Week 6 Predictive Yards per Play Rankings

Here are my Week 6 NFL power rankings (which don’t include stats from last night’s Seattle-Arizona game):

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 6:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Green Bay Packers 2251 334 10 4 3 9 0.33 6.74
2 Denver Broncos 2856 428 22 2 9 13 -0.11 6.74
3 Atlanta Falcons 1957 325 10 3 3 6 0.06 6.70
4 Philadelphia Eagles 2699 409 11 2 7 8 -0.08 6.32
5 San Diego Chargers 2386 394 14 5 1 6 -0.16 6.29
6 Indianapolis Colts 2079 370 7 3 7 4 0.15 6.14
7 New Orleans Saints 2386 403 14 5 3 4 -0.10 6.07
8 Seattle Seahawks 2236 389 9 4 6 13 0.24 5.53
9 Houston Texans 2374 446 8 11 2 7 0.30 5.49
10 Carolina Panthers 1683 332 9 5 4 5 0.07 5.47
11 Chicago Bears 2215 372 12 6 4 8 0.00 5.38
12 Dallas Cowboys 2099 354 14 3 4 9 -0.17 5.33
13 Detroit Lions 2271 402 12 4 5 9 -0.18 5.10
14 Washington Redskins 1996 341 6 5 4 8 -0.36 4.98
15 Cincinnati Bengals 2134 408 8 6 5 10 -0.07 4.73
16 Tennessee Titans 1813 381 8 4 3 9 0.28 4.61
17 New England Patriots 2093 430 8 4 3 8 0.06 4.60
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 1693 311 6 5 2 9 0.07 4.57
19 San Francisco 49ers 1996 365 8 5 8 8 0.05 4.56
20 Minnesota Vikings 1692 307 5 7 7 8 -0.06 4.45
21 Cleveland Browns 1980 411 10 8 1 6 0.06 4.42
22 Buffalo Bills 2065 432 7 4 6 11 0.29 4.32
23 Miami Dolphins 1583 301 6 5 5 7 0.00 4.27
24 St. Louis Rams 1774 380 13 3 0 6 0.00 4.27
25 Oakland Raiders 1925 366 8 6 3 9 -0.16 4.20
26 New York Jets 2020 379 7 10 2 8 0.01 4.09
27 Kansas City Chiefs 1958 403 7 3 7 9 -0.17 3.91
28 Arizona Cardinals 1934 371 7 11 4 10 0.12 3.89
29 Baltimore Ravens 2014 413 7 8 5 6 -0.12 3.85
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1450 323 5 6 1 6 0.01 3.83
31 New York Giants 2040 362 9 16 4 8 -0.30 3.55
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 1621 382 3 11 3 8 0.02 3.02

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 6:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Kansas City Chiefs 1838 392 5 10 2 11 -0.20 3.41
2 San Francisco 49ers 1915 394 7 8 7 8 0.33 3.56
3 Seattle Seahawks 1741 367 5 9 3 15 -0.10 3.74
4 Baltimore Ravens 2115 392 10 4 1 11 0.23 3.87
5 New York Jets 1823 394 10 1 3 9 0.02 3.98
6 Houston Texans 1517 326 10 2 4 6 0.03 4.18
7 Cleveland Browns 1875 426 6 5 8 6 -0.23 4.35
8 New England Patriots 2086 402 6 7 3 8 0.05 4.39
9 Cincinnati Bengals 1906 393 8 5 3 8 0.07 4.40
10 Tennessee Titans 2010 379 6 6 5 10 -0.06 4.49
11 Arizona Cardinals 2104 404 10 8 2 7 0.00 4.59
12 Oakland Raiders 2040 382 9 3 5 13 0.10 4.62
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1754 339 8 6 1 6 0.01 4.69
14 Carolina Panthers 1496 302 4 8 2 4 -0.21 4.69
15 New Orleans Saints 2028 361 7 8 4 7 -0.06 4.79
16 Pittsburgh Steelers 1554 310 4 2 6 4 -0.16 4.92
17 Buffalo Bills 2370 447 12 10 2 5 -0.21 4.93
18 Jacksonville Jaguars 2306 403 14 3 7 10 0.20 5.01
19 Detroit Lions 2359 389 7 10 5 9 0.00 5.02
20 New York Giants 2348 432 14 4 5 7 0.22 5.26
21 Indianapolis Colts 2026 375 5 7 4 6 -0.11 5.27
22 St. Louis Rams 2332 387 11 5 6 14 -0.03 5.40
23 Green Bay Packers 1859 314 11 2 3 8 -0.21 5.40
24 Miami Dolphins 1965 351 8 6 4 6 0.27 5.41
25 Washington Redskins 1975 328 10 3 6 5 0.30 5.43
26 Chicago Bears 2238 368 9 9 5 12 -0.13 5.54
27 Minnesota Vikings 2090 361 13 7 6 7 -0.02 5.79
28 San Diego Chargers 2297 360 10 2 2 7 0.24 5.88
29 Denver Broncos 2445 401 11 9 6 5 -0.28 5.93
30 Dallas Cowboys 2479 409 14 6 3 8 -0.02 5.95
31 Philadelphia Eagles 2521 434 13 6 4 7 -0.07 6.10
32 Atlanta Falcons 1861 302 12 3 2 3 -0.12 6.28

Predictive Yards per Play Differential, through Week 6:

Rank Team PY/P Diff. Remaining SOS Projected Wins
1 Seattle Seahawks 1.79 -25.65 12.86
2 Green Bay Packers 1.34 -15.71 10.28
3 Houston Texans 1.31 -22.59 9.64
4 New Orleans Saints 1.28 -0.44 11.40
5 San Francisco 49ers 1.00 -11.00 10.86
6 Indianapolis Colts 0.86 -1.71 9.12
7 Denver Broncos 0.80 10.65 12.41
8 Carolina Panthers 0.77 -4.17 7.71
9 Kansas City Chiefs 0.50 17.30 10.48
10 Atlanta Falcons 0.42 1.90 7.36
11 San Diego Chargers 0.41 -11.07 8.81
12 Cincinnati Bengals 0.32 -8.21 9.89
13 Philadelphia Eagles 0.22 -19.20 8.15
14 New England Patriots 0.20 0.71 10.37
15 Tennessee Titans 0.11 -14.15 7.50
16 New York Jets 0.11 -7.58 7.71
17 Detroit Lions 0.09 -17.32 9.71
18 Cleveland Browns 0.07 5.25 7.08
19 Baltimore Ravens -0.02 0.58 7.98
20 Chicago Bears -0.16 3.00 8.94
21 Pittsburgh Steelers -0.34 -6.19 7.12
22 Oakland Raiders -0.42 6.10 6.06
23 Washington Redskins -0.46 -4.19 5.91
24 Buffalo Bills -0.61 -12.29 6.33
25 Dallas Cowboys -0.62 -2.31 8.15
26 Arizona Cardinals -0.70 7.68 6.45
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.85 17.46 2.46
28 St. Louis Rams -1.13 12.80 6.14
29 Miami Dolphins -1.14 -11.19 7.37
30 Minnesota Vikings -1.34 11.08 4.87
31 New York Giants -1.71 -0.73 3.07
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -2.00 3.14 1.45

After outplaying Tennessee by a significantly larger margin than the 20-13 final score would indicate, Seattle widens its lead as the #1 team in Predictive Yards per Play Differential this week. Green Bay leapfrogs Houston, who have now thoroughly perfected the art of outplaying their opponents in most key statistical indicators and still get blown out anyway, for the #2 position. New Orleans and San Francisco round out the top five, perhaps indicating the prevailing preseason view of the NFC being the superior conference wasn’t so wrong after all.

The most noticeable trend I saw this week when compiling the ratings is how one-dimensional most of the highly ranked teams seem to be this season. That is, most well-rated teams are performing extremely well on either offense or defense but poorly on the other side of the ball. All of the current top six teams on offense – Green Bay, Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego and Indianapolis – rate well below average on defense. And on the other side, Kansas City, San Francisco, Baltimore and the New York Jets are all in the top five defensively but come out well below average on offense.

Only four teams right now have above-average ratings on both offense and defense – two you would expect (Seattle and New Orleans) and two you wouldn’t (Houston and Carolina). Since the Texans have crossed over into full-blown implosion mode and the Panthers can’t be taken seriously in any game that’s not decided by fewer than 25 points, that would seem to suggest that the Seahawks and Saints deserve to be the two biggest favorites to win Super Bowl XLIII, right?

In actuality, while those two teams deserve to be mentioned at the top of any Super Bowl contenders list, history suggests that not all hope is lost for the rest of the league. I looked back at the Predictive Yards per Play ratings that I’ve run back to the 1970 season and compiled a list of all the Super Bowl champions that rated below average on one side of the ball or the other. The list, as you can see below in reverse chronological order, is rather larger than I expected.

  • 2009 Saints (-0.32 defensively)
  • 2008 Steelers (-0.01 offensively)
  • 2006 Colts (-0.08 defensively)
  • 2002 Buccaneers (-0.31 offensively)
  • 2000 Ravens (-0.28 offensively)
  • 1998 Broncos (-0.31 defensively)
  • 1995 Cowboys (-0.02 defensively)
  • 1987 Redskins (-0.26 defensively)
  • 1984 49ers (-0.16 defensively)
  • 1983 Raiders (-0.11 offensively)
  • 1980 Raiders (-0.22 offensively)
  • 1978 Steelers (-0.01 offensively)
  • 1976 Raiders (-0.27 defensively)
  • 1974 Steelers (-0.19 offensively)
  • 1970 Colts (-0.36 offensively, -0.49 defensively)

So 15 of the past 43 Super Bowl champions – about 35% of the title winners since 1970, in other words – have been below average on offense and/or defense. Clearly, being subpar on one side of the ball or the other isn’t an insurmountable barrier to winning the Super Bowl. It obviously helps to be good at both offense and defense, but being great at one or the other certainly seems to have worked out for a lot of teams.

The main kernel of wisdom I take away from that list is that you can definitely win a Super Bowl with a below-average unit as long as that unit isn’t truly terrible. Some of the teams showing up on that list were so slightly below average on one side of the ball that it’s probably splitting hairs to call them something other than “roughly average.” The others were all within enough shouting distance of league average to not wipe out their vastly superior units’ gains and could all potentially provide something of value to the team. The 1970 Colts are the only exception provided in the past 43 seasons and their postseason success can be easily explained away as a byproduct of the turmoil the AFC went through in its first post-merger season in the NFL.

With that last paragraph in mind, let’s take a look at the two undefeated AFC West teams, Denver and Kansas City. Both are in virtual ties for first place on one side of the ball – the Broncos obviously on offense and the Chiefs on defense – but rate so far below average on the other that it would be historically unprecedented for either team to win the Super Bowl if they maintained their current ratings throughout the course of the season. Denver’s defense rates a full yard below average and gave up 362 yards of offense last week to Jacksonville, who had seemingly only gained 362 yards of offense in the five games prior. Champ Bailey came back from injury in that game and Von Miller’s six-game suspension is now in the books, so that unit will likely improve but right now they’re not even in the same zip code as league average.

The Chiefs’ offense is almost as bad – they rank 27th this week with 3.91 Predictive Yards per Play, also a yard below average. Excluding the fluky 1970 Colts, the two other worst offensive Super Bowl champions – the 2002 Bucs and 2000 Ravens – both had historically great defenses to fall back on. If the Chiefs maintained their current defensive performance, they would probably deserve to be called a historically great defense – however, this is the same defense that finished 26th in the league in Defensive PY/P last season, so a drop-off in quality could very well be forthcoming.

Other Super Bowl contenders that may be in danger of being too one-sided are the Packers and 49ers – Green Bay’s defense rates .48 yards per play below average and the 49ers’ offense is currently .37 yards per play below average. Both those marks would also rate as the worst Super Bowl champion unit (non-1970 Colts division) of all time.

The only change in this week’s playoff projections comes from the NFC East, where Philadelphia is now expected to win .003 games more than Dallas. PRINT THOSE PLAYOFF TICKETS NOW, EAGLES FANS. For all intents and purposes, let’s just say that the NFC East is probably going to come down to the two games between the Cowboys and Eagles. Otherwise, the computer is still stubbornly clinging to its vision of a 2013 AFC South title for the Texans, not knowing that one more pick-six will cause the fanbase to burn Reliant Stadium to the ground. I pray next week will finally be the time the computer agrees with the other 99.9999999% of Football America and predicts the Colts will win the AFC South.

Projected AFC Playoff Picture, through Week 6:

  1. Denver (12.4 wins)
  2. New England (10.4 wins)
  3. Cincinnati (9.9 wins)
  4. Houston (9.6 wins)
  5. Kansas City (10.5 wins)
  6. Indianapolis (9.1 wins)

In the hunt: San Diego (8.8 wins), Baltimore (8.0 wins), NY Jets (7.7 wins), Tennessee (7.5 wins), Miami (7.4 wins)

Mediocre: Pittsburgh (7.1 wins), Cleveland (7.1 wins), Buffalo (6.3 wins), Oakland (6.1 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Jacksonville (1.5 wins)

Projected NFC Playoff Picture, through Week 6:

  1. Seattle (12.9 wins)
  2. New Orleans (11.4 wins)
  3. Green Bay (10.3 wins)
  4. Philadelphia (8.2 wins)
  5. San Francisco (10.9 wins)
  6. Detroit (9.7 wins)

In the hunt: Chicago (8.9 wins), Dallas (8.2 wins)

Mediocre: Carolina (7.7 wins), Atlanta (7.4 wins), Arizona (6.5 wins), St. Louis (6.1 wins), Washington (5.9 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Minnesota (4.9 wins), NY Giants (3.1 wins), Tampa Bay (2.5 wins)

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