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 1-4, and Weeks 5-12 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 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 adding 10 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.
Buffalo remains No. 1 in weighted DVOA this week despite having the lowest single-game rating of any of the divisional round winners. Nevertheless, the Bills now have a single-game rating over 30% in eight straight games. Only two teams have more games over 30% this entire year, including the playoffs.
Those two teams happen to be sitting right behind the Bills in weighted DVOA: Green Bay at No. 2 and Tampa Bay at No. 3. (The Bucs also pass the Saints for No. 1 in full-season DVOA with the playoffs included.)
Then we have Kansas City down at No. 6. Obviously, our ratings differ substantially from conventional wisdom and even some of the other advanced metrics out there on the Internet. We've been writing about this with the Kansas City Chiefs for the whole second half of the year. It's based on the idea that the Chiefs were essentially not trying hard over the last two months, waiting to "flip the switch" in the playoffs.
This week certainly presented some evidence to support the theory. The Chiefs had 71.5% offensive DVOA in the first half of the game against Cleveland, and that's with a small penalty for playing a below-average Browns defense. This was the best offensive DVOA put up by the Chiefs in any one half of football this season. They only had five other halves with offensive DVOA over 50%, most recently the second half of their Week 12 win over Tampa Bay.
But how do we take that and apply it to Kansas City's performance over the course of this season to get a "real" rating for their offense? It's also possible that Kansas City's excellent first half against the Browns was just the natural variation of a very good offense. Do we assume that Kansas City's offense is as good as their offense from 2018, which would raise their offensive DVOA from 26.1% (their weighted DVOA without Week 17 or the Chad Henne snaps this week) to 35.4%? That would put them neck-and-neck with the Green Bay Packers. Or do we guess that the "true quality" of Kansas City's offense is even better than that?
This is where I would usually say that we don't do that kind of guesswork around here, but the fact is that we do have to do guesswork around here to try to estimate each remaining team's odds of winning the Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes' concussion means that we have to guess at the chances that Mahomes will be able to start in the AFC Championship Game and factor that into our playoff odds. We also have to estimate what the Kansas City offensive level would be with Chad Henne as the starter. Henne played pretty well in his Week 17 start, and he didn't have Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill for that game. However, the running game was terrible, I assume because the Chargers could load the box against Henne. So overall, Kansas City had 5.9% offensive DVOA in Week 17.
The playoff odds report right now assumes a 75% chance that Mahomes will play in the AFC Championship. In all simulations, he's healthy for the Super Bowl. We can show how the odds change for each team if we assume Mahomes or Henne is the starter this week. We can also show how the odds change if we assume that Kansas City's offense is actually as good as it was two years ago:
|Odds to Win Super Bowl LV|
|Mahomes 75% to play AFC Championship||20.2%||28.0%||31.5%||20.3%|
|Henne starts AFC Championship||13.3%||36.2%||30.7%||19.8%|
|Kansas City offense as good as 2018||29.4%||21.6%||29.8%||19.3%|
You may have noticed that Green Bay and Tampa Bay's odds to win the Super Bowl actually go up if Mahomes is healthy enough to play in the AFC Championship. That's because a healthy Mahomes would give Kansas City a better chance to beat Buffalo, but weighted DVOA would still make Kansas City an underdog to the NFC champion in Super Bowl LV.
The "Kansas City offense as good as 2018" odds are closer to what they are listing in Las Vegas, although even there we still have Green Bay slightly ahead of Kansas City. Clearly, conventional wisdom believes that the Kansas City offense is truly better than what it has shown over the second half of 2020, and probably better than what it showed in 2018.
Note that all of these simulations include home-field advantage. If we truly believe that home-field advantage no longer exists, or does not exist in 2020 -- although both Kansas City and Green Bay will have some fans in attendance -- then Buffalo and Tampa Bay's odds would be higher. Here's another set of odds with home-field advantage removed:
|Odds to Win Super Bowl LV (No Home-Field Advantage)|
|Mahomes 75% to play AFC Championship||16.7%||32.1%||27.0%||24.2%|
|Henne starts AFC Championship||10.4%||39.6%||26.3%||23.6%|
|Kansas City offense as good as 2018||25.4%||25.9%||25.7%||23.1%|
Which of the above numbers are the "real odds" depends on your own assumptions about the Kansas City offense and home-field advantage in the 2020 playoffs.
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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 ratings for the divisional round. Tampa Bay with the highest DVOA of the week may be a surprise, but remember that opponent adjustments are based on full-season DVOA, which had New Orleans first overall. Also, while New Orleans had more yards per play than Tampa Bay, the Bucs had a higher play success rate in both the first and second halves -- a lot of the Saints' yardage came from that one Jameis Winston deep pass to Tre'Quan Smith -- plus the four turnovers.