Packers, Colts Among Teams with Surprising DVOA Ratings Aaron Schatz 02 Nov 2021, 03:55 pm
The Buffalo Bills remain No. 1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after this week’s win over the Miami Dolphins. In fact, the top eight teams remains the same with only one change, Tampa Bay hopping the Los Angeles Rams to grade third overall behind Buffalo and Arizona. Under that top eight, nonetheless, there’s some surprising move and squads that aren’t quite where you expect them to be in our rankings.
You may recollect back at the start of the season, I introduced a formula called Post-Game Win Expectancy( PGWE ). The following formula questions the issues to, “Given how each team played in this game, based on VOA divides without opposing changes, how often should we expect each team to win video games? ” Some plays are pretty easy. The Philadelphia Eagles had 99.97% PGWE after thumping the Lions 44 -6. Not a surprise. But got a couple of games each week have a PGWE that does not agree with the actual winner of the game. These “unexpected results” help explain movement in the DVOA ratings because usually it intends the victory crew had a lower DVOA rating than the losing team. There were three games the coming week with “reverse PGWE, ” and let’s go through those three plays to see how they help explain some of the unexpected movement in the DVOA rankings this week.
Tampa Bay: 79% to Beat New Orleans, Lost 36 -2 7
Tampa Bay outgained New Orleans in this game, 7.3 net gardens per play to 5.0 net yards. They did lose the turnover battle, 3-1, but an even bigger issue was penalties. Most penalties are not included in DVOA, because they aren’t extremely predictive. The Buccaneers were penalise 11 days for 99 yards. The Saints were only penalise twice for 10 gardens. As a make, the Buccaneers lost despite coming out with the higher DVOA for this game, 27.4% to 17.4% for the Saints.
This helps explain how Tampa Bay extended the Rams for third place in DVOA even though the Rams predominated the Houston Texans. The other issue is that the Rams’ DVOA for their win over Houston isn’t anywhere near as high as you probably expect. After heavy opposing adjustments for playing the Texans, the Rams simply to be provided with 18.8% DVOA for the game, which is lower than their DVOA on the season. Of track, the issue here is the fourth quarter. The Rams destroyed the Texans in the first three quarters of this play. Then they sat a cluster of their starters, and the Texans “re coming back” with 22 fourth-quarter points. Most of these plays in the fourth quarter are down-weighted in DVOA because the game was so out of reach, but even at half load, they end up lowering the Rams’ rating for the game( and thus for the season in general ). Here’s a look at offensive DVOA for each team in the game 😛 TAGEND
Offensive DVOA, LAR-HOU Week 8
Offense Q1-3 Q4
LAR 43.2% -1 43.5%
HOU -106.4% 34.6%
It’s tough to know what to do about a crew giving up on the game like the Rams did, because it is so rare. Most squads, even when they pull starters in a blowout, don’t give up three touchdowns in a one-quarter. So we’re comparing the Rams to the average performance for other squads with large-scale contributes, and they are found wanting. Should this be downweighted more based on the idea that this won’t have much impact on how the Rams play for the rest of the year? Perhaps, but we’re always doing new resesarch in the offseason to figure out where to draw the line on such things. Past research has found that keeping some of the fruits of blowouts in DVOA( at half weight) still should contribute to a more predictive rating.
Arizona: 75% to Beat Green Bay, Lost 24 -2 1
Here’s another play where you have yardage on one hand and turnovers on the other. The Cardinals outgained the Packers, 6.1 net gardens per play to 4.7. The Packers won the turnover battle, 3-0. However, there were four fumbles in this game and the Packers recovered three of them, a little regression of the superb fumble luck the Cardinals had early in the season. Overall, the Cardinals purposed up with the better DVOA in this game despite the loss. The Cardinals were at 21.1% and the Packers at 9.4%.
And yet, even after reading that the Packers had the lower DVOA in this one win, you probably are not expecting to see them plummet from 11 th to 14 th in DVOA this week. Why did the Packers drop this week despite having a positive DVOA against the Cardinals and why is a 7-1 Packers team so low-spirited in the first place?
The answer to the first question is “schedule strength.” A heap of the teams that the Packers played earlier in the season had dreadful games in Week 8. The three worst single-game DVOA ratings of Week 8 belonged to the Lions, Bears, and Bengals, all teams that have been on the Packers’ schedule.( We’ll talk about the Bengals and their horrendous performance against the Jets before we’re done today .)
There are a couple of answers to the second question. The biggest issue here is Week 1, as we encompassed last week where reference is extended ratings that ignored the first week of the season. The Packers were horrendous in a 38 -3 loss to New Orleans to open the season. They have a positive DVOA for all seven of their wins since that opening play, but none of their wins are even half as strong as that one loss. Let’s bring out a week-to-week graph; this one shows the difference between Green Bay’s DVOA and VOA for each game for those who are curious.
Take out Week 1, and the Packers would be sixth in DVOA so far. That’s a lot closer to public perception. Are we affording too much weight to one game early in the season? Well, we’re not affording that play any more weight than any other game. Sometimes one blowout has a major impact on the DVOA ratings, although that tends to become less of an issue the more of a test “were having”. It’s part of the reason we have the DAVE ratings, to prevent weird early-season results from having too much influence on how we see crews. And Green Bay is seventh right now in DAVE. Again, that’s closer to public perception.
Week 1 isn’t the only issue, nonetheless. The Packers don’t have any actually dominating wins on their resume, with no plays over 40% in DVOA. The Detroit, Chicago and Washington wins are knocked down by opposing changes. The Bengals win in Week 5 is a strange one. You expect overtime wins to have DVOA close to zero, but the Packers outgained the Bengals by the average of 7.4 yards to 5.6 yards. They also won the turnover battle, 2-1. Nonetheless, the Bengals were the much more consistent offense in that game, with a 49% success rate compared to 41% for the Packers. The Packers likewise had dreadful special teams in that play, with Mason Crosby missing three different field goals and an extra point plus Cincinnati’s Brandon Wilson averaging 30 gardens per kick return. So the Packers are just barely over 0% for that win.
The Packers rank third among the lowest-rated 7-1 squads in DVOA history.
Worst 7-1 Teams by DVOA, 1983 -2 021
Year Team DVOA Rank Final
W-L Final DVOA Final Rank
2000 MIN -3. 2% 19 11 -5 -1.3% 20
2014 ARI 5.1% 14 11 -5 -2.5% 20
2021 GB 6.2% 14 — — —
1987 MIN* 8.0% 10 8-4 5.2% 11
2000 OAK 8.9% 14 12 -4 21.0% 5
1984 DEN 10.5% 10 13 -3 13.1% 8
1988 BUF 10.6% 11 12 -4 13.1% 6
1988 NO 12.0% 10 10 -6 8.3% 11
1983 DAL 12.0% 7 12 -4 15.4% 5
2007 GB 14.2% 7 13 -3 20.5% 5
1985 LARM 14.2% 7 11 -5 19.3% 5
2015 DEN 15.2% 8 12 -4 17.4% 8
* Does not include strikebreaker games
Most of the teams on such lists went 4-4 or 5-3 over the remainder of the season. All of these squads induced the playoffs except the 1988 New Orleans Saints back when there were only five playoff crews per meeting. The 2015 Broncos, of course, went on to win the Super Bowl, but they do not really resemble the 2021 Packers in any way.
Indianapolis: 68% to Beat Tennessee, Lost 34 -3 1( OT)
Here’s another weird one. How did Indianapolis end up with a better DVOA rating than Tennessee when the Titans actually outgained the Colts, 5.0 to 4.3 average gardens per play-act? Some of the issue is consistency from play to play, as the Colts had 47% success rate and the Titans are currently under simply 38%. There’s likewise the question of the interception Ryan Tannehill threw which the Colts fumbled back to the Titans. That was effectively a “free possession” for the Titans in terms of DVOA, because we don’t give them any credit for inducing a fumble on an interception return. That’s one of those “non-predictive” plays. It takes knowledge, but it doesn’t truly tell us nothing about the teams going forward.
With that large-scale crack in success rate, DVOA for this game intent up at 30.2% for the Colts despite the loss, and -2. 5% for the Titan despite the win. So the Colts actually move up in the DVOA higher-rankings, from 15 th to 10th, while hte Titans abide the same at 20 th.
I know, I know. I say “Indianapolis Colts” and the first thing you paint is Carson Wentz throwing a tremendously stupid interception. How on earth is this team 10 th overall in DVOA after eight weeks? Well, let’s look at the individual components of their DVOA rating.
The Colts are 19 th in offense. They don’t have a horrible offense. They have a slightly below-average offense. That know it sounds right, doesn’t it? Take out kneelings and spikes, and the Colts are 18 th in yards per play-act still further this season. They are 23 rd in success rate. Wentz actually has only four interceptions, which is lower than the NFL average of 5.9 per team. Those stats add up to 19 th in DVOA. Makes sense.
The Colts are fifth in defense. This is probably the surprise, although you knew the Colts had some good defensive musicians such as Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner. The extend defense stands out, currently No. 1 in the tournament in DVOA. The pass protection is mediocre, currently 20 th. This is the side of the projectile where the places don’t properly add up to the whole. The Colts rank 22 nd in yards permitted per play-act and 18 th in success rate allowed. They rank second in the tournament in turnovers per drive, but still, that doesn’t seem like it should combine to grade the Colts fifth in DVOA. The Colts are particularly strong on third downs( fourth in DVOA) although they are particularly weak in the red zone( 28 th in DVOA ). Third downs and turnovers are likely to regress a bit, but that red zone performance should regress positively. Overall, the Colts are probably not as good as DVOA thinks they are on defense — they would drop to 13 th in the tournament if we looked at defense without turnovers included — but DVOA is probably recognizing something in their situational play-act that establishes better then than their raw yardage allowed.
The Colts’ schedule is weird. The begins with three games below zero, all losses. However, the Colts have positive DVOA in each of their last-place five games even though two of those were overtime damages. Here’s the week-to-week graph 😛 TAGEND
As for the Titan, I extended them in depth last week. It will be interesting to see where they travel from here with Derrick Henry injured, a fascinating test case about the best interests of the a running back. The Titan are ninth in run offense DVOA so far this year, which doesn’t seem strong enough to make an adjustment for the loss of Henry in our playoff odds simulation. Like the Packers and 7-1 crews, the Titans come out on a listing of the worst 6-2 crews in the history of DVOA.
Worst 6-2 Teams by DVOA, 1983 -2 021
Year Team DVOA Rank Final
W-L Final DVOA Final Rank
2015 MIN -1 6.1% 26 11 -5 5.8% 11
2007 DET -1 3.2% 21 7-9 -24.3% 29
2019 BUF -1 1.8% 24 10 -6 1.6% 13
1993 DET -9. 4% 19 10 -6 -2.3% 19
1998 OAK -6. 1% 20 8-8 -19.8% 27
1998 ATL -5. 7% 19 14 -2 22.9% 6
1991 DET -5. 0% 19 12 -4 1.8% 15
2021 TEN -1. 0% 20 — — —
2001 MIA -0. 9% 17 11 -5 8.4% 10
2015 ATL -0. 2% 16 8-8 -12.3% 22
2003 CAR 0.3% 17 11 -5 -0.2% 16
2000 NYG 0.9% 17 12 -4 8.4% 11
2007 NYG 0.9% 14 10 -6 1.4% 15
The 2007 Lions are the real cautionary tale for a crew that constructs an early winning record out of close wins, but the Titans aren’t anything close to that. Three of these crews missed the playoffs, the three listed as finishing 7-9 of 8-8. On the other hand, the 2007 Giants won the Super Bowl and three other squads on such lists made it to the Super Bowl and lost, so there’s nothing that was of the view that a low-pitched DVOA signifies the Titans don’t have any chance to make noise in the playoffs. Of course, it helps if you dramatically improve in the second half of the season the way the 1998 Atlanta Falcons did.
Let’s cover one more game, even though it didn’t have reversal PGWE 😛 TAGEND New York Jet: 98% to Beat Cincinnati, Won 34 -3 1
This is the opposite of reverse PGWE, actually. This is when DVOA intimates a win is much stronger than the final score indicates. We cover this play further in Any Given Sunday this week, but what’s important for DVOA purposes is the big gap in success rate between the two teams. The Jets’ short-passing offense and strong running game pointed up with a 59% success rates, the best for any offense in Week 8. The Bengals were at simply 45%. Combine that with very strong opponent readjustments for playing the Jet and the Bengals end up with -5 9.9% DVOA for this game.
As a result, the Bengals’ overall DVOA for the season plummeted this week. They plummeted from 11.6% DVOA( one-ninth) all the way to -1. 1% DVOA( 21 st ). This week’s game isn’t the only issue. Like we referred to above about Green Bay, the Bengals fall a little bit because past opposings now appear weaker, particularly Chicago and Detroit. Cincinnati grades 31 st in past planned and the opposing changes are getting a little stronger in the DVOA system every week until we make Week 10. Likewise, there is a very tight pack of crews between 16 th( Chargers, 1.2% DVOA) and 21 st( Bengals, -1. 1% DVOA) and the Bengals only happen to be at the bottom of that jam-pack. There’s genuinely not much difference between those six crews.
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Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through eight weeks of 2021, measured in accordance with 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 DVOA are adjusted for opponent and concert indoors and consider all fumbles, continued or lost, as equal value. Opponent readjustments are currently at 80% strength and will be enhanced 10% each week until Week 10. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium( warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As ever, positive amounts represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
DAVE is a formula which mixes our preseason prognosi with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a crew will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 50% preseason predict and 50% actual performance for teams with seven games played, and 45% preseason prognosi and 55% actual concert for crews with eight games played. 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 route better than this.
RK TEAM TOTAL
DVOA LAST WEEK TOTAL DAVE RANK W-L OFF. DVOA OFF. RANK DEF. DVOA DEF. RANK S.T. DVOA S.T. RANK
1 BUF 37.2% 1 25.0% 2 5-2 7.5% 11 -27.7% 1 2.0% 8
2 ARI 32.6% 2 17.1% 4 7-1 8.1% 10 -21.3% 2 3.2% 2
3 TB 32.0% 4 26.7% 1 6-2 25.9% 2 -7.4% 7 -1.3% 22
4 LAR 30.9% 3 21.2% 3 7-1 27.5% 1 -7.1% 9 -3.6% 28
5 DAL 26.5% 5 16.1% 5 6-1 19.2% 3 -8.9% 6 -1.6% 24
6 CLE 15.4% 6 9.5% 8 4-4 13.5% 5 1.1% 19 3.1% 4
7 NO 15.4% 7 9.0% 11 5-2 -0.8% 20 -15.0% 3 1.3% 11
8 BAL 11.9% 8 13.7% 6 5-2 9.1% 9 5.2% 24 8.0% 1
9 SF 10.9% 14 9.2% 10 3-4 10.7% 7 0.5% 17 0.7% 14
10 IND 9.2% 15 4.3% 15 3-5 -0.1% 19 -9.1% 5 0.2% 16
11 MIN 8.4% 12 6.7% 13 3-4 2.1% 14 -10.0% 4 -3.7% 30
12 SEA 7.8% 10 8.0% 12 3-5 9.9% 8 3.3% 21 1.2% 12
13 NE 7.6% 13 6.3% 14 4-4 0.5% 17 -4.4% 11 2.7% 6
14 GB 6.2% 11 11.7% 7 7-1 13.5% 4 4.0% 22 -3.3% 27
15 PIT 2.2% 16 3.2% 16 4-3 -3.0% 21 -5.2% 10 -0.1% 18
16 LAC 1.2% 17 -1. 1% 18 4-3 6.7% 12 -1.4% 12 -6.9% 32
Click here for the full table.
by dank0 67 // Nov 02, 2021 – 4:56 pm
The case to be bullish on the Packers 😛 TAGEND
-They’ve been hit reasonably hard by injuries, including to some of their best players, and they had to play a game where Covid+ traumata virtually wiped out one of the most important position groups. Fortunately, nearly everyone who has been out is expected back.
-Rodgers is playing well – this isn’t like 2018 or 2019 where he was 12 th/ 13 th in DVOA. He’s like 3rd-8th in each of DVOA, DYAR, EPA, QBR, etc.
-The future schedule prospect is easing a little – sounds like Wilson thinks he can play in the Seattle game and they’ve still got the Rams, but both sets of games are at home. The Chiefs, Ravens and Browns plays appear less daunting than they did a few weeks ago.
The case to be bearish on the Packers 😛 TAGEND
-Like Aaron mentions, their past strength of schedule( except Arizona) is looking worse. Even giving Week 1 aside, they have a somewhat mediocre level differential against a reasonably mediocre slate of opponents.
-Are they gonna be able to only plug in guys like Bakhtiari, Alexander and Z. Smith and have them playing at a high level right away? I’m not sure. They has actually use MV’Ss speed in the passing game, but hamstring injury stimulates me wary of what he’ll be like when he comes back.( Hopefully that’s why they’ve taken that one gradually .)
-Rodgers is playing well, but he hasn’t been playing as well as last season where he was a true difference-maker in getting them to that amount 1 seed.
by oaktoon // Nov 02, 2021 – 5:00 pm
for explaining that luck and yards per play-act were why ARIZ was rated so many of them than GB despite the final score, their three turnovers, and GB’s domination of hour of self-possession; and how yards per play the other way did somehow not induce GB to be rated higher than CIN, another road play they won. Love the consistency of the metric !!! Somehow the “consistency” of the Bengals play mattered more than the 38 minutes of belonging the Packers had vs Arizona– and designed a game plan for given how shorthanded they only v Murray .. 7-1 featuring 4 street games( yeah– they play another one Sunday– that will b3 6 road plays to 3 residence plays for this “3rd worst” DVOA 7-1 squad in record. Maybe LaFleur will design a “DVOA game plan” v Mahomes– lose but seem like you won.
Of course the metric can’t account for 11 starters being out, including perhaps the best OL in the game, the best WR in the game, and one of the best cover corners in the game.
And since it was 75% likely for Ariz to win the game– without all those injuries( and probably 90% or higher with them) it seems to me that DVOA did the right thing here– and awarded the win to the better team. Good for it.
33-7 Matt LaFleur could care less what all of you think or decide. Play the games on the field– and we’ll see.
by richRod // Nov 02, 2021 – 5:07 pm
What’s the bullish suit for the Browns?
by Ben // Nov 02, 2021 – 5:13 pm
I’m surprised by the Colts ranking certainly. In my intellect, they seem to be the perfect case study for current realities of the NFL today. They are pretty good at running the ball and stopping the run. They are 3-5 and likely to miss the playoffs in a garbage division( that’s in a mediocre seminar ).
by jheidelberg // Nov 02, 2021 – 5:19 pm
Your donors appear to dislike that DVOA counts garbage day even if you just mentioned it is at half weight and has shown to have some predictive value.
My feeling is that garbage time must have some predictive value because 😛 TAGEND
1. The Rams used replacement players that are fighting to stay in the NFL so clearly they are trying
2. These players is increasingly becoming predictive as to the Rams success or lack thereof as soon as the Rams have some harms and some of these people play meaningful snaps.
3. The fact that this can to put a group of 11 people on a arena in an NFL uniform that can be completely dominated by Houston means that this group should be placed in the witness shield program and never be seen again. But as I point out in item 2 above, some of these guys are likely to show up again in a more meaningful situation.
by oaktoon // Nov 02, 2021 – 5:19 pm
Has been the number of period DVOA has rated the Packers below squads that a) they have already beaten– usually along the road; and b) which they have a better record than.
Cases in degree this week: ARIZ( I understand the better record is just the tie breaker) and SF– a 4-4 squad which the Packers defeated in Santa Clara.
they are currently rated less than that of 6 of their own future antagonists, so here we might go again, though 4 of those games are at Lambeau( MINN, SEA, LAR, CLEV) with two on the road( MINN and BALT) KC is rated lower but I’m sure that will change after they “defeat” the Packers in DVOA Sunday.
Of course I am being contemptuous, but at some phase it might be useful to think “what if LaFleur is better than just lucky”? And what if late career Rodgers wins plays, however ungaudy the stats are?
by Scott P. // Nov 02, 2021 – 5:27 pm
In reply to One of the Great Pleasures of the LAFleur “Era” by oaktoon
Needs more zlionsfan juice.
I have no idea what you’re complaining about. Green Bay was graded 3rd last season by DVOA and ended up losing the NFCCG to the# 2 Buccaneers, so it seems like DVOA had them pegged. In 2019, they were 9th, intent up narrowly vanquishing the 8th-ranked Seahawks, and lost to the 5th-ranked 49 ers, also within the range of reasonable expectations. I imagine DVOA has had the Packers’ number pretty dead-on in the Lafleur era.
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