Arizona Cardinals Take DVOA Lead

Arizona Cardinals Take DVOA Lead Aaron Schatz 09 Nov 2021, 03:17 pm

Eno Benjamin, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals knock the Buffalo Bills out of the top spot in our DVOA ratings the coming week. Most of the work on that was done by the Bills, playing a lousy play and losing to a bad Jacksonville team. But Arizona’s rating goes up as well after Colt McCoy’s surprisingly strong concert against San Francisco this week.

The biggest surprise from the coming week of surprises may be how few large-scale moves there are up and down the DVOA higher-rankings after all the Week 9 unnerves. There are essentially four major moves this week 😛 TAGEND

Buffalo moves down three places to No. 4, although the distinctions between the Bills and the No. 3 Rams is a rounding error. Arizona is now on top with Tampa Bay moving up to No. 2. Tennessee moves up six spots to No. 14 after their fifth straight-out win, Sunday night against the Rams. We’ll get to the Titans in a little bit. Pittsburgh plummets four smudges to No. 19 despite a win over Chicago. It was the Bears who terminated up with the better DVOA for that game , not the Steelers. Jacksonville moved up three smudges to No. 27 after beat Buffalo.

The lack of move in the top 10 means that San Francisco is still No. 9 at 3-5 despite losing to Colt McCoy and the Cardinals. That one certainly seems like a head-scratcher. Even though the Cardinals won 31 -1 7, both teams culminated up with very high DVOA ratings for video games: 37.5% for the Cardinals and 31.8% for the 49 ers. The Cardinals won the turnover battle and outgained the 49 ers 6.4 yards per play to 6.0 yards per play, but the DVOA system likes that the 49 ers had a very good success rate on offense, 53% compared to 46% for the Cardinal. This is not related to garbage time. After they kicked a field goal to make it 31 -1 7, the 49 ers had two more drives and they didn’t have a crazy good success rates on those drives, simply 50%.

A couple of things are going on with the 49 ers’ rating. The first is one of the acknowledged helplessness of the DVOA system. Opponent accommodations are based on an entire season’s worth of numbers. They are not tweaked when squads play backup quarterbacks. The structure doesn’t know that the 49 ers lost to Colt McCoy, so it’s giving the 49 ers protection credit for playing against a good Arizona offense. This happens around the league, and there is a requirement to only understand that it signifies some of the numbers might be a little off. The Kansas City defense gets credit for coping with the Packers based on their season-long stats , not Jordan Love’s numbers. Defenses that played against Russell Wilson now look a little worse than they are able to, and defenses that played Geno Smith look a little better. And so on. Over a 17 -game season, these tiny gaps tend to wash out. But when it comes to single-game ratings, they’re noticeable.

The other issue for the 49 ers is the difference between their non-adjusted VOA and their adjusted DVOA. That’s caused by a couple of different things. First, San Francisco has played the fourth-toughest schedule in the tournament by average DVOA of adversary. Yes, as I just noted, they didn’t play the “real” No. 1 Arizona Cardinals, but the rest of their schedule has been difficult too. Second, the 49 ers have had horrible fumble recovery luck this season. They’ve recovered simply 4 of 11 fumbles on offense and simply 3 of 15 fumbles on defense. They even lost a fumble on a kick return back in Week 4 against Seattle. Right now, only Denver has a worse fumble convalescence rate. Those two things, schedule and fumble recuperation luck, integrate to induce the 49 ers search a lot worse than they genuinely are. If we don’t account for those two things, the 49 ers lower from ninth to 15 th.

Incidentally, there’s another team that’s likewise suffered from a difficult schedule and bad fumble convalescence luck. But this squad is not as high in DVOA as you would probably expect. Yes, it’s time to talk about the Tennessee Titans again. This is the team that has most perplexed DVOA this season, so they keep coming up. As noted above, the Titan did move up to 14 th in DVOA this week. That is pretty low-toned for a team that merely won five straight games including four against squads that shaped last year’s postseason. The Titans have played the hardest schedule in the NFL so far this season. So the Titans would be even lower in our ratings if we did not do foe adjustments! The Titans have also recovered only 31% of fumbles. So if we took out the foe changes and merely penalise offenses for fumbles lost, the Titans would plummet from 14 th to 20 th.

As I noted earlier this week on Twitter, Tennessee’s low rating makes a lot more sense if you look at some of their other amounts instead of only admiring their admittedly impressive win streak against good foes. DVOA is evaluating per-play efficiency, and very good conventional stat for measuring per-play efficiency is yards per play. The Titans have been outgained by their antagonists this year, both in total and on a per-play basis. They are being outgained per play both on the soil and through the breath. This is not the norm for a 7-2 crew. I moved appearing through the history of the worst 7-2 squads by DVOA to find other squads that had lower gardens per play than their opposings at this phase in the season. I determined these six squads, including the Titans 😛 TAGEND

7-2 Teams with Negative Yards per Play Differential, 1983 -2 021

Year Team DVOA Rk Yd/ Play

for Yd/Play vs. Yd/Play Dif Final W-L Final DVOA Final Rk

2001 CHI 5.2% 12 4.87 5.35 -0. 48 13-3 15.9% 8 2016 KC 2.6% 16 5.39 5.67 -0. 29 12-4 13.5% 5 2021 TEN 4.5% 14 5.39 5.61 -0. 22 — — — 2003 CAR 5.1% 13 5.24 5.34 -0. 11 11-5 -0. 2% 16 2015 MIN -8. 8% 20 5.40 5.46 -0. 06 11-5 5.8% 11 1997 MIN 7.1% 11 5.64 5.70 -0. 05 9-7 -0. 8% 16

It’s not the worst company in the world. Three of these teams significantly improved their DVOA in the second half of the season. The 2003 Panthers got red-hot in the playoffs and virtually won the Super Bowl. The two Vikings squads listed here still had a negative yards per play-act differential in the second half of the season; the other three crews did not.

Tennessee is the ninth-worst 7-2 squad in DVOA history. The 1999 Titans were the fourth-worst 7-2 crew and they eventually went to the Super Bowl, so I don’t suppose Titans followers are that subjects of concern this fact. The 2015 Vikings crew from the table above was the most difficult 7-2 crew. The current Green Bay Packers, by the way, are the eighth-worst 7-2 team in DVOA history, with the Jordan Love asterisk.

A lot of what’s going on with the Titan is recency bias. The Titans were not very good at the start of the season, despite starting 2-2. On their current five-game winning streak, however, “theyve been” outstanding. With current foe accommodations, the Titans grade 27 th in the league for Weeks 1-4. They grade fourth in the tournament for Weeks 5-9. It’s a huge change with improvement in all three phases.

Titans DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 -7.1% 22 8.9% 24 -2.5% 24 -18.5% 27

Weeks 5-9 6.9% 12 -12.3% 4 3.0% 8 22.2% 4

Here’s the quandary: I know we all want to look at Tennessee’s winning streak and say, “See, “thats one” of the top crews in the conference, look at how well they’re playing over the last month.” But all our experiment shows that it is better to have a longer-term standpoint on how good squads are, looking at a larger sample of plays. Even our weighted DVOA formula that’s designed to look at how well crews will play going forward by lowering the weight of early plays still considers 12 weeks of games before any plays even plunge below 50% load. Those first four plays also tell us something about how good the Titans are. And so, the Titan are not in the DVOA top 10 despite being 7-2 and the clear favorite for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They currently get the top seed in 41% of our simulations, in part because they now travel from the hardest schedule in the league still further to the easiest schedule remaining.

As long as I’ve got these amounts lead, let’s look at some more teams for Weeks 1-4 compared to Weeks 5-9. Again, this is meant to be interesting more than predictive. After Tennessee, the team with the biggest jump over the past month is … their separation rivals, the Indianapolis Colts. Their improvement has primarily been on the offensive back of the ball. The Colts come out with a better total DVOA over the last five weeks than even the Titans have had. Simply Tampa Bay and Arizona have been better since Week 5 distributed according to DVOA.

Colts DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 -4.6% 21 1.1% 18 0.7% 10 -5.0% 19

Weeks 5-9 17.3% 2 -6.6% 12 0.3% 18 24.2% 3

The biggest change in the other direction belongs to the Carolina Panthers. Their offense has completely crumbled since September, while their defense has been good instead of great like it was when they were winning plays early in its first year. Since Week 5, the Panthers have been the worst team in the tournament. Remember when the Panthers were No. 1 in DVOA after Week 2? This is why we use DAVE ratings that have included projections early in the season.

Panthers DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 0.2% 16 -11.4% 3 -5.2% 30 6.4% 14

Weeks 5-9 -48.4% 32 -4.9% 13 2.2% 13 -41.3% 32

Another team that’s collapsed over the past five weeks is the Cincinnati Bengals. They had the solid win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7 but otherwise they have three losses, one to the Jets, and a win over Detroit. This week’s loss to Cleveland had an awful -5 9.2% DVOA. Merely Carolina was worse in Week 9. DVOA never actually reckoned the Cincinnati offense was that good to begin with, but the Bengals have fought on defense and special squads over the past month.

Bengals DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 -1.7% 20 -9.3% 6 4.5% 3 12.0% 11

Weeks 5-9 -12.4% 28 9.4% 27 -2.0% 23 -23.8% 27

Now, the modification that you surely know about. The Kansas City offense has abruptly is entirely neutered over the past five weeks. You may not realize that their protection has been considerably better at the same time( although, as noted above, it’s a bit artificially lowered because the Green Bay opponent adjustment is mostly based on Aaron Rodgers rather than Jordan Love ). The Chiefs likewise moved into the top spot in special squads this week after the Ravens gave up a kicking return touchdown to Minnesota.

Chiefs DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 39.0% 1 22.2% 31 2.5% 6 19.4% 8

Weeks 5-9 -12.1% 26 4.2% 22 7.9% 1 -8.3% 22

Here are my New England Patriots, simply because I find it interesting. The Patriots are a top-1 0 team over the last five games! Again, this is not meant to be predictive, but Bill Belichick’s crews do have a very long history of regularly fighting in September before they play better the rest of the season. I’ve written about it in the pas and if someone wants to go through all the age-old DVOA clauses, you’ll find it.( This article from early last season simply addresses Weeks 1-3 vs. the rest of the year. There should also be another article further in the past that looks at the overall trend for the entire season .)

Patriots DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 -11.2% 26 -9.2% 8 -1.5% 22 -3.5% 18

Weeks 5-9 2.4% 15 -8.7% 10 4.3% 6 15.4% 7

One more team, because Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers have that same history of playing better at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year. And look at this, despite having the lower rating in last-place night’s win. The Steelers are journeying a four-game winning streak since Week 5.

Steelers DVOA by Week, 2021

DVOA Off Rk Def Rk ST Rk Tot Rk

Weeks 1-4 -8.5% 23 3.7% 20 -1.5% 21 -13.7% 24

Weeks 5-9 6.4% 13 -4.6% 14 2.5% 11 13.6% 11


Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 9. A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats, necessitate registration to view. This is not a paywall! You only 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+ aspects like a deeper DVOA database, weekly fantasy projections, fantasy football search tool, and picks against the spread. FO+ is now on sale for simply 99 cents per week if you buy an annual subscription, so make sure to check it out!


Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through nine weeks of 2021, measured 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 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 changes are currently at 90% strength and will hit full strength next week. 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 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 36% preseason prediction and 64% actual concert for squads with nine games played, and 45% preseason predict and 55% actual performance for squads 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 graded because. is path better than this.



1 ARI 34.3% 2 21.1% 2 8-1 13.8% 4 -18.2% 2 2.3% 7

2 TB 31.9% 3 26.6% 1 6-2 27.3% 1 -5.9% 9 -1.3% 24

3 LAR 27.4% 4 20.5% 4 7-2 20.7% 2 -9.4% 4 -2.7% 27

4 BUF 27.4% 1 20.5% 3 5-3 -1.0% 19 -26.1% 1 2.3% 8

5 DAL 20.4% 5 13.1% 6 6-2 14.1% 3 -7.5% 7 -1.3% 23

6 CLE 17.7% 6 12.5% 7 5-4 13.2% 5 -1.9% 12 2.6% 5

7 BAL 13.4% 8 14.3% 5 6-2 12.9% 7 4.9% 26 5.4% 2

8 NO 13.4% 7 9.1% 10 5-3 -0.6% 17 -11.1% 3 3.0% 3

9 SF 13.0% 9 10.7% 8 3-5 13.1% 6 1.1% 17 1.0% 13

10 IND 11.3% 10 7.6% 13 4-5 7.3% 12 -3.5% 11 0.4% 18

11 MIN 9.7% 11 7.6% 14 3-5 3.4% 15 -6.2% 8 0.1% 19

12 SEA 9.1% 12 8.3% 11 3-5 11.5% 8 3.4% 23 1.0% 12

13 NE 7.3% 13 6.6% 15 5-4 -3.3% 21 -8.9% 5 1.7% 10

14 TEN 4.5% 20 4.0% 16 7-2 -0.1% 16 -4.0% 10 0.6% 16

15 GB 3.4% 14 9.5% 9 7-2 8.9% 11 0.4% 16 -5.1% 30

16 LAC 3.1% 16 0.3% 18 5-3 10.4% 9 1.6% 20 -5.6% 32

Click here for the full table.


Week 4 would be a better …

Week 4 would be a better cutoff point for the Panthers then Week 5, considering it was their first loss( to DAL) and DVOA hated their concert in that game.


How Many SB Contenders are there ?

Given the uncertainty about how the bye-bye( s) and residence subjects could play out– particularly in the AFC– it is hard not to set that amount at a dozen– and maybe even higher.

Surely the 5 top NFC are legit SB challengers, whatever DOA says. Interesting that the Packers have, presuming Rodgers play-acts Sunday, 6 games remaining–with him at QB– of their 8 vs teams DVOA thinks are better– home and residence with MINN, dwelling to SEA, RAMS, CLEV– and away to BALT– none of whom have a better record than GB at present …. It is likely to be clearly articulated to all, if it isn’t already, that members of the mission # 12 will be on will construct last year and “Relax 2014 ” and “Run the Table” 2016 pale by comparison. Scorched earth is the comment you hear from former teammates. Wouldn’t shock me if Packers end up 14 -3, whatever DVOA reckons. Saints too as a challenger? Probably….

And it is hard not to include the following 9 teams in the AFC: BUFF, NE, BALT, PITT, CLEV, TENN, IND, LAC, KC and take your picking amongst LV, DEN, and CIN for a one-tenth. Unless and until there is clear separation for at least 5 playoff places or one of those top squads starts playing consistently well, you can’t remove any of them. The Bills might not win their separation; one of Balt, Pitt, Clev– at least–might not even stir the playoffs; IND might be one of the two or three best squads in the conference and their best hope is a WC….

All of which is to say that this more than any other year in recent memory has become an utter crapshoot, bound to produce an ultimate winner that DVOA will not deem worthy. And so it runs. Any metric is going to have problems with the haphazard nature of this league…


“…bound to produce an …

In reply to by oaktoon

“…bound to produce an ultimate winner that DVOA will not deem worthy.”

What do you think DVOA needs to show to deem a squad “worthy” of winning the Super Bowl? The playoffs are notoriously somewhat of a crap shoot, so I’m not sure there is such a thing as “worthy” from a DVOA perspective. It’s not sorcery and can’t tell how things will play out perfectly or anything.



In reply to by oaktoon

I was told 12 is incredibly disappointed in the organization and his teammates for not corroborating him after his interview with Rogan and how things play the game publicly.

So, yeah. Good periods for a Packer fan. Good, good times.


you make it tone as if …

In reply to by oaktoon

you make it sound as if Aaron Rodgers is a superhero who gains strength from the comprehended disrespect of his fellow citizens on this planet, and once he is sufficiently strong nothing can stop him, including other crews who are able to simply wanna win and perform well just as much as he does. he’s been playing well this year, but not at his former level of say 2009 -2 016( in which he only appeared in and won one superbowl anyway ). If the packers get to 14 -3, it will be much more than just aaron rodgers scorched earth campaign. This year? anything’s possible, but he’s got some stiff competition standing in his direction, and I is guaranteed under you Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Donald/ Ramsey, and Russell Wilson all just wanted to win against Aaron Rodgers as much as he does against them.

Yeah, DVOA doesn’t capture emotion, or momentum, or insider knowledge of another crews game plan/ psychology, but those are all windows garmenting if you prevent getting behind the sticks or giving up chunk plays on 3rd down on a regular basis. If/ when the Packers improve on those metrics, their DVOA will rise accordingly.


Packers and DVOA

In reply to by oaktoon

I think it merely has to be accepted that DVOA will never conceive very highly of GB this year. Between the no show Week 1, The Rodgers Covid Game, and the hardly any receivers game vs ARI, that is already 1/3 of their plays that will skew any revelation into probably how good or not they genuinely are.

All this is on top of the fact that GB never blows anyone out, so they do not get the huge boosts others get from a 50 -1 0 win. Tampa is the only NFC Team I would favor over them, especially after some of GB’s All Pro’s finally return( although after the Week 1 debacle wouldn’t mind avoiding the Saints !).


Packers play at an incredibly slow gait

In reply to by Q

On offense so blowouts are unlikely. Also invites more random bad luck into influencing outcomes. Matt and Aaron seem intent on winning games 24 -1 4 so only a play-act or two can upset the desired objective

which is why the continued seeming acceptance of frightful special squads play is so perplexing. Special crew mistakes are almost always occurrences that significantly alter win expectancy. And if you are hell bent on minimizing owneds then having a special crews unit that can give the other team more chances is just bizarre.

I don’t agree with this deliberate approach but understand if that is what works for leadership to be successful then ok. But the apparently blase position toward this clownshow of special teams virtues all the scorn and ridicule one can muster.


GB’s Slow Pace

In reply to by big1 0freak

I wonder if the slow tempo GB plays at is due to how careful Rodgers is with the projectile. GB generally wins the turnover battle since you assume the only style GB will turn it over is due to a random fumble. The fewer belongings there are in a game, the more impactful being +1 or +2 in self-possessions becomes.( Or could be an alternative reason such as the fewer plays run in a game the fewer opportunities for traumata which could lead to improved health for the playoffs ).


Rodgers takes the game clock to zero

In reply to by Q

Almost every play-act save if GB is in hurry up. Been doing it forever. And as he has aged he simply wants to operate slower and slower


It’s about day …

…that Schatz gave my Cardinals some DVOA adore!

Raiders fans are jealous now!

I can see it.


Is it possible that the Colts D is messing with the computer ?

I know, I know, garbage occasion … but they can’t stop anybody in the second halves of plays. There IS NO Garbage TIME when you are talking about Indy having a lead of different sizes.( Kind of like KC trailing by 10 -1 4 late the past couple years)

I feel the Colts’ late defensive letdowns should get full weight. That should plummet them 4-6 spots to a most reasonable, logical, “meets the eyeball test” ranking spot.


How is that the Cowboys’ and …

How is that the Cowboys’ and Broncos’ rankings seem largely unaffected by their last play? The Boys run defense seemed to revert back to its 2020 shape, letting chow after clump of yardage, yet their defense simply moves down one spot. Their offensive endeavour was somehow even more embarrassing, yet remains third overall. Was the threshing the Bills took actually worse than the one the Cowboys took? The Bills at least still remembered how to play defense.

Finally, did Vic Fangio lay the blueprints to overcoming this iteration of the Boys? I remember a similar embarrassing play in 2018 when they were high on a victory streak which came back a halting after the Colts stampeded all over them. The Marinelli run defense was never quite the same after that and culminated in the catastrophe that was 2020.



Vikings 2nd in Variance, and yet every play they play they have wild shakes in win probability

An utterly bothering team

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