Tampa Bay climbs back into the No. 1 spot in our DVOA ratings this week, and by a hefty amount. The Buccaneers are over 10 percentage points higher than Baltimore, which drops out of the top spot despite its rating slightly climbing from last week.
The Bucs' DVOA rating for the season shot up thanks to a massive blowout win over previously No. 6 Green Bay, which drops all the way down to No. 12. A huge win combined with a positive opponent adjustment gives Tampa's 38-10 win the best rating of any single game this year at 97.7%. This is the fourth Tampa game with DVOA of 38.0% or higher, and the Bucs now are at 41.1% for the season.
I've been worried about Tampa Bay's high DVOA rating for a couple weeks now, concerned the disconnect between DVOA and other advanced metrics meant that there was something DVOA just wasn't capturing correctly. I'm a little less worried now that the Bucs went out and destroyed the Packers, but it is still a little strange to have Tampa Bay No. 1 by this much.
Comparing DVOA to one specific other metric, the NFLfastR EPA model, it looks like the big Tampa Bay lead is all about opponent adjustments. On offense, it's about the opponent adjustments for Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is seventh in offensive DVOA compared to 13th in EPA. But take out opponent adjustments, and the Bucs would be 13th in offensive VOA, which matches their rank in EPA. On defense, the issue is opponent adjustments for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In EPA, the Bucs and Steelers are neck-and-neck for the top spot in defense. The same is true with unadjusted VOA. But add in that the Steelers have played the easiest defensive schedule of the season while Tampa has played an average schedule of opposing offenses, and suddenly Tampa Bay has a huge lead over Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay's lead of almost 10% defensive DVOA essentially translates to their 10% overall lead over the rest of the league.
Tampa Bay isn't an all-time great team by any means. Their 41.1% DVOA would rank 28th among all teams through Week 6, going back to 1985. It's the size of their lead that stands out. I wrote a couple weeks ago that 2020 looked like a year with a lack of outliers. That's mostly still true, but this week there are two very clear outliers: Tampa Bay with a lead of over 10% in first place and the New York Jets who are in last place by over 10%. (We'll get to the Jets in a little bit.)
Tampa Bay is the 11th team since 1985 to have a lead over 10% at this point in the season. They have the smallest lead of the teams on this table but I still think it's an interesting historical look at teams that dominated DVOA early on in the year.
|10% or Larger DVOA Lead After Week 6, 1985-2020|
The Bucs are the first 4-2 team to have a lead this big after Week 6. They are not the highest 4-2 team in DVOA history, but they are close. The 2015 Arizona Cardinals were at 45.3% after six weeks. The 1991 Eagles and 2005 Steelers were also over 40% with a record of 4-2.
Tampa Bay was not the only team to have a huge Week 6 victory that dramatically increased their DVOA for the season. Pittsburgh's 38-7 stomping of Cleveland is the third-biggest single game of the season at 83.1% and moves the Steelers up six spots to No. 3. The Arizona Cardinals didn't get quite as strong a rating for embarassing the Cowboys on Monday night (60.6%) but it was enough to move them all the way up from 18th to 10th this week.
Meanwhile, three teams this week had single-game ratings below -80%, giving them three of the four worst games of the year: Dallas, Cleveland, and the New York Jets. Dallas plummets from 16th to 26th and falls slightly behind the Philadelphia Eagles in our odds to win the NFC East. Cleveland drops from 17th to 25th despite a 4-2 record. The Browns have had a crazy year so far: the two worst single games by DVOA (Week 1 and Week 6) combined with three solid wins with good DVOA ratings (Weeks 2-4) and then the Week 5 win over Indianapolis which comes out close to 0%. They are far ahead of the rest of the league in week-to-week variance. The Jets -- well, hold on a little longer and we'll get to them.
Surprisingly, the Browns are not the worst 4-2 team in DVOA history, or even close to it. Six different teams had been 4-2 despite DVOA ratings below -20%, with the 2007 Lions having the lowest rating at -27.1%. There's a full list in this tweet.
In related news, the Chicago Bears are also not the worst 5-1 team in DVOA history, or even close to it. In fact, the Bears climb up nine spots to No. 14 after this week's win against Carolina! The worst 5-1 team in DVOA history was last year's Buffalo Bills. Here's another tweet with a full list.
Speaking of Chicago and the worst 5-1 teams in DVOA history, there's something I wanted to hit to finish up from last week's DVOA commentary, where I talked about the worst 4-1 teams and best 1-4 teams in history. You might be wondering, what does this mean in wins? The answer is probably less than you think, because the fact is that NFL teams are really unpredictable even if they've played really well or really badly in the first six games of the season.
I took a look at all the teams to go 5-1 since 1986, except for 1987. On average, these teams won 6.2 games the rest of the season. That's not really that far off from the 5-5 record that all teams average over the final 10 games of the season.
What about the worst 5-1 teams by DVOA? They do worse than 5-1 teams as a whole. The dozen worst 5-1 teams since 1986 (pro-rating the 1987 teams to a 16-game season) won on average 5.4 games the rest of the season.
Now let's flip it around to the 1-5 teams. On average, these teams register 3.8 wins the rest of the season. However, the dozen best 1-5 teams since 1986 won on average 4.5 games the rest of the season.
I ran one other record out of curiosity. What about the 0-6 teams? These teams average 3.0 wins the rest of the season.
See, I told you we were going to come back to the New York Jets eventually! I know it seems like there's no way the Jets will win another game all year, but it is probably going to happen. Again, 0-6 teams end up averaging 3.0 wins. Our playoff odds report has the Jets at 3.4 wins, which seems a little bit high. They only finish 0-16 in 2.2% of simulations.
But aren't the Jets not just winless but historically bad? Yes, they are on pace to set an all-time record for the worst point differential, but there have been other teams that were even worse over the first six games of the year. The Jets have scored 110 fewer points than their opponents. Last year through six games, the Dolphins had scored 148 fewer points than their opponents. The 2009 Tennessee Titans had scored 114 fewer points than their opponents through six games and ended up finishing the season 8-8!
Based on DVOA, the New York Jets are far from a historically bad team. This is as bad as the worst team in the league usually is every year. There are over 40 teams since 1985 that were worse in DVOA through Week 6. But like with the Buccaneers, what stands out about the Jets is the big gap between them and the rest of the league. Of course, it's nothing like last year's Dolphins, who had the worst DVOA we had ever tracked through six weeks by a substanial margin. But there's a pretty big gap between the Jets and No. 31 Philadelphia.
|10% or Larger DVOA Last-Place Gap
After Week 6, 1985-2020
* * * * *
Also, a housekeeping note regarding the new DVOA version 7.3. The "DVOA as of a Specific Week" tables in the FO+ database have now been updated with version 7.3 of DVOA going back to 2005. All other tables in the FO+ database (as well as the regular stats pages) are updated with version 7.3 of DVOA going back to 1999. I'm slowly working my way backwards on running all the old years so we get everything updated to the new system, including 1983 and 1984 which we will debut sometime in the 2021 offseason.
* * * * *
These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through six weeks of 2020, 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 60% strength; they will increase 10% every week through Week 10.
DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason forecast with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 65% preseason forecast for teams with five games played and 55% preseason forecast for teams with 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).