SABERmetric Rattling: Bills Still Lead League in DVOA

Updated: October 15, 2011

Last week, we laid out DVOA and explained why it was such a good omen that Buffalo lead the league in Aaron Schatz’s metric. A quick refresher for those who may not know how links work: DVOA is a measure of how well a team performs in the situations it faces compared to an average, and than adjusts that for defense. Another week has passed, but Buffalo remains the #1 ranked team in DVOA after 5 weeks.

Offensively, Buffalo is #2 in the league on the back of solid quarterback play and Fred Jackson’s ability to rip off 5 yard runs that are generally considered ‘successful’ plays by DVOA. More surprisingly, Buffalo’s defensive DVOA ranking is also in the top half of the league at #13. One would think they’d be lower in this category given the fact that Buffalo is ranked 30th in defense by the traditional, one dimensional measure of yards allowed. HOWEVAH, when you consider that Buffalo is ranked first in the league in turnovers with 16, and a pleasantly surprisingly middling 120 points allowed (good for 17th best in the league), it is clear that despite not being elite, George Edwards’ defensive unit’s ability to take the ball away thus far has bumped up their ranking, and DVOA clearly puts a big emphasis on turnovers.

Also of note, Buffalo is now ranked #2 in DAVE (second only to first place New England*). The biggest issue with DVOA, is that like any stat worth its salt, it needs a decent sample size in order to be accurate. Thus it becomes more reliable as the season progresses (more games to measure), with week 8 usually being the tipping point. DAVE adjusts DVOA for preseason projections in order to compensate for the smaller sample size earlier in the season. Given the fact that Football Outsider’s preseason projections weren’t great for Buffalo, #2 is pretty impressive.

And with another win, Buffalo has increased it’s odds of reaching the postseason by 7.1% according to Football Outsider’s  projections, with the odds now pegged at 72.8%.  Some other interesting percentages:

Playoff Bye 30.50%

#1 seed 17.90%

Super Bowl appearance 16.40%

Super Bowl Win 8.00%

“Scott Norwood is Forgiven Bowl” (Bills -Giants SB) 1%

I think these odds are probably all a little bit higher than what anyone (FO included) would realistically expect, but it is nice to have unbiased statistics confirm your optimism every once in a while.




*If you want to complain about the fact that NE is ranked higher here and in all the power rankings despite the fact that the Bills beat them earlier, take it elsewhere. The media doesn’t hate WNY, quite the opposite; if Buffalo hangs around all season, it makes an awesome interesting story (q.v. the outpouring of attention after week 3). Don’t get me wrong, that win was a huge victory for the franchise in beginning to make the case to the league that Buffalo is going to be able to compete with New England going forward. But New England is an excellent team year in year and year out, with the best QB in the league and the best coach. The Bills, even with the inspiring start, are quite a ways off.