Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Chiefs DVOA Analysis: Week 4

AA - Double Take

No matter how one slices it, 4-0 is the best way to walk off the first quarter of any season regardless of how you got there. Most of the popular NFL Power Rankings now seem to want to put the Chiefs around #5 on their list. Is that realistic? For a less subjective take, let’s look  at how Football Outsiders DVOA Analysis sizes up the Chiefs after 4 weeks of regular season play.

First, the big picture:

DVOA 4 - 2013 Table A

The great thing about Week 4 with DVOA Analysis is that it is the first point in the season that opponent defensive adjustments can be figured into the equation. In other words, a truer picture now begins to emerge in terms of how a team is doing relative to the rest of the league. Notable here, the Chiefs as a whole continue to play relatively well, maintaining their #3 ranking in Total Efficiency.

On Offense, the Chiefs appear to be improving. They have been playing very good defense since the start of the season and hopefully that continues. On Special Teams, steady improvement (actually a rather big improvement over last week’s ranking) from a somewhat shaky start of the season.

Alex Smith, for his part, continues to hold his own among the top half of the league’s quarterbacks, currently ranked 15th in QBR (53.5), and owns a somewhat respectable completion rate of 61.5%. Jamaal Charles has yet to catch fire as we’ve seen in past seasons but he is nevertheless still performing decently out of the backfield (noteworthy in particular is Charles #4 overall DYAR ranking in the receiving category for RBs). Unfortunately, the Chiefs WR corps continues to lag considerably behind the rest of the league at that position (I found especially disappointing Donnie Avery’s two missed catches last Sunday considering how well he had been performing in the weeks prior).

The most pleasant and  fortuitous surprise on the Chiefs offense so far has to be the emergence of Sean “Duck Dynasty” McGrath, the currently 4th ranked TE in DVOA, who appears to be improving week after week and making an impact in every game he’s played. A text book waiver wire acquisition right there.

Taking an even closer look, we see both signs of optimistic and concern:

DVOA 4 - 2013 Table B

At this level of analysis, we see the Chiefs Defensive Line has been very solid against pass protection, but showing signs of softness against the run. The Offensive Line has been struggling at Pass Protection but generally doing okay, not great, in the rushing attack. It’s probably a little too early to make much of Strength of Schedule after Week 4 but it does seem a little concerning that the Chiefs first 4 weeks of play qualifies them for the easiest past schedule (the Bronco’s past schedule ranks 30th by the way) while their pending schedule (3rd toughest) suggests the road ahead has a few major hills and obstacles yet to be encountered. Despite the fact that the schedule is expected to get a lot tougher, the Chiefs are nevertheless playing well enough to be projected in excess of 10 wins which currently positions them highly, odds-wise, for post season play.

Now for a little analytical insight into how the Chiefs match up against their next foe, the Tennessee Titans:

The Titans rank 8th in Total Efficiency, 14th in Offensive Efficiency, 9th in Defensive Efficiency, and 23rd at Special Teams Efficiency. This suggests the Chiefs have been playing the better ball of the two, but not by much. Perhaps also noteworthy here is the fact that the Titans ranking to date has been aided by the presence of the now injured QB Jake Locker (ranked 5th in QBR at 72.3), whose statistical performance in terms of DVOA and DYAR is fairly comparable to that of the Chiefs Alex Smith. Ryan Fitzpatrick is about as good a back up as you’ll find but he is nowhere near as mobile as Locker, whose abilities as a rushing threat has been a significant plus for the Titans  to date.

This game is winnable for the Chiefs but it is by no means a game they can take lightly. The Titans have strengths on both Offense and Defense and home field advantage to go with. The Chiefs are by no means a finished product and would be foolish to look past this game.

That’s my Week 4 DVOA Double Take. What’s your take, Addicts?

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  • Calchiefsfan

    Great to hear from you my friend. Does Football Outsiders believe that we should be ranked #3 in the power rankings?
    I was wondering how Stephenson stacks up against Fisher on an individual analysis since he’s probably going to fill in for Fisher this week.
    Agree 100% on this game being a tough one. I believe it will be the Chiefs biggest challenge to date. It’s a lucky break we won’t have to face Locker but Fitzpatrick seems to have our number, so I’m not sure how lucky it is. How does Tennessee’s o line stack up against our d line? That could be the key to this game. Also, it looks like our special teams play is starting to come around now that the waiver 7 are getting up to speed. I’m expecting them to be a difference maker as well.

    • DoubleD

      The Titans OL is ranked 26th in run blocking and 14 in Pass Protection. As far as comparing Stephenson to Fisher goes, I’d say a better resource on individual player performance is probably something like ProFootballFocus.

      • berttheclock

        Any word out as to how Stephenson stacks up against Russell Wilson? Or Moeaki against Jimmy Graham?

        • Jordan

          Low blow it’s all been said and done Bert live and let chiefs win

        • Chris Tarrants

          I know that I have too much faith in our home grown guys but I would take a 100% healthy Moeaki over Graham everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. It’s a moot point here because he will never be healthy. Stephenson played well last week in relief of Fisher. Without him where would we have been? Also isn’t Smith playing just as well if not better than Wilson?

  • Chris Tarrants

    It doesnt matter how good we play the talking heads are always gonna hate on us. I hope Dontari Poe introduces Chance Warmack to the NFL big bully style

    • berttheclock

      Excuse me, but, didn’t Fox Sports suggest he changed his name to Donatario?

      One good thing about many of the next games on the schedule. They will be shown on CBS Sports and not the NFC’s beloved Fox Sports. Many of their commentators do not even know the AFC even exists. However, in the Portland, Oregon area, still not enough to convince the local CBS station to switch from the Pats-Cincy game to the Chiefs-Titans.

      • sidibeke

        I heard Toomer on Amante (sp?) and Eytan talk about seeing McCutcheon breaking a run in preseason while talking about the Chiefs. I assume he meant McCluster. No one except us here and Bill Williamson know this team.

  • ArrowFan

    So we currently have the 11 ranked NFL QB. Wow I thought he was doing well but that is really close to a top 10 QB.

  • sidibeke

    Strength of schedule is misleading, circular logic. One reason their past schedule has been “easy” is because those teams (Philly, NYG in particular) have both lost to KC and Den. So, good teams past schedules will be skewed since they won and their opponent lost. While the Giants are reeling, I think we took their best shot on Sunday; it was a much better team than the one that got spanked at Car. Of course, Jax is Jax, and Dal…jury’s still out. Their upcoming schedule is so hard since we still have Den twice, play Hou (at home) and have the Titans.