June 24, 2021

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Week 14 DVOA Ratings | Football Outsiders

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Week 14 DVOA Ratings | Football Outsiders

Despite some big games between top teams, there’s very little change on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week. With 13 games in the books, we’ve gradually reached the point where one game, even one really good or bad game, isn’t likely to make a lot of change because it won’t outweigh all the games that came before it. The top six teams are in the same order that they were a week ago, with the first change being Minnesota passing Dallas for seventh place.

There’s a little more movement in the weighted DVOA ratings, which makes sense — the sample size is effectively smaller since some games are only partially weighted. Baltimore is still a significant No. 1 in weighted DVOA, 17 percentage points ahead of the rest of the league. New Orleans moves up to No. 2 with San Francisco staying at No. 3. There are a couple reasons for that. First, the Saints’ 27-9 loss to the Rams in Week 2 is now significantly in the rearview mirror. Second, the DVOA system actually scored the Saints a little bit higher than the 49ers for this week’s 48-46 Game of the Year. It was one of three games this week where both teams ended up with positive single-game DVOA ratings:

  • New Orleans 40%, San Francisco 20%
  • Baltimore 44%, Buffalo 16%
  • Kansas City 31%, New England 24%

That close DVOA outcome keeps New England from dropping below fourth place in weighted DVOA, and they remain ahead of Kansas City in both weighted and total DVOA. The Buffalo Bills have now climbed into the top ten in weighted DVOA. Also noteworthy, the Tennessee Titans are up to 11th in weighted DVOA and they are even higher (eighth) in the QB-adjusted ratings I use for the playoff odds simulation.

The strong Baltimore game against Buffalo keeps the Ravens high on our list tracking the best teams in DVOA history:

THROUGH 13 GAMES, 1985-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
2007 NE 13-0 62.0%
1991 WAS 12-1 58.6%
1985 CHI 12-1 55.8%
1987 SF* 10-2 47.0%
2004 PIT 12-1 45.1%
1998 DEN 13-0 43.4%
2019 BAL 11-2 42.8%
1995 SF 9-4 41.9%
2012 NE 10-3 41.8%
2004 NE 12-1 40.9%
1999 STL 11-2 40.3%
2013 SEA 11-2 39.1%
*Only 12 games due to strike

The San Francisco 49ers have fallen off our list tracking the best defenses in DVOA history, but the New England Patriots are still there. Wait, you might be saying, didn’t they allow the Chiefs to score 20 on them in the first half on Sunday? Yes, but they allowed the Chiefs to score only 3 points in the second half of the game. Limiting the Chiefs to 23 points is very good! That’s the second-lowest total for the Chiefs this season, and Kansas City averaged 5.2 yards per play compared to its season average of 6.3 yards per play. The Chiefs had their lowest VOA of the season in this week’s game, -22.5% without opponent adjustment.

THROUGH 13 GAMES, 1985-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
1991 PHI 8-5 -40.0%
2002 TB 10-3 -39.9%
1985 CHI 12-1 -35.2%
2008 BAL 9-4 -31.4%
2019 NE 10-3 -31.3%
1986 CHI 11-2 -31.0%
2015 DEN 10-3 -29.5%
1995 SF 9-4 -29.3%
2012 CHI 8-5 -27.8%
1988 MIN 9-4 -27.0%
2008 PIT 10-3 -27.0%
2004 PIT 12-1 -26.8%

It is absolutely true that the New England defense has regressed towards the mean somewhat in recent weeks. But that regression has been exaggerated by a dramatic change in the quality of the offenses that the Patriots are facing. From Week 1 to Week 7, the Patriots played the easiest schedule of opposing offenses in the league, based on average offensive DVOA of each opponent. Since Week 8, the Patriots have played the hardest schedule of opposing offenses in the league. Without opponent adjustments, the Patriots defense has been barely better than average over the last six games. With opponent adjustments, the Patriots haven’t been as good as they were in the first couple months of the season, but they’ve still been one of the top defenses in the league.

Here’s a look at the difference. Success Rate is from the point of view of the offense. “Avg Opp” is average offensive DVOA of opponents.

New England Defense, Weeks 1-7 vs. 8-14
  DVOA Rk VOA Rk Suc Rate Yd/Play Avg Opp Rk
Weeks 1-7 -45.2% 1 -62.4% 1 31% 4.00 -19.4% 32
Weeks 8-14 -17.2% 4 -4.8% 15 42% 5.24 12.8% 1

Remarkably, San Francisco’s defense has experienced the exact same trend. Only New England faced an easier schedule in the first seven weeks of the season, and only New England has faced a harder schedule in the seven weeks since.

San Francisco Defense, Weeks 1-7 vs. 8-14
  DVOA Rk VOA Rk Suc Rate Yd/Play Avg Opp Rk
Weeks 1-7 -34.8% 2 -44.7% 2 34% 4.25 -11.4% 31
Weeks 8-14 -18.7% 3 -9.6% 6 43% 4.80 8.7% 2

As long as we’re talking about season splits, I wanted spend some time this week going through a few teams that have used backup quarterbacks this year to show you what the difference has been in each team’s offensive DVOA. There have been a lot of quarterback changes this year; more than ever, I’m making adjustments in the ratings I use in the playoff simulation in order to try to get the most accurate picture of how each team might play going forward because of changes at the quarterback position.

I’m not going to hit every team here that has started more than one quarterback during the 2019 season, but there are some interesting splits to share with you. Let’s hit these teams alphabetically.

Andy Dalton may not have much longer as the starting quarterback in Cincinnati, but he’s clearly not cooked and he’s clearly been better than rookie Ryan Finley. Cincinnati’s offensive DVOA was -33.4% in games started by Finley compared to -11.8% in games started by Dalton.

The backup quarterbacks in Denver have pretty small sample size, but the Broncos have gone from 10.8% offensive DVOA with Joe Flacco at quarterback (Weeks 1-8) to -16.7% DVOA with Brandon Allen (Weeks 9-12) and then 8.9% DVOA in two games with Drew Lock as the starter (Weeks 13-14).

Detroit had 4.1% DVOA with Matthew Stafford (Weeks 1-9), which dropped to a very similar -8.5% DVOA with Jeff Driskel starting (Weeks 10-12) and -8.1% DVOA with David Blough (Weeks 13-14). However, the pass performance has declined even more when you consider how the Detroit running game has surprisingly improved: -26.4% DVOA in games started by Stafford but -5.4% DVOA in games started by Driskel or Blough.

It’s just one game, but Indianapolis‘ offensive DVOA goes from -0.4% (16th) to 6.2% (10th) when you remove the Week 10 game started by Brian Hoyer.

Jacksonville‘s DVOA in the two games when Nick Foles came back from his injury was -12.1%. Jacksonville’s offensive DVOA for the rest of the season (Weeks 1-10, 13-14) is virtually the same, -11.8%.

Is Patrick Mahomes possibly still a little hurt? What’s interesting about Kansas City isn’t as much the split in Mahomes against Matt Moore but rather comparing that split to Mahomes since his Week 10 return. The Kansas City offense had 26.0% offensive DVOA in Weeks 1-6. That dropped to 15.5% in Weeks 7-9, which includes half a game of Mahomes and two and a half games of Moore. Since Week 10, Kansas City’s offensive DVOA is only 15.3%, basically the same as it was with Moore at quarterback. There’s a similar split if you remove runs and look only at passes.

One of the most obvious splits is Miami with Ryan Fitzpatrick compared to Miami with Josh Rosen. The Dolphins had -41.0% offensive DVOA in games started by Rosen (Weeks 3-6). They have -10.5% offensive DVOA in games started by Fitzpatrick (Weeks 1-2, 7-13).

New Orleans had an offensive DVOA of only 6.8% in games primarily played by Teddy Bridgewater (Weeks 2-7) but has offensive DVOA of 23.8% in games primarily played by Drew Brees. But what’s interesting here is that a lot of the difference is in rushing DVOA: -4.8% in Bridgewater games, 8.4% in Brees games. Perhaps fear of Brees throwing the ball deeper has changed the way that defenses are playing against the Saints? Perhaps I will hunt down box counts to see.

Sam Darnold has been a disappointment for the New York Jets this year, but the splits here will show you why we keep giving the Jets a bonus in the ratings we use in the playoff odds simulation. The Jets’ offensive DVOA with Darnold is poor, -19.0%. The Jets’ offensive DVOA in the three games without Darnold was abysmal, -58.2%. That would easily be the worst offensive DVOA ever if it lasted an entire season.

I haven’t been making an adjustment for Pittsburgh but perhaps I should now that we have a 3.5-game sample of Devlin Hodges. Pittsburgh’s DVOA this year in games started by Hodges (Weeks 6, 13-14) is -12.9% compared to -25.7% in games started by Mason Rudolph (Weeks 3-5, 8-12).

Tennessee is of course the champion of these starting/backup quarterback splits, with Ryan Tannehill playing completely out of his gourd since he took over the job in Week 7. The Titans offensive DVOA was -18.0% (29th) in Weeks 1-6. The Titans are at 27.8% (second behind Baltimore) since Week 7. The improvement is as much about the run as it is the pass, with the Tennessee rushing DVOA going from -17.8% (26th) with Mariota to 14.8% (second, again behind Baltimore) with Tannehill. Earlier today, Steven Ruiz wrote a good column for USA Today about why Tannehill is not likely to continue to play at this level for the long term. The main argument is that Tannehill is excelling in situations that are less stable, including league-best numbers under pressure. However, Tannehill’s numbers are also good when he’s not under pressure. It seems likely that while Tannehill can’t continue to be this good, he should continue to be better than he was in Miami and, more importantly, better than Mariota was for Tennessee this year.

We’ll finish up with Washington, another team that has started three different quarterbacks this season. We’ll ignore what Colt McCoy did against the almighty Patriots defense. Washington had a reasonable -6.0% offensive DVOA in games started by Case Keenum, although the positive value is entirely the first two weeks of the season (against Philadelphia and Dallas) before Keenum’s performance dropped and Washington had -21.7% offensive DVOA in his last four starts (Weeks 3, 6-8). Meanwhile, the team has a much worse -44.5% DVOA in games started by Dwayne Haskins (Weeks 4, 9-14), but he did at least have his first positive performance of the year in Week 13.

Finally, let’s finish up this week’s column with a look at where Miami stands in our tracking of the worst teams in DVOA history. The Dolphins’ DVOA went up a little bit more after a close loss to the Jets, and they are almost ready to climb off my weekly list of the worst teams in DVOA history.

THROUGH 13 GAMES, 1985-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
2005 SF 2-11 -64.7%
2008 STL 2-11 -55.9%
2009 DET 2-11 -53.4%
2008 DET 0-13 -50.1%
1999 CLE 2-11 -49.6%
1991 IND 1-12 -46.4%
1987 ATL* 2-10 -45.8%
2003 ARI 3-10 -45.6%
2013 JAX 4-9 -43.2%
2019 MIA 3-10 -42.2%
1992 NE 2-11 -42.0%
2009 STL 1-12 -41.5%
**Only 12 games due to strike

The defense climbed out of the all-time basement, as Week 14’s game against the Jets represented Miami’s second-best single-game defensive rating of the year so far.

THROUGH 13 GAMES, 1985-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
1986 TB 2-11 26.9%
1987 MIA* 7-5 24.4%
2015 NO 5-8 24.0%
2019 MIA 3-10 24.0%
2001 ARI 5-8 23.7%
1996 ATL 2-11 23.3%
1999 CLE 2-11 22.6%
2013 SD 6-7 21.9%
2008 DET 0-13 21.7%
2003 ARI 3-10 21.6%
2000 ARI 3-10 21.5%
2001 MIN 5-8 21.3%
**Only 12 games due to strike

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Stats pages should now be updated through Week 14, including playoff odds, the FO Premium DVOA database and snap counts.

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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2019, 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 to 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>


  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as “Forest Index” that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team’s weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).


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