Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NFL Power Poll, Week 7


1
5-1
33.08
27.61
5.47
2
5-2
23.17
18.95
4.22
3
4-3
21.57
28.89
-7.32
4
3-3
21.53
18.11
3.42
5
6-1
18.76
13.71
5.05
6
5-2
13.89
15.78
-1.89
7
5-2
13.48
5.13
8.35
8
5-2
12.90
15.91
-3.01
9
3-3
9.63
0.66
8.97
10
5-1
9.03
6.10
2.93
11
5-2
8.32
12.81
-4.49
12
5-1
7.07
6.97
0.1
13
3-3
5.23
14.36
-9.13
14
5-2
3.28
-5.40
8.68
15
2-5
2.37
-4.47
6.84
16
4-3
1.75
6.48
-4.73
17
3-4
1.00
9.63
-8.63
18
4-3
-0.24
-3.30
3.06
19
3-4
-1.72
1.34
-3.06
20
2-5
-3.40
-9.45
6.05
21
3-2-1
-6.10
4.99
-11.09
22
3-3
-6.37
-6.06
-0.31
23
2-5
-6.41
-0.77
-5.64
24
2-4
-8.61
-11.18
2.57
25
1-6
-13.74
-18.78
5.04
26
2-5
-14.60
-9.16
-5.44
27
3-4
-17.70
-12.07
-5.63
28
3-3-1
-19.19
-10.74
-8.45
29
2-4
-20.85
-18.30
-2.55
30
1-6
-23.23
-33.63
10.4
31
1-5
-25.94
-25.94
0
32
0-6
-27.24
-25.84
-1.4

A Deeper Look:
Here I'll take a closer look at some teams whose ranking may look funny when compared with their record: 

Seattle (3-3, ranked 4th): Seattle still looks like a top team because they have the 2nd best yards per play differential (mostly thanks to their yards per carry stats, 5.4 ypc for and 3.2 ypc versus). Also, despite not forcing many turnovers (only 5 on the season, just two teams have forced fewer), they trail only Denver and San Francisco in toxic differential. Teams that are beating Seattle are doing it without many big plays. Seattle's problem is they aren't generating many negative plays, which makes it easier (still not easy) to put together long drives against their defense. 

Miami (3-3, ranked 9th): Miami is toed for 3rd in yards per play differential and has a solid toxic differential. That's enough for a top-10 spot. 

Arizona (5-1, ranked 10th): The Cardinals actually have a negative yards per play differential and a neagtive big play differential. How are they 5-1? Turnovers (they're +7) and they're top 10 in points per drive differential. 

Cincinnati (3-2-1, ranked 21st): When the Bengals have lost, they've lost big, as a result their points per drive differential is negative. They also give up almost 5 ypc to opposing rushing attacks and they've given up 9 more big plays than they've generated. If they hadn't done such a good job taking care of the ball (only 5 teams have fewer giveaways), they would be even further down this list. 

Carolina (3-3-1, ranked 28th): The Panthers are getting gashed on the ground (5.3 ypc against, compared to only 3.5 ypc for), only 3 teams have given up more big plays than they have, and they have been outscored by almost half a point per drive. Other than that, things are terrific. 

Biggest 1 week risers: 
1. Jacksonville (+10.4)
2. Miami (+8.97)
3. Indianapolis (+8.68)
Biggest 1 week fallers: 
1. Cincinnati (-11.09)
2. Cleveland (-9.13)
3. Chicago (-8.63)

The Forumla: 
I broke down my formula into three parts: 

Part 1: Yards per play. 
Here I take each teams yards per carry (rushing) and yards per attempt (passing) numbers and subtract from them the YPC and YPA their defense allows.  The theory being that, if Team A's offense is better per play than what their opponent's offense can muster against Team A's defense, Team A should be consistently better than their opponents over a full game's worth of plays (60 to 70 per game approximately). 

Part 2: Toxic Differential
A better yards per play differential is helpful to a team's chances of winning, but just how often is an NFL team able to consistently drive down the field taking 5-8 yards at a time? You're essentiall asking an NFL offense to put together 10-12 plays without more than 1-2 negative plays, be they incompletions, sacks, no-gainers, or worse: turnovers. It's doable, but it's really hard to do with any sort of consistency in a single game.

This is why coaches harp on turnovers so much. A turnover a) takes away an opponent's possession which decreases their chances of scoring more points, and b) can give your team a shorter field so you don't have to put together an 80+ yard drive to get points of your own. The problem with turnovers is you can't count on them. So much of what goes into a turnover is dependent on a) the other team and b) luck that relying on turnovers is a dangerous proposition.

So yes, turnovers are important. But there's something else that can make getting points in a drive much easier: big plays. If my offense can get 20 or 30 yards in a single play, that cuts out 4-6 plays of grinding, or 4-6 plays where something could go wrong. Now my offense only has to put 5-6 plays together on a drive where they also get a chunk play.

Brian Billick is credited with coming up with the toxic differential statistic. This adds your takeaways and big plays generated by your offense and subtracts your giveaways and the big plays given up by your defense. Again, the theory goes that teams with a better toxic differential will be better at turning drives into points and games into wins. Pete Carroll also bases his offensive and defensive identity around turnovers and big plays being the most important indicators for both sides of the ball.

Note: For this formula, a big play is considered a rushing play of 10+ yards or a passing play of 25+ yards.

Part 3: Points Per Drive
What's the most important job of an NFL team? Score more points than your opponent. Rather than look simple points per game differential, I wanted to dig a little deeper and normalize the data a little further. Game-to-game the number of possessions can vary based on team tempo, weather coniditons, etc. So instead I looked at points per drive data for each team's offense and defense, and multiplied the difference by 10. Why 10? A typical NFL game has 12 possessions, but 1-2 of those come at a point where a team isn't really interested in scoring (maybe they get the ball with 12 seconds to go before halftime, or they get it with 3 minutes to go in the game up 14+ points already. 10 seemed like a good number of possessions per game where the end goal is to score points.

All statistics taken from Sporting Charts and TeamRankings

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NFL Standings: NFC, Week 7


NFC
NFC EAST

Team
W
L
T
Pct
Conference
Division
SOV
SOS
PF
PA
Pythag%
RoS SOS

Dallas Cowboys
6
1
0
0.857
4
1
0
1
0
0
0.385
0.412
196
147
0.664
0.532

Philadelphia Eagles
5
1
0
0.833
3
1
0
2
0
0
0.381
0.413
183
132
0.684
0.569

New York Giants
3
4
0
0.429
2
4
0
1
2
0
0.333
0.605
154
169
0.445
0.503

Washington Redskins
2
5
0
0.286
0
4
0
0
2
0
0.214
0.493
151
183
0.388
0.561
NFC NORTH

Team
W
L
T
Pct
Conference
Division
SOV
SOS
PF
PA
Pythag%
RoS SOS

Detroit Lions
5
2
0
0.714
4
1
0
2
0
0
0.381
0.425
140
105
0.664
0.484

Green Bay Packers
5
2
0
0.714
3
2
0
2
1
0
0.371
0.439
199
147
0.672
0.481

Chicago Bears
3
4
0
0.429
2
2
0
0
1
0
0.333
0.469
157
171
0.450
0.532

Minnesota Vikings
2
5
0
0.286
2
3
0
0
2
0
0.310
0.524
120
160
0.336
0.431
NFC SOUTH

Team
W
L
T
Pct
Conference
Division
SOV
SOS
PF
PA
Pythag%
RoS SOS

Carolina Panthers
3
3
1
0.500
3
1
0
1
0
0
0.457
0.556
158
195
0.378
0.392

New Orleans Saints
2
4
0
0.333
2
3
0
1
1
0
0.226
0.468
155
165
0.463
0.504

Atlanta Falcons
2
5
0
0.286
2
3
0
2
0
0
0.250
0.420
171
199
0.411
0.537

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1
5
0
0.167
0
4
0
0
3
0
0.571
0.456
120
204
0.221
0.463
NFC WEST

Team
W
L
T
Pct
Conference
Division
SOV
SOS
PF
PA
Pythag%
RoS SOS

Arizona Cardinals
5
1
0
0.833
3
0
0
1
0
0
0.400
0.472
140
119
0.595
0.543

San Francisco 49ers
4
3
0
0.571
3
2
0
1
1
0
0.631
0.660
158
165
0.474
0.437

Seattle Seahawks
3
3
0
0.500
2
2
0
0
1
0
0.611
0.623
159
141
0.571
0.540

St. Louis Rams
2
4
0
0.333
2
4
0
1
1
0
0.333
0.536
129
176
0.324
0.550

A quick primer on what all of this information is:
Team, W(ins), L(osses), T(ies), and Pct (winning percentage) are all self-explanatory. 
The Conference and Division records are separated into separate columns for Wins/Losses/Ties. This was purely a formatting move designed to help me update the tables more efficiently. 
PF - Points For (points scored by the team for the season)
PA - Points Against (points scored by the team's opponents for the season)
Pythag% - Pythagorean winning percentage - this is based on PF and PA
RoS SOS - Rest of Season Strength of Schedule

Interesting bits of information:
  • The Cardinals remain the largest differential in winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage (.833 vs .595). 
  • Watch out for the 49ers, who are currently just outside of the playoff picture. They have the top strength of schedule and top strength of victory in the NFC, and they have the 3rd-easiest remaining strength of schedule. 
  • That being said, the 49ers are also the only above-.500 team in the NFC who has allowed more points than they have scored (mostly thanks to the Denver SNF game).