Because I’m working with a little less time constructing this week’s power rankings, I’m going to go through this a little bit quicker and skip one set of rankings (the Drive Success Rate rankings). Still, there’s a lot to digest and dissect, so let’s get going. The easiest set of rankings will be the first, as always, and it will just be the simple point differential system, adjusted for opponent.

Below the jump:

Opponent-Adjusted Point Differential
Rank Team Point Differential
1 Denver Broncos 10.9
2 New England Patriots 9.8
3 Kansas City Chiefs 9.0
4 Miami Dolphins 8.4
5 Indianapolis Colts 6.8
6 Philadelphia Eagles 6.0
7 Baltimore Ravens 5.8
8 Arizona Cardinals 5.3
9 San Diego Chargers 3.9
10 Seattle Seahawks 3.1
11 Dallas Cowboys 2.5
12 Pittsburgh Steelers 2.5
13 Green Bay Packers 2.5
14 Buffalo Bills 2.3
15 Detroit Lions 1.2
16 Houston Texans 0.9
17 Cincinnati Bengals 0.6
18 New Orleans Saints 0.4
19 Cleveland Browns -0.6
20 San Francisco 49ers -2.6
21 New York Giants -2.7
22 Washington Redskins -4.0
23 Minnesota Vikings -4.9
24 St. Louis Rams -5.3
25 Chicago Bears -5.8
26 Carolina Panthers -6.6
27 Tennessee Titans -7.1
28 Jacksonville Jaguars -7.4
29 Oakland Raiders -7.4
30 New York Jets -7.9
31 Atlanta Falcons -9.3
32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -10.4

What’s the deal with the Arizona Cardinals? They have the best record in the NFL, a decently strong strength of schedule (ranked as the thirteenth toughest in this system) and are ranked as the best or second-best team in the country by the vast majority of power rankings.

Here, the point differential argument is simply that their loss was big (by 21 points) and their wins haven’t done much to make up for it (though it’s not bad, averaging a touchdown). This system is giving equal weight to one loss and not much to consistent other wins. But I think it also points to the fact that they may not be the best team in the country going forward.

Otherwise, there are a number of other teams whose opponent-adjusted point differential undercuts their standing with national rankings—including the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals. On the other end of the spectrum are teams whose point differential speaks better for them than national perception like the Miami Dolphins (more on them below), San Diego Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.

Once again, we always have more information than merely point differential, which is the amount of regular dominance they have over the course of the game while minimizing the effect of garbage time points. A good thing is that the Game Script scores and point differential scores are converging.

Opponent-Adjusted Game Script
Rank Team Expected Point Differential
1 Indianapolis Colts 8.1
2 Denver Broncos 6.8
3 New England Patriots 6.4
4 Baltimore Ravens 5.2
5 Miami Dolphins 4.7
6 Kanasas City Chiefs 3.9
7 Cincinnati Bengals 3.4
8 Green Bay Packers 3.3
9 Philadelphia Eagles 2.5
10 Pittsburgh Steelers 1.9
11 Seattle Seahawks 1.8
12 Arizona Cardinals 1.1
13 San Diego Chargers 1.1
14 San Francisco 49ers 0.8
15 Detroit Lions 0.8
16 New Orleans Saints 0.4
17 Houston Texans 0.3
18 Atlanta Falcons -0.1
19 Dallas Cowboys -0.3
20 Buffalo Bills -0.6
21 Cleveland Browns -1.2
22 Washington Redskins -2.1
23 New York Giants -2.4
24 St. Louis Rams -2.6
25 Chicago Bears -3.1
26 Tennessee Titans -3.4
27 Minnesota Vikings -4.2
28 Carolina Panthers -4.7
29 Jacksonville Jaguars -4.7
30 Oakland Raiders -6.0
31 New York Jets -6.7
32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -10.3

These are the opposite Colts from the last two years, as I mentioned the first time I did these game script scores. The teams to watch out for: the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. The teams that are performing better than their point differentials would otherwise say are the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals (which perhaps demonstrates that the national media rankings do a better job than the point differential ranks do).

The Vikings have moved up substantially in these rankings vs. last week and it could be that these game scripts scores are lagging in estimating their true value.

Normally, I use Drive Success Rate here, but I didn’t have enough time to put them together before writing up this post, so we don’t have them. For what it’s worth prediction tests I’ve run on DSR last year were underwhelming. That’s not terrible news because there are different measures against which I can test the statistic but for now it’s enough to skip this week.

For now, we’ll look at the three different efficiency scores, the media rankings and then the picks against Vegas.

Efficiency Systems
Effective Rank Effective PD AFA Rank Effective AFA PD FO Rank Effective FO PD Home Eff Rank Effective Home PD Team
1 9.2 1 9.5 1 9.6 1 8.6 Denver Broncos
2 5.8 2 8.4 3 3.8 2 5.1 Miami Dolphins
3 3.7 3 4.7 5 3.0 7 3.2 Green Bay Packers
4 3.6 3 4.7 8 2.0 5 4.2 Indianapolis Colts
5 3.1 6 3.2 9 1.8 4 4.5 Kansas City Chiefs
6 2.7 12 1.1 7 2.2 3 4.8 New England Patriots
7 2.6 12 1.1 2 5.2 13 1.5 Baltimore Ravens
8 2.6 6 3.2 13 1.4 8 3.1 Cincinnati Bengals
9 2.0 6 3.2 4 3.1 15 -0.1 Seattle Seahawks
10 1.9 9 2.6 11 1.7 14 1.4 New Orleans Saints
11 1.9 11 1.6 15 1.1 9 2.9 Dallas Cowboys
12 1.8 12 1.1 9 1.8 10 2.7 Pittsburgh Steelers
13 1.7 17 0.5 14 1.3 6 3.2 Buffalo Bills
14 1.1 9 2.6 12 1.4 20 -0.8 Detroit Lions
15 0.7 12 1.1 20 -0.7 12 1.8 San Francisco 49ers
16 0.5 5 3.7 22 -0.9 23 -1.2 Washington Redskins
17 0.4 18 0.0 6 2.5 25 -1.3 Philadelphia Eagles
18 0.0 23 -2.1 17 0.0 11 2.2 San Diego Chargers
19 -0.5 12 1.1 19 -0.5 26 -2.1 Cleveland Browns
20 -0.7 22 -1.6 16 0.7 24 -1.2 Arizona Cardinals
21 -0.8 20 -1.0 21 -0.9 18 -0.4 Chicago Bears
22 -1.2 24 -2.1 23 -1.3 16 -0.3 New York Giants
23 -1.5 21 -1.0 26 -2.9 19 -0.5 Tennessee Titans
24 -1.5 25 -2.1 25 -2.1 17 -0.4 Houston Texans
25 -2.8 19 -0.5 24 -1.7 30 -6.3 Carolina Panthers
26 -2.8 30 -7.3 18 -0.2 21 -1.0 Atlanta Falcons
27 -3.2 26 -3.1 31 -5.2 22 -1.2 Jacksonville Jaguars
28 -4.5 27 -4.2 27 -3.8 28 -5.6 Minnesota Vikings
29 -4.6 29 -5.8 30 -4.9 27 -3.0 St. Louis Rams
30 -6.1 28 -4.7 28 -3.9 32 -9.7 New York Jets
31 -6.7 31 -8.9 29 -4.9 29 -6.2 Oakland Raiders
32 -8.4 32 -8.9 32 -8.8 31 -7.6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

… Ladies and Gentlemen, your Miami Dolphins!

That enormous win over San Diego just adds to their already good efficiency scores. Aside from a poor Week 3 against the Chiefs, their play has been consistently good. Take a look at how they’ve done on a week-by-week basis:

Miami Week-by-Week performance 2

The top team in efficiency (Denver) and bottom (Tampa Bay) are shown here for context—their average game scores (0.4 and -0.4, respectively) are included. Their individual scores obviously vary more, and the graph size has been created to reflect that—the top single game score is 1.5 and the bottom such score is -1.5. Miami’s game against San Diego (Week 9) was nearly that good. League average is 0.0 by design.

Of Miami’s 8 games, 6 of them were above average (and four of them at a very high level), which is very impressive. They do it through a hodgepodge of performances. They have the league-best defense in net yards per attempt and are fourth-best once accounting for their opponent—which means a good sack rate and a good rate against successful completions (they rank eighth in opponent passing success rate, third in net yards per attempt and 13th in interception rate once accounting for strength of schedule).

On offense, they rank fourth in yards per carry and run success rate (the latter of which is more important than is popularly recognized).

Most importantly, of 16 different significant statistics, Miami is only below average in four of them: rushing touchdown rate, net yards per offensive passing attempt, opponent run success rate and opponent yards per carry. Their issues with rushing touchdown rate and net yards per attempt are counterbalanced by their top ten ranks in passing touchdown rank, interceptions avoided rank and offensive and defensive fumble rates.

By the way, if you’re curious, here are the Minnesota week-by-week performances.

Minnesota Week-by-Week performance

As you’d expect, that Week 5 dip is a result of the terrible Green Bay Packers game on Thursday. Since then, the Vikings have been a just-below average team, which is pretty good considering their performance last year. Much of this is a result of a defensive resurgence led by Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith and Sharrif Floyd, which I talked about at Vikings Journal. As for the Vikings’ ranks in those various statistical categories:

 Unit Pass Success Rate Pass TD Rate INT Rate Net Yards/Attempt Yards/Carry Run Success Rate Rush Touchdown Rate Fumble Rate
Offense 24 32 28 31 14 17 10 4
Defense 17 31 2 2 21 19 23 29

When adjusting for opponent, the Vikings actually have the second-best defense in net yards per passing attempt. In raw net yards per passing attempt, they rank eighth, but given that they’ve played three teams in the top ten in net yards per pass attempt, and that DOESN’T include Tom Brady, whose recent play will only help the Vikings in their strength-of-schedule in these kinds of statistics (the Patriots rank 15th right now).

The Vikings have also done a good job avoiding fumbles and grabbing interceptions, which helps make up for their putrid offensive play in the passing game. Though their offensive run game has been good (seventh in unadjusted yards per carry), but their opponents haven’t been stellar against the run, so they get dinged there.

This is a pretty great stepping stone for a young team, but the real test will be if they can take with this with them and improve in other areas for the rest of the season.

Anyway, let’s look at national media rankings:

Subjective Media Rankings
Team ESPN NFL.com B/R CBS Yahoo Fox NBC AP SBN Avg
New England Patriots 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 1.33
Arizona Cardinals 2 2 2 1 3 2 1 2 1 1.78
Denver Broncos 3 3 3 3 2 3 4 3 3 3.00
Philadelphia Eagles 4 4 8 4 4 5 3 4 6 4.67
Detroit Lions 6 9 5 6 9 4 5 5 4 5.89
Indianapolis Colts 5 6 6 10 5 6 8 6 8 6.67
Green Bay Packers 8 10 4 7 6 12 9 8 7 7.89
Dallas Cowboys 9 7 9 5 7 7 6 10 11 7.89
Pittsburgh Steelers 7 5 10 12 12 13 7 7 5 8.67
Seattle Seahawks 10 8 12 8 8 10 10 9 12 9.67
Cincinnati Bengals 11 12 9 9 10 15 11 11 9 10.78
Kansas City Chiefs 12 11 11 11 11 9 13 11 10 11.00
Miami Dolphins 13 13 15 13 13 8 15 13 14 13.00
Baltimore Ravens 14 17 13 17 14 16 12 17 13 14.78
Buffalo Bills 18 14 16 14 16 11 14 15 15 14.78
New Orleans Saints 15 15 14 19 19 14 17 14 19 16.22
San Diego Chargers 17 16 17 16 15 18 19 18 17 17.00
Cleveland Browns 19 18 18 15 18 17 16 19 16 17.33
San Francisco 49ers 16 19 20 18 17 19 18 16 18 17.89
Houston Texans 20 20 21 20 20 23 23 21 22 21.11
Minnesota Vikings 23 21 24 23 24 20 20 22 21 22.00
Carolina Panthers 22 24 22 22 21 24 22 20 25 22.44
St. Louis Rams 25 23 23 25 23 21 21 24 20 22.78
New York Giants 24 22 19 21 25 22 25 25 23 22.89
Chicago Bears 21 25 25 24 22 25 24 23 24 23.67
Washington Redskins 26 26 27 26 26 26 26 26 26 26.11
Atlanta Falcons 27 27 26 27 27 28 27 27 27 27.00
Tennessee Titans 28 28 31 28 28 29 28 28 28 28.44
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29 29 32 29 31 27 30 31 30 29.78
Jacksonville Jaguars 31 30 29 30 29 31 29 29 31 29.89
New York Jets 30 31 30 31 30 30 31 30 29 30.22
Oakland Raiders 32 32 28 32 32 32 32 32 32 31.56

The Dolphins get no respect, I guess.

Regardless, here are the formula-generated picks, their records against the spread and Vegas’ picks:

Away Home AFA (23-20) FO (19-24) Eff (23-20) PD (21-22) Vegas
Cleveland Browns Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati by 5.1 Cincinnati by 4.8 Cincinnati by 8.2 Cincinnati by 2.1 Cincinnati by 6.5
New York Giants Seattle Seahawks Seattle by 8.2 Seattle by 7.3 Seattle by 3.2 Seattle by 4.4 Seattle by 9
Kansas City Chiefs Buffalo Bills Buffalo by 0.4 Buffalo by 2.5 Buffalo by 1.8 Kansas City by 1.8 Kansas City by 2
Miami Dolphins Detroit Lions Miami by 2.8 Detroit by 0.6 Miami by 3.0 Miami by 2.1 Detroit by 2.5
Dallas Cowboys Jacksonville Jaguars Dallas by 1.7 Dallas by 3.3 Dallas by 1.1 Dallas by 3.5 Dallas by 5.5
Tennessee Titans Baltimore Ravens Baltimore by 5.1 Baltimore by 11.2 Baltimore by 4.9 Baltimore by 8.0 Baltimore by 10
San Francisco 49ers New Orleans Saints New Orleans by 1.9 New Orleans by 3.7 New Orleans by 1.2 New Orleans by 2.8 New Orleans by 4.5
Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders Denver by 15.4 Denver by 11..5 Denver by 11.8 Denver by 7.7 Denver by 11.5
St. Louis Rams Arizona Cardinals Arizona by 7.2 Arizona by 8.6 Arizona by 4.7 Arizona by 6.8 Arizona by 7.5
Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers Green Bay by 8.8 Green Bay by 6.9 Green Bay by 6.6 Green Bay by 5.6 Green Bay by 7.5
Atlanta Falcons Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay by 1.4 Atlanta by 5.6 Atlanta by 3.6 Tampa Bay by 1 Atlanta by 1
Pittsburgh Steelers New York Jets Pittsburgh by 2.8 Pittsburgh by 2.7 Pittsburgh by 9.3 Pittsburgh by 3.7 Pittsburgh by 6
Carolina Panthers Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia by 3.5 Philadelphia by 7.2 Philadelphia by 7.9 Philadelphia by 7.8 Philadelphia by 6

After a really successful week for my homebrewed efficiency system, it’s caught up to AFA. FO is still a tad behind. Next year, the system should do a little better with adjustments I’ve discovered I can make this year.