It was great while it lasted, Denver Broncos fans. Wearing the crown of "#1 in DVOA" was a perk and a promise - a bragging right in our back pocket when fans of other teams came-a-knocking, and a ticket to cash when playoff doubters came around. It represented the potential of this Broncos team to "truly" be No. 1 this year. It was also a little bit of a stick-it to our frenemies at Field Gulls, who have been hanging their hats on Football Outsiders' rankings for some time.
Now they're sticking it to us. The Seahawks are No. 1 in DVOA overall in 2014 after the Broncos enjoyed the seat from Week 5 through Week 16, thanks in large part to the Broncos' slipping of late. That slippage also explains how the Broncos have fallen to 4th in Weighted DVOA, which favors recent games more heavily than games earlier in the year.
It's the third straight year the Seahawks have finished No. 1 in DVOA and the Broncos have finished No. 2. Football Outsiders expands upon how good Seattle looks right now.
Seattle now looks like the best team in the league whether you are asking about the short term (recent weeks), medium term (the full 2014 season), or long term (since 2012). It's been a remarkable run of quality football.
The bright side: when I first introduced Elevated Stats, I talked about how stats and metrics are just part of the picture. I liked the analogy I saw in MHR's comments the other day - stats frame the picture; they don't paint it. So while the Broncos are the fourth-hottest team right now and the second best team overall in 2014, that doesn't mean anything at all once the pads come on. The only thing it truly impacts is our expectations coming into any given game, or in this case, the playoffs.
Let's look at how the rest of the AFC measures up in our Elevated Stats, complete through the 2014 season. Next week and moving forward, we'll break down the Final Eight teams across both Conferences.
Elevated Stats 2014
As always, here are your explanations for the statistics used in Elevated Stats, our Mile High look at analytics from around the web.
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 considered the "Mother of all Stats" at Cold Hard Football Facts.
PFF: ProFootballFocus Weighted 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.
|1||New England Patriots||12-4||.514||22.4%||13.56||40.9||+12|
As far as the AFC playoffs go, Broncos are #1 in record, strength of schedule, DVOA, passer rating differential, and weighted cumulative PFF grade. Those are a lot of reasons for optimism in Broncos Country.
Later this week, I'll look at the Broncos' Super Bowl odds based on DVOA, Elo, and other metrics, and take a closer look at whom they're most likely to play in the Divisional Round.