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Tampa Bay Rises to DVOA Top Spot


NFL Week 11 – A weekend of surprising NFL results led to a lot of movement in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week. From our perspective, the biggest story was Buffalo’s defensive face plant against the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills’ worst game of the year (-76.7% DVOA) knocks them down four spots and makes way for the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to ascend to the top position for the first time all season.

While the Bills had their worst game of the year in Week 11, the Buccaneers had their best game of the year at 72.0% DVOA. Even though they have three losses, the Bucs have put up positive DVOA ratings in all their games this year except for Week 10’s upset by the Washington football team. Tampa was at No. 2 last week and their big game against the Giants gives them a nice cushion over the rest of the league, nearly eight percentage points in total DVOA. The Bucs are now first in total DVOA, weighted DVOA, and DAVE, and they have taken over as our Super Bowl favorites. Tampa Bay’s lead is most impressive on offense, where they have 25.6% DVOA which is nearly 10 percentage points ahead of the rest of the league. (Specifically, they are ahead of the new Los Angeles teams, as the Rams are second and the Chargers are now up to third.) The Bucs also have a top-10 defense, and their special teams are only slightly below average.

In keeping with the idea that 2021 has a lot of good teams but no great teams, and every team we think is good has a loss to a team we think isn’t very good, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very low for a No. 1 team in DVOA. They’re higher now after last night’s big win, but still the Buccaneers are the fifth-lowest No. 1 team ever after Week 11. Here’s a look at the worst teams to be No. 1 at this point in the season. For recent years, these ratings are different from what was on the site at the time, because of changes we’ve made in the DVOA formula.

Worst No. 1 Teams in DVOA after Week 11, 1983-2021
Year Team W-L DVOA
2016 SEA 7-2-1 23.8%
1988 CIN 8-3 27.2%
1983 WAS 9-2 30.4%
2014 DEN 7-3 30.8%
2021 TB 7-3 31.2%
1989 CLE1 7-3-1 31.4%
2006 SD 8-2 31.7%
2000 TEN 8-2 32.7%
2015 NE 10-0 33.7%
1993 PIT 6-3 34.5%

Behind Tampa Bay, Arizona climbs two spots to No. 2 overall, and then we have the New England Patriots at No. 3. The Patriots are the hottest team in the league. They have a slightly above average offense, but their defense is now second in the league and has almost passed Buffalo, and their special teams rank sixth. You can really see the movement for the Patriots when you look at weighted DVOA compared to total DVOA. Weighted DVOA lowers the weights of older games to get a better idea of how teams are playing now. New England is second in weighted DVOA, trailing only Tampa Bay. No team has a bigger gap between total DVOA and weighted DVOA because they’ve played better over the last month and a half.

Better Weighted DVOA vs. Total DVOA, 2021
Team DVOA Rk WEI
DVOA
Rk Gap
NE 23.1% 3 28.6% 2 5.5%
IND 13.2% 8 16.8% 7 3.6%
JAX -22.9% 28 -19.5% 27 3.4%
PHI 9.5% 12 11.5% 12 2.0%
TEN -4.4% 18 -2.4% 18 2.0%
SF 17.3% 7 18.9% 5 1.6%

New England is also up to No. 2 in our DAVE ratings, since those combine a small portion of preseason projections with weighted DVOA rather than total DVOA. For teams with 11 games played, preseason projections are down to just 16% of DAVE. We stop using DAVE entirely once a team has played 13 games.

On the other side of the coin, the Cleveland Browns have seen the most decline in recent weeks and are now 17th overall in DVOA. A lot of the movement for the Patriots and Browns is related to just the game they played against each other.

Better Total DVOA vs. Weighted DVOA, 2021
Team DVOA Rk WEI
DVOA
Rk Gap
CLE 3.2% 17 -0.7% 17 -3.9%
LAR 19.2% 6 15.8% 8 -3.4%
SEA 4.6% 16 1.3% 16 -3.3%
CIN -7.9% 21 -11.1% 24 -3.2%
DAL 22.9% 4 20.4% 4 -2.6%
BUF 21.4% 5 18.9% 6 -2.5%

A few other tidbits from this week’s DVOA ratings:

  • The Buffalo Bills now have an astonishing 46.6% variance, which would set an all-time record. Right now the highest-ever variance over a full season belongs to the 2005 San Francico 49ers, a team that won four games despite the worst DVOA ever measured. Their variance was 38.2%. The Bills are, quite literally, the least consistent team we’ve ever seen.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs move up four spots from 14th to 10th this week. Their offense went down but their defense improved from 30th to 23rd after the big win against the Cowboys.
  • The Green Bay Packers move up in DVOA, even though they drop a spot in the rankings. The Minnesota Vikings move down even though they beat the Packers. DVOA feels strongly that Green Bay outplayed Minnesota in this game, giving Green Bay 32.8% DVOA and Minnesota -13.3% DVOA. Our Post-Game Win Expectancy formula suggests that normally we would only expect a team with Minnesota’s performance in this game to win 6% of the time, making this the most surprising result of the season based on how well teams played in the game. (Most surprising result based on what we knew going into the game is a totally different thing.)
  • Other risers in this week’s ratings include Indianapolis (from 10 to 8), Philadelphia (from 15 to 12), the Los Angeles Chargers (from 16 to 14), and Cincinnati (from 25 to 21). Other major fallers include Baltimore (from 11 to 15) and Seattle (from 13 to 16).

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Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO+ database are now all updated through Week 11. 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, and picks against the spread.

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Here is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through 11 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 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.

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

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason forecast with current DVOA to get a more accurate projection of how a team will play the rest of the season. DAVE is currently 16% preseason forecast and 84% actual performance for teams with 11 games played, and 24% preseason forecast and 76% actual performance for teams with 10 games played. It is not currently adjusted for any backup quarterbacks.

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>

Click here for the full table.



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