Chiefs, Lions Rising in Weighted DVOA

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 17 - It can be hard to imagine the NFL going forward after last night's postponement in Cincinnati, but the NFL will go forward. There will be games this week and there will be playoffs soon. So while keeping Damar Hamlin in our thoughts, we'll get back to what we do around here, which is look at DVOA ratings and what they say about the season so far and the games yet to come.

The top 10 in full-season DVOA remains the same as last week. It's hard to get major moves this late in the season when you're adding one game into a sample that already included 15 of them. In the case of No. 1 Buffalo, we're not adding a game. The Bills did take a larger lead in DVOA this week after No. 2 Philadelphia lost and No. 3 San Francisco played a very close game against a bad Las Vegas team.

There are moves in the ratings even if the rankings don't change. For example, Miami is still eighth with Detroit ninth, but Detroit made up most of the difference between these teams thanks to a big win over Chicago. Lower down, the biggest moves of the week were the Los Angeles Chargers moving up three spots from 21st to 18th, the Washington Commanders falling three spots to 22nd, and the Los Angeles Rams falling three spots to 25th.

There are bigger changes in the weighted DVOA ratings, since that sample stays the same each week now that an early game (Week 2) drops out as a new game comes in. San Francisco still has a healthy lead in weighted DVOA despite this week's close call, with Buffalo second. The Kansas City Chiefs moved up to third this week, climbing past the Bengals with the Eagles dropping to fifth. Dallas is sixth, and those are the big six teams everybody has as this year's Super Bowl favorites. We had Baltimore up there with these other teams for a long time, but there's been enough Tyler Huntley now to drop them down to eighth in weighted DVOA. There's a gap between the top six and our new No. 7, which is Detroit despite the Lions' big loss to the Panthers a week ago. Green Bay is ninth in weighted DVOA, making for a great final game on Sunday night. We'll have to see what happens with Seattle (11th in weighted DVOA) on Sunday afternoon and whether the Lions will be playing for a postseason spot or just to be spoilers.

One thing weighted DVOA shows is the plunging teams of the AFC East. Other than Buffalo, they all rank higher in full-season DVOA than in weighted DVOA. Miami is eighth for the full season but 13th weighted. The New York Jets are 15th for the full season but dropped from 13th to 18th in weighted DVOA this week. New England moved up to 13th for the full season but ranks just 17th weighted.

You might be surprised to see that the Patriots are the No. 1 team in weighted defense, as San Francisco fell to second after giving up 34 points to the Raiders. The Patriots' decline over the last few weeks has come entirely on offense and special teams. They're now 27th in weighted offense and 29th in weighted special teams, close to the worst team in the league on both kickoffs and punts. San Francisco is still No. 1 in full-season defense (essentially tied with the Cowboys) and No. 1 in run defense.

Here's a look at the teams that have been better or worse on offense or defense in recent weeks based on the difference between full-season and weighted DVOA. You can see that some teams are going in opposite directions for each unit. Five of the six leaders among teams improving on defense are also among the top six teams declining on offense. For example, the Ravens have been better on defense in recent weeks, but worse on offense with Huntley at quarterback. The Jets, Dolphins, Browns, and Texans have all had similar movement. The Rams, on the other hand, have improved on offense with Baker Mayfield instead of John Wolford and Bryce Perkins, but have declined on defense with no Aaron Donald in the lineup.

Teams Improving in Offensive DVOA
SF 12.0% 7 21.3% 3 +9.3%
CIN 14.7% 4 24.0% 2 +9.2%
CAR -8.0% 23 -1.8% 19 +6.2%
NYG 7.0% 12 10.6% 7 +3.6%
LV 3.0% 16 6.1% 11 +3.1%
LAR -8.1% 24 -5.0% 22 +3.1%
Teams Declining in Offensive DVOA
BAL 7.7% 10 -0.2% 18 -7.9%
MIA 13.3% 5 6.1% 12 -7.3%
CLE 8.4% 8 3.6% 13 -4.8%
HOU -29.0% 31 -33.1% 31 -4.1%
NYJ -8.1% 25 -12.2% 28 -4.1%
MIN -4.5% 20 -7.9% 24 -3.4%
Teams Improving in Defensive DVOA
HOU 2.6% 20 -3.6% 10 -6.1%
CLE 3.2% 22 -2.1% 13 -5.3%
MIA 2.1% 17 -1.2% 16 -3.3%
NYJ -10.0% 6 -12.8% 3 -2.8%
NO -5.3% 9 -8.1% 6 -2.8%
BAL -6.4% 8 -9.2% 5 -2.7%
Teams Declining in Defensive DVOA
TB -4.1% 10 4.7% 23 +8.9%
BUF -11.9% 4 -7.3% 8 +4.6%
CHI 16.2% 32 20.4% 32 +4.3%
DEN -7.0% 7 -3.3% 11 +3.7%
DAL -14.0% 2 -11.0% 4 +3.0%
LAR 2.4% 19 5.3% 24 +2.9%

For all the press that the Tampa Bay passing game has received for its struggles, it's worth noting that the Tampa Bay defense has declined more than the offense in recent weeks.

Yet Even More Minnesota Vikings

Who wants to talk about the Minnesota Vikings again? I apologize for writing about them nearly every week this year, but their season is absolutely bonkers.

The Vikings got absolutely destroyed by the Packers on Sunday, 41-17. The game was 41-3 until the Vikings scored a couple of meaningless touchdowns in the final few minutes. DVOA does not discount garbage time as much as people expect it to, but it does discount garbage time somewhat, when there's a gap of more than three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. So those Vikings touchdowns get discounted in our formula.

The Vikings also don't get credit for the blocked punt in the first quarter. As I've written in the past, blocked punts are not "lucky" plays but they are what we call "non-predictive." Usually, a blocked punt doesn't indicate any likelihood that you're going to get more blocked punts later in the season. As it happens, this was the second straight week that the Vikings blocked a punt. So if you want to criticize DVOA for not giving them credit for that great play, I totally understand. (By the way, two other teams have multiple blocked punts this year: the Falcons in Weeks 2 and 17, and the Jets in Weeks 6 and 14.)

Without credit for the blocked punt, the Vikings come close to the worst special teams DVOA in a single game this year at -33.7%. There was the Keisean Nixon kick return touchdown, of course, and two missed field goals from Greg Joseph. The Packers also had two good punt returns and Jalen Reagor muffed a punt return for the Vikings (but recovered it himself). We know that the punt block happened so it's not really one of the worst special teams games of the year but it was not a good game overall.

The special teams help contribute to the fact that the Vikings came out of this game with a miserable -94.6% DVOA. That's worse than the Dallas Cowboys loss, 40-3 back in Week 11, which has -67.8% DVOA. The difference is mostly in the special teams as well as opponent adjustments since Dallas has been better than Green Bay this season (on defense, particularly).

This week's loss was so bad that the Vikings drop another three spots to 28th in DVOA. The Vikings are no longer just the worst team to ever share their win-loss record. They will either be the worst two seed or three seed ever, depending on which seed they end up with. In fact, the Vikings have now gotten themselves onto a list of the worst DVOA ratings ever for all playoff teams, no matter what seed or win-loss record. The worst playoff team by DVOA was the 2010 "Beastquake" Seattle Seahawks, followed by the 2004 wild-card St. Louis Rams. Remarkably, four of the five worst playoff teams by DVOA won their first playoff game, including those two teams. However, none of the teams on this list made it to a conference championship game.

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
2022 MIN -14.2% 28 12-4 -4.5% 20 5.5% 25 -4.3% 31 2-3 --
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
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 1995 Indianapolis Colts (-9.9%, 23rd) had the lowest DVOA for a team to make a conference championship game. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals (-4.0%, 21st) had the lowest DVOA for a team to make the Super Bowl. And the 2007 New York Giants (+1.4%, 15th) had the lowest DVOA for a team to win the Super Bowl.

The Vikings could still avoid making this top 10, of course. They could have a huge dominant game against the Chicago Bears, the kind they haven't had all year, and see their DVOA move up past the 1996 Colts. But like I said, it's the kind of game they haven't had all year. The Vikings have only one game over 20%, back in Week 1 when they had 31.6% DVOA in beating the Packers 23-7.

An extremely high-scoring game could change this, but my estimate is that the Vikings will stand as the greatest Pythagorean overachievers in modern NFL history (since 1950) unless they either:

  • lose to Chicago by four points or fewer, or
  • beat Chicago by 33 points or more.

Like I said, this Vikings season has been absolutely bonkers.

* * * * *

Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 17. There is no data from the postponed Buffalo-Cincinnati game.

A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats, require registration to view. This is not a paywall*! You only need to register (for free) and then log in to the site to view these pages. While you're at it, you can get a seven-day trial of FO+ and check out the FO+ features like a deeper DVOA database, weekly fantasy projections, fantasy football research tools, Derrik Klassen's All-32 game preview column, and picks against the spread (now including projected totals for over/unders).

*New: It's not a paywall, except on Mondays! We now post DVOA data on Monday instead of waiting until Tuesday as in the past. If you want to see data from the current season on Monday, including all of Sunday's games, you will need to be an FO+ subscriber. On Tuesday morning when we post the update with Monday Night Football added in, all of the free stats pages become free again. The exception is snap counts, which are available to everyone Monday.

* * * * *

This is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through 17 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. 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 represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.

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 32.4% 1 29.4% 2 12-3 17.7% 2 -11.9% 4 2.8% 6
2 PHI 26.1% 2 23.9% 5 13-3 16.0% 3 -10.1% 5 0.0% 15
3 SF 25.9% 3 36.0% 1 12-4 12.0% 7 -14.0% 1 -0.1% 16
4 DAL 22.1% 4 22.1% 6 12-4 5.0% 14 -14.0% 2 3.1% 4
5 KC 20.6% 5 24.9% 3 13-3 25.7% 1 3.7% 23 -1.4% 24
6 BAL 18.0% 6 11.1% 8 10-6 7.7% 10 -6.4% 8 3.9% 2
7 CIN 16.6% 7 24.1% 4 11-4 14.7% 4 -3.0% 12 -1.2% 21
8 MIA 7.8% 8 5.7% 13 8-8 13.3% 5 2.1% 17 -3.5% 30
9 DET 7.2% 9 13.4% 7 8-8 12.7% 6 7.8% 28 2.3% 8
10 SEA 6.8% 10 6.6% 11 8-8 6.0% 13 3.2% 21 4.0% 1
11 CLE 5.9% 12 7.8% 10 7-9 8.4% 8 3.2% 22 0.7% 13
12 GB 4.8% 11 9.4% 9 8-8 7.6% 11 2.4% 18 -0.5% 17
13 NE 2.0% 15 -0.7% 17 8-8 -9.9% 26 -13.7% 3 -1.8% 27
14 JAX 1.8% 14 1.6% 15 8-8 7.8% 9 6.9% 27 0.9% 12
15 NYJ 0.5% 13 -2.2% 18 7-9 -8.1% 25 -10.0% 6 -1.3% 23
16 PIT 0.3% 17 3.4% 14 8-8 -0.6% 18 -3.9% 11 -3.0% 29


40 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2023, 12:37pm

#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:51pm

There was the Keisean Nixon kick return touchdown

Why do you ding a team for a non-predictive return TD allowed, but not award them for the non-predictive blocked punt? There have been more blocked punts this year (8) than kick return TDs (7).

Points: 0

#2 by Aaron Schatz // Jan 03, 2023 - 1:03pm

Because kick returns come in a number of different lengths. A team gets a little more value for each additional yard of return. But it isn’t like kick returns are either touchdowns or 0 yards. 

Points: 4

#4 by andrew // Jan 03, 2023 - 3:30pm

To be fair, some punt blocks are recovered for touchdowns, some are safeties, some are returned for TDs, and some somehow result in first down for the punting team.    Both Viking punt blocks were not recovered for touchdowns, and only one ended up resulting in one.   The week before their first block, they had one against them and that one was returned for a touchdown.

Points: 0

#3 by Raiderfan // Jan 03, 2023 - 2:05pm

Curious about DVOA calculation—no trade secrets.  Buccaneers had a 52.7% pass DVOA on 48 drop backs, a -9.7 DVOA on half as many rushes, and that came out to…27.8?  How does that balance out?

Also, the Raiders defense is still rated much too high.

Points: 0

#6 by Aaron Schatz // Jan 03, 2023 - 5:26pm

The denominator isn't actually "plays" but rather "success baseline." But anyway, let's imagine it's plays because it's easier.

52.7% x 49 passes = 25.8 "success points per play"

-9.7% x 24 runs = -2.4 "success points per play"

(25.8-2.4)/73 = 32.1%

That's not really far off from 27.8%. Like I said, the difference between those two numbers comes from the fact that the actual demominator is "success baseline" rather than plays.

Points: 5

#5 by Romodini // Jan 03, 2023 - 4:33pm

McCarthy has done some good things for the Cowboys in his time so far -- they finally managed to beat Bill Belichick last year, they've secured consecutive double digit wins for the first time since 1994-1995, and are in the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006-2007.

The playoff seeding scenarios are going to give him a good chance to wipe away at least one of three more curses that still hang over this franchise. The most likely is that they'll get another shot at finally beating Tom Brady as a wildcard. The next likely is that they end up as the 2 seed (it will take an Eagles loss plus Packers win) and get the opportunity to avenge their previous losses to Rodgers and the Pack. Finally, the Cowboys have a very easy path to finally reach an NFC title game after 27 years, provided an unlikely series of events occurs. If the Seahawks and Lions win while the Eagles lose, the Cowboys will face the Seahawks in the first round and either the Giants or Vikings in the second. They have no excuse to lose any of those games.

Time for McCarthy to show Jerry that he can finally burn his love letters to Sean Payton.

Points: 0

#7 by big10freak // Jan 03, 2023 - 5:27pm

Three players tied to Green Bay’s resurgence:   Nixon who turned a huge negative to a huge positive, Watson who helped open up the field for the other players and Engabare on defense. The last one may seem curious as his numbers don’t jump out.  But he defends the run, is 80 percent of Gary in pass rush and makes fewer mistakes each game   Just solid all around player as a rookie 

Points: 0

#8 by riri // Jan 03, 2023 - 5:33pm

I can't believe that "the Vikings offense might be underrated by DVOA" was enough to incur the FOMBC

Points: 2

#10 by Will Allen // Jan 03, 2023 - 9:22pm

O'Neill is out for the season, and Bradbury has the sort of vaguely described back injury that very often needs an offseason to heal, if it ever does. I'd put the Vikings' chance of beating anybody in a playoff game at less than 10%. It was a weird, ugly, frustrating, yet wildly entertaining season, while it lasted.

Next year has 4-13 written all over it.

Points: 3

#20 by rh1no // Jan 04, 2023 - 8:06am

Can't believe you're talking about this season in past tense already. The Vikings have been wildly entertaining and *may* have one or two more miracle performances left for us.

I also wouldn't completely give up on next season; they keep decent company on Aaron's list of playoff teams with the worst DVOA. The Colts followed up their 2012 campaign with consecutive 11-5 seasons. The 2006 Seahawks improved their record and repeated as NFC West Champs in 2007.

Even if the Vikings suck next year, landing a QB with a high draft pick could unlock even better production from talented playmakers like Jefferson, Hockenson, and Cook. Keep in mind the Beast Quake game kicked off an era of unprecedented success for the Seahawks. Sure, they finished below .500 again in 2011, but they picked up Russell Wilson in 2012, immediately returned to the playoffs, and won their first Superbowl in 2013.

This year's Vikings team may not be good, but they're fun to watch. There are reasons to be skeptical that Kevin O'Connell will be able to continue this level of success, but there are reasons for optimism, too.

Points: 1

#21 by Will Allen // Jan 04, 2023 - 9:09am

Aesthetically, I simply hate watching a soft defense poorly execute a bad schematic fit for the personnel. On offense, yes, Jefferson, Cook, and other ball handlers are entertaining, but, to tell the truth, I prefer watching superior offensive line play. To get a sense of my favorite kind of football to watch, the 2008 team is one of my all time favorites; dominant on both lines of scrimmage, very sound defense, a exciting HOF running back who was a threat to score every time he took a handoff. Sure, I bitched about mediocre to bad quarterback and receiver play, but that bunch would wade in and slug it out with anybody, and that's what I like.

If this team, with O'Neill out, a 3rd string center starting, and a soft defense, wins a playoff game, it'll be the biggest Viking playoff upset since the '87 team beat the Niners, maybe bigger. That '87 team actually had great personnel on both sides of the ball, and their regular season record was deceiving due to the strike that year. Yeah, it's possible for this team to win a playoff game. Lots of things are possible.

As to next year, yes, drafting the next Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, or Legion of Boom, would be highly advisable. Why stop there? Lets also draft the next Anthony Munoz, Dermotti Dawson, John Hannah, Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor, and Aaron Donald, too.

In a more reality-based scenario, they really ought to find out what they can get for Jefferson. The best receiver in the league, tied to an otherwise pedestrian roster, including an expensive qb moving deep into his mid 30s who has never been able to do anything off schedule, is of limited value, if you have to pay that receiver like he's the best in the league. Great receivers are more dependent on teammates than any other kind of great player, and this team is bad (and aging!) on defense, middling (and aging!) at qb, so-so at best on the offensive line. Their number 1 pick is going to be in the 20s, so they'd have to get really lucky to get a really good qb. If they can get two firsts and a second for Jefferson, they need to strongly consider it, bite the bullet and cut Cousins ( can't believe anybody would take that contract, but maybe he has trade value if the Vikings pay part of his salary for 1 more year), trade Cook for draft picks if possible, and hope to have some good fortune on draft day, with more chances in the 1st and 2nd round.

Points: 2

#22 by Kaepernicus // Jan 04, 2023 - 10:40am

I agree with all of this until you get to trading Jefferson. An elite WR1 with a competent scheme can make an average QB look great. You guys should lean into that and go get a middle class QB for cheap. I honestly think they should trade Kirk and make a serious run at Brissett. Jacoby isn't great but he has decent mobility, is huge, and has a strong arm. I'd be willing to bet you could get him for around $15-20 million a year. Switching back to a 4-3 defense probably gets the defense back to average with some good draft picks, FA signings, or trades. The biggest problem for the Vikings going into next year is it looks like the Packers are going to be back to their usual selves next year and the Lions probably are not going away. The Bears are about to be a high variance nightmare if they actually fill out the roster effectively and lean into the Fields option offense. The division is about to get a lot tougher.

The craziest thing about the Vikings is just how little they scare anyone. I would rather play them than the Packers, Giants, Lions, Seahawks, TB, Dallas, or Philly. Kirk is bad under pressure, as always, and the line is falling apart heading into the playoffs. The biggest strength of the second weakest NFC playoff team, the Giants, is their pass rush. I am probably going to be betting a lot of money on the Giants money line in the WC round if the odds are good enough. 

Points: 0

#27 by Will Allen // Jan 04, 2023 - 11:53am

Cousins is hard to trade without significant cap impact next year, I suspect, and having Jefferson on a bad team runs the risk of the typical wide receiver psychosis. If the Vikings had a serviceable defense, I'd say keep him. The defense is such a mess, and O'Connell made such a hash of hiring his defensive staff, it just results in gigantic mess. If O'Connell has the guts to fire the entire defensive staff the day after the last game, maybe the offense can be salvaged, but that's assuming he'll be better at hiring his next defensive staff. What's the basis for that confidence?

Points: 0

#33 by Will Allen // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:58pm

Oh, what's crazy about anyone not being scared of the Vikings, assuming they have, yanno, watched them play, or paid attention to any stats other than w-l record? They give up a ton of points and yards, their qb is just ok, and now they officially suck on the offensive line. Yeah, Jefferson's great, and they have some other good ball handlers, but so what? The special teams suck, too, so there's nothing to fear there, either. 

Yeah, I really hate this team, 12-4, or no 12-4, and I have since week 2.

Points: 0

#46 by Kaepernicus // Jan 05, 2023 - 10:11am

I think a lot of normal people still overvalue things like W/L record, clutchness, or destiny so there will definitely be opportunities to make some money off that sentiment with the Vikings in Vegas. Vegas has become far more analytical in the last 20 years but there is still a lot of subjectivity among sharps that can move lines in irrational ways. I also think there are a few poorly run orgs that would trade for Kirk on this contract. This is literally the last chance the Vikings have to move him for decent value. He is approaching 35 and has declined for 3 straight years statistically. Average/Above Average QBs seem to fall off a cliff as they get older and Kirk took the most hits in the NFL this year. They have to move on from him soon and can still get some assets in return.

Points: 0

#44 by t.d. // Jan 04, 2023 - 4:37pm

Cousins is a negative asset and Derek Carr's already out there on his corner for free;  don't have a feel for KOC, but my concern would be if they approached the offseason as "we're 12-5, everythings fine"

Points: 0

#24 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 04, 2023 - 11:24am

bite the bullet and cut Cousins ( can't believe anybody would take that contract, but maybe he has trade value if the Vikings pay part of his salary for 1 more year),

You are in a league where median QB performance would have gotten 4-5 teams to the playoffs who are going to miss out, which totally scuttled another two ore teams' seasons, and a last one whose ceiling is defined by their complete failure of an offense.

Not sucking has substantial value.

Points: 1

#25 by Will Allen // Jan 04, 2023 - 11:45am

Cousins is at an age when sucking is a reasonably predictable outcome, and he's pretty darned expensive.

Points: 0

#32 by rh1no // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:55pm

Your preferred scenario is to cut Cousins and eat his $30MM guaranteed salary while trading away a generational talent in Justin Jefferson in exchange for draft picks? And  what are you going to do with those draft picks? Draft the next Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson? Why stop there? Draft the next Legion of Boom. Get Anthony Munoz. Maybe you'll even land a Hall of Fame WR for your new star QB to target. You, know ... someone like Justin Jefferson. 

It's much more realistic to ride Kirk Cousins for another year, use the early round picks to draft for depth in the trenches, and spend a mid-round pick on a QB who can sit for a year and develop behind your veteran signal-caller. Obviously it will take some good fortune to land someone as talented as Russell Wilson (3rd round), Dak Prescott (4th round), Brock Purdy (7th Round), or Tony Romo (undrafted), but there's plenty of QB talent that slips past the first round each year, and plenty of busts at the top of the draft (looking at you, Zach Wilson).

Minnesota hired an offensive-minded former QB from the Sean McVay coaching tree for a reason. Bringing in a young QB in the next year or two and surrounding him with weapons like Jefferson, Hockenson, and Cook provides O'Connell and the Vikings with a path to success. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesnt. Blowing up the whole roster, however, just sends Minnesota back to the draft for the next three to four years hoping they can get guys as good as the ones they let go.

Points: 2

#37 by Will Allen // Jan 04, 2023 - 1:11pm

A generational talent at wr, that you have to pay like he is,does nothing, if the defense is terrible, the offensive line is terrible ( now really concerned with Darrishaw's concussion history) the qb is old, very expensive, and regressing from a ceiling that was never terribly high. Especially if the generational talent wr reacts to that context like a lot of generational talent wr do, when placed in a similar context.

Yes, drafting is unpredictable. It gets predictably worse when counting on picks in the 3rd round and later to become good players.

Having said, that, yes, if there is a reasonable plan to have this old and terrible defense to be not old, and serviceable, then they should keep Jefferson. 

Points: 0

#43 by ChrisS // Jan 04, 2023 - 3:25pm

I am usually in favor of "one in the hand"  over "two in the bush". Everyone "knows" the players they like in the draft will be great, why else take them, whereas its easy when you are getting rid of something to focus on their flaws. But recent WR1 trades don't seem to push the acquiring team over the hump or destroy the team they leave. Stefon Diggs made Bills marginally better, Vikes stayed the same-ish. Devante Adams didnt improve the Raiders, but GB certainly missed him. Hopkins trade was a non-event, Tyreek Hill trade effects seem trivial, Amari Cooper trade didn't really effect either team . AJ Brown helps the Eagles but Titans were likely already on a down swing, but him leaving did not help. All of this is super-anecdotal so easily dismissable, but its my $.02.

Points: 0

#23 by Kaepernicus // Jan 04, 2023 - 11:00am

Those Colts teams were heavily reliant on a terrible division and heroic QB play. I think this year is probably the worst the NFC North will be for the next 2-3 years if Rodgers runs it back next year. The Lions and Bears are going to be better next year because of youth(Lions) and massive roster turn over(Bears). The Vikings are an old team. Kirk has been regressing for 3 straight years. He's still good but the trend is not good. This is probably their last chance to get a good return on a Kirk trade and Kwisi is a smart dude. The smart play is to ride the magic as far as it goes and then sell off in the off-season. Rebuild around JJ and get way younger across the board.

Points: 1

#38 by rh1no // Jan 04, 2023 - 1:11pm

It's certainly possible that the other teams in the NFC North keep improving. The Lions in particular have a promising offense. But they're still the Lions. Their defense is terrible and I wouldn't be surprised to see Jared Goff regress next season after having a career year.

I like Justin Fields, but the Bears haven't shown any willingness to support him with the WR and O-line talent he needs to be successful. Even if they do bring in some playmakers for him, there's no gurantee he'll develop into a competent passer. 

I don't see things trending up for Green Bay. This season seems like Aaron Rodgers' last stand; hanging around one more season might be a season too long. He's currently below Kirk Cousins in DYAR and who knows if Jordan Love will be able to effectively replace him if/when he's given the chance.

I agree that the Vikings are old and need to move on from the Kirk Cousins era. Trading him is probably impossible, so I like the idea of drafting a developmental QB and using 2023 as a bridge season.

Points: 0

#26 by Pat // Jan 04, 2023 - 11:48am

And look at that, Pittsburgh's an above-average team. And even if they do lose next week, Mike Tomlin's record now just becomes "never had less than 8 wins in a season." With Mitch Trubisky and a rookie.

I seem to remember saying something like "let's wait till Watt gets back, it's hard to judge any team after losing their highest-paid player." Well, golly gee.

Points: 0

#30 by Pat // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:23pm

I'm not even trying to claim Tomlin's some fantastic coach or anything. He's obviously good enough to make the Steelers a consistently above-average team in a division that's a pain in the neck because you've got another very solid organization in it too.

But, I mean, the people trying to bury the guy in a year where they're obviously in a big transition and they get hit with a $30M+ injury? Just never made sense. Even before they clawed their way back to .500, I was saying you don't judge Tomlin based on this year, but this offseason. And, I mean, now he's got a rookie QB well above the Rosen Line and yet another WR1 signed for 4 cheap years. Jeez.

Points: 0

#31 by Will Allen // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:49pm

In retrospect, it's pretty obvious Tomlin was really good at managing the nutcase talented receivers and qb that he was tasked with. 

Points: 3

#34 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:58pm

Tomlin's man-management is as impressive as Andy Reid's offensive acumen, Harbaugh's special teams excellence, or Belichick's dark machinations.

Points: 1

#39 by Pat // Jan 04, 2023 - 1:16pm

It's not just how he manages the players, it's the whole team - players and coaches. I mean, there are still plenty of widespread calls for Canada's firing (and I wouldn't be surprised if things are changed up in the offseason) but he was really just rock solid. Like, nope, no coaching changes, this is what we're doing. It'll work.

I know obviously the same thing's basically happening in New England too (with identical results so far!) but you can contrast that with the utter disaster in Indy.

Points: 0

#35 by big10freak // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:59pm

Pickett really seems to have calmed down in his role.  He does not have any 'wow' abilities that jump out at the observer like say a Herbert but he seems to know where guys are supposed to be, has good pocket awareness, the arm to make most of the throws and doesn't panic 


The only thing that nags at me is that he might not have the frame to take the pounding of the job.  

Points: 0

#45 by t.d. // Jan 04, 2023 - 4:59pm

no need to disparage BB, he's done outstanding work this year too, also with a roster thats decidedly unimpressive, also in a much tougher division than he's used to (he's been lucky, as the Pats' record against backup qbs attests, but I think the Steelers' roster is actually significantly more talented than the Pats);  we've seen this before, when Tomlin rallied the Mason Rudolph team into playoff contention after starting 1-4 or something, but yeah, Tomlin again demonstrates he's truly an exceptional coach

Points: 1

#29 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:09pm

I know we've been singing hosannahs to Brock Purdy, but has anyone noticed Sam Darnold has had a substantially better season than Purdy has had?

He would actually lead the league in DVOA. We're through the looking glass.

Points: 2

#40 by Travisallen // Jan 04, 2023 - 1:31pm

You are correct, he would lead the league, which is why I don't trust DVOA for quarterbacks, because the best quarterback would be Jimmy G with 29.4%. If we included all QBS, even with ones less than 200 passes, backup quarterback Nick Mullens would be considered the best.  

I could be wrong, but it feels like DVOA gives too much credit to the QB for the plays that are made by the receiver, which would show Jimmy as the best, since he has such explosive playmakers around him. 

I would love to hear insight on DVOA with quarterbacks, I can't justify in any way that Jimmy would be the best QB, I am a 49ers fan, who likes Jimmy, and I cannot stand behind that. 

I tend to go with QBR to get a realistic look, Mahomes is number one with 77.8, Allen is second at 70.5, and Hurts is third at 69. 

Jimmy G has a 54.5 QBR score, Darnold has a 57.5 score, Purdy is at 67.8. I would believe you if you told me Darnold was better than Jimmy with that score. 

I can agree with Purdy being higher than Jimmy, since he is better in the pocket, can throw the ball on the run, and usually can put the ball in the best spot for his receivers. 


Points: 1

#41 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 04, 2023 - 2:34pm

I don’t think FO has ever claimed DYAR/DVOA can evaluate quarterback ability, divorced from context (that’s the film guys and PFF claim to do, but even that’s hard).  It’s just a measure of how productive/efficient a quarterback can be within in the environment of their offense and play calling.  Aaron has even said that Jared Goff being 2nd in DYAR behind Mahomes doesn’t mean he’s the 2nd best quarterback in the league.  He’s probably being lifted up by great pass protection, receiving talent, and play calling/scheme.

Points: 1

#42 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 04, 2023 - 3:23pm

It's interesting to consider how much Detroit's scheme resembles the old Payton/Brees or Brady schemes -- it's a smart QB behind a really good line, throwing to one good WR and then a fleet of pass-catching TEs and WRs.

It tends to fall apart when either St. Brown or any of the RBs are hurt, though. The Lions have no depth aside from O-line.

Points: 1

#49 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 05, 2023 - 12:37pm

Yea, Goff's splits with/without St. Brown in the lineup are pretty stark.  Hopefully after a full training camp, J. Williams should be ready to step in next year.  Not sure what they're going to with Chark, but I'd bet he'd be willing to stick around on a team-friendly deal.

Points: 0

#48 by Kaepernicus // Jan 05, 2023 - 11:13am

Cian Fahey used to write scouting reports here I believe and I really enjoyed them. He did a great breakdown on Purdy here It's kind of wild watching all of the traditional stats, advanced stats, and a portion of the film scout community start to agree with each other. The Romo comps are starting to fly and I am starting to buy it.

Points: 0

#47 by Kaepernicus // Jan 05, 2023 - 10:47am

I think Darnold has played well enough to potentially be the next Ryan Tannehill. The way Wilkes has used him and got him to buy into the game manager role is really impressive. I think 40% of Darnold's yards have come on play action, which has always been his strong suit, and he is still terrible in traditional passing sets. Look at the way he collapsed last week against TB. If he gets to lead a PA heavy/run first team he could actually be pretty effective. 

Points: 0

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