NFC West has been the talk of the offseason more times in the past 10 years than any other division – perhaps any other division combined – and that was no less the case in 2021 with additions like Matthew Stafford, JJ Watt, AJ Green and Trey Lance. It’s even somewhat surprising that NFC West lived up to and exceeded expectations in Week 1.
The Cardinals’ defense was terrifyingly good against a running back who usually terrifies himself and Arizona beat the Titans 38-13 in Tennessee.
The Seahawks took to the road and Shane Waldron’s version Russell Wilson’s offense resulted in four touchdown passes on a Colts defense that was better than they remember and Seattle was up 28-10 until just before the two-minute warning.
The 49ers also won a game much easier than the final score suggests, taking a 41-17 lead in the fourth quarter against the Lions and dominating for the most part as expected.
And sure enough, the Rams beat the Chicago Bears by 20 Sunday night, but with the way both teams played for most of the game, “just three touchdowns are worth around” seems generous.
Those four results put Los Angeles, Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle in second, fourth, fifth and sixth in the Week 1 edition of the Football Outsiders DVOA rankings. DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) basically tries to find a value of each game based on down, distance, score, clock, etc. for every facet of the game.
It’s not perfect, it’s not predictive, and it might not be the answer to finding a single number that defines a player’s success, but DVOA reflects how a team has played and maybe how often she’s been successful throughout a game or a season. .
With that note out of the way, let’s now celebrate the fact that the Rams’ initial DVOA reflects an exceptional start to the 2021 season.
RAMS DVOA RANKS
OVERALL – 67.2% (2nd) – The saints are ranked 1st
BREACH – 56.6% (2nd) – Browns are ranked 1st
DEFENSE – -9.1% (11th) – The saints are ranked 1st
SPECIAL TEAMS – 1.5% (11th) – The Bucs are ranked 1st
BREAKDOWN – 92% (2nd)
RAPID BREACH – – 11.8% (4th)
DEFENSE PASS – -23.2% (7th)
RUSH DEFENSE – 12.2% (31st)