Last week, I took a look at different statistical methods for ranking the teams and what each method might tell us about a team. If you want an explanation for what each of the terms mean, simply head there. For now, we have what we have (all scores adjusted for opponent).
|3||San Diego Chargers|
|7||Green Bay Packers|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs|
|11||New England Patriots|
|15||San Francisco 49ers|
|20||New York Giants|
|21||New Orleans Saints|
|27||New York Jets|
|28||St. Louis Rams|
|32||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
No big surprises there, though it looks like the New York Jets weren’t helped as much as they might have hoped in a close loss against New England. Generally speaking it looks like there will be a large gap between #32 and #31, and between #22 and #23, so it’s not a linear ranking. The top has two close contenders in Baltimore and Denver, but after them is a cluster between #2-4 and #7-12.
For Vikings fans, perhaps the most surprising bit is seeing Minnesota at 25. I didn’t think the loss to Buffalo was THAT bad, and given that Minnesota lost by one on the road, neither does a straight point differential model. Buffalo (17th) is a better team than they’re given credit for—and even better than the ranking given that Orton is an upgrade (however sad that is) over E.J. Manuel.
The next set of rankings, as you know, is looking at the average score in games, adjusted for opponent.
|3||Green Bay Packers|
|4||San Diego Chargers|
|9||New England Patriots|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs|
|13||San Francisco 49ers|
|20||New York Giants|
|24||New York Jets|
|25||St. Louis Rams|
|27||New Orleans Saints|
|32||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
The Indianapolis Colts are a genuinely very good team, even after accounting for the fact that they play in the weak AFC South. In previous years, the Colts were bolstered by an unsustainable close game record, and were a prime candidate for “regression”—teams who overperformed that were likely to see their record drop or, teams who underperformed and were likely to see their record bounce back.
In this case, we can look at which teams are doing that this season—teams who end up with a deceiving point differential because of garbage time can end up performing differently later in the season, as generally happens every year.
The biggest negative differences between point differential and game script go to the Dallas Cowboys (nine ranks), Carolina Panthers (eight ranks), the New Orleans Saints (six ranks) and the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings (five ranks). All those teams have generally been performing worse throughout games than their final point differential would otherwise indicate—bad news for Vikings fans.
On the other end of the spectrum are Washington (six ranks), the Tennessee Titans (five ranks) and the Arizona Cardinals (five ranks). Those three teams generally have been better throughout the course of a game than their final point differentials would tell you.
Obviously, these are subject to the same issues that point differential in general has—it’s subject to the variances of low-frequency events, like pick-sixes, Hail Mary plays and so on—just less so.
The next table is Drive Success Rate differential, which measures the ability of teams to create and stop first downs.
|Drive Success Rate Differential|
|6||New York Giants|
|9||San Francisco 49ers|
|14||Kansas City Chiefs|
|15||New England Patriots|
|17||San Diego Chargers|
|18||Green Bay Packers|
|20||New Orleans Saints|
|24||St. Louis Rams|
|25||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|30||New York Jets|
Last week’s rankings contained a calculation error that threw off half of what went into the rankings, so this is a bit closer to “true.” That doesn’t mean there aren’t still big differences. Here, the Carolina Panthers are far better than they were in point differential (sixteen ranks), while the Giants (14), Washington (14), Titans (13), Bears (11), Dolphins (11), Falcons (9) and Buccaneers (7) all improve with a ranking that looks at first down rate instead of points.
On the other hand, the Texans (15), Chargers (14), Eagles (14), Packers (11), Broncos (10), Cardinals (10), Saints (9) and Bills (9) lose ranks as a result of looking at first downs.
After that are my homebrewed efficiency rankings. To emphasize the differences between different ranks (the distance between 32 and 30 is not the same as the distance between 18 and 16), I’ve converted them into expected point differentials against an average team, too.
|3||8.8||Green Bay Packers|
|5||5.3||San Diego Chargers|
|6||4.7||Kansas City Chiefs|
|9||3.0||San Francisco 49ers|
|13||2.3||New Orleans Saints|
|17||1.1||New York Giants|
|21||-2.8||New England Patriots|
|26||-4.6||St. Louis Rams|
|29||-7.0||New York Jets|
|32||-11.6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
So in this case, the Vikings are not much better than the Buccaneers by rank, but do have a significant advantage overall regardless. The Broncos by the way, are an insanely efficient team. And of course, it’s not just me that believes it. Take a look at the efficiency ratings from all three organizations, with the adjusted point differentials beside them:
|Holistic Efficiency Rankings|
|Effective Rank||Effective PD||AFA Rank||Effective AFA PD||FO Rank||Effective FO PD||Home Rank||Effective Home PD||Team|
|2||8.4||4||7.5||3||8.9||3||8.8||Green Bay Packers|
|6||5.8||5||6.7||4||7.7||9||3.0||San Francisco 49ers|
|8||4.1||13||2.5||8||4.5||5||5.3||San Diego Chargers|
|9||4.1||8||4.2||9||3.4||6||4.7||Kansas City Chiefs|
|12||1.4||16||-0.1||11||2.0||13||2.3||New Orleans Saints|
|19||-1.2||15||0.8||21||-1.5||21||-2.8||New England Patriots|
|21||-1.4||25||-3.4||22||-1.8||17||1.1||New York Giants|
|26||-5.1||24||-3.4||27||-4.9||29||-7.0||New York Jets|
|28||-5.5||28||-6.8||28||-5.2||26||-4.6||St. Louis Rams|
|32||-14.2||32||-14.4||32||-16.5||32||-11.6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
Play-by-play metrics that tend to be a lot more predictive seem to generally agree much more than the media rankings do. The biggest disagreements are the Atlanta Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins. AFA has finally gotten around to talking about the Dolphins and their unusual rankings for Miami.
Regardless it provides some interesting context for how to evaluate team play. For now, it looks like the Vikings are in the second-to-last tier, but still not as bad as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been.
|Subjective Media Rankings|
|Green Bay Packers||6||4||4||5||5||8||6||6||3||5.22|
|San Diego Chargers||7||7||8||9||6||9||5||7||9||7.44|
|New England Patriots||8||10||7||7||9||13||9||8||10||9.00|
|San Francisco 49ers||12||12||14||12||14||14||13||11||11||12.56|
|Kansas City Chiefs||14||13||12||14||12||11||16||13||13||13.11|
|New York Giants||21||20||17||14||24||18||23||23||21||20.11|
|New Orleans Saints||22||23||18||24||21||21||20||21||23||21.44|
|St. Louis Rams||24||24||25||23||23||23||24||24||24||23.78|
|New York Jets||29||29||26||31||26||26||26||29||28||27.78|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||30||30||32||29||31||30||31||31||29||30.33|
Media rankings don’t often attempt to be surprising, but they can be annoying—often it feels like they try too hard to have an interesting ranking and focus too hard on record over the ability to rank teams by raw ability—that is, who would win in an upcoming game. It’s true the Oakland Raiders haven’t won a game and the Buccaneers have, but it might be a bit much to say the Buccaneers are a better team.
On the other hand, it’s nice to see the Vikings rank better here than in some of the statistical categories.
The biggest disagreements belong to the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.
Using all of that information, we can look at picks by model and compare them to Vegas.
|Buffalo Bills||New York Jets||Jets by 2.6||Jets by 0.9||Bills by 2.2||Bills by 1.9||Jets by 3|
|Green Bay Packers||New Orleans Saints||Packers by 0.3||Packers by 1.5||Packers by 3.6||Packers by 3.5||Packers by 0.5|
|Chicago Bears||New England Patriots||Patriots by 3.4||Patriots by 4.1||Patriots by 3.6||Patriots by 4.6||Patriots by 6.5|
|Oakland Raiders||Cleveland Browns||Browns by 8.3||Browns by 6.1||Browns by 4.5||Browns by 5.8||Browns by 7|
|Minnesota Vikings||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Buccaneers by 0.3||Vikings by 0.1||Vikings by 0.4||Buccaneers by 1.0||Buccaneers by 3.0|
|Washington Redskins||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys by 4.2||Cowboys by 6.5||Cowboys by 8.1||Cowboys by 7.5||Cowboys by 9.5|
|San Diego Chargers||Denver Broncos||Broncos by 9.1||Broncos by 8.2||Broncos by 7.6||Broncos by 2.8||Broncos by 9.0|
|Indianapolis Colts||Pittsburgh Steelers||Colts by 2.7||Steelers by 0.5||Colts by 3.3||Colts by 4.5||Colts by 2.5|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals by 1.8||Cardinals by 1.0||Cardinals by 3.1||Eagles by 0.5||Cardinals by 2.5|
|St. Louis Rams||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs by 8.3||Chiefs by 6.7||Chiefs by 8.3||Chiefs by 8.2||Chiefs by 7.5|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals by 2.6||Ravens by 0.8||Bengals by 2.9||Ravens by 4.4||Bengals by 1|
|Detroit Lions||Atlanta Falcons||Lions by 4.7||Falcons by 2.0||Lions by 0.7||Lions by 5.2||Lions by 3.5|
|Houston Texans||Tennessee Titans||Titans by 2.6||Titans by 2.3||Titans by 1.0||Texans by 2.2||Texans by 2.5|
|Seattle Seahawks||Carolina Panthers||Seahawks by 1.1||Seahawks by 2.1||Seahawks by 1.4||Seahawks by 3.5||Seahawks by 5|
|Miami Dolphins||Jacksonville Jaguars||Dolphins by 4.3||Dolphins by 2.3||Dolphins by 0.7||Dolphins by 3.8||Dolphins by 5.5|
Hopefully I’ll get these up sooner next week.