Week 19 DVOA Ratings
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.
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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.
50 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2019, 11:37pm
#1 by Raiderjoe // Jan 14, 2019 - 3:19pm
27th n ot bad. Raiders clearly better than those bottom 5 temas although cardinals, hets, and dophins will have new coaching staffs 2019 season. Raiders still up on them as in year 2 of fixing. Raiders will be ready to go. No major holes that cnanot be fixed free agency. and then draft.
Broncos not any good. Chiefsa nd Chargers might be okay but you never know. Do know that Raiders will be vastly improved. Probably will pick the Raiders to win afc west in 2019.
#4 by Will Allen // Jan 14, 2019 - 3:28pm
Just occurred to me that the only chance the Vikings have of climbing higher, into the weighted top 6, is via Saints and Pats victory stomps, like about 5 tds. I'm ok with the former, but the latter is to high a price to pay.
#28 by Bobman // Jan 15, 2019 - 3:28pm
Yeah... about that.... he tried to sell it on Craig'slist, slightly used light saber, top quality, used in several mass murders.... about the best you can hope for is that the son you never knew you had ends up with it and does some good to even things out. Or failing that, sells a few billion dollars worth of movie tickets.
#33 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 15, 2019 - 9:59pm
A lot of the volatility is just low play count. (and this highlights one of the reasons why single game dvoa is a bit silly). The Chargers lost that game because they got completely crushed in the first 3 quarters - their DVOA looks good in the first quarter because they had one good drive, and one bad one, and the good one had twice as many plays as the bad one.
Play count by quarter/# of drives:
in the first quarter, the Patriots ran 29 plays on 3 drives and scored 21 points, to the Chargers 9 plays on 2 drives and 7 points. The fact that the system says the Chargers significantly outplayed the Patriots in the first quarter with those numbers should tell you that the system has trouble handling this dataset.
#14 by turbohappy // Jan 14, 2019 - 6:14pm
Seems about right for IND D vs KC O. Indy was actually pretty successful all things considered and definitely won the matchup after the first quarter. ST is sorta wacky because all kinds of screwy stuff happened. But I expected the IND O vs. KC D to be WAY more lopsided in favor of KC. The Indy offense has been pretty good and they almost completely laid an egg against a defense who has shown themselves to be bad.
#25 by ChrisS // Jan 15, 2019 - 1:30pm
DVOA is not the number to compare to perceptions of an individual game, VOA looks at the actual plays not adjusting for the team they are playing. If you take away the special teams numbers for both teams then KC beats the Colts by 37% (just a bit more than NO over Philly after taking out ST). KC had a ton more yards than Indy but they did it over about one third more plays, still better on yards per play (about 5.6 to about 5.0) but not super-dominant. KC also had one more sack and one more non-ST fumble, and VOA treats those plays harshly.
#26 by turbohappy // Jan 15, 2019 - 2:02pm
In regards to the KC offense, they also converted a bunch of 4th downs in this game. They get credit for making those, but they also get dinged quite a bit for the fact they were on 4th down in the first place.
#30 by Bobman // Jan 15, 2019 - 3:35pm
Good point on the third down failures and fourth down success.
I assume the defense gets rewarded for the stops on 3rd down, and maybe dinged a little less for giving up 4th down conversions because they're still considered a bit of an outlier play. i.e in normal circumstances, a D stops a team on 3rd down and 3, they have succeeded. If they then give it up on 4th, probably over a shorter distance (say 1 yard), I would THINK the negative weight is a little less than if they allowed the 3rd down conversion.
#23 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jan 15, 2019 - 11:25am
I've seen posters on these boards give coaches like Jay Gruden a pass for having a dysfunctional owner.
Yet Garrett has just one losing season in eight-and-a-half years but doesn't get a pass for Jerry Jones. Why?
#34 by Cythammer // Jan 16, 2019 - 12:15am
I'm not necessarily saying this is or should be the answer, but Garrett did have Romo. Even if you have a terrible owner, a top flight QB is so valuable in the NFL that perhaps you should be held accountable for not winning anyway.
#36 by BJR // Jan 16, 2019 - 5:51am
The common perception (rightly or wrongly) is that Garrett has very little actual responsibility, therefore results aren't really attributable to him. Linehan runs the offense, Marinelli the defense, the Jones boys manage the roster, whilst Garrett stand on the sideline clapping (so the joke goes).
#37 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Jan 16, 2019 - 11:26am
Does anyone have the home and road DVOA splits for KC and NE? Specifically the Patriots. It seems like they were their usual dominant selves at home but incredibly average or even bad on the road. I think that will be a huge factor on Sunday, along with the weather, which frustratingly could help their power run game.
#41 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 16, 2019 - 9:28pm
I don't have the stats at hand , but I'm quite confident:
a) Both DVOA and W-L will show the Pats were much worse, and likely below average, in road games this year. The blow out in Detroit should be enough on it's own to skew an 8 game sample.
b) It doesn't mean much, because this upcoming game they'll be up for, unlike some of their road games this year.
I'm glad this game is in KC. If the Chiefs win, Reid gets the monkey off his back about not being able to win at home in the playoffs (last week should have helped with that, but this game would help more). If NE wins, at least we won't need to listen to people griping that the only reason NE got to the Super Bowl again was the refereeing in their two home games.
#43 by Vincent Verhei // Jan 17, 2019 - 2:39am
Home Offense: 24.8% (2)
Road Offense: 43.7% (1)
Home Defense: -3.5% (12)
Road Defense: 16.4% (30)
Home Offense: 18.9% (7)
Road Offense: 9.5% (6)
Home Defense: -18.3% (2)
Road Defense: 19.5% (31)
These splits and many more are available to Premium Subscribers.
#45 by Will Allen // Jan 17, 2019 - 10:25am
Pretty common for a good offense/bad defense team to perform much better defensively at home. 2000 Vikings were the premium example. Although truly one of the worst defenses ever, at home they could occassionally get stops, especially when the offense staked them to early two score leads. Actually beat a decent Saints team in the divisional round thst way. Then had to go to New Jersey to get annihilated when the offense was steamrolled as well. Incredibly, that team was within a couple plays of getting the number 1 seed in the NFC. Even Trent Dilfer would have thrown for 400 yards against them in the Super Bowl, if they had managed to steal a game from the Giants in Minneapolis, which I doubt.
#46 by nat // Jan 17, 2019 - 11:23am
Does anyone have a theory (other than small sample size) for why some teams' defenses would be so much worse on the road?
Usually, we think of either the somewhat favorable refereeing that all teams get at home, or the benefits of friendly crowd noise.
From PFR play finder, it doesn't look like the Patriots defense got much help from the refs at home. They seem to have similar rates of accepted penalties (either way) when on defense. It's possibly they could be altering their play to match the reffing. But it really looks like this effect is small.
As for crowd noise, it clearly helps the defense by interfering with an offense's ability to do adjustments at the line. Are the Patriots so bad at pre-snap defensive disguises that they need crowd noise to keep the offense from adjusting to burn them?
Or is it something else?
#47 by Will Allen // Jan 17, 2019 - 11:43am
The opposing offense being hampered in communication is no small thing, and it frequently is four step process. First, the coaches communicate to the qb. Then the qb communicates to his offense. Next, motion has to be used to get the defense to fully reveal itself. Then the qb must communicate to the offense again. That's a lot to get done in the time allowed, and hostile crowd noise can really gum that up.
Next, the fact that the defense's offensive teammates do better at home has a synergistic effect, in terms of getting the defense staked to a lead, a position from which it is always easier to play defense, and/or simply possessing the ball more.
#48 by nat // Jan 17, 2019 - 3:09pm
My question was more about why different teams see such different effects.
The Patriots offense seems about the same on the road as at home, at least in terms of rank. So your second idea doesn't apply here.
Their defense has been wildly different. If it was the usual home/road split thing that you describe so well, their rank would not have changed much. So any ideas about what's special about the Patriots (and to a lesser extent, the Chiefs) that makes their home/road defensive splits so different from the norm?
Or is it all just small samples and noise?
#49 by LionInAZ // Jan 17, 2019 - 5:03pm
It may be even more complicated. One thing I noticed about the LAC-NE divisional was that even though the Patriots finished with more penalties, most of those were called after they already had a huge lead.
#42 by nath // Jan 17, 2019 - 12:50am
Boy, I'd really like to know what the splits for the Saints were from the first quarter and quarters 2-4. They were like two totally different teams-- I mean, the offense had a Drew Brees INT and two punts, but the defense went from giving up 8.8 yards per play in the first quarter to 3.3 after that, too.