Week 7 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
A week with some big blowouts leads to some big moves up and down in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. But since two of those blowout winners were already on top of our ratings, we have the same top two as we did a week ago: Kansas City at No. 1 and the Los Angeles Rams right behind them at No. 2. And with Chicago losing to New England and dropping to No. 6, we're back to having a huge gap at the top of the DVOA ratings, this time between the top two teams and everyone else. Right now, the gap between the Rams and the No. 3 Los Angeles Chargers is roughly equal to the gap between the Chargers and the No. 13 Houston Texans.
The biggest riser in this week's ratings is the Denver Broncos, who move all the way up from No. 13 last week to No. 5 this week after their Thursday night 45-10 dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals. I'm going to guess that this rank seems a bit too high to all of our readers. You probably won't find the Broncos anywhere No. 5 in any power rankings anywhere else on the Internet. You probably won't even find the Broncos in the top ten. It certainly seems like the DVOA system is substantially overreacting to one huge win over a very bad team. But a closer look at Denver's schedule does a lot to explain why DVOA likes them so much. The Broncos' past schedule currently ranks sixth in the NFL. They lost to the Chiefs and the Rams, the two best teams in the NFL, by a combined seven points.
Let's go through the schedule and see if we can figure out how Denver ended up so high. The opponents here are listed with their current DVOA rank.
Week 1: 27-24 win over Seattle (10) with 49.4% DVOA. The DVOA rating seems a bit high for the final score, even considering that Seattle is an above-average opponent, but the Broncos outgained the Seahawks 470 yards to 306 yards (6.5 yards per play vs. 5.6 yards per play).
Week 2: 20-19 win over Oakland (29) with -31.0% DVOA. When you have a very close win over a very bad team, you should have a bad DVOA rating, and the Broncos do here.
Week 3: 27-14 loss to Baltimore (4) with -4.2% DVOA. DVOA is a little closer than expected, but that's not a strange rating for a loss to a top opponent. The Broncos had a couple of significant drives that didn't result in points. One had 63 yards of offensive gains but lost 30 yards to penalties; the other came in the final quarter and stalled out on fourth-and-6 from the Baltimore 11.
Week 4: 27-23 loss to Kansas City (1) with 24.3% DVOA. Denver had a larger average gain than the best offense in football, 6.5 yards per play vs. 6.2 yards per play, but also had the game's only turnover. It's a blown 23-13 lead, but DVOA doesn't penalize Denver for poor clutch play.
Week 5: 34-16 loss to New York Jets (20) with -12.3% DVOA. This is probably Denver's most surprising single-game rating, especially since they recovered all three of the fumbles in this game and were outgained, 8.4 yards per play to 6.1 yards per play. I think in part what we're seeing here is DVOA's preference for steady mid-length gains over big plays, because big plays that go the length of the field are less predictive than constant gains. The Jets got two touchdowns off a 77-yard Isaiah Crowell run and a 76-yard Robby Anderson catch.
Week 6: 23-20 loss to Los Angeles Rams (2) with 26.3% DVOA. Here's another close game against one of the two top teams in the league, so the Broncos get a good rating for it.
Week 7: 45-10 win over Arizona (31) with 87.1% DVOA. The biggest blowout of the week by DVOA.
There is one other variable involved here, and that is that four of these seven games were at home. I've never been able to get a home/away adjustment into DVOA in a way that worked and increased correlation with future performance, but of course it matters. So if we had an adjustment, Denver's rating would be a little bit lower. The Broncos would probably be sixth instead of fifth. Still higher than conventional wisdom. I'll say the same thing about Denver's rating that I usually say when we have a team that's unexpectedly high: this rating may be a bit too high, but it's probably a good sign that this team is being underrated by conventional statistics.
Denver is one of six teams this week that move up or down at least five spots in the DVOA rankings. The others?
Moving up: Houston (from 18 to 13), Indianapolis (from 19 to 14), and Minnesota (from 21 to 16).
Moving down: Cincinnati (from 12 to 22) and Miami (from 6 to 11).
Of course, just like the Chiefs and Rams can move up in DVOA but can't move up in rank from No. 1 and No. 2, so too the Cardinals and Bills can move down in DVOA but can't move down in rank from No. 31 and No. 32. And boy oh boy, did the Cardinals and Bills move down this week. Buffalo's total DVOA dropped from -36.5% to -43.5%. Arizona's dropped even more, from -26.2% to -36.6%.
In particular, Arizona plummeted on offense, from -31.3% to -39.9%. That puts the Cardinals into rare territory as one of the ten worst offenses we've ever tracked through seven games. But the Cardinals still can't even come close to the impotence of the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo's offensive DVOA stayed relatively constant after the Indianapolis blowout, going from -53.4% to -53.2%. But most of the worst offenses we've ever tracked weren't staying constant around Week 7 -- they were starting to come back from their horrendous starts, slowly improving their ratings.
Which means that the 2018 Buffalo Bills are now the worst offense in DVOA history, at least through seven games.
|BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 7 GAMES, 1986-2018
|WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH 7 GAMES, 1986-2018
This is the lowest that any offense has ever been this late in the season. There's only one other time that any offense has been below -50% after Week 6: in 2005, the San Francisco 49ers fell to -53.0% for one week after they gained only 299 total yards in their Week 9 and Week 10 losses. They bounced back up above the -50% line the following week.
On the positive side, you'll notice that Kansas City's big win over Cincinnati bumped the Chiefs back into the all-time offensive top ten. However, the Chiefs had their worst special teams of the year (-7.9% DVOA) in this game so their special teams narrowly dropped out of the all-time top ten.
One other interesting trend to note: With last week's top defenses all giving up at least 24 points this weekend, the defensive DVOA ratings have become extremely tight. Chicago is still the No. 1 defense, but they climbed from -21.2% to -15.8%. Cleveland is now No. 2 at -14.5% with Baltimore dropping to third at -14.0%. This is the worst the top defenses have ever been in DVOA history. Previously, the year with the least impressive No. 1 defense after Week 7 was 2003, when the Dallas Cowboys were No. 1 at -17.0%. This is only the third time in DVOA history that the No. 1 defense after Week 7 isn't better than -20%.
On the other side, Tampa Bay is about average historically for the worst defense in the league at this point. The Bucs are no longer among the worst defenses we've ever tracked.
* * * * *
Stats pages should now be updated through Week 7, including playoff odds, the FO Premium DVOA database and snap counts.
* * * * *
These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through seven 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.
Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 70 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 20 percent of DAVE for most teams (30 percent for teams with just six games played).
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>
- 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).
45 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2018, 11:53am
#1 by Drunken5yearold // Oct 23, 2018 - 7:23pm
I thought the Titans did a great job grinding out drives and shortening that game; they executed the strategy perfectly for when you have to face a superior opponent (it would be interesting to see what DVOA thought of this game). The Chargers quick TD throws didn't "help", resulting in the Chargers offense having 44 snaps to 71 for the Titans. Obviously you'll take the quick scores any day, but the Chargers D certainly seemed to wear down as the game went on. Their run D has actually been fairly solid this year after being atrocious last year, so this might just be a one-game blip against a team with better beef. Bosa is supposedly returning after the bye, so it will be interesting to see if the Chargers defense can perform more like last year.
The Chargers next game against Seattle should also give us a better understanding of how good they are. So far, they've won against the dregs of the league and played fairly well against the top two teams. I'll believe this team is legit once they start winning games against the respectable opponents they have coming up: Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.
#3 by Shattenjager // Oct 23, 2018 - 7:55pm
I don't know if I just noticed it or it just happened, but two of the columns in the team defense stats page are labeled as offense. The numbers appear to be correct it's just the headers that are wrong.
#6 by thok // Oct 23, 2018 - 9:17pm
Buffalo is ranked exactly correct, because teams that score 5 points should be mocked for being horrible. Seriously, good job; I needed to tweak my running gag to reflect the terribleness of Buffalo scoring 5 points. 5 points!
#7 by Cythammer // Oct 23, 2018 - 10:09pm
Boy, the Lions are a weird team right now. First of all, it's odd for a team ranked 28th to be 3-3. Secondly, they are actually 3-0 against winning teams but 0-3 against losing teams. I would guess that most bad teams don't even have three wins against teams above .500 in the entire season, so to have three in just six games seems extremely strange.
#13 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 24, 2018 - 5:22am
“...its odd for a team ranked 28th to be 3-3.”
I suspect that their DVOA is suffering the effects from the nuclear fallout leftover from their week 1 disaster against a below average Jets team. Also, DVOA can’t see that their close loss against the 49ers was when Jimmy Garoppolo was healthy. Their offense has been progressively climbing the rankings since week 1. The defense, as you can see, remains pretty shaky.
“....they are actually 3-0 against winning teams...”
Well, the justification Bob Quinn gave for firing Jim Caldwell despite a respectable record and two playoff appearances was that he couldn’t beat good teams. They seem to have that down, at least.
#16 by poplar cove // Oct 24, 2018 - 8:03am
If you throw out their first game against the Jets and add up the other five games and average it out they'd be at 7.4% which places them about 12th in the NFL which is more or less where they finished at overall last season
#9 by cstoos // Oct 23, 2018 - 10:27pm
Raiders have 10 games (past and future) this season versus teams currently in the top 10 of DVOA. That's got to be fairly close to one of the toughest schedules historically, right? Especially when you add in games against #11 MIA and #12 PIT. That's 75% of their season playing against top 12 teams.
#12 by 3cardmonty // Oct 24, 2018 - 4:04am
Looks like they're on pace for 10.6% schedule, which while very high, is not quite the toughest ever. Toughest ever looks to be the 2004 Browns at 13.7. https://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2014/let-me-check-my-schedule
#10 by merlinofchaos // Oct 23, 2018 - 10:35pm
I will take a moment to sit here stunned that the Broncos are #5 in DVOA. I'm sure it's a mirage and the next few games will drop them, but damn, talk about giving a homer a BIT of hope that maybe the season isn't as awful as it has looked.
#14 by Will Allen // Oct 24, 2018 - 6:49am
So, are the Vikings the team that went to LA on a short week, and played the Rams to essentially a tie, or are they the team that was stomped at home by the Bills?
The answer, of course, is somewhere in the middle, but injuries probably have them trending towards the latter.
#17 by cstoos // Oct 24, 2018 - 9:35am
I looked at the schedule and I can state for sure that the Vikings were the team that did those things. Jokes aside though, I could see MIN losing the majority of their next 6 games...if not all of them.
NO, DET, @CHI, GB, @NE, @SEA.
#20 by ammek // Oct 24, 2018 - 9:56am
I think the answer is they're probably the team that allowed the Jets to hang around for a while, before pulling away toward the end. That future schedule (currently projected as third hardest) has the time to change, if gravity catches up with the Dolphins and Bears. For all that DVOA sees pure averageness, to me Minnesota still looks like the most likely team in the NFCN to go on a run, fragile offensive line and crowded treatment room notwithstanding. I mean, Diggs won't continue to put up -25% DVOA throughout the season, right? And they must be able to find someone to cover running backs.
#21 by Will Allen // Oct 24, 2018 - 10:22am
Griffen rejoined the team this week, but I don't know what that means in terms of him playing. If they get his usual self back, but with several weeks rest, and Rhodes isn't too badly hurt, and the new injuries cease, they will have a decent chance to win the division. After the Saints on Sunday, 5 of the remaining 8 games are divisional, 3 at home. Win all 5, and they definitely win the division, 4-1 makes it very likely if the loss doesn't happen in the remaining Packers game.
I still don't know what the Bears are. Trubisky reminds me of Keenum last year, in that it seems like he should have about twice as many, or more, ints than he has recorded. Maybe that persists, maybe it all collapses, maybe he improves. I guess that's why we watch the games.
#27 by Steve in WI // Oct 24, 2018 - 1:39pm
I agree about Trubisky’s interception luck. I guess the reason to be optimistic is that unlike Keenum in 2017, he’s still young and there’s reason to believe he might learn not to make certain throws.
What concerns me more as a Bears fan is how bad the defense has looked without a healthy Mack. I know he’s probably the best defensive player in the league, but this was supposed to be a top ten defense before he was added. I am shocked that they remain the best defense by DVOA.
#30 by sbond101 // Oct 24, 2018 - 4:02pm
What was fascinating for me in watching that game was watching the Bears DL get totally dominated. Mack or no Mack, there is a lot of talent among that front 7, they were playing at home in a game that should have been easy to get up for, and the Pat's didn't really do anything all that unusual from a game-planning point of view (especially after Sonny Michel went out and took the Pat's run game mostly off the table as a threat). Sometimes in the Past NE has beaten great units by throwing a game-plan curve to neutralize a strength, but it was shocking to me to see the Pat's play straight and simply have the OL be dominant against a really high quality opponent.
#23 by ammek // Oct 24, 2018 - 10:26am
It's popped up a few times now on the Greatest Ever Offense chart, but I don't have a particular recollection of the 1999 Washington offense being as awesome as all that, even for half a season. Stephen Davis had a remarkable year – a 60% success rate, and topping rushing DYAR by a mile – but I remember it as merely a very good one. The passing offense seemed Norvular, but with two Washington receivers in the top 15 by DYAR, both having career years, I'm guessing it stayed healthy.
I suppose it was hugely overshadowed by the emergence of the Greatest Show on Turf, which sustained its productivity through the whole season*. But although the Washington offense must have slowed down a bit (10th in weighted DVOA) it did remain 1st overall in 1999. I don't think Tony Dungy's Buccaneers get the credit they deserve for holding it to six** points in the playoffs, a week before holding the GSOT to 11 points. Davis had 17 rushes in Tampa: I think only four of them were successful, the longest was 12 yards, and only three gained five or more yards.
* The Rams finished fourth in offensive DVOA, behind Norv's Bedsprings, Jon Gruden's Raiders and Jeff Fisher's Titans. A different world.
** Half of these points came on a three-and-out which gained six yards, following a turnover deep in Tampa's own territory. Hard to blame the defense for giving up a field goal there.
#44 by coremill // Oct 25, 2018 - 4:40pm
The 99 Rams had an extremely easy schedule that inflated all their unadjusted offensive statistics. They played the easiest set of opposing defenses in the league, with average defensive DVOA of 7.9%. They were in the same division as SF (30th of 31 in defense), CAR (28), ATL (27), and NO (25).
#25 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 24, 2018 - 11:36am
Unless it's the house of the Bill's GM, in which case he's likely still awake worrying about his QB situation, and you may wander out of his house with the starting job.
I mean, I just assume that's how Derek Anderson got his current gig.
#26 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 24, 2018 - 11:42am
At least not dressed like a Cowboy. And make sure the occupants don't have either firearms or vacuum tubes.
As Mike Tanier said in the FO Almanac about Kelly and Paxton Lynch: "The Broncos backup quarterbacks are like your college roommates, and that's not a good thing."
#28 by ChrisS // Oct 24, 2018 - 1:47pm
Especially after getting kicked out of your teammate's (Von Miller) party for fighting. However, dressing like a cowboy (I'm thinking of the cowboy in the David Lynch film Lost Highway) may be a good idea if you are going to do sh*t like that.
#36 by Mountain Time … // Oct 24, 2018 - 9:44pm
I've never understood this. How in holy hell does somebody get so drunk that they walk into a completely wrong house???? I spent over a decade drinking moderately heavily, and I never once acted this way, but I know that people do this all the time!
My theories are (1) I am somehow magically immune to whichever of alcohol's effects make people do this, or (2) people like Chad Kelly aren't very intelligent even sober.
I also don't understand how people are so bad at drunk driving. Not saying it's ever safe, but swerving? Getting on the highway going the wrong way? How are people that inept? It's mind-boggling.
#37 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 25, 2018 - 5:13am
“I also don’t understand how people are so bad at drunk driving.”
It’s similar to people like Chad Kelly not being that bright even when sober. Plenty of people are really bad at driving even when sober. I encounter them daily on my morning commute. It’s like a quarterback who is not that great when not pressured. His awfulness will be magnified when under pressure.
#39 by ChrisS // Oct 25, 2018 - 1:34pm
Seems to me that if you were that drunk (swerving into other lanes, wrong way on the highway, ...) just getting your car started would be a major impediment. Perhaps its like intelligence (you have to be pretty stupid to think you know everything) and bad drivers wrongly presume they are good drivers so they believe their prodigious driving skill will outweigh the alcohol.
#29 by Jean-Luc Goedert // Oct 24, 2018 - 1:53pm
This season more than ever it appears that great offense is more important than great defense. The top three teams in DVOA are also the top three offenses in the league. And half of the teams in the Top 10 in total DVOA have a below-average defense, whereas Seattle (No. 10) is the only team in the Top 10 of DVOA with an offense under 0.0%.
It's probably always been true, but the continuing uptick in passing and aggressive play-calling, plus the increase in defensive penalties, makes it increasingly obvious.
Unless a defense like Chicago's or Baltimore's totally shocks everyone in the playoffs, it's going to be hard for the "Defense Wins Championships" maxim to stay alive.
#33 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 24, 2018 - 5:24pm
This season more than ever it appears that great offense is more important than great defense.
All it took was making tackling a QB illegal.
It's no surprise that Baltimore and New Orleans have taken to putting two of them on the field at a time.
It also helps that we've nearly made annoying a WR illegal as well.
#34 by slowfalls // Oct 24, 2018 - 7:14pm
In order for that statement to be true, there'd have to be an elite defense in the NFL this year and I don't think there is one. Baltimore and Chicago are good defenses but not elite.
I can't help but look at what Pete Carroll is doing with the Seahawks defense and assume the issue with defense around the league is talent/coaching, not rule changes. The Seahawks are currently 4th in the league defensively and they don't have anywhere close to the level of talent as most defenses in the league. Last year, before injuries ruined their season they held the #1(Rams) and #3(Eagles) offenses to 10 points.
If the 2018 Seahawks can hold the Rams to 33 points in a game where the Rams needed multiple 4th down conversions and a 50/50 pass interference to go their way. The 2013 Seahawks likely hold them under 20 and win convincingly. Seriously, if the 2013 Seahawks or 2015 Broncos were roaming around out there we wouldn't be having this debate because both the Rams and Chiefs offenses would likely have been exposed already.
#31 by JimZipCode // Oct 24, 2018 - 4:44pm
...it's going to be hard for the "Defense Wins Championships" maxim to stay alive.
Agree; but what's interesting is exactly how MUCH the NFL had to do to hamstring the "Defense Wins Championships" maxim so much. I mean, they had to work for YEARS to nerf great D so effectively. Rules changes and points of emphasis etc. I mean, Denver's and Seattle's Super Bowl wins are both within the last 5 seasons. Heck, the Jags were in the conf champship game just last season.
The viability of a defense-first team, has had kind of astonishing staying power in the face of rules changes and environmental factors with huge cumulative effects.
#32 by Will Allen // Oct 24, 2018 - 4:56pm
Yeah, it isn't quite time, even yet, to hold a funeral for Super Bowl champs which are predominantly defensive in orientation. Yes, it is easier to sustain offense, especially given the right qb, but a great defense can still dominate.
#38 by Pat // Oct 25, 2018 - 11:37am
I don't actually think it's true that the NFL *has* hamstrung it. It's too early to tell.
First, fundamentally in football, the defense has fundamental advantages: on runs, alignment rules favor defenses (they can concentrate more players), and on passes, the defense has a man advantage. Offenses have *informational* advantages - they choose the play to run.
So, in general, whenever rules or strategy change, you'd expect offense to shoot up for a while (they've got informational advantage, they can choose plays most affected by the rules change), and then defense to settle things back down after a year or two (they've got fundamental advantages). This happens all the time. 2004 had almost a point per game boost in scoring due to the illegal contact crackdown, which settled out after that.
The problem is that there have been sooo many *significant* rules changes (and strategic changes related to those rules) recently that I don't think defenses have had a chance to adapt yet.
Keep in mind scoring being up doesn't mean that the defenses are hamstrung! There are changes that force *overall* scoring higher without being a result of the defense.
1) Field goal kickers have consistently gotten better over time. 50+ yard field goals were 107/154 last year. That's *70%*! 70%! I can't say enough how ridiculous that is. It was *35%* in 1990. Since 1990, improved field goal percentages have probably added around a full *point* per game since 1990. The highest-scoring NFL season so far (2013) was about 2.5 points above historical averages, so field goal kicking has actually contributed the *bulk* of the scoring improvement.
2) Number of drives/game has gone up significantly, which of course is partly *due* to the increase in offense, but it means that scoring goes up faster than offensive efficiency is improving. It's also not entirely due to offense, but also strategic choices.
3) There's also some evidence that overtime frequency is increasing, which would add a tiny bit to scoring (like, maybe 0.05 points per game or something).
So I don't think it's entirely due to the changes themselves - there are some external factors, and also just the fact that there have been so many and frequent changes that defenses really haven't had a chance to adapt back yet.
#40 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 25, 2018 - 2:05pm
It's also worth keeping in mind that over time, players have become, on average, both bigger and faster.
On the tiny NFL-sized football field, that's a gradual advantage over time to the defence.
Offsetting this has been the increasing accuracy of passers and reliability of receivers.
The passing accuracy / receiver reliability trend has likely peaked. The size and speed trend may well continue, though likely at a slower pace than over the past few decades. If this is true, then offenses will need rules changes to keep pace with the increased difficulty of scoring.
#45 by tkinsman9 // Oct 30, 2018 - 11:53am
Can anybody help break down the Redskins poor DVOA and rush D ranking, in contrast to their excellent conventional statistics (2nd in rush yds per game)? Is this a statistical anomaly, or a red flag indicating underlying weakness?