DVOA in Rams' Super Bowl LVI Win May Surprise

Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams
Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Super Bowl - The Los Angeles Rams came away as the champion of a very closely fought Super Bowl LVI. The Cincinnati Bengals, however, had slightly better underlying play-by-play performance based on Football Outsiders' DVOA system.

Sort of.

The gap between the teams was bigger with DVOA than with VOA because of the opponent adjustments. The opponent adjustment for playing the Rams is strong, as they were the No. 5 team during the regular season. The opponent adjustment for playing the Bengals is pretty much nonexistent, because the Bengals were perfectly average (0.0%) during the regular season.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
LAR 0% -9% -15% -6%
CIN 24% -2% -21% 6%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
LAR -1% -11% -16% -6%
CIN 7% -11% -12% 6%

If we look at the VOA ratings, the Bengals are still slightly ahead of the Rams, but the difference is entirely special teams. Aborted extra points are bad! Plus, Trent Taylor had a couple of good returns for the Bengals and Johnny Hekker's punts weren't too great except for the 55-yarder late in the first quarter. Without special teams, the Rams are at 5% VOA and the Bengals 1%.

How did the Bengals end up with a higher rating despite losing the game? The Bengals actually outgained the Rams on a per-play basis, 5.1 to 4.8 yards, once we omit kneeldowns at the end of each half. Of course, the Bengals also won the turnover battle, 2-0. The Rams did have a higher success rate, 41% to 37%.

Since I know people will ask: Yes, things would be very different without the 75-yard touchdown to Tee Higgins where the officials missed a clear offensive pass interference/face mask. Without that play, the Bengals are at only 3.9 yards per play for the game and their offensive DVOA goes from -2% to -16%. The Bengals were super-dependent on big plays all year long and the Super Bowl was no exception, with 121 yards coming on just two plays (the Higgins touchdown and an early 46-yard catch-and-run by Ja'Marr Chase).

There's also another way to look at this game, which is the Post-Game Win Expectancy formula we introduced this season. This formula looks at various splits of VOA to estimate how often we would have expected each team to win the game based on their play-by-play performance. The Rams may have ended up with the lower DVOA and VOA, but the Rams had the higher PGWE at 62%. A better passing performance correlates with wins more than a better rushing performance, and the Rams were way, way better passing the ball: 31% DVOA passing compared to -63% rushing.

Anyway, that's why I wrote "sort of" above. The Bengals had the higher DVOA, but the Rams were the team more likely to win the game based on the VOA splits. This wasn't a "wrong team wins" type of game.

One other stat that I wanted to point out from this game is just how bad the Bengals were in short-yardage situations. The Bengals kept getting good yardage on first down and then stalling out. Overall, Cincinnati only converted 3 of 10 opportunities with 1-2 yards to go. Leaguewide, there were conversions on 65% of these opportunities during the 2021 season (including the postseason). The Bengals converted on 0 of 3 second-and-shorts, 2 of 4 third-and-shorts, and 1 of 3 fourth-and-shorts.

The Rams were at 50% on short yardage: the stuffed Stafford sneak on first-and-goal from the 1, 2 of 3 on second-and-short, 1 of 3 on third-and-short, and Cooper Kupp's jet sweep on fourth-and-short.

A reminder that playoff DVOA is now available on FO+. You can go here, for example, to see DVOA from the 2021 playoffs. Use the drop-down menus to pick regular season, playoffs, or both combined.

Thanks again to everyone for a great 19th season at Football Outsiders. We'll start our offseason coverage soon along with announcing the winners of the Football Outsiders reader awards next week. We're looking forward to expanded draft coverage from Mike Tanier and Derrik Klassen including the introduction of the FO 40 and Fantasy 40 draft boards. We're also looking forward to the introduction of DVOA for the 1981 and 1982 seasons, probably sometime closer to June or July.

Now let's turn it over to Vince Verhei for some Quick Reads.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Matthew Stafford LAR
26/40
283
3
2
2
54
68
-7
CIN
Stafford's totals include -7 receiving DYAR for his one target, an incomplete pass. He threw his second touchdown in the second quarter and his third in the fourth; in between those two drives, he went 10-of-19 for 99 yards with two interceptions and a sack. The Bengals limited his effectiveness downfield—he threw a half-dozen deep balls, completing one to his own team (a 17-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham) and one to Cincinnati. He was at his best in short- and medium-yardage scenarios; with 6 yards or less to go for a first down, he went 8-of-11 for 78 yards and seven conversions, including three touchdowns, plus a 3-yard DPI.
2.
Joe Burrow CIN
22/33
263
1
0
7
-22
-25
3
LAR
Three plays—a 46-yard bomb to Ja'Marr Chase, a 75-yard touchdown to Tee Higgins, and a 17-yard completion to Michael Thomas on third-and-22—produced over half of Burrow's yardage on the day. That long touchdown to Higgins was his first pass of the third quarter. It was also his only first down of the third quarter, as his next 10 dropbacks produced one incompletion, four completions for a gain of 32 yards, and five sacks for a loss of 29. He only threw for one first down in L.A. territory, where he went 6-of-12 for 33 yards with a pair of sacks. He had a terrible day on third/fourth downs, going 4-of-10 for 44 yards with more sacks (three) than conversions (two). That includes a pair of incomplete passes on fourth-and-1 from the Rams' 49-yard line. He also struggled on throws to running backs, going 6-of-9 for 4 yards (not a typo). Speaking of which...

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Darrell Henderson LAR
4
7
0
3/5
43
0
10
-3
13
CIN
Henderson finishes in first not due to his four runs (a 3-yard loss on third-and-17 and gains of 1, 4, and 5 yards on first-and-10), but for his three catches (3-yard gain on second-and-6, 25-yard gain on first-and-10, 15-yard gain on third-and-8). And because it was an awful day for running backs.
2.
Joe Mixon CIN
15
72
0
5/6
1
0
1
14
-36
LAR
Mixon's totals include 23 passing DYAR for his 6-yard touchdown pass. He was stuffed just once while running for three first downs on gains of 12, 13, and 14 yards, all of them on first-and-10. But only one of his five catches—a 4-yard gain on second-and-6—gained yardage. Three others went for no gain, while another lost 3 yards on first-and-10.
3.
Cam Akers LAR
13
21
0
3/4
14
0
-27
-26
-1
CIN
Akers only rushed for one first down, an 8-yard gain on second-and-2 on his last carry of the day. Meanwhile, he was stuffed six times. His three catches: 7-yard gain on second-and-6; 4-yard gain on second-and-11; 3-yard gain on first-and-10.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Joe Mixon CIN
15
72
0
5/6
1
0
1
14
-36
LAR
Since we have some extra space here, let's discuss the other running backs who played in this game. Samaje Perine had -15 rushing DYAR on two carries, both of which went for no gain on third-and-1. He added -10 DYAR on his one target, an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1. And Chris Evans didn't get a carry, but he had -1 DYAR receiving on two targets: an incomplete pass on third-and-4 and a 3-yard gain on third-and-2.
2.
Darrell Henderson LAR
4
7
0
3/5
43
0
10
-3
13
CIN
Henderson and Akers were the only L.A. running backs to be targeted in the Super Bowl. Sony Michel had -7 rushing DYAR on two carries: a 3-yard gain on second-and-10 and a 1-yard loss on second-and-3.
3.
Cam Akers LAR
13
21
0
3/4
14
0
-27
-26
-1
CIN
Hmm, more space to fill. This seems like a good place to mention how bad Los Angeles' numbers were as a team. On first-and-10, they had 12 carries for 26 yards, with four stuffs and a long gain of 6 yards. They failed to pick up a single first down in the first 57 minutes of the game, and the two they got after that came on fourth-and-1 and second-and-2. Their long run gained only 8 yards, and they were hit for no gain or a loss nine times.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Cam Akers LAR
13
21
0
3/4
14
0
-27
-26
-1
CIN
Akers finishes the postseason with 67 carries for 172 yards, a 2.6-yard average, and two fumbles. That's -96 rushing DYAR in four games. That matches the -96 rushing DYAR Alvin Kamara had in 13 games in the regular season, and that was the worst total in the league.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Cam Akers LAR
13
21
0
3/4
14
0
-27
-26
-1
CIN
Per Stathead, Akers had the worst average gain for any player ever with at least 50 carries and two fumbles in a single postseason. If anyone tells you that Akers and the ground game were the key to L.A.'s championship, cease all contact with them immediately.

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Cooper Kupp LAR
8
10
92
11.5
2
65
CIN
Kupp's totals include 9 DYAR for his one carry, a 7-yard gain on fourth-and-1, and -7 passing DYAR for his one pass attempt, an incompletion. His two touchdowns came on 11- and 1-yard gains; he had three other first downs on gains of 13, 20, and 22 yards, plus a 3-yard DPI.
2.
Tee Higgins CIN
4
7
100
25.0
2
39
LAR
Higgins' two touchdowns went for 6 and 75 yards. He added another first down on a 14-yard gain on third-and-6.
3.
Odell Beckham LAR
2
3
52
26.0
1
34
CIN
Beckham's first two targets resulted in a 17-yard touchdown on third-and-3 and a 35-yard gain on third-and-11. His third was an incomplete pass on second-and-9, on which he suffered a knee injury that knocked him out of the game.
4.
Brycen Hopkins LAR
4
4
47
11.8
0
17
CIN
Three of Hopkins' receptions produced first downs, including a 16-yard gain on third-and-9 and a 6-yard gain on third-and-2.
5.
Ja'Marr Chase CIN
5
8
89
17.8
0
16
LAR
Chase's totals include 8 rushing DYAR for his one carry for 4 yards (actually a backwards lateral). He had three first downs through the air: a 46-yard gain on first-and-10, a 10-yard gain on second-and-7, and a 17-yard gain on first-and-10.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Van Jefferson LAR
4
8
23
5.8
0
-35
CIN
Only one of Jefferson's catches—a 13-yard gain on second-and-4—picked up a first down. The others: a 4-yard gain on third-and-7; a 1-yard loss on first-and-10; and a 7-yard gain on first-and-10.

Comments

58 comments, Last at 15 Feb 2022, 4:30pm

1 It's interesting what (D)VOA…

It's interesting what (D)VOA sees and doesn't see.

It judges the offenses similarly, but it can't tell the difference between "couldn't pass" (Cincinnati) and "wouldn't pass" (LA).

Also hidden: the Bengals' two failed 4th downs, which hurt more than the Rams two INTs.

2 When the Rams traded for…

When the Rams traded for Stafford, I was on record as thinking it was a bad move. I called Stafford a coach killer who constantly flirts with something greater but manages to never quite get to where you want to be. 

With a year passed, by pure results, I am dead wrong. But it is interesting to think back about what the expectations were. More than a few thought Stafford would have an all pro/mvp type of year now that he was freed from the shackles of Detroit. And others, like me, expected a similar Matt Stafford season as some of the good one's he had in Detroit. And I think he landed somewhere between those two outcomes. 

 

4 Sure but he was 6th in DYAR…

Sure but he was 6th in DYAR and 9th in DVOA. Thats one pip higher than Kirk Cousins, who everyone, including Vikings fans, considers a bum. And while his running game did him 0 favors, he also had Kupp to throw to all year plus a good line. 

We have to reconcile what the correct valuation of Matt Stafford should be.  For example, I consider him a top line tier 3 QB, ranking below Mahomes, Rodgers, and Allen. I think Watson and Wilson are better and maybe Herbert as well. I think Stafford is closer to Cousins than he is to those players above him. I would probably also take Burrow at exactly what he is right now over Stafford too. 

10 I think you under-value…

I think you under-value Cousins. His experience with teams has been trying to be high-volume on a poor team whose front office hated him, and then going to a deeply conservative team whose offense hated passing, despite starting Adam Thielen, Stephon Diggs, and Justin Jefferson. (You know how the Rams kept uselessly running the ball? That's every Vikings game.) He went from being Matt Stafford to being Russell Wilson. (Wilson is really efficient, but he is absolutely low-volume for the same reasons Cousins is, except Cousins passes in the first quarter and Wilson in the fourth.) Cousins has a terrible career narrative, but his output is really similar to guys we think of as really good. I think he's been really held back, and may be somewhat ruined at this point. Wilson is his opposite -- his narrative is fantastic, but his efficiency plummets once the coaches let him cook. I'm not sure he's really different from Cousins.

I'm lower on Allen than you are. If you want to criticize Stafford for too many INTs, you need to knock Allen (and Burrow and Herbert) for the same things, because he does it too. I think he's good, but he's missing the efficiency the 1st ballot tier has.

Watson I don't know what to make of. He was good, but not great, on pretty good Texans teams, and then was spectacular in the 2020 shitshow. But then again, that was Stafford's 2019 season.

5 I think that when you get…

I think that when you get right down to it, Stafford is about the 10th best QB in the game. On his best days he’s higher, but he does throw too many picks. Still, Goff is something like the 25th best, so the trade overall makes perfect sense. 

8 I may be the lone defender…

I may be the lone defender of Jared Goff left. Look he was awful in the SB. And he was bad the next year. But I saw plenty of his games where he was very very good. Its hard for me to reconcile a QB looking really good one minute and then unplayable the next, although there is some precedent here with Kaepernick.

I still wonder what Goff would look like on a better team like Pittsburgh; would he still be the 25th ranked QB? At the time of the trade, I thought Stafford was 7-10th best QB and Goff was something like that 17-13th best QB, which made the trade a bit more uneven than it looks now in retrospect. 

11 Goff's limitations have been…

Goff's limitations have been laid bare in Detroit. He's a competent pro. Probably average for the starter in a given week. He's completely unable to make the offense function in the way Stafford did, because he cannot compensate for the lack of talent on the team.

I think he's better than Garoppolo.

33 I use to defend Goff a…

I use to defend Goff a little back then, but his last 2 years in LA were not good to say the least. I heard after he got his 2nd contract that he got a little lazy and wasn't trying that hard to get better. Would explain the drop off in production and why McVay got fed up with him.

I think Campbell even called him out after a game this year and Campbell seems very much like a guy who wouldn't call his players out like that in the media.

I'm not sure he'll ever get back to that average level he looked like during his best years with LA.

53 Narratives. The Rams won…

Narratives. The Rams won their final 3 playoff games by a combined 9 points. They had the good fortune to face a significantly below strength Tampa team, then avoid having to go to Green Bay, and then the biggest stroke of luck of all; somehow drawing the mediocre (by DVOA) Bengals in the Super Bowl rather than  say the Bills or the Chiefs. 

Of course it wasn’t all a cakewalk; the Rams had to run a gauntlet in their division to get to the playoffs, which was undoubtedly the toughest in the NFL. But the point is - you could flip the outcome of one or two plays in any of those final three games and all of a sudden Stafford is a choker who failed when it mattered most, no different to Goff, blah blah blah. (Equally, flip a play or two in Super Bowl LIII and Goff would be viewed as the ‘winner’).

I’m not suggesting that you (who I know as a frequent and intelligent poster on these boards) is falling victim to these narratives. But it’s definitely in play with a wider/mainstream audience, some of whom are now proclaiming him as a HOFer.

FWIW I’m most impressed that Stafford had to overcome an execrable run game (and sometimes play calling) these playoffs. I don’t think Goff could have done that. He’s provided a modest, but significant improvement which is evident in DVOA and other advanced metrics. But we should at least acknowledge the incredibly fine margins in play when discussing legacies etc. 

6 Also an interesting and…

Also an interesting and underplayed subplot. The Rams are known as this offensive led team in part because of McVay, but much like the 49ers, a legitimate argument can be made this team is driven by defense. In the rams' case, its more remarkable consider they've gone through several defensive coordinators and still been good. Theyve had three straight top 10 finishes and basically stayed as good this year as a year ago. That kind of defensive competency is exceedingly rare and either speaks to the otherwordly talents of their best players or the incredible depth they've built defensively. 

31 Definitely impressive…

Definitely impressive considering the changes from last season to this season. Change in DC being the biggest, but they also had guys from the secondary leave in free agency. The depth was definitely weaker this season. Having Donald, Ramsey, and a few other studs makes it a little easier, but Morris deserves a lot of props for the defensive success.

Ryans also deserves a lot of credit for the Niners defense this year. Not as much talent as 2 years ago, but they still played great and kept getting better as the season went along. 

52 This has been brought up…

This has been brought up before, but they have consistently had exceedingly good luck with injuries. To the point where it is being questioned whether it is an actual organisational ‘skill’. Their defense was certainly as close to full strength as could be possibly expected for this playoff run. 

7 The Rams won the Super Bowl…

The Rams won the Super Bowl because they established the run in the playoffs and wore teams down with that running game to open up the deep pass.

9 Rams established the run in playoffs??

Maybe worst run game ever to win a SB, 23 carries 1.9 per carry, 2.4 yards per carry in NFC Championship game, Cam Akers Fumblerama against Tampa, I must believe that this is the worst post season run game ever to advance to and then win a SB.

EDIT:  A whopping 3.7 per carry against ARI, I must give credit when credit is due.

27 I have a friend who kept…

In reply to by AFCNFCBowl

I have a friend who kept saying throughout the game that the Rams need to run it more, even though it was very clear that they couldn't do anything running the ball. He got mad every time they dropped back to pass. Very clueless. 

13 I haven't seen a wide enoigh…

I haven't seen a wide enoigh camera shot to see his other options, but I thought Stafford's int in the endzone on 3 and 18 was a reasonable arm-punt, and perhaps a good decision in context. When facing third and a mile, outside of fg range, having your receiver against one db in the end zone, for a high trajectory throw, is a pretty good outcome. Jefferson was just a nonentity, unfortunately.

So with one int a good decision, and one a pass a good NFL receiver catches, I'd not give Stafford any demerits for those ints. What's his score, if those two ints are incompletions instead?

14 There was some criticism…

There was some criticism that he had a checkdown open, but I wonder what yard line Gay needed, considering he missed a 47 yarder short these playoffs. It was 3rd-14 at the 43. I think they basically needed to convert or get close enough to go for it on 4th. But if 7+ yards weren't there, it's basically identical to a punt.

19 And with a decent effort by…

And with a decent effort by the receiver, it gives your team a nontrivial chance for an out-of-the-blue touchdown. Stafford tossed a one-on-one jump ball, for 6 points, from outside of field goal range, on 3rd and 14. That's not a bad outcome.

25 I blame Jefferson

I don't know the chemistry between Stafford and Jefferson. But most WRs on end zone deep balls will high point the ball. Jefferson was waiting in the end zone for the ball to come to him with a DB between him and the ball. OBJ probably catches that for a TD. Woods too. Kupp may or may not, but he'd have at least made sure it wasn't intercepted. That was a real lack of effort by Jefferson. 

47 It wasn't a bad outcome, all…

It wasn't a bad outcome, all things considered, but it was a bad process. Stafford pointed to Jefferson to go deep, so he did. And then Stafford underthrew the ball because he didn't set his feet. If Stafford had pushed it further out to the back pylon then Jefferson might have had a shot, but Bates had him totally boxed out.

15 Obj tore his acl. I…

Obj tore his acl. I absolutely hate seeing players suffer traumatic injuries in contract years. I get that the dude is a diva and made a lot of money already, but this is sad. Glad he got his ring. I hope he recovers but I am not hopeful and I would not blame him if he wants to retire now. 

17 As always

Darrell Henderson da bes Rams RB

Give it up haters! That includes you Mcvay!

18 It’s actually kind of…

It’s actually kind of amazing the Bengals made it this far while being completely incapable of blocking anybody.

20 Their defense deserves a lot…

Their defense deserves a lot of credit for playing well the entire playoffs aside from one half against KC. And unlike Bob Sanders rescuing the Colts run defense, there doesn't appear to be a clean explanation for why a unit that was below average during the regular season suddenly turned in so many spectacular performances. 

Frankly, Joe Flacco has taught me to regard all postseason out of body experiences as flukes. So I am not confident in a carry over for the Bengals' defense next year. 

22 +1

Add in that the Bengals got a good draw playing LV and TEN, and McPherson kicked 4-4 FG in two separate 3 point wins and a 7 point win.

His 14-14 FG in postseason will never be beaten, as no one will every get 14 FG tries in postseason ever again.  

28 RE: Bengals d

I was a fan of the Bengals defense early on as I saw positive components.  Good to great corner.  Good edge rusher.  Solid interior.  Known high quality safety.  The last one, Bates, was kind of up and down this season.  But in the playoffs he was everywhere doing everything.  Was he dealing with an injury most of the season?  Was it how it was being used?  Something off the field?  No idea.  But come the playoffs he seemed to transform into the best version of Polamalu which is high praise obviously.  

 

I am sure there is a lot more to the Bengals improvement then just one guy.  But wanted to share this observation because it has been something to see all playoffs

32 To be honest I'm beginning…

In reply to by big10freak

To be honest I'm beginning to think defense is really becoming the new run game. Meaning, it can meaningfully show up and shut down an opposing offense, but it's not something you can hang your at on each week short of being an all time unit like the 2013 Seahawks or the 2015 Broncos.

Case in point: the bills have been league's number one defense and number 1 pass defense and got completely annihilated by the Chiefs all game. And then the next week they get to face the 24th ranked pass defense and get completely shut down in the second half. 

How much of this is coming from randomness?

35 That may be true. I think my…

That may be true. I think my broader point is that defense, despite it showing up big in this game and past superbowls, appears to be less and less a viable long term strategy for team building. And since QB is now king, its shoehorning all strategies down the QB road.

Even the Rams. Next year, the favorites are the Chiefs and the Bills and that feels almost exclusively driven by offense. I bet if the Packers had full committment from Rodgers, they'd be the favorites again in the NFC.

I think the game has tilted to an unhealthy degree to the pass offense and this superbowl or the Bengals run is actually further proof of that imo. If defense has no predictability, it implies its a relative loser to sink resources into it as compared with offense. 

38 I don't think this is…

I don't think this is relatively new. Bill Polian invested a lot more in offense than defense when he ran the Colts during the Peyton years, and it resulted in them being a pretty consistent contender year after year. 

43 I think it depends on what…

I think it depends on what you're using to evaluate defense. A lot of defensive metrics are placing a heavy weight on turnovers because they are usually very important but we also know that turnovers tend to have a lot of luck involved. It isn't surprising to see a turnover reliant defense falter in a playoff game when they can't get turnovers. The Rams had good turnover numbers but they also led the NFL in pass rush win rate and run stop win rate. It is easier to rely on linemen who win their matchups consistently than it is on creating turnovers.

In the playoffs the Rams allowed 241 rushing yards on 72 carries (3.4 ypc) and got pressure on at least 20.6% of their opponents drop backs (PFR hasn't added the official hurries and hits stats on Burrow so the pressure rate for that game is just the 17% of his dropbacks that resulted in sacks). They got the play they had all season.

DVOA's other top defenses: 

  • Dallas was middle of the pack in pass rush  and run stop win rate, they got good pressure vs Jimmy G but gave up 169 yards on 38 carries.
  • Buffalo was 6th in pass rush win rate but middle of the pack in run stop  and got gashed for 182 yards on 27 carries vs KC (they also couldn't get to Mahomes).
  • New England was bad in pass rush win rate but good in run stop win rate, they got virtually no pressure on Allen and wound up getting gashed by him too.
  • Arizona was bad at stopping the run and middle of the pack in pass rush. They got little pressure on Stafford and gave up 140 yards on 38 carries
  • SF is the only other team in the top in stopping the run and pass rush. Like LA, their defense showed up and held Dallas, GB, and LA in check on the ground while getting good pressure on Dak, Rodgers, and Stafford. They lost because of conservative play-calling and a dropped INT. 

 

44 I guess my main point is…

I guess my main point is this: No matter what metrics you use, offense is more predictive year to year than defense. And I suspect, though havent looked, that the week to week variability is bigger on defense than it is on offense. Those are two pretty big advantages over defense.

I am not trying to diminish defense or claim its completely random. Of course not. But it does kind of suggest that in today's nfl until this factoid disappears, everyone is better off chasing offense over defense EVEN IF everyone else is doing it anyways.

It will never happen, but I would prefer a rule change that helps defense out some. Even simple things would go a long way. Like defensive holding not leading to an automatic first down(can be a 10 yard penalty instead); or offensive pi becoming a loss of downs and a 10 yard penalty. Making defensive PI reviewable and not a sham when it is. 

48 6 of the top 10 teams…

6 of the top 10 teams offensive DVOA for 2021 appeared in the 2020 top 10. The only one of those 6 who changed their qb for 2021 was LAR. The 4 teams to in the top 10 in 2021 but not in 2020 were quarterbacked by Justin Herbert (rookie in 2020), Jimmy Garoppolo (out for most of 2020), Dak Prescott (out for most of 2020), and Mac Jones (???). I think that the year-to-year correlation in offensive quality is mostly a quarterback issue. It's not that a team should prioritize offensive spending or defensive spending, it's that a team needs to find a quality quarterback to sustain success. That's it. That's the whole secret to roster building.

54 Yeah this. What I would say…

Yeah this. What I would say is that we are just emerging from an era characterised by ultra-consistent, durable QB play. Headlined by Brady, Brees, Rodgers obviously, but also with several similarly long-tenured players a notch or two below (Rivers, Ben, Ryan). Basically players who could be relied on to play at a good-elite level come what may.

The only mid-career guy I can think of who fits that description is Wilson. Of the young guys, the only one who I am truly confident will remain top tier next season is Mahomes. Prescott, Allen, Herbert, Jackson have not yet displayed that multi-year consistency/durability. I don’t think there is any guarantee that we will continue to see the same levels of elite offensive consistency as we have seen in the past decade +.

49 Buffalo was 6th in pass rush…

Buffalo was 6th in pass rush win rate but middle of the pack in run stop  and got gashed for 182 yards on 27 carries vs KC (they also couldn't get to Mahomes).

Those stats are one and the same - a huge chunk of KC's run game was on Mahomes' scrambles.

42 That's true, but at that…

That's true, but at that point, your bottom line actions might be the same.  Since you wouldn't be able to rely on consistently great defensive play, as it relies on too many unpredictable factors, you might as well focus more on building a great offense.

58 I suspect defensive…

I suspect defensive consistency suffers from being the reactive unit.  One weak link and you need to scheme around protecting him, two weak links and the scheming gets tougher, three weak links and you're going to get exploited.  A little bit of player turnover or injuries can have a big effect and even week-to-week some Os will be able to exploit your weaknesses better than others.

Where I would expect to see more consistency is with defenses built around strong pass rushers and a shutdown corner, because in today's football that's always good and QB pressure, whether due to the rush or coverage, is a good predictor of offensive success.  An interior DL who makes short yardage run gains more challenging is also really useful.

I don't think it makes sense to not invest in your defense across the board.  I think it makes sense to invest in these high impact positions on your defense and then after that, investing more in your defense likely risks being less effective unless you can invest relatively equally across all remaining positions. 

21 Aborted XP result

Does ST DVOA merely reflect the play's outcome (missed PAT) or did the Bengals' "interception" of Hekker's heave with the possibility of a defensive 2pt conversion have some additional impact?

30 The missed XP ended up being…

The missed XP ended up being an underrated aspect of the game. If the score is 20-17 on the Rams last drive, what are the odds McVay gets conservative and ends up settling for a FG? Who knows what happens after that. 

36 I'm not sure if this thread…

I'm not sure if this thread is the best place to post this, but I feel like Cooper Kupp just completed the most impressive and successful individual player-season I've ever seen in my life. His combined regular + postseason catches and yards smashed the all-time records, and his 22 TDs are second only to 07 Moss. He played 21 games, and had over 90 yards in 19 of them, and caught a TD in 15 of them. He was an impact player in all four playoff games, with a 33-478-6 line, and scored the game-winning TD and was named MVP of the Super Bowl despite being the team's only healthy receiving threat on the field in the second half.

Many players have had seasons in which they put up crazy numbers, and different seasons in which they won the Super Bowl - famously, no league MVP has won the SB since 99 Kurt Warner (as a side note, it's shocking that Brady's 3 MVPs were all in separate seasons from his 7 SB wins). There are very few players that have ever accomplished the combination of crazy regular season offensive stats + record breaking playoff run + SB MVP all in the same season like Kupp just did. 

37 I was one years old in 1986,…

I was one years old in 1986, but that year LT won the sack crown that year, 1st team all pro, defensive player of the year, and oh boy, MVP. The Giants also won the SB in a complete route, with the Broncos scoring 10 pts total until garbage time.

Someone who watched the game can comment how LT individually played in the Sb( the box score shows 0 sacks).

That's the only other name that jumps to me. 

46 LT didn't stand out at all ...

i was fairly young and was a huge Giants fan and LT was a monster all year...the first half was tight but LT didn't stand out except for one play; i felt bad for Denver as they were the obvious better team but couldn't score. the second half turned into the Phil Simms show (88% completion rate, 3 TDs) and again LT was just part of the gang that kept making Elway look bad

39 2005 Steve Smith

The comparison I can think of is 2005 Steve Smith, especially if you adjust for era and Delhomme. Smith won the receiving triple crown with 103/1563/12, and was #1 in DVOA (29.3%) and DYAR (512). 

His playoff numbers that year:

Wild Card: 10-84-1 @ NYG

Divisional: 12-218-2 @ CHI

NFCCG: 5-33-0 @ SEA

That box score vs Seattle looks terrible, unless you watched the game and saw why those numbers were so terrible. This was the game where he famously drew quadruple-coverage on occasion (two CBs, a LB, and a safety over the top), and Delhomme still couldn't find an open receiver. (He obviously wasn't covered like that the whole game, but he always had at least two DBs on him). He also had a 59-yard punt return for a TD in that game. 

41 2008 Larry Fitzgerald is…

In reply to by Independent George

2008 Larry Fitzgerald is probably still the gold standard for playoff WR performances, with four straight games of over 100 yards and a TD. He's the only one ahead of Kupp in single season playoff yards and TDs. His regular season, though, was more "typical all-pro WR" level (96-1,431-12) than near-record setting like Kupp's, and of course, though by no fault of his own, he didn't come away with a SB victory. 

This was before my time, but Jerry Rice's 1989 is sick too: 82-1,483-17 regular season followed by 19-317-5 in three playoff games, including 7-148-3 in the SB blowout win over Denver. 

But I don't think any WR quite put it all together in one year like Kupp just did. 

40 Not all INTs are the Same

One of the Stafford INTs was on 3rd and long on their own half of the field, and it essentially amounted to a prayer shot that preceded the punt. I wonder if that kind of a play should have the same postive and negative impact on efficiency numbers of the offense and the defense as an incomplete pass would.

45 It basically does. The third…

It basically does. The third-and-14 INT was worth -3 DYAR. Stafford had a dozen incomplete pass that had more negative value. In fact, he had two COMPLETIONS that had more negative value. 

57 Arm Punts

Just out of curiosity, when did the term "Arm Punt" make it into the football lexicon? I can't remember exactly when I first heard it, but (1) I remember thinking it made perfect sense, and (2) I was kind of bummed that I didn't think of it first.