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|
|2||New England Patriots||9.8|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||9.0|
|9||San Diego Chargers||3.9|
|13||Green Bay Packers||2.5|
|18||New Orleans Saints||0.4|
|20||San Francisco 49ers||-2.6|
|21||New York Giants||-2.7|
|24||St. Louis Rams||-5.3|
|30||New York Jets||-7.9|
|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|
|3||New England Patriots||6.4|
|6||Kanasas City Chiefs||3.9|
|8||Green Bay Packers||3.3|
|13||San Diego Chargers||1.1|
|14||San Francisco 49ers||0.8|
|16||New Orleans Saints||0.4|
|23||New York Giants||-2.4|
|24||St. Louis Rams||-2.6|
|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.
|Effective Rank||Effective PD||AFA Rank||Effective AFA PD||FO Rank||Effective FO PD||Home Eff Rank||Effective Home PD||Team|
|3||3.7||3||4.7||5||3.0||7||3.2||Green Bay Packers|
|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|
|10||1.9||9||2.6||11||1.7||14||1.4||New Orleans Saints|
|15||0.7||12||1.1||20||-0.7||12||1.8||San Francisco 49ers|
|18||0.0||23||-2.1||17||0.0||11||2.2||San Diego Chargers|
|22||-1.2||24||-2.1||23||-1.3||16||-0.3||New York Giants|
|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|
|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:
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.
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|
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|
|New England Patriots||1||1||1||2||1||1||2||1||2||1.33|
|Green Bay Packers||8||10||4||7||6||12||9||8||7||7.89|
|Kansas City Chiefs||12||11||11||11||11||9||13||11||10||11.00|
|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|
|San Francisco 49ers||16||19||20||18||17||19||18||16||18||17.89|
|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|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||29||32||29||31||27||30||31||30||29.78|
|New York Jets||30||31||30||31||30||30||31||30||29||30.22|
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.