Week 18 DVOA Ratings
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 1-3, and Weeks 4-11 are somewhat discounted.
- The ratings listed do not include the adjustments used in the ratings for our playoff odds report. For example, Kansas City moves up two spots to No. 5 in those ratings because we remove the Week 17 game due to sitting starters.
- Only weighted DVOA is listed for offense, defense, and special teams. Total DVOA is also listed, but one game doesn't change much in a 17-game sample so these ratings will be similar to those from the end of the season.
- Teams which did not play in the wild-card round are treated as if they had a bye week. (That includes both the 18 non-playoff teams and the two teams with byes.)
Buffalo remains No. 1 in weighted DVOA although the Bills did not reach a single-game rating of at least 40% for the first time since their Week 11 bye. Instead, the Bills "only" came out at 35% for their win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Because we have Buffalo first and Kansas City seventh (fifth without Week 17), we get an unexpected result in our playoff odds report. We are now in disagreement with Vegas oddsmakers and probably everybody else on the Internet, and our numbers give Buffalo a stronger chance to win the Super Bowl than Kansas City. The Chiefs have a stronger chance to make the Super Bowl for a few reasons:
- Cleveland is a weaker opponent than Baltimore.
- We give Green Bay and Kansas City a bonus in the divisional round to represent the historical value of a bye week.
- Our simulation still considers home-field advantage, which Kansas City would have in a prospective AFC Championship Game.
However, the playoff odds report makes Buffalo the slim favorite in any Super Bowl matchup should the Bills make it all the way, while Kansas City sits behind three of the four remaining NFC teams. And thus, Buffalo comes out with a higher chance to win it all.
Speaking of the NFC teams, Green Bay moves up to No. 2 with weighted DVOA going up a little bit during the Packers' week off. That's because of how the formula works with weights and the big Week 6 loss to Tampa Bay (and the narrow Week 10 win over Jacksonville) being further in the rearview mirror. Tampa Bay and New Orleans both drop a little bit, with New Orleans falling slightly behind Tampa Bay. However, the ratings used in the playoff odds report move New Orleans higher than Tampa Bay because the effect of removing the Taysom Hill games on offense is stronger than the effect of removing the Kendall Hinton game (Week 12) on defense.
Cleveland is still the lowest of the remaining playoff teams but their weighted DVOA has moved up to 12th, six spots higher than last week. Their offensive rating is a bit artificially low because of the Week 16 game where all their wide receivers were on the COVID list; again, we're using an adjusted rating for the Browns in the playoff odds report.
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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.
Next, let's look at all the single-game ratings from wild-card weekend. The one that is going to stand out to you is Chicago-New Orleans. How on earth does Chicago end up with a higher rating than New Orleans for a game which the Saints totally dominated in the second half? Part of the answer is opponent adjustments, but that's only part of it. The Bears even end up higher than New Orleans without opponent adjustments. This is related to the final Chicago drive. The final Chicago drive was a long series of steady, successful gains... and given the score at the time, totally meaningless. Without that drive, the New Orleans defensive rating for the game would go from 2% DVOA to -37% DVOA, and they would have the higher DVOA for the day. In the offseason, we're hoping to do some studies as to whether it improves the predictiveness of DVOA to lower the weight of (or completely remove) plays because the win probability is close to zero. In the meantime, that drive is in there, and explains the weird single-game ratings. Some other tidbits:
- This was Pittsburgh's worst defensive performance of the year. Three of their four worst defensive games came in three of the last four weeks.
- Pittsburgh's offensive DVOA went from -53.9% in the first half of the game to 71.8% in the second half.
- The Baltimore victory over Tennessee had a really high DVOA for just a 20-13 win, but there was a big discrepancy in yards per play here, 6.5 for Baltimore (not counting kneeldowns) compared to just 4.3 for Tennessee. Baltimore also had significant offensive improvement, from -16.0% in the first half of the game to 47.9% in the second half.
- You may not have realized how good the Seattle special teams were despite the loss to the Rams and despite the D.J. Reed fumble. There was Reed's 58-yard kickoff return and two field goals over 50 yards by Jason Myers, plus Michael Dickson was outstanding on punts. Six of his eight punts went at least 50 yards in the air, and he had three punts that ended inside the 10. The Rams also had positive special teams for the game since there's nothing they could really do about Myers hitting field goals or Dickson's punt distance.