NFL Week 1 – The Buffalo Bills opened the 2022 NFL season with a convincing 31-10 opening evening victory over the Los Angeles Rams, and so they additionally opened the season on prime of the Football Outsiders DVOA rankings.
The most notable factor concerning the prime of our rankings after one week is how a lot they resemble our projections from the preseason. The Rams are clearly a giant exception, however in any other case a lot of the prime groups in our projections had a powerful Week 1. No. 2 Baltimore? Second within the preseason projections. no 3 Los Angeles Chargers? Fourth within the preseason projections. Tampa Bay and Kansas City fill out the highest 5 in DVOA, and so they had been each within the prime seven of the preseason projections.
(Of course, though I’m calling our primary metric DVOA right here, it’s truly VOA as a result of there are not any opponent changes proper now. We don’t apply opponent changes till after Week 4, so in Weeks 1-3 DVOA and VOA are the identical factor.)
The similarity between Week 1 and our preseason forecast means there are usually not numerous strikes in our DAVE rankings. These are the rankings that mix our preseason projection with the outcomes of early video games to offer us a greater prediction of how every workforce will rank on the finish of the 12 months. For those that do not know the story, this metric known as DAVE as a response to criticism that our stats are an excessive amount of alphabet soup. I imply, who can argue with a man named Dave? (Technically, it stands for “DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early.”) In this week’s DAVE, the preseason forecast nonetheless counts for 93% of the score.
Still, Week 1 did some shifting to DAVE. Note that I’ve made a few modifications within the projection a part of DAVE, which for Dallas and Pittsburgh now replicate that Dak Prescott and TJ Watt might be out half the season. There are not any main climbers, though Minnesota and Cleveland every went up three spots. The large drops are the Rams, the Cowboys, and the Cardinals. The Rams went from third within the preseason projections to tenth in DAVE. The Cowboys, partially as a result of we’re now anticipating Cooper Rush to start out for half the season, drop from twelfth within the preseason to nineteenth in DAVE. The Cardinals went from twenty first within the preseason projections to twenty ninth in DAVE. Oof!
There’s not lots to speak about with DVOA after only one recreation, so final 12 months I used the Week 1 DVOA commentary to introduce a brand new components known as Post-Game Win Expectancy (PGWE). This 12 months, I’m going to introduce a brand new and improved PGWE components.
Here’s the fundamental concept behind PGWE: How typically ought to we count on every workforce to win an NFL recreation given how the 2 groups performed general? We all know there are shut video games the place the “mistaken workforce wins,” or at the very least it looks like the mistaken workforce wins. This is a measurement of that. It’s an concept stolen from Bill Connelly, who does one thing related for faculty soccer, though our PGWE works a bit in a different way from him.
The authentic PGWE accounted solely for VOA splits (DVOA with out the opponent changes). The new PGWE provides in two new variables:
1) Which workforce ran extra performs, and what number of extra? Efficiency stats (reminiscent of DVOA) are extra predictive than quantity, however quantity performs an vital function in who wins a selected recreation.
2) Which workforce had extra penalties, and what number of extra? Penalties aren’t as predictive because the yardage from passes and runs, however after all they play a task in wins and losses. Our penalty depend consists of each declined and offsetting penalties.
For a great instance of the distinction between the brand new PGWE and the previous PGWE, let us take a look at certainly one of final 12 months’s strangest video games: Tennessee’s 33-30 extra time win over Seattle again in Week 2. This is the 2021 recreation with the most important distinction between the brand new components and the previous one. The two groups had related days on the bottom however Seattle was rather more environment friendly by means of the air, with 68.8% move offense VOA in comparison with 39.2% for Tennessee. Overall, the Seahawks outgained the Titans per play, 7.6 to six.4. So the previous components gave the Seahawks a PGWE of 79%.
However, this recreation was a extremely good instance of final 12 months’s wacky Seattle offense that consisted of just about nothing however deep bombs and three-and-outs. So Seattle was extra environment friendly on a per-play foundation however ran solely 52 performs in comparison with 82 performs for the Titans! The Seahawks additionally dedicated 12 penalties in comparison with simply 5 for the Titans. Add in these stats with the brand new PGWE components, and now we’re itemizing Seattle with a PGWE of solely 20%. If the VOA distinction is not too giant, the workforce with extra performs and fewer penalties is extra prone to win. Makes sense, proper?
In basic, the brand new system of PGWE does a greater job of correlation with precise winners and losers. The previous system had a correlation of .79 with wins through the 2020-2021 seasons. The new system has a correlation of .82, so a bit of bit higher. For the seven video games from 2021 with the most important hole between previous and new PGWE, the brand new PGWE shifts issues in the correct route. But as you are about to see, switching from the previous system to the brand new one does not all the time make issues extra correct.
Here are the PGWE numbers for Week 1 of the 2022 season. Houston-Indianapolis was a tie, after all, however Houston had the marginally larger PGWE as proven beneath. There are some stunning outcomes right here:
As you may see, not all shut video games are created equal in terms of PGWE. There are some surprises on the underside right here, actually, however let me begin by trying on the shock on the prime: the Chargers ended up with a 99% PGWE regardless of solely beating the Raiders by 5 factors. It’s type of outstanding that the Raiders stayed on this recreation regardless of the Chargers having an enormous benefit within the passing recreation. The Chargers had 60.6% VOA passing in comparison with -36.5% for the Raiders. The Chargers had been getting 8.1 web yards per move with the Raiders at 6.0 web yards per move, plus the Raiders had three interceptions and three fumbles on passing performs: two on sacks, one on a reception. The Raiders obtained a bit fortunate by recovering all three of these fumbles. The Chargers additionally ran a number of extra performs than the Raiders, though they’d one extra penalty. On this one, VOA is the primary purpose why PGWE loves the Chargers and felt they beat the Raiders by much more than the ultimate rating signifies.
On the opposite hand, we have the Giants’ last-second win over the Titans. This was additionally an in depth recreation, however on this one PGWE feels that the dropping workforce outplayed the profitable workforce. Again, performs and penalties had been related between the 2 groups so VOA rankings are inflicting this end result. The complete hole between the groups isn’t very giant. The Titans had 12.5% offensive VOA and the Giants had 4.6% offensive VOA. The Giants had been barely higher on particular groups, as nicely. However, traditionally when constructing the PGWE system I discovered that passing VOA tends to be about 3 times as vital as operating VOA in terms of predicting who received a recreation. It wasn’t on this recreation, actually, however that is the explanation why PGWE says we might be more likely to count on the Titans to win this recreation primarily based on how the groups performed. Tennessee had 78.9% move VOA and -44.5% run VOA. The Giants, alternatively, had -12.9% move VOA and 32.6% run VOA. Yeah, that is some distinction there! It was a giant comeback week for Saquon Barkley.
The Giants ended up with the bottom VOA score of any of the profitable groups in Week 1. We controversially projected the Giants because the worst workforce within the league, and their Week 1 win actually makes it lots much less seemingly that the Giants might be selecting no 1 general. Still, the Giants weren’t significantly good in Week 1, and there is no purpose to consider that they are immediately an above-average workforce primarily based on their Week 1 efficiency.
I mentioned that switching from the previous system to the brand new one isn’t all the time extra correct, and a great instance of that comes within the Pittsburgh upset of Cincinnati (additionally lined right here in Any Given Sunday). Pittsburgh had -17.0% offensive VOA whereas Cincinnati had -33.0% offensive VOA. The Steelers additionally had higher particular groups, although each groups misplaced worth for these missed discipline objectives in extra time. Put these two issues collectively, and the previous system predicted a Pittsburgh win 86% of the time. However, the brand new system truly says the Bengals had been the extra seemingly workforce to win this recreation with a 61% PGWE. Why? The Bengals ran 94 performs to simply 59 performs for the Steelers, and the Steelers had 9 penalties with simply 5 for the Bengals! Given these two stats, the eventual Pittsburgh victory was a little bit of a shock.
We look ahead to bringing you extra PGWE numbers on this column and different locations all through the season; for those who purchased Football Outsiders Almanac 2022you understand these numbers had been additionally added to the desk in every chapter that seemed again at every workforce’s 2021 efficiency on a week-by-week foundation.
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These are the Football Outsiders Top 16 by means of one week of 2022, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down each single play and compares a workforce’s efficiency to the league common primarily based on scenario so as to decide worth above common. (Explained additional right here.) Please notice that there are not any opponent changes in DVOA till after Week 4, which is why it’s listed right here as VOA.
OFFENSE and DEFENSE VOA are adjusted for efficiency indoors and think about all fumbles, stored or misplaced, as equal worth. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for sort of stadium (heat, chilly, dome, Denver) and week of season. As all the time, constructive numbers symbolize extra factors so DEFENSE is best when it’s NEGATIVE.
DAVE is a components that mixes our preseason forecast with present DVOA to get a extra correct projection of how a workforce will play the remainder of the season. DAVE is at present 93% preseason forecast and seven% precise efficiency. DAVE rankings for Dallas and Cleveland are primarily based on projections for your complete remainder of the season, together with video games with each beginning and backup quarterbacks. DAVE for Pittsburgh relies on a projection that has TJ Watt returning at midseason.
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