DVOA Week 5: Payments Proceed Ascent to Greatness

Buffalo’s dominating victory over the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs on Sunday evening retains them comfortably within the high spot of the Soccer Outsiders DVOA scores after 5 weeks. With present opponent changes, Buffalo comes out with 85% DVOA for the sport, which makes it the fourth-biggest victory of the season up to now. Buffalo’s win over Houston the week earlier than was, in fact, the most important victory of the season.

Dallas and Arizona stay second and third with wins final week. By the way, Arizona’s present DVOA of 31.3% could be very near the common of all 5-0 groups going again to 1983, which is 33.1%. The Cardinals are neither notably robust nor notably weak for an undefeated group after 5 weeks. Since 1983, 64 of 70 groups (91%) that began 5-0 made the postseason, so issues are trying fairly good for Arizona proper now regardless of the general power of their division. Our playoff odds simulation places them within the postseason 90% of the time. The narrative of the NFC West because the strongest division within the sport goes to take a success in future weeks now that Russell Wilson is out for a minimum of a month, however for now the NFC West nonetheless comes out very robust in DVOA. The Los Angeles Rams stay fifth in DVOA via 5 weeks, and although they at the moment have shedding information, Seattle and San Francisco rank ninth and tenth in DVOA.

Between Arizona and the remainder of the NFC West, you may discover that Tampa Bay jumps up from ninth to fourth after walloping Miami. Cleveland, New Orleans, and Baltimore end out the highest ten, rating sixth via eighth.

Returning to the No. 1 Buffalo Payments, Buffalo’s DVOA this week (49.6%) is mainly the identical as their DVOA final week (49.8%) however most groups with ultra-high DVOA early within the 12 months are going to see their scores drop with every successive sport added to the pattern. Buffalo didn’t, and so the Payments climb onto our listing of the very best groups ever tracked by DVOA going again to 1983. A reminder that these tables are completed with DVOA as it could have regarded on the time; in different phrases, the opponent changes after Week 5 in previous years are 50% power, identical to the opponent changes now. Buffalo has performed a simple schedule up to now, however so did many of the groups on this listing.

Finest Complete DVOA
By means of 5 Video games, 1983-2021
12 months Workforce W-L DVOA
1991 WAS 5-0 71.5%
2007 NE 5-0 68.7%
1999 STL 5-0 59.8%
2006 CHI 5-0 57.5%
2019 NE 5-0 56.4%
1996 GB 4-1 55.5%
2015 ARI 4-1 54.3%
2009 NO 5-0 53.0%
2021 BUF 4-1 49.6%
2013 DEN 5-0 49.6%
2007 IND 5-0 47.7%
2001 PHI 3-2 47.4%
1998 DEN 5-0 47.4%

What occurred to different groups that began as sizzling because the Payments? Buffalo is the thirty sixth group in historical past to have a DVOA over 40% after 5 video games. Of the opposite 35 groups:

  • 8 gained the Tremendous Bowl
  • 9 misplaced the Tremendous Bowl
  • 13 gained their division however didn’t make the Tremendous Bowl
  • 2 gained wild playing cards however didn’t make the Tremendous Bowl
  • 3 missed the playoffs (2003 Buccaneers, 2005 Chargers, and 2009 Giants)

One factor in Buffalo’s favor as Tremendous Bowl favorites is the power of their odds of getting the No. 1 seed and the one first-round bye within the AFC. We now have the Payments getting the highest seed 56% of simulations. This is not simply because Buffalo has been so good this 12 months and likewise leads the NFL in our DAVE scores that mix 2021 efficiency and our preseason projections. The Payments even have a really, very simple schedule of remaining video games. Buffalo’s 12 remaining opponents have a median DVOA of -13.7%. They’ve solely two video games remaining in opposition to groups that rank within the high half of DVOA, journeys to New Orleans (Week 12) and Tampa Bay (Week 14). Buffalo is on tempo to have a schedule score of -13.5% which might be the third-easiest schedule on report, trailing solely the 1999 Rams and the 1991 Payments.

Buffalo’s offense improved from sixteenth to twelfth this week, however in fact the Payments are cruising early thanks primarily to stellar protection. Buffalo’s protection is now the second greatest in DVOA historical past via 5 video games, trailing solely the 2019 New England Patriots.

Finest Defensive DVOA
By means of 5 Video games, 1983-2021
12 months Workforce W-L DVOA
2019 NE 5-0 -48.3%
2021 BUF 4-1 -43.2%
2019 SF 5-0 -41.9%
1991 PHI 3-2 -41.1%
1991 NO 5-0 -39.7%
2002 TB 4-1 -37.2%
1984 CHI 3-2 -36.9%
1997 SF 4-1 -36.4%
1996 GB 4-1 -35.8%
2011 BAL 4-1 -34.4%
1991 WAS 5-0 -33.1%
2008 BAL 2-3 -32.9%

The flip aspect of the Buffalo protection is the Kansas Metropolis protection, which has been horrendous via the primary 5 video games. The Chiefs now are the eighth-worst protection ever tracked by DVOA via 5 video games.

Worst Defensive DVOA
By means of 5 Video games, 1983-2021
12 months Workforce W-L DVOA
2019 MIA 0-5 35.8%
1998 WAS 0-5 35.7%
2006 HOU 1-4 32.4%
1998 PHI 0-5 31.3%
1992 NE 0-5 31.2%
2001 ARI 2-3 30.1%
1985 BUF 0-5 29.5%
2021 KC 2-3 29.3%
2017 NE 3-2 28.2%
2010 BUF 0-5 27.8%
2012 BUF 2-3 27.8%
2018 TB 2-3 27.7%

And but, I believe the concept the Chiefs are now not an excellent group has been overstated. The Chiefs are nonetheless 14th in DVOA regardless of a shedding report. Even after a poor sport in opposition to the Payments, their offense nonetheless ranks No. 1 on the 12 months, forward of the Buccaneers and Rams. A few of the situation right here is one in every of schedule power early. Kansas Metropolis has performed the toughest schedule up to now in response to common DVOA of opponent. It is also the No. 4 schedule of opposing defenses and the No. 2 schedule of opposing offenses. So either side of the ball do not look nearly as good as they are surely due to the extent of competitors. The Chiefs, for instance, rank solely fifth in unadjusted offensive VOA — it is after we add the changes for schedule and fumble restoration luck that they transfer into the highest spot.

There’s by no means been a group just like the Chiefs that was so good on offense and so unhealthy on protection this early within the season, however I did go searching for comparable groups that weren’t as excessive. I began by searching for different groups that had offensive and defensive DVOA each over 25% after 5 video games. There’s one such group: the 2013 San Diego Chargers, who ranked third in offense and final in protection after 5 video games. The Chargers began 2-3, just like the Chiefs. They went on to complete 9-7 and made the playoffs, upsetting the Bengals within the wild-card spherical after which shedding to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos within the divisional spherical. The Chargers completed that season second in offensive DVOA and final in defensive DVOA, though their defensive score improved from 27.3% after Week 5 to 19.3% on the finish of the 12 months.

If we would like extra comparisons, we have now to increase our pool of groups. So I went searching for comparable groups by rank: groups that ranked within the high three for offense and the underside three for protection after 5 video games. This is our listing, together with a take a look at the place their offense and protection ended the 12 months.

Nice Offense, Terrible Protection By means of 5 Weeks, 1983-2021
12 months Workforce W-L DVOA Rk Off Rk Def Rk Ultimate
W-L
Ultimate
Off
Rk Ultimate
Def
Rk
1984 DET 1-4 1.7% 17 26.8% 3 21.2% 27 4-11-1 -2.6% 14 7.7% 20
1986 MIA 1-4 -9.2% 19 21.6% 3 22.7% 27 8-8 28.5% 1 23.0% 27
1987 MIA 3-2 9.9% 9 27.7% 1 18.1% 26 7-5 23.0% 2 24.8% 28
1988 PHX 3-2 14.3% 8 34.2% 2 17.5% 28 7-9 6.6% 5 7.1% 22
1989 GB 3-2 3.8% 14 24.7% 2 20.3% 28 10-6 9.1% 6 9.3% 22
1991 DAL 3-2 1.4% 14 23.7% 2 22.9% 28 11-5 18.0% 4 12.0% 24
1996 BAL 2-3 -9.5% 20 21.8% 2 24.4% 30 4-12 22.8% 1 19.7% 30
2002 KC 3-2 22.1% 7 45.9% 1 23.5% 32 8-8 35.4% 1 15.1% 31
2011 NE 4-1 22.7% 4 37.8% 1 15.6% 30 13-3 32.6% 3 15.2% 30
2013 SD 2-3 -4.9% 19 26.4% 3 27.3% 32 9-7 23.6% 2 19.3% 32
2017 NE 3-2 -2.3% 21 23.9% 2 28.2% 32 13-3 27.9% 1 12.0% 31
2021 KC 2-3 3.2% 14 28.9% 1 29.3% 32

Effectively, that actually is a wierd mixture of groups, with some forgotten groups from the 80s and a few Dan Marino squads, the Cowboys within the early days of the triplets, then one of many highly effective early 2000s Chiefs groups, and at last two latest Patriots groups that made and misplaced the Tremendous Bowl. What chances are you’ll discover about this listing, nonetheless, is that just about each one in every of these groups improved on protection over the ultimate three-fourths of the season. Offense is a combination, with a number of the groups bettering, some declining, and a few staying roughly the identical. However virtually each protection improves, besides these 80s Miami defenses.

This falls in keeping with one thing we frequently speak about, which is that offense is extra predictive and constant than protection. That is very true between seasons, however additionally it is true inside seasons. In case you are the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, you’ll reasonably be the league’s greatest offense and worst protection than the opposite means round. It is doubtless, particularly given their previous historical past, that the Chiefs will proceed to have one of many high offenses within the league for the remainder of the season. It is also doubtless that their protection will a minimum of considerably enhance and never be fairly this unhealthy over the subsequent three months.

If you wish to discover a group that’s nice on protection and horrible on offense reasonably than the opposite means round, we have got a few these groups going this season. They don’t seem to be fairly as excessive because the Chiefs. Carolina, which falls to seventeenth general in DVOA this week, is at the moment second on protection behind Buffalo however solely twenty fifth on offense. Chicago, which is down at twenty second general, ranks fifth on protection however thirty first on offense, forward of solely the New York Jets.

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Right here is the Soccer Outsiders High 16 via 5 weeks of 2021, measured by our proprietary Protection-adjusted Worth Over Common (DVOA) system that breaks down each single play and compares a group’s efficiency to the league common primarily based on state of affairs with the intention to decide worth over common. (Defined additional right here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for opponent and efficiency indoors and think about all fumbles, saved or misplaced, as equal worth. As a result of it’s early within the season, opponent changes are at the moment at 50% power. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for sort of stadium (heat, chilly, dome, Denver) and week of season. As at all times, constructive numbers characterize extra factors so DEFENSE is best when it’s NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a system which mixes our preseason forecast with present DVOA to get a extra correct projection of how a group will play the remainder of the season. DAVE is at the moment 65% preseason forecast and 35% precise efficiency. It isn’t at the moment adjusted for any backup quarterbacks.

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