Tampa Bay Rises to DVOA Top Spot

Jaelon Darden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jaelon Darden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 11 - A weekend of surprising NFL results led to a lot of movement in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week. From our perspective, the biggest story was Buffalo's defensive face plant against the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills' worst game of the year (-76.7% DVOA) knocks them down four spots and makes way for the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to ascend to the top position for the first time all season.

While the Bills had their worst game of the year in Week 11, the Buccaneers had their best game of the year at 72.0% DVOA. Even though they have three losses, the Bucs have put up positive DVOA ratings in all their games this year except for Week 10's upset by the Washington football team. Tampa was at No. 2 last week and their big game against the Giants gives them a nice cushion over the rest of the league, nearly eight percentage points in total DVOA. The Bucs are now first in total DVOA, weighted DVOA, and DAVE, and they have taken over as our Super Bowl favorites. Tampa Bay's lead is most impressive on offense, where they have 25.6% DVOA which is nearly 10 percentage points ahead of the rest of the league. (Specifically, they are ahead of the new Los Angeles teams, as the Rams are second and the Chargers are now up to third.) The Bucs also have a top-10 defense, and their special teams are only slightly below average.

In keeping with the idea that 2021 has a lot of good teams but no great teams, and every team we think is good has a loss to a team we think isn't very good, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very low for a No. 1 team in DVOA. They're higher now after last night's big win, but still the Buccaneers are the fifth-lowest No. 1 team ever after Week 11. Here's a look at the worst teams to be No. 1 at this point in the season. For recent years, these ratings are different from what was on the site at the time, because of changes we've made in the DVOA formula.

Worst No. 1 Teams in DVOA after Week 11, 1983-2021
Year Team W-L DVOA
2016 SEA 7-2-1 23.8%
1988 CIN 8-3 27.2%
1983 WAS 9-2 30.4%
2014 DEN 7-3 30.8%
2021 TB 7-3 31.2%
1989 CLE1 7-3-1 31.4%
2006 SD 8-2 31.7%
2000 TEN 8-2 32.7%
2015 NE 10-0 33.7%
1993 PIT 6-3 34.5%

Behind Tampa Bay, Arizona climbs two spots to No. 2 overall, and then we have the New England Patriots at No. 3. The Patriots are the hottest team in the league. They have a slightly above average offense, but their defense is now second in the league and has almost passed Buffalo, and their special teams rank sixth. You can really see the movement for the Patriots when you look at weighted DVOA compared to total DVOA. Weighted DVOA lowers the weights of older games to get a better idea of how teams are playing now. New England is second in weighted DVOA, trailing only Tampa Bay. No team has a bigger gap between total DVOA and weighted DVOA because they've played better over the last month and a half.

Better Weighted DVOA vs. Total DVOA, 2021
Rk Gap
NE 23.1% 3 28.6% 2 5.5%
IND 13.2% 8 16.8% 7 3.6%
JAX -22.9% 28 -19.5% 27 3.4%
PHI 9.5% 12 11.5% 12 2.0%
TEN -4.4% 18 -2.4% 18 2.0%
SF 17.3% 7 18.9% 5 1.6%

New England is also up to No. 2 in our DAVE ratings, since those combine a small portion of preseason projections with weighted DVOA rather than total DVOA. For teams with 11 games played, preseason projections are down to just 16% of DAVE. We stop using DAVE entirely once a team has played 13 games.

On the other side of the coin, the Cleveland Browns have seen the most decline in recent weeks and are now 17th overall in DVOA. A lot of the movement for the Patriots and Browns is related to just the game they played against each other.

Better Total DVOA vs. Weighted DVOA, 2021
Rk Gap
CLE 3.2% 17 -0.7% 17 -3.9%
LAR 19.2% 6 15.8% 8 -3.4%
SEA 4.6% 16 1.3% 16 -3.3%
CIN -7.9% 21 -11.1% 24 -3.2%
DAL 22.9% 4 20.4% 4 -2.6%
BUF 21.4% 5 18.9% 6 -2.5%

A few other tidbits from this week's DVOA ratings:

  • The Buffalo Bills now have an astonishing 46.6% variance, which would set an all-time record. Right now the highest-ever variance over a full season belongs to the 2005 San Francico 49ers, a team that won four games despite the worst DVOA ever measured. Their variance was 38.2%. The Bills are, quite literally, the least consistent team we've ever seen.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs move up four spots from 14th to 10th this week. Their offense went down but their defense improved from 30th to 23rd after the big win against the Cowboys.
  • The Green Bay Packers move up in DVOA, even though they drop a spot in the rankings. The Minnesota Vikings move down even though they beat the Packers. DVOA feels strongly that Green Bay outplayed Minnesota in this game, giving Green Bay 32.8% DVOA and Minnesota -13.3% DVOA. Our Post-Game Win Expectancy formula suggests that normally we would only expect a team with Minnesota's performance in this game to win 6% of the time, making this the most surprising result of the season based on how well teams played in the game. (Most surprising result based on what we knew going into the game is a totally different thing.)
  • Other risers in this week's ratings include Indianapolis (from 10 to 8), Philadelphia (from 15 to 12), the Los Angeles Chargers (from 16 to 14), and Cincinnati (from 25 to 21). Other major fallers include Baltimore (from 11 to 15) and Seattle (from 13 to 16).

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 11. 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 11 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.

Opponent adjustments are now at full strength as we have hit Week 10.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason forecast with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 16% preseason forecast and 84% actual performance for teams with 11 games played, and 24% preseason forecast and 76% actual performance for teams with 10 games played. It is not currently adjusted for any backup quarterbacks.

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 31.2% 2 29.3% 1 7-3 25.6% 1 -6.0% 7 -0.4% 23
2 ARI 23.6% 4 17.6% 3 9-2 8.2% 10 -14.4% 3 1.1% 12
3 NE 23.1% 5 24.4% 2 7-4 2.3% 16 -18.6% 2 2.3% 6
4 DAL 22.9% 3 16.8% 5 7-3 9.3% 8 -13.7% 4 -0.1% 21
5 BUF 21.4% 1 16.9% 4 6-4 1.4% 18 -19.4% 1 0.6% 18
6 LAR 19.2% 6 14.5% 7 7-3 16.4% 2 -5.3% 8 -2.5% 26
7 SF 17.3% 7 16.1% 6 5-5 13.7% 4 -1.5% 11 2.0% 7
8 IND 13.2% 10 13.6% 8 6-5 7.5% 11 -3.3% 9 2.4% 5
9 NO 13.1% 8 9.0% 12 5-5 2.2% 17 -10.0% 5 0.9% 14
10 KC 11.9% 14 13.5% 9 7-4 11.6% 6 4.5% 23 4.8% 1
11 MIN 11.2% 9 10.6% 11 5-5 9.1% 9 -1.1% 13 1.0% 13
12 PHI 9.5% 15 8.0% 13 5-6 10.5% 7 2.2% 18 1.2% 10
13 GB 8.3% 12 10.7% 10 8-3 13.2% 5 0.4% 14 -4.5% 29
14 LAC 5.9% 16 4.0% 15 6-4 16.1% 3 3.1% 21 -7.1% 32
15 BAL 5.4% 11 5.9% 14 7-3 5.8% 14 5.1% 27 4.7% 2
16 SEA 4.6% 13 3.4% 16 3-7 6.3% 13 2.8% 19 1.1% 11

Click here for the full table.


61 comments, Last at 26 Nov 2021, 3:34pm

#1 by jheidelberg // Nov 23, 2021 - 4:06pm

I figured this was likely as it is difficult to be number 1 with negative 4.4 percent DVOA at this somewhat late point in the season.  What a crazy season!

Points: 0

#2 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 23, 2021 - 4:06pm

and every team we think is good has a loss to a team we think isn't very good

So what is the definition of good by DVOA standards? Using just it GB has losses to teams with 11.2, 11.9, and 13.1%. Are none of those good or is it that GB at 8.9% is not considered good?

Or is good a blend of record and and DVOA so that MN and NO aren't good since they are 5-5? I can accept that. But if that is the case then it can potentially throw off the narrative as well. 

I know this reads like I'm being an ass, my editing for tone has completely failed so I've stopped trying and I'll go this route. I'm legit curious as to what DVOA thinks is good historically. For example is good a playoff caliber team and traditionally you don't make the playoffs, outside being a weak division winner, with less than 15% DVOA, so sub 15% isn't good? I know that isn't saying the same thing as bad either no need to defend. I'm legit trying to get a more concrete definition of good, great, average, poor, bad, etc. 



Edit: Also unless GB isn't good because of the above, it's a bit harsh on Arizona to count the Carolina loss with a backup QB against them as a bad loss. You adjust for that type of stuff in the playoff odds, I get why you don't with DVOA, but zona is a good team without a bad loss. Though again I can accept that by some definition GB is only an OK or average team and not in the good category, they are under 10%. So yeah, seems like I keep answering my own questions.

Points: 0

#5 by RickD // Nov 23, 2021 - 4:50pm

I wouldn't be sweating the "every" there.  It's a general comment about highly-rated teams losing to bottom dwellers, as has happened often recently.  


Points: 0

#6 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 23, 2021 - 5:16pm

Yeah I sometimes think my current health issues have amplified the weird little obsessions I get over precision, it really can be random what I care about and what I don't give a flying f about too. But I've been wondering for awhile what kind of categories we can make with DVOA and this just sparked it back a bit. What's a bad loss? What is a truly outstanding game and what is fairly average (I tend to think any single game result in the -20% to +20% DVOA range is a fairly expected result in the NFL but I don't have the data to back that up).

While I've spent a lot of words on it, it really is more an idle curiosity than anything else. I've always liked clear definitions, I mean I'm happy Pluto is a dwarf planet now and not a planet and that Ceres is a dwarf planet now too and not an asteroid because it tells me a lot of astronomical information very quickly without any real exceptions anymore, but that is also about the most energy I've ever spent on the topic of Pluto as a planet, it's not a big deal. Neither is this, part of why I kept trying to edit my post for tone then just gave up and let my curiosity have it's say.

I'm perfectly happy with people and metrics not thinking GB is a good team either. I love watching them, I love the scheme LaFleur uses, but they have been in a lot of games that were still undecided on the scoreboard late in the 4th quarter they haven't really had too many explosive offensive games, not a lot of clearly dominate defensive games, etc. So they haven't passed certain eyeball or metric thresh holds. I can't quantify eyeball tests but I can with metrics.

I've been interested in the oddities of the W-L records of teams this year, the look of parity that I expected would be the norm with the salary cap but hasn't been. I went down a rabbit hole in a comment last week looking for other years where every team had at least 2 losses through 10 weeks (post 89). So I was a little disappointed as well in the analysis this week. It is an odd season, and it was cool to get data that showed the top team is pretty weak comparatively speaking. So yeah all good teams losing to at least one team that isn't good felt blah there too.

But yeah after this post, unless a deeper discussion starts I'm done with it this week.

Points: 0

#28 by DIVISION // Nov 23, 2021 - 11:13pm

Arizona lost to Green Bay because AJ Green didn't turn around to catch a pass in the end zone, and were in prime position to win despite 3 TO's.

Arizona lost to Carolina playing without Kyler Murray, D-Hop, turning the ball over and falling behind.  They also did not expect Cam Newton to play at all.  Carolina pulled out all their trick plays to win that game and it worked.  More power to them.  Not much you can take away from that game.

Those are Zona's two losses.

In a one game sample you can have a very good team beat a better team due to variance.  Arizona beats Green Bay 7/10 times given the rosters and how they have played thus far.

Green Bay has been blown out by the Saints, who are not as good as they were in Week 1.  They have lost to the Chiefs without Aaron Rodgers.  They lost a close game to the Vikings.  

I think you can make a case that the Packers have played better than expected, especially their defense, but they haven't been as consistent as Arizona all year.  Arizona was blowing out contenders weekly (Titans/Rams/Browns).  Green Bay was getting by with modest wins.

Like the Rams, the Packers are extremely thin at many positions on the roster and they are starting to feel it.

There is your answer.

Points: 0

#30 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 23, 2021 - 11:25pm

Not even remotely the answer to the question I asked. Not even in the same stadium as the question I asked.

You seem to think I asked why the Packers have the DVOA they do. I did not ask that. I asked how they defined good. I completely understand and agree with where GB is ranked by DVOA. They were simply a reference point.

What your post was, was you bragging about Zona and ragging on everyone else. You've gone to thin instead of lack of depth so you are almost acknowledging injury luck for GB (I'm not as familiar with LAR roster so I can't say if they have needed to use 3rd and 4th options all year long at key positions like GB), but you aren't quite there.

You also clearly did not see the GB-Zona game if you think it was all about that one play. Zona only had that chance because a GB rookie WR ran a poor route and didn't score a TD earlier. Sure it's possible that Zone wins 70% of the time I actually think that is probably fair, but then that is even more evidence that it's not about 1 play. GB can play better than Zona even if Zona doesn't play bad.

But again that is not what I was asking about it isn't what I was curious about, it was data to illustrate the question I was asking. But you need to brag about your team and insult other teams. Of course since you work in a psychology field you know why that is so I won't explain it.


Points: 0

#37 by DIVISION // Nov 24, 2021 - 1:20am

You're becoming overly protective of your petulant Packers, taking emotional investment a bit too far.


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#55 by DisplacedPackerFan // Nov 24, 2021 - 4:35pm

LOL you have no clue and keep projecting. Man this if funny and entertaining!

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#3 by Bobman // Nov 23, 2021 - 4:43pm

So I wonder which counts as that bad loss for Indy...  to #16 SEA, #15 BAL, or two losses to #18 TEN.

(Sighs, weeps quietly, resumes work. Same as the last 18 months.)

Points: 0

#29 by DIVISION // Nov 23, 2021 - 11:18pm

The Seattle loss is a bad loss considering how bad they are.

Baltimore is a contender but very inconsistent.

Tennessee was dominant with Henry, but mortal without him.

Why are the Colts rolling right now when they were getting pushed around earlier in the year?  

I didn't see this coming.

Points: 0

#58 by beargoggles // Nov 26, 2021 - 10:54am

In reply to by DIVISION

But I believe the simplistic answers are:

1) OL—their elite unit—is healthier

2) schedule is easier

They are still going to have problems with elite passing teams like TB, although they conceivably can turn it into a shootout if Wentz avoids turnovers. He got credit for this against SF despite a few dropped interceptions in the first half.

Points: 0

#4 by Bobman // Nov 23, 2021 - 4:47pm

Sure they have Jax, Houston, and LV, but they also have the top 3 teams in DVOA. They basically HAVE TO win one of those tough three, while holding serve against the lesser teams, to have any chance at the playoffs.  Two are home, which helps, I suppose, including the AFC game vs the Pats, which might end up being the key (conf wins tiebreaker). That game is sandwiched between two Pats/Bills games, so could be a trap for New England (if Bill ever lets them fall into one).

Won't be easy, but I guess nothing about the NFL ever is.

Go teams!

Points: 0

#12 by RBroPF // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:18pm

That Colts game being in between the two Bills games would be a killer spot, but fortunately the Pats have their bye after the first Bills game and right before the Colts.  That gives me a lot more confidence that they'll be ready to play close to their best against the Colts.

Points: 0

#15 by Anon Ymous // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:21pm

The Patriots certainly have trap games (despite talking heads regularly saying otherwise), but given how well Indy is playing and that NE will be coming off a bye, I wouldn't count on it.  

That said, Indy's performance this past week could beat anyone in the league, so they don't need anyone to play poorly if they keep that up.  If Taylor can keep it rolling against Tampa's run D, then I'm not sure how anyone else stops them.  

Points: 0

#31 by DIVISION // Nov 23, 2021 - 11:38pm

The Colts/Cardinals game has been flexed to Saturday, Christmas Day.

I will take the Cardinals defense over Carson Wentz all day, every day.

Also, I will take Kyler Murray over the Colts' secondary forever.

Teams have tried to beat the Cards by going run-heavy.  They've only lost twice.



Points: 0

#7 by richRod // Nov 23, 2021 - 5:37pm

Will giving Murray and Hopkins a month off in the middle of the season pay dividends down the stretch?   It’s an interesting concept.  

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#13 by RBroPF // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:19pm

I mean, if you can do it and keep winning and stay on top of the division then it's great.  As long as they fully recover.

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#17 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:42pm

I had the same thought yesterday, about how Murray's time off might help him in the playoffs.

As the season grows to 17, and presumably eventually 18 games, giving key players a game or two off mid-season might become the norm.

Points: 0

#21 by MC2 // Nov 23, 2021 - 7:24pm

I think that the most important factor in resting players is not the length of the regular season, but the percentage of teams that qualify for the playoffs.  I mean, the MLB season is literally twice as long as the NBA season, but you see more "load management" in the NBA, because over half the teams in the league make the playoffs, so a decent team can sleepwalk through the regular season without having to worry about missing the playoffs.  Also,  there are no first round byes, and only Game 7 home court advantage for the higher seeds.  The NBA regular season is, for good teams at least, virtually meaningless.  Fortunately, that's not (yet) the case in the NFL, so I doubt we'll see healthy NFL players taking games off anytime soon.

Points: 0

#57 by Wifan6562 // Nov 25, 2021 - 10:07pm

I think the reasoning varies a lot from league to league. In the NBA, the physical toll of playing affects all players so they give them days off. In MLB it’s really only pitchers who degrade due to overuse - and they are managed through pitch count restrictions. Other players get the occasional day off more for mental health than anything. I think the main reason you’ll never see players taking days off in the NFL without a reason is that the season is short and losing a game is a really big deal. Obviously there are a couple exceptions the last couple weeks of the season. 

Long story short, there’s no 1 thing that can be compared to understand the reasons behind sitting players across different leagues. The games are just too different. 

Points: 0

#59 by beargoggles // Nov 26, 2021 - 10:57am

Also the NBA has a more insane travel schedule. Baseball they move every 3-4 days and at least frequently have semi-logical road trips in similar geographic areas. NBA teams can go MIN-SA-MEM and back to west coast over a few days.

Points: 0

#40 by BJR // Nov 24, 2021 - 7:03am

I'm more worried about what Murray's absence says about his long term prospects as an elite QB.

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#27 by DIVISION // Nov 23, 2021 - 11:01pm

...I went from thinking that Murray's ankle sprain was serious if he's missing three weeks to considering the prospect that Kingsbury simply thought McCoy could beat the Niners/Panthers/Seahawks, even without Hopkins and Edmonds.

I fully expect the Cardinals to be dominant when they come back against the Bears in two weeks.

The only impact player they won't get back is JJ Watt.  

Meanwhile, all the other contenders in the NFC are banged up:  Rams, Bucs, Packers, Cowboys.

Points: 0

#39 by Otis Taylor89 // Nov 24, 2021 - 5:39am

Why do people keep saying that TB is banged up? They’ve had historically great injury luck at the the one position group over the past 3 seasons that matters for a QB - Offensive Line. Have they even totaled more than 5 lost man games from their O Line the past two years? The Pats lost 4 in One Game this year.

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#8 by Raiderfan // Nov 23, 2021 - 5:55pm

The most likely SB matchup is TB-NE.  The sports part of the internet would explode.

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#14 by Independent George // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:19pm

Social media is all about stirring up drama, but I think most people here understood that Brady leaving for Tampa was win-win for everyone involved. Brady obviously got to win another title and contend for his last few seasons, while NE spent a year in limbo in order to clean up their roster and undergo an orderly rebuild. There's still a long way to go this season, but it looks like things pretty much worked out really well for everyone.

Points: 0

#16 by RBroPF // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:22pm

Currently a 9.9% chance of detonation!

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#24 by eagle97a // Nov 23, 2021 - 8:43pm

Interesting to say the least since besides 2021 TB the bottom 10 No. 1 in DVOA at this point of time has 4 SB losers and 1 CCG loser (2015 NE). Looking forward to the rest of the season.

Points: 0

#25 by DIVISION // Nov 23, 2021 - 10:45pm

I actually don't see either of the making it.

Tampa has a weak secondary and they can't run the ball on offense.  I could see any of Arizona, Dallas, Green Bay throwing for 400 yards on them and blowing them out like the Rams did.

New England is on a nice run, however I don't trust Mac Jones against anyone they will see in the playoffs.  I also think Buffalo sweeps them to win the division this year.  Not sold on Belichick against teams with more talent.  It's one thing to beat a horrible Atlanta team but quite another to beat the best teams in the league.  They came up short against Tampa and Dallas.  They're a dark horse.

Points: 0

#41 by Anon Ymous // Nov 24, 2021 - 7:25am

In reply to by DIVISION

I think it's reasonable to wonder what NE's true level is.  70-0 runs aren't sustainable even if there were no questions about their talent heading into the past few weeks.  

That said, they are a radically different team than they were for the first month, and not just in performance.  The OL is healthy and performing at a different level.  The approach with the secondary is much different.  The front seven is settling in and dominating, not having the basic errors they were having early on.  Henry, Bourne and Stevenson have found their groove within the offense.  

So it's wrong to think they will run roughshod from here.  But it's equally wrong to say their early season performance is who they *really* are.

Points: 0

#43 by RBroPF // Nov 24, 2021 - 7:46am

In reply to by DIVISION

Yeah, it's easy to pick teams to not make the SB.  The odds are against every team, so that's an easy way to feel smart. 

Your assessment of NE is completely reasonable, but not the only reasonable take.  They doinked the go-ahead FG in the final two minutes against Tampa, and went to overtime with Dallas.  Those two games show that they absolutely can beat the best teams in the league.  And NE is a much better team now than they were then.  I also wouldn't put too much money on your Bills sweep prediction.  Those are going to be good games.


Points: 0

#47 by mehllageman56 // Nov 24, 2021 - 10:42am

In reply to by DIVISION

"Not sold on Belichick against teams with more talent. "


Ben Rothlisberger and Peyton Manning would like a word with you.

Points: 0

#60 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 26, 2021 - 3:23pm

The 20+ year long narrative of "the less talented team won" every time the Patriots win a playoff game is pretty hilarious. 



Points: 0

#32 by PatsFan // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:22am

NE has almost no chance.  Even against a crappy ATL pass defense the NE offense did very little.  The question will be whether or not the NE running game will be able to keep defenses honest enough to prevent them from clamping down on NE's Captain Checkdown.

Points: 0

#35 by DIVISION // Nov 24, 2021 - 1:07am

They get a rude awakening when they see Buffalo.  New England is the devil Buffalo knows.  Expect Buffalo to reassert their AFC East dominance.

Points: 0

#38 by RobotBoy // Nov 24, 2021 - 2:44am

You mean dominance for that one COVID season? Any thoughts about the dominance of the previous nineteen years. The Pats may well not win the superbowl with a rookie QB but they are a much better team than they were four weeks ago. Buffalo on the other hand...any team that had its wings pulled off 41-15, at home, shouldn't be feeling all that cocky.

Points: 0

#52 by Mike B. In Va // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:44pm

As an actual Bills fan, I don't agree with this analysis.

Let's have a look at Buffalo's COVID list when they play the Pats. If Lotulelei and Brown are on it, they lose one of those two games. The fact is the Bills are thin everywhere - yes, this is the NFL, and everyone is hurt - but the O line is SO bad in its current configuration that it could cause a death spiral the defense can't stop, especially against running teams.

Anyone who thought NE was down for count was fooling themselves. BB knows how to win with inferior talent.

Points: 0

#56 by IlluminatusUIUC // Nov 24, 2021 - 8:26pm

Lotuleilei and Brown went on the COVID list 10 and 6 days ago, respectively. If they are STILL unavailable on December 6, then they may be lost for the season - that would be one hell of a bad bout. 

Points: 0

#44 by RBroPF // Nov 24, 2021 - 8:02am

Way to cherry-pick one game, especially a TNF game.  You'd think folks on an analytic site would know better.


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#45 by Anon Ymous // Nov 24, 2021 - 8:15am

In fairness to PF, the game in Atlanta wasn't that much different from how Mac played for much of the SD and Carolina games.  So it's not entirely cherry picked.

That said, given PF's comments in this thread I can comfortably say that I'm more optimistic about Mac's prospects than he is, both for this season and beyond.  

Points: 0

#49 by PatsFan // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:23pm

Oh, I think Jones has an excellent chance to have a good career as an above-average QB.

I just don't trust him or the passing offense this year. I think he's still too raw, checks down too much (whether by design or by not being willing to try the longer play) and there's not enough receiving talent (which is of course part of the reason for the low number of air yards on his passes).    Like I said upstream, it comes down to whether the NE running game can force defenses to play honest enough for the checkdown passing game to work.  That and how sustainable the defense's hot streak is.

Also, this team is not built to be able to come back from a multi-possession deficit absent the defense forcing outright turnovers (not just forcing punts).  That is what I expect will ultimately do them in in the playoffs should they reach the playoffs.

Points: 0

#50 by RBroPF // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:35pm

Well, we can look at every offensive play from every game and draw conclusions on that basis, or we can look at specific aspects from specific games and use less data for our conclusions.  DVOA has the Pats offense at +2.3, so slightly above average, and I'm sure their weighted DVOA is a little better than that.  That seems right to me.  Combine that with their 2nd ranked defense and 6th ranked special teams and you've got a potent club that "has a chance" against any team in the league. 

Of course, DVOA is highly variable week to week and therefore not terribly predictive.  Given injuries and variance in individual and team performance throughout a season no metric is all that predictive.  It's possible that NE will completely fall apart when they play the Titans/Bills/Colts, but I doubt it.  They'll probably lose some of those games and if they do, they may drop in the rankings a bit, but it seems very unlikely that they'll be exposed as pretenders.  The Pats will very likely make the playoffs and either make some noise or be a very tough out for a top team.  That's what DVOA is telling us, and I see no reason not to believe it.

Points: 0

#9 by AFCNFCBowl // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:11pm

Is ATL approaching "worst team ever" territory by this point?

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#51 by Bryan Knowles // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:35pm

They are, at the very least, the worst 4-6 team ever, taking the record from the 1992 Colts.

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#10 by Jimmytossinbeachble // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:12pm

Is -42% DVOA the worst ever for a team only 2 games under .500? 31st offense, 30th defense, 31st ST.

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#19 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:45pm

The coveted "doing the most with the least" award!

Should we assign the variance between their W-L record and their expected W-L record to coaching skill?  Or assume that coaching skill is fully captured by ranking 30th or worse for all three of offense, defense and special teams?


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#18 by PirateFreedom // Nov 23, 2021 - 6:43pm

It seems surreal to have the Pats among the leaders again. I did not see that coming.

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#26 by DIVISION // Nov 23, 2021 - 10:51pm

By the end of the season when the Patriots are scrambling for a WC spot, people will be asking , "what happened to the Patriots?".

In a year of over-reaction and parity, trust your intuition.

Do I trust Mac Jones over Josh Allen with a division title on the line?  

Is Belichick good enough to overcome a lack of talent?

How you answer those questions will determine how you see the AFC East playing out.


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#33 by Romodini // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:27am

My intuition tells me the Patriots are for real... and I'm certainly no Pats fan. I felt they were better than they seemed when they played a close game with Dallas, and they've climbed every week in DVOA since. I certainly don't trust Josh Allen, whose play has been pretty erratic. And I don't know why you wouldn't trust Bill Belichick to overcome a lack of talent, considering Urban Meyer and a terrible Jaguars roster did.

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#34 by PatsFan // Nov 24, 2021 - 12:28am

Do I trust Mac Jones over Josh Allen with a division title on the line? 

Perhaps, because neither should be trusted, really.

Is Belichick good enough to overcome a lack of talent?

Yes in general, but it's not clear he's good enough to overcome NE's (self-created!) lack of receiving talent.

NE will go as far as their defense is able to take them.  I don't trust the offense at all.

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#36 by DIVISION // Nov 24, 2021 - 1:16am

Smoke and mirrors.

Stop the run, force Mac to 3rd and long and watch a whole offense collapse.

Given the talent disparity between the Bills and Pats, it's a no-brainer.

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#48 by Chuckc // Nov 24, 2021 - 11:08am

In their first 2 Super bowls, NE's offense seemed like it was entirely draws and screens and they won because the defense kept "unsustainably" making plays at the right time. This team looks a lot like that.

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#54 by Alternator // Nov 24, 2021 - 1:16pm

2004 Steelers as well - a rookie QB asked to play very conservative, risk free ball and let the defense and run game carry the load.

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#61 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 26, 2021 - 3:34pm

You'd think that given how simple that plan is, teams would be able to do it, and they wouldn't have the 2nd biggest point differential in the NFL, and be one of highest scoring teams in the NFL. 



I mean, Christ, the Patriots offense has been checkdowns, draws, screens, and short crossing patterns for 25 years now. How have people noy figured out that you can just force 3rd and long?

Points: 0

#42 by big10freak // Nov 24, 2021 - 7:28am

Packers have a thin roster.  All Pro left tackle has been out all season.   Pro Bowl pass rusher same.  All Pro corner out most of season.  Lost Pro Bowl center to free agency.  Promising rookie center out the last 4 games.  Starting tight end out since end of October.  Aaron Jones out last week and again likely this week  Various receivers missing time due to Covid


And team is leading its division with two close losses on the road with backups and in some cases third string guys playing. (New Orleans game obviously happened before all the other losses took place)

If folks are going to reply, “Rodgers” then I guess the Yahooification of FO has taken place.  

Points: 0

#46 by asleep06 // Nov 24, 2021 - 9:01am

With all the upsets we've seen, I'm curious as to how this season compares to other seasons in terms of total variance aggregated across the league?

Has the NFL as a whole been more inconsistent this year than others? 

Points: 0

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