DVOA Week 1: NFC West is Best

DVOA Week 1: NFC West is Best Aaron Schatz 14 Sep 2021, 03:29 pm

Matthew Stafford

The New Orleans Saints lead the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after Week 1, thanks to their 38 -3 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. But the real headline is the hot start for the NFC West. The four teams from that separation all finish in the top six for Week 1, with the Rams at No. 2, the Cardinal at No. 4, the 49 ers at No. 5, and the Seahawks at No. 6.

The AFC West also swept its Week 1 games, but those squads are not as high-pitched in our ratings after playing closer plays. We have Denver at No. 9, the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 15, Las Vegas at No. 15, and Kansas City down at No. 22. The Chiefs are the only team to win in Week 1 despite a lower DVOA rating than their foe, the Cleveland Browns.

( Of course, though I’m calling our main metric DVOA here, it is actually VOA because there are no opponent changes right now. We do not apply opponent readjustments until after Week 4, so in Weeks 1-3 DVOA and VOA are the same thing .)

The close win over Cleveland doesn’t hurt the Chiefs very much in our DAVE ratings. Those are the ratings that combine our preseason projection with the outcome of that early games to give us a better prediction of how each team will grade at the end of the year. For those who don’t know the story, this metric is called DAVE as a reaction to criticism that our stats are too much alphabet soup. I mean, who can argue with a person named Dave?( Technically, it stands for “DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early.”) In these week’s DAVE, the preseason forecast still counts for 93% of the rating. Still, Week 1 did do some changing to DAVE, with the Saints and Rams in particular moving up while the Packers and Titans fell.

Kansas City thumping Cleveland despite the lower DVOA lets me introduce a brand-new toy that I’ve been playing with over the last few weeks. It’s called Post-Game Win Expectancy( PGWE ). The theory is this: How often should we expect each team to win an NFL game given how the two teams played overall? We all know there are close plays where the “wrong team wins, ” or at least it seems like the wrong team wins. This is a measurement of that.

This idea comes immediately from Bill Connelly, who does something similar for college football. The Football Outsiders NFL PGWE is going to work a bit differently from what Connelly does. His PGWE consists of elements that go into his SP+ formula, such as success rates, marginal explosiveness, turnover fortunes, and median field stance. Our PGWE consists specifically of DVOA divides. Well, technically they are actually VOA splits, because antagonist accommodations are not included.( You don’t get a bonus for playing Kansas City when it comes to the actual game on the field and turning your play into a win or a loss .) The PGWE formula uses both total VOA and VOA split into passing and hastening, with move roughly three times as important as rushing in the formula. Yes, as you probably imagine, the team that extends better is more likely to win the game than the team that runs the ball better. Special crews DVOA is also part of the formula.

I tried to include some variables other than VOA separates in my PGWE formula, including penalties or penalty gardens, total number of plays, and explosive plays( both plays over 10 yards and plays over 20 gardens ). None of those intention up improving the correlation with actual wins. One thing I didn’t do which is part of Bill Connelly’s formula is to account for the idea that interceptions are a somewhat random percentage of moves defensed in the same way that fumble recoveries are a somewhat random percentage of actual fumbles. Instead, DVOA only accounts for the actual interceptions. This is something I want to play around with in the future.

You’re probably to look at the PGWE for Week 1 of the 2021 season, so without further ado 😛 TAGEND

Post-Game Win Expectancy, Week 1 2021

Win Pts Loss Pts PGWE

NO 38 GB 3 99.97%

ARI 38 TEN 13 99.97%

PHI 32 ATL 6 99.92%

LAR 34 CHI 14 99.7%

SF 41 DET 33 99.6%

HOU 37 JAX 21 97%

SEA 28 IND 16 97%

CAR 19 NYJ 14 97%

PIT 23 BUF 16 86%

TB 31 DAL 29 80%

DEN 27 NYG 13 80%

MIA 17 NE 16 69%

LV 33 BAL 27 60%

KC 33 CLE 29 41%

LAC 20 WAS 16 40%

CIN 27 MIN 24 34%

As you can see , not all close games are created equal when it comes to PGWE. The formula being of the opinion that the Panthers( 34.3% VOA) significantly outplayed the Airplane( -4 0.5%) and the 49 ers( 39.0% VOA) altogether outplayed the Lions( -5 4.6% VOA ). On the other hand, “youve had” three different plays where PGWE has an unexpected winner. The specific separates of VOA matter here, because in only one of these games( Chiefs-Browns) did the losing team actually end up with a higher total VOA than the victory team.

The Cincinnati-Minnesota game may be the most interesting one here. Both teams pointed up with positive VOA overall, but the PGWE is based on the idea that extending is usually more important than hastening. Therefore, Minnesota purposes up with the higher PGWE thanks to an advantage of 51% to 38% in pass offense DVOA, even though Cincinnati had a larger advantage of -9% to -4 5% in run offense DVOA. Of track, pass/ extended ratio contents as well, which is why the formula also incoporates total VOA( specifically, total defensive VOA) but even here the Vikings were slightly higher, 2.4% to 5.3%. The big difference between PGWE and the result of this game was retributions, where Minnesota had 12 of them for 116 gardens while Cincinnati had only three for 15 yards.

The Chargers-Washington game is also about the difference between passing and hastening. This may surprised to see me dedicated how many accolades Justin Herbert got for some great hurls in this game, but it was Washington that finished with the better pass offense VOA, 24% to 4 %. The Chargers were the better rushing team, -1 9% to -3 7 %. The Chargers were the better offense overall because passing is generally more efficient than rushing and was in this game, and the Chargers passed about two-thirds of the time while Washington passed only slightly more than half the time.

The Kansas City-Cleveland ensue shall not be required to be surprised to see me, specially if you know that Cleveland outgained Kansas City on average 8.2 to 6.5 gardens per play-act. As referred to above, it wasn’t simply PGWE, Cleveland also has the higher VOA rating in total for the game.

Last year, there was a. 80 correlation between PGWE and actual wins.( This is slightly higher than the correlation that Bill Connelly has for his college version of PGWE, which is. 78.) To give an example of the kind of game where the final result is very different from the PGWE, here are the five most “unexpected” wins from the 2020 regular season, the games with the lowest PGWE for the team that took the win 😛 TAGEND

1) Week 9, New England 30 at New York Jet 27( 6 %): This was a Monday night game which the Patriots won with a last-second field goal. Joe Flacco subbed for an injured Sam Darnold and was fantastic, 18 -of-2 5 for 262 yards through the air. So the Plane had 115% pass offense VOA compared to 66% pass offense VOA for the Patriots. Overall, the Airplane outgained the Patriots 7.3 to 5.7 gardens per play-act, but the Patriots passed much more play-acts, 76 to 44. “The winning team extended many more plays despite being less efficient” is a general topic of “unexpected wins.” As noted above, I tried to account for this by adding a variable based on the number of plays each crew had, but it didn’t do anything to improve the formula.

2) Week 12, Arizona 17 at New England 20( 7 %): Here we go with the Patriots again. New England won this play despite -1 44% pass offense VOA. Cam Newton was 9-of-18 for just 84 gardens with two interceptions and three sackings. Overall, the Cardinals had more gardens per play( 4.3 to 3.5) and ran away more play-acts( 70 to 51 ). The Cardinals won the turnover battle (+ 1) and the two teams had the same number of penalties. In retrospect, a mind-boggling loss for Arizona.

3) Week 2, New Orleans 24 at Las Vegas 34( 12% ): You probably remember this game, a Monday night contest where the Saints devoted roughly 11 billion retributions. OK, technically it was 10 for 129 yards compared to the Raiders having merely three for 13 yards. The Saints outgained the Raiders in this game, 7.4 to only 5.0 gardens per play-act, and the turnover duel was even, and the Saints lost anyway chiefly because of all those penalties. Drew Brees looked bad despite gaining all those gardens and everybody talked about how his arm as shot. I had to spend a lot of period explaining this one in the DVOA column the next day.

4) Week 5, Indianapolis 23 at Cleveland 32( 16% ): This is an interesting one because the two teams were essentially even in offensive and defensive VOA although the Colts did outgain the Browns 5.9 to 5.3 gardens per play-act. The large-scale crack was in special teams, mainly because Isaiah Rodgers had a 101 -yard kick return for a touchdown for the Colts. And yet the Colts lost the game anyway.

5) Week 5, Tampa Bay 19 at Chicago 20( 17% ): This was a Thursday night game, another one you probably remember. It was to come up for much of the season as evidence that the Buccaneers were fighting even though DVOA had them as one of the top two or three crews in the league. The Bucs outgained the Bears 5.3 to 4.1 gardens per play and ran more play-acts as well, with the turnover combat even at one apiece, but the Bucs had issues finishing drives( four field goals) and then Tom Brady lost way of the downs when the Bucs were trying to come back in the final minute.

*****

Football Outsiders playoff odds are updated through Week 1. The annual stats pages are now updated with 2021 data, while some of that data can be kind of sketchy after just 1 week( in particular the offensive line and defensive line pages ). Snap counts and the FO+ DVOA database are also now amply updated through Week 1.

There’s a technical matter with the player statu stats pages that’s deterring us from presenting most musician stats because of how the table minimums are specified. We’re working on set that issue.

A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats , now necessitate registration to view. This is not a paywall! You simply need to register( free of charge) and then log in to the site to view these pages. While you’re at it, you can get a seven-day trial of FO+ and check out the FO+ features like a deeper DVOA database, weekly fantasy projections, fantasy football research tools, and selects against the spread.

*****

These is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through one week of 2021, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average( DVOA) structure 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 median.( Explained further here .) Please note that there are no opposing changes in DVOA until after Week 4, which is why it is listed here as VOA.

OFFENSE and DEFENSE VOA are adjusted for performance indoors and consider all fumbles, continued 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.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason prediction with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a squad will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 93% preseason prognosi and 7% actual performance.

To save people some time, delight use the following format for all complaints 😛 TAGEND

is clearly ranked because. is route better than this.

RK TEAM TOTAL

DVOA TOTAL DAVE RANK W-L OFF. VOA OFF. RANK DEF. VOA DEF. RANK S.T. DVOA S.T. RANK

1 NO 78.4% 9.8% 6 1-0 25.4% 7 -4 5.8% 1 7.1% 5 2 LAR 67.2% 12.1% 4 1-0 56.6% 2 -9. 1% 11 1.5% 11 3 PHI 56.5% -5.8% 22 1-0 21.8% 9 -3 1.8% 4 2.8% 9 4 ARI 52.4% 2.7% 17 1-0 11.7% 13 -4 3.0% 2 -2. 3% 20 5 SF 39.0% 9.6% 7 1-0 35.8% 3 -8. 3% 13 -5. 1% 25 6 Sea 35.5% 11.9% 5 1-0 29.5% 5 -7. 2% 14 -1. 2% 16 7 Car 34.3% -7.8% 25 1-0 0.2% 15 -3 5.8% 3 -1. 7% 17 8 HOU 30.2% -18.7% 31 1-0 -1. 7% 17 -2 8.0% 6 3.9% 7 9 Den 20.9% 4.3% 13 1-0 26.6% 6 5.8% 20 0.2% 14 10 MIA 17.7% 3.0% 16 1-0 5.0% 14 -9. 8% 10 3.0% 8 11 CLE 16.8% 3.5% 15 0-1 57.1% 1 30.3% 28 -1 0.0% 29 12 CIN 15.6% -5.6% 21 1-0 12.8% 12 5.3% 19 8.1% 4 13 TB 14.9% 20.3% 1 1-0 17.5% 10 16.3% 24 13.7% 1 14 MIN 8.9% 5.3% 10 0-1 -1. 1% 16 2.4% 18 12.4% 2 15 LAC 5.7% -7.1% 24 1-0 -4. 9% 20 -1 4.6% 7 -4. 0% 24 16 Pit 4.4% 4.6% 12 1-0 -1 3.9% 26 -2 8.7% 5 -1 0.4% 30

Click here for the full table.

1

I wonder if I’m in the …

I wonder if I’m in minority communities, but I would much favor posting the entire DVOA table.

3

I agree .

In reply to by theslothook

I agree.

17

Thirded

In reply to by theslothook

Count me in too. The bottom objective is often as interesting as the top.

19

Yes please. It’s far better …

In reply to by theslothook

Yes please. It’s far better for me as well.

20

Strongly concur .

In reply to by theslothook

Strongly concur.

24

Me Six

In reply to by JIPanick

I agree; why have us make the additional click?

27

That’s why

In reply to by Raiderfan

Guys, the entire DVOA table is for paying members. Umm, the staff members here does have to make a living, you know.

30

Actually …

In reply to by BigRichie

Registered members, actually! We simply need you to register for the site. It’s not behind a paywall.

31

DON’T HAVE TO PAY

In reply to by BigRichie

You don’t have to pay to see the whole table. Simply be registered. I still find it annoying to have to make another click. If I’m on a desktop/ laptop where split screen/ multi screen is easy it’s still easy to reference the whole thing for specific comments. But on a mobile device I can’t simply scroll back up to see the whole table. It were really stir more feel if it was behind a paywall and not just a registration wall. Though I guess a bot scraping data would have a harder time get it with only the registration wall. Maybe there is another reason, perhaps registration walls have some proven link to engagement or something. To me it’s only annoying.

32

No, anyone can access the …

In reply to by BigRichie

No, anyone can access the entire DVOA table, simply by snap through — paid member or not.

The only thing it requires is to have an account — not even an FO+ report, merely a regular, free report!

( Though, yes, I find I do enjoy both meat and shelter .)

2

“The Chargers-Washington …

“The Chargers-Washington game is also about the difference between passing and rushing. This may surprised to see me afforded how many accolades Justin Herbert got for some great hurls in this game, but it was Washington that finished with the better pass offense VOA, 24% to 4 %. The Chargers were the better rushing team, -1 9% to -3 7 %. And in an example of Simpson’s paradox, the Chargers were the better offense overall because extending is generally more efficient than rushing and was in this game, and the Chargers passed about two-thirds of the time while Washington passed only slightly more than half the time.”

This isn’t an example of Simpson’s Paradox. It would be if the Chargers had worse passing DVOA and worse hastening DVOA, but higher overall DVOA.

Here’s how it could work( ignoring penalites ):

– LAC extends 50 pass plays at 10% DVOA, 20 rush play-acts at -1 0% DVOA – WAS operates 20 pass plays at 15% DVOA, 50 hurry play-acts at -5% DVOA

LAC’s overall DVOA would be 4.3% (*), while WA’Ss would be 0.7% (**), because of the play-act distribution.

(*)( 50* 10+ 20* -1 0)/ 70 (**)( 20* 15+ 50* -5)/ 70

7

Oops

In reply to by Eddo

You are right! I’ll edit that out.

12

Sorry to nitpick – it’s merely …

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Sorry to nitpick – it’s only that Simpson’s Paradox is often quite interesting, so I have an eye for it.

23

While we’re nitpicking, it’s …

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

While we’re nitpicking, it’s “no further ado, ” not “no further adieu.”

4

DVOA Scale

These DVOA numbers seem style bigger( both for the high DVOA and low-toned DVOA teams) than they have been in the past. Did the estimate alter?

8

Nope

In reply to by splutch

Nothing has changed. You’re only reacting to seeing simply one week of DVOA instead of several weeks. Once squads give full play several plays, the numbers will come closer to 0 %.

15

78. 4% actually seems kinda …

In reply to by splutch

78. 4% actually seems kinda low-spirited for a weekly leader, based on my remembers of past Week 1s. I think there’s typically someone at 90+%.

5

Packers

I’m curious how squads that have had Week 1 VOAs as bad as the Packers( -9 4.6) have fared historically in terms of final DVOA higher-rankings or shaping the playoffs. More broadly, are Week 1 ensues more/ less/ the same correlation to full season makes compared to any other individual week of the season?

34

Let’s run some amounts

In reply to by nickqp

For 1983 -2 020, there are 44 squads that had a DVOA of -9 0% or worse after Week 1. Eight of those crews constructed the playoffs, including last year’s Cleveland Browns. An additional team( 1990 Seahawks) had a winning record but missed the playoffs. Nonetheless, only four of those crews graded in the DVOA top 10 by the end of the year: 1985 Jet-blacks, 1997 Steelers, 2003 Patriots, and 2011 Steelers.

35

How often does a great team play that bad ?

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Do teams that finish in the top-5 in DVOA( or thereabouts) lose games like that very often? That feels more useful than i look at an isolated week, at least in terms of whether to panic about the Packers or not.

36

They hate their tutor

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

I think that 2003 Pats play was the Lawyer Milloy game, where they got absolutely destroyed by the Bills .. 35 -3 or something like that. And then went on to go 14 -2 and win the SB. Not sure how those other squads fared though…

37

They hate their tutor

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

I think that 2003 Pats game was the Lawyer Milloy game, where they got absolutely destroyed by the Bills .. 35 -3 or something like that. And then went on to go 14 -2 and win the SB. Not sure how those other teams fared though…

6

Updated DAVE

Where does one determine the updated DAVE for offense, defense and special squads by squad? Used to be easy to find on the old locate, but I can’t seem to find it.

11

Free stats pages

In reply to by colunchbox

These stats are in the same place they’ve always been, the free stats pages. Hover over the Statistics dropdown menu above, then click on “Offense” or “Defense” under “Overall DVOA” and you’ll find the DAVE stats on those tables.

9

Simpson

” And in an example of Simpson’s paradox…”

It would only be Simpson’s paradox if WAS had better DVOA in both hasten and extending, but LAC had better offensive DVOA overall.

Oh, I insure Eddo already said this.

OK, it’s simply Simpson’s paradox if Dr. Hibbert and Nick Riviera are involved.

Wait…that’s a pair o’ docs…

13

One of my all-time favorite …

In reply to by RickD

One of my all-time favorite Simpsons lines.

“Among the charges … Performing surgery with a knife and fork”

18

Heyyyy….did you go to …

In reply to by theslothook

Heyyyy….did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too?

14

One of my all-time favorite …

In reply to by RickD

/

10

NFC West

Looked to be the toughest division in football before the year. Priors: substantiated!

16

8-0 collectively for the two …

In reply to by Sportszilla

8-0 collectively for the two West splits. Mr. Mojo Risin’ was right: the west is the best!

28

Another insane tidbit about …

In reply to by Sportszilla

Another insane tidbit about the NFC West teams. Every single team held a 3 score leading at some degree in the second half of the year. 3 of those were on the road in 10 am PST plays. That is an insane stat because of how much tougher those early start road games generally are for west coast squads. This divide is going to be absolutely nuts.

21

I have to say, as a fan of …

I have to say, as a fan of the Rams, I am desperately hoping the DAVE rankings for the NFCW is more accurate. 4th( Rams) 5th( Hawks) 7th( 9ers) and 17 th( Cards) is a division that, while very good in football by a mile, is one you can reasonably hope to go 4-2 in.

In contrast, the DVOA of 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th would make the NFCW easily the best division in all NFL history. And it’s not just the rankings, every single team mashed their foes last week, with the 9ers looking like the worst team, merely for DVOA to explain that the game was less close than the score.

And it’s really hard to see why the DVOA is so far off. The Rams have basically the exact same team, with a strong upgrade at QB. The Cards have a third year QB getting better, plus other listing adds-on. The 9ers have all players returning from hurt, with the possibility of upgrading from Garoppolo. The Hawks look to remain a~ 20% DVOA team, because why wouldn’t they?

I genuinely don’t insure what the cause for hope would be for one of these teams objective up even as simply median, besides ghastly injury luck. Maybe the Cards won’t understand Murray take the next step forwards, but he sure seemed to yesterday when they were dismantling what everyone thought was a decent Titans crew.

As ever, by the end of the season I’m sure something will happen to make this take search exceedingly foolish.

26

Depth or absence thereof

In reply to by theTDC

Every QB in the division except Wilson has injury concerns that scope from moderate-to-serious, and of course Wilson is just one play away from catastrophe himself.

Beyond that, all of these teams are “il rely on”( very talented) older players are crucial points: the Rams, 49 ers, and Seahawks at left tackle, the Cardinals on the D-line, and all of them have real question marks in the secondary.

Week One with basically everyone at full strength is something, but who can stay health or overcome injuries will go a long, long way to determining the split, as unfun as that is to mention.

22

Small sample size theater !

Despite still having to play the entire AFCW, the Bengals now have the 2nd easiest remaining schedule. Thanks, GB!( and the rest of the NFCN and Jax, I guess ). Clearly it’s all smooth sailing from here! I necessitate “Cincinnati is clearly ranked too low because everyone knows the first week defines the feeling for the rest of the year! Desperate straw-grasping is space better than this! ”

25

I have to say, as a fan of …

EDIT: Website glitched out for me. Double post.

29

One of the most interesting …

One of the most interesting aspects of the 2021 season is the 5 new first round rookie QBs. My impression of them, watching only the~ 10 time YouTube highlights from video games, then blending that with what others are saying.

1) Trevor Lawrence made a few very nice throws, combined with a few frightful mistakes. Kind of middle of the line.

2) Zach Wilson I’ve heard mixed things. One person said he didn’t belong. Another said he made some very nice throws. I’ve also heard he was hit a lot, and that’s a bit worrying.

3) Trey Lance. Just a few plays, but he seemed good when doing his package.

4) Justin Fields. See above. I did watch this entire game as a rams devotee, and I thought he looked penalty doing his package play-acts, if not really noteworthy other than being a rookie.

5) Mac Jones. Many think he had the best week, and I read a lot of very precise passes, but even widened highlights can skew opinion.

Curious to see what others here belief, specially if you learnt the full plays these people played.

33

Thanks for the walkthrough

🙂

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