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Elevated Stats: A Mile High look at the NFL and the AFC West

Introducing "Elevated Stats", a weekly examination of how the Broncos fare in key and advanced metrics around the web compared to the rest of the AFC West.

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Justin Edmonds

Stats don't tell the whole story, but a bunch of them tells a bunch of the story. And advanced metrics are increasing our understanding of the game of football every day.

With that in mind, we introduce Elevated Stats, a view of the NFL intended to transcend the usual yardage chatter. We collected "advanced metrics" from Football Outsiders, Cold Hard Football Facts, Pro Football Focus, and some additional stats via ESPN to paint an elevated statistical picture of the AFC West as well as the Broncos' next opponent each week.

Here are our Elevated Stats explained -

Record. Wins and losses. There isn't a more important "statistic" in football.

SOS: Strength of Schedule. The collective winning percentage of a team's opponents so far. Gathered from ESPN.

DVOA: Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. Football Outsiders' prized statistic, DVOA, measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. It's a beast; the Seahawks and Broncos were #1 and #2 in DVOA last year. DVOA explained fully here.

PRD: Passer Rating Differential. This is simply the difference between a team's Offensive Passer Rating and its Defensive Passer Rating (the collective passer rating of QBs in games played against the team). While it seems overly simple, in this quarterback-driven league, Passer Rating Differential actually has an incredibly high Correlation to Victory and is considered the "Mother of all Stats" at Cold Hard Football Facts.

PFF: ProFootballFocus Cumulative Grades. ProFootballFocus assigns a grade to every player on every play, and then accumulates those grades into a team total. We add the offensive and defensive cumulative grades together to come up with this score. Check out PFF here.

TO: Turnover Ratio. Finally, another common, simple, but all-important measurement: turnover ratio. Gathered from ESPN.

Without further adieu, let's take an elevated look at the AFC West.

AFC West
San Diego Chargers 3-1 .500 7.8% 18.34 -5.5 +5
Denver Broncos 2-1 .545 30.3% 21.77 5.2 +1
Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 .500 2.3% -4.50 -10.3 -2
Oakland Raiders 0-4 .500 -33.9% -30.92 -49.5 -3

The Chargers have the edge in record, but the Broncos have had a tougher schedule and grade out better across the board. Denver's 30.3% DVOA ranks 3rd in the NFL (behind the Bengals and Seahawks), while the Chargers are slotted 12th. Despite Philip Rivers' "MVP-like" performance to date, Football Outsiders recognizes that he's done a lot of that against crap competition. They have a 4.5% offensive DVOA compared to Denver's 19.7%.

Now we look at this week's opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.

Week 5
Arizona Cardinals 3-0 .583 16.1% 5.48 -42.2 +2
Denver Broncos 2-1 .545 30.3% 21.77 5.2 +1

The stat that jumps out here is the ridiculously low -42.2 from PFF. We understand that PFF grading is a subjective process, but we still see a correlation between team grades and wins (for example, the Broncos and Seahawks were top two a year ago, only considering regular season games). Still, it's odd to see Cardinals grading so low across the team and still winning. The viability of this (and all metrics) will continue to be evaluated as we elevate stats moving forward.

Let us know what you think of this new series and how we can improve it in the comments!