Stats That Don't Lie

STDL: Week 13 - Broncos at Vikings, plus Tebow stats

We're going to change things up a little bit with Week 13's STDL. As I mentioned last week, I'd been thinking of switching the passing numbers here to NY/A (Net Yards per Attempt) from ANY/A (Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt) since NY/A is better at predicting future results, which is the whole point of this column. NY/A adds sack data to plain old YPA (Yards per Attempt), while ANY/A adds the weight of touchdowns and interceptions to the mix. Why is NY/A more predictive, while ANY/A is more retrodictive (better at explaining why something already happened, rather than what's likely to happen next)?

Touchdowns and interceptions are more random than YPA. Not random, mind you, just more random than YPA - in other words, if your offense is effective at moving the ball down the field, it's likely to score more than an offense that doesn't move the ball well. Naturally, the 2008 Broncos would stand as a stark exception (2nd in Yards per Play, 16th in Points). Of course, this means I need to reconsider whether to keep touchdowns in with the rushing data. That could be next week's tweak...

Plus, we'll take a look at how Tim Tebow stands in relation to the other QBs in the league via NY/A and ANY/A data, but with rushing stats baked in! As always, there'll be something in it for Tebowmaniacs and Tebow Skeptics alike.

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Kerry Byrne can cherry-pick with the best of them

Yesterday we again decried ESPN's attempts to paint their own Total QBR as a revolutionary passing metric. Another day, another gross instance of statistical malfeasance, this time delivered by CHFF's Kerry Byrne in a column for SI. It's pretty bad, quite frankly - virtually a page out of the playbook for how to misinterpret and overstate stats and their meaning.

The spirit of what Byrne and CHFF are trying to do (factor rushing into a QB rating) is excellent, and in full disclosure it's something I've also been working on since last year myself. Yet, the manner in which Byrne is presenting the data for Tebow's 2011 starts is completely self-serving and ignores some crucial context. Let's examine some of the more glaring fallacies of Byrne's column:

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STDL: Week 12 - Broncos at Chargers

The Broncos are undoubtedly in the thick of things in the AFC West, and a victory tomorrow could all but end the Chargers' chances to take back the division they had ruled for five out of six years prior to last year's stumble. San Diego is reeling, having lost five straight games (the first four by a single score) and turning the ball over an astonishing 14 times during that stretch. Of course, the Broncos are on the upswing, have won four of their last five, and they've given it away just once in three games. Just how likely is Denver to pull of their (previously unimaginable) third road divisional win in four weeks' time? Let's check out the Stats That Don't Lie to find out:

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STDL: Week 11 - Broncos vs Jets

The Broncos and Jets open Week 11 tonight, and the rest of the country will get its first look at Tim Tebow as a starting NFL QB. What will they get? Three yards and a cloud of dust from both teams, with the defenses and punters as the stars of the show? Or will Sexy Rexy's defense dare Tebow to air it out and find a willing adversary? Some are suggesting that Rexy's D won't allow the Broncos to run the ball with any sort of success, while the extra-short week (the Jets played Sunday night) and travel across two time zones and up to altitude could help to level any talent deficit Denver may be facing. Let's see if the Stats That Don't Lie will offer any hints:

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STDL: Week 10 - Broncos at Chiefs

Welcome to the Week 10 Edition of The Stats That Don't Lie. Let's be blunt, here. This is one of those games that nobody outside of Broncos and Chiefs fans want to watch (Gators?). Denver and Kansas City rank 30th and 31st according to Brian Burke's efficiency numbers, respectively, ahead of only the winless Colts.

I'd like to make a point about these metrics (and any stats) - the goal here isn't to predict what's going to happen in any given game (win/lose/magnitude), because no set of numbers can do that - rather, it's just some commentary on what's likely to happen based upon past performance. These numbers are a guide to show you how efficient teams are in the various phases of the game, and of course a team can break out of a pattern of ineptitude or suddenly fail in a phase they've thrived in at any moment. Just because the Broncos don't fare well in turnover differential overall doesn't mean they can't win that battle on any given Sunday (like last week).

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STDL: Week 9 - Broncos at Raiders

Welcome to the Al Davis Memorial Edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. Being that this Sunday will mark the first matchup between the Broncos and their fiercest rivals* since the passing of The Crypt Keeper, I thought it appropriate to honor some of Big Al's finest personnel moves with today's STDL.

As for the game, this is not much of a rematch from the MNF opener, as both teams have new QBs (neither of whom has played as well as the guy they replaced, although it's early) and the Raiders will likely be without their best offensive player, RB Darren McFadden. DMC has 510 yards from scrimmage in the teams' last three matchups, helping turn both 2010 meetings into blowouts. Hopefully the absence of McFadden and the newness of Carson Palmer to Oakland helps narrow the gap between these two teams:

* If you think it's the Chargers, ask your dad or older brother

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STDL: Week 8 - Broncos vs Lions

Welcome to Week 8's Stats That Don't Lie. So far, the stats have not been lying, painting a bleak picture in Green Bay, giving the Broncos a fighting chance against San Diego, and predicting an ugly victory in Miami. Obviously, the question this week is whether the Broncos and Lions are true reflections of the figures they've posted to this point, or are they completely different teams with Denver making the change at QB and Detroit struggling on offense since Jahvid Best went down with his latest concussion? Quite frankly, we have to hope for the latter, as the numbers don't appear to give the Broncos much of a chance...

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STDL: Week 7 - Broncos at Dolphins

Welcome to the 2008 Gators Edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. After all, if the Dolphins are honoring Tim Tebow's championship team as he leads our Broncos into town, then who the hell are we not to do the same? In that light, for just this week we're going to name each category for a key figure from that title team.

Obviously, the context that overlies this Gators edition of STDL is that both teams have new quarterbacks - Tebow making his first start of the season, and Matt Moore making just his second for Miami, if his atrocious performance Monday night even counts. Let's get right to it...

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STDL: Week 5 - Broncos vs Chargers

Welcome to Week 5's Stats That Don't Lie, already featuring changes from last week's edition. As I explained on Sunday, I'm actually not that wild about using penalty yardage to assess teams, so in the spirit of wanting STDL to be a simple and svelte tool to help visualize the Broncos' chances each week, I've decided to axe that category. I've also changed the rushing metric from CHFF's rusher rating to PFR's Adjusted Rushing Yards per Attempt (ARY/A), also expressed as a differential between offense and defense.

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STDL: Week 4 - Broncos vs Packers

Over the years, TJ has presented The Stats That Don't Lie, a weekly glance at the Broncos' standing within the league in several key statistical categories. Going forward, I'm going to be reprising STDL by focusing on a few numbers that evidence a high correlation to winning (or losing) NFL games, and how the Broncos match up in those areas against their upcoming opponent. 

We'll start today with Broncos/Packers, which as you might have figured doesn't look pretty in bar graph form. Actually, no figures would look good in my crude charts, but we're working on coming up with something a bit more pleasing to the eye.

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