Another week, another Broncos win. And of course, the advanced metrics still count Denver among the league's elite teams.
You didn't expect anything else, did you?
Denver remains atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings for the fifth straight week, and are even creating some distance between themselves and the other top teams. Burke's figures again have the Broncos ranked first in offensive efficiency (first in passing, sixth in rushing) and second on defense (fifth against the pass, 11th versus the run).
Jim Trotter posted a thought-provoking column today on kickoff deferrals:
Since the start of the 2010 season, flip-winning clubs that have opted to receive first are 185-209 (.470), versus 140-115 (.549) for those deferring."Six and a half-dozen," said Broncos coach John Fox. "You don't know how it's going to go."..."There are two principals that apply to coaching," Fox says. "One is, If it ain't broke don't fix it. Two is, Don't get caught up in the same old stuff."
Because the Broncos have scored touchdowns three of the last four games after receiving the second-half kickoff, look for Fox to stay with the same old stuff and not fix what ain't broke.
We've been heartened by John Fox's recent choices to defer possession until the second half kickoff in recent weeks, but it's just as disappointing to learn he's been doing so thanks to some sort of gut feeling.
No matter their focus, whether on sports, politics, or anything else, statistical models have always been targets of intense criticism.
The number crunchers can test their methods all they want, and even show their work as they did for their high-school geometry midterms, yet ultimately, the old-schoolers will say there's no match for experience and intuition.
But by now, even those data-allergic folks have to admit the 2012 Broncos are pretty good, right?
With the squad sitting at 1-2 after three weeks, Brian Burke's data said the Broncos were the third-most efficient team in the league. Three games later, following the historic comeback in San Diego that evened Denver's record at 3-3, they had reached the top of Burke's rankings.
Updated 5:33pm ET
For several weeks, the advanced metrics were telling a Broncos story that was not reflected on the scoreboard. That tale was of a team among the league's most efficient across the board.
Among Broncos fans, the half-full crowd saw promise in the data, while the Debbie Downers mumbled, "Stats are for losers."
Denver had lost three of four before escaping San Diego with a Week 6 win despite having spotted the Chargers a 24-point halftime lead.
The conventional wisdom said the Broncos and Saints would have an epic shootout on SNF, with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees orchestrating a classic QB duel.
What's that old saying? A week off makes the metrics grow fond? Something like that...
Following Denver's Week 7 bye, they remain atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings, and are now ranked number one in offensive efficiency (up from fourth). Their defensive efficiency ranking has slipped from third to fifth.
Broken down by unit, the Broncos rank fourth in passing, are tied for seventh in rushing success, and are eighth in pass defense, and tied for seventh in run defense.
In Peter King's weekly shameless SNF promotion, he notes that Denver has 26 pass plays of 20+ yards so far this season, second only to their upcoming opponents, the Saints.
We have the word stat in quote marks because really, this amounts to trivia (why 20-yard plays, and not 19-yard plays?). 20 yards is a totally arbitrary threshold for a play to become labeled as explosive, and it's not the sort of figure you can correlate to winning or losing. More appropriate would be to just measure yards per attempt, and then figure in the effect of touchdowns, interceptions, and sacks - as we did last week.
Peyton Manning has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Week 6 performance against the Chargers.
It's the 22nd time Manning has won the award, and the first time a Bronco has been chosen for it since Brandon Marshall in Week 13 of the 2009 season. Peyton completed 24 of 30 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns, but threw one interception that came back for a score.
As could be expected, all of the talk today is about how remarkable the Broncos' comeback was. But, how good are the Broncos overall?
How does tops in the league sound?
Yeah, that seems like a bit much to us, but the two teams that had been ahead of Denver in Brian Burke's efficiency rankings (San Francisco and Houston) both got waxed at home in Week 6, by a combined score of 68-27.
Whatever anyone wants to say about Norv Turner and Philip Rivers, and historically rare circumstances aside, the Broncos still went on the road and beat their primary division threat by eleven points.
Welcome to the Week 6 edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. So far, we've been tracking the Broncos' ranking via the metrics of Brian Burke's efficiency ratings and PFR's Simple Rating System (SRS).
Starting today, we'll add in PFF's grading system, so that we're accounting for what the tape says as well.
As we expected, Sunday's loss at New England did little to harm Denver's standing relative to the ANS and PFR metrics.
Jason Whitlock raised eyebrows two weeks ago when he wrote the following about Peyton Manning:
Manning can't throw the ball accurately or with zip more than 20 yards. Manning is toast.
It was a lethargic takeaway from Peyton's three-interception debacle against the Falcons, and while Ted thinks the picks were a matter of poor decision-making rather than an issue of arm strength, Whitlock was certainly entitled to his opinion there.
Granted, the numbers through four weeks (small sample alert) don't exactly back up Whitlock's assertion that Peyton is inaccurate beyond 20 yards. According to PFF, Denver's QB ranks twelfth in the league in terms of accuracy on throws beyond twenty yards. At 46.7 percent, he's just a tick behind Tom Brady in that category, while placing slightly ahead of his brother (44.4%), Jay Cutler (43.5%), Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger (42.9% each), and far better than the strong-armed Joe Flacco (39.4%) and Matthew Stafford (38.5%).