DVOA Has Patriots Closing in on Bucs

Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots
Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 12 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold on to the top spot in our DVOA ratings after Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season, but the gap between the Bucs and the rest of the league got a lot tighter this week. New England and Buffalo both had huge games and the two AFC East rivals leap past Arizona and now rank second and third. New England even passes Tampa Bay to rank No. 1 in weighted DVOA, our metric which drops the weight of games from earlier in the season to get a better idea of how well teams are playing now.

New England coming out of Week 12 with the best single-game rating at 90.7% may be a big surprise if you remember how well the Titans were running all over the Patriots defense. But the Patriots had their second-best offensive game of the season, leading all NFL teams this week with 6.9 yards per play and no turnovers. The Patriots really turned it on in the fourth quarter when the offense needed to run clock to seal the victory while the defense was shutting Tennessee down for good. The Patriots went from 42.7% offensive DVOA and 10.1% defensive DVOA in the first three quarters to 104.1% offensive DVOA and -97.8% defensive DVOA in the fourth quarter! The fourth quarter defense featured an interception and two forced fumbles, although the Titans recovered one of those. Yes, Khari Blasingame's meaningless fumble in the final minute does count, though with less weight than usual because the Patriots were leading by over three touchdowns.

Buffalo coming out of Week 12 with the second-best single-game rating at 72.3% is less of a surprise if you subjected yourself to their game with New Orleans on Thanksgiving night. The Bills put up their second-best defensive performance of the season at -53.5%, although there's a small asterisk there because the Saints' opponent adjustments are based on half a season of Jameis Winston and half a season of Trevor Siemian. The Bills' big Thanksgiving game now gives them five different games this season with a single-game rating over 60%. The Patriots have three such games and no other team has more than two.

Buffalo's variance is now 44.5%, which is the highest we have ever tracked going back to 1983. Someone pointed out on Twitter a week ago that it's not necessarily proper to compare variance after Week 12 to full-season variance; the Week 12 numbers should be a little higher because it's a smaller sample size. That's true, but Buffalo's current DVOA variance is also higher than any DVOA variance ever just through Week 12. Look for an article going further into the most inconsistent teams in DVOA history over at ESPN+ next Monday.

Of course, that article is running Monday because the No. 2 Patriots visit the No. 3 Bills on Monday night in one of the biggest games of the season. We're going to see some real definition at the top of the DVOA ratings over the next few weeks. The Bills play three of their next four games against either the Patriots or the Buccaneers. The Patriots play two games against the Bills plus one against the No. 8 Indianapolis Colts. The Buccaneers... well, not every game can be this exciting. The Bills are the only top-10 team left on the remaining Tampa Bay schedule, which also includes games against the Saints, Falcons, Jets, and two against the Carolina Panthers.

Speaking of both high variance and the Carolina Panthers, the Panthers were abysmal this week, especially after adjusting for the fact that their 33-10 loss came to the No. 26 Miami Dolphins. Carolina's single-game rating of -126.8% was the second lowest for any team in any game this season, ahead of only the Houston Texans in their Week 4 abomination against Buffalo. Carolina's schedule this season combines that game and five others below -35% with two games above 80%, Week 2's 26-7 victory over New Orleans and Week 10's 34-10 win over Arizona. So Carolina now has the second-highest variance this year at 38.1%. That would be the third-highest variance ever measured if the season ended today, behind only the Bills and the 2005 San Francisco 49ers.

Returning to the top of the charts, Dallas drops less than you might expect after an overtime loss to Las Vegas where both teams ended up with DVOA above 20%. The Cowboys are now tied with the Cardinals, who fell a little bit on their week off due to changes in opponent adjustments. Next we have the Rams at 6, the 49ers at 7, and the Colts at 8. All three teams had DVOA for this week's games that was above zero but lower than their season totals, so each team drops a small amount. The Saints fall three spots from ninth to 12th, moving Kansas City up to ninth and Minnesota (despite the loss to San Francisco) up to 10th. The Packers move up to 11th. I keep waiting for the Packers to have that big dominant win that really boosts them in DVOA, but it hasn't happened yet. They have DVOA between 30% and 40% for each of their last three games; in fact, Green Bay hasn't had a game with DVOA below zero since that terrible loss to New Orleans way back in Week 1. But four of their games are in single digits: the Jordan Love loss to Kansas City and wins over Detroit, Cincinnati, and Arizona.

Let's talk a little today about two teams that are right in the middle of our rankings, but may not be where you expect them to be given their win-loss records and recent results. The Seattle Seahawks have looked horrible in recent games and have a 3-8 record but somehow still rank 17th in DVOA. The Cincinnati Bengals have looked awesome in two big victories over fellow AFC contenders and now have a 7-4 record but somehow rank 18th in DVOA. How on earth are the Bengals lower than the Seahawks?

First, let me point out that DVOA is not alone in this assessment of the two teams. For example, ESPN's FPI has the Seahawks and Bengals in the exact same spots: 17th and 18th, respectively. Pro Football Reference's SRS is more sanguine about the Bengals, who rank ninth, but feels similarly about the Seahawks, who rank 18th.

Let's take on the Cinncinnati Bengals first. The biggest issue with the Bengals is schedule strength. Only the Buffalo Bills have played an easier schedule so far by average DVOA of opponent, so there's a very large gap of more than 10 percentage points between Cincinnati's VOA (without opponent adjustments) and DVOA. Cincinnati's 7.9% VOA ranks 12th, which fits a lot better with their 7-4 record.

Then, let's look at a breakdown of Cincinnati's performance. First on offense: Cincinnati's 46.2% success rate ranks 14th in the NFL so far. They have 5.88 yards per play with spikes/kneels removed, which ranks 11th. They have 15 turnovers, which ranks 17th. They've done all this against the easiest schedule of opposing defenses in the league. That's not a great offense; it's an average offense.

The defense looks better. They've allowed a 42.6% success rate, which is seventh in the NFL. 5.61 net yards pre play allowed is 19th. Fourteen turnovers ranks 14th. Their schedule strength on defense is 27th. So that's a good defense, but not a great one.

How do those stats add up to 309 points scored and 226 points allowed, both sixth in the league? I'm not quite sure. Even before adjusting for opponent strength, those stats above don't point to a team that should be sixth in points scored and allowed. It helps to rank 29th in opposing field goal value over expectation, but the Bengals don't have an abnormal number of defensive touchdowns (two against them, one for them). They aren't particularly strong in the red zone, either: the offense gets better, 11th in DVOA, but the defense gets worse, 26th. The offense has been good at turning drives into points in a way that may not be sustainable: they rank 20th in yards per drive but ninth in points per drive.

Things are about to get harder for the Bengals. They have the fifth-toughest schedule remaining. The issue isn't playing against any of the best teams in the league, but rather that all of their remaining opponents rank in the top 20. There are no easy games remaining. But our odds simulation still puts the Bengals in the playoffs 53% of the time.

Next, let's look at the Seattle Seahawks. We joke a lot around here about "Team X has broken DVOA" whenever a team is ranked differently than conventional wisdom. But, in all seriousness, the Seattle Seahawks may have broken DVOA and every other advanced metric out there that is based on per-play efficiency.

DVOA always has a problem when a team combines a lot of three-and-outs with a handful of big gains. This happens with a few games every season. We end up with a team that has a low number of plays but a reasonable number of yards, and that computes as good efficiency even though the team often didn't have the ball enough to win the game. In the long run, this isn't an issue, because in the long run more efficient teams will tend to convert more first downs and thus have longer drives that eventually score points. But Seattle is not doing that. The Seahawks are running fewer plays than any other team, game after game after game. You've probably seen this stat elsewhere, but Seattle has run 595 plays when every other team in the league has run at least 645 plays and the average team has run 713 plays. So even though Seattle's average of 5.52 yards per play isn't much below the league average of 5.60 yards per play, the Seahawks are not scoring many points because they just never have the ball.

The Seahawks would end up lower in offensive DVOA if they turned the ball over, but they almost never do that. All those failed plays on first and second and third down generally are worth 0 success points in the DVOA system, while turnovers are worth negative points. The Seahawks are dead last in the league in turnovers per drive, with just 5.8% of drives ending in turnovers, so they have a ton of those zeroes but none of the negative numbers that would really drag their offensive DVOA down.

I would love to say that we've never seen anything like this combination of low turnover rate with a high number of three-and-outs, but the fact is there's another team with the same combination just this year. Seattle right now is 30th in three-and-outs per drive (28.3%) and first in turnovers per drive (5.8%). The Minnesota Vikings are 29th in three-and-outs per drive (25.8%) and second in turnovers per drive (6.5%). Yet, the Vikings run more plays in the average drive when they don't go three-and-out, and they score more points overall than the Seahawks do.

What's remarkable about Seattle is the combination of average yards per play with such a low number of plays per drive. But it's not unique. Right now, Seattle averages 5.04 plays per drive. Other teams have averaged a similar number of plays per drive recently, but look at where those teams come out in yardage compared to this year's Seahawks:

Recent Teams with Low Plays/Drive
Year Team Plays/Dr Yd/Play TO/Dr
2013 NYG 5.07 5.05 0.206
2018 MIA 5.06 5.37 0.131
2012 ARI 5.04 4.16 0.150
2021 SEA 5.04 5.52 0.058
2018 ARI 5.03 4.33 0.155
2016 MIA 5.03 5.91 0.114
2015 STL 4.97 5.29 0.106

It turns out there was a recent team similar to the Seahawks... and that team had a winning record! The 2016 Miami Dolphins combined running very few plays with an even more efficient offense in terms of yardage, although they also committed more turnovers than this year's Seahawks. And that Miami team went 10-6 and made the playoffs despite being outscored by opponents over the course of the season. The 2016 Dolphins ranked 20th in DVOA, so DVOA had them ranked lower than their record, not higher. That just makes me even more confused about this year's Seahawks. Maybe they haven't broken DVOA at all, and they're just better than conventional wisdom says they are. As bad as the Seahawks looked this week, they did only lose by a 2-point conversion.

Two other Seahawks notes. First, as you can imagine, a team that keeps going three-and-out has terrible numbers on third downs. Seattle's offense has 1.3% DVOA on first down, which ranks 14th in the league. The Seahawks improve to 25.4% DVOA on second down, which ranks third. Then they drop to -28.0% DVOA on third or fourth down, which ranks 28th in the league. In particular, they have a dismal -107.2% DVOA on third-and-long. Only Baltimore (!) is worse on third-and-long.

Second, there's not a clear delineation in Seattle's offensive DVOA before and after Russell Wilson's finger injury. Yes, the Seahawks have been worse over the past three weeks, but their decline began in Week 4, not when Geno Smith took over at quarterback (Week 6) or when Wilson returned (Week 10). Here are the splits with where the Seahawks rank during each time period. Offense has been down overall for the past month, which is why Seattle's DVOA in the last three weeks is a lot lower than in Weeks 4-5 but the rank isn't much different.

Seattle Offensive DVOA by Week, 2021
Weeks DVOA Rank
Weeks 1-3 37.6% 2
Weeks 4-5 9.8% 17
Weeks 6-8 (Geno) -18.3% 28
Weeks 10-12 -12.0% 19

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 12. 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 12 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. 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 weighted DVOA (weighted towards games from the last two months) to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 16% preseason forecast and 84% actual performance for teams with 11 games played, and 7% preseason forecast and 93% actual performance for teams with 12 games played.

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 TB 30.8% 1 28.9% 2 8-3 26.0% 1 -6.2% 6 -1.5% 24
2 NE 28.5% 3 33.1% 1 8-4 7.4% 11 -17.8% 2 3.4% 3
3 BUF 26.8% 5 22.1% 3 7-4 3.2% 16 -22.5% 1 1.0% 14
4 ARI 21.7% 2 15.3% 5 9-2 8.1% 10 -12.5% 3 1.1% 13
5 DAL 21.7% 4 17.0% 4 7-4 10.0% 7 -9.7% 4 1.9% 10
6 LAR 16.8% 6 13.2% 9 7-4 14.0% 4 -4.4% 9 -1.6% 25
7 SF 14.6% 7 15.3% 6 6-5 14.1% 3 -1.3% 10 -0.7% 20
8 IND 12.2% 8 14.9% 7 6-6 8.2% 9 -1.1% 12 3.0% 4
9 KC 11.6% 10 14.7% 8 7-4 12.7% 6 5.7% 26 4.6% 2
10 MIN 10.8% 11 11.1% 11 5-6 8.7% 8 0.9% 17 2.9% 5
11 GB 10.2% 13 13.2% 10 9-3 13.8% 5 -0.6% 13 -4.3% 30
12 NO 8.9% 9 4.9% 14 5-6 -0.8% 20 -9.3% 5 0.4% 16
13 BAL 5.6% 15 5.4% 13 8-3 1.3% 17 1.5% 18 5.7% 1
14 CLE 5.5% 17 2.1% 15 6-6 5.5% 13 -0.2% 14 -0.2% 18
15 PHI 5.4% 12 5.7% 12 5-7 6.8% 12 2.7% 21 1.2% 12
16 LAC 3.7% 14 2.0% 16 6-5 14.6% 2 3.7% 23 -7.2% 32

Click here for the full table.


93 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2021, 9:28am

1 DVOA is Stubborn

But to be fair, nobody, no metric, no expert can figure out this league this season.

But I give you the NFC West-- from the eye test, and DVOA, clearly the best division in football. Its four teams are currently ranked 4-6-7-17.

And you know what they have in common?

They all lost to the crap team at #11-- all four of them.  One played at home facing that opponent, which was missing 9 starters, including an All-Pro WR, an All-Pro tackle, two other starting receivers, a Pro Bowl cornerback, Pro Bowl outside LB/pass rusher and three other starters. To be fair, that team has only lost one other game all season, and won twice without their star QB. But they lost that night, didn't they?

The Packers are either going to defy DVOA this season, or, like 2019, be drowned by it.  

3 the packers

The Packers are hardly a "crap team".  They suffer from an early-season loss to a full-strength Saints team.  And not just a loss, a horrendous loss.  Aside from that, they have two losses: one in KC when Rodgers didn't play and the loss in Minnesota.  And divisional losses on the road are to be expected.  

Going 4-0 vs. the NFC West is no mean feat.  If they didn't have a recent history of underperforming in the playoffs, they'd be a reasonable Super Bowl favorite from the NFC.  And, really, they gave the Bucs the toughest game in the playoffs last year.

5 Sarcasm, my friend

In reply to by RickD

I love the DVOA twists and turns that somehow seem at odds with how Matt La Fleur (second fastest coach to win 35 games in NFL history) wins football games

12 I know you kinda caught…

In reply to by RickD

I know you kinda caught yourself about the playoff under performance statement but I do have some data about results.

DVOA has basically had them pegged in the playoffs under Rodgers (and Favre for that matter). They pretty much do what is expected. I actually went through the playoffs and tracked if they were DVOA favorites or underdogs (by full season DVOA) and how they did. This was a few weeks back. To recap.

Under Rodgers they are 8-2 as the DVOA favorites and 3-7 as the DVOA underdogs.
The 2 losses as favorites were 2009 to ARI (Rodgers first playoff game) and 2011 to that NYG team that went on to win it all.
The 3 underdog wins were 2010 in the Super Bowl to PIT. 2016 against DAL and 2019 against SEA.

All the recent losses were to teams that DVOA thought was better. Again GB does what you expect them to do in the playoffs if you feel that DVOA measures a team correctly.

Favre was 9-3 as favorite and 3-7 as underdog but the underdog wins were mostly early career; 2 of them in 95 vs ATL and SFO and the 3rd in 2001 against SFO. His losses as favorite were late career (2003 PHI, 2004 MIN, 2007 NYG). I don't have Favre's MN data.


Oh and yes I did this exercise for Brady too and well he is completely insane as you would expect based on the number of playoff wins and SB wins, and everything else for the most accomplished NFL player in history.  As DVOA favorites with NE he was 16-8 and 14-3 as an underdog. The TB run was 3-0 as Fav and 1-0 as underdog (NO had a better DVOA) so his career is 19-8 as Favorite and 15-3 as underdog by DVOA.

13 Underperform?

In reply to by RickD

How does GB have a recent history of Underperforming in the playoffs? Last year they were # 3 in DVOA and lost in the NFL Title Game to #2 in DVOA.

In 2019 they were #9 in DVOA and lost in the NFC Title Game on the road to #5 in DVOA.  There is a stronger argument they have overperformed rather than underperformed in recent history.

23 OK go through it

In reply to by Q

2009-- Rodgers' first playoff game. They beat Arizona badly at same venue the week before (the Cardinals were clearly playing possum under Whisenhunt)--  so the defeat isn't shocking, but Warner torched the GB defense...

2010-- we all know what happened-- buried in the "DVOA had this right statement" was the fact that the Packers were a wild card and had to beat 3 straight teams on the road, including #1 seed Atlanta (who had beaten them earlier in the season) and #2 seed CHicago (who the Packers had beaten in the final week to make the playoffs)  So yes, a bit of overperforming

2011-- I don;t care about DVOA. When you have gone 15-1, had a week off, and are playing at Lambeau, you should beat the Giants. And certainly give them a better game than you did-- including allowing a Manning Hail MAry to end the first half.

2012-- Defense absolutely shredded by Kaepernick. Blowout defeat at SF, and wouldn;t be their last. So the nature of the defeat bites

2013-- lucky in a Rodgers injury year to win the division (8-7-1) and get a home game. But then again with Rodgers they still seemed like an elite team. DVOA can't take into account that he missed 9 games. So a home defeat to SF is disappointing

2014--Well if they had beaten SEA in the NFC championship, that's definitely an overperformance. (they beat the Patriots at Lambeau that season so a SB win would hardly have been an aberration) But when your safety intercepts a ball with a 19-7 lead in Seattle territory with just over 5 mins remaining and open field to his left, you win that game-- 99 times out of 100. The fact that they didn't is a hurt that will never go away. OTOH maybe Dez did make that catch and Aaron doesn't lead GB for a game winning drive afterwards and they never go to Seattle.

2015-- a weakened team-- Rodgers got to overtime with two of the most incredible back-to-back throws in NFL history-- then ARIZ won the toss and the Packers defense imploded

2016-- Did well to get to the title game, Atlanta was better but it was a boat race

2019--Did well to get to the title game. SF was better but it was a boat race.

2020-- The issue is less the outcome than how it was achieved-- Rodgers-Adams failing on a near-certain TD pass in first half, the killer Rodgers INT just before halftime, followed by the inexplicable defensive breakdown allowing Miller to get free and score a TD just before the whistle, followed by a Jones fumble deep in GB territory on the opening series of the 2nd half, But for Brady's 3 second half picks it's never even a shout at the end and the LaFleur take the ball out of his hands decision.

So overperforming? A little in 2010, maybe 2016/2019 until they got slaughtered in the title games, so I can't give that an overperformance label. 2014 was until the humongous choke happened. Underperforming? 2011, 2012 and 2013 (given blowout road defeat and home defeat the next season when they were much better than DVOA would have assumed given Rodgers' injury)  And 2020 was a close game that the Packers threw away before Brady tried to hand it back.  Underperforming is a far better conclusion than overperforming or DVOA knows what it is doing...When they lose, it is either by a whole lot or in an inexplicable or very disappointing fashion

29 Underperforming

-1st you said GB underperformed in recent history. I have no idea how games from 2011-16 are part of recent history.

-2011 is very debatable if GB underperformed. Their Defense was awful, the death of a coach's son? that week, and losing to the eventual SB Champ makes it hard to look like much of an underperformance.

-2012 GB was on the road vs a higher rated team in DVOA. By definition not underperforming.

-2013 Barely lost at home to a team that was better in DVOA 2 straight years. Definitely not an underperformance.

-2014  Lost on the road @#1 in DVOA. Definitely not underperformance 

2015- Lost on the road to a team wayyyyy higher in DVOA. Definitely not Underperformance 

2016-By far an overperformance. With as injury decimated as they were they had 0 chance in a dome vs ATL

2019- Definitely not an underperformance. Lost on the road to a significantly better team that was GB's worst matchup in the league which was seen the 1st time they played.

2020- Not an underperformance. They lost to a terrible matchup for them which was clear when they lost by 100 previously that year.


32 um

"?-1st you said GB underperformed in recent history. I have no idea how games from 2011-16 are part of recent history."

I would say anything in the Rodgers era is "recent history".  I don't know how old you are, but, geez.  If your definition of "recent" only includes 3-4 years, you might at least understand that the same isn't true for everybody else.


41 Ok counter argument

2011  They were 15-1 with a week off. The death of Philbin's son hurt, so did Jennings coming back from injury and not being entirely in synch wth Rodgers. But they had the Bye, and they played very poorly. Their worst game of season. That is an underperformance

2012-- not the outcome, the manner, A blowout in which I think Kaepernick ran for over 200 yards  Underperformance

2013-- Again, DVOA can't measure Rodgers missing 9 games. With him they were 5-1 and were leading the game he got hurt in, which is now credited as a loss for him....Without him they were 3-6-1.... It was home it was close. I'd call it a wash. SF wasn't as good that year as the year prior

2014-- You are taking one metric. The loss was the single biggest choke job I have ever seen a team I root for produce, culminating with a dropped onside kick by a guy who had been told to block and let Jordy Nelso catch the ball directly behind him. So as I said the entire playoff run would have been an overperformance. The nature of the loss to Seattle puts it into some other horrific territory

2015-- I agree

2016--It was the tile game itself that was the underperformance  Boat raced. That counts against a team. If they go to Atlanta and lose 31-21, in the game until midway through the 4th quarter, that's not an underperformance. A blow out is.

2019- Ditto.

2020-- Agreed about outcome.. But damn they played very badly. Teams that save some of their worst games for the biggest games are, by any definition, underperformers. The Rodgers Packers have become far too adept at just that. We shall see about this year...

43 I think your statement of “I…

I think your statement of “I don’t care about DVOA” pretty much sums it up. 

FYI - this is the site that invented DVOA. Actually, this article is a DVOA analysis article. You’re welcome to your opinion, but as was already stated - the packers have essentially performed as expected relative to DVOA. Even in 2010 when DVOA thought they were amazing despite their 10-6 record. And even in 2011 when DVOA thought they were frauds despite what their 15-1 record said. And basically every other year too. 

57 DVOA isn't all-encompassing

It's entirely reasonable to not view DVOA as the end-all, be-all of football analysis.  It doesn't accurately and perfectly assign scores that exactly measure team strength.  It is a tool, not an oracle.

That you would elevate DVOA's measurement, which is averaged over all performances in a given season, over far more detailed observations of a given game, suggests to me that you've lost sight of the limitations of statistics.

66 I think your response is…

I think your response is misplaced. I elevated DVOA to “should be considered on this site” status. It was in response to an explicit “don’t care about DVOA” statement. I disagree strongly with that. I am not spending the time to go over every postseason, but the two immediate issues that I see are:

1. Arbitrarily ignoring 2010 and instead conveniently starting with 2011.

2. I watched every game in 2011 and it was not surprising to me that they lost early. They literally had no defense and they were getting visibly worse as the season progressed. DVOA seemed accurate the whole season. 

75 Well

I had already discussed both 2009-10. In 2009 the issue was a miserable defensive performance though the outcome was not beyond any metric-- including DVOA. In 2010, no matter what DVOA said (and we all knew at the time that was a good team, even when they were 8-6 and needing to win both of their final games to make the playoffs) they were still facing three pretty good teams-- incl. the #1 and #2 seeds--on the road to get to the Super Bowl. I think to run that gauntlet and beat PITT in the SB is an overperformance. And I said that already. 

Your take is DVOA (mainly) said they should win when they win; DVOA (mainly) said they should lose when they lose,  My point is that in 7 of the 9 Rodgers-era playoff defeats, one or both sides of the ball have performed miserably , OR they have produced an epic choke. That moves the needle to underperformance.

And as to 2011, that team, bad defense or not, which had won 15 games against 1 defeat and had a week extra to prepare, should never have played as badly as they did vs the Giants. At Lambeau....That's why I said "I don't care about DVOA"... And I stand by it. 

80 I'm just happy that my…

In reply to by oaktoon

I'm just happy that my Giants are able to make two separate and independent fan bases grind their teeth in frustration a decade later. Totally worth the penance of the Gettleman era. 


the poster most engaged in this topic is not representative of Packer fans in this forum with the ongoing jabs at the site's output (which as a Wisconsinite and Midwesterner one would characterize this ongoing behavior as rude) Personally I find this approach to be 'trollish' and the site's administrators remarkably tolerant as the feedback is not constructive but purely meant to trigger some form of reaction.  But that's my perspective.


Separate but related most Packer fans regard the playoff loss of years ago being on the coaches.  Mike McCarthy clearly had the team woefully unprepared supplemented by Dom Capers being unable to find any mix that was remotely effective while throughout the season he grumbled about the losses of Cullen Jenkins and Nick Collins.  Come mid-season very few in the fan base were listening as coaches are among other things paid to get the most out of the guys available.  Capers failed miserably.



87 I completely understand why…

In reply to by big10freak

I completely understand why Packers fans were traumatized by 2011; heck, I live in Chicago, and got to see the shellshock from Cheeseheads firsthand. Regardless of DVOA, capping a 15-1 season by getting crushed at home to a 9-7 Giants team really sucks to the other side. As a Giants fan, that's how I felt about the DeSean Jackson game, or, heck, getting torched by Trent Dilfer in the Super Bowl. The difference is that we weren't 15-1 in either of those years, and the Iggles and Ravens were both obviously much better teams. 

Really, for all that the Giants have sucked for the last decade, the most disappointing season for me remains 2008, when they rushed for 2,500 yards and had the #1 seed locked up, then lost Plaxico due to his self-inflicted injury, and could no longer lob jump balls against the Iggles' tiny DBs. It's much worse to lose when you think you have the upper hand than to get blown out when you're lucky to be there. And thus do 2007 and 2011 continue to warm my memories and make it all worth it.

85 I think where my main…

In reply to by oaktoon

I think where my main disagreement occurs is that you’re cherry-picking the negative outcomes while ignoring the positive ones to prove a point. Even in the analysis of the epic Seahawks collapse, you’re ignoring how extremely surprising it was that the packers were so dominant for the first 58 minutes.

Im not very compelled by their record - this year or in 2011. DVOA is saying something that makes sense here. They may get guys back and end up looking great. Heck, they may just win the SB. But right now I’m not seeing evidence of that, and neither is DVOA. 

31 um

In reply to by Q

Most of the world thinks losing as a higher seed at home is underperforming.  Which they did last year.

9 Green Bay isn't a crap team!…

Green Bay isn't a crap team! They're fifth in offensive DVOA, and that's in a group of four teams that are essentially tied for second (all between 13.8%-14.6%). 13th defensive DVOA is in the top half of the league. They are being let down by special teams, which is certainly because their placekicking unit has been terrible. That's a very good team with a glaring weakness.

14 It's more than just the…

It's more than just the placekicking unit and it's been this way for a long time (post 19). They are the worst FG/XP unit in the league. They have improved a little bit in kickoffs they had been bottom 4 four multiple weeks, they've climbed to 6th worst there. Same with kickoff return they've climbed from 4th worst to 8th worst. Punt return they were like 3rd worst and now are the worst in the league (even trying to put Cobb back there to help bit them in the ass when he fumbled). Punting they are still the best in the league, Bojorquez has been amazing take that away and replace it with average and you are likely looking at about -7.5% DVOA on ST.

The special teams anchor is huge and it's been dragging them down for a long time and if you care to read more my epic novel is linked. LOL


I got into last week about what is "good" by DVOA which got misinterpreted and became a bit of a thing. But I think 10% DVOA is probably good and "crap" probably doesn't apply until you are like -20%. But I don't have the data to really try and make those labels (I think you could and I actually think it could be fun and useful but I don't have easy access to the data). So yeah GB is not crap and with just average (0%) ST would be 8th (14.5% DVOA) just barely behind SF. They would be 7th by weighted DVOA with 17.5%  just 1% behind Arizona. But sadly as I've spent a lot of words on, their ST does in fact suck, it has in fact cost them wins, and it may cause them more going forward.  

28 Punt Returns, Kickoffs, and Field Goals

Oh my!  Amari Rodgers didn't get to first one, so drive started at 8 rather than 18-- it stalled out at LA 38-- deemed too far for Crosby when LaFleur thought twice, so Rodgers indecision could have cost GB 3 pts. Next punt is muffed by Cobb, clearly in because of Rodgers' continued ineptitude. Rest of game Rodgers returns and refused to even try to catch the ball. It is a problem. Teams have started kicking short of goal line on kickoffs, knowing the Packers will rarely get past the 20 and figuring a fumble is very much in play. And the entire Crosby FG operation is a mess. These special teams are single biggest impediment to this team reaching the SB. DVOA has them nailed precisely....

36 What is "good" and "crap" by DVOA

If we want to rate teams in a 5 tier system, then using total DVOA for the last 5 years you get something like this using z-scores. 

ELITE             (>80%)            =  15+% DVOA

GOOD            (60 to 79 %)    =   5-15% DVOA

AVERAGE      (40 to 59 %)   =   -4.9 to 4.9% DVOA

BAD                (20 to 39 %)  =    -5 to -15%  DVOA

AWFUL           (<20%)         =      < -15% DVOA 

then based on a 5 year sample of total DVOA 

45 surprisingly round numbers ...

Those are surprisingly (suspiciously?) round cutoffs for the quintiles. :)


But, this kind of meta-analysis is useful! Only quibble is that "Elite" is probably not the best name for the top 20% of teams -- "Very Good" maybe?

33 Poe's Law

In reply to by oaktoon

As always, difficult to convey sarcasm on the Internet.  And we know several people on this site that would describe the Packers as a "crap team", and not all of them are Vikings fans!  

From my perspective, it remains amazing that Brees finished with only one Super Bowl appearance, and Rodgers is in danger of repeating that.  Meanwhile, Eli freakin' Manning has two rings!  

38 sarcasm

In reply to by oaktoon

It was obvious to me, but sarcasm is my default mode.  Maybe "crap" team might have conveyed it more broadly.

42 I was doing the "air" quotes

In reply to by Bobman

Anyway, what are the Packers, taking a long view?... A franchise fortunate (but they created that luck in both instances) to have two consecutive HOF QBS for now almost 30 years. Unprecedented in league history (Montana Young was just over half as long) Thus, other than the Belichick Patriots, the most consistent playoff representatives in their era-- even more than teams such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Denver and Seattle. Despite the seeming unattractiveness of the area for free agents, and a previous GM who mainly shunned them, and a QB recently complaining about personnel decisions, they have been good enough to go to 3 SBs and play in 6 other NFC title games.

So they are surely not crap. But yet... if it's only going to be this-- and then Jordan Love-- or whoever-- takes them back to the 1970s and 80s, I think there will still be a lot of disappointment and what ifs?  But the fan base is spoiled-- just look to our west, south and east in our own division and realize that. 

2 Packers

It is funny that the Author keeps waiting for GB to blow teams out, that is not what they do under Lafleur. They are the Anti-Bills.

The game they played against the Rams is almost the prototypical Lafleur experience (including not turning it over, unless it is by the Special Teams (which are generally brutal) which is basically a soso 1st quarter, they slowly extend the lead to double digits throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarter, any time they start to get real separation the other team immediately scores a TD to cut it to single digits. The game hangs in this limbo of roughly a 3-14 point balance and often looks like GB is almost on the verge of blowing the game and then they hang on and win. Then despite the win you often almost feels worse about the team even though they  had the lead for like 90% of the game.

6 Not this one

In reply to by Q

Truth is-- Douglas should have had another pick six, and they dropped another pick. If La Fleur runs twice on the last possession instead of allowing Rodgers to go to Adams, game ends 36-25....

Game plan was Rodgers throw quick to avoid the beat-up OL getting beat by those Ram "superstars", keep possession, use Dillon wherever possible, and exploit the Rams secondary members not named Ramsey-- and on defense turn Gary and Co loose and figure that Stafford will give you the ball as he generally has done at Lambeau.

Worked like a charm, and now only Vikings at Lambeau and sputtering Ravens in Baltimore stand in the way of GB running table and very likely procuring the #1 seed and BYE.

26 against both ARIZ and TB

In reply to by RobotBoy

Packers won the 9 starters out, including Adams, Bakhtiari, Alexander, Smith, game in Arizona where Green went the wrong way and thus Douglas picked Murray at the end...  I don't know the whys and wherefores but they also have the tiebreaker against the Bucs

44 Sometimes I feel like the…

In reply to by Q

Sometimes I feel like the Packers inability to put teams out of their misery is also predictive of losing to good teams in the playoffs - and DVOA seems to agree. They certainly can play with anybody, but by playing inefficient offense when leading, they are absolutely taking games that could be over and making them “not over”. Good teams will occasionally score late and turn that win into a loss. The Packers do win the vast majority of those games, but the vast majority of those games are to inferior opponents who just can’t take advantage. Relying on bad competition isn’t translatable to the playoffs, and that’s where DVOA keeps saying they should lose in the NFC Championship. I buy into the notion that they’re capable of more than DVOA suggests because it is a “choice” to shut it down when ahead - but I also think that past behavior predicts future behavior, so I don’t think ignoring it makes sense. Neither does DVOA. 

47 Extra Point

In reply to by Q

In the Rams game, Lafleur made a coaching error after the Packers scored late in the 3rd quarter and took a 19 point lead. Lafleur opted for a 2-point conversion try and a 21 point lead, which failed, leaving the Rams needing two TDs and a FG to force OT. Had Lafleur kicked the extra point for a 20 point lead, the Rams would have entered the 4th quarter needing three TDs. 

Lafleur gave the Rams an out with a FG should a late drive stall in Packers territory. The Rams took advantage, kicking a 4th and one FG, drawing within one score, and bringing an onside kick into play. Had Lafleur kicked the extra point for a 20 point lead, the game clock would have expired while the Rams were trying to score a second TD of the quarter and the Packers win a comfortable 36-25 victory.

49 lafleur du mal

In reply to by PackerPete

I don't know the numbers, but is the probability of making both 2PCs much greater than of scoring a third touchdown rather than kicking a field goal?

I guess the odds are long either way.

52 My gut would say yes - the…

In reply to by ammek

My gut would say yes - the specific combination of 8+8+3 is less likely than 7+7+7 - but it's still a coaching error.  Because even if the Rams did miss one or both of the two-point conversions, they still have the ability to tie/take the lead with a third touchdown.

4 Does Seattle game the DVOA system?

I do wonder if there is something about the Pete Carrol philosophy that is particularly favoured by DVOA, especially on offence which has always relied on Russel pulling something magical out of his hat, particularly on 3rd down. They were definitely the best team of 2013, and them being top for 2014 seems very reasonable, but both 2012 and 2015 it seems less intuitively clear.

By SRS in 2012 they were 12.2 vs the Patriots' 12.8, and in 2015 they had 11.3 to the Cardinals' 12.3. I'm aware DVOA has significantly more context than something simple like SRS, and it definitely felt like the Hawks of the time were among the top teams (and the clear cream of the crop for '13 and maybe '14), but in '12 and '15 they never felt like the dominant squads of the year in the way that DVOA often lines up more intuitively at the top of the standings.

PS. Believe you're missing a 'u' in 'sanguine'.

7 Seattle and Pete Carroll

Your writers have on a number of occasions ridiculed Pete Carroll for punting in opponents territory.  Hence, I have nicknamed him, "Punting Pete."

I am wondering if Seattle's extremely low play per drive is in part fueled by Carroll's lack of going for it on 4th down.  Maybe if you convert a 4th down you only run 3 more plays in the drive, but sometimes you may run an extra 10 plays.  Third down efficiency is much more important if you rarely go for 4th down and Seattle is certainly bad in those 3rd down situations.

10 Yes more 4th down go's would…

Yes more 4th down go's would help, but also their terrible 3rd down efficiency is the reason they find themselves at fourth down so often. So it's a matter of perspective, I'd say. Meaning, you could say that the low plays per drive are due to Pete being too conservative on fourth down, or you could say that it's because they are seeing too many fourth downs in the first place.

91 To add to this, since they…

To add to this, since they have a very low plays per possession going back historically to an age where it was the norm to punt rather than attempt a 4th down, it’s reasonable to infer that it’s more than just Pete’s preference at play here. 

8 How does DVOA account for plays that are not equal and opposite?

For example, when a player muffs a punt, the punting team should not get credit. 

I figured that BAL-CLE would be a negative DVOA game in that Jackson's 3 first half interceptions were not under pressure, Mayfield's fumble was not forced.  To me that is not equal and opposite.

Is there truly a play that is equal and opposite, or am I off-base here?

Equal and opposite to me is that neither team could run the ball well, that the run defenses were great, the run blocking was poor.  Can we really differentiate between great defense outdueling a great offensive block to create a negative play, or must we assume that the blocking was poor?

Clearly my perception is incorrect.  I feel that I am like most people in feeling that this was a poorly played game.  Is there any way to explain that BAL DVOA was basically average at 0.3 and Cleveland was above average at 16.4?  I am assuming that opponent adjustments have little to do with this as both teams rate as slightly above average with 5.6 and 5.5 DVOA.

11 Muffed punts, etc.

Yes, when a player muffs a punt, the punting team does not get any credit. The punting team only gets credit for a forced fumble.

The same goes for defenses and aborted snaps... the defense gets no credit for an aborted snap. However, I don't have anything in DVOA to make it so defenses don't get credit for other unforced fumbles, because other unforced fumbles are pretty rare. So yeah, the Ravens do get some credit for that Mayfield sack-fumble that was actually just a dropped ball.

53 So yeah, the Ravens do get…

So yeah, the Ravens do get some credit for that Mayfield sack-fumble that was actually just a dropped ball.

I kinda doubt you can actually ever claim that a play is completely independent of the defense - there are plenty of bad snaps, for instance, that happen due to the quarterback being distracted by something the defense is doing.

18 I've been wondering about…

I've been wondering about this too. But you'd need more more fine detailed data than play-by-play provided. But I do think there is a difference between a team doing something for themselves and having something done to them and if you could measure it my hypothesis is that it would be more predictive. But we don't have the data.

I actually stopped watching the game so this is a purely made up example though I'm using real pbp data for it. So all they have is:
(13:45 - 1st) (No Huddle, Shotgun) B.Mayfield pass short left to H.Bryant to CLV 32 for 9 yards (M.Humphrey, T.Bowser).

They don't know if that was because someone blew a coverage and Bryant was sitting in 5 yards of space or if Mayfield made great pass to a tightly covered receiver and it was great offense beating good defense.

DVOA, especially to be compatible with historic teams has at best what I listed above. Very simplistically (I don't know the actual formula and I haven't even tried to reverse engineer it) it knows that 9 yards on 1st and 10 is good that's a binary success, it knows the average 1st and 10 pass in the NFL only goes for say 8 yards so it's even more positive VOA. It also knows that for the season BAL typically only allows 7 yards on a pass on first down, so then it gets adjusted up a little bit more for the final DVOA. That's all the model can really measure.

So yeah that is part of why even the site says DVOA is just a guide and why the writers will say things that seem to contradict their own stats and why many of the most interesting things are what DVOA can't measure but might clue you into.


Now data that could actually tell you if it was bad offense taking advantage of even worse defense and hence both should probably be rated negatively if you are trying to build a predictive model is probably being collected now. We may have a couple years of it at this point. I'm pretty sure some of the data AWS is warehousing could give you the positions of every player on the field and you could figure out if it was tight or loose coverage. You could probably even figure out the basic coverage concepts based on the tracked motion. You might even be able to figure out if that hole in the zone for the easy 5 yard throw and 12 yards of YAC was because of a defender screwing up or because the offense had figured out a way to attack the defense where the defenders are doing what they are assigned to do but the offense found a way to make it create a 5 yard hole by looking at past plays. Then if you could get the play calls for the defense and the offense you could build an even better model. Some teams are that deep into analytics, some aren't. Sadly DVOA doesn't have any of that.

But I agree there is offense that is generated by the offense and there is offense that is "given" to you by the opposing defense. What you generate is likely more predictive of future success than what is given to you. Right now I see no way to untangle that without a lot of data and some deep computing modeling.


20 We naturally bias towards…

We naturally bias towards offense in the NFL. After watching Week 5 where CLE and LAC took part in a 47-42 shootout, most people probably came out thinking about how great both teams' offenses looked. We didn't see the game as terrible defense. In fact, the media perception of CLE's losses to KC and LAC were more positive than to their wins over MIN, DEN and DET which were low-scoring. Similarly, after BAL beat KC/IND/MIN in shootouts we thought "Lamar for MVP, Ravens are awesome" instead of thinking about bad defense. After this game we only hear negative things about the teams.

15 Past schedule difficulty

It's interesting that, of the AFC teams in the top 10, only Kansas City has had a really difficult schedule so far. According to the table, New England and Buffalo have had two of the easiest schedules in the entire league! Although the press might be salivating at the apparent collision course between Tampa Bay and New England, you'd have to wonder a bit if the Patriots' resurgence is a bit of a mirage if their schedule has really been this easy so far.

19 FO has consistently said…

FO has consistently said that destroying bad teams is more meaningful in the long run then winning close games, which is why NE and BUF are so high despite their easy schedules.

Besides, NE destroyed CLE (14th) and TEN (22nd) and BUF destroyed KC (9th), NO (11th) and WAS (21st) so it's not like they've entirely been destroying garbage tier teams.

21 Pats and Bills

Both of them are so high due primarily to numerous ridiculously dominant wins over awful teams. I know that DVOA is built upon the premise that stomping teams is a sign of being great. However, I do not think DVOA has any way to separate out teams that may be uniquely suited to destroying poorer competition that cannot be replicated vs Top End opponents.

This is partly reminiscent of Brady's last NE team that through like 12 or whatever games was graded out by DVOA as having a defense better than the 85 Bears. They faced wave after wave of 3rd string and awful QBs and brutalized them even more than DVOA thought they should. Not too shockingly, once they faced offenses with an actual pulse, they looked a lot less Legendary, including getting semi torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 17,

27 In Part

In reply to by Q

The fact that their losses were all close, including the ones to good teams, probably also helps the case. But Belichick is particularly effective against bad teams that he both outschemes and outtalents.

30 Q

In reply to by RobotBoy

Their close games to DAL and TB are the biggest reasons for optimism about NE, although that should be tempered a little since both were at home

46 Well...

In reply to by Q

Optimism as far as...making the playoffs? Winning a game there? Getting to the SB? I would say that NE being where it is now wasn't expected by even the most optimistic preseason projections.

I see two reasons for optimism besides their close losses at home (with a QB in his first NFL starts).

1. The relative good health over the past six weeks. Anything can happen but if they stay healthy, they could certainly beat anyone.

2. They are simply a better team than they were six weeks ago. I hope no one would argue that. Incorporating all the off-season acquisitions has taken time, above all with the steady development of Mac Jones. His numbers keep getting better and the eye test agrees: he's processing better, making fewer mistakes, and getting the ball further downfield.

59 Where they are now certainly…

In reply to by RobotBoy

Where they are now certainly wasn't expected, but I don't think its super far out on the tail end of expectations. Most of that DVOA is the defense. 

When it comes down to it - the defense is basically a lighter version of what they were in 2019 - which is not super surprising in hindsight - getting back Van Noy, Collins, Hightower coming back from Covid opt-out. Gilmore is gone, but Jackson is hugely improved (which isn't surprising after last year). Barmore is a happy surprise, and Judon has been better than expected.  The defense is a couple percentage points worse, but the special teams is a couple points better. The defense is roughly where I expected them to be.

What is surprising is that the 2021 team, per DVOA, has a better offense than the 2019 Tom Brady/Edelman/etc team by a couple percentage points - and if the weighted offensive DVOA is to be trusted, they're a top 5 offense, and that's assuming the number isn't going to keep going up as Mac's early starts drop off. 

Right now they're #2 defense, #3 ST, and #11/#5 Weighted offense. They're absolutely a superbowl contender. And if that offense is really what the weighted is showing? 

68 It's weird to see a NON-injured Patriots team (knock on wood)

In reply to by RobotBoy

reasons for optimism (in NE)...:

1. The relative good health over the past six weeks. Anything can happen but if they stay healthy, they could certainly beat anyone.

I just wanted to put some emphasis on the HEALTH factor.

I try to be an optimistic Patriots fan, really I do, but I keep noticing, in write-ups of their wins, that their opponents were often described as "banged-up" (Panthers), "missing key players" (Browns), or "battling through attrition" (Titans).  And then it occurred to me how relatively healthy the Patriots have been so far this year.  IIRC, the Patriots during the Belichick area tend to be BELOW average at staying healthy-- and last year they had the most COVID opt-outs of any team.  This year?  I don't have the exact injury numbers, but the Pats have been OK, certainly better than average.   I hope they'll stay that way the rest of the season, but who knows?

Now, it's true that some teams are better prepared to overcome injuries than others, but often the real reason a team does surprisingly better than expected is because they weren't as affected by injuries as their key opponents.  This was certainly true for the Buccaneers last year on their run to winning the Super Bowl.  Injuries (or lack thereof) have a huge effect on how well football teams do in any season, but coverage and analysis tend to focus disproportionately on other factors and narratives. 

I dunno, maybe injuries are de-emphasized because it's kinda DEPRESSING to see how random they are and how huge their impact is.


73 According to this - they're…

According to this - they're near the top of the league in games lost:





The big thing is that most of them were at positions of strength (like James White) and a lot of them are guys like Jonathan Jones and Josh Uche or Chase Winovich - who are decent players, but not at all critical. Trent Brown missing 8 games is probably the most impactful. 

89 Thanks for the info!

Your observations on Patriot injuries are quite astute.  Also, I'm amazed at the LACK of negative correlation between record and injuries.  Guess I'm wrong again!  (At least, for this year, so far.)

92 With the IR rules changes, I…

With the IR rules changes, I'm kindof expecting either a total lack of any correlation or a slight positive correlation with winning. It's not that having injuries makes you win, it's that if you're winning, you're probably more likely to swap injured players out (which costs money). Note that I'm not saying that losing teams say "screw you, you're playing hurt" - they probably would just be more willing to go into a game week with a shallower roster.

48 “I do not think DVOA has any…

In reply to by Q

“I do not think DVOA has any way to separate out teams that may be uniquely suited to destroying poorer competition that cannot be replicated vs Top End opponents.”

DVOA has been around for like 20 years, and it’s much better at sorting out good teams from bad ones than context-dependent statistics. The onus is you to define and prove that statement, not DVOA to adjust to your whims. To wit:

- Specifically what attributes make a team better suited to destroying poorer competition?

- What is “destroying” defined as?

- What is “poorer competition” defined as?

- What is a “top end” opponent?

- Specifically what does it mean to “replicate” a performance, with or without opponent adjustments?

Etc. I’d be interested to see what you find. 

34 it's a problem with "average"

Having the Jets on the schedule twice really kills the SoS.  Add in Jax, Atl, and Houston, along with Carolina and Miami...the only team in the bottom seven that the Pats and Bills don't play is Detroit.

I wouldn't say the Pats' schedule has been easy: they've played Tampa, Tennessee, Dallas, Cleveland, the Chargers and New Orleans.  Their tough games have been very tough.  It's just that there have been fewer of them. Having 7 easy opponents and 5 tough ones will create a vastly different SoS than having 5 easy opponents and 7 tough ones. 




51 The real issue is that just…

The real issue is that just averaging all the DVOAs on a schedule is a really poor way to determine Strength Of Schedule - because it's very context dependent. Its not linear at all.

If we're talking about a team with a +30% dvoa, it really doesn't matter if you're playing Miami at -15% or Atlanta at -38%, you should blow out either one. 

What really matters is how many teams above about +10% you play - because those are the teams where homefield matters, where a turnover can determine a game, etc. 

And on the flip side, if you're Atlanta, it really doesn't matter if you're playing Tampa or Baltimore. They should  kill you. What matters is how many <-5% or so teams you play. 

56 I think I agree, what you…

I think I agree, what you really want to see is something like "expected number of wins a 0% true quality team would have against this schedule" as a metric.  I do wonder, in practice, if you would wind up seeing much difference than just averaging the DVOAs of opponents, though.  It would be an interesting experiment.

61 I'd like to see the opposite…

I'd like to see the opposite actually - like a "How much is this schedule actually affecting this team's W-L record".

Find a cutoff point where, say, Tampa has a 30% DVOA - so we're going to say everything below 0% is a game they should almost always win, and all games below that are effectively the same. 

If you look at the "Past Schedule" - the difference between #20, and #9 is 2.7%. And that's roughly the difference between playing 1 game against the Falcons instead of the Giants - and for TB, or NE, or BUF, that distinction is almost entirely meaningless. 

IE, schedule strength is largely noise at this point.

64 Tried this once

There's an article somewhere in the archives. It turns out that there wasn't much difference between that and just averaging the DVOAs of opponents.

16 The Falcons remain in last…

The Falcons remain in last despite beating the Jags. Remarkable to see a team in 32nd place just one game under .500. They have the same record as the Vikings, who are ranked 10th. Still just an 0.9% chance of making the playoffs, though.

35 well

They're 5-6 with a -103 point differential.  Detroit has a -112 point differential and they are 0-10-1.  And Detroit's played a much tougher schedule.

I wonder sometimes if there's enough mixing for the opponent adjustments to really converge properly.  And then there's the problem of teams significantly changing their play level throughout the season.  

But what really makes Atlanta stand out is that they are bad in all three phases.  The Lions have the #8 special teams! The Jets' offense is 11 points of DVOA better than Atlanta's! Houston has a good defense!  The Jaguars will be ignored for the purposes of this argument!  

Atlanta's best ranking of the three phases is the 29th-rated defense.  

54 I wonder sometimes if there…

In reply to by RickD

I wonder sometimes if there's enough mixing for the opponent adjustments to really converge properly.



There's definitely not. And there aren't enough games to really get much better. In an ideal setting you'd expect a "Good" team to get about the same DVOA against a team like Atlanta as they do against, say Baltimore. They'd have a much lower VOA against BAL, but the adjustments would handle that - and that's almost never what we see. Aside from blowing out other good teams (which is rare), a good teams best  DVOA games are almost always against bad teams. 

63  In an ideal setting you'd…

 In an ideal setting you'd expect a "Good" team to get about the same DVOA against a team like Atlanta as they do against, say Baltimore. 

No, you wouldn't. It's a game. The only way that would work is if DVOA was intended to be purely predictive. It's not, which is what people misunderstand a bunch - it's not intended to predict the future. It's a balance between predictivity and descriptivity. VOA's intended to correlate straight to points - it's intended to be a better measure than yards/points/etc., but that's descriptive, not predictive. What happened, not what will happen. And what happened is always going to be about 40-50%-ish randomness from the game itself.

What you'd expect to happen in an ideal situation is that the distribution of DVOAs that a single game produces would converge, so that each game adds no new information about the team itself, and just adds the randomness from the game.

72 I really think you're…

I really think you're missing my point. DVOA's not intended to produce a stable precise measure like you're thinking.

In order to do that, it would have to be purely predictive, in which case it'd have extremely little connection with games themselves, because game results are not purely predictive.

I could absolutely construct a measure that would work the way you're thinking. You tune for it by having it predict itself for the next game. You'd throw out tons of data in the results of games, because lots of that is noise (you could also tune for it via a maximum-likelihood type analysis, but that's functionally the same thing). You either seem to think that measures like that would take more than 16 games to converge (and that's not really true, they tend to converge in about 9-10 games) or that DVOA is that kind of measure.

76 The point you're trying to…

The point you're trying to make is a completely different conversation than I was having. What you're suggesting has literally nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

Every conversation with you is like this. It's impossible.

77 In that case, I think you…

In that case, I think you misunderstood the original point, which was:

I wonder sometimes if there's enough mixing for the opponent adjustments to really converge properly.

because the answer to that is "yes, there really is."

65 A good teams best DVOA games

A good teams best DVOA games are not almost always against bad teams:

Here are the two top DVOA games for the top 10 DVOA teams:

1.  TB       NYG  MIA

2.  NE      CLE   TEN

3.  BUF    HOU  KC

4.  ARI     SF     TEN

5.  DAL   ATL     CAR

6.  LAR   NYG   CHI

7.  SF     LAR    CHI

8.  IND   BUF    HOU

9.  KC    DAL    PHL

10. MIN  LAC   BAL

I see good teams best DVOA games being a mix of other good teams, mediocre teams and bad teams.

Hoodie_Sleeves, I sense your frustration that FO reader contributors are not giving the Patriots their due respect.  I am a Patriots hater myself, however, I see the Patriots as an excellent team this year.  The Patriots are crushing teams, have shown massive improvement as the seasons has progressed.  Yes, they have a rookie QB, but as we know the value of another game played for a rookie QB's experience is much more significant than another game for Brady or Rodgers.

I have no idea why the Patriots are not getting due respect.  Their DVOA is excellent, their plus minus is excellent, thus by analytic methods, this team is excellent.  Their record is very good and improving.  If anything, their record is an underperformance as to how they have performed.



67 Some of it is anchoring. …

Some of it is anchoring.  People form opinions in the first few games of the season and it takes a *lot* of evidence to the contrary for people to update their priors.

If the Patriots had started 5-1 with say the horrible loss to New Orleans being the one loss, sandwiched between a couple of their big wins, and then went 3-3 with all three of their three close losses (two of them against top teams) alternating with big stomps or solid wins against decent teams, then I think perceptions would be different and they'd be viewed more favorably.  

Instead, they started 2-4, everyone decided they were a bad team and this wasn't yet their year, and then explained away all their success since by saying "well, hardly any of those teams are any good" or "yeah, but Tennessee and Cleveland had a ton of injuries", etc. etc.  

69 "Hoodie_Sleeves, I sense…

"Hoodie_Sleeves, I sense your frustration that FO reader contributors are not giving the Patriots their due respect. "

No, and it would awesome if we could have discussions on here about the metrics without degrading into this shit. 

The comment sections on here have gotten awful with respect to any sort of stuff that questions whether or not DVOA is perfect. 

84 No clue what I said to get…

No clue what I said to get you flying off the handle. As I have said on here previously, I post on this site as a hobby.  I am available to have a civilized conversation with anyone that would like to participate.

90 Blame the AFC?

I think some of it is because we've already seen this with different AFC teams this season where they're hot for a few weeks (CIN, CLE, KC, TEN, BUF) and they seem like the team to beat, then suddenly they stumble horribly... If they beat Buffalo on Monday though I think the skepticism will ease

37 Bengals DVOA

Your assessment of the Seahawks dvoa could just be copied and pasted to the Bengals. Through 7 weeks they were 5-2 despite being dead last in time of possession, 30th in yards per drive and something like 29th in 3&out% and drive success rate. But they were still averaging 24-25 ppg. Not great but about average. They were explosive but inconsistent. Even in the jets game they scored 31 points. They have two truly bad games on offense against the Bears and the browns, but otherwise have been at least reasonable in scoring points. Now it seems both units have regressed a little towards the mean, although the defense has still been better. They are probably better than their actual DVOA because of their ability to be explosive, but they are more prone to a bad loss because of the inconsistent play. 


So if TB is higher than NE in DVOA, and TB had a better preseason projection than NE, why is NE higher in DAVE?

58 It kind of makes sense -…

It kind of makes sense - preseason projections obviously skew early, while weighted DVOA skews late. If it were combined with straight DVOA, it'd still be skewed towards the early schedule. The question is why would DAVE then be any better than the equal-weighted DVOA during the period when DAVE exists, since it is necessarily underweighting the games in between the endpoints. Apparently it is, but for the life of me I can't come up with a good theoretical reason for it. 

82 I think DAVE and weighted…

I think DAVE and weighted DVOA used to do different things. DAVE looked back to before the first at game (via projections) to make up for (and smooth) the sparse early season data. So it was used early in the season, and did not use weighted DVOA.

Weighted DVOA deemphasized early games to deal with teams that evolved over the season, due to personnel changes, injury, rookies learning their job, old guys getting older, etc. So it was used late in the season, and did not use pre-season projections.

This year, it seems like we’ve combined the two concepts. But I think in practice the pre-season projections have little if any impact on DAVE in the chart at this point in the season.

Aaron and company, how did I do? Did I get it right?

60 Consensus?

We're now 12 weeks in, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. If there is one lesson to learn from this NFL season, can we all agree that the 7-team playoff format sucks? 

62 I certainly agree with you

In reply to by Independent George

The 7 team playoff format in my opinion sucks and was created for two reasons:

1. To add two extra wild card playoff games, meaning extra money for the NFL. They know these games will get good ratings, people even watched last year's NFC East battles on Thursday night football and every year's London thrillers.

2.  To keep more teams in the playoff hunt which keeps interest in the mediocre to bad teams.  Fans on this site are not the average fan.  The smart fans on this site that root for PHL or WFT do not necessarily want PHL or WFT to make the playoffs.  I have family that I visited on Thanksgiving in the Philadelphia area, and they were so excited that DAL lost on Thanksgiving, keeping the Eagles alive in the playoff hunt.  The Eagles promptly laid an egg on Sunday.

Here is what the 7 team format does for real football fans:

1.  It makes the number one seed excessively valuable, diminishing success of the team that finishes second.

2.  It makes possible for an upset of an excellent team in the number two seed, by a team that has a highly variant good game in the 7 seed, a team that will most likely bow out of the playoffs, since their next game will be against the number 1 seed.

78 Well It's All Money

GB got the #1 seed last year and still lost at Lambeau.

Will anyone view either #1 seed as significant favorites for the SB, beyond the obvious of playing one fewer game?  NFC Number One will probably have to play Dallas, LAR or SF in their first game; TB/GB/ARIZ in the second.. Very tough

AFC Number One could get most anyone in either game--- could be TENN and KC; CIN and NE; BALT and BUFF   Who knows?

One could argue that rewarding one team in each conference rather than 2 is a good thing. 2 seeds are hardly inviolate when they get the bye-- maybe playing the worst of the wild card teams is a nice warm up for two tougher games to follow. Sure they have to win 3 games as opposed to 2-- but so does everyone else except the 1 seed. 

79 Well It's All Money

GB got the #1 seed last year and still lost at Lambeau.

Will anyone view either #1 seed as significant favorites for the SB, beyond the obvious of playing one fewer game?  NFC Number One will probably have to play Dallas, LAR or SF in their first game; TB/GB/ARIZ in the second.. Very tough

AFC Number One could get most anyone in either game--- could be TENN and KC; CIN and NE; BALT and BUFF   Who knows?

One could argue that rewarding one team in each conference rather than 2 is a good thing. 2 seeds are hardly inviolate when they get the bye-- maybe playing the worst of the wild card teams is a nice warm up for two tougher games to follow. Sure they have to win 3 games as opposed to 2-- but so does everyone else except the 1 seed. 

83 The one fewer game is my point

Number one gives so so teams like BAL a 25 percent chance with their usual coin toss games vs 12.5 percent with 3 coin toss games.  Thats double the opportunity to go to the SB.  I give up on this home field thing, the advantage is virtually zero over 2 2/3 seasons.  I must think that this is a fluke but it is a reality for now.

88 Yep. 2019 was the season…

In reply to by big10freak

Yep. 2019 was the season that home-field in NFL started to erode (home teams only won 52% of games and were actually outscored), then in 2020 when home teams actually won under 50% of their games lack of fans due to covid was an easy blame. Turns out, fans or no fans, home-field just doesn't matter anymore. Road teams this season have been ATS machines.

93 DPI

Mahomes really needs to get better at getting DPI calls. 1 dpi for 18 yds in 2021.  2020 and 2019 were not much better.  Brady and Rodgers are elite on this stat.