Chiefs, Lions Rising in Weighted DVOA #Raiders #NFL #Steelers #HereWeGo #Pickett #Franco


NFL Week 17 – It can be hard to imagine the NFL going forward after last night’s postponement in Cincinnati, but the NFL will go forward. There will be games this week and there will be playoffs soon. So while keeping Damar Hamlin in our thoughts, we’ll get back to what we do around here, which is look at DVOA ratings and what they say about the season so far and the games yet to come.

The top 10 in full-season DVOA remains the same as last week. It’s hard to get major moves this late in the season when you’re adding one game into a sample that already included 15 of them. In the case of No. 1 Buffalo, we’re not adding a game. The Bills did take a larger lead in DVOA this week after No. 2 Philadelphia lost and No. 3 San Francisco played a very close game against a bad Las Vegas team.

There are moves in the ratings even if the rankings don’t change. For example, Miami is still eighth with Detroit ninth, but Detroit made up most of the difference between these teams thanks to a big win over Chicago. Lower down, the biggest moves of the week were the Los Angeles Chargers moving up three spots from 21st to 18th, the Washington Commanders falling three spots to 22nd, and the Los Angeles Rams falling three spots to 25th.

There are bigger changes in the weighted DVOA ratings, since that sample stays the same each week now that an early game (Week 2) drops out as a new game comes in. San Francisco still has a healthy lead in weighted DVOA despite this week’s close call, with Buffalo second. The Kansas City Chiefs moved up to third this week, climbing past the Bengals with the Eagles dropping to fifth. Dallas is sixth, and those are the big six teams everybody has as this year’s Super Bowl favorites. We had Baltimore up there with these other teams for a long time, but there’s been enough Tyler Huntley now to drop them down to eighth in weighted DVOA. There’s a gap between the top six and our new No. 7, which is Detroit despite the Lions’ big loss to the Panthers a week ago. Green Bay is ninth in weighted DVOA, making for a great final game on Sunday night. We’ll have to see what happens with Seattle (11th in weighted DVOA) on Sunday afternoon and whether the Lions will be playing for a postseason spot or just to be spoilers.

One thing weighted DVOA shows is the plunging teams of the AFC East. Other than Buffalo, they all rank higher in full-season DVOA than in weighted DVOA. Miami is eighth for the full season but 13th weighted. The New York Jets are 15th for the full season but dropped from 13th to 18th in weighted DVOA this week. New England moved up to 13th for the full season but ranks just 17th weighted.

You might be surprised to see that the Patriots are the No. 1 team in weighted defense, as San Francisco fell to second after giving up 34 points to the Raiders. The Patriots’ decline over the last few weeks has come entirely on offense and special teams. They’re now 27th in weighted offense and 29th in weighted special teams, close to the worst team in the league on both kickoffs and punts. San Francisco is still No. 1 in full-season defense (essentially tied with the Cowboys) and No. 1 in run defense.

Here’s a look at the teams that have been better or worse on offense or defense in recent weeks based on the difference between full-season and weighted DVOA. You can see that some teams are going in opposite directions for each unit. Five of the six leaders among teams improving on defense are also among the top six teams declining on offense. For example, the Ravens have been better on defense in recent weeks, but worse on offense with Huntley at quarterback. The Jets, Dolphins, Browns, and Texans have all had similar movement. The Rams, on the other hand, have improved on offense with Baker Mayfield instead of John Wolford and Bryce Perkins, but have declined on defense with no Aaron Donald in the lineup.

Teams Improving in Offensive DVOA
SF 12.0% 7 21.3% 3 +9.3%
CIN 14.7% 4 24.0% 2 +9.2%
CAR -8.0% 23 -1.8% 19 +6.2%
NYG 7.0% 12 10.6% 7 +3.6%
LV 3.0% 16 6.1% 11 +3.1%
LAR -8.1% 24 -5.0% 22 +3.1%
Teams Declining in Offensive DVOA
BAL 7.7% 10 -0.2% 18 -7.9%
MIA 13.3% 5 6.1% 12 -7.3%
CLE 8.4% 8 3.6% 13 -4.8%
HOU -29.0% 31 -33.1% 31 -4.1%
NYJ -8.1% 25 -12.2% 28 -4.1%
MIN -4.5% 20 -7.9% 24 -3.4%
Teams Improving in Defensive DVOA
HOU 2.6% 20 -3.6% 10 -6.1%
CLE 3.2% 22 -2.1% 13 -5.3%
MIA 2.1% 17 -1.2% 16 -3.3%
NYJ -10.0% 6 -12.8% 3 -2.8%
NO -5.3% 9 -8.1% 6 -2.8%
BAL -6.4% 8 -9.2% 5 -2.7%
Teams Declining in Defensive DVOA
TB -4.1% 10 4.7% 23 +8.9%
BUF -11.9% 4 -7.3% 8 +4.6%
CHI 16.2% 32 20.4% 32 +4.3%
DEN -7.0% 7 -3.3% 11 +3.7%
DAL -14.0% 2 -11.0% 4 +3.0%
LAR 2.4% 19 5.3% 24 +2.9%

For all the press that the Tampa Bay passing game has received for its struggles, it’s worth noting that the Tampa Bay defense has declined more than the offense in recent weeks.

Yet Even More Minnesota Vikings

Who wants to talk about the Minnesota Vikings again? I apologize for writing about them nearly every week this year, but their season is absolutely bonkers.

The Vikings got absolutely destroyed by the Packers on Sunday, 41-17. The game was 41-3 until the Vikings scored a couple of meaningless touchdowns in the final few minutes. DVOA does not discount garbage time as much as people expect it to, but it does discount garbage time somewhat, when there’s a gap of more than three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. So those Vikings touchdowns get discounted in our formula.

The Vikings also don’t get credit for the blocked punt in the first quarter. As I’ve written in the past, blocked punts are not “lucky” plays but they are what we call “non-predictive.” Usually, a blocked punt doesn’t indicate any likelihood that you’re going to get more blocked punts later in the season. As it happens, this was the second straight week that the Vikings blocked a punt. So if you want to criticize DVOA for not giving them credit for that great play, I totally understand. (By the way, two other teams have multiple blocked punts this year: the Falcons in Weeks 2 and 17, and the Jets in Weeks 6 and 14.)

Without credit for the blocked punt, the Vikings come close to the worst special teams DVOA in a single game this year at -33.7%. There was the Keisean Nixon kick return touchdown, of course, and two missed field goals from Greg Joseph. The Packers also had two good punt returns and Jalen Reagor muffed a punt return for the Vikings (but recovered it himself). We know that the punt block happened so it’s not really one of the worst special teams games of the year but it was not a good game overall.

The special teams help contribute to the fact that the Vikings came out of this game with a miserable -94.6% DVOA. That’s worse than the Dallas Cowboys loss, 40-3 back in Week 11, which has -67.8% DVOA. The difference is mostly in the special teams as well as opponent adjustments since Dallas has been better than Green Bay this season (on defense, particularly).

This week’s loss was so bad that the Vikings drop another three spots to 28th in DVOA. The Vikings are no longer just the worst team to ever share their win-loss record. They will either be the worst two seed or three seed ever, depending on which seed they end up with. In fact, the Vikings have now gotten themselves onto a list of the worst DVOA ratings ever for all playoff teams, no matter what seed or win-loss record. The worst playoff team by DVOA was the 2010 “Beastquake” Seattle Seahawks, followed by the 2004 wild-card St. Louis Rams. Remarkably, four of the five worst playoff teams by DVOA won their first playoff game, including those two teams. However, none of the teams on this list made it to a conference championship game.

Lowest DVOA for Playoff Teams, 1981-2022
Year Team DVOA Rk W-L Off
Rk Def
Rk Seed Playoff
2010 SEA -24.3% 30 7-9 -17.8% 29 12.9% 29 6.4% 2 4 Lost DIV
2004 STL -23.7% 30 8-8 -3.9% 19 10.7% 25 -9.0% 32 5 Lost DIV
2016 HOU -19.5% 28 9-7 -21.1% 30 -8.0% 8 -6.5% 31 4 Lost DIV
1982 CLE1 -19.3% 25 4-5 -5.6% 20 9.0% 20 -4.6% 25 8 Lost WC
1998 ARI -17.8% 26 9-7 -6.2% 18 9.9% 25 -1.8% 23 6 Lost DIV
2012 IND -16.2% 26 11-5 -2.5% 18 14.6% 31 0.9% 12 5 Lost WC
2022 MIN -14.2% 28 12-4 -4.5% 20 5.5% 25 -4.3% 31 2-3
2006 SEA -14.1% 25 9-7 -11.7% 27 5.2% 23 2.9% 9 4 Lost DIV
1982 STLC -13.9% 23 5-4 2.1% 11 15.4% 24 -0.6% 16 6 Lost WC
2011 DEN -13.1% 24 8-8 -10.3% 23 2.5% 20 -0.2% 18 4 Lost DIV
1996 IND -12.9% 24 9-7 -7.9% 22 11.0% 24 6.0% 3 6 Lost WC
1986 KC -11.5% 22 10-6 -17.2% 27 -5.7% 9 0.1% 14 5 Lost WC

The 1995 Indianapolis Colts (-9.9%, 23rd) had the lowest DVOA for a team to make a conference championship game. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals (-4.0%, 21st) had the lowest DVOA for a team to make the Super Bowl. And the 2007 New York Giants (+1.4%, 15th) had the lowest DVOA for a team to win the Super Bowl.

The Vikings could still avoid making this top 10, of course. They could have a huge dominant game against the Chicago Bears, the kind they haven’t had all year, and see their DVOA move up past the 1996 Colts. But like I said, it’s the kind of game they haven’t had all year. The Vikings have only one game over 20%, back in Week 1 when they had 31.6% DVOA in beating the Packers 23-7.

An extremely high-scoring game could change this, but my estimate is that the Vikings will stand as the greatest Pythagorean overachievers in modern NFL history (since 1950) unless they either:

  • lose to Chicago by four points or fewer, or
  • beat Chicago by 33 points or more.

Like I said, this Vikings season has been absolutely bonkers.

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Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 17. There is no data from the postponed Buffalo-Cincinnati game.

A reminder that all our free stats pages, including DVOA and player position stats, require registration to view. This is 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 research tools, Derrik Klassen’s All-32 game preview column, and picks against the spread (now including projected totals for over/unders).

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This is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through 17 weeks of 2022, 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). Click here for the full table.

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for opponent and performance indoors and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. 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.

WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.

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

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

#Chiefs #Lions #Rising #Weighted #DVOA