DVOA Week 5: Bills Continue Ascent to Greatness

DVOA Week 5: Bills Continue Ascent to Greatness Aaron Schatz 12 Oct 2021, 03:16 pm

Bills defense

Buffalo’s dominating victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night keeps them comfortably in the top spot of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after five weeks. With current antagonist readjustments, Buffalo comes out with 85% DVOA for video games, which stirs it the fourth-biggest succes of the season so far. Buffalo’s win over Houston the week before was, of course, the most difficult win of the season.

Dallas and Arizona remain second and third with wins last week. Incidentally, Arizona’s current DVOA of 31.3% is very close to the average of all 5-0 crews going back to 1983, which is 33.1%. The Cardinals are neither particularly strong nor especially weak for the purposes of an undefeated squad after five weeks. Since 1983, 64 of 70 crews( 91%) that started 5-0 shaped the postseason, so things are looking pretty good for Arizona right now despite the overall strength of their division. Our playoff odds simulation throws them in the postseason 90% of the time. The narrative of the NFC West as the strongest division in the game is going to take a hit in future weeks now that Russell Wilson is out for at least a month, but for now the NFC West still comes out very strong in DVOA. The Los Angeles Rams remain fifth in DVOA through five weeks, and even though they currently have losing records, Seattle and San Francisco rank ninth and tenth in DVOA.

Between Arizona and the rest of the NFC West, you’ll find that Tampa Bay jumpings up from ninth to fourth after wham Miami. Cleveland, New Orleans, and Baltimore finish out the top ten, ranking sixth through eighth.

Returning to the No. 1 Buffalo Bills, Buffalo’s DVOA this week( 49.6%) is basically the same as their DVOA last week( 49.8%) but most crews with ultra-high DVOA early in the year are going to see their ratings drop with each successive game added to the sample. Buffalo did not, and so the Bills climb onto our roll of the best squads ever tracked by DVOA going back to 1983. A reminder that these tables are done with DVOA as it would have looked at the time; in other words, the antagonist changes after Week 5 in past years are 50% strength, just like the opposing readjustments now. Buffalo has played an easy planned still further, but so did most of the teams on this list.

Best Total DVOA

Through 5 Games, 1983 -2 021

Year Team W-L DVOA 1991 WAS 5-0 71.5% 2007 NE 5-0 68.7% 1999 STL 5-0 59.8% 2006 CHI 5-0 57.5% 2019 NE 5-0 56.4% 1996 GB 4-1 55.5% 2015 ARI 4-1 54.3% 2009 NO 5-0 53.0% 2021 BUF 4-1 49.6% 2013 DEN 5-0 49.6% 2007 IND 5-0 47.7% 2001 PHI 3-2 47.4% 1998 DEN 5-0 47.4%

What happened to other crews that started as hot as the Bills? Buffalo is the 36 th team in record to have a DVOA over 40% after five games. Of the other 35 squads 😛 TAGEND

8 won the Super Bowl 9 lost the Super Bowl 13 won their department but did not stir the Super Bowl 2 won wild cards but did not induce the Super Bowl 3 missed the playoffs( 2003 Buccaneers, 2005 Chargers, and 2009 Monsters)

One thing in Buffalo’s favor as Super Bowl favourites is the strength of their odds of getting the No. 1 seed and the only first-round bye in the AFC. We have the Bills getting the top seed 56% of simulations. This isn’t just because Buffalo has been so good this year and also contributes the NFL in our DAVE ratings that combination 2021 concert and our preseason projections. The Bills also have a very, very easy schedule of remaining games. Buffalo’s 12 remaining opponents have an average DVOA of -1 3.7%. They has actually two plays remaining against teams that grade in the top half of DVOA, trips to New Orleans( Week 12) and Tampa Bay( Week 14 ). Buffalo is on pace to have a schedule rating of -1 3.5% which would be the third-easiest schedule on record, trailing merely the 1999 Rams and the 1991 Bills.

Buffalo’s offense improved from 16 th to 12 th this week, but of course the Bills are cruising early thanks primarily to stellar defense. Buffalo’s defense is now the second best in DVOA history through five games, trailing simply the 2019 New England Patriots.

Best Defensive DVOA

Through 5 Games, 1983 -2 021

Year Team W-L DVOA 2019 NE 5-0 -48.3% 2021 BUF 4-1 -43.2% 2019 SF 5-0 -41.9% 1991 PHI 3-2 -41.1% 1991 NO 5-0 -39.7% 2002 TB 4-1 -37.2% 1984 CHI 3-2 -36.9% 1997 SF 4-1 -36.4% 1996 GB 4-1 -35.8% 2011 BAL 4-1 -34.4% 1991 WAS 5-0 -33.1% 2008 BAL 2-3 -32.9%

The flip side of the Buffalo defense is the Kansas City defense, which has been horrific through the first five games. The Chiefs now are the eighth-worst defense ever tracked by DVOA through five games.

Worst Defensive DVOA

Through 5 Games, 1983 -2 021

Year Team W-L DVOA 2019 MIA 0-5 35.8% 1998 WAS 0-5 35.7% 2006 HOU 1-4 32.4% 1998 PHI 0-5 31.3% 1992 NE 0-5 31.2% 2001 ARI 2-3 30.1% 1985 BUF 0-5 29.5% 2021 KC 2-3 29.3% 2017 NE 3-2 28.2% 2010 BUF 0-5 27.8% 2012 BUF 2-3 27.8% 2018 TB 2-3 27.7%

And yet, I imagine the idea that the Chief are no longer a good squad has been overestimated. The Chiefs are still 14 th in DVOA despite a losing record. Even after a poor game against the Bills, their offense still grades No. 1 on its first year, ahead of the Buccaneers and Rams. Some of the issue here is one of planned strength early. Kansas City has played the hardest schedule so far according to average DVOA of foe. It’s likewise the No. 4 planned of resisting protections and the No. 2 planned of resisting offenses. So both sides of the ball don’t look as good as they actually are because of the level of rival. The Chiefs, for example, rank only fifth in unadjusted offensive VOA — it’s when we add the adjustments for schedule and fumble convalescence luck that they move into the top spot.

There’s never been a team like the Chiefs that was so good on offense and so bad on defense this early in the season, but I did were looking for similar teams that were not as extreme. I started by looking for other teams that had offensive and defensive DVOA both over 25% after five games. There’s one such team: the 2013 San Diego Chargers, who ranked third in offense and final in protection after five games. The Chargers started 2-3, like the Chiefs. They went on to finish 9-7 and induced the playoffs, unnerving the Bengals in the wild-card round and then losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the divisional round. The Chargers finished that season second in offensive DVOA and last in defensive DVOA, although their defensive rating improved from 27.3% after Week 5 to 19.3% at the end of the year.

If we want more analogies, we have to expand our pool of teams. So I went looking forward to similar crews by rank: squads that ranked in the three best for offense and the bottom three for defense after five plays. Here’s our index, together with a look at where their offense and defense purposed the year.

Great Offense, Awful Defense Through 5 Weeks, 1983 -2 021

Year Team W-L DVOA Rk Off Rk Def Rk Final W-L Final Off Rk Final

Def Rk 1984 DET 1-4 1.7% 17 26.8% 3 21.2% 27 4-11-1 -2. 6% 14 7.7% 20 1986 MIA 1-4 -9.2% 19 21.6% 3 22.7% 27 8-8 28.5% 1 23.0% 27 1987 MIA 3-2 9.9% 9 27.7% 1 18.1% 26 7-5 23.0% 2 24.8% 28 1988 PHX 3-2 14.3% 8 34.2% 2 17.5% 28 7-9 6.6% 5 7.1% 22 1989 GB 3-2 3.8% 14 24.7% 2 20.3% 28 10-6 9.1% 6 9.3% 22 1991 DAL 3-2 1.4% 14 23.7% 2 22.9% 28 11-5 18.0% 4 12.0% 24 1996 BAL 2-3 -9.5% 20 21.8% 2 24.4% 30 4-12 22.8% 1 19.7% 30 2002 KC 3-2 22.1% 7 45.9% 1 23.5% 32 8-8 35.4% 1 15.1% 31 2011 NE 4-1 22.7% 4 37.8% 1 15.6% 30 13-3 32.6% 3 15.2% 30 2013 SD 2-3 -4.9% 19 26.4% 3 27.3% 32 9-7 23.6% 2 19.3% 32 2017 NE 3-2 -2.3% 21 23.9% 2 28.2% 32 13-3 27.9% 1 12.0% 31 2021 KC 2-3 3.2% 14 28.9% 1 29.3% 32 — — — — —

Well, that certainly is a strange mix of crews, with some forgotten crews from the 80 s and a couple of Dan Marino squads, the Cowboys in the early days of the triplets, then one of the powerful early 2000 s Chiefs crews, and finally two recent Patriots squads that made and lost the Super Bowl. What you may notice about this list, however, is that nearly every one of these teams improved on defense over the final three-fourths of the season. Offense is a mix, with some of the teams improving, some slumping, and some staying roughly the same. But almost every defense improves, except those 80 s Miami defenses.

This falls in line with something we often talk about, which is that offense is more predictive and consistent than protection. That’s especially true between seasons, but it is also true-life within seasons. If you are the Kansas City Chiefs, you would rather be the league’s best offense and worst defense than the other way round. It’s likely, especially given their past history, that the Chief will continue to have one of the top offenses in the league for the rest of the season. It’s likewise likely that their defense will at least somewhat improve and not is immensely this bad in the course of the coming three months.

If you want to find a team that is great on defense and awful on offense rather than the other way around, we’ve got a couple of those teams moving this season. They aren’t quite as extreme as the Chiefs. Carolina, which falls to 17 th overall in DVOA this week, is currently second on protection behind Buffalo but merely 25 th on offense. Chicago, which is down at 22 nd overall, ranks fifth on defense but 31 st on offense, ahead of simply the New York Jets.


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Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through five weeks of 2021, assessed by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average( DVOA) structure that breaks down every single play and likens a team’s performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over median.( Explained further here .)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for opponent and performance indoors and consider all fumbles, retained or lost, as equal value. Because it is early in the season, antagonist readjustments are currently at 50% 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 blends our preseason predict with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 65% preseason predict and 35% actual concert. 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 ranked because. is course better than this.



1 BUF 49.6% 1 24.3% 1 4-1 5.8% 12 -43.2% 1 0.5% 16

2 DAL 33.9% 2 15.5% 3 4-1 22.3% 4 -10.3% 6 1.2% 12

3 ARI 31.3% 3 10.3% 9 5-0 12.2% 8 -14.5% 4 4.6% 3

4 TB 26.3% 9 22.7% 2 4-1 27.0% 2 -1.1% 17 -1.7% 23

5 LAR 23.2% 5 13.3% 6 4-1 26.4% 3 -2.3% 14 -5.6% 30

6 CLE 22.6% 4 9.5% 10 3-2 14.7% 6 -3.7% 12 4.2% 4

7 NO 17.7% 7 9.2% 11 3-2 0.8% 14 -15.8% 3 1.1% 13

8 BAL 12.7% 6 13.9% 5 4-1 11.8% 9 6.0% 22 6.9% 2

9 SEA 12.7% 11 11.1% 7 2-3 19.7% 5 8.6% 25 1.6% 10

10 SF 7.7% 13 7.5% 12 2-3 7.3% 11 -1.7% 16 -1.2% 20

11 LAC 7.3% 14 -0. 5% 17 4-1 13.4% 7 1.4% 18 -4.7% 29

12 CIN 6.6% 10 -2. 3% 19 3-2 -3.3% 16 -8.2% 7 1.6% 9

13 MIN 4.3% 16 4.8% 13 2-3 -3.5% 17 -7.1% 8 0.7% 15

14 KC 3.2% 8 14.6% 4 2-3 28.9% 1 29.3% 32 3.6% 5

15 GB 2.8% 17 10.8% 8 4-1 10.4% 10 2.8% 20 -4.7% 28

16 PHI 1.6% 20 -6. 3% 21 2-3 -3.8% 19 -3.9% 11 1.5% 11

Click here for the full table.


The Chiefs have also had …

The Chiefs have also had harms to key personnel on their defense – Frank Clark and Charvarius Ward have missed three plays, Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones one game apiece. If they can get all four of those people on the field at once, the protection will likely look a lot better.


I have to admit I was kind …

I have to admit I was actually pretty expecting the early 2000 s Chiefs to show up on this list of worst protections over the first five plays. Maybe my memory is being colored by the times, but that iteration felt the worst than this one.

This Chiefs offense pairs interestingly with it’s defense. It’s big-hearted play nature necessitates it’s not the kind of offense that will hide its protection well. On the other hand it’s big play nature intends it’s never out of a game no matter how large-scale a flaw the defense digs them in.


The gap between KC and …

In reply to by theslothook

The gap between KC and Seattle in defensive DVOA is pretty dramatic out of the top 15 crews. You would think they’d regress to the mean, at least, over the course of the season. Then again, they’re one more injury away from Jacksonville territory for the rest of the year. It’s a good thing they’re through the majority of members of the brutal part of their schedule.

Their offense should be fine. You can only do what the Bucs/ Bills did to them with a specific set of personnel, and not many crews have that. I would expect to see a lot of 2 deep guy under from squads with good D-lines, though.


The AFC is definitely having …

The AFC is definitely having a down year, with only 6 out of the top 16 crews and a poopfecta at the bottom of HOU, NYJ, MIA, and JAX. I was surprised to see that 2-3 ATL has somehow managed to play worse than those four.

It’s clearly BUF in their own tier at the top and I would be absolutely shocked if they don’t induce the AFCCG, at least.

Below that, you’ve got some frisky but shortcoming teams with CLE, LAC, BAL, and KC. I’m not sure if I buy that CIN can compete with those crews but we’ll determine. The Browns lost the coming week but I think they should actually be encouraged by that game. The offense held up even when both starting tackles were out, Baker looked a lot better, and the protection merely collapsed because of all the harms. They’ve get good special teams and if they can get healthy then I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a strong playoff run.



Interesting nugget: there are only three crews that have managed to produce a positive rushing DVOA this year. See if you can guess which three!


I was stunned by how well …

I was stunned by how well the Bills’ defense played Kelce, and also the number of kill shots the offense took.

Then I read this, and what I read from formations and personnel established more appreciation: https :// readoptional.substack.com/ p/ bills-josh-allen-daboll-offense-scheme

Still, kudos to Leslie Frazier for getting the team to stay disciplined and stimulate KC matriculate the ball down the field while Daboll was essentially doing the opposite. Rumors of KC’s demise are inflated, though – I highly suspect these two teams will meet again in January.


Yep, exactly this

In reply to by Mike B. In Va

On Sunday night, the Bills frequently lined up in shapings they almost never use. They knew what KC would do to try to slow down what they expected the Bills to do, and so they simply drew a Belichick and altered things specifically for this game. To a certain extent, Frazier did the same thing on protection, eliminating the blitz entirely to maximize coverage, letting Hyde and Poyer stay deep to eliminate Hill as a deep menace, and travelling after Kelce early and often to wear him out and frustrate him. It was a really great game plan on both sides of the ball, but it’s the kind of thing you can’t pull off without the personnel to do it, much like teams can’t just go out and annihilate the Dolphins 35 -0 every week, whip the Texans 40 -0, etc.

PS. Thanks for that clause. Definitely gonna transmit it around to my friends 🙂


Gotta wonder about the expected win formula

I know what it says about how it’s calculated, but I’m bewildered that the Bills lost a relatively close game in week 1, absolutely smoked their next four opponents, and have 2.8 expected wins. Actually? You sure? 🙂

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