Bills Finish No. 1 in 2022 DVOA Ratings

Bills CB Tre'Davious White
Bills CB Tre'Davious White
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 18 - The Buffalo Bills finish the 2022 season on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. It wasn't quite a wire-to-wire victory, but it was very close. The Bills started out at No. 1 with a big opening day win over the defending champion Rams and then stayed in the No. 1 spot almost every week during the season. Only twice, after Week 9 and Week 14, did the Bills fall into second place. At no time this year did the Bills have DVOA under 30%.

Perhaps most impressive is that the Bills finished in the top four in all three phases of the game. Nyheim Hines' two kick return touchdowns in the final week boosted the Bills into the top spot in special teams; they were sixth after Week 17. The Bills also finished second in the league in offense and fourth in the league in defense.

This is a really, really rare accomplishment for the Bills. Buffalo is only the seventh team in the history of DVOA to finish in the top five in all three phases of the game. Here's a list of all these teams. The 2012 and 2015 Seattle Seahawks were the last teams to do it.

Teams with Top 5 DVOA in All 3 Phases, 1981-2022
Year Team Total
Rk W-L Off
Rk Def
1985 CHI 52.9% 1 15-1 15.7% 4 -33.3% 1 3.8% 5
1991 WAS 56.5% 1 14-2 27.5% 1 -20.4% 3 8.6% 1
1992 PHI 31.5% 2 11-5 10.2% 5 -18.3% 2 3.1% 4
1996 GB 43.0% 1 13-3 16.1% 3 -19.6% 1 7.4% 2
2012 SEA 38.4% 1 11-5 18.6% 4 -14.1% 5 5.7% 3
2015 SEA 38.6% 1 10-6 19.7% 1 -14.8% 4 4.2% 3
2022 BUF 35.0% 1 13-3 19.0% 2 -11.0% 4 5.0% 1

It's much more common for a team to finish in the top five for both offense and defense, no matter the rating for special teams. The Bills are the 35th team since 1981 to accomplish this feat, last done by the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

San Francisco's big final victory over Arizona moves the 49ers ahead of Philadelphia to finish the year at No. 2. The Eagles drop a bit after a close win over the Giants, and that's without any adjustments for the Giants playing mostly backups in Week 18. The Kansas City Chiefs move up from fifth to fourth with a big final win over the Raiders, and Cincinnati moves up two spots to finish fifth. Dallas is sixth.

Most advanced metrics have a "Big Six" this year consisting of these six teams. Our ratings are no different, with a couple of added wrinkles. First of all we still have Baltimore as essentially the seventh team in the "Big Six," even after their offensive decline without Lamar Jackson. We had the Ravens all the way up at No. 2 before Jackson's injury, and they've fallen from 28.4% DVOA through Week 12 to 17.9% DVOA to end the year. Still, that puts them very close to Cincinnati and Dallas for the season.

Our order is also a little different from some other metrics out there and a big part of that is schedule strength. Buffalo played an average schedule, while the next three teams all played easy schedules. Philadelphia played the easiest schedule in the league, San Francisco's schedule ranked 31st, and Kansas City's schedule ranked 29th. Dallas also had an easy schedule, while Cincinnati and Baltimore had top-10 difficult schedules. This is a big reason why, for example, San Francisco led the league in Pythagorean wins (and point differential) but not in DVOA. San Francisco is also No. 1 in non-adjusted VOA without considering opponents.

And, San Francisco also finishes the year No. 1 in weighted DVOA, our formula which lowers the weight of earlier games to get a better idea of how teams are playing now. The order for weighted DVOA is a bit different than regular full-season DVOA. It goes San Francisco, Buffalo, and then Kansas City and Cincinnati. Both teams have been on the rise in recent weeks. Philadelphia is fifth in weighted DVOA and then comes a team that didn't make the playoffs, the Detroit Lions. They finish sixth in weighted DVOA and it's a shame we won't get to see them play any longer. Dallas and Baltimore finish out the weighted top eight. The worst team in the league was Indianapolis.

Most of the top teams also had top offenses in 2022, led by the Kansas City Chiefs who finished No. 1 in both offensive DVOA and pass offense DVOA. As noted above, the Bills finished second followed by Philadelphia (which also was No. 1 in run offense), Cincinnati, and then the surprising Detroit Lions. San Francisco was sixth. There were a number of surprising offenses this year which made big leaps compared to how they finished in offensive DVOA in 2021. Detroit went from 29th to fifth. Miami went from 24th to seventh. Jacksonville went from 27th to ninth. And perhaps the most surprising given the personnel involved, the New York Giants jumped from dead last in offensive DVOA in 2021 to 10th for 2022. Meanwhile, a number of top offenses from 2021 had problems in 2022, including Tampa Bay, Dallas, New England, and both Los Angeles teams.

This highlights one of the interesting results of the 2022 season, which is that there was a lot less correlation between offenses last year and offenses this year than there usually is. In fact, it looks like offensive year-to-year correlation is down in general over the last few years. The correlation coefficient for offensive DVOA was just .22 between 2021 and 2022. We often write about how offense is more predictive than defense and special teams. Not between 2021 and 2022. The correlation of DVOA this year to last year was higher for both defense (.36) and, very slightly, special teams (.23). This was the lowest year-to-year correlation for offensive DVOA since 2014-2015, which was also at .22.

This is part of a more general trend; over the last decade or so, year-to-year correlation for offense has gone down from what it was in the past while year-to-year correlation for defense and special teams went up slightly.

For 2011-2021, the correlation coefficient from year to year was .42 for offense, .38 for defense, and .36 for special teams.

For 2002-2011, the correlation coefficient from year to year was .53 for offense, .34 for defense, and .30 for special teams.

I'll do more research on this, I'm sure. For example, I'm curious if the correlation coefficient has changed for teams that keep the same quarterback from year to year, or is this the function of more teams changing quarterbacks between recent seasons? And if year-to-year correlation has gone down for offensive DVOA, what about its predictive ability during a season compared to defense and special teams?

Returning to our look at 2022 final numbers, the Indianapolis Colts had the worst offensive DVOA for this season and the Colts and Texans were far and away the worst offenses, more than 10 percentage points lower than the rest of the league. The Colts had the worst passing game, the Texans the worst running game. The Colts offense is really the only unit this year that was historically good or bad to the extreme. Their -31.7% offensive DVOA ranks 13th among the worst offenses tracked since 1981.

On defense, the San Francisco 49ers finish No. 1 this season ahead of the Dallas Cowboys. San Francisco's final rating of -14.1% comes very close to being the worst No. 1 defense we've ever had, but the 2007 Tennessee Titans were a little bit lower at -13.9%. So the 49ers were the strongest defense of the year, but they weren't historically unstoppable or anything like that. (Just ask Jarrett Stidham.) New England finishes third on defense, followed by Buffalo and the New York Jets. The AFC East was a tough place to play offense this year! And how about those Jets, who were the worst defense in the league in 2021 and moved up into the top five this season.

It's interesting to note that the top team in each element of defense didn't make the top five overall. Philadelphia, the top pass defense, ends up sixth in defense overall because they were just 21st against the run. Tennessee, the top run defense, was just 19th overall because they were 28th against the pass.

The Chicago Bears had the worst defense in the league. What a weird sentence to type! Las Vegas and Atlanta were also pretty bad on defense. After all the bad run defenses we saw this year, all the words used to describe the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay Packers, it was the New York Giants who finished dead last in run defense DVOA.

As noted above, the Buffalo Bills finished No. 1 in special teams. Houston and Baltimore were second and third, followed by Seattle. This was the 11th straight year that Baltimore finished in the top 10 for special teams, and the ninth time out of those 11 years where the Ravens finished in the top four. But it was not a very good year for another classically strong special teams unit. You may remember that the New England Patriots had above-average special teams for 25 straight seasons from 1996 through 2020. That remarkable streak finally ended last year when the Patriots finished ever so slightly below 0.0%. Well, this year the Patriots somehow plummeted to last place in special teams. Two kick return touchdowns by Nyheim Hines in Week 18 certainly didn't help, but the Patriots were already 27th going into that game. They allowed another kick return touchdown earlier in the year, to Kene Nwangwu of the Vikings, and their punting was awful all year. We estimate that net kickoffs were worth -20.6 points worth of field position to the Patriots after adjusting for weather. That ranks them as the ninth-worst team since 1981 in terms of kickoff value. However, at -4.3% DVOA, their special teams are the best to ever rank last, surpassing last year's Packers. Really, the only bad parts were kickoffs and punts, and of course they had very good value on punt returns with Marcus Jones and his punt return touchdown to beat the Jets in Week 11.

We can't finish out our look at the 2022 DVOA ratings without one last look at the crazy season for the Minnesota Vikings. (Well, not one last look. They made the playoffs, so we'll look at them some more in the future too.)

The Vikings finish the year with -13.8% DVOA, which moves them just ahead of the Carolina Panthers and into 27th place for the season. The Vikings end up with the ninth-lowest DVOA ever for a playoff team.

Lowest DVOA for Playoff Teams, 1981-2022
Year Team DVOA Rk W-L Off
Rk Def
Rk Seed Playoff
2010 SEA -24.3% 30 7-9 -17.8% 29 12.9% 29 6.4% 2 4 Lost DIV
2004 STL -23.7% 30 8-8 -3.9% 19 10.7% 25 -9.0% 32 5 Lost DIV
2016 HOU -19.5% 28 9-7 -21.1% 30 -8.0% 8 -6.5% 31 4 Lost DIV
1982 CLE1 -19.3% 25 4-5 -5.6% 20 9.0% 20 -4.6% 25 8 Lost WC
1998 ARI -17.8% 26 9-7 -6.2% 18 9.9% 25 -1.8% 23 6 Lost DIV
2012 IND -16.2% 26 11-5 -2.5% 18 14.6% 31 0.9% 12 5 Lost WC
2006 SEA -14.1% 25 9-7 -11.7% 27 5.2% 23 2.9% 9 4 Lost DIV
1982 STLC -13.9% 23 5-4 2.1% 11 15.4% 24 -0.6% 16 6 Lost WC
2022 MIN -13.8% 27 13-4 -3.3% 20 6.7% 27 -3.8% 30 3 --
2011 DEN -13.1% 24 8-8 -10.3% 23 2.5% 20 -0.2% 18 4 Lost DIV
1996 IND -12.9% 24 9-7 -7.9% 22 11.0% 24 6.0% 3 6 Lost WC
1986 KC -11.5% 22 10-6 -17.2% 27 -5.7% 9 0.1% 14 5 Lost WC

The Vikings have the second-worst DVOA ever for a team with at least 11 wins. The 2012 Colts were the only other team to win at least 11 games and put up a DVOA below -10%.

Minnesota was outscored on the season despite going 13-4, which had never happened before. Thus, the Vikings have the largest difference in modern NFL history between Pythagorean projection (based on points scored and allowed) and actual wins. Here's the full table of the biggest differences going all the way back to 1950:

Greatest Pythagorean vs. Actual Win Pct Difference, 1950-2022
Year Team W L Pct PF PA Pt Dif Pyth
Playoffs Next
2022 MIN 13 4 0.765 424 427 -3 8.4 .496 4.6 .269 -- --
1992 IND 9 7 0.563 216 302 -86 5.1 .319 3.9 .244 None 4-12
2012 IND 11 5 0.688 357 387 -30 7.2 .450 3.8 .238 Lost WC 11-5
1962 PIT 9 5 0.643 312 363 -51 5.7 .406 3.3 .237 None 7-4-3
1982 LARD 8 1 0.889 260 200 60 6.0 .662 2.0 .227 Lost Div 12-4
2004 PIT 15 1 0.938 372 251 121 11.5 .719 3.5 .219 Lost CCG 11-5
1965 CLE 11 3 0.786 363 325 38 8.0 .570 3.0 .216 Lost NFLCG 9-5
2020 KC 14 2 0.875 473 362 111 10.7 .666 3.3 .209 Lost SB 12-5
1976 OAK 13 1 0.929 350 237 113 10.1 .721 2.9 .208 Won SB 11-3
2020 CLE 11 5 0.688 408 419 -11 7.7 .483 3.3 .205 Lost Div 8-9
2019 GB 13 3 0.813 376 313 63 9.8 .611 3.2 .202 Lost CCG 13-3
2016 OAK 12 4 0.750 416 385 31 8.8 .549 3.2 .201 Lost WC 6-10

A few more notes on 2022 before we get to the big table:

  • One of the common subjects we covered, especially early in the season, was how packed together this year's teams were, with a very low standard deviation for DVOA. (You can also see this in the win-loss records, as 18 different teams fell between 7-10 and 10-7 this season.) In the end, this year's DVOA ratings have standard deviation of 16.3%. This is the sixth-lowest standard deviation for any season, trailing (in order) 1983, 2016, 2001, 1988, and 1981.
  • And if it felt like there were more bad teams than usual, well, there were. By rule, the DVOA average for every season is 0.0%. However, only 14 of 32 teams this year had positive DVOA ratings. Five teams came within a percentage points of average: Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • The Vikings were not the only team with negative DVOA to make the playoffs. Tampa Bay and the Chargers were very slightly negative, and the New York Giants finished 21st in DVOA at -4.3%. The Giants will play the Vikings in the "Battle of the Frauds" this week. I'm kidding, but "Battle of the DVOA Exceptions" doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well.
  • I wrote last week about some historic sack rates. Philadelphia's adjusted sack rate dropped a little bit in Week 18, as did the adjusted sack rate for the Chicago offense. In the end, the Eagles still finish second all-time in adjusted sack rate, while the Bears offense is now in a tie with the 2005 Texans for second place behind the 2002 Texans.
  • Dallas led the league with a 64% fumble recovery rate, not including muffed kicks and punts. That was highlighted by recovering 16 of 25 fumbles on defense. Washington and Las Vegas also had good fumble recovery luck this year. Tennessee, Cleveland, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay had the worst fumble recovery luck with each team falling between a 38% and 39% recovery rate.
  • One thing we were better at than usual this year: predicting schedule strength. In Football Outsiders Almanac 2022, we listed Philadelphia with the easiest projected schedule. Philadelphia did, in fact, finish last in schedule strength this year. The New York Jets had the hardest schedule in the league, followed by the Steelers, Dolphins, and Bengals. All four teams were predicted among the seven hardest schedules in FO Almanac 2022.

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 18. 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.

* * * * *

We'll review the best and worst player stats of the year in a special Quick Reads tomorrow.

Please note that while this article is called "Final 2022 DVOA Ratings," we will continue with postseason weighted DVOA ratings each Monday through the playoffs. There also may be small changes in the final 2022 DVOA ratings based on postseason changes to the play-by-play.

* * * * *

Here is the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through the entire 2022 regular season, 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.

WEIGHTED DVOA gives recent games more strength than older games to get a better idea of how well teams are playing now.

LAST YEAR represents rank in 2021.

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

1 BUF 35.0% 2 34.9% 2 13-3 19.0% 2 -11.0% 4 5.0% 1
2 SF 27.6% 6 38.6% 1 13-4 13.2% 6 -14.1% 1 0.2% 15
3 PHI 25.2% 15 21.7% 5 14-3 15.1% 3 -9.7% 6 0.5% 13
4 KC 23.0% 7 29.7% 3 14-3 25.2% 1 1.4% 17 -0.9% 19
5 CIN 18.1% 17 25.0% 4 12-4 14.2% 4 -4.4% 11 -0.5% 18
6 DAL 18.0% 1 13.7% 7 12-5 2.9% 15 -13.3% 2 1.8% 10
7 BAL 17.9% 19 10.6% 8 10-7 6.6% 12 -7.3% 7 4.0% 3
8 MIA 8.1% 25 5.9% 12 9-8 12.0% 7 0.8% 15 -3.1% 28
9 DET 7.7% 29 15.2% 6 9-8 13.3% 5 7.3% 28 1.8% 9
10 SEA 5.8% 9 4.1% 15 9-8 4.8% 14 2.9% 21 3.9% 4
11 CLE 5.2% 13 7.9% 10 7-10 8.6% 8 3.9% 23 0.5% 14
12 GB 3.6% 8 8.5% 9 8-9 6.7% 11 2.7% 20 -0.5% 17
13 JAX 3.3% 32 5.2% 13 9-8 7.7% 9 6.1% 26 1.7% 11
14 PIT 0.9% 23 4.7% 14 9-8 -0.1% 18 -3.5% 12 -2.4% 27
15 NE -0.3% 4 -3.8% 20 8-9 -8.5% 24 -12.4% 3 -4.3% 32
16 NYJ -0.5% 26 -2.8% 19 7-10 -9.6% 26 -10.1% 5 -1.0% 21
17 TB -0.7% 3 -11.6% 25 8-9 0.4% 16 -2.9% 13 -4.0% 31
18 LAC -0.8% 12 2.2% 16 10-7 -1.9% 19 1.1% 16 2.2% 6
19 NO -1.7% 14 7.2% 11 7-10 -7.0% 22 -6.9% 8 -1.6% 25
20 ATL -2.8% 30 -4.8% 21 7-10 5.8% 13 11.1% 30 2.5% 5
21 NYG -4.3% 31 0.5% 18 9-7-1 7.1% 10 10.2% 29 -1.2% 22
22 WAS -4.9% 22 0.6% 17 8-8-1 -12.4% 28 -5.4% 9 2.0% 7
23 TEN -9.4% 20 -14.0% 27 7-10 -6.1% 21 1.8% 19 -1.5% 24
24 LAR -11.0% 5 -7.8% 22 5-12 -8.1% 23 1.6% 18 -1.3% 23
25 DEN -11.3% 18 -13.8% 26 5-12 -13.0% 29 -5.2% 10 -3.4% 29
26 LV -11.5% 21 -9.6% 24 6-11 0.3% 17 13.0% 31 1.1% 12
27 MIN -13.8% 16 -18.6% 28 13-4 -3.3% 20 6.7% 27 -3.8% 30
28 CAR -13.9% 27 -8.8% 23 7-10 -10.0% 27 5.8% 25 1.9% 8
29 ARI -22.4% 10 -20.5% 29 4-13 -15.9% 30 5.5% 24 -1.0% 20
30 CHI -26.6% 24 -32.4% 31 3-14 -8.7% 25 17.9% 32 0.0% 16
31 HOU -26.7% 28 -22.5% 30 3-13-1 -27.6% 31 3.2% 22 4.0% 2
32 IND -32.8% 11 -36.1% 32 4-12-1 -31.7% 32 -0.9% 14 -1.9% 26

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


93 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2023, 9:26pm

#1 by RickD // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:16pm

The Patriots' special teams are rated too high because there are only 32 teams in the NFL.  

Points: 10

#2 by big10freak // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:31pm

So has a SB participant improved as much as Cincinnati?  I suspect the answer is yes and that this has been a semi-regular occurrence.  But what folks are more familiar with is a SB participant having a dropoff though not to the degree of the Rams.


But you go Detroit.  Going to be a problem in the NFC if management can keep making more good decisions than bad

Points: 1

#5 by dmstorm22 // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:42pm

It's a good call.

In the 32-team era, all runner-ups were worse the next year except hte following, and even some of these are arguable:

2009 Cardinals might be the best prior example, with a better record & DVOA, but they weren't a top team in 2009, just a "good" one
2018 Pats arguably "improved" from the 2017 in that they won the Super Bowl, but were a worse team by both record and DVOA.
2012 Pats were better by DVOA, but had a worse record and didn't go as far in the playoffs

If we go before realignment, the best comp, though a very different type of team, would be the 2000 Titans, who were the best team in the NFL by record & DVOA in 2000 after losing the Super Bowl. And the 1999 team, while having a gaudier record than last year's Bengals team going 13-3, were 5th in DVOA.

They jumped from 14.9% in 1999 to 33.5% in 2000 (+18.6%). The Bengals went from -0.1% to 18.1% this year so +18.2%

The best comp to me is actually a team that won the Super Bowl, with the Giants in 2007 being a surpirse Super Bowl team, but then becoming basically the best team in the NFL in 2008 up until Plaxico shooting himself.

Points: 6

#54 by Wifan6562 // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:26pm

I think an asterisk is needed on that Giants team. Their regular season team, which had what felt like their entire defensive front 7 injured, was average. The playoff team, with a healthy offense wrecking front 7, was far better. They would have never qualified for this discussion if not for spending so much of their season with a vastly different team than the one that participated in the playoffs. 

Points: 0

#12 by HitchikersPie // Jan 09, 2023 - 8:44pm

The one which immediately came to mind for me was the 1982/3 Washington team… and it checks out!


13.3% DVOA in ‘82 (with obvious asterisks because strikes)

vaulting all the way to 37.2% DVOA in ‘83 as they set the scoring record (though ofc this squad fell apart in the super bowl by a red hot raiders team)


Points: 0

#19 by coboney // Jan 10, 2023 - 8:03am

As a 49ers fan, I am very happy we're playing Seattle, and not Detroit this week because the Lions are hot, and they are executing well generally with smart aggression. While its possible we would flummox Jared Goff with pressure (we know its doable), the Lions have a good line and good coaching which would make that harder.

Points: 3

#3 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:37pm

The Bills are rated too high because the franchise curse is finding new and horrible ways to express itself.

Points: 3

#10 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 09, 2023 - 5:37pm

You could do worse. The Lions are basically the Bills, except without the periods of sustained success.

\Their cardiac arrest player died on the sidelines. While the rest of the team had to continue the game.

Points: 3

#22 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 10, 2023 - 8:35am

50 years ago, when AEDs didn't exist. But yeah.

Points: 1

#4 by Raiderfan // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:41pm

Is the trend in reduced offensive correlation partly due to increased quarterback injuries?  I believe The NFL set a record this year for most starting quarterbacks used, and I have the impression this has also been a trend over the last few years.

Points: 3

#6 by dmstorm22 // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:44pm

Passing offense was down pretty much immediately. I did a study a while back that offensive rates in terms of traditional stats (points, yards, passing yards) stabilize pretty quickly, though trend down over the course of the season.

Pretty early on passing numbers, and offense in general, was down this year. Same thing happend in 2017 (the last down year for offense) where by Week 2 or 3 or something things were already low, and while offense I think that year got better as the year went on, still ended as a pretty big low outlier.

Points: 3

#7 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 09, 2023 - 4:49pm

I keep wondering if, despite the NFL "emphasis" on illegal contact calls, if the number of uncalled PI penalties I've seen this year has anything to do with it. As opposed to the last few years where every touch seemed to be a flag, coverage seems like it's back to the mid-90s where as long as you didn't tackle the guy you had a shot at getting away with it.

This is all anecdotal, of course. Not sure how you would even begin to really quantify it without breaking down a mountain of video.

Points: 2

#8 by dmstorm22 // Jan 09, 2023 - 5:05pm

I'll say this, 2020 seems to be a complete outlier for high offense and very easy to point why: the lack of fans definitely helped offenses. No need for silent counts. Much easier to change plays. etc.

2021 was already a step back to numbers in line with 2018-19. 2022 may be a continuation of a trend, or becosme like 2017 as a weird low-offense year.

Points: 1

#32 by Pat // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:03am

Yes, both of them were down in '22. DPI moreso, though.

Yearly trends, going backwards (first year is '22). Numbers are total called per game, not total accepted.

Offensive Holding: 2.71, 2.88, 2.11, 3.41, 3.38, 3.15, 3.23
DPI: 0.92, 1.23, 1.29, 1.21, 1.04, 1.18, 1.20

For reference, last year was the fewest DPI calls since 2014. Offensive holding went down 10% from the previous 6-year average (random number of years, yes, I know). DPI went down 23% from the previous 6-year average. That being said, the drop in holding is larger in terms of number of plays, but smaller in terms of yardage.

Points: 2

#35 by big10freak // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:08am

Thanks for sharing that detail


As much as I do want the players to be permitted to play as an old defender the current allowance for an arm around a rusher’s throat as a legit blocking approach is a bridge too far me. 

Oh well.  These things ebb and flow.  

Points: 1

#40 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:01am

Mind you, DPI is entangled with offensive holding. A DB is more likely to interfere if the route has extra time because the offensive line is holding.

Points: 0

#88 by Pat // Jan 11, 2023 - 9:51am

That'd go the other way, though - with that, you'd expect a drop in offensive holding to correspond to a rise in DPI, and that's not what's seen this year. In the two years prior, though, you could've seen a hint of that, but this year both DPI and holding dropped, rather than being anticorrelated.

Points: 0

#55 by Wifan6562 // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:35pm

Purely anecdotal, but I did feel like I saw a lot of egregious misses on DPI this season. Especially late in the 4th, it seemed like DBs would just run straight through a WR without looking back, and it just wasn’t called. It was weird and I didn’t like it at all. 

Points: 0

#56 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:41pm

It'd be nice if somebody in the league office would consider that the product would be better if fewer pass rushers were getting strangled, and fewer receivers were getting pancaked before the ball arrived.

Points: 1

#68 by goathead // Jan 10, 2023 - 2:47pm

If fewer pass rushers were being held we'd see a huge uptick in Roughing calls under the new rules. O Linemen are protecting pass rushers from 15 yard penalties (only slightly joking) 

Points: 1

#34 by Pat // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:07am

Not sure how you would even begin to really quantify it is fun. I wish they had year-by-year tracking but I manually have a few I keep watch on. I haven't updated it for this year because the year's not over, but as I posted below, yes, in fact, DPI is significantly down this year. I hadn't noticed because the ludicrous spike of ineligible man downfield just overwhelms it, but it's definitely there.

Points: 0

#28 by Pat // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:45am

Passing offense was down pretty much immediately.

It's not super-likely to be related (although teams do practice with officials in the offseason) but the one massive outlier this year, without a doubt, is ineligible man downfield penalties, called 132 times (!) this season, compared to the previous years of 69, 49, 55, 29, 19, 33, 33. And it's one of the "very subjective by crew" penalties, second only to roughing the passer in the variation across crews (and basically the same from a statistics point of view).

From a pure "effect of the penalty" it's obviously not significant enough to matter, but if teams pulled back on playcalling a bit because of it, that could be an aggravating factor.

Points: 0

#49 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:56am

I think that could have a very large effect on passing offense, especially given the RPO-heavy nature of the modern game.

Points: 0

#9 by Aaron Schatz // Jan 09, 2023 - 5:28pm

This is definitely possible, and is why I want to check to see if the correlation is different now compared to a decade ago if I only look at, say, team seasons where the same QB started at least 12 games in each year.

Points: 4

#39 by ALauff // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:26am

I read a study a few weeks back that compared this year's league-wide team air yards* and average depth of target (aDOT) to the previous 20 years or so. The author found that teams were throwing significantly shorter (to account for heightened use of cover-2?) and less frequently, according to the metric of pass rate over expectation. This year looked more like 2011 or 2007, say, than what we should have reasonably expected going into this year. I just hope it's an outlier and not the start of a trend, because I was less interested in the NFL this year than at any other time in memory. So many bad games...  


*Meaning "aimed throws" or "intended passing yards, from QB to receiver," whether completed or not.

Points: 0

#13 by Will Allen // Jan 09, 2023 - 8:44pm

With O'Neill out, if Bradbury can't go, and the Vikings play a 3rd string center, there's no way they aren't a bottom 5 offense, to match their defense and special teams, and the Giants' biggest weakness becomes a lot less important. Getting 3 points with the Giants is a gift.


Points: 0

#48 by mansteel // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:50am

"...if Bradbury can't go..."

Dexter Lawrence has drool slowly seeping down his chin...

Points: 0

#51 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:00pm

Bradbury's pretty mediocre himself. but he can do normal center things. In terms of an offense being functional, the chasm between a mediocre center, and "Daddy, why does that man in the middle, holding the ball on the ground, look like he is pooping?", can be, um, notable.

Points: 0

#60 by Eggolas // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:01pm

PFF grade on Bradbury prior to his IR placement is 70.2. I would not characterize that as mediocre. He gave up 2 sacks.

Points: 0

#67 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:53pm

I think Bradbury is ranked 20th. That looks like "pretty mediocre" to me.

Points: 0

#92 by riri // Jan 11, 2023 - 4:20pm

There's a big difference between "pressed into service at Lambeau Field", and "home game with two weeks of practice". They should at least be able to snap the ball; blocking Dexter Lawrence will be the real problem.

Points: 0

#93 by Will Allen // Jan 11, 2023 - 9:26pm

With really crappy centers, when they get somebody really good across from them, yeah, snap snafus are not uncommon.

Points: 0

#14 by Will Allen // Jan 09, 2023 - 10:24pm

The Vikings were #2 by DVOA in '17, and the way they were blown out by the Eagles in the conference championship, which was aided by some key Viking defenders being banged up, Foles having a pact with Beelzebub, & Keese Cane'im's pact with Beelzebub expiring, tended to discount what was a legitimately excellent performance that year.

After that season, Zimmer teams were, by DVOA, 10th (no playoffs), 7th (lost divisional round), 20th (no playoffs) in a year where the roster was screwed up, relative to other teams, by covid, and then 16th (no playoffs) in a year where post covid cap contraction screwed up the Cousins-centric roster construction.

Zimmer gets fired (which I understood)  the new young guy from the trendy tree gets hired, and they fall to 27th by DVOA, but because they have a unprecedented streak of one score wins, there was, especially until the Packers blew them out, a lot of nonsensical narrative about what a difference the change in "atmosphere", by coaching, has made. 

Oh, well, at least it wasn't "swagger".


Points: 2

#15 by theslothook // Jan 09, 2023 - 11:06pm

Zimmer is another coach I felt bad for. I don't think he did anything ostensibly wrong. The team detonated the roster right around the time they began missing the playoffs.

His firing felt normal because thats how NFL teams, fans, and the media at large operate. The team does badly? Fire the coach, circumstances be damned.

Imagine if Belichick had two rings instead of 6. He would be one more mediocre season away from being canned.

Points: 1

#17 by Will Allen // Jan 09, 2023 - 11:26pm

Zimmer had consistently bad luck during his entire time in Minnesota, with the exception of Keenum getting away with some crappy throws in 2017. Of course, the only reason Keenum was playing was due to crappy luck. If Zimmer been blessed with half the good fortune the current regime enjoyed this year, he'd have had at least 3 more playoff appearances, 1 or more division titles, probably a couple more playoff wins, and he'd still be the coach.

I understood why they fired him. The relationship with the GM had become poisonous, the GM arguably had to be fired more than Zimmer, and it just wasn't tenable to keep Zimmer around, especially at his age, and his pretty unique, often raw, personality. The idea, however, which has been jabbered about a lot this year, that the team would be better when the coach was nicer to people he encountered in the hallway, or the players were more relaxed, was always nonsense.

Points: 1

#24 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:08am

Zimmer also had weirdly antagonistic, standoffish relationships with his QBs, which felt at best unnecessary and at worst pointlessly counterproductive.

Points: 0

#27 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:44am

He and Bridgewater were very tight, and Zimmer would have preferred to give Bridgewater more time to recuperate from the catastrophic knee injury, which Bridgewater never fully did, of course. That result of that knee explosion still reverberates for the Vikings today.

The real source of the tension was that Zimmer never wanted to invest the cap space that Cousins demanded, that Spielman agreed to. Zimmer was right about that. What he was wrong about was some 1st day draft capital invested in cornerbacks, which I presume he had some influence over. 

Points: 0

#58 by Eggolas // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:54pm

Responsibility for the catastrophic performances last year at the end of the first half of games and in the last two minutes of games rested unequivocally at Zimmer’s feet. The refusal to have weekly discussions with the starting QB until the die was cast for his firing weighed heavily I suspect on his firing.

Points: 0

#59 by Eggolas // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:54pm

Responsibility for the catastrophic performances last year at the end of the first half of games and in the last two minutes of games rested unequivocally at Zimmer’s feet. The refusal to have weekly discussions with the starting QB until the die was cast for his firing weighed heavily I suspect on his firing.

Points: 0

#62 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:09pm

Zimmer was down two high quality edge pass rushers last year. If you don't think that's the primary difference maker at the end of the 1st and 2nd half, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I agree that he handled his relationship with the qb suboptimally. The offense was still worse this year, by DVOA, and the fundamental problem remains too much cap space devoted to a qb who doesn't make much difference when things get off schedule. That's not on Zimmer.

Points: 1

#64 by Eggolas // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:22pm

Fair point about the edge rushers, since the lack of QB pressure exposed the secondary and line backing corps ability to drop into coverage.

The cap space comment intrigues me, as it applies to this season. At $36.25 million, how does that compare with other starting QBs on playoff teams that are not on Rookie contracts?

Points: 0

#66 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:47pm

QB cap space rankings vary from source to source. Here's one I've found reliable....

....and they have Cousins at #4, in terms of % consumed. He's not good enough to justify that.

Points: 0

#70 by Pat // Jan 10, 2023 - 3:17pm

It's not just his cap hit. It's also the number of years remaining. The cap's going up 6% or more every year, so $36M for 1 year is not the same thing as $360M for 10 years - the latter is immensely cheaper.

The highest-paid QBs in the league are basically Prescott, Rodgers, Watson, and Cousins, in some order depending on how you value things. Possibly Brady too: that's awkward because he went from a 2-year $50M to 3-year $87.3M, so if that last year's $37.3M, he's in the top 5, but if you spread it out from '21 to '22, it's not.

Kirk Cousins is scheduled to have earned $185M from '18-'23 from the Vikings, with no remaining commitment, which is basically the equivalent of what Aaron Rodgers was being paid before he went all "give me all the money or I walk."

You can't really compare it to, like, Russell Wilson, who even though he will have earned $207.5M over the same time period is still under contract with the Broncos for 4 more years after that (plus there's the detail that that money's being paid between two teams - if you can get yourself traded as a top-end QB in the middle of a contract, it can be very valuable).

Points: 0

#76 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 4:12pm

Yeah, that's what I left out. His cap % wasn't high just this year. It's been high every freakin' year, and looks like it will be every freakin' year, as he Officially Becomes Old. There have been no bargain years, and I really think it was obvious by 2019 what his limits were, but they made the divisional round  that season, and weren't inclined to make drastic change, in either direction. Then covid happened, just to make things worse. Ick.

Points: 0

#25 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:19am

The Patriots were a really poorly coached team this year - they had the worst special teams in the league, one of the worst offenses (and were running a scheme that wasn't functional at all). Fundamentals looked bad, players regressed all across the board. Players were openly complaining that they weren't receiving instruction. 

I'm not sure Belichick isn't one mediocre season away from getting fired (or being asked to retire) at this point. 

He's 70, this year was really bad, and in a way that's almost entirely on him - and it's currently looking like he's going to double down instead of admitting that the Patricia/Judge offense was a bad idea.

His decision to not only stick with them, and not hold them accountable has had some pretty big impacts on the locker room. You can't preach accountability the way he does and then let that skirt. Players don't take well to being suspended or sent home for being late, or having a bad day, when you let coaches be absolutely terrible at their jobs and follow it up with things like "It was the best decision for the team" and "they did a lot of positive things" and keep harping about execution. 


Multiple players were suspended towards the end of the season for mouthing off to him, and filed grievances. He's got a QB in basically open rebellion at this point - and his refusal to commit to him (even in a completely hollow way) is an unforced blunder. I mean, christ, you can say "Mac Jones is our quarterback" and then trade everything to draft Bryce Young if you want and that's fine - but right now he needs to be saying whatever needs to be said to assure his players that they don't need to shoot their way out of town - whether or not he thinks they're the future. 

Points: 5

#41 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:04am

Players openly rebelling and shooting their way out of town is in Matt Patricia's wheelhouse.

By the end in Detroit, guys who got traded or released were openly getting celebrations and gifts from retained players, because they had escaped the prison.

Points: 1

#31 by AFCNFCBowl // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:58am

By DVOA, this is the worst Vikings team since 2011 (3-13, -19.9%).

Everybody knows the Vikings aren't as good as their record, but I'm surprised how much DVOA hates them. The Vikings are an average team according to most metrics, not a horrible one.

Points: 0

#37 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:14am

By my eyeballs, they're hideous, especially now, with their best offensive lineman on ir, and if they start a 3rd string center on Sunday. The one or two things they had going for them was Jefferson catching everthing that a undeniably tough, if still limited, Cousins could throw his way, and Cook having some explosive plays. Cousins is gonna need that toughness, 'cuz he's gonna get bludgeoned Sunday, if they manage to execute the center/qb exchange, and Jefferson is going to have any deep stuff taken away. The recent o-line injuries negates the Giants biggest weakness, run defense.

Daniel Jones looked like a Pro Bowler last month against the Vikings, and the Vikings defensive backfield is worse now, so he might look like 1st team All Pro this time around.

Points: 0

#42 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:06am

By my eyeballs, they're hideous, especially now, with their best offensive lineman on ir, and if they start a 3rd string center on Sunday

That happens to everyone. That basically explains the cratering of the post-SB Eagles and Rams, and why Tampa had 200 fewer points scored this season.

Points: 0

#46 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:32am

Yes,  the team that wins the last game is often the talented roster that stays healthiest through the 4th quarter of the the last game. The Bucs and Brady won their shiny trophy because the Chiefs had to start a parking cone called Mike Remmers at tackle. The Vikings may have two parking cones start Sunday, and one of them will be tasked with getting the ball into the qb's hands, when the qb instructs him to. Given parking cones lack eyes, ears, and hands, it'll be an entertaining spectacle, so I'm kinda' rooting that Bradbury decides to recuperate for the next 6 months. I'm all for the chaos, at this point in my football fandom life.

Points: 0

#50 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:00pm

I just meant the argument that they were a horrible team with injuries. Extensive o-line injuries make all teams horrible. If you can't snap, your offense is just counterproductive.

Points: 0

#52 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:04pm

Hopefully, the fellas working the stadium sound booth will have "Yakety Sax" ready to go.

Points: 0

#65 by JoelBarlow // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:23pm

and somehow either the Vikings or the Giants are guaranteed to make the Divisional round, encouraging more narrative - and they're both pretty bad

Daboll worship is starting to get out of hand...

Congrats on beating out the Commanders for that playoff spot

Points: 1

#85 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 11, 2023 - 8:40am

Daboll successfully took what many considered the worst team in football from a talent standpoint and got them to play well enough to make the playoffs. No reason not to celebrate that, even if it was with a healthy dose of luck.

The flip side is that Minnesota underperformed last year with a similar talent level, but has a very gaudy record because of...luck, basically.

Someone will forget their rabbit's foot.

Points: 0

#61 by riri // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:09pm

To be fair, it is entirely possible that the players enjoy playing for O'Connell more than they did playing for Zimmer, and media people gotta find SOME explanation for their record. Doesn't mean they're playing better. And it certainly doesn't mean they're better led.

Points: 0

#69 by big10freak // Jan 10, 2023 - 3:11pm

The history of “nice” coaches who followed “grouchy/crabby” coaches is filled with one year positive spikes in every team sport.  Relieved of not being yelled at or ignored the team talent just oozes out in a positive way


Then just as typically the guys realize the nice guy is not big on discipline or accountability so players don’t drive themselves and things turn to garbage.  And everyone wonders what happened.  Getting consistent performance from pro athletes year over year is very difficult.


But historically being a “bit” grouchy with a sense of humor (in overly simplistic terms) is the best profile to be successful over time.   

Points: 0

#72 by jmaron // Jan 10, 2023 - 3:48pm

The ownership of the Vikings should either let Spielman sign Cousins and fire Zimmer or tell Spielman to find a QB they both agreed on. 









Points: 1

#78 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 4:44pm

Spielman just would have engineered permanent disagreement with Zimmer, in order toss Zimmer overboard. I have heard from reliable sources that Spielman made finagling Zimmer's departure, while Spielman hung on for dear life, his primary goal, from about mid October on in the '21 season. He thought he had accomplished it, too, until he came to work on Black Monday, and the Wilfs sat him down, and said "Rickster, we hold you even more responsible for this outcome than our famously red-assed coach. We wish you well in your future endeavors". Word is that Ol' Spielman was a bit stunned.

Points: 0

#80 by jmaron // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:25pm

I was very happy to see Spielman go, was a little sad to see Zimmer go, but I think he certainly deserved the axe as well. 

Whatever your thoughts about this new coach - he got 13 wins out of a mediocre bunch, and had a disciplined team that didn't give away anything (+223 yds and 23 first downs by penalty). I saw several games where they were outclassed physically, but not none where I thought they were out disciplined or outworked. If the new management group are good talent evaluators, I suspect the coach will be fine. 




Points: 0

#82 by Will Allen // Jan 11, 2023 - 12:01am

I have no objection to O'Connell at this time, with the possible exception of his staff hiring on the defensive side, which, to be sure, could end up being a big freakin' objection. I can't quite figure out why a defensive staff with 3 long time coordinators ends up with a defense where so many players, so often, look like they don't know what the hell they are trying to do. I dunno, maybe it's too many guys playing 3-4.for the first time, but I wouldn't think it would affect the back end that much. It's not a Ted Cottrell FUBAR special, but it's been damned ugly to watch. If Daniel Jones looks like prime Steve Young on Sunday, there better be some tough-minded introspection about their process on defense. 

More than anything, I just find it tedious to see this phenomenally weird 13-4 record attributed to something so silly as not having to encounter The Big Meany, Mike Zimmer, this year.

Points: 0

#16 by theslothook // Jan 09, 2023 - 11:18pm

This season felt like offense across the board was worse than certainly the recent past. One issue w DVOA is it's with season normalisation, such that everything gets compared at the individual season level.

It's going to be an offseason project to do a sort of trend adjusted DVOA for every team, though even this gets complicated quickly. Is it by average? median? Quantiles? It can get complicated very quickly.

Points: 0

#18 by wludford // Jan 10, 2023 - 1:16am

It's interesting that the Vikings are the 9th worst playoff team ever yet ranked 4th in overall PFF team grade this season (92.2).  They play the Giants in the wildcard round, who are significantly better than the Vikings in total DVOA and even more so in weighted DVOA but are also the worst playoff team in overall PFF team grade in the PFF era at 68.2.

The team with the better overall team PFF grade has won more often than teams with the better DVOA grade over the past five postseasons, and home teams with a PFF +2 or more than their opponent have never lost over that stretch (11-0).  The last team to do so was the Cowboys to the Packers in 2016 in a wild (and controversial) finish.  


Points: 2

#20 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 8:15am

That's interesting, especially given my view that getting 3 points and the Giants, against what I think is now a bottom 5 team in all 3 phases Viking bunch, is an absolute gift. I've never put too much stock in PFF. Guess I'm about to have my biases tested.



Points: 1

#71 by wludford // Jan 10, 2023 - 3:34pm

Vikings are near the bottom defensively, but near the top offensively.  Special teams has a high variance week-to-week.  They've had at least two blocked punts, successful and unsuccessful fake punt, a kickoff return for a TD, a really good punter, but field goal kicker who can be hot and cold.  

The Giants are basically mediocre/middle of the pack in just about everything, except the run game.  Good kicker though.  

Points: 0

#75 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 4:02pm

The Vikings are ranked 20th in offense by DVOA, and that came about with O'Neill, their best olineman at rt, and Bradbury at center, for 90% of the snaps. O'Neill is on ir, and Bradbury hasn't played since getting into a car accident a couple weeks ago. Their 2nd string center broke his ankle against the Packers. With O'Neill out, if they have to start their 3rd string center, they almost certainly become a bottom 5 offense. Cousins  no matter the 36 million in cap space consumed, is not a qb capable of making up for those kind of deficits.

Points: 0

#81 by jmaron // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:46pm

I think you are over estimating the value of a good RT and mediocre center. The best QBs in the league probably add about 5-7 pts a game of value. That's the difference between and middle of the pack offence and 27th or so offence. You're suggesting a RT and center are worth as much as a star QB. 


Points: 0

#83 by Will Allen // Jan 11, 2023 - 12:09am

If your 3rd string center can't handle a varied snap count, and bounces every 3rd shotgun snap off the ground, yeah, that could add up to 5-7 points pretty quickly. They aren't playing a team that is actively trying to lose the game, unlike their last opponent.

The reason the Chiefs lost the Super Bowl to the Bucs is mostly because they had to start Mike Remmers at tackle.

Points: 1

#21 by theslothook // Jan 10, 2023 - 8:23am

AFAIK, PFF does not disclose their grading system. Its not quite arbitrary, but it does follow a subjective system. Presumably, longer/more difficult throws are awarded more points / giving up huge plays or penalties incur more negative points.

If that is their grading system, then it makes sense why their metrics diverge with FOs. FOs scoring weights are based on how predictive certain plays are relative to others. And since long passes are inherently much more varying in outcomes; they are likely weighted far less in DVOA vs PFF. 

That said, I would not read into a small sample to guage which system is more predictive, especially when  neither is tuned to predict game outcomes limited to the playoffs. 

Points: 1

#26 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:25am

These two statements are not at odds:

"Presumably, longer/more difficult throws are awarded more points / giving up huge plays or penalties incur more negative points."
"FOs scoring weights are based on how predictive certain plays are relative to others"


Long plays are worth significantly more in DYAR/DVOA than short plays, it's just a diminishing returns curve. A 40 yard play may only be worth 50% more than a 20 yard play, instead of 100% more. Long plays still have a really big impact on DVOA. 




Also - remember - the entire DVOA system is built on the premise that point differential is the best indicator of team quality. Everything is built to correlate to point differential (or predict point differential).

And while the Vikings are clearly (win/loss) overperforming their point differential (and that may be somewhat luck) - their point differential is also way, way, way better than DVOA thinks it should be. They've got the point differential of a .500ish team, and DVOA thinks they should have won about 6 games.  There's clearly a disconnect here. The fact that the disconnect may not be predictive doesn't mean it's not real. 


Points: 1

#29 by Will Allen // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:50am

There are no .500 teams anymore, and is 6 wins much different than 8?

Points: 0

#43 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:07am

Two wins on a residual projection is pretty large.

Points: 0

#53 by Travis // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:21pm

There are no .500 teams anymore

The Commanders object to that statement.

Points: 7

#33 by theslothook // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:05am

You are correct and I should have made my point better. I was just thinking that PFF probably weights big plays more FO and underweights, relative to FO, mundane, routine plays. And if you sum that up over a game; I can imagine why they diverge.

Points: 0

#57 by Pat // Jan 10, 2023 - 12:49pm

I don't think you can compare estimated wins/Pythagorean wins that simply. They can correlate to the same things (wins) but the spread doesn't have to be equal on both.

So saying "hey, they have 13 wins but point differential says they should have 8.4-8.6 and estimated wins says 6.3, point differential is clearly closer" is a bit dicey. (The Vikings also really have a point differential of -9, not -3, FWIW, since they won both overtime games).

Points: 0

#73 by wludford // Jan 10, 2023 - 3:48pm

It's interesting that in the Vikings road win over the Bills, 33-30, the Vikings DVOA was -13.0% and the Bills was +41.8%.  It was a wild game to be sure, but the DVOA results were not representative of that game.  

In PFF overall team grades for that game, the Vikings graded 74.2 and the Bills 70.4, which makes more sense.


Points: -1

#77 by AFCNFCBowl // Jan 10, 2023 - 4:17pm

And these numbers are adjusted for opponent quality, so the (reverse) gap in unadjusted VOA is even larger.

Here was Aaron Schatz's explanation:

Buffalo had a 98.6% Post-Game Win Expectancy yesterday. Based on the stat splits of the game, we would expect Buffalo to win over 98% of the time. Bills: 6.75 yd/play, 55% suc rate. Vikings: 6.18 yd/play, 41% suc rate. Vikings recovered all 4 fumbles.

Points: 0

#30 by takeleavebelieve // Jan 10, 2023 - 9:53am

PFF has explained their rating system several times over the years, although never in explicit detail as it’s proprietary and they like money. IIRC, every play is graded on a five point scale (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2) and the season-long result is averaged per snap and then rescaled against the rest of the league.

However, they have been clear that they grade the process and not the outcome of the play. If a 70 yard TD run is blocked perfectly up front and the DBs all slip on a banana peel, the RB would probably get a 0 grade on that play, because virtually any RB could’ve gotten a touchdown in that situation.

The grades also aren’t zero-sum. I’m sure Justin Jefferson got 2 points for that ridiculous catch against the Bills, but the DB defending him had perfectly adequate coverage and probably got a 0.


Points: 0

#36 by theslothook // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:12am

The grades also aren’t zero-sum. I’m sure Justin Jefferson got 2 points for that ridiculous catch against the Bills, but the DB defending him had perfectly adequate coverage and probably got a 0.

This made me think of a twitter exchange I had with Sam Monson. A similar play happened where the DB essentially had bracket coverage, but the ball was perfect, the catch was too, and the db in the process of defending it took himself out of the play and that led to a long td with a decent chunk of YAC.

I asked Sam what the DB's grade would be on that play and he said,were he grading it, it would be a -0.5. This kicked off a long discussion about the merits of grading a play like that negatively. It then led to a discussion about whether NFL coaches would approve of the DBs job on that play; and he candidly said the coaches he talks(talked) to also have a varied response to a play like that. Some coach prevent to such an extent that gambling for a pass breakup is less preferable than to damage control. Others would be thrilled with the DBs effort and chalk it up to good offense. 

I found all of that pretty unsatisfactory and telling of a lot of coaching blindspots still in the game. But more importantly, I too as a data guy and football afficionado was also in search of the holy grail of NFL truth seeking - separating the individual players to understand intrinsic value. It was through wisdom that I learned this is pretty close to an impossible task. To a large extent, nfl teams operate in concert and decision making isn't made in a vacuum. If your line sucks, you are going to adapt your play calling to that hinderance. That will naturally overstate your line and potentially understate other parts of your game. On top of the fact that game scripts can completely tilt game behavior and play behavior. 

The best teams at avoiding pressure are teams with a lead. Teams that suck on defense give up a lot of pressure. In effect, how good your defense is impacts how good your offensive line metrics will look. 

Points: 3

#44 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:08am

This made me think of a twitter exchange I had with Sam Monson. A similar play happened where the DB essentially had bracket coverage, but the ball was perfect, the catch was too, and the db in the process of defending it took himself out of the play and that led to a long td with a decent chunk of YAC.

Was it this one?


Points: 0

#45 by Noahrk // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:10am

This happens in so many things, for example medicine, where there is an issue where there are too many specialists and too few general doctors who can see the whole picture and how what's happening in one place affects the issues in another. At least in my country, but I bet it's a global trend -not a doctor, but I'm privy to certain information for work reasons.

Points: 0

#47 by takeleavebelieve // Jan 10, 2023 - 11:38am

I remember maybe like a decade ago, PFF was getting criticized for grading Chris Harris as the best CB in football. Their response was basically that grades aren’t supposed to be a measure of “talent”, but instead how well a neutral observer thinks that player executed their assignment for that play. Harris was a shutdown slot corner who wasn’t asked to do much else during his first two or three years in the league, and his grades bear that out. 

Points: 0

#79 by ee // Jan 10, 2023 - 10:30pm

These ratings for MIN don’t align very well with the spread, MIN -3 at home. The spread implies MIN is maybe 1 point better than NYG vs DVOA’s 1-2 points worse. And inpredictable has MIN 11th vs DVOA’s 27th. 

Points: 0

#84 by YoungBrig // Jan 11, 2023 - 2:06am

On Sunday, Seattle outgained  the LA Rams 402-269

Yards Per Play: Seattle 5.7, LA Rams 4.6

Yards Per Pass: Sea: 6.0, LA Rams 4.0

Yards Per Rush: Sea 5.5, LA Rams 5.2

First Downs: Sea 22, LA Rams 14,

TOP: Sea 35, LA Rams 29

DVOA for game: Sea -7, LA Rams 0.4  I am stunned! what gives?


Points: 0

#86 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 11, 2023 - 8:43am

Opponent adjustments. The Rams, not to put too fine of a point on it, suck.

Points: 0

#87 by Eggolas // Jan 11, 2023 - 9:22am

Pythagorean table was developed for baseball, a 162 game regular season where runs and deviations have a good chance to be smoothed out.

Why should it be valid for a 17-game season?

Points: 0

#89 by Pat // Jan 11, 2023 - 10:05am

There's nothing special or magic about the whole Pythagorean wins thing. Every opposed, scoring sport where the scoring is independent and scores are centrally distributed (so roughly normal) can be represented by Pythagorean wins. 

It's just a sigmoid curve: it asymptotes to zero towards negative infinity, and one to positive infinity. The parameterized version is "wp = 1/(1+(pf/pa)^x)" where "x" is some exponent which depends on the overall game environment.

There are theoretical explanations of where it comes from by Hundal and Miller, but even the assumptions by Miller can be relaxed and it'll still be close. Football does violate those assumptions a bit (namely, points scored/allowed in each game aren't really independent) but they're not violated that bad. They're technically violated in baseball, too, and it mostly works there.

Points: 2

#91 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 11, 2023 - 1:38pm

I am not much of a baseball guy, but I also wonder if the different late-game strategies between the sports matter. If an NFL team builds a massive lead, they will intentionally play clock-killing strategies which may deflate their potential margin of victory. But a baseball team with a huge lead has nothing really preventing them from continuing to score or trying to - it's not the same as an NFL potentially letting a losing team back in with bonehead turnovers.

Points: 0

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