DVOA Analysis
Football Outsiders' revolutionary metrics that break down every single play of the NFL season

Week 15 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The Los Angeles Chargers may have won DVOA Bowl XIX last Thursday night, but it was surprisingly the Kansas City Chiefs who ended up with a higher rating from the game, so the No. 1 Chiefs open up a slightly wider margin over the No. 2 Chargers this week. After those two AFC West squads come the New Orleans Saints at No. 3, passing the Los Angeles Rams at No. 4, and then the Chicago Bears at No. 5.

The Saints moved up nearly two percentage points in total DVOA this week even though their offense struggled once again on Monday night. The Saints and Rams have both been going through some problems on the offensive side of the ball in the month of December. The Rams are averaging 19.9 points in their last three games, the Saints just 16.7 points. Check out this table of the top offenses in the league through Week 12 and what's happened to them in the three weeks since:

Offense DVOA
Wk 1-12
Rk DVOA
Wk 13-15
Rk
KC 39.1% 1 27.0% 1
LAR 31.8% 2 -18.8% 26
LAC 27.8% 3 15.4% 3
NO 26.5% 4 -19.7% 28

Both the Saints and Rams have somewhat made this up on the defensive side of the ball, but the Saints have done so much more than the Rams have. The Rams' defensive DVOA has improved to -11.5% over these three games, but the Saints' defensive DVOA is -23.4% over the last three games. Over the last six games, the Saints have defensive DVOA of -26.9%, second only behind Chicago.

The Rams and Saints have been just the two most obvious examples of a strong trend that started at the beginning of the month, back in Week 13. Remember that historic level of offense we were seeing for the first three months of the season? It's gone away in the month of December. This has affected most of the offenses in the league, even the teams that have continued to have top offenses in December. From the table above, you can see that the Chiefs and Chargers remained No. 1 and No. 3 in offense. But notice that their offensive DVOA still dropped, even if their ranks stayed the same. (If you're curious which team has been second in offensive DVOA since Week 13, it's the New England Patriots, despite going 1-2 in those games.)

December's Offensive Decline, 2018
  DVOA Suc Rate Yd/Play
Weeks 1-12 1.7% 44.6% 5.82
Weeks 13-15 -6.1% 42.8% 5.34
Full Season 0.0% 44.2% 5.71

So you're probably asking, what's the reason why defenses have been playing better in December? Does this have anything to do with the weather? Could it be because players are dealing with more injuries and fatigue by this point in the season?

Going back over past years, the answer appears to be yes. I looked at the past eight years and in six of them, the league as a whole had a lower DVOA in Weeks 13-17 compared to Weeks 1-12. So far this year's difference is a lot larger than it usually is. I'm guessing that's just random variation, and offense will improve in the next two weeks so that the gap between Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-17 is closer to what we usually see.

December's Offensive Decline, 2011-2018
  2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
League DVOA Wk 1-12 1.7% 0.4% 1.1% 0.1% 1.6% 0.0% 0.3% -0.7%
League DVOA Wk 13-17 -6.1% -0.8% -2.5% -0.3% -3.7% 0.0% -0.8% 1.6%
Yd/Play Wk 1-12 5.82 5.40 5.61 5.60 5.57 5.47 5.55 5.55
Yd/Play Wk 13-17 5.34 5.30 5.48 5.53 5.47 5.44 5.42 5.60

Back to the topic of the New Orleans Saints: Week 15 is the first week of the season where one of this year's games falls completely out of the weighted DVOA formula. Weighted DVOA no longer counts Week 1, and the Saints' 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay was their second-worst game of the year by DVOA. (The worst was the loss to Dallas in Week 13.) The Saints also had a nice 40.9% DVOA for their win over Carolina. Add that in, take out Week 1 entirely, and the Saints have passed the Los Angeles Chargers for No. 2 in weighted DVOA.

Combine New Orleans' rise in weighted DVOA with the recent fall of the Rams -- along with the small chance that the Chargers will knock the Chiefs out of a division title -- and the Saints have now taken over from Kansas City as our Super Bowl favorites. They win the Lombardi Trophy in 28.1 percent of our simulations.

The Saints are one of three teams that now have weighted DVOA that is 7.0% higher than their total DVOA. The others are Buffalo and Detroit; both teams have been generally better in recent weeks but they also now have their horrific Week 1 offensive performances wiped out of the weighted ratings. Cleveland, Tennessee, and Indianapolis are also significantly better by weighted DVOA (6.0% difference, or close to it).

On the other side, the team that stands out for decline in the second half of the season is the Miami Dolphins. Miami is at -10.5% in total DVOA (24th) but -19.4% in weighted DVOA (28th). Other teams that have faded in the second half include the Jets, Bengals, and Redskins. No surprise that all four teams have dealt with starting quarterback injuries, and yes, that includes the Jets. Josh McCown has lower passing DVOA than Sam Darnold this season.

One other team that deserves mention for improvement, even though it's only been on one side of the ball: Cleveland. The Browns are 25th in offensive DVOA at -7.0% but they move up to 14th in weighted offensive DVOA at 1.8%. Since they fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley before Week 9, the Browns rank fourth in the league with 18.2% offensive DVOA, behind the Chiefs, Chargers, and Steelers. Over that same period, only Patrick Mahomes (38.9%) has a higher passing DVOA than Baker Mayfield (36.0%).

The second biggest offensive improvement since the early part of the season belongs to the Buffalo Bills. Remember when we were tracking whether the Bills would end up with the worst offensive DVOA of all-time? Since their bye week in Week 10, the Bills rank 19th in the league with -3.6% offensive DVOA. And they're now off the "12 worst offensive DVOA through X games" list.

The same can't be said for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were so bad against Atlanta that they actually benched Josh Rosen and brought in Mike Glennon. Arizona's -103.0% offensive DVOA against Atlanta was its worst single game of the year, and the worst offensive game any team has had since Buffalo and Detroit got smacked down back in Week 1. Arizona's offensive rating falls from -38.8% to -42.5% this week, but that's still not enough to drop them to the bottom of the list of worst offenses in DVOA history:

BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 14 GAMES, 1986-2018
  WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 14 GAMES, 1986-2018
Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 44.3% x 2005 SF -46.0%
2010 NE 43.9% x 1992 SEA -45.7%
2002 KC 38.7% x 2002 HOU -44.7%
2004 IND 36.9% x 2018 ARI -42.5%
1988 CIN 36.4% x 1997 NO -40.3%
2003 KC 36.2% x 2004 CHI -38.5%
1998 DEN 36.2% x 2010 CAR -37.1%
2018 KC 36.2% x 2006 OAK -37.1%
2012 NE 34.9% x 2010 ARI -34.9%
1993 SF 34.5% x 2000 CLE -33.4%
1992 SF 34.4% x 2008 STL -33.2%
2004 KC 33.6% x 1992 IND -33.2%

Finally, I have to give an important caveat that always comes up when I talk about weighted DVOA late in the year. Weighted DVOA helps us tell the story of how a team's season has gone, and helps us as a guide to how well teams have played in recent weeks. However, except when it's clearly related to major injuries, weighted DVOA doesn't actually predict playoff results any better than full-season DVOA. Trying to create a weighted DVOA that does a better job of predicting the postseason is one of those things we're always working on (or trying to find time to work on) but it's still best to take the long view of how a team has played. Even weighted DVOA takes a long view, including 14 weeks of data with the last eight weeks at nearly full strength.

* * * * *

Playoff odds are currently updated through Week 15, as well as the FO Premium DVOA database and snap counts.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 15 weeks of 2018, 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 to 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>

RK TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEI.
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 KC 34.2% 1 31.5% 1 11-3 36.2% 1 7.5% 27 5.6% 2
2 LAC 24.8% 2 28.0% 3 11-3 24.9% 2 -4.0% 12 -4.2% 29
3 NO 23.6% 4 30.6% 2 12-2 16.6% 4 -5.0% 8 2.0% 9
4 LAR 22.5% 3 17.4% 5 11-3 21.4% 3 -1.0% 14 0.0% 15
5 CHI 17.7% 5 20.6% 4 10-4 -5.6% 23 -25.6% 1 -2.3% 26
6 BAL 16.8% 6 14.9% 8 8-6 0.6% 14 -12.9% 2 3.3% 6
7 DEN 13.0% 7 15.5% 7 6-8 4.2% 13 -10.5% 4 -1.6% 23
8 PIT 11.1% 9 13.4% 10 8-5-1 16.1% 5 0.5% 17 -4.5% 32
9 NE 10.8% 10 14.5% 9 9-5 14.3% 6 3.2% 21 -0.3% 18
10 IND 9.8% 11 15.7% 6 8-6 4.9% 12 -4.5% 11 0.4% 13
11 SEA 7.7% 8 7.1% 12 8-6 8.2% 8 1.6% 19 1.0% 11
12 MIN 5.7% 16 10.3% 11 7-6-1 -0.8% 16 -8.6% 6 -2.0% 25
13 GB 5.4% 12 7.0% 13 5-8-1 13.4% 7 6.3% 24 -1.7% 24
14 HOU 4.6% 13 4.6% 14 10-4 -4.5% 21 -5.3% 7 3.9% 5
15 CAR 1.0% 15 -1.2% 19 6-8 8.2% 9 6.4% 25 -0.8% 19
16 NYG -1.0% 14 4.4% 15 5-9 -1.7% 17 3.3% 22 4.0% 4
17 PHI -2.6% 20 -1.0% 18 7-7 -0.8% 15 2.4% 20 0.5% 12
18 JAX -4.2% 18 -6.9% 22 4-10 -17.9% 29 -8.6% 5 5.1% 3
19 TEN -5.0% 21 1.0% 16 8-6 -6.8% 24 -1.8% 13 -0.1% 17
20 DAL -5.2% 17 -3.4% 21 8-6 -8.8% 26 -4.9% 9 -1.3% 21
21 ATL -5.7% 22 -3.4% 20 5-9 8.1% 10 15.1% 32 1.3% 10
22 CLE -6.1% 23 0.0% 17 6-7-1 -7.0% 25 -4.7% 10 -3.9% 28
23 CIN -7.4% 24 -13.1% 23 6-8 -1.9% 18 7.8% 28 2.4% 7
24 MIA -10.5% 19 -19.4% 28 7-7 -4.0% 19 6.4% 26 0.0% 16
25 TB -13.4% 25 -15.4% 25 5-9 4.9% 11 13.8% 29 -4.4% 31
26 NYJ -14.2% 27 -20.3% 29 4-10 -20.8% 30 0.3% 16 6.9% 1
27 WAS -15.7% 26 -21.4% 30 7-7 -17.2% 28 0.8% 18 2.3% 8
28 SF -19.1% 30 -18.5% 27 4-10 -14.5% 27 3.7% 23 -0.9% 20
29 DET -20.8% 28 -13.9% 24 5-9 -5.2% 22 14.2% 31 -1.4% 22
30 OAK -22.3% 29 -21.9% 31 3-11 -4.2% 20 13.9% 30 -4.3% 30
31 BUF -23.2% 31 -16.1% 26 5-9 -30.2% 31 -10.8% 3 -3.8% 27
32 ARI -42.3% 32 -43.4% 32 3-11 -42.5% 32 0.1% 15 0.4% 14
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).
RK TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 KC 34.2% 11-3 32.5% 11.7 1 2.5% 7 -7.3% 28 10.9% 10
2 LAC 24.8% 11-3 27.4% 9.9 4 -1.8% 19 14.9% 4 7.3% 2
3 NO 23.6% 12-2 25.1% 10.1 3 -2.2% 22 6.1% 9 10.5% 8
4 LAR 22.5% 11-3 24.2% 10.8 2 2.3% 8 -30.7% 32 8.1% 5
5 CHI 17.7% 10-4 22.0% 9.0 6 -6.3% 31 -6.7% 26 13.2% 15
6 BAL 16.8% 8-6 14.8% 9.5 5 0.3% 14 9.3% 5 15.0% 20
7 DEN 13.0% 6-8 14.8% 8.7 7 3.2% 5 1.2% 14 14.5% 17
8 PIT 11.1% 8-5-1 8.9% 7.8 12 3.7% 4 8.1% 7 14.1% 16
9 NE 10.8% 9-5 10.6% 8.4 9 0.0% 15 -18.7% 31 14.6% 19
10 IND 9.8% 8-6 17.2% 8.4 8 -6.7% 32 -3.0% 19 14.5% 18
11 SEA 7.7% 8-6 10.2% 7.9 11 -1.2% 17 -4.0% 22 9.8% 6
12 MIN 5.7% 7-6-1 4.1% 7.5 14 -2.8% 25 -1.6% 16 10.4% 7
13 GB 5.4% 5-8-1 2.6% 8.1 10 -3.5% 30 -17.5% 30 11.2% 11
14 HOU 4.6% 10-4 9.8% 7.8 13 -3.3% 29 -3.4% 20 6.0% 1
15 CAR 1.0% 6-8 6.1% 6.9 15 -2.3% 23 8.9% 6 16.7% 24
16 NYG -1.0% 5-9 -0.6% 6.8 18 -3.0% 27 2.3% 13 17.2% 26
17 PHI -2.6% 7-7 -3.5% 6.7 19 0.4% 13 -5.5% 24 12.3% 13
18 JAX -4.2% 4-10 -6.8% 5.5 24 0.6% 11 -2.9% 17 8.0% 4
19 TEN -5.0% 8-6 -3.1% 6.8 17 0.4% 12 -3.0% 18 20.9% 31
20 DAL -5.2% 8-6 -2.1% 6.1 21 -1.9% 21 -7.2% 27 10.9% 9
21 ATL -5.7% 5-9 -4.5% 6.0 22 -0.9% 16 -6.2% 25 8.0% 3
22 CLE -6.1% 6-7-1 -4.0% 6.3 20 5.5% 3 4.7% 11 11.8% 12
23 CIN -7.4% 6-8 -11.5% 6.8 16 6.6% 1 2.5% 12 17.6% 27
24 MIA -10.5% 7-7 -12.3% 5.3 25 -3.0% 28 -13.7% 29 19.6% 29
25 TB -13.4% 5-9 -16.6% 4.9 28 2.7% 6 -5.5% 23 13.1% 14
26 NYJ -14.2% 4-10 -15.2% 4.9 27 -3.0% 26 8.1% 8 20.1% 30
27 WAS -15.7% 7-7 -10.9% 5.7 23 -2.6% 24 -3.8% 21 16.9% 25
28 SF -19.1% 4-10 -19.7% 4.6 30 -1.5% 18 20.1% 2 17.6% 28
29 DET -20.8% 5-9 -19.1% 4.8 29 -1.9% 20 5.6% 10 16.5% 23
30 OAK -22.3% 3-11 -28.2% 3.8 31 5.7% 2 23.6% 1 16.1% 22
31 BUF -23.2% 5-9 -26.9% 5.2 26 1.9% 10 0.2% 15 23.8% 32
32 ARI -42.3% 3-11 -40.3% 2.1 32 2.0% 9 15.1% 3 15.7% 21

Comments

83 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2018, 1:21pm

1 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I've been on the Bears hype train since early on, and I definitely see the other NFC teams as vulnerable, but of the consensus top 5 teams in the NFL (NFC top 3, AFC West top 2) they're the only one with two below average units in this table. If Mitch can stay healthy and just try to be at least consistently mediocre ("manage the game," if you will), this team can beat anybody. If not, they can lose to anybody.

The entire NFC might be one giant pile of any given sunday. No idea who wins anything anywhere.

4 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

The entire NFC might be one giant pile of any given sunday. No idea who wins anything anywhere.

I actually feel that way about both conferences. I was thinking today about how absurdly wide-open this Super Bowl race is going to be. Usually by now there are three or four teams that have separated themselves as favorites. This year? There are nine or ten teams that if you told me they were going to win the Super Bowl, I wouldn't blink an eye.

6 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Seattle and Houston, maybe.

Mixing DVOA and eye-test, I would currently have these tiers:

Saints-Chiefs

Rams-Bears-Chargers

Steelers-Pats

Houston (don't trust BOB)-Seattle-Ravens.

---

But first, let me look at the HFA through the definitive playoff picture.

7 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

What you want to look for are teams which had a change in the last 5-6 weeks that yields large improvements. I always think of the 2007 Giants, who had terrific defensive front personnel get healthy, and the 2012 Ravens, who had a left ot get in shape, finally, leading to improvement at 3 spots on the o-line, when two other players changed spots to make way for Mnkinnie getting of the couch.

Is there a team like that? I dunno, the narure of this is that it is unpredictable.

10 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, that is another one. Dallas, with Amari Cooper becoming a good player again at least vaguely fits, but that's a poorly coached offense, so I don't think so. If an improvement in offensive coordinators can make a big difference immediately, the Vikings certainly have a championship worthy defense, but I don't know if the play calling and better game plan installation is going to result in better blocks. I will say that if their holder and kicker could manage to have a good month, what looks like a 8 or 9 win team could look like a 10 or 12 win team, and if you made a nontrivial improvement to offensive efficiency to that, you are looking at a team that could win playoff games. All in all, I ain't buyin' it.

34 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Will:
I don't know if this would fit your context either, but the Saints should get their left tackle Terron Armstead back either this week or next after missing the last several weeks (injured during the Bengals game). He was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time this year. His replacement, Jermon Bushrod, went out during the MNF game too. While Bushrod has been adequate, he is on the downside of his career.
IMO, the Saints struggles against DAL, TAM, and CAR all have to do w/OL issues--more sacks and hurries/pressures, which has led to more incompletes/INTS; in the run game, it is manifested in more stuffs, shorter gains, and holding penalties. All these negatives have resulted in unfavorable down/distance scenarios which affect all teams (last 2 LAR games a major example of this, too).
Now, we will see whether C Max Unger's injury is serious enough to complicate the OL situation going forward for the Saints. But as in your Ravens' example, an "upgrade" at LT may have other intangible benefits to other spots on the OL and blocking schemes in general.

I know I am a Saints homer (and have been since '81), but if they secure HFA, the only thing that their opponents will like is the predictable weather inside the Dome.

50 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I am quite hopeful, obviously.
I just don't know if I want either of the CHI or LAR D-lines coming to the Dome w/ a Super Bowl berth on the line, considering the O-line injuries I referenced in the above post. If the Saints O-line is back to health, I would feel better about it. Let's see how they do these next two weeks against PIT & CAR--both will give them a good test.

45 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I thought that would spark a significant improvement in their defense, and thus team strength, but it has occurred while the offrnsive line and Goff have declined. I don't quite know what to think of them ay this point.

47 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

His interception to start the fourth quarter on Sunday night almost ended up being the play that saved the game for the Rams. If the punt returner doesn't fumble (without being touched!), the Rams probably win that game.

Of course, the Rams should never have even been in that situation with Philadelphia.

14 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Even Jackson's strides aside, Baltimore plays an entirely different style under Jackson than it did under Flacco.

As much as we disparage TOP, holding the ball for 38 minutes a game limits how many possessions the opposing team has to pull away, and if I need to rely on dueling kickers, that's a fight that favors Baltimore.

16 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Jackson has yet to face anything resembling a good defense. Seriously, take a look at the defenses he's faced so far. I would think there's a far higher probability he declines than improves from hereon out.

17 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I cannot see Lamar Jackson winning two playoff games, much less three.

Besides, they'll almost certainly miss the tourney. They have to beat the Chargers on the road and get lucky breaks elsewhere. Their recent run of success includes wins over the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons, and Bucs. Both of their last two opponents (Chargers, Browns) are tougher than that.

24 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Sure, that's easily the way to bet, but young players suddenly making large improvements, at a critical position, is common enough to not be shocking. Any team with excellent pass rushers like Houston, and a young qb who has always been a winner (in the real sense, not the RINGZ blather) at every level, has a decent chance. From the day Watson utterly destroyed the closest thing college football has to an NFL defense for the 2nd consecutive time, I've thought he should have been a top 3 pick, and while Mahomes looks like the brightest qb star now from that draft, as a Vikings fan I'm really happy the Bears passed on Watson to take Trubisky. Yeah, Houston can beat anybody.

59 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I actually think the Texans are the opposite of a team who can beat anybody. They're a team who absolutely will, with as near to certainty as exists in the NFL, beat any opponent whose offense relies on the run game. If they somehow end up playing the Ravens, bet the farm on the Texans to win outright, regardless of the odds. But as good as the pass rush is, the secondary is so bad that good quarterbacks with the tools and targets to throw downfield will take them apart every single time, and the offense isn't able to keep up with that. How much of that second problem is about O'Brien's excessive conservatism and how much is about the questionable (though improved) offensive line is debatable.

66 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

The Texans strike me as a slightly lesser version of the Bears.

The Bears defense is better, probably across the board (even though the Texans have a good defense themselves). The biggest thing, as you note, is the Texans have a big weakness on defense, while the Bears don't.

Offensively, the Texans are a little better than the Bears, but still negative overall. Both have young, fairly inconsistent QBs. Watson's floor is higher than Trubisky's floor, for sure.

The Bears are a longshot for a bye, so the Texans are probably a better bet to get to the Super Bowl, though.

25 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I don't know why you think they'll 'certainly miss the tourney'. All they have to do is beat the Chargers and Browns. If they finish 10-6, they get in, either as the #6 seed or the Division winner.

Yes, beating the Chargers is not easy, but not impossible.

I do agree that this 1920s run offense is not too sustainable, especially if its against Houston and their #2 rush defense DVOA. New England at #3 becomes a bit easier (21st in run defense DVOA, including some notable stinkers recently).

79 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Yeah they need to win out OR get breaks, not both. I honestly thought the Colts were going to be a team that made that list of teams that started bad but got it together down the stretch and could make the Super Bowl, but that egg against Jacksonville was a head scratcher and now they very well might not even make the playoffs.

13 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

The way the Saints defense has come on in recent weeks, I still have them reasonably strong favorites against any of the other teams at the Superdome. I would fear for Trubisky, Prescott, or the current incarnation of Goff, in that environment.

The slip in Brees' level is a concern for sure, but he's going to get 2, possibly 3 weeks rest. He (and Payton) just need to understand that he doesn't have to play at MVP level in order for them to win.

The Vikings are potentially dangerous, but it's still hard to see enough offensive improvement for them to win on the road against good defenses. Dallas' offense just isn't good enough.

Seattle could spring a surprise or two, if Wilson is allowed to turn it loose.

15 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

If New Orleans is going to keep putting up 12 points a game, it doesn't take much sustained offense to beat them.

Hell, failing to cover a single deep out might be sufficient.

19 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Yes, it's a concern for sure. But unless Brees has suddenly morphed into final-season Peyton Manning I think it is reasonable to expect them, at home, after 2/3 weeks rest, to at least perform like an average offense again. They shouldn't need to score 30 to beat the Bears or the Cowboys.

30 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

The Saints offense has had a rough couple of weeks, but it's the same basic team that's scored 40 or more six times this season. It's more likely that this is just a blip rather than a new level of ability, especially when you realize their last three games have been on the road, and they'll likely be in the Dome all the way through the playoffs.

57 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Re: the Saints road vs. home: By what measure? This year's record? If so, it's only b/c they have already played all their road games.
Point differential has them at +84 in six home games (+14/game), + 83 in 8 away games (+10.4/game). There is one big blowout and one loss in both of those groups--and I foresee that point differential increasing after these last 2 home games, unless they sit a lot of people in week 17.

40 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Not impossible that Brees suddenly morphed into final-season Manning.

It looks like Manning's decline actually began in late November/early December of his next-to-last season.

The end often comes fast for these guys, and Brees is a year older than Manning was. After throwing 1 interception in the first 10 games, Brees has now thrown one in each of his last 4 games.

He had been averaging 10.2 AY/A while completing 77% of his passes. In the past 4 games that has fallen to 5.5 AY/A and 69%.

33 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Brees needs protection given how much he relies on timing. When you're down to backup OL, you can get away with it at home (where the OL has a huge advantage), but not on the road.

Even without Armstead, the Saints have averaged 40 PPG at home. But then they went on the road w/o Armstead (and Peat, btw, is a low-end starter even at LG), and that's when the left side of that line got exposed.

Three straight road games without 1/2 of the OL was a disaster waiting to happen. Saints survived the storm, and now they won't have to leave the Superdome again unless the make the Super Bowl.

32 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I think CHI's being immensely overrated by people. They're playing the 49ers this week, and the 49ers (a team in the hunt for the #1 pick) have a better record at home than the Bears do on the road (4-3 vs. 3-3). Moreover, the Bears have compiled that .500 road record despite not playing a single team with a winning record (the only .500 team they've played on the road was the 7-7 Dolphins, a game they lost).

The Bears have played the easiest schedule in the NFL, including two extra home games at this point. They're also a .500 road team (against all losing teams) that's probably going to have to play the two best NFC teams on the road in the playoffs.

56 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Counterpoint: Their three road losses are Aaron Rodgers at home before the wheels fell off for the Packers, a game where Khalil Mack was injured early and wasn't able to perform, and in New York with a backup QB who completely shit the bed.

I do worry about Trubisky and his ability to play well in prime time, but I don't think any one of those games has as much predictive power as you say.

69 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

And as bad as they played in those losses, it's completely plausible that they all could have been wins. If Kyle Fuller holds on to an easy interception at the end of the Packers game, the Bears win. If Cody Parkey hits a FG in overtime (or if Nagy plays more aggressively to get him closer than 51 yards for the try), the Bears beat the Dolphins. Even the disastrous Chase Daniel game in NY could have played out quite a bit differently. The Bears could've opted to go for 2 rather than send the game for overtime - even with Daniel, that's gotta be a 40%+ shot to convert and win. I also think that had they won the coin toss there's a good chance they score a TD on the first drive.

All of that said, it doesn't change the legitimate criticisms of the way the Bears played in those games. I just think it's a much more plausible argument that they can't win on the road if those three losses had been no-doubt-about-the-outcome blowouts with fewer mitigating factors. I basically throw out the Giants game in terms of making any predictions about the team (except, of course, that had they won it they'd be holding onto the 2 seed...sigh).

12 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I just can't compute this "Houston having good special teams" thing. I spent so long with their ST being a dumpster fire.

78 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Not really. Since 1990, there have been seven 12-4 teams that lost a home game in the divisional round (link). There have been sixteen 13-3 teams, though the Texans can't get to that record (link).

60 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

The strengths are real, but the weaknesses (offensive line and secondary) are just too severe to overcome against playoff opposition. The Texans are an above-average team who played a soft schedule and got a few breaks.

20 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

I am rooting for the old (and virile!) warhorse Phillip Rivers to help take the Chargers to the promised land.

21 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

It may sound weird, but I really think Rivers has been in good measure unappreciated throughout his now very long career. The guy has been great, and like all the really great ones, he's just a hard-nosed sumbitch, even if he doesn't employ such language. Entertaining as hell.

28 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Agreed. I made a "hot take" statement on my personal FB page the other week before the Chargers-Steelers game that I would take Rivers over both Ben and Eli and their 4 combined rings. I got pretty slammed by the few football fans I'm friends with, but it was fun to start the discussion. You gotta be a true "ringzzz" counter to think Eli is better than Rivers.

31 Re: Week 15 DVOA Ratings

Archie really gave his 3rd eldest son terrific career management counsel. If he had landed with the Spanos family, it may have been a disaster, even with Schotty around for a while to mitigate things. Rivers really overcame crappy ownership, which is hard to do.