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Elevated Stats: Has the Broncos' schedule been soft?

Broncos opponents have a combined 1-8 record, putting them in last place in our table in Strength of Schedule, one of our Elevated Stats.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have knocked off three playoff teams from 2013-2014 in order to reach their 3-0 record. But each of those teams look like shells of their former selves through three weeks of 2015.

Denver's opponents to date have a combined 1-8 record (.111); if you exclude games against the Broncos they boast a 1-5 record (.167). The Baltimore Ravens have gone winless, including a loss to the Broncos in Week 1; the Chiefs won their opening matchup but then fell to the Broncos and Packers in Weeks 2 and 3; the Lions have started the season 0-3. While it's still very early in the season, and these teams will undoubtedly find strings of wins as the season moves along, it's sobering to see Denver's perfect record tainted somewhat by the underwhelming competition.

Fans can take some solace in the DVOA of the opponents the Broncos have faced - Baltimore is ranked 20th, Kansas City 21st, and Detroit 23rd in DVOA. While that's by no means elite competition, it does paint a picture that the Broncos have faced teams ranked in the middle of the league rather than bottom-dwellers.

Compare that to Arizona, who leads the league with 76.4% DVOA but has faced teams also boasting a 1-8 record. Arizona's opponents rank 29th, 31st, and 32nd in DVOA.

Next week, Football Outsiders will start filtering in opponent adjustments, so we'll get a better idea of how the Broncos stack up compared to the competition they've faced. But for now, it's worth finding optimism in Denver's 3-0 record while maintaining a modicum of caution since the competition they've faced hasn't been stiff.

A new Elevated Stat

Gone are PFF grades - just in time, it would seem, as the NFL world is rightfully up-in-arms over their brutal negative grade of Aaron Rodgers after he threw five touchdowns in torching the Chiefs. We've received access to a media preview of PFF's new tool, PFF ratings, and they don't lend themselves to an apples-to-apples team comparison that we can really deploy for Elevated Stats. So bye-bye for now, PFF; if you come up with a team grade or format we can use, we may welcome you back. (Check out Scotty Payne's weekly In Focus article for notes on PFF).

Welcome's Simple Rating System! SRS is based on every team's point margin, and PFR suggests you can take Team A's SRS and compare it to Team B's SRS to come up with an expected point spread (with two points being given for home field advantage). In PFR's own words: every team's rating is their average point margin, adjusted up or down depending on the strength of their opponents. Thus an average team would have a rating of zero. SRS requires calculating a 32x32 matrix to resolve, which means math, which means we find it pretty cool.

We also considered FiveThirtyEight's Elo ratings, but we continue to exclude them for two reasons: first, there's something that doesn't feel right about including performances from years past, even weighted down. Second, FiveThirtyEight don't release Elo ratings until Wednesdays, and we aim to have our Elevated Stats published by then.

Elevated Stats, Week 4

While stats don't tell the whole story, our Elevated Stats from 5,280 feet aim to give you a Mile-High perspective on the Denver Broncos and the NFL by covering all the bases. As always, here are your explanations for the analytics used in Elevated Stats. In the future, we may refer to this post instead of posting this glossary each time.

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. Note: technically this metric is just "VOA" for now, as Football Outsiders' does not incorporate defensive adjustments until after Week 3.

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.

SRS: Simple Rating System.'s go-to statistic takes a team's points and compares them to their opponents' points. It takes no other metrics into account. An average SRS is zero. There are strengths and weaknesses to this approach (such as a 44-20 win being considered "better" than a 20-0 win, which it isn't), which are covered nicely in PFR's guide on SRS here.

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

Elevated Stats: AFC Week 4
New England Patriots 3-0 .556 47.2% 29.47 21.1 +3
Cincinnati Bengals 3-0 .333 36.0% 26.28 2.6 +2
Denver Broncos 3-0 .111 23.0% 25.24 0.1 +6
Oakland Raiders 2-1 .444 5.1% 0.57 -5.5 0
New York Jets 2-1 .333 18.5% 11.97 13.3 +5
Kansas City Chiefs 1-2 .778 -13.9% -15.48 -5.8 -3
Indianapolis Colts 1-2 .556 -14.8% -30.07 2.0 -7
San Diego Chargers 1-2 .556 -18.5% 16.75 -13.0 -3

AFC observations

  • Last week, Football Outsiders said the Broncos won't remain 48% better than the average NFL defense through the season, and they were right. Denver is still first in defensive DVOA but fell to -39.6%.
  • SRS suggests the Broncos are pretty close to an average team.
  • Turnover ratio suggest that defense is pretty special. They're 2nd in the league to the Jets with 10 takeaways, but the offense has surrendered fewer turnovers than New York to give the Broncos a better TO ratio.
  • This is the first time the Oakland Raiders have a positive DVOA that I can remember in a long while. Derek Carr and his young offensive specialist tandem are coming along for the Raiders so far this season.
  • The Patriots look like they'll be a tough out, even if the Broncos play them at home this year.
Elevated Stats: Head-to-head Week 4
Denver Broncos 3-0 .111 26.3% 29.1 0.1 +5
Minnesota Vikings 2-1 .222 0.7% -5.35 -10.7 +3

Head-to-head observations

  • Neither the Vikings nor Broncos have faced very stiff competition to date, although both may be suffering from small sample sizes. Like Denver's, Minnesota's opponents have each been pretty good in recent years (San Francisco, Detroit and San Diego).
  • Minnesota's 3.0% offensive DVOA is the toughest the Broncos defense has faced to date, ranked 13th in the league.
  • While Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing yards, he is 14th in DYAR and 19th in DVOA among running backs.

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