Eagles Fly to Top of DVOA Mountain

Eagles LB Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards
Eagles LB Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 9 - The undefeated Philadelphia Eagles finally fly to the top of the DVOA mountain this week, passing the Buffalo Bills to reign as our new No. 1 team. Both Philadelphia and Buffalo dropped in DVOA -- the Eagles after a moderate win against a bad Texans team, and the Bills after a close loss to a good Jets team -- but the Bills dropped more than the Eagles so they relinquish the top spot which they had held since Week 1.

The Eagles are at 32.4%, which isn't particularly high for the No. 1 team at midseason, but they are not "frauds" boosted by an easy schedule. They are No. 1 despite the adjustments for that No. 29 schedule. Without the opponent adjustments, the Eagles would be over 40%. The Eagles come in about middle of the pack in the history of 8-0 teams, ranking 14th out of 24 teams that started 8-0 since 1981. Scroll down or click here for a list of all of those teams and where the Eagles come in.

Philadelphia is not the only team moving up in the top 10 this week. The Seahawks move up a spot to No. 5, passing the Chiefs. The Bengals are up three spots to No. 7 and the surprising New York Jets make the top 10 for the first time this year at No. 8. The Jets now have the No. 6 defense in the league and their offense is almost up to league average! The entire AFC East has winning records right now and the entire division also ranks in the top half of the DVOA ratings, with the Patriots last among the four teams at No. 13.

The Jets have dramatically improved since the first month of the season, which gives me an opportunity to bring out first month vs. second month splits. In general, it's better to look at the entire season when judging how good a team is playing. Or, like weighted DVOA, you want to gradually drop the strength of games more than a month old. Still, with reduced practice time in the preseason and fewer preseason games, a number of NFL observers now argue that September is more like an extension of the preseason. So it's interesting to see which teams have improved or declined dramatically since those first few games. I split the season between Week 4 and Week 5 because that gave me two equal four-game sets for teams that have had their bye weeks.

Jets DVOA by Week, 2022
DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk
Weeks 1-4 -10.5% 22 3.0% 19 5.1% 2 -8.4% 22
Weeks 5-9 6.3% 13 -18.5% 4 -0.4% 21 24.4% 4

You can see from the splits that the Jets have improved significantly on both sides of the ball, although their special teams have not been as good over the last five weeks. The Jets' run defense has actually gotten worse over the last five weeks but the pass defense has been phenomenal, going from 19.3% DVOA in Weeks 1-4 to -29.9% DVOA in Weeks 5-9.

Here's another team that has improved significantly on defense over the past few weeks, the Seattle Seahawks:

Seahawks DVOA by Week, 2022
DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk
Weeks 1-4 19.7% 4 16.8% 32 1.6% 10 4.4% 14
Weeks 5-9 7.5% 12 -17.2% 5 2.8% 7 27.5% 7

The Seahawks would look even better if we had split the season at Week 6 instead of Week 5, because that's when their defense really turned things around. If you use our DVOA Filter by Week tool, available to FO+ subscribers, you can see that only the Patriots have had a better average defensive DVOA over the past four weeks. Their improvement on pass defense is as big as New York's, going from 35.1% pass defense DVOA in Weeks 1-4 to -20.6% in Weeks 5-9. On offense, while Geno Smith has still been playing well, the Seahawks have dropped from 7.3 net yards per pass to 6.5 net yards per pass over the last five weeks. (We'll have more on Smith in Derrik Klassen's Film Room later this week.)

What about teams that are improving on offense? The biggest offensive improvement of the second month of the season belongs to the Cincinnati Bengals, but their defense and special teams have declined at the same time.

Bengals DVOA by Week, 2022
DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk
Weeks 1-4 -12.1% 24 -16.3% 6 1.3% 12 5.5% 12
Weeks 5-9 26.6% 2 1.6% 16 -6.4% 29 18.7% 7

The Bengals' passing game was really only struggling in the first two weeks of the season, but the running game has dramatically turned things around since Week 5. (This is not news if you watched them this week!) The Bengals had 2.8 yards per carry with -25.7% DVOA through Week 4 and then have 5.2 yards per carry with 35.5% DVOA since Week 5. The defensive decline comes against both the pass and the run, and the Bengals' three best defensive games by DVOA were all in that initial four-week period.

Here's another team going in two different directions, in part because of injury issues on the defense (and in part because of a monsoon game in Week 1).

49ers DVOA by Week, 2022
DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk
Weeks 1-4 -7.1% 21 -28.8% 2 -2.7% 28 19.0% 7
Weeks 5-9 14.9% 7 14.5% 25 -0.3% 20 0.2% 14

Believe it or not, the 49ers have the No. 2 pass offense in the league by DVOA if you take out that Week 1 monsoon game. The power of Jimmy G! Well, the power of the Shanahan scheme. At the same time, the 49ers have had some bad defensive performances and you can't just attribute their decline to the fact that the monsoon game made their Week 1 defense look great. The 49ers had better pass defense DVOA in Weeks 2-4 than they had in Week 1! But the pass defense has really dropped off since then. The 49ers' pass defense DVOA was -29.1% in Weeks 2-4 (4.4 net yards per pass) but 30.4% in Weeks 5-8 (7.0 net yards per pass). The run defense has also gotten worse, although not to the same extent.

Are you excited for the NFC South division title race? Great, because both the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gotten worse over the last few weeks.

Buccaneers DVOA by Week, 2022
DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk
Weeks 1-4 1.8% 13 -23.9% 4 -2.1% 27 23.5% 4
Weeks 5-9 -2.0% 19 5.5% 20 1.5% 10 -6.0% 19

The passing game has been a little worse over the last month but the real issue for the Buccaneers has been defense, especially pass defense. Injuries have played a role here and it's really just three bad games in Weeks 6-8. The Bucs' defense bounced back with a strong game against the Rams this week.

Falcons DVOA by Week, 2022
DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk
Weeks 1-4 11.3% 9 6.9% 24 3.8% 5 8.3% 9
Weeks 5-9 5.9% 14 14.9% 26 0.7% 16 -8.3% 21

The Falcons have dropped off in all three phases over the last month, but not in the same ways. On offense, the passing game has been a little bit better but the running game was worse without Cordarrelle Patterson in the lineup. On defense, the run defense was better over the last five weeks but the pass defense got worse.

A couple of teams where I'm not even going to bother posting the numbers, but you know they've been worse over the last month:

  • Jacksonville had that huge win over Indianapolis in Week 2, so of course splitting their season in two shows them getting worse.
  • Pittsburgh is pretty simple: T.J. Watt got hurt and the defense got worse, and Kenny Pickett has not been as good as Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback.

The Worst Offensive Games Ever

The Colts and Patriots put on a terrible display of offensive football on Sunday, bad enough that it got Frank Reich fired. The Colts are now far, far behind the rest of the league in offensive DVOA. Nearly 12 percentage points separate the Colts from the No. 31 Carolina Panthers. The Patriots have dropped to 25th in offensive DVOA, although their defense and special teams have kept them in the top half of the league overall.

The Colts managed to gain just 2.0 net yards per play on Sunday. The Patriots did slightly better, at 3.3 net yards per play. The two teams combined for just 2.66 net yards per play, which is the fifth-lowest combined average in any game since 1981 and the lowest combined average of this century. The worst games in combined net yards per play:

  • Week 14 1983: STLC 10, NYG 6 (2.30)
  • Week 13 1988: NE 13, SEA 7 (2.59)
  • Week 6 1998: OAK 7, SD 6 (2.63)
  • Week 11 1984: IND 9, NYJ 5 (2.64)
  • Week 9 2022: NE 26, IND 3 (2.66)

So you may be asking, was this the worst combined offensive performance ever according to DVOA? The answer is no, in fact it wasn't even close. The main reason for that: there were only two turnovers, one by each team. Offensive DVOA is going to be even worse when a quarterback goes on an interception spree or a team fumbles five times. A secondary reason why Sunday's game wasn't among the worst ever is opponent adjustments, as both the Patriots and the Colts now qualify as top-10 defenses.

What is the worst combined offensive performance in DVOA history? It depends on how you measure it. If you measure by simply adding together the offensive DVOA of the two teams, the worst game ever was Green Bay's 27-0 win over Tampa Bay in Week 9 of 1991. Tampa Bay had the worst single-game offensive rating ever in that game, -146.0%. The Bucs averaged 2.9 yards per play with eight turnovers. EIGHT! Five interceptions and three lost fumbles. Chris Chandler threw two picks and got benched for Jeff Carlson, who came in and threw three more picks with five sacks. Green Bay had -32.8% DVOA with just 4.0 yards per play and two turnovers against the below-average Tampa defense, but for the most part this was just a horrific game from the Buccaneers and the Packers were sort of along for the ride.

I think a better way to measure the worst combined offensive performance is to use harmonic mean. It's a funky average that only comes out high when both (or all) of the numbers involved are high. I first learned about harmonic mean from Bill James' power-speed number.

Based on harmonic mean, the worst combined offensive performance in one game came in a 23-6 Chicago win over Carolina in Week 5 of 2010. You might remember that Todd Collins had to start for the injured Jay Cutler. He was benched for Caleb Hanie near the end of the third quarter after throwing four picks, and the Bears won anyway. Chicago finished the game with -64.4% offensive DVOA, with 3.9 yards per play and four turnovers. The Panthers started rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen and got 2.4 yards per play with three turnovers. (Two of those interceptions were from backup Matt Moore, who replaced Clausen when the game was out of reach late.) Carolina finished the game with -104.7% offensive DVOA. The combination of -169.1% is the second-lowest ever, and the harmonic mean of -79.8% is the worst ever.

Here's a look at the worst games since 1981 by harmonic mean of offensive DVOA, plus Sunday's Colts-Patriots contest for comparison purposes. The turnover totals here only include lost fumbles on offense, not special teams fumbles or fumbles recovered by the offense.

Offensive Travesties Since 1981
Year Week Winner DVOA Yd/Pl TO Loser DVOA Yd/Pl TO Harm Score
2010 5 CHI -64.4% 3.9 4 CAR -104.7% 2.4 3 -79.8% 23-6
1992 12 DET -68.5% 4.4 3 CIN -79.3% 1.9 3 -73.5% 19-13
2008 10 CAR -70.2% 3.8 4 OAK -68.5% 3.5 2 -69.3% 17-6
2010 2 PIT -63.6% 2.4 1 TEN -74.5% 3.9 6 -68.6% 19-11
1983 14 STLC -52.8% 2.4 2 NYG -88.1% 2.2 5 -66.0% 10-6
1985 10 BUF -48.9% 2.8 1 HOIL -93.7% 3.0 5 -64.3% 20-0
2022 9 NE -39.5% 3.3 1 IND -70.3% 2.0 1 -50.5% 26-3

* * * * *

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* * * * *

This is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through nine weeks of 2022, 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). Click here for the full table.

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for opponent and performance indoors and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. Opponent adjustments are currently at 90% strength. 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 to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 36% preseason forecast and 64% actual performance for teams with nine games, and 45% preseason forecast and 55% actual performance for teams with eight games. Cleveland DAVE rating is adjusted to reflect Deshaun Watson returning from his suspension in Week 13. Indianapolis DAVE rating is now based on a projection with Sam Ehrlinger at quarterback.

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 PHI 32.4% 2 22.2% 1 8-0 18.2% 4 -16.3% 3 -2.1% 23
2 BUF 30.6% 1 22.1% 2 6-2 13.3% 6 -14.5% 4 2.7% 5
3 DAL 29.7% 3 20.3% 4 6-2 6.8% 10 -18.5% 1 4.4% 2
4 BAL 27.6% 4 20.6% 3 6-3 19.3% 3 -1.4% 15 6.8% 1
5 SEA 16.8% 6 9.2% 7 6-3 12.6% 7 -1.9% 12 2.2% 7
6 KC 15.6% 5 12.6% 5 6-2 22.0% 1 7.4% 23 1.0% 14
7 CIN 11.8% 10 11.5% 6 5-4 8.1% 9 -6.6% 8 -3.0% 27
8 NYJ 9.9% 11 6.9% 9 6-3 -1.8% 19 -9.7% 6 2.0% 9
9 SF 9.0% 7 5.1% 10 4-4 4.0% 13 -6.5% 9 -1.5% 21
10 TB 8.8% 8 7.4% 8 4-5 -0.4% 17 -9.3% 7 -0.1% 19
11 CLE 7.0% 9 4.1% 12 3-5 16.2% 5 7.6% 24 -1.6% 22
12 MIA 6.6% 12 3.3% 13 6-3 21.9% 2 10.1% 27 -5.2% 32
13 NE 4.8% 14 4.1% 11 5-4 -12.9% 25 -14.2% 5 3.5% 3
14 JAX 1.5% 17 -3.3% 19 3-6 6.6% 11 6.3% 22 1.2% 13
15 DEN 0.4% 15 0.7% 15 3-5 -13.6% 27 -18.4% 2 -4.3% 29
16 ATL -1.1% 20 -3.8% 21 4-5 8.3% 8 11.4% 29 2.1% 8

* * * * *

Here's the list of 8-0 teams going back to 1981, and where the Eagles fall among those teams:

1 NE 2007 74.5% 1 50.5% 1 -16.8% 5 7.3% 5
2 WAS 1991 58.3% 1 22.7% 2 -22.3% 3 13.2% 1
3 CHI 1985 52.4% 1 22.3% 3 -24.9% 1 5.2% 3
4 KC 2003 46.2% 1 23.8% 1 -8.5% 9 13.9% 1
5 NE 2019 45.5% 2 3.1% 14 -45.2% 1 -2.7% 29
6 MIA 1984 45.2% 1 42.5% 1 -5.9% 10 -3.1% 20
7 NYG 1990 43.7% 2 16.4% 4 -21.0% 4 6.3% 1
8 NE 2015 40.2% 1 25.5% 1 -7.9% 8 6.9% 1
9 DEN 1998 38.8% 1 39.0% 1 0.2% 16 0.1% 16
10 IND 2005 37.3% 1 24.5% 4 -16.9% 4 -4.2% 25
11 SF 2019 36.6% 2 6.3% 11 -31.8% 2 -1.5% 23
12 NO 2009 34.9% 3 25.9% 2 -15.4% 4 -6.4% 27
13 IND 2009 32.9% 4 21.4% 5 -10.1% 6 1.3% 10
14 PHI 2022 32.4% 1 18.2% 4 -16.3% 3 -2.1% 23
15 CIN 2015 30.4% 3 24.8% 2 -2.9% 10 2.6% 9
16 LAR 2018 30.3% 2 28.9% 2 -2.7% 13 -1.3% 13
17 GB 2011 28.7% 2 35.3% 1 5.8% 23 -0.9% 16
18 PIT 2020 25.2% 4 2.0% 15 -21.5% 2 1.7% 11
19 TEN 2008 23.5% 3 4.5% 14 -20.6% 3 -1.7% 25
20 SF 1990 21.6% 6 23.2% 2 -2.0% 12 -3.6% 22
21 CAR 2015 19.1% 4 6.0% 10 -19.0% 4 -5.8% 28
22 IND 2006 16.5% 9 30.1% 1 9.3% 23 -4.3% 28
23 KC 2013 15.1% 11 -1.1% 16 -11.1% 4 5.2% 3
24 ATL 2012 14.5% 9 10.9% 8 -3.7% 15 -0.1% 17


59 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2022, 4:17pm

#1 by Sportszilla // Nov 08, 2022 - 3:20pm

The biggest shock to me in this entire piece is that there was an epically bad offensive game in 1992 and it somehow did NOT involve the Seahawks!

Points: 0

#2 by Kaepernicus // Nov 08, 2022 - 3:32pm

I honestly think the fact that there were so few TOs in the NE-IND game makes it worse. I can't believe the harmonic mean is still that bad when there were only 2 TOs combined. Was the weather bad or something? Also surprised that the 2005 49ers failed to make that list of terrible games. That season was a masterclass in terrible offense. Alex Smith had a game where he had a negative ANY/A with 42 net passing yards, 0 TDs, and 4 INTs. The craziest part of that game against the Colts was they had 100+ yards on the ground and averaged a decent clip per carry. His rookie year was so horrible his ability to turn into an average starter is one of the greatest comeback stories in NFL history. 

Points: 0

#11 by MJK // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:15pm

The weather was fine.  This is what happens when a team that just fired its OC and is led by Sam Ehlinger at QB meets a team whose offense is joint-coached by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.  

Points: 0

#15 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:32pm

Its really hard to overstate how bad the Patriots offensive coaching is right now.  


At one point Mac Jones had run something like 50 straight plays where every snap out of shotgun was a passing play and every snap behind center was a run.  


Its really hard to succeed when the offensive line is a mess, spent all off-season practicing a different blocking scheme, and you tell the defense what play you're going to run.  

Points: 0

#16 by Ben // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:44pm

Yeah, that game was a masterpiece of horrible o-line play. The Patriots two TDs came on a pick-six and a 3 yard drive after a blocked punt. 

The Colts o-line is playing so terribly that it doesn’t really matter who the QB, RB, or coach is at this point. 

Points: 0

#21 by MJK // Nov 08, 2022 - 7:19pm

Wasn't it just a year or two ago when Indy was considered to have one of the best O-lines in the league?

Points: 0

#27 by Ben // Nov 08, 2022 - 8:26pm

They still have the highest paid o-line in the league. Does that count?

They replaced 2 out of 5 this season. The replacements have been abysmal. The 3 hold overs are all playing much worse than in previous years. I’m not sure if that’s due to the crappy new guys or what. I’ve heard that it’s possible to camouflage one bad o-lineman, but I think if there are 2 bad ones, you’re sunk. 

Points: 0

#29 by KnotMe // Nov 08, 2022 - 9:15pm

The Patriots won that game due to some luck and the fact that there defense was a bit better. The Pats should seriously hire Reich to be OC. 

When he started talking about horrible offence games I was expecting it to be about the games like the snow bowl where they played in a blizzard.  Then I remembered, DVOA is about efficiency, while weather usually just gives you a small number of plays. So...those two teams were worse (less efficient) than teams playing in horrible weather. 


Points: 0

#23 by MJK // Nov 08, 2022 - 7:21pm

To further drive the point home:



Can we please get Josh McDaniels back?  I don't think the Raiders really want him, anyway...

Points: 0

#28 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 08, 2022 - 9:13pm

Do they not self-scout? Does their own defense not tell them?

Points: 0

#44 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 09, 2022 - 10:19am

I don't know how anyone who does this for a living wouldn't notice it. And BB's comments don't make me feel confident here at all - this isn't great defenders being intuitive - this is super obvious. 


Every time they put Jones on the field, they start passing exclusively out of the shotgun and running exclusively from under center. Every once in a while they start mixing in draws and delays out of shotgun - and those are the drives that actually work. If you go through the logs for Zappe, you see a ton of passing from under center and running from shotgun (in fact, it's almost the opposite pattern- passing primarily from under center, running from shotgun, and lots of play action). There's no play action for Jones, no misdirection, just lots of shotgun and 5 men blocking. With Zappe there's much less pattern, more blockers - often max protect, and more time. 

I don't know if Mac Jones forgot how to drop back from center or something? Or if the coaching doesn't realize that they're doing this, but it's really friggen obvious. 

Points: 0

#3 by LyleNM // Nov 08, 2022 - 3:47pm

Math error on the Seahawks weeks 5-9 total DVOA.

Points: 0

#7 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 08, 2022 - 4:39pm

Cut and paste error! Now fixed.

Points: 0

#4 by Will Allen // Nov 08, 2022 - 3:50pm

Vikings now have the highest DVOA rank in the NFC North, at 18. The dream, of having every NFC North team finish 23 or lower, is sill alive! It worries me that Danielle Hunter is starting to get back in a groove, maybe due to getting used to playing in a 3-4. If the Vikings end up with two good to excellent edge rushers, it'll be hard to play defense poorly enough to drive their rank down to 23 or lower. 



Points: 0

#5 by JonesJon // Nov 08, 2022 - 4:09pm

Brutal month for the Falcons with the 41st ranked offense

Points: 0

#6 by Led // Nov 08, 2022 - 4:20pm

That brings me back.

Points: 0

#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 08, 2022 - 4:41pm

If ever you wondered why Lions fans defend Barry Sanders and Herman Moore so hard, this game is a case in point:

\Cincinnati had more yards and points from INT returns than from offense.

Points: 0

#9 by SportsPhan8 // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:01pm

Is this their best DVOA and/or weighted DVOA through 8 games?


Edit: never mind 

Points: 0

#10 by MJK // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:12pm

Is the AFCE the best division top to bottom this year?  The teams there are ranked 2, 8, 12, and 13, by DVOA, and the worst team has a winning record and a positive DVOA.

In the NFCS, by comparison, the best team is 10th overall, comparable in DVOA to the worst teams in the AFCE , and has a losing record...

Points: 0

#13 by theslothook // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:19pm

I think for now it's unequivocally yes. There are no bad teams and the best team is in contention for the best team in the league.


Points: 0

#12 by Paul R // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:17pm

"DVOA Mountain" sounds like the nerdiest place on earth. A land of slide rules and pocket protectors. Perhaps the name sounds better in the original Klingon.

Points: 0

#18 by BigRichie // Nov 08, 2022 - 6:19pm


And you call yourself a 'nerd'. Oh wait, you were making fun of them.

Points: 0

#31 by Paul R // Nov 08, 2022 - 10:04pm

In reply to by BigRichie


I have to admit that I am a proud slide-rule owner. No pocket protector, though. I'm not worthy to be at the top of DVOA Mountain yet.

Points: 0

#14 by SportsPhan8 // Nov 08, 2022 - 5:30pm

The Vikings have to be the worst 7-1 team ever. How are they only ranked 18th? 

Points: 0

#17 by Moridin // Nov 08, 2022 - 6:18pm

In reply to by SportsPhan8

The crazy thing is if opposing team injuries and luck keep playing along, they might be not only the worst 2nd seed ever, but probably the only 2nd seed ever to have worse DVOA than every other playoff team (Giants at 19 could maybe upset that one).

The likelihood of them maintaining such a ridiculous win rate through the back half of the season is certainly low.

Points: 0

#19 by jheidelberg // Nov 08, 2022 - 6:33pm

Number 1 seed at -3.0 DVOA, that will be difficult to beat. 

Points: 0

#35 by Moridin // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:27am

That's true, I certainly put them out of my mind quickly enough it seems. Crazy first seed. Still, they beat out LV & Pit by DVOA by a little bit, so they weren't both the 1st seed and worst in the playoffs (3rd worst and 1st seed is still crazy).

Points: 0

#30 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 08, 2022 - 9:16pm

1991 Lions were a 2-seed and topped only the AFC 6 (Jets).

Points: 0

#32 by nosoop4u // Nov 08, 2022 - 11:19pm

After this week's game at Buffalo, they only have road games against each of their weaker division rivals.  With home games against Dallas, NE, Indy, Jets & Giants, I just can't see them going worse than 4-4 in those last 8 games unless something significant turns around.  They're likely to be favored in 6 of those last 8 games.  Assuming a loss in Buffalo, that still leaves them 11-6 or better.

A couple things that I believe DVOA doesn't capture are:

  • teams that are "clutch" and make plays, offensively and defensively, when needed at critical moments (3rd down and red zone O & D, turnovers, etc.)
  • "bend but don't break" defenses (12th in fewest points allowed despite giving up the 25th most yards/game)
  • offenses which can string successful plays together when they need points (9th in points scored despite being 16th in offensive yards/game)
  • not giving away free yards on things like touchbacks on kicks and punts, as well as penalties (5th in most punts inside the 20, 0 touchbacks on punts all year, 2nd in average starting field position, 5th in fewest penalty yards/game, etc.)
  • staying healthy

I realize that most of these things may not be sustainable, and many are likely not predictive.  Still there's something to be said about being situationally aware vs good on average.  Can they keep it up?  I honestly don't believe the next 4 games against teams with winning records will tell us much unless they go 0-4 or 4-0, because they have such a cushion in the standings.

Are they really "worse" than 5 separate teams that have losing records now that are ranked higher in DVOA?

Points: 0

#34 by Will Allen // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:00am

I was really sure 3 weeks ago that they'd lose 4 in row to Buffalo, Dallas, New England, and the Jets. They can't handle good defenses, and they were making opposing backup qbs look like DYAR efficiency monsters. However, Danielle Hunter seems to be coming back to his normally super-productive self, and if that happens, well, any team with two excellent edge rushers has a chance to be significantly above average on defense. If they catch another break, and get Keese Cane'im on Sunday, instead of Josh Allen, they can steal another win.

Points: 0

#37 by David // Nov 09, 2022 - 6:56am

A couple things that I believe DVOA doesn't capture are:

  • teams that are "clutch" and make plays, offensively and defensively, when needed at critical moments (3rd down and red zone O & D, turnovers, etc.)
  • "bend but don't break" defenses (12th in fewest points allowed despite giving up the 25th most yards/game)
  • offenses which can string successful plays together when they need points (9th in points scored despite being 16th in offensive yards/game)
  • not giving away free yards on things like touchbacks on kicks and punts, as well as penalties (5th in most punts inside the 20, 0 touchbacks on punts all year, 2nd in average starting field position, 5th in fewest penalty yards/game, etc.)
  • staying healthy

So, DVOA definitely does not capture your first and third bullet points.  The reason being that these things (and I cannot stress this enough) do not exist

These things are a myth.  Do you know how I know this?  Because if a team really was 'clutch', and could make plays on-demand - then they would do this all the time.  If you're that great, and can make plays when you need to, why wait until third down?  Just make the play now!  And then again.  And again.  And again.

DVOA doesn't measure magic, and believing that teams can will themselves better when they want to is wishcasting - because if it wasn't, teams would just do it all the time - because why wouldn't you?

Unless you believe that the genie will only grant you three wishes, in which case, sure, only use those wishes on high-leverage situations, but again, DVOA doesn't measure the magic genie.  Partly because it can't, and mostly because the magic genie isn't real.

Your second bullet is dubious - DVOA does measure that style of defense, but giving up lots of yards without giving up points can also be a 'magic genie' thing - it may be that the cause is about the defense deliberately playing softer and playing the percentages of the offense busting, but it can also be a sign that the defense isn't good, and has been lucky in high-leverage situations (just like bullets 1 and 3).  One of these is much more likely than the other - can you guess which?

DVOA does measure the fourth bullet point - in fact, it's quite good at measuring these things.  DVOA absolutely does not measure health, which is a very real thing and matters.  However, it's only helpful if the team is putting up bad numbers while unhealthy and the players are going to come back.  Pointing at bad health as a reason for bad play is only a sign of optimism if those injured players are going to come back healthy.

Long story short - DVOA says the Vikings are a below-average team which has gotten lucky in high-leverage situations.  Fan view says that the Vikings are a clutch team with heart and a will to win who play hard when it matters most.  It's nice to be optimistic.

Points: 0

#39 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 09, 2022 - 7:44am

Bullets 2 and 3 are related to bullet 4. It’s winning field position. A bunch of Belichick teams have been good at it. 

It’s sort if captured in ST DVOA, but the penalty portion is almost totally hidden.

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#42 by takeleavebelieve // Nov 09, 2022 - 10:01am

DVOA actually does account for the first two points, in the sense that 7 yards on 3rd and 6 is worth a lot more than 5 yards on 3rd and 6.

The problem is that the human perception of “clutch” comes with a lot of arbitrary and selective caveats as to what counts as clutch and what doesn’t. The data often doesn’t match the narrative; but the flaw is generally with the narrative, not the data.

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#20 by riri // Nov 08, 2022 - 6:41pm

In reply to by SportsPhan8

Only ranked 18th in the league? You think they should be lower?

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#33 by Will Allen // Nov 09, 2022 - 1:47am

They've been really lucky, like catching the Dolphins with Tua hurt. 

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#45 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 09, 2022 - 10:21am

In reply to by SportsPhan8

The 2000 Vikings are the worst 7-1 team ever by DVOA. That's the team that went on to get creamed by the Giants in the NFC Championship Game. No other 7-1 team other than the 2000 and 2022 Vikings was ever below 5% DVOA.

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#55 by Will Allen // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:38pm

Until this year, the Vikings team I hated the most, since the first year I paid attention to them, as a wee lad in 1969. This team is in the running, but if they keep rushing the passer the way they have the last couple weeks, the 2000 squad will once again be easily unchallenged in its loathsomeness, 

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#22 by vikingflagship // Nov 08, 2022 - 7:20pm

after playing at Buffalo this week, the vikings have 6 home games in a row (5 in twin cities, and 'at Detroit' )

and during this 6 game winning streak, they have lost the DVOA battle 4 times. 

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#24 by TimK // Nov 08, 2022 - 7:49pm

Sooner or later DVOA will get back to the Cowboys & Broncos in Super Bowl XII - that ought to be a pretty good game for negative offensive stats…

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#26 by serutan // Nov 08, 2022 - 8:05pm

Maybe - I have this niggling memory that real DVOA won't go much before 1980 due to lack of data, and anything else would basically be estimated DVOA.

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#59 by reddwarf // Nov 09, 2022 - 4:17pm

I really hope we don't have proper data to do DVOA (beyond estimated) for that Super Bowl.  I still have nightmares.

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#36 by Jetspete // Nov 09, 2022 - 3:21am

As bad as his individual play has looked at times, it’s hard to read that jets stat and not think Wilson is the man for the job. We only had Hall for 2 1/4 of those five games. 

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#38 by nat // Nov 09, 2022 - 7:13am

<begin nerdiness> I get why you’d try it for this. But harmonic mean is what you use when you really should have been working with the inverse of the measure you used. Using harmonic mean here is hand-wavy and looks a wee bit results-driven.

Think about how you’d average two speeds over two equal distances to get the speed for the whole trip.  If you did the usual average, you’d get the wrong answer. The hint is that you are averaging over equal distances, not equal times. To get the right answer, you convert the speeds into “hours per mile” to get distance in the denominator, average those, and then invert back to “miles per hour”.  That is, you take the harmonic mean.

Nothing about “offensive travesties” indicates that “plays per value” is a better way to look at them.

For “offensive travesties”, you’d probably do better just to look at the DVOA of the better of the two offenses in each game. If you want to give a little extra credit for the worse team in a game being much worse, then do that explicitly. 

<end nerdiness>

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#40 by Pat // Nov 09, 2022 - 9:22am

Nothing about “offensive travesties” indicates that “plays per value” is a better way to look at them.

"Plays per value" is the same thing as "number of plays needed to score a point," rescaled.

Which is a perfectly fine way of characterizing multiple terrible offenses. As in "my god, we saw 80 plays in this game... and got three points."

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#41 by Ben // Nov 09, 2022 - 9:51am

I think the yards per play is a pretty good metric for the awfulness of this game. Turnovers are obviously highly negative plays for an offense, which is reflected in the “worst combined DVOA” (however you measure it). The low yards per play show sustained incompetence. It wasn’t that these teams were moving the ball and then making high leverage mistakes. They were just doing nothing for the most part. 

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#49 by Pat // Nov 09, 2022 - 12:34pm

The issue is combining the two teams. If one team's got a high yards/play and another is, I dunno, negative, the average could still be low, but you're really seeing good offense for a while, and then bad offense.

In some sense you have to ask yourself "what does it mean for a game to have terrible offense?" Obviously, seeing Nathan Pederman is murder on your eyeballs, but if Patrick Mahomes is on the other side, hey, you might cheer for an interception if you want to see good offense. Gets you right back into the winning column.

If you think about it, "how many plays of utter dreck do I need to go through before I see something worthwhile" is reasonable measure.

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#43 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 09, 2022 - 10:11am

"Plays per value" is the same thing as "number of plays needed to score a point," rescaled.

On its own, that's pretty meaningless.

It doesn't matter if your drive takes 5 plays or 16, so long as they all result in scores. Points per drive is a useful metric. Plays per drive doesn't tell you much.


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#47 by Pat // Nov 09, 2022 - 11:21am

It doesn't matter if your drive takes 5 plays or 16, so long as they all result in scores.

It's plays per point in a single game. The game constraint makes it meaningful.

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#48 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 09, 2022 - 12:18pm

It. Doesn't. Matter.


Tennessee was at a little under 3 plays per point. KC was a little over 4 plays per point. KC dominated by any sane measure of offense, but had a turnover, poor kicking luck, and bad field position.

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#50 by Pat // Nov 09, 2022 - 12:49pm

I'm not talking about actual points per play as a basis for evaluating teams. I'm aware that's a stupid metric. We're not talking about comparing teams, we're talking about comparing offenses in games - not an offense compared to another offense, all offense (by both teams) in a game compared to all offense (by both teams) in another game.

The Colts ran 60 plays and generated -31.93 expected points on offense. The Patriots ran 62 plays and generated -9.55 expected points on offense. So the average "expected points/play" that you were watching that game is the harmonic mean of the two, or nearly -0.24 EPA/play.

The average is actually a little worse (-0.34 EPA/play) but again, if you think about it, that's not a fair comparison, because whenever Ehlinger got sacked and driven off the field, it was like "okay, the Patriots are awful, but, I mean... they're not thaaat awful." If I was trying to make a "game offensiveness metric" I'd probably do something like the harmonic mean of integrated VOA, normalized to the average number of plays in a game to get it back on a scale that's familiar. 

The mention of "plays per point" was just because DVOA's on a play scale - it's just a normalization factor. You can also think about it as "how quickly are these godawful offenses throwing away points?" - in other words, you're looking at how long (in game fraction) it takes the offenses to chuck a point down the drain, but renormalizing it to "typical play."

But I can see the argument for using the per-play performance average because if the Colts had run 30 plays and generated -31.93 expected points, that's obviously significantly worse to watch.

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#51 by nat // Nov 09, 2022 - 1:42pm

The distinction between points/play and plays/point is all about which it makes sense to average, or otherwise combine or consider when looking at a “travesty” on both sides of the ball.

By using the harmonic mean, this analysis in effect says that DVOA is the wrong way to evaluate a team’s offense. Instead the harmonic mean averages inverse DVOA.

Nowhere else on FO do we invert DVOA to get a “Defense-adjusted Plays-to-score-a-point Under Average” before we combine them or talk about their meaning.  And for good reason: when we talk about an offense being good or bad, we talk about the value of their plays or drives. Not so much about the “cost” of their points.

It’s a minor and somewhat nerdy distinction. But there really isn’t any good reason to use harmonic mean for this kind of analysis.

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#56 by KnotMe // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:39pm

In terms of "travesty" I think the net yards per play version is correct because we are talking about perception. Teams not gaining ground is awful to watch. 

DVOA doesn't work as well bc it it's defence adjusted.  2.0 net yards per play is horrible to watch, but will give just a bad DVOA vs the #1 defence. (bad results vs a bad defence gives a really bad DVOA).

Does DVOA have a turnover penalty? I.e. is it worse to turnover the ball at X(say 30) yard line vs turning the ball over on downs at the same point? It's the same to the opposing offence, but I wonder if DVOA views it differently. (it feels like it does since all the bad games have lots of turnovers).  Another example would be a deep ball that gets intercepted to the 25 vs a touchback. 

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#58 by Pat // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:57pm

In terms of "travesty" I think the net yards per play version is correct because we are talking about perception. Teams not gaining ground is awful to watch. 

Yeah, but if you do a straight average, you don't know if you're mixing utter ineptitude with actual positive play (which is half the awfulness) or two inept teams constantly.

I think the TNF games clearly demonstrate that it's much, much worse to watch when everyone's a disaster. It really is just a rate average over the same distance (one game) if you think about it in terms of total expected points by the offense.

Points: 0

#57 by Pat // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:52pm

By using the harmonic mean, this analysis in effect says that DVOA is the wrong way to evaluate a team’s offense.

I'll say this again, more clearly: this analysis is not about evaluating a team's offense.

It's about evaluating the total offense that you observe in a game. Not the team's offense. Which would appear to be the worse game to observe from an offense standpoint: interception, 3-and-out punt, interception, 3-and-out punt, or fumble, fumble, fumble, fumble.

You really can argue it either way.

Nowhere else on FO do we invert DVOA

Nowhere else on FO are we talking about the quality of an entire game in terms of appearances.

Again, in some sense it's easier to think about it in terms of EPA. You average the inverse because if one team's offense is moving at a pace of -30 EPA/game (dear God, it really was that bad) and another team's offense is moving at a pace of -10 EPA/game, that's worse to watch than a team going at -60 EPA/game and another team going at +20 EPA/game. In one case it's like "I don't remember what offense looks like" and in the other one it's like "ha, Pederman chucked another INT."

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#54 by ChrisS // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:18pm

Perhaps average offensive succes rate of the game would be the better measure. Not sure if that would be readily available. Would there be games with zero successful offensive plays?

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#46 by johonny12 // Nov 09, 2022 - 10:32am

Really the away game at Dallas is the only game the Eagles look like they could lose all year. If they pull that out? 17-0? IDK but their schedule isn't filled with many teams you think will hang with them the rest of the way. It's way way too early, but the undefeated Dolphins were both good, and had a soft schedule. 

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#52 by JoelBarlow // Nov 09, 2022 - 1:59pm

really the entire 49ers situation defies explanation

are you brilliant for having a good offense with the QB you benched, lucky that your QB that you preferred at great cost and considerable expense was hurt, both?

Points: 0

#53 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 09, 2022 - 2:15pm

San Francisco does this a lot. Walsh and Siefert spent like a decade trying to get rid of Montana.

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