The NFC West has been the talk of the offseason more times in the last 10 years than any other division — maybe any other division combined — and that was no less the case in 2021 with additions like Matthew Stafford, J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, and Trey Lance. It is even somewhat surprising that the NFC West lived up to and beyond expectations in Week 1.
The Cardinals defense was terrifyingly good against a running back who is usually terrifying himself and Arizona beat the Titans 38-13 in Tennessee.
The Seahawks went on the road and Shane Waldron’s version of the Russell Wilson offense resulted in four touchdown passes on a Colts defense that was better than they’re remembered for and Seattle was up 28-10 until just before the two-minute warning.
The 49ers too won a game much more easily than the final score would indicate, taking a 41-17 fourth quarter lead against the Lions and for the most part dominating as expected.
And of course the Rams beat the Chicago Bears by 20 on Sunday night, but with how the two teams were playing for most of the game, “only about three touchdowns worth” seems generous.
Those four outcomes resulted in Los Angeles, Arizona, San Francisco, and Seattle being ranked second, fourth, fifth, and sixth in the Week 1 edition of Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) essentially attempts to find a value of each play based on down, distance, score, clock, etc. for every facet of the game.
It is not perfect, it is not predictive, and it may not be the answer to finding a single number that defines the success of a player, but DVOA does reflect how a team played and perhaps how often they were successful throughout a game or season.
With that note out of the way, let’s now celebrate the fact that the Rams’ initial DVOA reflects on an exceptional start to the 2021 season.
RAMS DVOA RANKINGS
OVERALL - 67.2% (2nd) - Saints are ranked 1st
OFFENSE - 56.6% (2nd) - Browns are ranked 1st
DEFENSE - -9.1% (11th) - Saints are ranked 1st
SPECIAL TEAMS - 1.5% (11th) - Bucs are ranked 1st
PASS OFFENSE - 92% (2nd)
RUSH OFFENSE - - 11.8% (4th)
PASS DEFENSE - -23.2% (7th)
RUSH DEFENSE - 12.2% (31st)