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Elevated Stats: Broncos still Super Bowl favorites

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All is not lost, Broncos fans; just Week 9.

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Jim Rogash

The Denver Broncos lost thoroughly against the New England Patriots, but one game does not a season make, and the Broncos are still statistically considered the best team in the NFL in many regards.

The Broncos dropped from a first-place 47.6% DVOA to a first-place 36.9% DVOA; they're no longer in the "greatest team of all time" discussion, but they're still clearly the NFL's best so far this year.  They fell from a first-place 36.26 Passer Rating Differential to a second-place 27.02 PRD (behind the Packers at 28.19).

Furthermore, they're still the Super Bowl favorites according to Football Outsiders, and also according to Vegas, for what that's worth.

If you'd like to dig deeper into Denver's Week 9 loss to New England, Football Outsiders has it in their "Any Given Sunday" feature, which weekly breaks down a game where a lesser-DVOA team beats the higher-DVOA team. The Patriots' coverages on Denver's 3rd downs are broken down in the first half there, an interesting exercise that showed this game wasn't so much Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning as it was Bill Belichick vs. Manning. If only the Broncos had a Belichick-like defensive coach on their sideline, eh?

On to this week's Elevated Stats.

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, respectively. 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 consideredthe "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. I added them up, with a .022 weight for special teams (the ratio of those plays compared to offensive/defensive plays across the league), to get these scores. Check out PFF here.

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

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AFC West
Team Record SOS DVOA PRD PFF TO
Denver Broncos 6-2 .588 36.9% 27.02 63.58 +3
Kansas City Chiefs 5-3 .493 12.8% 3.59 -10.9 -2
San Diego Chargers 5-4 .473 -2.3% 4.40 -86.70 0
Oakland Raiders 0-8 .574 -21.3% -24.69 -93.15 -8

How quickly have things fallen apart for the Chargers? Three weeks ago, Philip Rivers was in the thick of the MVP discussion, and San Diego was competing with Denver in many of our Elevated Statistical categories. The big dropoff that stands out is in turnvoer ratio; after leading the division the entire season, peaking at a +7, they've suffered a -7 turnover ratio during their losing streak, succumbing the second spot in the division to the quietly winning Chiefs.

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AFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Record SOS DVOA PRD PFF TO
1 New England Patriots 7-2 .466 14.0% 19.07 -30.35 +12
2 Denver Broncos 6-2 .588 36.9% 27.02 63.58 +3
3 Cincinnati Bengals 5-2-1 .450 6.1% 14.99 -46.32 +4
4 Indianapolis Colts 6-3 .507 13.8% 8.46 10.25 +2
5 Pittsburgh Steelers 5-3 .455 13.5% 20.43 24.49 +2
6 Kansas City Chiefs 5-3 .493 12.8% 3.59 -10.9 -2
- Cleveland Browns 5-3 .368 -4.6% 9.48 10.69 +7
- Buffalo Bills 5-3 .507 4.1% 12.81 -49.35 +7

A handful of thoughts and observations:

  • DVOA doesn't always match up with win-loss record, especially early on in the NFL. The AFC is a perfect case-in-point. The Patriots put a wallop on the higher-ranked Broncos last week, but also, the next two highest rated AFC teams in terms of DVOA aren't in the playoff picture at all. The Baltimore Ravens (23.0%) and Miami Dolphins (19.8%) are 2nd and 3rd in the entire NFL in DVOA but fail to crack the top 8 in record in the AFC.
  • Turnovers are the great equalizer; see Cleveland, Buffalo, Wes Welker.
  • The Broncos have had the toughest schedule in the AFC to date. That will change drastically as their schedule eases up in the second half.

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Broncos Week 10
Team Record SOS DVOA PRD PFF TO
Denver Broncos 6-2 .588 36.9% 27.02 63.58 +3
Oakland Raiders 0-8 .574 -21.3% -24.69 -93.15 -8

Statistically, this should be a blowout, although: 1. You can't ever overlook a division opponent on the road, and 2. The Raiders have made it tough for some good teams this year.

Have something to add to our Elevated Stats? Hit us up in the comments!