There isn't any one team that is standing head and shoulders above the rest in 2014, according to Football Outsiders and other advanced metric sites. The NFL this season is a beacon of parity, lacking superlatives.
But there are two teams that are separating themselves from the pack - the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, who have 41.3% and 38.5% DVOA respectively. The next closest teams are the Green Bay Packers at 29.3% and Baltimore Ravens at 22.6%, highlighting the dropoff from last year's Super Bowl contenders and the rest of the NFL.
Except this year, through five weeks, the Broncos rank higher than the Seahawks, thanks largely to their No. 1-ranked offensive DVOA and No. 2-ranked defensive DVOA. In both 2012 and 2013, the Seahawks finished tops in DVOA while the Broncos finished second.
Ranking above Seattle is a small piece of retribution through the early part of the season, but after a 43-8 Super Bowl shellacking and an overtime heartbreaker in Week 3, Broncos fans will take it.
If you're not familiar with DVOA, check out Football Outsiders' explanation. It's all about ranking team efficiency, adjusted for the strength of opponent. I've been referencing it on BroncoTalk and Mile High Report for the better part of a decade now.
Denver's rise to the top of DVOA was helped strongly by an impressive Week 5 that saw them dominate a highly-touted and high-ranked Arizona team 41-20. Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas each topped the league this week in Net Expected Points at their positions, a metric measured by NumberFire.com and sent to me from two different readers.
But enough drooling over the Week That Was, as fun as it is. Let's talk Elevated Stats across the AFC West and in Week 6.
This week's Elevated Stats takes the same format as last week's, with one minor-but-significant modification to the PFF grade to include Special Teams. As always, I'll look at the AFC West, as well as this week's Broncos opponent.
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. In a change this week, I added the Special Teams score to the mix, modified by the ratio of special teams plays to offensive/defensive plays (.22) league-wide. Thanks to MHR's resident statistician Topher Doll for helping me with that. 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.
|San Diego Chargers||4-1||.435||15.7%||32.08||-8.6||+6|
|Kansas City Chiefs||2-3||.522||4.9%||-5.69||-22.6||-3|
The Chargers maintain their edge in record, but more importantly, they leapfrogged the Broncos in one of our key metrics - Passer Rating Differential (PRD). They did this despite the Broncos improving in PRD five points from a week ago, showing how good Philip Rivers is this season and how well the Chargers defense stifled Geno Smith and Michael Vick in Week 5. October 23rd is quickly becoming the most highly anticipated AFC West showdown since the 7-2 Broncos and 7-2 Chargers squared off on Sunday Night Football in November 2006, Jake Plummer's 2nd-to-last game.
Now we look at this week's opponent, the New York Jets.
|Broncos Week 6|
|New York Jets||1-4||.500||-23.6%||-41.05||-42.2||-6|
The Broncos dominate the Jets in all categories, which isn't too surprising. When your hometown paper is calling for Tim Tebow, you know you have QB problems and, by extension, football problems.
Let me know what you think of this new series and how it can be improved in the comments!