2013 Chiefs DVOA Analysis: Wild Card Edition


The Chiefs 2013 Regular Season is in the books and we are headed for the playoffs. After the debacle that was 2012, I believe any sane Chiefs fan would concede that this season’s turnaround far exceeded everyone’s reasonable expectations. Are we done for this year? Most of the world seems to believe the answer to that question is yes.

Popular opinion and expert analysis notswithstanding, I am less quick to dismiss the Chiefs and I am not just saying that because I’m a homer. More on this topic later.

The week’s Double Take takes its usual stock of the Chiefs, courtesy Football Outsiders DVOA Analysis but instead of comparing Week 17 to Week 16, we’ll instead compare 2013 to 2012 which I feel is the better gauge of 2013 progess.

The preceding charts confirm that the 2013 Chiefs are, without question, a vastly improved team, in nearly every respect, over their 2012 counterparts.  One can nitpick things like Tony Moeaki playing better than Sean McGrath or Dwayne Bowe playing worse this year than last but one also has to consider that there was only 1 ranked TE and 2 ranked WRs in 2012 while there are 2 ranked TEs and 3 ranked WRs in 2013.  In other words, while perhaps not fielding a great collection of pass receiving weapons in 2013, there are at least now more viable receivers than were available in 2012.

Again, in comparison to 2012, 2013 represents a dramatic and encouraging turnaround for the Chiefs, especially considering this Andy Reid’s first year as head coach. With the exception of a change at QB, the core of the 2012 Chiefs is essentially the same as the core of the 2013 Chiefs.  Not to knock Alex Smith, but it sure seems to me the biggest difference maker in the whole equation is Andy Reid.

So, going back to my earlier question, are we done? Has this season played itself out or is it reasonable to expect still more from the 2013 Chiefs? Well, if history is any guide, there’s plenty of reason to hope. In the two charts that follow, I’ve compiled the past 20 years worth of regular season DVOA rankings of Super Bowl teams, starting with the winners first.

If you’re looking for some optimism that the Chiefs are good enough to win a championship right now, than look no further than last year’s winners, the Baltimore Ravens. In terms of past Super Bowl winner DVOA rankings, the Chiefs are also comparable to, or better than, the 2007 and 2011 Giants, the 2006 Colts, and the 2001 Patriots.

All that said, one should also bear in mind that almost 3/4ths of the past 20 Super Bowl winners ranked among the top 5 in Total Efficiency during their respective championship seasons. Not a guarantee for success, but a strong indicator nonetheless.

Now for the Super Bowl also rans:

What this history of Super Bowl “losers” merely suggests is that we can add another 8 or 9 teams to the list of the last 40 Big Show participants that were comparable, or worse than the 2013 Chiefs. While Super Bowl history tends to favor teams that score highly (particularly among the top 5) in Total Efficiency, about a third of the teams that have made it to the Super Bowl of the past 20 years have resembled, in one sense or another, a team like the 2013 Chiefs. See there, we have a pretty good shot!

The big knock on the Chiefs is that they can’t beat good teams. No time like the present to prove that theory wrong.

First up, the same team that handed the Chiefs their most embarrassing loss of the season just two Sundays ago. The way I see things shaping up, Wild Card Weekend could signal the beginning a nice little payback run for the Chiefs.

That’s my Double Take Addicts. What’s your take?