As iist the case every year, the NFL has been very surprising through the first four weeks of the season. The NFL standings through the first quarter of the season are not what fans would have expected, although the LA Chargers are currently right where many thought they would be — second place in the AFC West.
It has been an up-and-down first four weeks for the Chargers but that has been the case for many teams in the NFL. There have been some teams that are far more disappointing than the Chargers but there are also teams who are shocking the league with their record.
Record does not always tell the entire story, though, as there are different variables that each team has to account for. Instead, NFL fans have long turned to DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) to get an idea of who the best teams in the league are. With four weeks of sample size, it is fair to start looking at DVOA to get an idea of the hierarchy of the NFL.
NFL standings based on DVOA:
- 1. Buffalo Bills: 59.1%
- 2. San Francisco 49ers: 47.7%
- 3. Detroit Lions: 35.2%
- 4. Baltimore Ravens: 32.4%
- 5. Dallas Cowboys: 29%
- 6. Philadelphia Eagles: 27.1%
- 7. Miami Dolphins: 25.2%
- 8. Kansas City Chiefs: 23%
- 9. Seattle Seahawks: 20.1%
- 10. Cleveland Browns: 11.8%
- 11. Houston Texans: 8.1%
- 12. LA Chargers: 7.1%
- 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1.9%
- 14. Minnesota Vikings: 1.6%
- 15. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1.4%
- 16. Arizona Cardinals: 0.4%
- 17. LA Rams: -0.7%
- 18. New Orleans Saints: -2.0%
- 19. Indianapolis Colts: -2.8%
- 20. New England Patriots: -6.9%
- 21. Green Bay Packers: -7.5%
- 22. Tennessee Titans: -10.0%
- 23. New York Jets: -11.1%
- 24. Washington Commanders: -13.3%
- 25. Pittsburgh Steelers: -20.5%
- 26. Cincinnati Bengals: -22.6%
- 27. Atlanta Falcons: -25.3%
- 28. Carolina Panthers: -32.9%
- 29. Denver Broncos: -33.9%
- 30. Las Vegas Raiders: -34.2%
- 31. Chicago Bears: -44.2%
- 32. New York Giants: -47.3%
A DVOA of zero is considered average so there are some surprises in this list. The Atlanta Falcons have the biggest winning percentage to DVOA disrepancy in the wrong direction as the team is 2-2 but has the sixth-lowest DVOA in the sport.
Meanwhile the Cleveland Browns, who also have a 2-2 record, have the 10th-highest DVOA in the sport, once again proving that record does not mean everything. There are 10 teams that have a better record than the Chargers but the Bolts rank ahead of one of those teams, the Bucs. The Bolts have the third-highest DVOA among 2-2 teams, trailing only the Browns and Texans.
What these DVOA rankings mean for the Chargers:
Not many people would say that the Chargers are the 12th-best team in the league but that is where they currently stand according to DVOA. If fans are going to buy in on DVOA then there is faith for the rest of the 2023 season.
The Raiders and Broncos are so far behind the Chargers that they should not be an issue long-term. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are in striking distance with the eighth-best DVOA this year. Typically, Kansas City is near or at the top of the list.
The Chargers do have some tough games after the Week 5 bye against teams atop the DVOA rankings. Los Angeles plays the Bills, Lions, Ravens, Cowboys and Chiefs twice. With a game already against the Dolphins, that is seven games against the top eight teams in DVOA.
The Bolts also get to play the Bears, Raiders (one more time), Broncos twice, Jets, Packers and Patriots. With a game played against the Raiders and Titans already, that is nine total games against the bottom 12 teams in DVOA.