NFL Team Statistical Rankings: Week 12

First I will list the raw statistical rankings, then the rankings with strength of schedule factored in.

As a reminder, the raw rankings take into account the following:

  • Point differential, Yards per play, Passing offense, Passing defense, Rushing offense, Rushing defense, Scoring offense, Scoring defense, Turnover margin.

Here they are:

  1. Saints (7.3): The Saints are the most complete team in the league right now according to the statistics. The only thing they’re below-average at is passing offense, where they rank 20th. Yards per play they’re about average, ranking 16th. Everything else they’re in not only the top 10 but mostly the top 5. If there was one thing I’d be worried about with the Saints, it would absolutely be their passing game. Even once they get Drew Brees back, they’re not an explosive passing team. They’ve been able to get by due to the strength of their defense and running game, but it could get them into trouble down the road. However, their passing game is at least somewhat effective. It’s not as if they’re totally one-dimensional on offense.
  2. Chiefs (8.0): They are not as complete as the Saints. They have a few categories where they’re below average: pass defense (ranked 16th), rush defense (23rd) and rushing offense (18th). But they’re #1 in yards per play, #2 in scoring offense, #1 in passing offense, #6 in scoring defense, #2 in point differential, and #3 in turnover margin. Their offense is so good it makes up for their below-average defense. Plus, while they let up a lot of yards on defense, they don’t let up a lot of points.
  3. Steelers (9.2): The Steelers are elite in a lot of categories: #1 in point differential, #1 in pass defense, #1 in scoring defense, and #1 in turnover margin, #6 in scoring offense and #8 in run defense. However, they only rank 16th in passing offense, 25th in rushing offense, and 24th in yards per play. They’re elite on defense, but below-average on offense–however, they still manage to score a lot of points. And isn’t that the whole point of offense?
  4. Packers (9.6): Green Bay ranks #1 in scoring offense, #4 in yards per play, #6 in passing offense and #6 in point differential. They’re still ranked 10th in rushing offense. But their defense is just average, ranking 19th in scoring, 14th in run defense and 15th in passing defense.
  5. Rams (9.8): The Rams are a pretty complete team. The only things they’re below average in are points per game (19th) and turnover margin (18th). They’re not bad on offense, but they’re also not elite, ranking 11th in passing offense and 9th in rushing offense, and 11th in yards per play. And as we just saw they’re only 19th in scoring offense. However, they are elite on defense, ranking 3rd in pass defense, 4th in run defense and 4th in scoring defense.
  6. Colts (10.1): The statistical rankings still like the Colts, and this is mainly because of their defense which is still ranked fairly highly. They’re ranked 6th against the pass and 7th against the run, and 9th in scoring defense. They’re also 10th in passing offense, but just 22nd in run offense. Their rushing offense is the only category the Colts are below-average in.
  7. Cardinals (12.0): They’re 4th in rushing offense, 8th in points scored, and 7th in yards per play. And they’re 10th in point differential. Those are their best categories. Defense is mediocre: 13th against the pass and 22nd against the run, but 14th in points against. They’re 15th in TO margin.
  8. Ravens (12.2): 31st in passing offense, 3rd in rushing offense. 15th in scoring offense, 3rd in scoring defense. 21st in yards per play, 5th in point differential. They’re also 9th in pass defense and 12th in run defense. The Ravens are good on defense, but their passing game is terrible.
  9. Seahawks (12.2): The Seahawks might be the anti-Ravens. They’re great at passing (4th) but have the worst pass defense in the league. However, they have the 3rd ranked run defense (maybe because teams just throw on their horrible secondary and don’t waste time running?). 3rd in points scored, 5th in yards per play, but allow the 7th most points on defense.
  10. Bucs (12.3): #1 run defense, but #24 pass defense. #7 point differential with 7th most points scored and 13th fewest points allowed. 9th in passing offense but 28th in rushing offense. 13th in yards per play, and 9th in turnover margin. Their two weaknesses are defending the pass and running the ball.
  11. Titans (12.6): They’re not highly ranked in much, yet they’re 8-3. 28th in passing defense, 17th in run defense, 20th in points allowed, 22nd in passing offense. Those are all the things they’re bad at. Now for the good: 2nd in rushing offense, 5th in points scored, 6th in yards per play, 2nd in turnover margin, 11th in point differential.
  12. 49ers (14.1): Probably the first real surprise here outside of maybe the Cardinals. But they’re 4th in pass defense, 10th in run defense, 11th in points allowed, 12th in passing offense (somehow), 16th in rushing offense and 15th in both point differential and yards per play. The only categories they’re bad in are TO margin (24th) and points scored (20th).
  13. Browns (14.8): #1 rushing offense and the #9 rushing defense, plus #9 in yards per play and #6 in turnover margin. But 30th in passing offense, 20th in passing defense, 21st in points allowed and 18th in points scored. Need to see more balance out of them.
  14. Falcons (14.8): Somewhat of a surprise to see this team ranked 14th. But they rank 6th in run defense, 5th in passing offense, 6th in turnover margin, 11th in scoring offense and 14th in point differential. But they’re 31st in pass defense and 23rd in rushing offense, as well as 20th in yards per play. But those are really the only bad categories they have. Everything else they’re either good or average. Despite how bad they started, they actually have a positive point differential now, which ranks 14th in the league. The Falcons aren’t as bad as people think, although I don’t think they’re the 14th best team in the league. I think this ranking is a little high.
  15. Bills (15.0): Maybe the most under-ranked good team, the problem with the Bills is that they’re only great in a few categories: 7th in passing, 8th in yards per play, 10th in scoring offense, 13th in point differential and 15th in TO margin. On defense, they’re 18th against the pass and 25th against the run, and 18th in scoring defense. The best thing they have going for them is their passing game but even that is not the best passing offense in the league. So that’s why they aren’t treated well by the statistical rankings. There are teams out there that are build kinda similar to the Bills but do everything better than the Bills do, like Kansas City and Green Bay.
  16. Chargers (15.3): 2nd in passing offense with Justin Herbert at the helm, and a respectable 11th in rushing offense. However, they’re only 16th in scoring offense and 18th in yards per play. They’re 25th in points allowed despite being respectable on defense: 10th against the pass and 18th against the run. This is the Chargers in a nutshell: a good team that somehow loses all the time.
  17. Panthers (16.0): The Panthers are the most consistently average team in the league, I think. 21st in pass defense, 16th in run defense, 14th in passing offense and 20th in rushing offense. 15th in scoring defense, 21st in scoring offense. Best categories: 9th in turnover margin, 10th in yards-per-play.
  18. Dolphins (16.4): Somehow this team is 7-4 despite ranking 17th against the pass, 26th against the run, 25th in passing offense, 30th in rushing offense and 25th in yards per play. They don’t do anything well, really. Except hold their opponents to field goals: they rank 2nd in scoring defense somehow, and 14th in scoring despite being horribly ranked in both rushing and passing. They’ve got the 5th best turnover margin and the 4th-best point differential. The Dolphins don’t make sense.
  19. Vikings (17.0): 6th in rushing, 2nd in yards per play, 17th in passing offense, and 13th in scoring offense. But 27th in scoring defense, 25th against the pass and only 19th against the run. Their defense is the weakness.
  20. Washington (17.7): 2nd-ranked passing defense in the league. 7th in points allowed. 15th in rushing defense. But their offensive ranks are very low.
  21. Patriots (18.2): 5th in rushing offense. 12th in points allowed. 29th in passing offense, 27th in points scored. Yep, sounds like the Patriots this year.
  22. Raiders (18.2): 8th in rushing offense, 12th in scoring offense, 12th in yards per play, 13th in run defense. But 27th against the pass, 28th in points allowed, 19th in passing offense and 23rd in TO margin.
  23. Giants (19.2): 5th in run defense, 10th in scoring defense. 28th in passing offense, 30th in scoring offense, and 28th in yards per play.
  24. Texans (19.4): 3rd ranked passing offense, 3rd in yards per play. But 31st against the run, 31st in rushing, 23rd against the pass.
  25. Eagles (22.0): 8th in pass defense, 13th in rushing offense. Garbage in pretty much everything else.
  26. Bears (22.8): 8th in scoring defense, 11th in passing defense. But 23rd in passing offense, dead last in rushing offense, 29th in scoring offense and 31st in yards per play. Oh, and 27th in turnover margin. And 24th in point differential.
  27. Cowboys (23.1): 8th ranked passing offense, 12th ranked passing defense, really bad everywhere else.
  28. Lions (23.9): 13th ranked in passing offense, terrible in everything else.
  29. Broncos (24.0): They’re 7th-ranked in pass defense and 14th ranked in rushing offense but really bad in just about every other category.
  30. Bengals (25.7): They’re 18th in passing offense but putrid in everything else.
  31. Jaguars (26.6): Best category is ranking 21st in passing offense.
  32. Jets (26.8): The only thing the Jets do even remotely well is run defense. They’re 11th-ranked in the league there. Everything else is horrible.

Now for the statistical rankings with strength of schedule factored in. These rankings take into account all nine of the above statistical categories plus strength of schedule. The stock charts and arrows indicate if a team rose, fell or stayed the same relative to their raw rankings above:

  1. ↔ Saints (8.9): Even with their 23rd-ranked strength of schedule factored in, the Saints still come in as the #1 team in the league.
  2. ↔ Chiefs (10.0): Nor were the Chiefs affected by having the 5th-weakest schedule.
  3. 📈 Rams (10.7): The Rams actually move up 2 spots from their raw ranking due to their19th-ranked schedule.
  4. ↔ Packers (11.0): The Packers remain at #4. Their schedule is ranked 24th overall, or 9th easiest.
  5. 📈 Ravens (11.1): The Ravens benefit the most from factoring in strength of schedule. They’ve played the hardest schedule in the league to date in terms of opponent winning percentage (current, not at the time they played), but this could be skewed by them playing the Steelers twice already. I do not by any stretch think the Ravens are the 5th best team in the league, but I do believe they’ve been unfairly knocked for losing some games, while nobody ever talks about them having the hardest schedule in the league.
  6. 📉Steelers (11.4): Steelers fall 3 spots for having the second-easiest schedule in the league. I think they’re better than the 6, but I don’t know if I buy them as the best team in the league, as I’ve said in the power rankings.
  7. 📉 Colts (11.5): The Colts fall a spot. They’ve got the 24th-ranked schedule.
  8. 📈 Bucs (11.8): Bucs move up 2 spots. They’ve lost 5 times, and four of those losses came to the Saints (twice), the Chiefs, and the Rams. They’ve beaten the Packers. 7th-most difficult schedule in the league.
  9. ↔ Seahawks (12.8): No change for Seattle. 18th-ranked schedule.
  10. 📈 Titans (12.9): Titans move up a spot. 16th-ranked schedule.
  11. 📉 Cardinals (13.4): The Cardinals drop 4 spots, from 7 to 11, once you factor in SoS. Cardinals have the 26th-ranked schedule.
  12. ↔ 49ers (13.6): The Niners stay in 12th even when adjusting for SoS. 9th-hardest schedule.
  13. 📈 Bills (15.2): Bills move up 2 spots. 17th-hardest schedule.
  14. ↔ Falcons (15.2): No change for Falcons, who have had the 19th-ranked schedule.
  15. 📈 Panthers (15.7): Panthers move up 2 spots. 13th-toughest schedule.
  16. ↔ Chargers (15.9): No change for Chargers. They’ve played the 21st-ranked schedule, which I think should count against them because their record is terrible despite not that tough a schedule thus far. This is a potential flaw for the SoS-adjustment: it doesn’t take record into account. So a team like the Chargers that has played an easier-than-average schedule but is still 3-8 doesn’t get punished for that.
  17. 📉 Browns (16.3): Browns plunge 4 spots for having the 30th-ranked schedule.
  18. 📈 Raiders (16.6): Raiders go up 4 spots for playing the 2nd-toughest schedule.
  19. ↔ Vikings (16.8): No change for the Vikings. 15th-ranked schedule.
  20. 📈 Patriots (17.5): Pats move up a spot. 11th-hardest schedule.
  21. 📉 Dolphins (18.0): Dolphins fall three spots for having the easiest schedule in the NFL.
  22. 📈 Texans (18.0): Texans go up 2 spots. 5th-hardest schedule.
  23. 📉 Washington (18.8): The Football Team drops three spots for having the 4th-easiest schedule.
  24. 📉 Giants (20.0): Giants drop a spot. 27th-ranked schedule.
  25. ↔ Eagles (21.2): No change for Philly. 14th-hardest schedule.
  26. ↔ Bears (21.2): No change. 7th-hardest schedule (tied with Tampa for 7th hardest; .545 opponent winning percentage for both teams).
  27. ↔ Cowboys (21.7): No change. 9th-hardest schedule.
  28. 📈 Broncos (22.0): Up one spot. 4th-hardest schedule.
  29. 📉 Lions (23.7): Down one spot. 22nd-ranked schedule.
  30. ↔ Bengals (24.3): No change. 12th-ranked schedule.
  31. 📈 Jets (24.4): Up one. 3rd-hardest schedule.
  32. 📉 Jaguars (24.5): Down one. 6th-hardest schedule.

UPDATE: I was thinking a bit about how in the SoS-adjusted rankings, I had no way of knocking the Chargers for only having three wins despite playing the 21st-hardest schedule in the league. So I have decided to include the “strength of victory’ (SoV) statistic to the rankings. All this stat measures is the combined winning percentages of the teams you’ve beaten. In other words, you take all the teams you’ve beaten and average out their winning percentages. That’s SoV.

Now, there is a slight issue with the SoV statistic: it only takes into account games a team has won, it doesn’t take into account how many wins a team actually has. Thus the Jacksonville Jaguars rank #1 in the league in strength of victory because their lone victory this season, which came in week 1, was over the 7-4 Colts. So the Jags’ SoV is .636, tops in the league, because that’s the Colts’ winning percentage: .636. But say the Jags had won their week 4 matchup with the Bengals (they lost 33-25)–it would have resulted in their SoV dropping from .636 to .432.

So SoV is not a perfect statistic. It’s inherently flawed because of situations like we just went over with the Jaguars.

That said, the NFL does value SoV. It is 5th in the list of tiebreakers the league uses to determine playoff seeding between teams with the same record. If two teams are somehow tied in head-to-head record, division record, common opponent record and conference record, the tie is broken by way of comparing SoV.

I will include SoV in the adjusted statistical rankings going forward. It gives us a way to account for not only how many good teams you’ve played, but how many good teams you’ve beaten. And that’s an important data point to factor into the rankings.

Here’s the SoS-adjusted statistical rankings with SoV factored in:

  1. Saints (9.0): Ranked 10th in SoV.
  2. Chiefs (10.3): Ranked 13th in SoV.
  3. Rams (10.3): Ranked 6th in SoV. The Rams were 3rd in the SoS-adjusted rankings, but now with SoV factored in they’re tied for 2nd with the Chiefs for #2 in the league. I don’t agree that the Rams are even with the Chiefs, but that’s just me.
  4. Ravens (10.7): The Ravens move up from 5 to 4 due to having the 4th-best SoV. I don’t think the Ravens are the 4th best team in the league, though.
  5. Packers (11.2): 13th in SoV. Adding in SoV caused the Ravens and Packers to flip flop. The main difference between these two teams, statistically, is that the Ravens have played the hardest schedule in the league while the Packers have played the 9th-easiest schedule.
  6. Colts (11.4): 10th in SoV. Another ranking I disagree with, but the thing is, just because I personally don’t agree with the statistical rankings doesn’t mean they’re wrong. I could be the one who’s wrong.
  7. Steelers (11.9): SoV caused the Colts and Steelers to flip flop. The Steelers are 11-0 but have the 17th-ranked SoV. To be sure, the Steelers have played an easy schedule. But as we went over above, the inherent flaw with SoV is that it doesn’t take into account how many wins a team has. So if you’re like the Steelers and have 11 wins already, you inevitably have wins over some bad teams (purely by virtue of the fact that it’s impossible for any team to not have bad teams on their schedule) and that is going to lower your SoV. Beating bad teams lowers your SoV, while losing to bad teams doesn’t. Again, the statistic is inherently flawed. Perhaps a way to fix this is to add in yet another statistic: strength of losses, which would be the combined winning percentages of the teams you’ve lost to. However, I can’t find any website that tracks the strength of losses statistic, so I’ll have to compile it myself and that will take a while. So I’ll factor this in for next week’s statistical rankings.
  8. Titans (12.0): #3 in SoV.
  9. Bucs (12.1): #15 in SoV.
  10. Seahawks (12.4): #8 in SoV.
  11. Cardinals (13.0): Ranked 9th in SoV.
  12. 49ers (13.7): #15 in SoV.
  13. Falcons (14.7): #10 in SoV.
  14. Raiders (15.3): #2 in SoV, mainly a result of their win over the 10-1 Chiefs.
  15. Bills (15.5): #18 in SoV.
  16. Vikings (15.7): #5 in SoV.
  17. Patriots (16.2): #3 in SoV.
  18. Panthers (16.3): #22 in SoV.
  19. Browns (17.3): #27 in SoV.
  20. Chargers (17.3): #31 in SoV. There we go. Adding in SoV dropped the Chargers 3 spots into a tie with Cleveland for #19 overall.
  21. Dolphins (18.9): #28 in SoV.
  22. Texans (19.1): #30 in SoV.
  23. Washington (19.7): #29 in SoV.
  24. Giants (20.5): #26 in SoV.
  25. Bears (21.1): #20 in SoV.
  26. Eagles (21.4): #23 in SoV.
  27. Cowboys (21.6): #21 in SoV.
  28. Broncos (22.2): #24 in SoV.
  29. Jaguars (22.4): #1 in SoV.
  30. Lions (23.7): #24 in SoV.
  31. Bengals (23.7-tied for 30th): #18 in SoV.
  32. Jets (25.1): #32 in SoV due to having no victories.
Octavian

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