by Aaron Schatz
Once again, it is time for postseason DVOA ratings. As always, the following rules apply:
- All 32 teams are ranked, whether they made the playoffs or not.
- Teams are ranked in order of weighted DVOA, not total season DVOA. Since weighted DVOA is meant to lower the strength of older games, these ratings do not include Weeks 1-5, and Weeks 6-11 are somewhat discounted.
- Only weighted DVOA is listed for offense, defense, and special teams. Total DVOA is also listed, but adding eight games to a 256-game sample doesn't change much.
- Teams are treated as having a bye week in any week where they did not play. Since most teams haven't played in two weeks, that means some of the ratings for non-playoff teams can start getting a little unreliable. Really, this is only to be used for playoff teams, the other teams are just there for ranking comparison purposes.
- DVOA, as always, takes a long-term view of an NFL team's performance. That means that the games of the last two weeks are just two games among many, so teams may be listed below other teams that they have beaten in the playoffs.
The single-game DVOA ratings for the divisional round are published below, and you'll see that the two No. 2 seeds (Rams/Patriots) had much better ratings this week than the No. 1 seeds (Saints/Chiefs). That moves the four teams a lot closer together in weighted DVOA, leading to much closer odds for which team is going to win the Super Bowl.
There's been a lot of talk on Twitter about the fact the top offenses have clearly outlasted the top defenses in this year's playoffs. The four remaining teams are the top four scoring teams in the league, and they all ranked in the top five of offensive DVOA. They ranked much lower in defensive DVOA, ranging from 11th (New Orleans) to 26th (Kansas City).
It's not quite as simple if we look at weighted DVOA, which lowers the importance of early-season games and adds on this week's playoff game for each team. First of all, the New Orleans Saints offense has been in a bit of decline, dropping to 10th in weighted offensive DVOA. This is a shocker, but the Saints have now put up negative offensive DVOA in five of their last six games. The only exception was Week 16 against Pittsburgh. Obviously, part of the issue here is sitting Drew Brees in Week 17, but removing that game only increases the Saints' weighted DVOA by 2.0%, which still puts them 10th.
On the other hand, three of the four teams have improved on defense in the second half of the season, which becomes clear when you compare regular-season defensive DVOA with weighted defensive DVOA. All four teams rank better in weighted DVOA, but the Rams are basically even with where they were for the full regular season. The Patriots and Chiefs have been better on defense, and the Saints have been a lot better.
You will find DVOA matchup pages for the conference championships on the FO Premium page. Snap counts are updated with information on the divisional round. And if you have a team in the Football Outsiders 2019 Playoff Fantasy Challenge, you can check out your team right here. Scores for this will also be updated later tonight.
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To save people some time, we remind everyone to put their angry troll hatred into the official zlionsfan angry troll hatred Mad Libs form:
<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>
If you are new to our website, you can read the explanation of how DVOA is figured here. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
There are no adjustments here for sitting starters in Week 17, although we do adjust the ratings that we use in the playoff odds report.
Teams in yellow are still alive in the playoffs. Teams in gray lost this past weekend.
Here are the single-game DVOA ratings for the divisional round. Opponent adjustments make two of the games pretty close, but the Colts-Chiefs and Eagles-Saints games are a lot further apart without those opponent adjustments. One note here: the blocked punt in the Kansas City-Indianapolis game ends up as a negative for the Chiefs special teams but not as a positive for the Colts special teams; this is a quirk of the special teams system that needs to be ironed out next time I update the special teams formulas. Given that blocked punts aren't really predictive for either side, they probably should be removed from DVOA entirely or used in a separate rating that measures value in-game but not predictive value for future performance. This is one of those changes I keep wanting to make but never seem to have time for. Kansas City's special teams rating is also hurt by below-average value on the Dustin Colquitt's other punts, and by Tyreek Hill's fumble (recovered by the Chiefs) and a total of just six yards on five punt returns. The Colts' special teams rating, of course, is hurt by a missed field goal and extra point from Adam Vinatieri, as well as poor kick returns, balanced out (somewhat) by the excellent punt coverage.