Week 14 DVOA Ratings

Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The New Orleans Saints remain No. 1 in our DVOA ratings, but they certainly cost themselves with their loss to Philadelphia this week (covered here in Any Given Sunday).

  • Our odds of New Orleans winning the No. 1 seed in the NFC dropped from 64.4% to 28.9%.
  • Because of that, our odds of New Orleans winning the Super Bowl dropped almost in half, from 35.0% to 17.8%.
  • Although the Saints are still on top of the DVOA ratings, their full-season DVOA dropped almost six percentage points to 28.6% and their weighted DVOA, giving more weight to recent games, dropped nearly eight percentage points to 30.5%.

The Saints may be No. 1 but they are very low for a No. 1 team at this point in the season. Only twice since 1985 has the No. 1 team after Week 14 been lower than the 2020 Saints. Note that these two teams are different with the new version 7.3 of DVOA than the teams listed if you go back into archives. In 2016, Dallas was No. 1 after Week 14 at only 24.1%. And in 2011, the new version of DVOA puts Houston narrowly ahead of undefeated Green Bay after Week 14 with a DVOA of 28.5%. (Green Bay was at 28.3%.)

Returning to 2020, the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped two spots in DVOA to fourth with their loss to Buffalo on Sunday night. That moves Tampa Bay up to second, and Kansas City up to third. Kansas City is second in weighted DVOA, but they still haven't made it to second place in full-season DVOA. In fact, the Chiefs even dropped out of the top spot in offense when Patrick Mahomes threw three interceptions this week, passed by the Green Bay Packers. The Chiefs still have the better passing DVOA, but the Packers are much better running the ball and that makes up the difference.

The problem with Kansas City is that they just keep playing close games where they play well but don't put the opponent away. You can believe that Andy Reid is just holding back until the playoffs when things really matter, and maybe he is. But usually the top team in DVOA has big dominating victories, and the Chiefs don't really have many of those this year. On the other hand, the Chiefs are the most consistent team in the league, because they don't have bad games either. That's what has them as the Super Bowl favorites this year: they play well every week, even if they have yet to really dominate a game. We haven't run any of those fun week-to-week DVOA graphs yet this year, so here's Kansas City over its first 13 games. The line that's a different color is a five-week rolling average:

KC Graph

Kansas City has only two negative games all year: the Week 1 victory over Houston that DVOA really didn't like, and (just barely) the loss to the Raiders in Week 5. Let's compare that to New Orleans. The Chiefs have seven games this year with DVOA over 30%. The Saints have only five such games this year -- but four of those five games come out as better than any game that the Chiefs have played this year. Kansas City's highest game in DVOA is 51.0% for the Week 3 win over Baltimore. New Orleans had a higher single-game DVOA for four straight games from Week 9 to Week 12. Two of those were Taysom Hill games! Obviously the Week 12 game gets a big fat asterisk because of Denver's quarterback situation, but the other three games are still impressive. However, the Saints' loss to the Eagles this week also gets -36.9% DVOA, worse than any game the Chiefs have played all season. So while the Chiefs rank first with the lowest week-to-week variance, the Saints rank 31st, the second-least consistent team in the league from week to week. Here's their graph:

NO graph

Now, the Saints do fall out of the top spot if we take out the New Orleans defense for the Week 12 Denver game. In that case, Tampa Bay would be our No. 1 team in total DVOA while Kansas City would be the No. 1 team in weighted DVOA. So, who's better, up-and-down New Orleans or consistent Kansas City? Let's solve this battle on the field! It's the DVOA Bowl!

Well, sort of. This isn't a battle of the top two teams in DVOA because our system still loves Tampa Bay so much. But it is a battle of the top two teams in weighted DVOA. We don't know if Drew Brees is healthy enough to play, and the game isn't nearly as exciting (or evenly matched) with Taysom Hill at quarterback for the Saints. But it is something special, because the top two teams in DVOA (or weighted DVOA) don't meet that often.

We've written in past years about the DVOA Bowl. Now here's a look at the recent history of the Weighted DVOA Bowl: every game since 1999 where the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in weighted DVOA met during the regular season. As with the regular DVOA Bowl, the No. 2 team won these games more often than the No. 1 team, although some of that was connected to who got to be the home team. Winners are slightly shaded here:

Weighted DVOA Bowl since 1999
No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Weighted DVOA (Regular Season)
Year Week No.1 WEI
W-L No.2 WEI
W-L Home Result
2000 9 WAS 33.3% 6-2 TEN 32.0% 6-1 WAS TEN 27-21
2002 17 KC 29.2% 8-7 OAK 27.3% 10-5 OAK OAK 24-0
2004 9 PHI 37.6% 7-0 PIT 32.0% 6-1 PIT PIT 27-3
2004 17 PIT 44.2% 14-1 BUF 39.0% 9-6 BUF PIT 29-24
2006 4 SD 66.5% 2-0 BAL 55.8% 3-0 BAL BAL 16-13
2007 9 NE 74.4% 8-0 IND 50.4% 7-0 IND NE 24-20
2008 10 NYG 36.7% 7-1 PHI 34.7% 5-3 PHI NYG 36-31
2008 14 NYG 36.7% 11-1 PHI 30.4% 6-5-1 NYG PHI 20-14
2009 2 PHI 98.2% 1-0 NO 78.9% 1-0 PHI NO 48-22
2009 10 NE 44.1% 6-2 IND 34.3% 8-0 IND IND 35-34
2015 17 SEA 43.3% 9-6 ARI 33.4% 13-2 ARI SEA 36-6
2016 8 PHI 27.5% 4-2 DAL 23.2% 5-1 DAL DAL 29-23 (OT)
2018 11 KC 42.3% 9-1 LAR 28.9% 9-1 LAR LAR 54-51
2020 15 NO 30.4% 10-3 KC 27.0% 12-1 NO --

As for Tampa Bay, the Bucs went out and had their second-best game of the season this week with 65.3% DVOA against Minnesota. When I said the Saints were the second-least consistent team in the league this year, you may have asked yourself, who's the least consistent team? Why it's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of course. The Bucs have the second-best single game of the year against Green Bay, and the second-worst single game of the year against New Orleans. The funny thing is that the Bucs are pretty consistent except for those two games. Even though they have five losses, opponent adjustments mean that the second loss to New Orleans is the only negative game that Tampa Bay has all season. Here's their week-to-week graph:

TB graph

I've got one more week-to-week graph to show you this week, and this one belongs to the worst team in the league, the New York Jets. The Jets had their worst DVOA game of the season on Sunday against Seattle, and they now have better than even odds to go 0-16, yet they still haven't crossed the -40% barrier for the season. Right now, the Jets wouldn't even finish as one of the 25 worst teams in DVOA history. How is this possible, you may ask?

NYJ graph

There are probably a couple of games here where the Jets come out higher than you expect. First, their 31-13 Week 2 loss to San Francisco. The Jets' defense had a pretty good game in that one, keeping the San Francisco offense to a 38% success rate which was the second-lowest of that week. They gave up a lot of yards on two somewhat fluky long runs of 55 and 80 yards. Next, the Jets end up with a significant positive rating for the Week 9 game where they lost to the Patriots on a last-second field goal. That one was more about offense. The Jets offense in that game had a 61% success rate, the best in the league that week! Their average play outgained the average New England play, 7.3 to 5.7 yards.

We'll have to see where the Jets go from here. There's a significant difference in offensive DVOA between games started by Sam Darnold (-31.0%) and those started by Joe Flacco (-2.2%), so it's likely that the Jets of the next three weeks will be worse than the average of the Jets' performances in the first 13 games. We now give the Jets a 57.7% chance of going 0-16, and there's a good argument that this is too low. The simulator sees their best chance of a win as Week 16 against Cleveland, for two reasons. First, our simulator is still accounting for home-field advantage although it has been very small or even nonexistent over the last two seasons. Second, our numbers still don't like the Browns (21st in overall DVOA, 18th in weighted DVOA) although they did move into the offensive top 10 this week. But as I've noted in the past, there's a reason to believe the Browns are better than their full-season DVOA because their offense is dragged down specifically by two really horrible blowout losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The first one, in particular, is down to 40% strength in the weighted DVOA formula, but it's still in there. The Browns' offense is also artificially dragged down by two high-wind games, but their defense is helped by those games so it probably balances out.

And just to finish up for the week, let's update our odds on the NFC East producing a division champion with a losing record. These odds went down again this week with everyone but the Giants (most importantly, Washington) taking home a W:

  • Entire NFC East is 7-8-1 or worse: 43.2% (down from 44.9%)
  • Entire NFC East is 6-9-1 or worse: 4.4% (down from 7.6%)

Washington has even moved into the top half of the DVOA table with this week's win over San Francisco. Look out, here comes the NFC East! We now give Washington a 68.3% chance of winning the division, although that does not account for the possibility that Dwayne Haskins is going to have to start this week against Seattle.

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 14. Now that we've reached 13 games for each team, there's no more DAVE that combines weighted DVOA with the preseason projections. The playoff odds simulation is now based on weighted DVOA considering 2020 games only.

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 14 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 28.6% 1 30.5% 1 10-3 8.7% 8 -17.5% 2 2.5% 8
2 TB 27.7% 3 24.8% 3 8-5 13.8% 5 -15.2% 5 -1.3% 24
3 KC 25.0% 4 27.1% 2 12-1 27.6% 2 4.0% 18 1.4% 13
4 PIT 23.5% 2 23.4% 4 11-2 -2.1% 20 -24.4% 1 1.2% 14
5 LAR 21.1% 6 22.7% 5 9-4 12.3% 6 -16.3% 3 -7.5% 30
6 GB 19.6% 5 20.6% 6 10-3 28.6% 1 5.9% 20 -3.1% 26
7 BUF 16.2% 9 20.4% 7 10-3 12.1% 7 -0.3% 16 3.8% 5
8 SEA 15.5% 11 14.8% 9 9-4 14.8% 4 5.4% 19 6.1% 4
9 BAL 15.5% 8 10.9% 11 8-5 0.1% 18 -7.2% 8 8.1% 2
10 IND 15.5% 7 15.1% 8 9-4 1.3% 16 -11.3% 6 2.9% 7
11 MIA 11.6% 10 13.8% 10 8-5 0.4% 17 -4.7% 11 6.5% 3
12 ARI 7.2% 13 7.2% 12 7-6 1.8% 14 -6.1% 9 -0.7% 22
13 TEN 6.6% 12 6.8% 13 9-4 21.8% 3 10.0% 26 -5.2% 29
14 SF 3.5% 14 0.1% 16 5-8 -2.1% 21 -5.8% 10 -0.2% 20
15 CHI -0.7% 19 0.5% 15 6-7 -12.9% 26 -9.9% 7 2.3% 9
16 WAS -1.6% 17 1.2% 14 6-7 -18.8% 29 -16.2% 4 0.9% 15

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


70 comments, Last at 17 Dec 2020, 7:01pm

#1 by oaktoon // Dec 15, 2020 - 6:33pm

That DVOA still claims there are three teams better than them in their conference. Because as it stands those three teams have to play the first weekend and the Packers get to wait in balmy Green Bay for somebody (probably Seattle; perhaps Washington) to show up the next weekend and only ONE of those three, as it now stands, could become a potential opponent.

And unlike last season, when the differences were larger and in the case of SF v GB, revealing-- the gaps don't seem as large this year and the coach with the best winning percentage in the history of the league and the QB with the best TD/INT ratio in the history of the league might just be able to overcome them. After all somehow GB beat the Eagles whereas the Saints couldn't quite manage it. That "Hurts" Sean Payton, don't it.

I joke because I care. Truth is, as the "lowly" Browns proved last night, we know very little. Someone gonna win a title and it could be any of about 8 teams.

Points: 0

#3 by burbman // Dec 15, 2020 - 6:59pm

I could see any one of the three teams that DVOA likes more than GB making that trip.  NFC West will likely be decided in the week 16 game between LAR and SEA, leaving the losing party in a shootout with the 2nd place NFC South team to decide who gets to visit the "winner" of the NFC East.  Winner of that 4/5 game is the likely opponent for GB in the divisional round

Points: 0

#23 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Dec 16, 2020 - 10:15am

You don't think a 6 seed Bucs could go into LA or Seattle and win a playoff game there? I'm not a Brady fan so I don't want to see it, but it's certainly possible we could see a TB @ GB divisional matchup.

Points: 0

#45 by burbman // Dec 16, 2020 - 4:35pm

Yet another way one of those three teams could end up in GB.

Points: 0

#2 by jheidelberg // Dec 15, 2020 - 6:48pm

How do you account for that crazy last play of the game for DVOA?  I looked at the box score and Cleveland had 7 fumbles for the game!!  They really did fumble 3 times during the game.  But how do you account for 4 fumbles on the last play?  This play had to count for something, it was hardly meaningless because if someone slipped away and ran down the field for a TD, Cleveland wins. If someone was tackled on the Ravens side of the field by a horse collar tackle, a face mask, or a late hit out of bounds, Cleveland would have had time for an untimed down to kick a game tying FG.  That would have made it one of the most important plays of the season.

Also, the final stats even seem to be in disagreement, last night the play accounted for -25 yards.  Today, it seems as that Cleveland gained 22 yards back on the official stats (the official play seems to be that it is a reception for -3 yards before the backward tossing began).  If you give Cleveland a -25 yard play, their average gain for the game goes down substantially, making this play a deceptive skewing of the data even more.

In conclusion, are there crazy plays that create DVOA skewing?  Arizona had a similar play against Carolina in the playoffs in 2015, losing 19 yards on the last play of the game, thus giving them the fewest yards ever gained (78) in a playoff game (it was awful without the -19 yard play).

Points: 0

#4 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 15, 2020 - 7:13pm

It’s functionally a Hail Mary, and I think DVOA ignores those.

I was amused that the Jets defense is so bad, the spectacular nature of their failures is so improbable it buoys their DVOA.

Points: 0

#13 by Red // Dec 15, 2020 - 9:37pm

My understanding is that laterals after a pass count as passing / receiving yards until there is a fumble - then all remaining yardage on the play is counted as fumble return yardage.

Since DVOA ignores the length of fumble returns, this play probably just counts as a -3 yard pass ending in a fumble. 

Points: 0

#46 by Aaron Schatz // Dec 16, 2020 - 6:53pm

Sorry I'm just seeing this now... DVOA does not penalize for fumbles on the final play of the game when you have one of these crazy lateral plays. So it just counts as a pass for 2 yards, which is what it was before the first fumble.

Points: 0

#5 by junglejoe_lv // Dec 15, 2020 - 7:13pm

I hate the new DVOA database format! Why isn't it sortable anymore like you have the top 16 here? Also all the columns changed around rank and stats. Sure makes doing a spreadsheet hard every time you all change things like that. 

Points: 0

#20 by dbostedo // Dec 16, 2020 - 7:17am

It IS sortable. Just click on the column headings. (On a PC at least... I think they've been having iPad issues, if that's what you're using.)

Points: 0

#48 by Aaron Schatz // Dec 16, 2020 - 6:56pm

If you are having problem sorting tables, please do contact us at fo-support@edjsports.com.

Points: 0

#50 by junglejoe_lv // Dec 16, 2020 - 7:22pm

Ok. I was using old Explorer didn't work. Using EDGE does work.

Thank you.

Points: 0

#6 by DisplacedPackerFan // Dec 15, 2020 - 7:14pm

As a Packers fan Washington is a team I worry about facing on the NFC side of the playoffs along with LA, Tampa, and MIN. I don't really worry anymore than a normal game about anyone else. I know they played a disaster game in Tampa, but as I've discussed elsewhere I heavily discount results from games GB plays in Tampa. Weird shit happens to the team there. Realistically you have to hold GB under 24 to have a shot at winning. Indy managed to win with GB in the 30's, with the rare interception and some ST helps. But it's a challenge.

That Washington defense looks exactly like the formula to stop Rodgers. The offense is weak, yes, and their special teams return units (which GB has to worry about a lot too) aren't super, but I've seen them play a few games and that D worries me. It would just feel like an upset waiting to happen. It's not just the punch you in the mouth line, the corners make plays too which you need as well. 

The Rams D can do similar things and they have a good offense too. I just haven't seen them as much in recent weeks. But I actually feel like GB would be an underdog to them.

I know the NO D has gotten better since the game against GB and they have a good O and worrisome ST too, but I still don't worry about them anymore than I would worry about any normal game. I feel NO could win but feel more strongly they would lose. 

Tampa did shut GB down, while I discount it, it happened. I could happen again. Tom Brady is also annoyingly good, even with a decline (just like Rodgers the last couple of years, he wasn't as good but he could still be annoyingly good if you were facing him). With the game in GB I think GB should be favored. I worry about the Titans game but I don't see a loss to either Carolina or Chicgo so GB will be a higher seed than TB, I don't see GB getting 2 more losses.

I would worry about facing MIN in the playoffs if they sneak in. 1-1 against them this season, and they are just always tricky for GB, there isn't anything specific about this, I just always worry more about MIN. 

So as silly as it seems I'm pulling for someone else in the East to win the division.

Points: 0

#8 by jheidelberg // Dec 15, 2020 - 8:01pm

Because good defense does not stop good offense, how would anyone stop or contain a 54% DVOA passing game?    If you cut their effectiveness in half, at 27% passing DVOA, they are barely worse than Seattle and TB on passing offense.  Aaron wrote a few weeks ago that KC was one of the best pass offenses ever tracked, now GB may "pass" them in pass DVOA this year.

Bad offense stops itself, GB's below average defense is no match for the ineptitude of the Washington offense.   The only thing that may be able to stop or contain GB offense is extremely high winds, certainly not an NFL defense.

Points: 0

#10 by theTDC // Dec 15, 2020 - 8:56pm

Echoing what's said below, those other teams are afraid of playing Rogers and that offense in an away game. Unlike the Seahawks, who have an excellent deep passing game with Metcalf and Lockett, with an average remaining offense. My Rams have the perfect defense to shut that down, with excellent pass rush, and an excellent secondary that can shut those two receivers down.

The Packers just seem like a more generic excellent passing offense, with lots of short passes, play action rollouts, and all run by Rogers and his magic arm. So, Bucs game aside, I don't see any way to "break," that Packers offense, and I can easily see the mediocre Rams linebackers getting picked on all through the game.

I think you overestimate the matchup problems that GB will face. I would bet money they would do better versus the Bucs than the Saints, even though they beat the Saints earlier in the year, and got crushed by the Bucs. I just think it's an "Any Given Sunday" problem.

Points: 0

#24 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Dec 16, 2020 - 10:18am

I wouldn't be too worried if WFT happened to travel to Lambeau; however, for that to happen (assuming GB holds onto the #1), there would have to be no upsets (if you can call it that) from the 5-7 seeds. I don't foresee a sweep from the home team in all 3 Wild Card games, however the matchups end up.

Points: 0

#26 by ammek // Dec 16, 2020 - 11:20am

I'm not overlooking the possibility of Minnesota sneaking into the seventh spot, and Green Bay has been outplayed by the Vikings twice this year by DVOA. There are no easy playoff games.

Meanwhile, on the AFC side, everything is falling into place for the Ravens to earn the final wildcard and travel to Pittsburgh. If the first two postseason games featuring the third wildcard under the new format are GB-Min and Bal-Pit, the NFL will be jumping for joy – and one of the road teams will likely be the first #7 seed to win a playoff game.

The extra spot means it's gotten less probable that the 1 and 2 seeds meet up in the playoffs. That Rodgers-Brees postseason game doesn't look like it's going to happen! They've been dominant QBs in the NFC for 13 years – virtually as long as Brady-Manning lasted in the AFC – but have never faced off in an elimination game. In fact, New Orleans is the only NFC team that the Packers have never played in the playoffs. (They've played seven AFC teams, too, counting the Browns and Colts from the era before the merger.)

Points: 0

#33 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Dec 16, 2020 - 1:24pm

I agree I wouldn't want to face Minnesota, which makes getting the 1 seed all the more important. At least the Vikings would have to get through the Saints or Rams/Seahawks first.

There's also a decent chance the Vikings don't even make it and the Cardinals show up as a mediocre yet potentially dangerous 7 seed in New Orleans or Green Bay.

Points: 0

#7 by turbohappy // Dec 15, 2020 - 7:51pm

Was pretty surprised to see Indianapolis go down 3 spots after a pretty dominating victory against a good team. But it looks like #7-10 are all just about tied. Interesting collection of teams in that grouping.

Points: 0

#9 by Bobman // Dec 15, 2020 - 8:06pm

I'm looking more at Weighted now anyway.  Rivers has been quite good in the last 6-8 games or so, even though the D has met some stiffer competition and had some absences a couple weeks ago.

Points: 0

#14 by turbohappy // Dec 16, 2020 - 3:12am

True, this is the part of season where older FO versions would have been sorted by weighted DVOA and not total. Yeah injuries/absences have definitely shown just how important both lines are and how much better a few of the starters are than their backups.

Points: 0

#11 by Raiderfan // Dec 15, 2020 - 8:58pm

The Steelers offense is way worse than 20th, just ask the People that cover the Steelers (I live near Pittsburgh).

Also, you have notorious dinkers and dunkers Carr and Brady in the top five of ALEX.

also, the three oldest active quarterbacks in the league are the leaders in DPI.

On the plus side, thank you for working your magic on the software—the DVOA tables display normally with my iPad.

Points: 0

#12 by Raiderfan // Dec 15, 2020 - 8:58pm

The Steelers offense is way worse than 20th, just ask the People that cover the Steelers (I live near Pittsburgh).

Also, you have notorious dinkers and dunkers Carr and Brady in the top five of ALEX.

also, the three oldest active quarterbacks in the league are the leaders in DPI.

On the plus side, thank you for working your magic on the software—the DVOA tables display normally with my iPad.

Points: 0

#16 by Bobman // Dec 16, 2020 - 3:23am

Aaron, I am a complete sucker for the week-by-week tables.  Maybe I am a visual thinker (I am) but they just convey a crap-ton of data instantly and deliver it with a punch.  Such as NYJ's one good game, and TB's one great game and one horrid game.  No's one super game and the sad decline the past few weeks that a few Ws may have papered over until this last weekend.  Oh, okay, things aren't as good/bad as that one game skews things....  So thanks!

One thing I am curious about, and it may be available beyond the pay wall, is how teams vary within games, such as Indy's bizarre 1st half/2nd half performance.  Their D has pitched I think 4 games where they allowed 0-3 pts in the  2nd halves while the Colts scored 20+/- themselves.  Sadly, they usually come after a lackluster first half. (good halftime adjustments, or poor pre-game prep? Discuss!)   Do you ever do split analyses like that out of curiosity? For fun?  Is it available elsewhere?

Gracias, as always. Best site in town.

Points: 0

#19 by Vincent Verhei // Dec 16, 2020 - 6:14am

Yes, splits by quarter/half are available with a subscription to FO+. 


First half: 14.9%, 6th

Second half: -13.9%, 27th


First half: 7.3%, 23rd

Second half: -30.4%, 4th

Points: 0

#17 by SeaRhino // Dec 16, 2020 - 3:51am

Well, the defense has gotten a lot better. They are all the way up to below-average, which is great considering how this season started. The offense has regressed to being good, not great, on average, but they can be great at any time. The biggest problem they have on offense is that the OL is vulnerable against strong DLs, especially if they are backed up by decent DBs. Let's see, the next two games are against WFT and LAR... Well, that could easily go poorly. The Rams are a lot more worrying than the Football Team, because the defense should be able to hold up against WFT's offense. The best case scenario is that the defense keeps getting better (becoming, dare I dream, average) and the offense returns to being nigh-unstoppable (hopefully due to having a healthy OL and RBs). That's likely a 20% chance or less, but that's the scenario that gets us deep into the playoffs. If we really struggle with WFT and/or LAR (even if we manage to win), then one or two playoffs wins is probably the ceiling.

3% to 4% chance of winning the Superbowl feels about right (that would be roughly the odds of winning a series of four games at win percentages of 60%, 50%, 40%, and 30%), although those odds should drop to below 1% if the last three games go poorly. I could see a dominant final three games getting those odds up to 10%, but that's likely the absolute best case scenario.

Wilson's MVP chances are very much a long-shot at this point. He would need a dominant final three games, along with relatively poor performance by both Rogers and Mahomes, and even then, he would probably need a couple of incredible individual plays that get talked about all week. (And he would need Henry to not get to 2000 yards rushing.) This *might* get him there because enough voters feel bad about never giving him a single MVP vote. :-)

Points: 0

#27 by scraps // Dec 16, 2020 - 11:40am

that doesn’t give a hoo-hah about Wilson getting the MVP.  I don’t care about media-voted things.

Points: 0

#29 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 11:57am

They matter when people discuss legacies. Like it or not, people look at the All Pros and MVPs. If nothing else, flawed as they are, they reflect the perception of a player's peak.


Points: 0

#36 by scraps // Dec 16, 2020 - 2:47pm

I don't care when people discuss "legacies" either.  Most of it involves media-talk and opioniating, with statistics only used when they are bent to trumpet the arguers arguments.  Really, I hate, like, arguments about (say) who is the best all-time quarterback, rather than discussion about a player, good and bad, without much comparing.  Who-is-better is easy; any fan can do that, and sportswriters who mostly go down that road are mostly lazy.  Sportswriters who mostly eschew that road in their sportswriting are probably approaching journalism.



Points: 0

#41 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 4:05pm

In reply to by scraps

I am someone who rooted for a player so passionately that I believed he was the goat, but came to realize you can never divorce a player from context. Given that fact I'm not sure there ever will be an answer to who was the greatest quarterback of all time.

What kind of weaponry am I getting? How good is my offensive line? What kind of offense and coaching do I get? And how many years of elite play overcomes not being quite as good as some other players who did it in a shorter period of time? And Finally what era am I playing in with what set of rules?


I think you can arrive at half a dozen names to each of those questions.


Points: 0

#49 by SeaRhino // Dec 16, 2020 - 6:58pm

It definitely not possible to truly determine the GOAT, especially for the NFL. But there is a tier of player that can do things that strike fear in your heart if your team is playing against them (when they are in their prime, but at least for three to five years). For QBs post 1980, Brady, Manning, Rogers, Brees, Favre, Marino, Young, Montana, Elway, Mahomes, Wilson all make my list. For WRs post 1980, Rice, Moss, Harrison, Owens, Fitzgerald, Reed, Carter, Brown (Tim and Antonio), Megatron, Holt, Hill, Hopkins, Jones are on it.

I would argue that for a player to be in consideration for being the GOAT, they would have to make such a list and would have to have been a major part of winning at least two SBs. So for QBs, that would make it Brady or Montana, plus maybe Manning or Elway depending on whether you give them credit for being a "major part" of their second SB wins. For WRs, it's just Rice, but then of course it's just Rice...

Points: 0

#51 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 8:18pm

My issue with Sbs is thats a matter of things beyond the QBs control. Brady on the Lions may be sitting 1 or 0 Sbs. 

Points: 0

#53 by SeaRhino // Dec 16, 2020 - 10:04pm

The issue is whether by GOAT you mean purely "the player who would be most effective in any situation" vs. a combination of most effective and most accomplished. Most accomplished is easy: Brady by a mile. Most effective could be argued for a dozen different QBs (that's essentially what I'm doing with my "most feared" lists). But I personally like GOAT to be a mix of the two. Obviously, others may think differently, which makes it even harder to pin down a clear GOAT. 

Points: 0

#54 by SeaRhino // Dec 16, 2020 - 10:06pm

I want Largent to be on the list, but he just doesn't strike fear in my heart. Super-effective, highly underrated, but doesn't make me feel that sense of impending doom if you are facing him.

Points: 0

#57 by scraps // Dec 17, 2020 - 6:42am

He did retire with #1 career catches and #1 career touchdowns in the NFL.  But, you know, shrug.


Points: 0

#58 by t.d. // Dec 17, 2020 - 7:42am

Michael Irvin belongs on the wr list, if only for actually being better than still-in-his-prime Jerry Rice for the first half-decade of the '90s (short career due to the neck injury notwithstanding)

Points: 0

#61 by scraps // Dec 17, 2020 - 11:39am

But since Irvin was the most blatant cheater (always pushing off just before the ball got there) in my lifetime, I’m all right with unfairly leaving him off.

Points: 0

#55 by jheidelberg // Dec 17, 2020 - 3:02am

I so agree, the award in today's game is simply the best QB.  No one else could possibly deserve an MVP.  Since they do not count the playoffs, the award is absurd, as an MVP, QB could not possibly miss the playoffs.  If you counted the post season last year, clearly Mahomes was the MVP.



Points: 0

#18 by ammek // Dec 16, 2020 - 4:38am

Despite the unwelcome improvement in the NFC East, the teams are still delightfully ranked 26, 27, 28 and 29 in VOA for pass offense.

The Houston rush offense is historically bad, isn't it? It appears to be the second-worst of the last decade, behind only 2019 Miami. Back in 2011, the poorest rush offense had minus-18.1% DVOA; Houston is at minus-36.3%. The gap between best and worst seems to have grown substantially during the 2010s. I presume rushing by QBs is responsible for some of that (although you'd think that an offense helmed by DeShaun Watson ought to benefit from it).

Speaking of Houston: firing a head coach early in the season achieves nothing! The Texans and Falcons are both 4-9: not bad enough to get a top draft pick, but bad all the same. Atlanta is heading for the worst record in the conference, which is unforgivable with the roster it has. Both teams are ranked slightly (but only slightly) lower in weighted DVOA than in the season-long version. Just a wasted year.

Almost half of qualifying QBs (15 out of 34) were drafted in the top quartile of the first round of the draft. Just two of them are among the top 13 by DVOA – and, as we would all have guessed prior to the season, they are Phil Rivers in his 17th campaign and Josh Allen. Of course, this list excludes the top two picks from 2015 who haven't started a game between them.

Points: 0

#21 by Joseph // Dec 16, 2020 - 9:26am

Since this is the 1st 8 picks of the first round, it excludes Mahomes, Watson, and Roethlisberger--all drafted in the top half of the 1st round. Nicely cherry-picked endpoint.

Points: 0

#22 by tjb // Dec 16, 2020 - 9:54am

It is a pretty solid data point against tanking for a QB in the modern NFL.  If effective NFL QBs are available past pick 8 then any team can figure out a way to trade into position to get one if they really want to.

Points: 0

#25 by ammek // Dec 16, 2020 - 11:05am

Yes, it's no more arbitrary than "top five" or "top ten". And I agree that it's feasible to trade into the top eight without giving up the farm.

In a league with a fixed number of teams that is divisible by four, I tend to use "quartile" more than "top ten". In any case, if you extend the data set to the top ten draft positions, you only add one quarterback, albeit that one is Mahomes.

But I'd note that, in the present climate where QB is more valuable than ever, Roethlisberger would probably have gone in the top ten and possibly in the top quartile. I still can't quite believe that Watson didn't. Nevertheless, the data are what they are, and my intention was only ever to say "this is an interesting split" rather than "here is a clear and meaningful line separating the draft positions of good vs bad QBs".

Points: 0

#28 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 16, 2020 - 11:47am

Watson fell prey to an aversion to spread QBs, the failure of Tajh Boyd, and perhaps some lingering racism, but that last point flies a bit in the face of the team who did draft him.

Points: 0

#65 by bravehoptoad // Dec 17, 2020 - 2:52pm

Watson's big trouble was a brand-new statistic:  ball velocity.  His was much lower than any other QB that year, 49 mph, when most QB prospects are 55-60 mph. 

Of course...no one really knew what ball velocity meant to performance.  It turns out, not much.  At the time, though, it scared a lot of people off. 

Points: 0

#47 by Aaron Schatz // Dec 16, 2020 - 6:54pm

I meant to talk about the Houston run offense in the DVOA column this week. I totally forgot. I'll get that in next week. It is, in fact, historically horrendous. Last year's Dolphins were worse though.

Points: 0

#56 by jheidelberg // Dec 17, 2020 - 3:14am

I would be interested in seeing in the column next week if awful run offense correlates with awful pass offense.  Last year's Dolphins were not awful at passing, but 24th ranking is certainly not good.   I am wondering if Houston's gap between run and pass DVOA is historic for the teams that you will list in your column next week.  The idea that you need to "establish the running game" seems to be extremely flawed looking at Houston's excellent passing game.


Points: 0

#30 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 12:03pm

If the 2011 Packers faced this year's Chiefs on a neutral field, who would be favored? Its actually an interesting thought experiment with a lot of what you think about the Chiefs offense + how much defense is enough to swing the balance for the difference in Offense between the two.

I'd favor the Packers

Points: 0

#32 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Dec 16, 2020 - 1:19pm

That would be incredibly close. '11 Packers offense is better than the 20 Chiefs but the 20 Chiefs D is better than the '11 Packers D. McCarthy was still a good coach then so Reid would only have a slight edge. Special Teams DVOA between the two units are almost identical. Both with QBs coming off Super Bowl MVP seasons, though I would say Rodgers' big game performance was far better and more complete than Mahomes' was. Not that that would make a difference in this hypothetical matchup.

My guess is Rodgers would drive for a game-tying TD at the end of the 4th, get the ball to start OT, some WR or RB would fumble on the first play of the game, KC kicks a FG to win it. That's par for the course in the Rodgers era (that or he doesn't get the ball at all).

Points: 0

#38 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 16, 2020 - 3:41pm

Due to higher offensive and ST DVOA. And as we know offense is usually what dictates things so that and (slightly) better ST, the cherry on top, that pushes them over the top imo. Especially when you break it down even further and see they had a higher pass AND rush DVOA (unadjusted as well). If the 7-6 Raiders can drop 40 on the Chiefs IN Kansas City...oof, Ill take GB in a shootout. 

And running a quick, rough sim on whatifsports the 2011 Packers beat the 2019 Chiefs (close enough when you put Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams as the starting RBs and Deon Yelder as the backup TE), 28-26 at the neutral site of Adelphia Coliseum.

Points: 0

#39 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 16, 2020 - 3:56pm

Said Raiders did better against NO and TB than GB did...

Points: 0

#59 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 17, 2020 - 9:34am

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Leading all this off was an argument about the 2020 Packers offense vs 2020 KC. I was pointing out that the Raiders have been surprisingly salty against some of the better teams on their schedule.

If we want to bring up 2011, said Packers and their offense were held to 14 by a 7-9 Chiefs team on their second coach. 

Points: 0

#62 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 17, 2020 - 12:54pm

Does that mean good? I mean I guess they're not that bad but the point I'm illustrating is the 2011 Packers offense was a lot better than this years Raiders. And like I said below, both losses occurred to teams with better defenses than this years Chiefs. Even though the '11 Packers defense wasn't good, the most points allowed that entire season including playoffs, was 41 in week 17 vs the 10-6 playoff Lions. And they won. By 4. With Matt Flynn. The weapons on that team ran deep, much deeper than the '20 Raiders.

So they allowed a lot but it didnt matter because their offense was lit. Doubt the '20 Chiefs can hold them to 14 like the '11 Chiefs. Or even 20 like the '11 Giants. 

Points: 0

#63 by theslothook // Dec 17, 2020 - 1:03pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I think his point was that the Raiders have been interestingly competitive in some games against good teams and then faceplant against bad one's, suggesting they are higher variance.

The packers defense was 26th and 8th in variance, so while the scoring totals won't show it, it was a consistently terrible defense all year. 

Interestingly, the 2011 Giants had the 21st ranked defense that was in fact worse than the 2020 KC defense. So in theory, yes, if the 2011 Giants can hold the 2011 Packers, then the Chiefs COULD as well. 

Points: 0

#68 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 17, 2020 - 4:10pm

But neither teams respective defenses are good so it comes down to offense as most games do and like I said the Packers were better in both rush and pass but most importantly, total (they didn't run so much) and I think the Packers offense wouldnt be stopped at all, 

Points: 0

#40 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 4:02pm

Biggest problem with the Packers in 2011 was defense was so bad and remained terrible the entire year that any game their offense didn't play well was a guaranteed loss. It's a testament to the Packers offense that they basically had two bad games all year on offense, one just happened to happen in the playoffs.

Points: 0

#43 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 16, 2020 - 4:28pm

had better defensive DVOA than the 2020 Chiefs. Packers O was on another level (still the best OSRS in franchise history) and had more than one WR like they do this year, with James Jones probably the best WR4. Shame the way it ended.

Points: 0

#64 by theslothook // Dec 17, 2020 - 1:04pm

The 2011 Giants had the 21st ranked defense. The 2020 Chiefs currently have the 18th ranked defense. Both by DVOA

Points: 0

#66 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 17, 2020 - 3:58pm

20 Chiefs: 4%


11 Giants: 3.3%


11 Chiefs: -2.3% (actually good!)

Defense as a whole is worse now so that's why the NYG ranked lower in 11.

Chavarius Ward (most played Chiefs CB this year) trying to shut down PB Greg Jennings? Naaaah And Packers overall the defense was bad but I think AP/PB Charles Woodson can shut down Hill a liiiiiiiitle more often as PB Clay and Raji rush to finish off the play. 

Points: 0

#67 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 17, 2020 - 4:07pm

This gets to the difficulty with era-adjustment.

Points: 0

#31 by All Is On // Dec 16, 2020 - 1:16pm

DVOA has the Packers and Chiefs offenses at almost a dead heat. Their pass offenses are both excellent and the differences in their run games are largely down to opponent adjustments (KC's run VOA is actually slightly higher than GB's). It seems like their passing offenses are very different, though. KC's seems predicated on danger - they have the weapons to score from anywhere at any time. Add those weapons on top of Reid's coaching and the best QB in the league, and you have a pretty predictable result: they're extremely good. If you gave someone a choice between the offensive players on these two teams, I think most neutral observes would choose KC.

GB's offense doesn't seem like it should compete with KC's on paper, but it seems like they get there just by being excellent in all aspects down-to-down. The o-line has been really good, despite injuries to pretty much everyone. The play-calling has been really good. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones have both been reasonably healthy and playing as well as you would expect them to. Their receiving weapons outside of Adams, a glaringly huge problem on paper prior to the season, have been generally useful, which has to qualify as a surprise. Rodgers is back to being Aaron Freaking Rodgers, which is obviously huge. Based on last year with largely the same personnel, you would've thought they'd be a good-but-not-great offense, but they've gotten to best in the league just basically by having no holes in their plan or execution. 

Based on that, I think Matt LaFleur deserves a lot more Coach of the Year hype. This offense, in my opinion, is operating at the absolute maximum potential of its constituent parts. If that's not great coaching, I don't know what is.

(Full disclosure: I'm a Packers fan, if that wasn't already obvious. I know, I know, the obnoxious Green Bay homers are multiplying)

Points: 0

#34 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 1:36pm

I have more faith in the Chiefs offense than this Packers offense. I know the numbers suggests its a dead heat. The Chiefs have not been a great offense all year or even in game. However, the potential to explode at any time cannot be denied and it seems absolutely no lead is safe.

I have more faith that the Chiefs over matched defense will do a better job slowing down this Packers offense than vice versa. There are chasm sized mismatches everywhere for the Chiefs offense. And considering that they know what offense they are facing, I suspect Andy Reid would push the Nuclear launch button from jump.

Honestly, I like Rodgers a lot, but I do feel like this offense is playing way above its true mean capacity and that's kind of why I don't trust it to last the whole year. 

Points: 0

#37 by All Is On // Dec 16, 2020 - 3:38pm

I agree with you here. The Packers often have stretches (sometimes a quarter, sometimes more) where the offense just sputters. A holding call here, a go-nowhere second-and-nine run playcall there, and two or three drives in a row will just stall. Absolutely everything has to go right for the Packers O to succeed at the level they have with this personnel and, with the exception of the Tampa Bay game, it largely has. They're operating at their peak. Where I differ from you is that I think they've done a good enough job demonstrating this excellence over 13 games that it's what you should expect from them going forward unless something fundamental changes.

KC feels like they're operating at about the mean expectation given their whole situation. It's very easy to imagine them playing better than this and just lighting a couple of defenses on fire on their way to another SB appearance. I have no quarrel with anyone stating that KC's offense is better, even given the similar results between the two to this point.

Points: 0

#42 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 4:12pm

Whats holding me back about this offense is I don't trust anyone outside of devante Adams or Aaron Jones in the passing game as a legitimate star.

I think the difference between this offense and last year's offense is Aaron Rodgers is playing back to his normal standards. 


I should also add that the Chiefs supporting cast is giving me pause about exactly what Mahomes is in a vacuum. Tyreek Hill is Moss like in his ability to generate kill shots. He's not as good as Moss obviously and doesn't have the leaping ability, but his speed allows him to get behind the defense at least three times a game it seems. And then you have Kelsey tearing you apart as well with more than competent supporting players in Watkins and Hardman. There's just so much firepower in this offense. 

I have no doubt that Patrick Mahomes is a very good quarterback, but I do believe this offense plays to all of his strengths and mitigates his worst tendencies

Points: 0

#35 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2020 - 1:46pm

A thought occurred to me: fully healthy is this the most talented non qb offense I've ever seen.  Its at least a discussion.

I think their biggest stars are a notch below some other offenses and their o line is mostly competent except for awesome star in Schwartz.

Otho, they run so deep everywhere else.


Or maybe I'm just being swayed by today's offensive climate.

Points: 0

#60 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 17, 2020 - 9:41am


1993 or 1995 Cowboys. 1995 had more black ink, but 1993 was closer to its prime and deeper.

You had a HOFer at RB and WR. You had PBers at FB and TE. You had PB/APs all over the line. The 1995 team had a HOFer at RG. Your biggest weakness was at WR2 (and Harper was pretty good) or RG in the Gogan/Gesik years. And they weren't bad, either. That team was impossibly stacked.

There's a solid chance Aikman was the 3rd worst player on his own offense.


Points: 0

#69 by jgov // Dec 17, 2020 - 5:47pm

They might not even be the best recent Chiefs non-QB offense. From 2002-04 the Chiefs were the best or one of the best offenses in football without a HOF or even a AP QB, which is unique in the modern NFL. They had 2 HOF and 1 PB OLs, the GOAT TE, an AP1 RB, and PB FB. Their WR group is weak for this discussion, but at least Kennison was a good deep threat. Imagine what that team could have done if you plugged in a top QB (though to be fair Green was above avg.) and even a semblance of a defense. 

The 1999-01 Rams are the other obvious answer, with an HOF LT, HOF RB, 2 HOF WRs (assuming Holt eventually gets in), and a good WR 3/4. 

Points: 0

#70 by theslothook // Dec 17, 2020 - 7:01pm

That Chief's offense is trading skill position talent for offensive line talent.

Yes I know Gonzo might be the trump card. 

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Aaron
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Aaron Schatz. Use promo code SCHATZ to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Aaron.