Weighted DVOA Favors Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Conference Championship - As usual after the conference championship games, we're not going to bother with the full 32-team table of weighted DVOA ratings, since there are only two teams left and most teams haven't played for three weeks. We'll just take a quick look at both teams.

I'm sure people will ask, so I'll run the Philadelphia numbers with and without the Gardner Minshew offense (Weeks 16-17). What's interesting about the Minshew games is that Philadelphia actually has a better passing offense if you consider Minshew's performance. He was pretty good in Week 16! With the Minshew games, Philadelphia's weighted pass offense is 15.5% and their weighted run offense is 20.7%. Take out the Minshew games, and Philadelphia's weighted pass offense drops to 13.0% but weighted run offense rises to 29.9%. There are similar changes if you look at total DVOA for all 21 weeks, without weighting for recent games, except the changes are smaller.

KC weighted 34.4% 2 26.7% 1 -6.0% 13 1.7% 17
PHI weighted 28.9% 5 12.6% 6 -12.3% 4 4.0% 8
PHI weighted (no Minshew) 33.7% 3 17.2% 4 -12.3% 4 4.0% 8
KC total 24.7% 4 24.9% 1 0.5% 17 0.3% 16
PHI total 29.5% 2 16.2% 3 -12.5% 3 0.9% 14
PHI total (no Minshew) 31.9% 2 18.6% 2 -12.5% 3 0.9% 14

That's very close! You can see how the Kansas City defense has improved over the course of the season.

For the playoff odds simulation and the FO picks against the spread, I used the numbers without Minshew but also considered what the Eagles defense did against a 49ers offense that essentially did not have a quarterback. The Eagles had -6.9% defensive DVOA in the first half of yesterday's game and then -97.0% DVOA in the second half. I don't think the numbers after Josh Johnson left the game tell you much about how good the Eagles defense is going to be against Patrick Mahomes in two weeks.

With that adjustment, the playoff odds simulation gives the Chiefs a roughly 53% chance of winning the Super Bowl. The FO picks formula, which accounts for the spread, is even closer. This is a very close Super Bowl.

In case you are curious: San Francisco is still technically the No. 1 team in weighted DVOA through the playoffs, followed by Kansas City with Buffalo third and Cincinnati fourth.

Next, here are one-game ratings for the conference championships.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
SF -23% -45% -14% 8%
PHI 72% 24% -49% -1%
CIN 14% -9% -24% -2%
KC 49% 13% -20% 17%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
SF -48% -51% 5% 8%
PHI 46% 7% -40% -1%
CIN -9% -9% -1% -2%
KC 31% 6% -8% 17%

Kansas City may have won by just a field goal -- and needed that big 15-yard penalty to get into field goal range on the final drive -- but DVOA does believe they outplayed the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs ended up with a 90% Post-Game Win Expectancy, as they not only had the higher DVOA but specifically had the higher DVOA passing the ball, which usually matters more than rushing. The Chiefs also ran more plays and had fewer penalties.

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37 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2023, 5:12pm

#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 30, 2023 - 11:54am

What kind of trophy do you give out for that Weighted DVOA title?

Points: -11

#3 by coltsandrew // Jan 30, 2023 - 12:32pm

It's like the trophy they give out for the DVOA title, just heavier.

Points: 53

#2 by ammek // Jan 30, 2023 - 12:02pm

So the difference in VOA between the Chiefs and Bengals was essentially special teams. Where was that concentrated? I remember the Chiefs had a couple solid punt returns and I suppose Butker was 5/5, just about. Was that it?

Points: 2

#24 by AFCNFCBowl // Jan 31, 2023 - 10:32am

Not entirely.

KC offense - defense: 14%

CIN offense - defense: -8%

Points: 0

#4 by techvet // Jan 30, 2023 - 12:35pm

Interesting stat from ESPN, but do you throw it out because the two teams the Eagles beat were the DVOA-challenged Giants and a Niners team using a 3rd and 4th-string QB?

The Eagles are the 5th team to win the Divisional Playoffs and Conference Championship by at least 21 points. Each of the previous 4 teams won the Super Bowl.




Points: 1

#6 by Jetspete // Jan 30, 2023 - 1:41pm

No. You throw it out because the most recent time it happened was like 30 years ago. 

Points: 4

#9 by rh1no // Jan 30, 2023 - 2:19pm

I think this "stat" is just saying that "playoff teams that beat other playoff teams by multiple scores are good at winning football games."

Accurate, but not particularly insightful. 

Points: 12

#16 by Cythammer // Jan 30, 2023 - 4:49pm

Beating a team like the Eagles did the Giants is a great performance even if your opponent is the worst team in the league.

I didn't think the Eagles played THAT well yesterday, but it certainly wasn't a bad performance either.

Points: 3

#17 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 30, 2023 - 4:53pm

I think it's mostly useless but we can poke at it a bit to see if there are any similarities. Though honestly I would think the advantage would be that winning by that much is likely to let you rest players more and reduce injury risks and that could be noticeable come the SB.

So the other teams were the 78 Steelers (we don't have DVOA), the 85 Bears, the 88 49ers and the 89 49ers.

1985 Bears had a regular season DVOA of 52.9% (1st), weighted 54.0% (1st)
21 - 0 over NYG 19.7% (4th) DVOA, 20.9% (6th)
24 - 0 over LAR 19.3% (5th) DVOA, 21.6% (5th)
46 - 10 over NE 17.5% (7th) DVOA, 22.0% (4th)

1988 49ers had a regular season DVOA of 26.0% (3rd), weighted 29.2% (2nd)
34 - 9 over MIN 27.4% (1st) DVOA, 31.8% (1st)
28 - 3 over CHI 14.1% (5th) DVOA, 13.9% (7th)
20 - 16 over CIN 27.3% (2nd) DVOA, 28.9% (3rd)

1989 49ers had a regular season DVOA of 37.2% (1st), weighted 42.8% (1st)
41 - 13 over MIN 21.0% (3rd) DVOA, 22.0% (2nd)
30 - 3 over LAR 19.0% (4th) DVOA, 21.3% (3rd)
55 - 10 over DEN 17.6% (5th) DVOA, 16.6% (6th)

2022 Eagles had a regular season DVOA of 25.2% (3rd), weighted 21.7% (5th)
38 - 7 over NYG -4.3% (21st) DVOA, 0.5% (18th)
31 - 7 over SF 27.6% (2nd) DVOA, 38.6% (1st)
?? - ?? against KC 23.0% (4th) DVOA, 29.7% (3rd)

So the Eagles do look a bit different than the other 3. Also SF is likely a a -5% DVOA team if Josh Johnson had to play a full season and probably a -15% DVOA team if injured Brok Purdy is the QB for the whole season. Yes even without a QB who can throw more than 5 yards I still think the talent on that roster and Shanahan with a full season could make a team that could still beat you given the right circumstances. They had arguably the easiest path of any of the other post season 21+ point victory teams too.

Minnesota did end up using 3 QBs in that 89 game with Kramer, Gannon, and Wilson but they all had bad days. I'll let Minnesota fans speak of that awful day more if they care to.

The 85 Bears are well the 85 Bears and were just clearly the better team than everyone in the league for the whole season. It didn't matter who they played in the post season.

The 89 49ers were also clearly the best team in the league all season (37.2% vs 24.0% for the #2 CLE team) though not quite as 85 Bears dominant. They also felt like a team that it just didn't matter who they played.

So the closest comp is the 88 49ers. Similar regular season DVOA's, Montana missed 3 starts, DVOA of their SB opponent was very close. That 88 SB was a famously close game. Take from that what you will. A close SB doesn't seem to be a crazy prediction (assuming 2 weeks of healing gets the KC roster back to closer to full strength).

Points: 5

#20 by DoubleB // Jan 30, 2023 - 8:20pm

Not sure what the DVOA of that Super Bowl was and pretty sure Cincy dominated special teams with the KO return for a TD, but SF outgained Cincy badly in that game. 

Boomer was just effin' awful in that game as well

Points: 1

#21 by HitchikersPie // Jan 31, 2023 - 7:53am

Just for the 1978 Steelers we don't have DVOA available, but there are very accurate historical estimates available here.


1978 Steelers had an estimated DVOA of 16.2% (2nd)

33-10 over DEN 14.4% E(DVOA)
34-5 over HOIL 4.7% E(DVOA)
35-31 over DAL 29.7% E(DVOA)

I think the Steelers might also be another instructive comparison, they dominated two inferior opponents, but the title game against a better opponent wound up being very close.

Points: 2

#5 by Pat // Jan 30, 2023 - 1:39pm

LOL, I love the headline. "Weighted DVOA favors the Chiefs."

Actual difference (without Minshew games): 0.7%. Or roughly 0.15 points. Weighted DVOA practically expects the game to end in a tie.

Bit surprised there wasn't more of a "this is the Xth closest Super Bowl in history" or something. I know obviously hand-removing games from previous years isn't something you can do easy, but if it really was 33.7% to 34.4%, that's gotta be pretty darn up there in terms of how close they are.

Points: 5

#7 by Will Allen // Jan 30, 2023 - 1:42pm

Weighted DVOA doesn't really capture the changing health profile of the two teams over the time period, especially the trends starting over the past 9 days. Unless the Eagles have bad injury luck during the game,  I suspect the Chiefs health is going to be a significant element of an Eagles victory.

Points: 11

#8 by halfjumpsuit // Jan 30, 2023 - 1:55pm

What's interesting about the Minshew games is that Philadelphia actually has a better passing offense if you consider Minshew's performance. He was pretty good in Week 16! 

No he was not. He had a standard issue overmatched-but-not-overwhelmed backup QB performance. A pretty good performance would have won that game.

Points: -6

#10 by rh1no // Jan 30, 2023 - 2:21pm

I think a healthy Kansas City squad should be able to handle Philadelphia.

Will this Kansas City squad be healthy by Super Bowl? 

Points: 4

#13 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 30, 2023 - 3:19pm

I think the distinction between "able to" and "likely to" is especially heavy here.

And on the other, we're still waiting to hear. Sneed's injury was a concussion, so let's assume (without certainty) that he'll be back. Gay looked OK after the game.

The rest (especially the receivers)....man, who knows? Hardman has been out with this hip/abdomen/pelvis thing half the season, so there isn't a lot of confidence. Toney is Toney....right this second, he's at some random point on a spectrum between "needs a nap" and "totally broken". 

JJSS might be the biggest wildcard, and the most relevant health impact one way or the other.

Points: 4

#12 by vrao81 // Jan 30, 2023 - 3:01pm

Forget DVOA..this game will be decided when refs throw flags.

Points: -2

#18 by mrh // Jan 30, 2023 - 5:20pm

If that is true, Chiefs fans know that having Carl Cheffers as ref does not bode well.

Points: 1

#14 by bochner // Jan 30, 2023 - 3:34pm

I made a Futures wager prior to the season on Eaglesat +1800.  Now I can get KC at +110 to hedge.  Thanks to Football  Outsiders early odds quotes in August.  That gave me Baltimore and Philadelphia.  NFL futures wagering is well worth a close look.  The yearbook also gave me good reason to wager on Tampa and G. Bay UNDER the absurd preseason totals,

Points: 5

#23 by Aaron Schatz // Jan 31, 2023 - 10:16am

I love this, glad to help, and I definitely think you should get the hedge.

Points: 1

#15 by Kaepernicus // Jan 30, 2023 - 3:55pm

This season for the 49ers will get filed away with the 1998 one as one that got away due to really unfortunate playoff injuries. That season could have ended in a super bowl if Garrison Hearst didn't go down against the Dirty Birds. Going from Hearst to Terry Kirby was about as bad as going from Purdy to Johnson at a less important position. The nice thing about these types of endings is they are really easy to get over. The hypothetical scenarios will be fun to think about in the future and the team will still be memorable without the ring given all of the insane changes at QB and the incredible play of a 7th round rookie at QB down the stretch.

The interior offensive line is very young and played much better than expected. Having another year playing together should lead to even better results. Demo Lenoir got much better as the year went and had 2 interceptions in the playoffs. Hufanga and Greenlaw took a step forward and are under contract for a few more years. Having $10 million worth of QBs for the next 2 years should allow the team to keep Aiyuk and Bosa for the next 4 years at least. CMC is locked up for another 3 years as well. Barring some really terrible reactionary moves by the FO this SB window seems like it is open for at least the next 2 seasons.

The biggest thing to monitor in the next 3 months is how fast the young QBs recover from their injuries. Seeing a true camp competition between Purdy and Lance should be fun. If Purdy wins the starting job and plays at the same level he did as a rookie it will create one of the best QB situations in the entire NFL. How many QB/salary combos would you actually take over top 5 DVOA and a $1 million cap hit? 

Points: 5

#19 by Chuckc // Jan 30, 2023 - 7:02pm

Given the reports on Purdy, I'm worried he won't be ready for training camp. I can't say it would derail the season given how late the team got going this year but it's definitely a setback

Points: 1

#22 by guest from Europe // Jan 31, 2023 - 9:17am

I keep thinking that this season is very similar to some of mid-90's seasons with 4-5 contenders in the league. Eagles are similar to 90's Cowboys with a dominant OL and Hurts in E. Smith role. Mahomes is the new Favre, MVP on a weaker overall team. SF with Shanahan offense and very good overall team similar to 90's Broncos. Bills are similar to 90's 49ers with top dual-threat QB and top DVOA team that finds ways to lose in the playoffs each year. I don't  know which 90's team are Bengals similar to (J. Kelly's Bills?). Other teams were just playing some games in the regular season.

The whole season was a bit boring, just waiting for games between those top teams. These conference finals games were disappointing due to injuries.

I thought Bengals and 49ers would win. I was wrong. For Super Bowl i would expect Eagles to march over to win like 90's Cowboys over the Packers. That would give that Eagles super O Line 2 Super Bowls compared to 3 for Cowboys.

Maybe the most boring season since 2016 or 2017 when Patriots wins felt inevitable.

Note: This is my first comment here. I started watching the NFL in 2007. 90's games i have watched only on youtube, playoffs full games. Usually i just read the articles and comments here.

Points: 4

#25 by dmstorm22 // Jan 31, 2023 - 10:55am


Not sure I share the overall sentiment of this being a truly boring season (though I agree 2016 definitely felt that way, even if the Super Bowl ended up really close).

I like the overall comparisons to the teams in the 90s.

That said, I think people are underrating the Chiefs here. To me this stacks up far more closely to the 2019 Super Bowl vs. SF than the 2020 one. I think people have visions of the Eagles doing to the Chiefs what the Bucs did, just overwhelming the offensive line. The Egales DL is certainly good enough to do that, but this Chiefs OL is way better than the unit that played in the Super Bowl two years ago.

Similarly, the Chiefs run game is better (granted, they have to show that - definitely didn't in the AFC Title Game). And I just hope Mahomes and at least JuJu are healthy for the Super Bowl.

Points: 0

#28 by guest from Europe // Jan 31, 2023 - 1:13pm

It just feels that there are 3-4 teams with the best rosters in a separate tier from everyone else. Before the season i thought the best teams would be Bills, 49ers, Ravens. Then in next tier KC, GB, LAR. (Eagles and Bengals are definitely surprising. However, is this the last game for Kelce and L. Johnson as Pat is writing? Is this the end of their run? Eagles are having the season i thought Ravens would have.) Next year it should be again Bills, 49ers, Chiefs. Apparently the loss of T. Hill isn't that important...

For example, a decade ago there were teams such as Vikings with A. Peterson, defensive teams in Steelers and Ravens, offensive teams in Saints, Packers and Falcons, RGIII in Washington, young teams in Seahawks and 49ers... all of them below the league overlords of P. Mannings team and Patriots, but there was a feeling that any of them could go on a run like 2011 and 2012 champs.

Recently it's just KC, SF, Buffalo and Brady's teams. Last year's playoffs were a pleasant exception.

I agree that the coming Super Bowl should be similar to 2019 one. I still don't understand how SF lost that lead at the end of the game.


Points: 0

#31 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:12pm

I still don't understand how SF lost that lead at the end of the game.

  1. They are coached by Kyle Shanahan. The scorpion stings because it is in his nature.
  2. Jimmy G still can't see lurking LBs.

Points: 0

#27 by KnotMe // Jan 31, 2023 - 12:40pm

Well, 2 of the best games of the season got ruined by injuries so that didn't help. 

Points: 0

#34 by TecmoBoso // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:20pm

I tend to agree about this year being boring. The NFC was very weak top to bottom and not all that interesting (unless you were an Eagles fan). The AFC was more interesting but a bit of a let down when we got to playoffs -- which might be me but compared to last year playoffs they weren't nearly as great imo (though Chagers/Jags was fun for all the wrong reasons). I think it was a bit of a transition year with Rodgers and Wilson being average to bad and Brady maybe aging. There wasn't really a fun up and coming team other than maybe the Jags and Dolphins -- but the Jags more fell into the playoffs thanks to injuries in Tennessee and Miami weren't nearly as interesting or fun after Tua went out.

Points: 1

#37 by dmb // Feb 02, 2023 - 5:09pm

The NFC was very weak top to bottom and not all that interesting (unless you were an Eagles fan).

I'm very much not an Eagles fan, and don't agree with this at all.

Regarding relative conference strength -- sure, the top team by DVOA came from the AFC, but the next two were NFC teams, as were 5 of the top 10. If you want to go by head-to-head interconference records, the NFC actually came out ahead of the AFC, 41-39. As for the "bottom" portion of the conferences, the two worst teams by DVOA hailed from the AFC South... though admittedly the next four were NFC squads.

As for the idea that an Eagles' Super Bowl appearance was a foregone conclusion -- it may have looked like that by overall record, but I thought the Cowboys and 49ers also had a real shot, at least up until Purdy was injured. DVOA seemed to back this as well.

I think the real difference between the conferences is that the top teams in the AFC are particularly QB-driven, while the top teams in the NFC are a bit less-so. That may mean the NFC teams have a tougher path to maintain long-term success, but says less about their ability to succeed in the short-term while they've assembled such strong supporting casts.

Points: 0

#26 by justthefactsisall // Jan 31, 2023 - 11:12am

Just curious, how much does Brett Kern's SkyCam wire punt impact the Eagles' -1% ST DVOA?

Points: 0

#29 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 31, 2023 - 2:46pm

I'm not buying the Chiefs as favorites. I think Tanier was pretty much right when he wrote that the Chiefs might have the best three players in the game (Mahomes, Kelce, Jones), but the Eagles have the edge everywhere else. Unfortunately for Kansas City:

  1. Mahomes is injured, and that's a bad place to be when you're facing the team that's not just leading the league in sacks, but closing in on an all-time record.
  2. Kelce is just one guy; the Eagles' CBs are more than capable of shutting down KC's receivers, some of whom might still be banged up in two weeks.
  3. Jones is going to be neutralized, in whole or in part, by the league's best offensive line.

So two of Kansas City's three biggest advantages could very well be minimized because the opponent matches up well with them. On the flip side, does Kansas City stop the run well? No. Do they do well against mobile quarterbacks? Not as far as I've seen. Do they have any CB capable of going one-on-one with AJ Brown, or a CB2 capable of sitting on an island against DeVonta Smith if they decide to double Brown most of the day? Sure doesn't look like it. So I'm not liking their chances, and I certainly wouldn't consider them a favorite, slight or otherwise.

Points: 1

#33 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:18pm

I think it's possible KC's DBs can at least contain Brown/Smith, at least to the level they contained Chase/Higgins.

I think it's possible they can contain Goedert, because they are used to practicing against Kelce. 

Kelce, oddly, isn't a huge advantage, because of Goedert. Goedert was more efficient and the volume difference is mostly to his games injured after Washington tried to decapitate him.

I can even see their interior line slowing the Eagles' RBs.

The question is: can they do all three of the above things at the same time (only Indy could), while also containing Hurts (here's where Indy failed)? SF took away Goedert, and alternated focusing on WRs or RBs, and Philly basically chose whatever they ignored.

Points: 0

#30 by TecmoBoso // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:06pm

I'm surprised the Eagles offensive DVOA is so high for the Conference Championship game considering how low their yards per play was. But no turnovers sure helps!

Points: 0

#32 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:14pm

DVOA likes it if you can stay on schedule and grind first downs.

Points: 1

#35 by hudc33a // Jan 31, 2023 - 8:14pm

How does DVOA handle when a team closes down their attack to shorten the game once they have the lead?

If you watch the Eagles this year, you see many games where there stop attacking for points to drain clock. They did it in both both playoff games where their intentions were clear- every snap is taken down to under 5 seconds on the play clock. Could they score more points? Yes. They instead chose to limit their opponent possessions with first downs.

If the Eagles are in front by two possessions in the 4th qt of the Super Bowl, they will grind the clock with their formidable offensive line. There will be no Kyle Shanahan mistakes of using tempo while in front like he did in the Falcons vs Patriots Super Bowl and the Chiefs victory over the 49ers Super Bowl.

Points: 1

#36 by sk57 // Feb 01, 2023 - 7:59pm

Weighted DVOA knows nothing about Cheffers, Chiefs, and Foot Locker.  This is likely to be Footlocker Bowl II.

Points: 0

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