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NFL Efficiency- Week 4

The Efficiency Rankings are back again. For those new to this ranking system, its a metric I have kept for myself since 2002 and one that I will use to power rank the teams and also for my predictions from here on out. One of these days I'll post the full rankings that I have since 2002 since I got some good feedback when I used it to rank the NFL Champions.

What these rankings measure is how much better or worse a team performs on average, in terms of scoring, than expected based on their schedule. So for instance a team with a 50% scoring efficiency would indicate that a team is scoring 50% more than their opponents have allowed in their other games on the season. So for example say that the team with a 50% score plays a squad that gives up 17 PPG, the average expectation is they would score 25.5 points. Scoring measures all facets of a game including special team and defensive scores, so it is not entirely a measure of offensive performance, though offense makes up the bulk of the score.

Defensive efficiency is the exact opposite in which we are measuring how much below the norm the defense is holding a team. Points here do include special teams scores and scores given up by the offense, but again, for the most part, it is a measure of defense. So in this situation a team with a 50% defensive efficiency that faces a team scoring 25.5 points a game would be expetced to hold the team to 12.75 points.

The overall results at the end of a season are pretty highly correlated with actual wins and losses, though at this point in the year, because the sample size is so small and blowout wins and losses skew the numbers, they won't provide much indication of future prospects. You usually need about 1/2 season before the numbers start to mean anything, but it does give a better idea of who is playing well due to SOS and who is actually playing well. I'm also tinkering with a drive efficiency this year in terms of scoring. I'll have something posted on that at some point and I also like to track yardage in a similar manner that I am doing here. I may not get to that until the midway point, however.

As for the early results I think a surprise might be that the Denver Broncos currently rank number 1. Their ranking is based on the fact that they have played both the Falcons and Texans and even though they lost to both they did far better against them than anyone else did. Eventually that will balance out, but Denver is clearly one of the better teams in the NFL right now.

The NFL is always full of surprising stories and there are plenty in the early season. Arizona ranks number 4, Seattle 10, Minnesota 11, and St Louis 16th. To me the biggest surprises are the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins. Chicago, who was brutal in a loss to Green Bay, has been extremely effective in their games against the Rams, Cowboys, and Colts. While its not a tough schedule by any means they clearly are not the cellar dwellers many, including myself, think they should be. Miami is just a good story despite the 1-3 record. They have played two of the top 5 team in the NFL and held their own against the Cardinals. They killed the Raiders and should have beaten the Jets. They have a slightly below average offense and above average defense which will make them a difficult team all season if it holds up.

Of course with any good there are bad surprises as well. New Orleans is just a disaster. They rank 31st in the NFL. This is very different than Green Bay that has seen a slow start recordwise but ranks in the top 10 in efficiency. The defense is horrific with a -58.5% ranking, 31st in the league. But worse than that their scoring output is also below average, which really says something about the head coach and may reinforce the idea that some have about Drew Brees being more about padded stats than meaningful stats when discussed among the big 3. I never thought much of the Bills but they have the worst defense in the NFL and are one of the worst in the league right now. The numbers I gave on their big investments over the offseason indicated money not well spent and its proving itself now. Ill do an update on that with the amazing PFF stats within the next week. Detroit is also a concerning team and with all the nonsense that goes on with the coach and the players they could see a shake up if things do not improve.

I cant go a posting without mentioning the Jets. Its a disaster. They rank 26th in scoring and 21st in defense. Last year some feedback I got was that the defensive ranking was worse than it should be (they were around average last year in this metric) because of all the offensive turnovers, but this year their ranking here is actually generous. They have not been put in the type of situations they were put in last season and when I get to the drive numbers it is sickening how bad it is.

NFL Efficiencty Rankings, Thru Week 4

Rank Team Scoring Efficiency Defensive Efficiency Total Efficiency
1 Denver Broncos  43.81% 26.61% 70.42%
2 Houston Texans  28.14% 41.46% 69.60%
3 Atlanta Falcons  35.27% 25.49% 60.76%
4 Arizona Cardinals  17.67% 37.97% 55.64%
5 Baltimore Ravens  37.50% 17.55% 55.05%
6 New England Patriots  37.67% 12.66% 50.33%
7 San Francisco 49ers  14.71% 32.99% 47.70%
8 Chicago Bears  26.38% 15.77% 42.15%
9 Green Bay Packers  8.05% 21.86% 29.92%
10 Seattle Seahawks  -16.33% 33.59% 17.25%
11 Minnesota Vikings  -7.99% 22.35% 14.36%
12 New York Giants  28.08% -20.57% 7.50%
13 San Diego Chargers  -22.68% 26.30% 3.62%
14 Miami Dolphins  -2.64% 1.82% -0.82%
15 Philadelphia Eagles  -23.85% 20.45% -3.40%
16 St. Louis Rams  -16.55% 11.94% -4.61%
17 Cincinnati Bengals  16.26% -25.84% -9.58%
18 Dallas Cowboys  -17.37% 6.71% -10.66%
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers  -23.60% 5.21% -18.39%
20 Washington Redskins  22.59% -41.92% -19.33%
21 Carolina Panthers  -20.27% -2.83% -23.10%
22 Pittsburgh Steelers  -3.75% -20.32% -24.07%
23 Jacksonville Jaguars  -34.67% 8.65% -26.03%
24 Cleveland Browns  -34.82% 6.96% -27.86%
25 New York Jets  -20.45% -9.80% -30.24%
26 Detroit Lions  7.53% -42.50% -34.97%
27 Indianapolis Colts  3.98% -40.68% -36.70%
28 Kansas City Chiefs  -17.50% -30.35% -47.85%
29 Tennessee Titans  -3.57% -46.60% -50.17%
30 Buffalo Bills  7.81% -60.41% -52.60%
31 New Orleans Saints  -2.65% -58.54% -61.19%
32 Oakland Raiders  -26.88% -36.41% -63.29%

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