NFL Week 2 – The Buffalo Bills remain No. 1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after two weeks. This is not a surprise. The Bills were No. 1 in our preseason projections and they’ve had two huge wins on prime-time national television. Buffalo is one of the dozen best teams ever tracked by Football Outsiders through two games. Everyone knows how good they are right now.
|BEST TOTAL DVOA
THROUGH 2 GAMES, 1981-2022
No, the surprise is the team that is second in DVOA right now: the Jacksonville Jaguars!
This is a bit of small sample size theater, of course. The Jaguars are No. 2 this early in the season because they had one really huge win, stomping the Colts 24-0 this past weekend. But what a huge win it was. You may not realize just how badly the Jaguars stomped all over the Colts. In the end, the Jaguars get 110.0% DVOA for this game (still without opponent adjustments because it is early in the season) and the Colts are at -110.4%.
How badly does this one game reflect on the Colts’ chances to win the division? Remember, they were the preseason favorites in the AFC South. How often do teams recover from an early loss as bad as this? I went back 20 years and looked for every team that got spanked badly in the first three weeks of the season. Since we don’t have opponent adjustments yet, I looked at our numbers without opponent adjustments. I made a list of teams that had at least one loss in Weeks 1-3 with a rating of -100% or worse.
There are 32 teams with a loss like this since 2003, not including the Colts. Only two of those teams rebounded to make the playoffs (2013 49ers and 2020 Browns), although two others would have been the seventh seed in the current playoff format. One team went 8-8, and then the other 27 teams had losing records. A loss this bad is usually an indicator that you are not a very good team.
These are the five teams that got spanked early and recovered somewhat:
|Rebounding from Horrible Early Losses, 2003-2021|
|Year||Team||VOA||Really Bad Loss||Final
|2013||SF||-103.8%||29-3 to Seattle, Week 2||12-4|
|2020||CLE||-109.1%||38-6 to Baltimore, Week 1||11-5|
|2005||MIN||-114.0%||37-8 to Cincinnati, Week 2||9-7|
|2017||BAL||-104.7%||44-7 to Jacksonville, Week 3||9-7|
|2009||CAR||-115.8%||38-10 to Philadelphia, Week 1||8-8|
Let’s flip it around and look at the Jaguars. Could Jacksonville possibly be on the way to the playoffs in Trevor Lawrence’s second season? Our playoff odds certainly like their chances, as the Jaguars are at exactly 50% to win the division in our latest simulations. It helps that nobody else in the AFC South has a win or a positive DAVE rating. The Colts and Titans are the bottom two teams in DVOA after two games.
Games below -100% are more common than games above 100%, so there are only 19 teams since 2003 that had a game over 100% in the first three weeks of the season. Thirteen of those 19 teams made it to the playoffs. But greatness was far from guaranteed. The other six teams went 8-8 or worse, including last year’s Browns (who dominated the Bears in a 26-6 game in Week 3). The 2014 Redskins had a 41-10 win over Jacksonville in Week 2 but lost the other five of their first six games and finished the season at 4-12!
There were no teams in the past 20 years that had both a game over 100% and a game below -100% in the first three weeks.
The Baltimore Ravens are now third in DVOA despite losing to the Miami Dolphins this weekend. Some readers will be surprised to see Miami all the way down at No. 14 despite their 2-0 record. Offense certainly isn’t the reason for their low rating, as Baltimore and Miami currently rank 1-2 in offensive DVOA. The issue is defense and special teams. Special teams is pretty much the difference between Baltimore and Miami. Both teams are very high on offense and below average on defense, but Baltimore is currently first in special teams while Miami is 31st. One Devin Duvernay kick return has a lot of effect on that when we’ve only played two games.
That Duvernay touchdown is why Baltimore ended up with a higher single-game DVOA this week than the Dolphins did. Baltimore was at 19.0% while Miami was at -6.8%. But the gap between the teams was even larger in our Post-Game Win Expectancy formula. Based on PGWE, we would have expected Baltimore to win this game 99% of the time! That makes this the biggest “surprise” win of the last three years, the first game since 2020 that a team lost despite having a PGWE above 95%. Why does the system favor Baltimore so much?
- Although Miami had the higher offensive rating, 55.5% to 36.6%, the PGWE system gives about three times as much weight to passing performance as it does to rushing performance. And Baltimore was the better passing team over the entire course of the game. Baltimore gained an astonishing 11.2 yards per pass in this game for 143.5% pass DVOA, with Miami at 9.0 yards per pass for 78.6% pass DVOA. Somehow, the Baltimore Ravens are currently first in the league in pass offense and dead last in run offense.
- The special teams gap of about 40 percentage points.
- Miami won this game despite being penalized far more than the Ravens. Baltimore had only two penalties in this game, and only one of those actually counted. Miami had 11 penalties, eight of which counted for yardage.
You also may notice a big difference between Miami’s listed DVOA and unadjusted VOA. That’s because the unadjusted VOA in the table on this page is different from DVOA for three different reasons. First, opponent adjustments, but those haven’t come into play yet. Second, weather effects on special teams, not a big deal for Miami. Third, fumble recovery. The Dolphins have recovered four of five fumbles so far this season and the only one they didn’t recover was Lamar Jackson’s fourth-down goal-line fumble, so they got the ball afterwards anyway.
And while we are on the subject of PGWE, the other big comebacks of Week 2 also had “reverse PGWE” where the team with a higher PGWE lost the game. The Cleveland Browns had PGWE of 83% and the Las Vegas Raiders had PGWE of 61%.
Finally, a brief word about the lowest 2-0 team, the New York Giants. The Giants moved up from 26th to 18th this week with a win over Carolina. Both the Giants and Panthers had positive DVOA for this week’s 19-16 contest, although that’s likely to change once opponent adjustments kick in for both teams. The Giants have one of the lowest DVOA ratings ever for a 2-0 team, which I covered in this tweet and will cover further in an article for ESPN + later this week.
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Football Outsiders playoff odds, snap counts, and the FO + database are now all updated through Week 2.
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 new All-32 game preview column, and picks against the spread.
* New: It’s not a paywall, except on Mondays! As of this week, we are now posting DVOA data on Monday instead of waiting until Tuesday as in the past. If you want to see data from the current season on Monday, including all of Sunday’s games, you will need to be an FO + subscriber. When we post an update on Tuesday morning with Monday Night Football added in, all of the free stats pages become free again. The exception will be snap counts, which will still be available to everyone Monday but now will be updated earlier.
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These is the Football Outsiders Top 16 through two 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.) Please note that there are no opponent adjustments in DVOA until after Week 4, which is why it is listed here as VOA. Click here for the full table.
OFFENSE and DEFENSE VOA are adjusted for 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.
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 85% preseason forecast and 15% actual performance. DAVE ratings for Dallas and Cleveland are based on projections for the entire rest of the season, including games with both starting and backup quarterbacks. DAVE for Pittsburgh is based on a projection that has TJ Watt returning at midseason. DAVE ratings for San Francisco are adjusted for Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.
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