DVOA Week 3: Schedule Will Get Harder for Steelers, Cardinals, and Giants

DVOA Week 3: Schedule Will Get Harder for Steelers, Cardinals, and Giants Aaron Schatz 28 Sep 2021, 04:00 pm

James Conner

Powered by the No. 1 protection through the early part of the 2021 season, the Carolina Panthers sit atop a tightly packed give of DVOA ratings for the second straight week. Less than three percentage points separate the top four squads: Carolina, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona. Denver grades fifth, a couple more percentage points behind the top four.

But if you look at it a different way, the Arizona Cardinals have moved to No. 1 in the DVOA ratings after a 31 -1 9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Denver is close behind in second place. The rest of the five largest proceeds Cleveland, Los Angeles, and then Carolina.

The difference between the two listings? Opponent readjustments, and which are relevant to a alteration I decided to make for this season.

Historically, Football Outsiders has not applied antagonist changes in DVOA until Week 4. But every couple of years, we run into a situation where the DVOA ratings only appear kind of hokey after three weeks because the opponent changes aren’t being applied yet. This time, for example, some of the teams at the top of the ratings have clearly picked on the have-nots of the league. Denver’s three foes, for example, are a combined 0-6 in their other plays, although DVOA is surprisingly sanguine about the New York Giants.( They grade 18 th !) Buffalo’s three antagonists have at least won plays, but DVOA sure doesn’t like them, grading the three squads 23 rd( Washington ), 24 th( Pittsburgh ), and 25 th( Miami ).

So I started yesterday and did some research and experimenting, extending Week 3 for the past few years as if it had opponent changes and comparing it to the actual Week 3 numbers that didn’t include opposing readjustments. And what I saw was … it didn’t matter. The correlation between Week 3 DVOA with foe readjustments and DVOA at the end of the season was the same as the correlation for DVOA without opposing adjustments.

So, I was left with a dilemma: include the adjustments or not? In the end, I felt that the ratings with the adversary adjustments extended the eye test better than the ratings without, and since the correlation was the same, I is reasonable to go with either. And so, this year we’ve got antagonist adjustments a little earlier than usual. Nonetheless, I simply did such adjustments at 30% strength so they fall in line with what we’ll do in future weeks. Next week, the adjustments will go to 40% like they always do, they’ll be 50% after Week 5, and so on until we are currently in 100% after Week 10.( Note that the individual stats do not have the adjustment for annoying code reasons; such adjustments on individual stats will begin next week like usual .)

If I told you that I was applying adversary accommodations early without reveal you the table of the top crews in DVOA, “youre supposed to” would guess that Carolina would be one of the teams to take a big hit. Surprisingly, the Panthers stay almost exactly the same. Sure, the Panthers have played the Plane, and the Airplane have been very bad. They’ve also played the Texans, but the Texans haven’t been horrendous in the early going. They currently rank 19 th in DVOA. The Panthers also dismantled a Saints team that played phenomenal in its other two games, and now grades eighth in DVOA. So there isn’t much opponent change for Carolina, and the Panthers stay in the No. 1 spot.

Here’s a look at how the top ten change formerly we add in adversary adjustments at 30% strength 😛 TAGEND

DVOA Through Week 3, 2021

Original, No Opp. Adjustments New, 30% Opp. Readjustments

Rk Team DVOA Rk Team DVOA 1 ARI 45.3% 1 CAR 40.1% 2 DEN 43.9% 2 CLE 38.8% 3 CLE 41.0% 3 LAR 37.8% 4 LAR 40.6% 4 ARI 37.5% 5 CAR 40.5% 5 DEN 34.1% 6 BUF 36.4% 6 BUF 29.8% 7 SEA 25.1% 7 TB 24.2% 8 TB 22.7% 8 NO 22.7% 9 CIN 21.2% 9 DAL 21.6% 10 NO 21.1% 10 SEA 19.2%

Seattle is one of the teams that drops-off now that we’re applying opponent changes, but you may be wondering what on earth the 1-2 Seahawks are doing this high in DVOA anyway. Seattle has positive DVOA for all three of its plays this year, including both losings. In fact, Seattle had 25.3% DVOA for this week’s loss to the Vikings, despite losing by double digits. Look closer at the box score and this does stir some feel. The Seahawks outgained Minnesota on a per-play basis, 7.5 gardens to 6.2 gardens, and had no turnovers.

However, there’s more involved than this. One of the flaws of DVOA is how it treats drives at the end of a half. I’ve never figured out a good way to be disposed of these “meaningless yards” and improve DVOA’s predictive ability. And the Seahawks had a lot of these meaningless yards in this week’s loss to Minnesota. They had three extends for 54 yards at the end of the first half, including a 31 -yard gain with one second left that didn’t score and couldn’t stop the clock for a field goal. They had another four pass for 39 gardens at the end of the second half, going from their own 1 to their own 40.

How much do these “meaningless yards” change Seattle’s DVOA on the season? The rating varies a lot, but the higher-rankings don’t change that much. Overall, Seattle’s offensive DVOA autumns 5.7% DVOA without considering these seven plays. But this would decline the Seahawks just one region in overall DVOA, from 10 th to 11 th, and only one place in offensive DVOA, from second to third. Over a 17 -game season, the consequences of these play-acts will become smaller and smaller and mostly wash out to where it won’t build much difference by the time we get to the end of the year. And I’ll keep looking in the offseason for the best way to disqualify play-acts based on the game situation — or whether I should be disqualifying those plays at all. Perhaps it is more accurate to include them even if they seem meaningless. That’s the research results I’ve get in the past.

Meaningless yards don’t play any role in how well we rate the Seattle defense, though, and the inability of the Seattle defense does seem to be overstated by the Seattle fan base right now. This has not been the worst defense in the league, or close to it. The Seahawks rank 24 th right now in defensive DVOA. They grade 26 th in success rate permitted. Seattle ranks No. 1 in gardens let because they rank No. 1 in fight plays from scrimmage. Their 5.8 yards allowed per play-act ranks 17 th in the NFL.( Compare that to Seattle’s 7.4 yards per play, which ranks firstly in the conference by more than half a yard .) It’s hard to figure out why opponents have so many play-acts against Seattle. It’s not like the Seahawks can’t get off the field on third down — they actually have a very median -1. 4% DVOA on third and fourth downs! It’s a bad defense, but it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as people are making it out to be.

Yes, as you can probably imagine, the Seahawks have a crazy halftime split in their concert. On offense, they move from 62.6% DVOA before halftime to -1 0.2% DVOA after halftime. There’s no such change on defense, though, as their defensive DVOA is slightly better in the second half (8. 7 %) than in the first half( 15.2% ).

What team is the opposite of the Seahawks? Probably the Los Angeles Chargers. You’re probably wondering how on earth the Chargers can be simply 22 nd in DVOA. Didn’t they just vanquished the unbeatable Kansas City Chiefs? Yet the Chargers have negative DVOA in all three plays this year!

OK, it’s not that negative in two of the games. The Chargers currently get -1. 4% DVOA for their close Week 1 win over Washington, which DVOA sees as essentially a tie. They currently get -7. 6% DVOA for their win over the Chiefs, as the Chiefs have the slightly higher DVOA despite losing. Los Angeles will see that rating come near as the adversary accommodations get stronger, especially if the Chiefs are as good as we all envision, but right now there’s basically no adjustment for playing the Chiefs because Kansas City grades only 15 th overall. The surprising rating might be -2 4.1% for the Week 2 loss to Dallas, which seems low-spirited since that one was close as well, but the Cowboys did outgain the Chargers( 7.0 to 6.6) and win the turnover battle.

Really, DVOA isn’t that far off from other efficiency stats when it comes to the Chargers. Los Angeles is currently 13 th in yards per play-act and 24 th in yards per play-act allowed. They are 11 th in success rates but 31 st in success rates allowed at 56%. Merely Kansas City( 59%) has allowed success on a higher rate of plays based on our explanation of a successful play.

Another team that will surprise you in DVOA is the 0-3 New York Giants, who somehow grade 18 th, ahead of Green Bay and the Chargers. Well, you know how bad that Week 1 Green Bay loss was, so that duty may not be a shock, but still, the Monster are rather high for an 0-3 team. In fact, they are the 10 th-highest 0-3 crew in DVOA history.( Before applying foe accommodations, they would have been the eighth-highest 0-3 squad .)

Best 0-3 Teams by DVOA, 1983 -2 021

Year Team DVOA Rk Final

W-L Final DVOA Final Rk Playoffs 2011 MIN 9.1% 13 3-13 -19.9% 29 None 2004 KC 7.8% 13 7-9 14.3% 10 None 2018 HOU 7.7% 12 11 -5 10.4% 11 Won Division

2000 NE 6.7% 14 5-11 -6.4% 22 None 1986 STLC 4.5% 16 4-11-1 -17.2% 25 None 1986 LARD 1.3% 18 8-8 5.6% 11 None 1992 PHX -1. 6% 14 4-12 -4.2% 14 None 1995 DET -1. 8% 17 10 -6 13.2% 7 Won Wild Card

2012 NO -3. 6% 18 7-9 -1.2% 18 None 2021 NYG -3. 7% 18 — — — — 2004 BUF -4. 9% 17 9-7 31.4% 3 None 1998 BUF -5. 5% 17 10 -6 19.3% 7 Won Wild Card

2000 PIT -7. 1% 17 9-7 23.0% 4 None

This is another team where DVOA isn’t far off from standard stats. The Giants have played two very close plays, albeit against crews we think are not very good. They currently rank in the middle of the conference in gardens per play: 17 th on offense and 19 th on defense.

Unfortunately for the Monster, their schedule is about to get a lot harder. That’s true whether we look only at DVOA through three weeks or whether we look at schedule through the lens of DAVE, our rating that combines early-season outcomes with preseason projections to get a more accurate look at what to expect from crews the rest of the direction. DAVE, for example, is recognized that the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t really an average team, and it knows that the Carolina Panthers are probably not actually the best team in the NFL this season.

This is something I typically like to do after three weeks, look at how schedule strength for the rest of the season is different if you look at DVOA and DAVE. For example, if you look at Chicago by DVOA, they have an average remaining planned. DAVE, which is more accurate, evidences Chicago with the second-toughest remaining schedule. They play a number of squads that we think are better than they have shown so far this season, led by Green Bay twice but also Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Pittsburgh, incidentally, has the most difficult remaining planned based on DAVE ratings. Chicago, Arizona, Washington, and Green Bay round out the top five. The Giant are sixth after playing one of the five easiest planneds so far based on opposing DAVE ratings.

The Buffalo Bills have the most wonderful remaining planned, whether we look at DVOA or DAVE. Other squads with especially easy planneds the rest of the mode include Miami, Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay.

Here’s a full table appear schedule strength both still further and over the rest of the season. Both current DVOA and DAVE are listed.

Team Past Sched

DVOA Rk Future


DVOA Rk Past


DAVE Rk Future


DAVE Rk PIT 17.9% 5 4.7% 7 4.0% 9 4.4% 1

CHI 31.6% 1 1.2% 19 7.8% 2 4.2% 2

ARI -23.5% 31 10.4% 1 -8.8% 30 3.8% 3

WAS 4.5% 14 9.0% 2 -0.6% 20 3.8% 4

GB 0.9% 18 3.3% 13 1.0% 17 3.3% 5

NYG -11.7% 26 6.8% 4 -5.0% 28 2.6% 6

CLE -9.8% 24 3.2% 14 -3.3% 24 2.5% 7

BAL -7.1% 21 4.8% 6 0.7% 18 2.2% 8

LAC 4.2% 15 8.5% 3 7.3% 3 2.0% 9

DET 5.2% 13 3.6% 11 11.3% 1 1.9% 10

MIN 25.0% 2 -0.4% 22 6.0% 5 1.8% 11

CAR -6.0% 19 0.3% 21 -11.7% 31 1.7% 12

CIN -14.7% 28 0.3% 20 -1.5% 22 1.7% 13

DEN -28.5% 32 1.4% 18 -18.5% 32 1.3% 14

LV -9.0% 22 4.2% 8 3.5% 12 1.2% 15

LAR -9.5% 23 2.2% 16 1.6% 14 1.1% 16

KC 11.6% 7 4.9% 5 4.9% 7 1.0% 17

SEA -15.6% 29 3.6% 10 -3.8% 26 1.0% 18

ATL 6.0% 12 4.1% 9 1.7% 13 0.3% 19

DAL 3.0% 16 3.3% 12 1.2% 15 -0.3% 20

PHI -7.0% 20 2.5% 15 -1.0% 21 -0.5% 21

SF -13.3% 27 1.8% 17 -3.5% 25 -1.1% 22

NO 9.1% 11 -4.0% 25 4.8% 8 -1.4% 23

NYJ 22.2% 4 -5.6% 27 4.0% 10 -2.3% 24

HOU 11.2% 8 -6.0% 28 -3.9% 27 -2.3% 25

NE -11.5% 25 -2.7% 24 -6.6% 29 -3.1% 26

JAX 22.6% 3 -7.4% 30 -0.3% 19 -3.5% 27

TB 1.5% 17 -2.7% 23 1.0% 16 -3.7% 28

TEN 11.7% 6 -6.5% 29 4.0% 11 -3.7% 29

IND 9.9% 9 -5.1% 26 6.1% 4 -3.7% 30

MIA 9.3% 10 -8.0% 31 5.2% 6 -5.4% 31

BUF -16.6% 30 -12.1% 32 -2.4% 23 -5.7% 32


Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap countings, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 3.

A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats , now involve registration to view. This is not a paywall! You merely need to register( for free) 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+ aspects like a deeper DVOA database, weekly fantasy projections, fantasy football search tool, and pickings against the spread.


These is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through three weeks of 2021, assessed 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 average.( Explained further here .)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE VOA are adjusted for opponent and performance indoors and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. Because it is early in the season, adversary readjustments are currently at 30% strength. SPECIAL Squads 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 mixes 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 78% preseason predict and 22% actual performance. It has still not adjusted for any backup quarterbacks.

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

is clearly graded because. is space better than this.



1 CAR 40.1% 1 0.3% 16 3-0 6.6% 12 -38.8% 1 -5.3% 31

2 CLE 38.8% 9 10.5% 8 2-1 26.3% 4 -7.7% 10 4.9% 6

3 LAR 37.8% 2 14.5% 4 3-0 37.0% 1 -4.7% 13 -3.9% 29

4 ARI 37.5% 5 7.5% 13 3-0 14.8% 8 -17.8% 6 4.9% 5

5 Lair 34.1% 4 9.8% 9 3-0 15.5% 7 -21.7% 5 -3.1% 26

6 BUF 29.8% 13 14.9% 3 2-1 -0.1% 16 -31.1% 2 -1.2% 19

7 TB 24.2% 3 21.5% 1 2-1 23.8% 5 0.8% 17 1.2% 10

8 NO 22.7% 12 8.6% 11 2-1 -3.8% 19 -25.3% 3 1.2% 9

9 DAL 21.6% 14 9.1% 10 2-1 23.1% 6 -0.5% 15 -2.0% 23

10 SEA 19.2% 7 12.1% 7 1-2 32.8% 2 11.4% 24 -2.2% 24

11 CIN 18.3% 21 -1. 6% 19 2-1 -10.9% 25 -22.7% 4 6.5% 2

12 SF 12.3% 6 8.4% 12 2-1 11.3% 10 4.1% 19 5.1% 4

13 BAL 8.6% 17 13.3% 5 2-1 4.5% 13 5.0% 20 9.2% 1

14 LV 5.5% 19 -1. 2% 18 3-0 -2.4% 17 -7.4% 11 0.6% 13

15 KC 5.3% 16 17.3% 2 1-2 30.1% 3 28.9% 32 4.1% 8

16 MIN 1.9% 20 4.4% 14 1-2 14.5% 9 13.3% 25 0.8% 11

Click here for the full table.


Its insane to me that the …

Its insane to me that the Falcons have a worse offense than the Bears, Plane, and Jaguars who grade 31 st, 30 th, and 29 th respectively.

The Falcons had been trending down for years since their SB collapse, but this result feels like such an extreme outcome that I never verified it coming. Ryan has softly turned into last year’s Carson Wentz.


Honestly that is the thing …

In reply to by theslothook

Honestly that is the thing that stand out to me the most as well. You would think that with skill position people like Ridley and Pitts and Ryan at QB there would be no way they would even be in the ballpark as some of those offenses, much less worse. It’s early, but they are going to have to finally find a way to get out from Ryan and start over.


I can’t understand why DVOA …

In reply to by Mark H

I can’t understand why DVOA detests the Falcons’ performance so much. Compared to some of the other squads at the bottom, especially the Bears and Plane, their traditional stats( yards, yards per play-act, and phases) are better. They still grade toward the bottom in traditional stats, but it doesn’t feel like they really have the worst offense in the league when the Bears and Jet likewise exist.



Through 3 games, the Ravens are already at# 1 in ST DVOA. It’s crazy how consistently good they are on ST. Obviously having Tucker aids a ton, but ST are supposed to vary a lot from time to year.

Harbaugh and staff plainly place a big emphasis on it, and it pays off. Just kind of fascinating to me what the fuck is and New England have done in this area over the years.


Harbaugh and staff obviously …

In reply to by Mark H

Harbaugh and staff obviously home a big emphasis on it, and it pays off.

It’s almost like he might know something about special teams. I wonder if he spent some time focusing on it or something…


They also pay for it

In reply to by Mark H

Believe they’re at the top for the most spent.

An edge would to be peel back at it and invest in more important areas.


Seems Pretty Clear to Me

“It’s hard to figure out why foes have so many plays against Seattle”. It is Russ “Mad Bomber 2.0 ” Wilson.

Also, the Raiders are ranked too low because you assign them a below average offensive DVOA because DVOA does not recognise Carr is elite.


Is there some reason why …

Is there some reason why Seattle has given up the most plays against on defence that goes beyond “they can’t get off the field? ” It seems to me watching them that squads can parade up and down the field pretty well.

Could maybe be more misleading even than that. I don’t know if this is the confounding factor, but extending consistently for 6 yards per is far more valuable than extending for the same average, due to less deviation. Whether it’s Henry control all over them, or a short passing game that’s only unstoppable, I think DVOA might be somewhat overrating their defence.

Similarly on offence, it seems a boom or bust strategy of “throw up to Metcalf or Lockett, LOL if that doesn’t work, ” can be misleading. A single deep pass to Lockett for 80 gardens can by itself truly throw off the yards per play median, while possibly not being a sustainable track to success.

Then again, I’ve been wrong before.

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