13 Dec 2012
I got this question over the Twitter:
hansen9j: What's the source of Tampa's ridiculously high ST hidden points (28, 17 more than second)? Baltimore's -18.7 is crazy too.
Hidden points, for those who don't know, are the elements of special teams that aren't contained in our main special teams ratings, because either the team has no control over them or these plays (such as blocked punts and field goals) are generally non-predictive. Hidden points include the value of field goals by the opponent, kickoff distance by the opponent, and punt distance by the opponent. You'll find them listed on the special teams page.
For those asking, yes, sometimes a team does have a little control over the "Hidden" number. Even though we try to account for teams that kick short to avoid good returners, you will sometimes see a team like the Bears show up with a lot of Hidden points because of how other teams kick against them. It's also up for debate whether Calais Campbell has super-special kick-blocking powers.
Anyway, yes, Tampa Bay is so far ahead of everyone else in Hidden points that it is a little astonishing. The Bucs are only 29th in special teams DVOA but if we included hidden value, they would be 13th. What's up? Well, opposing kickers have hit just 16 of 25 field goals, including that ridiculous 22-yard miss by Matt Bryant in Week 12 and three misses when Billy Cundiff was still with Washington in Week 4. By our numbers, opposing kickers have been worth -15.6 points against Tampa Bay on field goals. No other team is below -6.9 points. The other issue is punts, where Tampa Bay has two blocked punts and has taken advantage of some really short punts like Chris Kluwe kicking only 20 yards from his own 38 and Dustin Colquitt kicking only 21 yards from his own 19.
The leader on the other side is indeed Baltimore, which is a bit odd since the Ravens have the best special teams in the league otherwise. However, the Ravens can't control that opposing field-goal kickers have gone 32-for-33 against them, with the only miss by Dan Bailey of the Cowboys from 51 yards. Phil Dawson of Cleveland hit three 50+-yarders against the Ravens in Week 4. The Ravens have also faced a lot of long punts, and the shorter punts against them have generally come when the punter was already past the 50. We estimate that opposition punt distance against Baltimore has been worth 5.1 points more than average.
8 comments, Last at 14 Dec 2012, 2:34pm by tuluse
Minor weaknesses dot these teams. Except for Arizona, which needs to bring in more help to really run Bruce Arians' offense.