NFL Efficiency Ratings- AFC East Edition
Every year I usually go around the NFL and use my efficiency ratings as a prediction model around week 12 or 13 to try to project the playoffs. With 6 weeks in the books I thought during the bye week it might be interesting to see how much things change over the rest of the season by projecting the entire AFC East schedule based on how the teams have done thus far on the year. If you have any comments please post them or email them.
New York Jets
The Jets are the current favorites to win the division based on the fact that they have already beaten New England head to head and their only loss of the year came in week 1 of the season. The Jets are a far different team than last season in terms of their splits. Last year the Jets were clearly a defensive juggernaut, ranking in the top 10 of the last decade, with a relatively inefficient offense. This year is much more balanced and the team has actually relied more on points scored this season than holding teams far below their season scoring averages. The Jets have improved greatly in their play at home, which was not good last season, and are still playing well on the road, though nowhere near as good as last season. The Jets Rankings are as follows:
Offense: 7th (18.16%)
Defense: 6th (17.71%)
Overall: 3rd (35.86%)
Home: 5th (36.06%)
Away: 13th (5.60%)
Right now the Jets project to a minimum of 11 wins and should be strong favorites (5 or more points predicted margin) against Green Bay, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Buffalo. The Jets should be favored in the FG range or so against Detroit, Houston, Miami, and Chicago. Of those 4 games the trickier games appear to be the two road games against Detroit and Chicago. Detroit has only played two home games so its not really enough to gauge them, but in those two games they averaged 38 points. If they turn out to score close to that again the Jets may not have the firepower to win that kind of game. The Jets should be slight underdogs against the Patriots, who murder teams up in Foxboro, and the Steelers, who have actually been far better on the road than at home. I think it would be safe to call that a split series. The Jets maximum win total is likely 14 games. The only worry for the Jets will be if Mark Sanchez starts to turn the ball over as that will have a major negative impact on the defense, which is not playing good enough right now to cover for him the way they did last season. That is the same type of scenario that occurred in 2008 when Brett Favre turned into a turnover machine in those last 5 games.
New England Patriots
The AFC East is a two horse race and the Patriots are neck and neck with the Jets. New England is exactly what everyone assumed they would be- an offensive powerhouse with a bad defense- going into the season. Despite the line of thinking that the Patriots could only win at home, statistically they have played far better away from home than at home, primarily because the defense is terrible at home allowing the Bengals, Bills, and Ravens to each score their highest road totals of the year. How well the road performance holds up will be a matter to debate since it is overly reliant on the whipping they gave Miami.
Offense: 1st (43.03%)
Defense: 26th (-15.58%)
Overall: 4th (27.46%)
Home: 20th (-2.89%)
Away: 1st (88.84%)
In terms of projections the Patriots look to be a lock for 10 wins on the season. They will be heavy favorites to beat Cleveland, Chicago, and Buffalo, and lower point favorites against Minnesota, Indianapolis, Detroit, Green Bay, New York, and Miami. A few of those games look to be tricky. Detroit looks to have the firepower to keep up with New England and Miami plays well enough defensively away from home to make it a game. The Jets already beat New England once this season and it will be a huge game if all things play to form. The Colts have not been great on the road this year, though they do match up well. They have a punchers chance, though New England should win a close game. San Diego is almost a nightmare matchup because of how well San Diego plays on their home turf. Its basically a sure los. Pittsburgh will be favored, but it all depends on what kind of difference Roethlisberger makes to the Steelers offense. If he plays well New England will lose. If the team plays exactly the same with him as they did with all those other guys New England will pull off a big upset. New England can get all the way to 14 wins if everything breaks right. If they get there they will win the AFC East, but the defense would probably lead to an early playoff exit. Unlike the Jets there probably is no worry that a drastic change can happen for the worse since the QB position is so stable.
Miami sits at 3-2 and still feels as if they have a chance to win the division. If that is going to happen they have to quickly straighten out their problems playing at home and are going to have to basically go undefeated on the road. Miami does not do much well. They are one of the least effective offenses in the NFL and have a more or less average defense. They are 0-2 at home with both losses coming in the division and their 3 wins have been by a combined 12 points. The one thing they have going for them is that they are one of the better road teams in the league.
Offense: 28th (-17.97%)
Defense: 13th (2.83%)
Overall: 23rd (-15.14%)
Home: 28th (-30.58%)
Away: 8th (18.95%)
It is going to be very hard for Miami to make a run as they have some really tough opponents both at home and on the road. Right now their minimum win total is only 5, a far distance from the anticipated double digit numbers for the Jets and Patriots. The team only projects to be a heavy favorite against the Bills and a lower favorite against the Raiders and Browns. If Miami does not straighten out their home woes they will lose to Cleveland, a game most people likely have circled as a win. Miami should be a very slight underdog against the Bengals and around the 3 point margin against the Jets, Lions, and Patriots. Its possible they could beat Cincy and Detroit. The look to have no shot against the Steelers, Titans, Ravens, and Bears. Despite the 3-2 record Miami just has too many things working against them to be considered a serious contender unless QB Chad Henne shows some significant improvement. 8 wins will probably be the high water mark if that does not happen.
Obviously the Bills are not winning the division and with an 0-5 record are not going to the playoffs. The year has been significantly worse than the Bills ever expected. Their QB they hoped to build around is now gone from the team. The defense, which gave a game effort last year despite numerous injuries, is terrible. They don't play well at home or on the road and have yet to win a game. How bad are they? Here are the rankings:
Offense: 29th (-20.13%)
Defense: 32nd (-38.08%)
Overall: 32nd (-58.21%)
Home: 29th (-44.48%)
Away: 29th (-33.95%)
The question here is if there is a win on their schedule or not. At their current level of play they should get blown out (more than 14 points) by Baltimore, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, New England, and New York. That is 11 losses right there. They will be heavy dogs against Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Miami which would bring the total to 15 losses. Their best chances would be against the Lions and Dolphins, but it would take a miracle. The best hope is against the Browns, where the Bills would only be a slight underdog. So 16 losses is certainly possible and 3 wins is probably the best case scenario. It certainly would not be shocking to see the Bills with the first pick in next years draft.
I think this way over rates the Jets defense, unless revis returns to his 2009 form.
>>Defense: 6th (17.71%)
The Jets pass defense is nothing special so far. (this may change with Revis returning to form, and possibly Pace becoming a pressure threat)
The passing game is so erratic its hard to count on it, it varies between poor and good. Running is less important, though the Jets are good as a run team.
Also - the Jets have been lucky in a number of games, getting breaks or recovering fumbles/bad opponent special teams play that is highly variable and not something that we can count on continuing.
I can see the Jets winning 10-12 games.