FanPost

AFC PLAYOFFS: 3 crucial stats


There are three stats that correlate very strongly with winning in the NFL. At no time are they more important than playoff time, so I thought it was a good time to examine what I think are perhaps the most important trio of numbers the avid fan should look at. These are numbers that take a little bit of effort to calculate, and most free sites don't offer them. I'm offering them here for free!

#1 Point Differential (pts scored minus pts allowed)

In 2011, the top six teams in the NFL in terms of point differential won 76 games (12.7) while the top six teams in the NFL won a total of 78 games, so the correlation is very strong (76/78). This obviously makes sense. Our Broncos last year entered the playoffs at -81 point differential. This was awful and was a huge red flag.

This year is a different story thankfully. Below I have a table showing the AFC playoff teams with their PT DIFF numbers after week 16. I think it's important to correct for schedule, and so I have included an "expected" result which is how each teams' opponents averaged, followed by a "corrected" column which takes the "actual" results and measures them against the "expected" result.

Team

Actual

(for/against)

Expected

(for/against)

Corrected

(actual - exp)

Rank

New

England

+198

(529/331)

+20

(342/322)

+178

1st

Denver

+157

(443/286)

-1

(345/346)

+158

2nd

Houston

+97

(400/303)

+20

(357/337)

+77

3rd

Cincinnati

+65

(368/303)

+29

(348/319)

+36

5th

Baltimore

+60

(381/321)

-3

(342/345)

+63

4th

Indy

-42

(329/371)

+41

(361/320)

-83

6th

There's a lot of information to be gleaned from this chart, so I'll make a few points. Firstly, if you look at the "expected" column, you can easily see why correcting for strength of schedule is important when comparing teams. Denver and Baltimore opponents were the toughest in terms of point differential by a considerable margin over the other teams. Indy clearly played lesser talent, in this area of analysis at least, which makes sense considering they were a last place team in their division last year. Looking at New England, since their opponents would have given up a point differential of +20, and New England actually was at +198, they outplayed their opponent by +178 pts.

The take home here, is that Denver is not that far off in this area from New England, when taking into consideration that Denver played tougher competition. Indy under-performs their opponents by a considerable margin. Whether this continues to play out in the playoffs is anyone's guess of course, but I like how we stack up to the other teams in terms of point differential. Notice that we have scored almost 100 more points than expected, and held our opponents to 60 less points than expected--much more balanced than NE which has actually given up more points than expected.

#2. Passer Rating Differential (Offense pass rating - Defense pass rating)

I think you have the gist of how I'm looking at this by now. Passer Rating Differential correlates similarly to point differential. In 2011, the top 6 teams in PRD won 76 games as well. Simply put, if your QB outperforms your opponents' QB, you've got an excellent chance of winning (somewhere around 75%).

Team

Actual

(for/against)

Expected

(for/against)

Corrected

(actual - exp)

Rank

Denver

+23.2

(103.5/80.3)

+1.4

(87.8/86.2)

+21.8

1st

Houston

+11.6

(90.8/79.2)

+2.6

(85.4/82.8)

+9.0

3rd

New

England

+9.1

(97.3/88.2)

-0.5

(81.8/82.3)

+9.6

2nd

Baltimore

+7.6

(88.0/80.4)

+1.1

(87.3/86.2)

+6.5

4th

Cincinnati

+6.3

(88.2/81.9)

+3.7

(87.5/83.8)

+2.6

5th

Indy

-16.4

(75.4/91.8)

+5.8

(86/80.2)

-22.2

6th

We blow away the field in this area. This makes us a favorite against any of these teams IMO. In today's NFL you've got to pass well, and defend the pass, and we are really good at both. New England's achilles heal is their pass defense. Opponents' have an 88.2 passer rating against them, which is almost 6 points higher than their opponents are on average. This gives us an edge against them. Houston has a good passing defense but Schaub is no Manning. We are built to beat teams like NE and Hou.

#3. 3rd Down Differential (Offensive 3rd Down Success % - Allowed 3rd Down Success %)

In 2011, the top six teams in this area won 70 games or 11.7 each. It makes sense, if you can convert 3rd downs better than your opponents, you'll win most of the time.

Team

Actual

(for/against)

Expected

(for/against)

Corrected

(actual - exp)

Rank

Denver

+13.6

(44.3/30.7)

-0.3

(38.2/38.5)

+13.9

1st

New

England

+8.5

(48.6/40.1)

+0.7

(37.2/36.5)

+7.8

2nd

Houston

+6.1

(37.1/31.0)

-0.1

(38.2/38.3)

+6.2

3rd

Indy

+4.0

(41.6/37.6)

+1.4

(38.3/36.9)

+2.6

4th

Baltimore

+1.2

(37.7/36.5)

+0

(38.2/38.2)

+1.2

5th

Cincinnati

-2.0

(34.8/36.8)

+1.4

(38.5/37.1)

-3.4

6th

What can I say? We dominate this area as well. Actually we are first in the NFL by a mile. The best part of it, is that we had the toughest schedule in this area, so we've shut down good opponents all year long defensively.

I'm not sure what's not to like about our current team. If we can keep turnovers to a minimum, we can beat any of these teams IMO. The only area we're iffy is in turnover differential, which is important. Hopefully we can quit putting the ball on the ground in the playoffs.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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