Bill Connelly, a writer for SBNation covering NCAA football, came out with a list of five factors for winning football games. His list is
- you make more big plays than your opponent,
- you are more efficient when you have the ball than your opponent,
- you finish drives and stop your opponent from doing so,
- you win the starting field position battle, and
- you win the turnover battle.
Based on this list and associated data I ranked the thirty-two teams. The data used was
- Differential of 20+ yard plays (pass and run) for each team minus their opponents from nfl.com stats,
- Net team efficiency as computed by Football Outsiders,
- Net Points per drive as computed by Football Outsiders,
- Net Starting field position from Football Outsiders, and
- Turnover differential from the Football Database.
Here is the ranking starting with the best and a little blurb on each team. The data used was from weeks one thru four of this season. The team’s record at week four is shown for each team.
1 ) Los Angeles Rams (4-0)
The Rams have the most passing plays of 20+ yards with 23 over four games. They are number one in net points per drive (1.52 points) and in 1st down % on passing plays (47.4%).
2) Chicago Bears (3-1)
The Bears are one of only three teams that have not given up a rushing play of 20+ yards. They are one of two teams that have not allowed a rushing touchdown. The Bears have the shortest long running play against them (15 yards).
3) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
The Chiefs have a league high 47% of their drives end in a touchdown. The Chiefs are fifth in 1st downs per game, third in third downs made percent (49%) and tie for first in forth downs made with 100% on three attempts.
4) Washington Redskins (2-1)
The Redskins are one of only three teams that did not give up a rush of 20+ yards. They have also given up the least number of 20+ passing plays with only five surrendered.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1)
The Jaguars have the best 20+ yards big play differential in the league. For 20+ yard plays they are 2nd in passing defense (7 plays), 4th in rushing defense (1 play), 14th in passing offense (14 plays) and 5th in rushing offense (3 plays).
6) Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
The Ravens are second in Net Points per drive due in large part being second in Defensive Points per Drive allowed. They are tied for second in 3rd down conversion percent on defense (28%) . Opposing quarterbacks have the lowest passer rating against the Ravens (69.1).
7) Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
Receiver A.J. Green is second in receiving touchdowns (5) and fellow receiver Tyler Boyd is eighth among wide receivers in 20+ yard receptions (6). Boyd is most deadly in the middle of the field where he had six 20+yard receptions and an 81% first down conversion rate.
8) New Orleans Saints (3-1)
Drew Brees has the highest completion percentage among quarterbacks with over 20 attempts (75.8%) and the third best passer rating (115.3). He should pass Brett Favre this weekend to take the number two spot in career passing yards.
9) Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
The Chargers are tie for most rushing plays of 20+ yards (6). The percentage of Austin Ekeler’s runs that go for at least 10 yards (28.6%) , is the best mark in the NFL. The Chargers have 20 total runs of at least 10 yards, which is the most in the NFL.
10) Houston Texans (1-3)
The Texans are number one in Net Line Of Scrimmage (LOS) per drive with a net 7.94 yards. On average they start almost at the 32 yard line and their opponent starts at almost the 24 yard line. Running Back Tyler Ervin is tie in second for kickoff returns of 20+ yards with seven. At his combine Ervin was 8th overall in broad jump, 12th in vertical jump and 11th in the forty.
11) Miami Dolphins (3-1)
The Dolphins are tie for third in turnover differential with a plus four. They have a league high nine interceptions that are spread across six players. Cornerback Xavien Howard leads with three. Opposing quarterbacks have a 72.2 passer rating against the Dolphins. That is the second lowest in the league.
12) Green Bay Packers (2-1-1)
The Packers have the fourth best 1st down percentage (29.7) on rushes. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers contributes to that with 11 attempts and a 54.5% first down percentage. That is the best in the league for any player with over five attempts. Running Back Aaron Jones also helps with 17 attempts and a 41.2% which is 7th best.
13) Cleveland Browns (1-2-1)
The Browns lead the league in turnover differential with a plus seven. they have a league high six forced fumbles. Khalil Mack leads the league with four forced fumbles.
14) Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
The Falcons are 30th in points allowed per game with 30.5 points. On the bright side they are 6th in points scored per game. Still their Net points per drive is -0.16 which is 20th in the league.
15) Carolina Panthers (2-1)
The Panthers are third in the league in turnover differential. They are one of only three teams that have turned the ball over twice or less. On the flip side they are sixth in the league in interceptions with five. The Panthers are tie for last in explosive play (20+ yards) differential. They have a league low seven passing plays of 20+ yards.
16) New England Patriots (2-2)
The Patriots are ninth in the league in Net Points per drive. In scoring touchdowns in the red zone the Patriots are 8th with 2 out of every 3 trips in the red zone scoring a touchdown.
17) Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
The Seahawks are tie for third in the league in turnover differential with a plus four. They are third in interceptions with seven. Their secondary has three players in the top twelve in interceptions – Earl Thomas (3), Shaquill Griffin (2) and Bradley McDougald (2). With the loss of Earl Tomas for the season due to injury it remains to be seen if this trend will continue.
18) Denver Broncos (2-2)
The Broncos are tie at 26th in turnover differential. Quarterback Case Keenum is tie for second in the league for most interceptions with six. If that keeps up Chad Kelly may soon be starting.
19) Indianapolis Colts (1-3)
Quarterback Andrew Luck does not seem to be pushing the ball downfield. The Colts are tie for 23rd in passing plays of 20+ yards with nine. They are in 30th for both passing average per attempt (6 yards) and average per completion (8.48 yards).
20) Detroit Lions (1-3)
What happened to Detroit in that opening game loss to the Jets of 48-17? In his last three games quarterback Mathew Stafford has thrown one interception and has had a passer rating of 109.8 (7th best across other teams). Detroit is tie for 8th in passing plays of 20+ yards (17). They have been close in the other two losses. That first game drags them down to 20th in this ranking.
21) Tennessee Titans (3-1)
The Titans have gone for it on fourth down more than any other team (7 times) and have made it 71% of the time. The Titans, Cowboys and Panthers all have a league low seven passing plays of 20+ yards.
22) San Francisco 49ers (1-3)
The 49ers have the worst Net Average starting field position per drive. On average they start on the 24 yard line and their opponent starts on the 32 yard line. For explosive plays running back Matt Breida has a league high six rushing plays of 20+ yards.
23) New York Jets (1-3)
The Jets are tie for last with the Lions in giving up the most 20+ yard rushing plays with five surrendered. This contributed to the jets tied for worst big play (20+ yards) differential with minus six. The teams tied for last in big plays differential are the Jets, Panthers, Eagles and Giants.
24) Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Dallas has the 30th ranked third down conversion percentage with a 28.26%. Their passing completion percentage of 61.7% is 26th. For overall team efficiency they ranked 24th. They also had the fourth lowest net starting field position with them starting on average at their 24 yard line and their opponent at their 29 yard line.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1)
The Steelers have the second worst net starting position with their average start on the 24 and their opponent on the 31. Their net points per drive of -.4 ranked 25th in the league.
26) Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The Raiders are 28th in big pass plays (20+ yards) given up with 19 and 27th in big rushing plays (20+ yards) given up with 4. Their big play differential is minus five which ranks 27th. They rank 30th in finishing drives with a -0.61 net points per drive.
27) Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1)
The Vikings rank 30th in the percent of drives that produce points with 29.1% resulting in a score. The Vikings have a league second worst average point differential at the start of their drives of down by seven.
28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)
The Buccaneers are tie for a league high seven offensive interceptions with three coming in each of the last two games. Even the returned Jameis Winston had two. The Bucs are tie in last with a league low minus four turnover differential.
29) Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
The Eagles are tie with the Panthers, Jets and Giants for worst big play differential with minus six. The Eagles are 29th in passing plays of 20+ yards with eight. Quarterback Carson Wentz has done better than Nick Foles in long passing plays but even Wentz only has five long passing plays over two games.
30) Buffalo Bills (1-3)
The Bills have the league lowest touchdown percentage on drives with only 10.2% of their drives ending in a touchdown and a league high 55% ending in a punt. Among current starting quarterbacks Josh Allen has the lowest completion percentage of 53.4% and the lowest passer rating at 63.8.
31) New York Giants (1-3)
The Giants are tie for last in big play (20+ yards) differential with the Panthers, Jets and Eagles at minus six. The Giants are ranked 31st in passing average per completion with an average of 8.3 yards.
32) Arizona Cardinals (0-4)
The Cardinals rank 32nd in passing average per completion with an average of 8.2 yards. They rank last in the league in scoring on drives with only 14.6% of their drives resulting in points.
Enjoy the week 5 games!