Buffalo Bills Back to No. 1 in DVOA

Buffalo Bills Back to No. 1 in DVOA Aaron Schatz 16 Nov 2021, 03:14 pm

Taron Johnson, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are back on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after a big win over the lowly New York Jets this week. The Bills are going to be an excellent test of our precept that championship squads are characterized predominantly by their dominant wins over bad squads. The Bills are the least consistent team of the year according to week-to-week variance of DVOA. They have four wins with DVOA over 60% but they also have three damages with negative DVOA. Those losings weren’t to especially good crews, either, at least according to DVOA. Yes, the Titan are 8-2, but all three of the teams that thump Buffalo are in the bottom half of our DVOA ratings.

The team Buffalo replaces on the top of the DVOA ratings is the Arizona Cardinals. Obviously, the Cardinals fell out of the top spot in large persona because they had to use their backup and third-string quarterbacks against Carolina this week and purposed up with a big 34 -1 0 loss. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that this week was Arizona’s worst performance of the year on both offense and defense. Even if Arizona had the same offensive DVOA as a week ago, the Cardinal still would have fallen out of the top spot overall because of the decline of their defense the coming week. They would simply be No. 2 instead of No. 4.

As we often have to point out, the DVOA ratings are not adjusted for backup quarterbacks. DVOA measures what happened on the field based on the players who were on the field in those plays, and we don’t estimate what teams would have done if the government has different personnel on the field. However, we do estimate the effect of backup quarterbacks on predictive ratings move forward in the DAVE ratings that we used to support our playoff odds simulation. DAVE ratings mix weighted DVOA with preseason projections, affording more weight to plays over the past two months while also incorporating September games as well as prior data regarding before the season. For example, DAVE assumes that Kansas City is better than what the Chiefs have shown us so far, but each week the amount of preseason projection we use in DAVE goes down as we get more data about how good Kansas City actually is this season.

The DAVE ratings listed below do not adjust for backup quarterbacks, but like I said, we do estimates in respect of the effect of backup quarterbacks when we do the ratings that we be utilized in the playoff odds simulation. Here’s a look at the difference right now between the top teams in DAVE and the top teams in quarterback-adjusted DAVE.

Rk Regular DAVE QB-Adjusted DAVE

1 BUF 25.6% BUF 25.6%

2 TB 24.7% TB 24.7%

3 NE 19.3% DAL 22.0%

4 DAL 19.2% ARI 20.0%

5 ARI 17.0% NE 19.3%

6 LAR 14.7% LAR 14.7%

7 SF 14.5% SF 14.5%

8 NO 11.4% Sea 13.5%

9 MIN 11.4% GB 12.7%

10 GB 10.3% MIN 11.4%

11 BAL 10.0% BAL 10.0%

12 KC 8.7% KC 8.7%

Dallas, San Francisco, Minnesota, Kansas City, and Green Bay all moved up in DVOA this week, but the biggest mover was the New England Patriots. The Patriots move all the way up from 13 th to fifth in DVOA after a huge dominant win over the Cleveland Browns. Opponent accommodations reached full strength the coming week, and with the current opponent accommodations, the Patriots get 126.0% DVOA for this win. That’s the second-highest single play of the season, trailing only Buffalo’s Week 4 40 -0 castration of the Houston Texans. That play is now 126.7% DVOA. It would be over 150% if not for opponent adjustments! With their rise in both DVOA and DAVE, we are today have the Patriots shaping the postseason 88% of the time in our playoff simulation.

Cleveland, meanwhile, plummets from sixth to 17 th in DVOA off this one awful game. The Browns’ playoff odds likewise drop 24% from 56.5% to 32.5%.

If you look at the playoff odds report, you’ll notice that there’s a big difference between the most likely squads to construct the playoffs and the most likely teams to win the Super Bowl. At this phase, the former is based more on the team’s record and their planned move forward. The latter is based partly on what seed a team is likely to win but also significantly on the team’s DVOA rating. That’s how we get Tennessee and Green Bay, each at 8-2, as the teams most likely to induce the playoffs but not in our top five most likely squads to win the Super Bowl.

We’ve written a lot about Green Bay and Tennessee this year. The Packers moved up in DVOA this week with a nice win against Seattle. Their defense should certainly turned things around over the last month. Green Bay’s defensive DVOA for Weeks 1-6 was 11.4%, which was 27 th in the tournament. Green Bay’s defensive DVOA for Weeks 7-10 was -2 2.3%, which was sixth in the tournament. The Packers are still being held down in DVOA by their dreadful Week 1 loss to New Orleans and by a lower offensive DVOA for the game where Jordan Love played quarterback while Aaron Rodgers was out for COVID.

As for Tennessee, well, we’ve written a lot about the Titan and they did it again this week. They won another play despite having the lower DVOA rating. Tennessee beat New Orleans despite being outgained significantly, 373 yards( 6.1 per play) to 264 yards( 4.6 per play-act ). They won the turnover margin because each team fumbled formerly but the Titans recovered both fumbles. New Orleans’ fumble came on a kick return and afforded the Titans a short field at the New Orleans 19. They scored a touchdown. And the Titans took advantage of both a bad fourth-and-goal call by Sean Payton, kicking a field goal from the 1, and two missed extra levels they genuinely “wouldnthave anything to do with”. And still, the Saints were within a two-point conversion of transmitting video games to overtime.

The Titans get -1 9.9% DVOA for this game, which lowers their season overall DVOA to 0.7%. That’s still above average, slightly, but it ranks 18 th in the conference. The Titans are a little higher in weighted DVOA, 3.5%, which ranks 15 th. Their very easy remaining schedule and 8-2 record give them a significant leg up on getting the No. 1 seed in the AFC and that all-important first-round bye. Even with such a low-toned DVOA, they currently get the first-round bye in 48% of our simulations. But the Titans simply are not as good as their record and they should not be No. 1 or even in the top three of NFL power higher-rankings around the Internet.

Here’s where the Titans are now compared to the worst 8-2 squads in DVOA history. All of these squads attained the playoffs. Some of them even stirred the Super Bowl! But the ones that made the Super Bowl generally improved in the second half of the year. I’m curious to go back and check what the press was saying about some of these squads at the time. Were the 2000 Vikings on top of NFL power higher-rankings around the Internet? I recollect having to explain the 2003 Panthers invariably, since that was the first year of Football Outsiders. They actually declined in the second half of the season, then turned things around and got hot in the playoffs to almost win the championship.

Worst 8-2 Teams by DVOA, 1983 -2 021

Year Team W-L DVOA Rk FinalW-L FinalDVOA FinalRk 2000 MIN 8-2 -3.5% 20 11-5 -1. 3% 20 2021 TEN 8-2 0.7% 18 — — — 1999 TEN 8-2 4.2% 18 13-3 14.9% 5 2003 CAR 8-2 5.9% 14 11-5 -0. 2% 16 2021 GB 8-2 6.8% 12 — — — 2001 CHI 8-2 7.3% 11 13-3 15.9% 8 1997 MIN 8-2 7.5% 10 9-7 -0. 8% 16 2004 ATL 8-2 7.7% 12 11-5 -1. 7% 15 2016 OAK 8-2 8.7% 8 12-4 7.6% 10 1989 NYG 8-2 9.0% 9 12-4 15.3% 6 1998 ATL 8-2 9.3% 11 14-2 22.9% 6 2002 GB 8-2 9.8% 12 12-4 7.8% 13


Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 10. A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats, expect registration to view. “Thats really not” a paywall! You only 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+ features like a deeper DVOA database, weekly fantasy projections, fantasy football search tool, and pickings against the spread.


Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through 10 weeks of 2021, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average( DVOA) system 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, prevented or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium( warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As ever, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

Opponent changes are now at full strength as we have hit Week 10.

DAVE is a formula which blends our preseason forecast with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a squad will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 36% preseason predict and 64% actual concert for teams with nine games played, and 24% preseason prognosi and 76% actual performance for teams with 10 plays played. It has still not adjusted for any backup quarterbacks.

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

is clearly ranked because. is mode better than this.



1 BUF 33.1% 4 25.6% 1 6-3 4.7% 14 -25.3% 1 3.1% 3

2 TB 28.1% 2 24.7% 2 6-3 24.6% 1 -4.5% 9 -1.1% 23

3 DAL 27.5% 5 19.2% 4 7-2 14.6% 4 -13.7% 4 -0.8% 22

4 ARI 24.9% 1 17.0% 5 8-2 7.5% 11 -14.9% 2 2.5% 6

5 NE 20.1% 13 19.3% 3 6-4 4.2% 16 -13.6% 5 2.3% 8

6 LAR 18.6% 3 14.7% 6 7-3 15.2% 2 -5.9% 7 -2.5% 27

7 SF 17.2% 9 14.5% 7 4-5 15.0% 3 -0.6% 13 1.6% 10

8 NO 16.2% 8 11.4% 8 5-4 4.5% 15 -10.7% 6 0.9% 16

9 MIN 13.6% 11 11.4% 9 4-5 6.5% 12 -5.5% 8 1.6% 11

10 IND 8.2% 10 7.7% 13 5-5 4.0% 17 -3.3% 10 0.9% 17

11 BAL 7.3% 7 10.0% 11 6-3 8.0% 10 5.2% 25 4.5% 2

12 GB 6.8% 15 10.3% 10 8-2 9.3% 7 -2.2% 11 -4.7% 30

13 SEA 6.2% 12 5.6% 14 3-6 8.1% 9 3.2% 21 1.3% 12

14 KC 4.8% 17 8.7% 12 6-4 11.3% 5 11.1% 30 4.6% 1

15 PHI 4.7% 18 1.2% 16 4-6 8.5% 8 3.0% 19 -0.8% 21

16 LAC 2.8% 16 0.5% 17 5-4 11.0% 6 2.2% 18 -6.0% 31

Click here for the full table.


This season is truly bizarre …

This season is truly bizarre in terms of being able to evaluate the top crews in the league. It seems like every time a team ascends to Super Bowl contender status, they suffer an inexplicable and embarrassing loss( gues Buffalo vs. Jacksonville, Arizona vs. Carolina, Dallas vs. Denver, TB vs. Washington, LAR the last two weeks ). The playoffs has truly be fun an unpredictable.


Looking more broadly at the NFL …

In reply to by jgov

… 22 of the 32 crews in the league, 11 in each seminar, have a winning percentage above. 300 and below. 700.( That omits the 7-3 Rams and 3-7 Dolphins .) Three entire divisions( NFC South, AFC North, AFC West) are included in that 22 team classify of relative parity. Merely one team in the NFC is worse than 3-6, and merely one squad in the AFC is better than 6-3.


Outlier Games

It seems like outlier games have a huge affect on squads in the rankings, specially looking at Green Bay. Its interesting 2 plays disproportionately holding down a crew, one where the starting QB didn’t play and the other the first game of the season. If a squad was to beat GB right now, they would also not get as much credit for the win due to those losses shaping GB seem comparatively weaker.


Outlier Games

In reply to by mkuch9 0

It isn’t only GB. Pretty much every squad at the top is there due on the back of a few Gigantic Wins. The Bills, Bucs, and Cowboys all have had some vanquishing victories.

Look at NE, they ran from 13 th to 5th after a 45 -7 Win. I’d bet the 45 -7 Win and their 54 -1 3 Win make up a somewhat large percentage of their ranking. Does NE’s annihilation of shaky QB’s translate to predictive playoff success without also having a Hall of Fame QB? We’ll see.

GB by differ doesn’t have a win over 18 this year. If I had to bet, I would bet they would not win any game this year by 20. They’ll never get the + 120% DVOA boost to skyrocket them in DVOA. We’ll see how it plays out.



Everybody is clearly graded too high because there are no genuinely good squads this season. Raiderjoe’s spelling is route better than this. The FOMBC is the only successful characteristic of this season, as it seems universally applicable, even if unrelated to the actual FOMB.


Well done

In reply to by young curmudgeon

Bravo. It’s true which shapes it funnier.


Thank you

In reply to by justanothersteve

Thank you.


I remember the large-scale influx of …

I remember the large-hearted influx of indignant Panthers followers throughout the second half of 2003.


Welcome Titans to the Club

I have decided to name a certain aspect of DVOA a “Packer”

This where Team A vanquishes Team B, often on the road; Team A has a better record than Team B, often by several plays … and DVOA obstinately insists that Team B is superior.

Should GB win narrowly at MINN this weekend, that could give the originators of the “Packer”, the Packers, 4 such “prizes” for 2021. Wins at Arizona, SF and Minn– plus a residence win vs MINN– all of which have worse records( OK, the Cardinal are because of the tiebreaker, but technically still true-blue) all rated more highly by DVOA … The Rams game after the BYE at Lambeau could be Numero 5.

But this year GB are pikers compared to the true champions of the “Packer”. Tennessee now can claim an amazing 7 of them– virtually their entire win total for the season.

The Titans have defeated IND( twice !), KC, BUFF, SEA, RAMS and NO and are a mixed 18 plays better in W/ L than those 7 opponents– yet DVOA has them all rated better– and by a whopping median of ten. 6 status …( Colts are counted twice because … well, you learn the Titans beat them in both plays)

So 7 Packers for the Titans– I bow in admiration.

Another more likable fun fact to the difficulty of any metric figuring out this season 😛 TAGEND

After 8 weeks, the guessed Big Six of the NFC– the 4 division presidents plus LAR and NO– were 38 -8 mixed. In the last two weeks, those six squads are 3-8. Not a typo. Nobody knows anything…


the entire point of DVOA

In reply to by oaktoon

The entire point of DVOA is that W-L is less predictive than other stats. The Packers have the best record in the NFC, but the Cardinals, Rams, Bucs, Saints, and Cowboys all have better point differentials. Some of them give full play 1 fewer game. And the Packers apparently have frightful special crews weighing them down.

As for all the disturbs: we’ve reached an integrated part of the midseason when crews are finding it hard to keep focus every single week, and that seems to leave them open to upsets, esp. if they’re missing a key player or two.



In reply to by RickD

W-L is definitely not the best way to evaluate crews. It is likewise worth noting that crews care differently about margin of win. If “youve had” 2 identical squads and 1 team goes into run out clock mode up by 10 late in video games whereas Team B goes into try to win by 24 mode late in video games, DVOA will favor Team B because it appears to B the more dominant crew because it won by 24.

I of course have no way to deal with this and know that in general point differential is 1 of the more predictive techniques. I are also aware that some teams care more about turning 14 phase contributes into 30 point leads-in than do other teams.

If my fund was on the line, I would bet on a Buff/ TB Super Bowl. However, I would also favor GB over any other NON TB NFC Team.


I think you’re just arguing …

In reply to by oaktoon

I think you’re only arguing that randomness exists. That’s true.

DVOA has a pretty good track record once you have a large enough sample size. It’s not meant to be taken without its examination of other factors , nor is any statistic in any realm. It doesn’t account for positional strengths/ weaknesses that could become critically important in a particular game , nor does it understand a squads ability to play in weather , nor any other random item that is also important to predicting plays. It does not make credit for watching team after team implode in your general direction.

Maybe the Titans will be good by the end – seems a little unlikely so far.


Sees Green Bay’s defense appraisal

* get lightheaded*


Sees special teams

* gets a headache*


TN in the bottom half ?

Don’t see that changing much because they’re gonna slide to the# 1 seed with the easiest SOS remaining.

Packers D up to 11. Looks good without Jaire and Zada so we’ll see how Joe integrates them back in at the end of the season.


DVOA and the 4th down

A number of your fan benefactors were commenting in this week’s open discussion about DVOA and 4th down. Then one of your writers wrote such articles 😛 TAGEND

Frank Frigo


Risky Business

The Year of the Fourth Down Revolution?

Although Frank declares we have a long way to go, it is clear that going for fourth down is increasing.

Aaron, we had discussed this two years ago when on 3rd and 17 against Seattle Lamar Jackson gained 15 gardens leaving 4th and 2 Baltimore runs for it, and Baltimore scored a TD. You said that the 3rd down play gets partial credit.

Now this week, we had these two big play-acts: MIN on 3rd and 20 gains 18 yards on pass to Thielen then converts 4th and 2, and Goff on 3rd and 6 accomplishes a 5 garden pass( otherwise known as Goff airing it out) and then DET converted 4th and 1.

Two questions 😛 TAGEND

1. Do you feel that going forward that since more teams are playing with 4 downs that the DVOA formula will change? I verify the counter to this which is that of course being a yard or two short on a long 3rd down play could lead to a cataclysmic omission on 4th down.( I entail simply getting stopped in poor field position, although Fangio may never go for 4th down again ).

2. I believe that you had mentioned some weeks ago that DVOA may need to add in coaching decisions. We are in a league where some teams are regularly playing with 4 downs and some are not. Ironically some of the all time more successful coaches are so republican and are not with the analytic age( Belichick, Tomlin, Punting Pete Carroll) and others are all in on 4th down( Harbaugh, Staley, Campbell ). Do you think that it is time that to accurately analyze squad concert, that coaching decisions must be included?


DVOA Less Predictive in 2021

When I look at the great differences are connected with the top rated squads I verify 8 of the top 16 teams on DVOA have deviations in the top half of the conference. If I understand this correctly, this means that the week-to-week performance of a top team on the DVOA metric is highly variable. In other words, the tournament is more of a matchup-based league with top teams losing to weaker squads in 2021. Is this the right way to think about it? If it is, do we think the league has adjusted to recent new QB talent with strategy and this is allowing weaker squads to game plan to defeat top squads on any passed Sunday?


DVOA Adjustments

I wonder if throwing out the best and worst game for each squad would cause better correlation of DVOA. I imagine that wouldn’t work early in its first year, but wonder if it’s advantageous by the time you reach midway through. Has anything like that been attempted?


Buffalo’s protection is over 10…

Buffalo’s protection is over 10 points of DVOA better than the next nearest team. That’s crazy. The game against Carolina should be a brutal defensive struggle.


Buff’s D

In reply to by Mike B. In Va

We’ll eventually be seen to what extent real Buff’s D really is. By my count they have faced 2 good offenses this year. Tenn scored 34 which isn’t anything to write home about. KC scored 20 although they have been very up and down so hard to evaluate.

In some modes they remind me of the Pat from Brady’s last year( Must be nice to play in the AFC East !!!). Through like 1/2 or 2/3 of the year they graded out like the 85 Suffers since it was a never intention pipeline of High School Caliber QBs that they perfectly obliterated.

Here are the powerhouse other offenses they have faced this year: Steelers, Dolphins, Redskins, Texans, Dolphins Again, Jaguars, Jets.

I know DVOA adjusts for antagonist adjustments, but some crews/ units particularly destroy horrid opposition.


DVOA takes time

In reply to by Q

Buffalo’s had an unbelievably light planned. And they’ve been beating up on weaker crews. Which is fair. But I think they’re get behavior too much credit for beating Miami 35 -0 and Houston 40 -0.

Well, things are going to get a bit harder. So far they’ve merely beaten one team with a winning record: KC. They’re getting Indy, NO, the Pats, Bucs, Panthers, and Pat again in their next six plays. That should drag their DVOA down a bit.


Buffalo’s Week 4 40 -0 …

Buffalo’s Week 4 40 -0 sterilization of the Houston Texans.

That’s cruel!


I feel kinda like the Robert …

I feel kinda like the Robert Woods Reunion Special in the SB matchups is in poor taste now. 🙁


It blows my psyche to see SF …

It blows my brain to see SF rated# 3 on Offense imparted how nasty they gaze a large percentage of the time.

Their defense is even more confusing as they played inadequately against the Bears and 2nd string Cardinals and then very well against the Rams. It makes no feel at all.



The Titans are the 18 th best team in the DVOA and the second worst 8-2 squad since 1983. That’s somehow the example even though they’ve beaten the Bills (# 1 ), Rams( 6) and Saints ( 8), and Colts( 10 ), and Chiefs( 14 ).

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