Predictive Yards per Play Rankings: 2006

You know the drill by now: I take you back to a year in the distant past – this time, 2006 (remember the Jonas Brothers?!?!) – and then give you statistical information and harebrained thoughts you probably didn’t ask for and may not actually care about at all. WELL THAT’S TOO BAD, FRAIDY SUE, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE GONNA READ THIS ANYWAY. Let’s begin.

Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00): a metric which uses probabilities drawn from research Brian Burke did back in 2008 in trying to determine which stats best correlated with future play.

  1. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)1.52 (2007 ranking: #2)
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)1.27 (2007 ranking: #5)
  3. San Diego Chargers (14-2)1.10 (2007 ranking: #11)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)1.08 (2007 ranking: #4)
  5. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)0.96 (2007 ranking: #26)
  6. New England Patriots (12-4)0.94 (2007 ranking: #1)
  7. Miami Dolphins (6-10)0.87 (2007 ranking: #27)
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)0.71 (2007 ranking: #10)
  9. New Orleans Saints (10-6)0.65 (2007 ranking: #20)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)0.37 (2007 ranking: #3)
  11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)0.30 (2007 ranking: #18)
  12. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)0.08 (2007 ranking: #23)
  13. Green Bay Packers (8-8)0.07 (2007 ranking: #7)
  14. Chicago Bears (13-3)0.01 (2007 ranking: #24)
  15. Denver Broncos (9-7)-0.03 (2007 ranking: #12)
  16. Carolina Panthers (8-8)-0.03 (2007 ranking: #25)
  17. New York Giants (8-8)-0.07 (2007 ranking: #13)
  18. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)-0.09 (2007 ranking: #29)
  19. Buffalo Bills (7-9)-0.11 (2007 ranking: #19)
  20. New York Jets (10-6)-0.30 (2007 ranking: #21)
  21. St. Louis Rams (8-8)-0.33 (2007 ranking: #31)
  22. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)-0.36 (2007 ranking: #9)
  23. Tennessee Titans (8-8)-0.45 (2007 ranking: #14)
  24. Washington Redskins (5-11)-0.48 (2007 ranking: #6)
  25. Detroit Lions (3-13)-0.73 (2007 ranking: #15)
  26. Houston Texans (6-10)-0.87 (2007 ranking: #17)
  27. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)-0.92 (2007 ranking: #32)
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)-0.94 (2007 ranking: #8)
  29. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)-0.99 (2007 ranking: #16)
  30. Oakland Raiders (2-14)-1.12 (2007 ranking: #30)
  31. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)-1.12 (2007 ranking: #28)
  32. Cleveland Browns (4-12)-1.18 (2007 ranking: #22)

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 4.50)

  1. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)6.10 (2007 ranking: #5)
  2. San Diego Chargers (14-2)5.55 (2007 ranking: #12)
  3. New Orleans Saints (10-6)5.51 (2007 ranking: #8)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)5.38 (2007 ranking: #7)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)5.18 (2007 ranking: #10)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)5.13 (2007 ranking: #18)
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)5.11 (2007 ranking: #3)
  8. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)4.95 (2007 ranking: #2)
  9. New England Patriots (12-4)4.90 (2007 ranking: #1)
  10. St. Louis Rams (8-8)4.85 (2007 ranking: #31)
  11. Washington Redskins (5-11)4.72 (2007 ranking: #16)
  12. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)4.69 (2007 ranking: #21)
  13. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)4.63 (2007 ranking: #28)
  14. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)4.55 (2007 ranking: #26)
  15. New York Jets (10-6)4.51 (2007 ranking: #22)
  16. New York Giants (8-8)4.43 (2007 ranking: #13)
  17. Miami Dolphins (6-10)4.39 (2007 ranking: #23)
  18. Tennessee Titans (8-8)4.36 (2007 ranking: #25)
  19. Green Bay Packers (8-8)4.30 (2007 ranking: #4)
  20. Denver Broncos (9-7)4.19 (2007 ranking: #6)
  21. Carolina Panthers (8-8)4.19 (2007 ranking: #30)
  22. Buffalo Bills (7-9)4.18 (2007 ranking: #24)
  23. Detroit Lions (3-13)4.14 (2007 ranking: #17)
  24. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)4.10 (2007 ranking: #32)
  25. Houston Texans (6-10)4.07 (2007 ranking: #11)
  26. Chicago Bears (13-3)4.01 (2007 ranking: #29)
  27. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)3.79 (2007 ranking: #9)
  28. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)3.79 (2007 ranking: #20)
  29. Cleveland Browns (4-12)3.73 (2007 ranking: #15)
  30. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)3.73 (2007 ranking: #19)
  31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)3.58 (2007 ranking: #14)
  32. Oakland Raiders (2-14)2.89 (2007 ranking: #27)

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 4.50)

  1. Miami Dolphins (6-10)3.52 (2007 ranking: #23)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)3.59 (2007 ranking: #15)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)3.84 (2007 ranking: #20)
  4. New England Patriots (12-4)3.95 (2007 ranking: #9)
  5. Chicago Bears (13-3)4.00 (2007 ranking: #13)
  6. Oakland Raiders (2-14)4.01 (2007 ranking: #24)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)4.16 (2007 ranking: #11)
  8. Carolina Panthers (8-8)4.21 (2007 ranking: #14)
  9. Denver Broncos (9-7)4.22 (2007 ranking: #19)
  10. Green Bay Packers (8-8)4.23 (2007 ranking: #17)
  11. Buffalo Bills (7-9)4.28 (2007 ranking: #16)
  12. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)4.30 (2007 ranking: #6)
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)4.42 (2007 ranking: #3)
  14. San Diego Chargers (14-2)4.45 (2007 ranking: #7)
  15. New York Giants (8-8)4.50 (2007 ranking: #10)
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)4.52 (2007 ranking: #5)
  17. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)4.56 (2007 ranking: #12)
  18. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)4.57 (2007 ranking: #2)
  19. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)4.58 (2007 ranking: #8)
  20. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)4.72 (2007 ranking: #21)
  21. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)4.77 (2007 ranking: #28)
  22. Tennessee Titans (8-8)4.80 (2007 ranking: #4)
  23. New York Jets (10-6)4.81 (2007 ranking: #18)
  24. New Orleans Saints (10-6)4.86 (2007 ranking: #32)
  25. Detroit Lions (3-13)4.87 (2007 ranking: #22)
  26. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)4.89 (2007 ranking: #29)
  27. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)4.91 (2007 ranking: #30)
  28. Cleveland Browns (4-12)4.91 (2007 ranking: #31)
  29. Houston Texans (6-10)4.94 (2007 ranking: #27)
  30. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)5.02 (2007 ranking: #26)
  31. St. Louis Rams (8-8)5.18 (2007 ranking: #25)
  32. Washington Redskins (5-11)5.20 (2007 ranking: #1)

My attempts at an explanation…

  • Remember when I said a couple weeks ago that the 2008 Steelers were the only team this century to rank #1 in the year-end Predictive Yards per Play rankings and win the Super Bowl in the same year? Turns out I lied. Not intentionally, though! You simply must take my word that there was no malice of forethought and I just naturally assumed that the 2006 Colts’ defense would weigh their overall rating down so much that they couldn’t possibly sniff the #1 ranking.  I ASSUMED INCORRECTLY. The Colts’ run defense (during the regular season, anyway) WAS just as bad as you remembered it, ranking dead last in Yards per Carry Allowed. But their pass defense was actually a little above-average in Net Yards per Attempt Allowed – and they did that against a tougher-than-average schedule. So when you crunch all the numbers down in my eight year-old Windows XP supercomputer, you find that the Colts’ defense was ultimately just a tad below-average overall. And since this was the final season of a four-year stretch in which Peyton Manning was a football god, “just a tad below-average” won’t hold one of the best offenses of all time down too much.
  • As for the team the Colts beat in the Super Bowl, you’ll notice that these ratings essentially place the Bears as a completely league-average team and thus the worst team to make the Super Bowl that we’ve run into so far by a wide margin. And, frankly, if you don’t pay any attention to special teams (which these ratings don’t), that would be a pretty accurate assessment of that team. The defense was excellent but significantly aided by the easiest schedule of opposing offenses in the league. And I’m sure you remember Rex Grossman. Just for kicks and giggles, take a look at Sexy Rexy’s stat line from this game…aaaaaannnndddd then this game. Pretty gross, right (pun most definitely intended)? AND THE BEARS STILL WON BOTH GAMES. You have no idea how happy Devin Hester made me that year.
  • The fact that the Bears were able to ride such a (to put it nicely) MERCURIAL quarterback to a 13-3 record says quite a bit how good their special teams were and/or how bad the rest of the NFC was that year, depending on how generous you want to be. Only five teams rated above league-average overall in PY/P and two of them (the Packers and Bears) made it over that hump by the skin of their teeth. The only team in the entire conference that was above-average on both offense and defense was Philadelphia – and you knew that Andy Reid was going screw that all up by the end, so it was pretty tough to find a legitimate contender to go up against all the big boys in the AFC. After this year, the conference sobered up in a hurry and found some new quarterbacks that started to shift the conference tide back in their direction. But for 2006 still, the NFC was a joke.
  • On the other hand, the ratings for the AFC’s winningest teams this season don’t make them look nearly as scary as I remember them being. This is probably best evidenced by the fact that the Jaguars ranked second in the overall rankings despite finishing 8-8 and starting Byron Leftwich at quarterback for six games. Everybody was crapping their pants over the thought of facing the Chargers the last three months of ’06, but Predictive Yards per Play suggests that their offense, while super freaky good, was not the gruesome force of death it was made out to be and their defense was probably only capable of making the Raiders quake in terror (and that’s only because they were starting Andrew Walter – they were quaking in terror at everybody that year). Switch offense and defense around for the Ravens and you basically get the same idea. Obviously the Pats were good that year, too, but not overpoweringly so on either side of the ball. So to sum up: if you were a fan of one of those aforementioned teams in 2006, your team wasn’t nearly as good as you thought they were. You’re welcome!
  • Another good What-If from the late ’00s: what if Nick Saban stayed on as the head coach of the Dolphins? Yeah, they went 6-10 in ’06 but that’s only because they started Joey Harrington and Cleo Lemon at quarterback for twelve games that year – that’s a winning recipe only if you’re a coaching a Pac-10 team in 2001. Defensively, the Dolphins figured some stuff out under Saban: they finished #1 in PY/P in 2006 and then crashed to #23 in 2007 under Cam Cameron. Was it possible that Jason Taylor and Co. lost the will to live once they learned that Cam Cameron was going to be their new coach? CAN’T RULE IT OUT. Anyway, convince Saban not to bolt for Alabama (a tougher task than I’m giving it credit for, admittedly) and give that Dolphins team a decent quarterback and I think you’ve got a consistent rival for Darth Hoodie and the Patriots in the AFC East. Alas, Nick decided that recruiting 13 year-olds was a more attractive career path and the Dolphins defense has never really scaled the same heights since. Too bad!
  • Finally, the biggest statistical oddity from this year would have be the Redskins finishing dead-last defensively before bouncing back to #1 in 2007. Before you scratch your head any further, though, let me just point out that Adam Archuleta started seven games at safety for them in ’06. MYSTERY SOLVED.
  • And now your individual awards breakdown…LaDainian Tomlinson won MVP for breaking the single-season touchdown record and generally have one of the four or five greatest seasons a running back has ever had. That’s a good job by you, LaDainian! And if a running back was even remotely relative in worth to a quarterback, LTD would have been a deserving MVP choice. Unfortunately, they are not and Peyton Manning should have been busy picking up his fourth MVP award in a row. THEY CAN’T KEEP DOING FOREHEAD WRONG LIKE THAT!…On the other hand, I’m not going to argue against LaDainian winning Offensive Player of the Year. Even if there’s no set criteria for this crap, sure feels wrong to let the guy who set the record for most touchdowns in a season ride off into the sunset without an award of some kind. I’m sure my fake vote means a lot to him…Jason Taylor picked up 13.5 sacks, forced nine fumbles and returned two interceptions for touchdowns (although one was off Rex Grossman, so it shouldn’t count) and was awarded Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts. I’m inclined to agree, even though Champ Bailey and Asante Samuel both had ten interceptions and played all-world level cornerback…Before Tim Tebow in 2011, there was Vince Young in 2006. After the Titans started out 2-7 in ’06, Young led Tennessee on a crazy six-game winning streak filled with multiple comeback victories (including this one over the Giants in which they came back from 21 down with less than ten minutes to go and won the game in regulation) that were full of crazy heroics but questionable quarterback play. Reggie Bush or Joseph Addai would have been a better choice for Offensive Rookie of the Year…DeMeco Ryans led the league in tackles and beat out his higher-drafted teammate Mario Williams for Defensive Rookie of the Year. This would be a more impressive feat if chewing up tackles on a bad defense wasn’t a useless function, but Advanced NFL Stats thinks he was pretty good that year anyway, so we’ll still support his candidacy over Kamerion Wimbley and Mark Anderson…Chad Pennington won his 73rd Comeback Player of the Year award and as much as I love to support Chad for the award he was born to win, where’s the love for Jeff Garcia? He was completely irrelevant for three years, then came off the bench when Donovan McNabb got hurt and led the Eagles on a five-game winning streak to win the NFC East. As someone who has spent many hours recreating and exaggerating Jeff Garcia’s footwork and throwing motion, I feel it is my responsibility as a blogger to give him my hypothetical vote for an award that nobody cares about anyway…And Sean Payton took the Saints from a 3-13 team without a home to one of the most exciting teams in the league and one game away from the Super Bowl in one season. He’s a pretty good coach.
  • Next week:2005, the year the Patriot Mystique was finally broken. By Jake Plummer, of all people! 
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