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Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

14 Oct 2003

Week 6 Team Efficiency Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Here are the team efficiency ratings after Week 6, measured by our proprietary Value Over Average (VOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league averaged based on situation in order to determine value over average.  (Explained further here.)

Moving up: NYJ (from #22 to #12), TEN (from #25 to #18), STL (from #13 to #8), MIA (from #20 to #15)
Moving down: BUF (from #9 to #17), WAS (from #12 to #19), JAC (from #17 to #23), HOU (from #18 to #26)

Offenses generally outperformed defenses in Week 6 by a healthy margin, and no team took advantage of that more than Tampa Bay.  The Bucs pulled ahead of idle Minnesota and back into our top slot thanks to an amazing offensive performance.  Tampa's offense had a Week 6 efficiency rating through the roof (119% VOA!) while their vaunted defense was only average (-2% VOA).  That means that for the season as a whole, their defense is still the best in the league, while their offense is now up to #2.  Yes, they blew a ridiculous lead to the Colts, and yes, they blew the game against the Panthers with special teams mistakes, but Tampa Bay is still the team to beat in 2003.  Early mistakes may deny them a division title, but it isn't hard to imagine them making the Super Bowl out of a wild card slot if the offense continues to match the defense in quality.

As for the team that will likely win the NFC South -- OK, OK, at this point I have to throw up my hands and say that I believe in the Carolina Panthers.  Of course, what I believe is that they are the 2001 Chicago Bears.  How many yards can this defense give up before we admit they are doing it with mirrors?  Look, the running game is great, and the special teams are amazing, but the Panthers clearly have a horseshoe shoved so far up their behinds that they spit iron.  They've won two games in overtime, a third by one point, and a fourth by six points.  Their one convincing win came against Atlanta, a team whose great 2002 defense has apparently been replaced by the cast of "You Can't Do That On Television."  Whatever the Panthers are getting in their Wheaties, the 49ers would like to get some of it, because they can't seem to win a close game to save their lives despite playing well all season long.

Since any conversation of the Panthers has to focus on their amazing 2003 special teams performance, this would be a good time to finally add SPECIAL TEAMS to the VOA formula.  A longer article on the special teams ratings is coming in the future, but here's the short explanation: Field goal ratings are based on how a kicker performs compared to league average for making field goals at each distance.  Kickoff and punt ratings compare plays to league average based on point value of field position at the position of kick, catch, and return.  Punts are based on net value; kickoffs are based on net value for kicking team and return value only for returning team.  Onside kicks are not included.  Another formula then transforms these numbers from points to VOA so the ratings can be added to offense and defense.  Geshundheit.

In general, special teams VOA numbers are about one-third as strong as offense or defense VOA numbers.  Most teams are very close to 0% so adding them doesn't have too much effect on the rankings except on the extremes.  Right now, there are three teams that are getting a major upward bump from the performance of their special teams: Kansas City, Carolina, and this week's shocking upward mover, the New York Jets (more about them in a second).

To give an example of what special teams can do for a team, here is a table showing how many points the special teams have been worth for our top three teams.  Better field position doesn't always mean more scoring, but these numbers show what superior field position would be worth with an average offense and defense.  Of course, you don't need an average offense or defense when Dante Hall is spiking the ball for six.  To give an example of what bad special teams can do for a team, I'll toss in the values for the worst special teams.  Duh, it's the Bungals:

 


TEAM FG/XP PUNTS PUNT RETURNS KICKOFFS KICKOFF RETURNS TOTAL
KAN 1.91 6.29 14.04 8.30 12.51 43.05
CAR 9.05 4.85 0.38 8.28 12.98 35.55
NYJ 2.51 2.26 6.01 7.81 3.79 22.38
CIN 2.19 -7.96 -4.80 5.01 -8.18 -13.74

Kansas City's numbers are higher because they haven't had their bye week yet.  By the way, you may notice that almost all of the special teams VOA ratings are positive.  That's because I am comparing plays to 2002 averages, and special teams this year have performed much better than last year.  However, there seems to be some indication that last year's numbers steadily dropped as the season moved along.  Could it be that special teams perform worse as the weather gets worse?  Further study is required; until then, I have to go with the formula as it stands right now.

Before we go, we have to talk about this business where the New York Jets are ranked #12.  In fact, they are ranked as the top team in their division despite winning just one game.  Believe me, I was as shocked as you are when I ran these numbers and got this result.  It looks like we are still early enough in the season that one game can create a massive change in VOA ratings, and the Jets dismantled Buffalo this week.  On top of that, their previous games were closer than you might think.  Week 2, in particular, saw them lose to Miami despite a higher VOA for that game.  I don't know if the Jets are really this much better than their record -- I doubt it -- but the return of Chad Pennington (our top-rated QB from 2002) could make them a really interesting team in the second half.  Only if they can solve the problem of having a running back who is legally deceased, of course.  I've written an expanded article about this now.

Onto this week's ratings!  The LAST WEEK RANK numbers are based on last week's rankings including special teams, so they'll be a little different from the ranks here

  • Opponent adjustments are at 60% strength.
  • As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
  • All numbers are adjusted for opponent quality except for NON-ADJ TOTAL VOA.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average VOA of past opponents, while FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average VOA of upcoming opponents; a POSITIVE number means the team has played/will play a HARDER schedule, and a NEGATIVE number means that the team has played/will play an EASIER schedule.
  • The PAST SCHEDULE number will differ from the difference between ADJUSTED VOA and NON-ADJ VOA because schedule strength is based on the opponent's total efficiency rating, while opponent adjustments to VOA take into account the situations faced within each specific game.

Here are the ratings through Week 6:
 


TEAM
ADJUSTED
TOTAL VOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOTAL VOA
W-L
OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
OVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
VOA
S.T.
RANK
PAST
SCHED.
FUTURE
SCHED.
1 TAM 46.8% 2 52.9% 3-2 23.7% 3 -24.8% 1 -1.7% 28 -2.5% -7.9%
2 MIN 39.4% 1 51.9% 5-0 24.0% 2 -16.9% 2 -1.5% 26 -13.2% -1.7%
3 SEA 38.1% 4 41.9% 4-1 22.4% 4 -13.8% 4 2.0% 10 -8.2% -4.5%
4 IND 36.5% 3 32.5% 5-1 26.1% 1 -6.7% 11 3.7% 5 1.8% -4.8%
5 KAN 31.4% 6 31.5% 6-0 15.0% 7 -5.2% 13 11.2% 1 -1.3% -1.3%
6 DEN 21.3% 5 26.4% 5-1 12.8% 8 -8.3% 10 0.3% 18 -2.5% 7.0%
7 DAL 19.6% 7 33.1% 4-1 2.5% 15 -16.7% 3 0.5% 17 -18.6% -2.6%
8 STL 16.4% 13 21.1% 3-2 5.9% 13 -10.7% 9 -0.3% 21 -7.0% -1.4%
9 SFO 13.9% 8 13.9% 2-4 9.5% 9 -4.5% 14 -0.1% 20 7.5% -2.3%
10 CLE 13.0% 11 5.5% 3-3 1.3% 16 -13.0% 5 -1.3% 24 6.6% 2.0%
11 GNB 10.5% 10 13.4% 3-3 18.8% 5 11.0% 24 2.7% 8 -0.9% 4.6%
12 NYJ 7.9% 22 3.7% 1-4 8.9% 10 8.0% 22 7.0% 3 4.2% -0.3%
13 PIT 5.3% 16 4.3% 2-4 -4.5% 18 -11.6% 8 -1.9% 29 7.2% 0.0%
14 OAK 4.5% 14 7.9% 2-4 8.2% 12 6.9% 21 3.2% 7 -7.2% 9.9%
15 MIA 1.4% 20 5.5% 4-1 -9.4% 25 -12.4% 6 -1.6% 27 -5.8% 2.1%
16 NWE 1.2% 19 6.7% 4-2 -2.7% 17 -2.9% 15 1.0% 15 -2.4% 7.0%
TEAM
ADJUSTED
TOTAL VOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOTAL VOA
W-L
OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
OVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
VOA
S.T.
RANK
PAST
SCHED.
FUTURE
SCHED.
17 BUF 1.1% 9 2.9% 3-3 -7.0% 23 -6.4% 12 1.6% 12 -5.3% 7.0%
18 TEN -1.9% 25 -2.5% 4-2 18.2% 6 19.4% 29 -0.8% 22 0.0% 1.5%
19 WAS -2.1% 12 1.2% 3-3 8.6% 11 11.9% 25 1.2% 14 1.3% -1.4%
20 CAR -4.6% 24 -9.0% 5-0 -6.0% 22 9.7% 23 11.1% 2 2.5% -9.8%
21 NYG -5.7% 15 -12.7% 2-3 -5.7% 21 -2.2% 17 -2.3% 30 7.3% 2.1%
22 BAL -6.1% 23 -0.8% 3-2 -20.3% 30 -12.3% 7 1.9% 11 -4.7% 6.5%
23 JAC -13.5% 17 -8.5% 1-5 -5.0% 19 4.4% 19 -4.2% 31 -0.7% 0.6%
24 PHI -13.9% 26 -22.9% 2-3 -17.2% 29 -2.7% 16 0.6% 16 13.3% -2.0%
25 CIN -14.6% 21 -16.7% 1-4 -5.2% 20 5.2% 20 -4.3% 32 9.0% 1.3%
26 HOU -18.6% 18 -18.4% 2-3 -16.8% 28 3.1% 18 1.3% 13 -2.3% 6.1%
27 SDG -20.2% 29 -24.7% 0-5 3.8% 14 23.2% 31 -0.8% 23 7.5% 4.6%
28 DET -21.4% 28 -27.7% 1-4 -11.2% 26 14.3% 27 4.1% 4 6.5% 4.9%
29 ATL -28.7% 27 -42.4% 1-5 -16.7% 27 14.0% 26 2.0% 9 19.3% -3.3%
30 NOR -28.9% 30 -28.3% 2-4 -9.1% 24 20.0% 30 0.2% 19 1.5% -2.5%
31 CHI -40.4% 31 -45.6% 1-4 -24.8% 32 19.2% 28 3.6% 6 7.9% 3.6%
32 ARI -52.7% 32 -59.6% 1-5 -24.6% 31 26.6% 32 -1.4% 25 9.5% 8.0%

PREVIOUS WEEKS:

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 14 Oct 2003

2 comments, Last at 12 Nov 2005, 8:01am by Michael David Smith

Comments

1
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 7:25pm

"Whatever the Panthers are getting in their Wheaties..."

I think they were taking their Wheaties by syringe that year. And yes, I love commenting on 2-year-old threads.

2
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/12/2005 - 8:01am

Hi, Trogdor. I love commenting on two-year-old threads, too.