA gave the Bills the all time best defensive performance against the worst offense in the league you kind of suspected that the number would not be sustained for long.   But it was such a huge advantage it is taking more than one game to right itself

Points: 0

#21 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 6:05pm

with ESPNs FPI rankings. But still weird for AZ be behind, despite a great road win this week. 3 of the Bills wins are against teams with a collective 4 wins (MIA, WFT, HOU).

Numbers being against the last undefeated team that's (casually I admit) 4th in PPG and 2nd in OPPG is harsh.

Points: 0

#60 by LionInAZ // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:14pm

Same fallacious thinking that pervades arguments over college sport rankings. 

Points: 0

#62 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:32pm

Because I have no idea what fallacious thinking you're talking about

Points: 0

#67 by LionInAZ // Oct 30, 2021 - 12:40am

The idea that Team 3 beat Team 2 who beat team 1 should be ranked 1st is totally fallacious. It's pure fanboy attitude.

Points: 0

#14 by jds // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:30pm

Careful, you are getting close to attracting the FOMBC.

Points: 0

#16 by mehllageman56 // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:32pm

Not sure either of them are Cards fans.  New is a Packers fan, I believe.

Points: 0

#19 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 6:00pm

And I am indeed a Packers fan.

Points: 0

#29 by TheAnonymousCo… // Oct 19, 2021 - 8:32pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

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#40 by richRod // Oct 20, 2021 - 8:19am

I see.   I wouldn’t think the fombc so vindictive to get me for that one,  Buffalo’s defensive rating returning to earth was to be expected regardless of who they played and was not made less likely by reaching historic heights playing weaker opponents.  Anyhow i am hoping the worst the curse should do is give Buffalo another shutout. 

Points: 0

#15 by mehllageman56 // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:31pm

Well, Tennessee also lost to the Jets.  Any given Sunday is really any given Sunday for them.

Points: 0

#18 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:59pm

Of AZ and Buffalo. Not so much the Titans themselves. I don't even need to get into TN and all this nonsense Henry MVP talk though.

Points: 0

#7 by Will Allen // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:16pm

If the Vikings coaches think they've stabilized their pass protection somewhat, now that Darrishaw is healthy, starting, and has played a full game at lt, they ought to consider getting more aggressive early. Zimmer absolutely hates having to bring a db down to shore up run defense, and having the lead sure helps in that regard.

Points: 0

#8 by Will Allen // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:19pm

Oh, and once again, I hate kickers.

Points: 0

#9 by JonesJon // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:20pm

Kind of a fun quirk that the NFC North teams remaining schedule difficulty runs in tandem with the DVOA ratings of the division. Doubt that happens very often this deep into the season. You'd figure that not getting to play themselves would give the Lions a harder schedule than everyone else

Points: 0

#10 by Red // Oct 19, 2021 - 4:34pm

I don't understand why TEN had the better VOA in last night's game. Buffalo had 28 first downs to Tennessee's 16, and the Titans had plays of 76 and 48 yards which are discounted in the formula. The turnover battle was even. Were Buffalo's red zone failures bad enough to drag down their entire game?  

Points: 0

#17 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:35pm

Yeah, I'm a little curious about that, too. Maybe because it took so many more plays? Buffalo seemed to be behind the chains a lot more after the 1st quarter.

Points: 0

#22 by Wifan6562 // Oct 19, 2021 - 6:12pm

It is 5.7 vs. 7.1 yards per play in favor of Tennessee - and that’s a big gap. The Bills amassed those larger first down and yardage totals by having 73 plays to the Titans 51. I imagine that’s the main driver here. 

Points: 0

#12 by oaktoon // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:21pm

It sure seems like the NFC has broken into a top tier of 5-- ARIZ, TB, LAR, DALL, and GB (5th overall if you take away the "preseason" game against NO) Hard to imagine any other team cracking that bunch in January-- but I guess MINN NO and possibly SF/SEA can't be ruled out.

And AFC with the current cracks in the likes of CLEV, LAC and PITT appears to be a three team affair. BALT, BUFF, KC.  (LV Post Gruden high??, TENN??-- but still a poor DVOA)

So if you took those 8 against the field, would it be even money? I would think a lot better-- Minus 150?? 

Points: 0

#13 by oaktoon // Oct 19, 2021 - 5:24pm

Those 8 are a combined 86.7% likely to win the SB--  wonder if a Big 8 has been this dominant before after 6 weeks??

Points: 0

#25 by Will Allen // Oct 19, 2021 - 7:17pm

Just a wild assed guess, but I think it likely the pre-cap, pre -free agency top 8s were more dominant.

Points: 0

#20 by theTDC // Oct 19, 2021 - 6:04pm

Way to early to definitely say. I remember last year my Rams lost to the Jets after all. We’ll see some surprises in the NFC, and probably have a different look at things in just a few weeks.

It is a bit annoying with a 17 game schedule that there’s no defined midpoint of the season to reflect on.

Points: 0

#23 by oaktoon // Oct 19, 2021 - 6:32pm

With byes by the time 8 weeks had occurred, half the teams had only played 7 games...

Points: 0

#58 by DIVISION // Oct 20, 2021 - 8:59pm

If the Cards keep winning, the division will be wrapped up before their bye.

They have the Packers at home on a short week, then Carolina, the Niners and Seattle.

Not exactly a murderer's row.

If the Cards roll through that at 10-1 or 11-0, they'll be fine.  Their remaining schedule isn't that bad.  They'll be favored over the Cowboys on the road and they have already beaten the Rams once.



Points: 0

#64 by theTDC // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:48pm

Lol wut? “If the Cards win four of their next five games, the division is wrapped up. It doesn’t matter that they have to play their divisional rival currently 1 game behind them. It doesn’t matter because they’ll be favoured over the Cowboys on the road.”

I’m starting to actually kind of like this guy.

Points: 0

#31 by Bobman // Oct 19, 2021 - 10:34pm

Among the things that puzzle me this week are the Colts' 8-position leap in the rankings.  They beat the second-worst team, for Pete's sake.  Is it the old Guts and Stomps thing again?  They were efficient in doing so (half the snaps, ten times the points), but still it seems like an emotional fanboy reaction to a big win, not a dispassionate computed result.

And second, Indy is ranked above Tennessee.  Which they lost to just a few weeks ago.  Does anybody have any doubt which team would win, head to head, six or seven times out of ten?  I think once the OL gets healthy and returns an all-pro and pro-bowl-caliber RT, the O will look legit.  But their D, specifically vs the pass... yeesh!  They are thin at CB and need all hands on deck just to hold their own. Same with the pass rush--the guys they released or didn't re-sign (Houston/Autrey) in a youth movement are currently doing better than the ones they kept/added (Turay/Lewis/Banogu/Paye), but that was probably a long-term decision, not made with 2021 in mind.  If the young DEs start pressuring, the CBs' lives get easier. Maybe the Pass D approaches mediocrity while the run D stays top-5.  But that's a lot of conjecture about the future, not today.  Do I invoke the curse if I say my team is ranked about 4-5 spots too high right now?

Points: 0

#47 by RickD // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:39am

But  it usually works itself out in short order.

Points: 0

#66 by lauers // Oct 22, 2021 - 10:13am

If I had to guess, not only is it good that Colts won but also:
- The Rams D improved a lot (as discussed above) which boosts the Colts O Rating.
- Baltimore blew out the Chargers, but barely beat the Colts.
- The Titans beating the Bills boosts the Colts loss to them.
- They passed a bunch of teams that played terribly this week: Carolina, WFT, Denver, Chicago, Giants, Chargers. While the Chargers feel low, the others all were posing in the middle when they belong at the bottom. I can believe that the Colts are better than them.

Focusing on one team can make the rankings feel nonsensical when its actually a 32-object system with partially-observed interactions between members. By the end of the year I think we'll know how good the Colts really are...

Points: 0

#32 by jheidelberg // Oct 19, 2021 - 11:24pm

You underrate your own team.  Yes the Colts have beaten trash Miami and Houston, however they lost a tough one to the Rams and have lost to SEA and TN and kinda lost to Baltimore. I do not believe Tennessee would win as much as you think against the Colts, the Colts can stop the run and TN stops nothing.

 The Colts beat Baltimore the prior week but the usually reliable Blankenship lost it due to injury and misses.  Consider this:

Colts in regulation score 3 TD 2 FG

Balt in regulation score 3 TD 1FG

A win but for Blakenship missed extra point, leading to a missed 2, forcing Ravens to go for 2 three times.  Ravens outscore Colts 4-1 on extra points leading to crazy 25-25 tie, despite TD’s being equal and Colts trying 4 FG to Ravens 1 in regulation.

So what changed this week:

Colts thrash Texans

Colts prior game opponents TN, Balt, and LAR have great victories making Colts opponent adjustment stronger going back, despite Seattle and Miami losing.

Now the real Colts problem:  How to bench the Unitas for two games Wentz so as not to have to give PHIL a number 1 pick.  Never a problem before, Wentz found bench with injuries and last year due to being awful.  Now he is as reliable as Ryan Fitzpatrick, always there for you throwing for 400 yards or sucking. Yet somehow, he has taken the INT out of his arsenal.  Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick becomes Wentz and gets hurt.

Luckily for the Colts they lost to Baltimore and TN beat Buffalo so they likely do not go on wild goose chase to win this division.

Points: 0

#33 by Bobman // Oct 19, 2021 - 11:57pm

Good points on the opponent adjustments getting stronger. 

Sigh, yeah, that was some strange game management if Reich knew his kicker was in stabbing hip pain during warmups.  (Or, like a lot of players, did HotRod hide it, thus unwittingly sabotaging team's changes by trying to tough it out?)

Colts didn't exactly stop Henry when Indy played TEN, and every time I see him (including live vs the Seahawks) that man defies logic, physics, basic anatomy, and the rule of 370. I specifically didn't pick him in FFL this year, figuring, yeah, let some other sucker pick a guy who's gonna break down in a few games.  At this rate, I fully expect him to crash my funeral, stiff-arm a few pall-bearers, and spike a ball on my grave in about 35 years (all during halftime of a game), then return for the second half where he puts up a deuce and scores three more times, all in his early 60s.

You could kind of say he's gotten inside my head. I suspect I'm not alone.

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#34 by jheidelberg // Oct 20, 2021 - 12:18am

I despise Derrick Henry not just because the Ravens struggle with Tennessee.  He may break tackles and he tries to break my rule of running backs don't matter much.  But I will still argue that Tennessee has had a good offense since Tannehill became a good QB, regardless of Henry.

So you were at the Seattle game where they run down 14 in the 4th quarter, he goes for 60 and next thing you know TN has a victory.    Might be craziest game of the season in which there have been a lot of bizarre tight fought games. 

Seattle almost flipped the script this week in Pittsburgh led by Geno Smith down 14-0, running often in the 2nd half to avoid Geno being Geno.  But in the end Geno fumbled as he and Darnold are regressing to the point that we maybe can say, "Once a Jet, always a Jet."

If I recall, you said that you were in Seattle because your son plays in a band.  Is he in school out there, or is this a well travelling band?  I assume that you are from Indy.

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#35 by jheidelberg // Oct 20, 2021 - 12:30am

This clearly is a change, I do not recall it this early in the season.  It is so close to DVOA that the weighting barely matters.  What is the weighting?

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#36 by jheidelberg // Oct 20, 2021 - 12:36am

Is it my imagination or is passing becoming even more efficient than ever as compared with running?  Maybe it is my I hate RB bias?

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#38 by nat // Oct 20, 2021 - 6:56am

Elsewhere, FO staff said the Cowboys convincingly outplayed the Patriots.

Now we see a huge drop in their DVOA.

Is this a VOA vs DVOA thing? Was it a VOA domination that turned into a DVOA loss? How big was their VOA advantage in that game, anyway?

Were they dominating VOA in regulation? 

It’s curious. The staff, DVOA, and DYAR are telling such conflicting stories about that game. Or so it seems.

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#39 by AFCNFCBowl // Oct 20, 2021 - 8:07am

LAC, CAR and NYG all looked horrible this week, so DAL's DVOA for those games drops a lot.

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#42 by nat // Oct 20, 2021 - 9:05am

That would make the article’s mention of the close win over the Patriots a little misleading.

My guess?

Changing opponent adjustments was an important factor in Dallas’s fall from grace. But also, their VOA advantage (especially in regulation time) wasn’t very big.

I could be wrong. That’s why I asked. I hope we get an answer. 

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#43 by big10freak // Oct 20, 2021 - 9:08am

Separately I am disappointed that seemingly so many of my fellow Packer fans are unable to enjoy this season.  Here, APC, my local diner everyone is finding reasons why Green Bay actually stinks and this season will be a disappointment.


I guess I understand.  Two straight 'almosts'.  Frustrating.  And the sword of Rodgercles hanging over this season as well.  But geez, this team is a lot of fun to watch.  And different from previous years.  The defense tackles for one.  How crazy wonderful is that?


Well, I know from these past few weeks ain't convincing any of my peers.  But I won't let the general mood get me down.  Sure the Packers might get rolled a few times before the end of the season.  But that's going to happen to any team.  I am enjoying this team.  


Just clean up the special teams already ok coaching staff?  I mean, good gravy.

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#44 by Ben // Oct 20, 2021 - 9:53am

I think that fan reaction is a bit of self-protection. As a Colts fan, I saw that a lot during the Manning years. When a team is really good for a long stretch, but doesn’t have “da ringz” to show for it, fans seem to start trying to find reasons to lower their expectations. I think it’s a reaction to having high hopes dashed multiple times. 

For me, it manifested as not enjoying watching games as much. When the Colts were expected to win, I would spend games nervous they would screw up. A win was more relief than enjoyable. A loss was crushing. At least these days a win is enjoyable. Even a competitively played loss isn’t terrible, especially if the other team is better and a win was unlikely anyway. 

I assume this is how Jets and Lions fans survive…

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#51 by big10freak // Oct 20, 2021 - 11:38am

For me I am at the stage where funerals are the primary social outing.  So dammit I am enjoying what is to be enjoyed.  Tomorrow “I” might become a date on some 80 year olds calendar 

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#54 by DisplacedPackerFan // Oct 20, 2021 - 7:28pm

I'm enjoying this season a lot. I love the LaFleur offense. Now that I've had multiple years of it and get it, I really don't worry about them being able to close out a game like I did under McCarthy. I don't worry if they haven't been able to get a big play because they don't need them. If the defense can hold them to 4 scores we probably win even this team where allowing them in the redzone means they get a touchdown.

I've been impressed with the work down to keep Yet Another Offensive Line Combination working well enough. As you mentioned the defense does actually seem to tackle now. I wasn't nervous or worried or frustrated at the Cincy game I was literally laughing out load at the absurdity of it all and figured if the Packers lost they deserved it kicking on 3rd down and if they won they deserved it because they had generally played better most of the game. It was a win win. I've said recently that when healthy I think they can beat anyone in the league though they may need some players to step up and play better than usual or for the other team to make mistakes.

But this is a fun team. Just would be more fun with another receiver and a healthy pass rush.

But I did a way too deep dive in post 69 in this thread ( so I don't need to go deep again.

I think part of the reason people are cautious is because it's essentially been the same team since 2019 and when the flaws get exposed you get 38-3, 38-10, 37-8 games in the regular season (that 2021 NO, 2020 TB, and 2019 SF). What we don't have yet this year is the close 1 score lose (2019 Eagles 34 - 27 that was tied 27-27 at the end of 3, 2020 Colts 34-31 OT loss). Oh and we need an uglier than the score shows loss too. 2019 had the Chargers beat down that was uglier than the 26-11 score. 2020 the Minnesota game was uglier than the 28 - 22 score (TD + 2 pt with 2:42 left made that closer). But you get all those together and losing 30 something to 20 something in the NFCCG fits right in. It's actually a little eerie how similar the year over year results have been with LaFleur.

They are the laundry I root for and I started doing that back in the 80's when they weren't good. It's not going to stop now. I've always nitpicked. I've always cheered the wins and gotten a bit down from a loss. Though I'm actually way less likely to get down this year. We will know in 2 weeks after the Arizona game just what this defense really is though. Also if they come out of the 5 game stretch that starts well we'll really know. @Arizona, @KC, vs Seattle, @Minn, vs LA. It's not quite as brutal as it looked pre season. Seattle is a nice breather, and while KC may be 3-3 they still have a scary offense. Minnesota may not be any special this year, but it's still Minnesota and they have been the true NFC North rivals since it became the NFC North.  I think Rodgers is 15-9-1 and the team is 0-1-1 when he's been injured. Compared to the 22-5 against the Bears and 18-5 against the Lions it's a big difference. We also get to play @Bal and vs Clevand in december. So there will be no doubt about what the team really is. That schedule will prove it out.

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#55 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 20, 2021 - 7:46pm

This too mostly. 

I'm still chill and I guess you could say optimistic. I don't have many worries with Rodgers at the helm. Rodgers gave them a much needed kick in the pants as we probably wouldn't see signings like Jaylon and Whitney and of course the Cobb trade (maybe even the punter trade). As long as they continue to be aggressive like that (Houston fire sale happening now, Brandin Cooks and Desmond King would help for example) and get healthy they are very good. Good process like that should hopefully play out. If not, so be it, it happens. 

I feel like our sentiments are shared widely though. Not too many critical Packers fans in my circles, so I'm not sure what OP is referring to exactly. 

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#59 by dank067 // Oct 20, 2021 - 9:08pm

I'm a little worried about how they're going to fare when the schedule gets harder, but I'm not "down" on the team because I think a lot of the issues I'm worried about are a consequence of the injury bill finally coming due this year. If they can get a bit healthier I'll feel pretty good about them down the stretch. If they don't, well, it happens. I really appreciate like you guys do that they're turning the roster over and looking for veterans to try to backfill and improve depth, recognizing that they do have an opportunity here. And I've definitely enjoyed the wins they've racked up so far!

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#63 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 20, 2021 - 10:35pm

I'll remain chill til the playoffs. No one really scares me outside of TB and even they aren't perfect. Possible we avoid them altogether 

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#50 by jheidelberg // Oct 20, 2021 - 11:25am

One of the reasons that I enjoy this forum is to get perspectives from fans of different teams.

I understand the getting nervous that they will screw it up part. 

I appreciate the Lions and Jets fans participation, despite their dreadful teams.

What is this Bills curse? Bills fans please chime in. I know of the curse of the Billy Goat and the curse of the Bambino.

Since the 2019 season I am not as intense during the regular season when watching the Ravens.  When they lose, I remind myself to appreciate this team after another dreadful Orioles season and another dreadful Washington Wizards season to start tonight. 

The Packers and Ravens are in the same boat, always a bridesmaid, occasionally a bride, but at least they almost always keep the season interesting down to the very last game.


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#52 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 20, 2021 - 12:11pm

What is this Bills curse? Bills fans please chime in. I know of the curse of the Billy Goat and the curse of the Bambino.

The Bills' current stadium was built on the site of an Iriquois burial ground

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#53 by jheidelberg // Oct 20, 2021 - 1:18pm

Thanks for the info, there is always something new to learn about football.

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