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:
As always, an explanation of the figures:
- ANY/A Differential: This is a marriage of PFR's ANY/A (Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt) and CHFF's Passer Rating Differential. ANY/A takes the all-important Yards Per Attempt and adds touchdowns and interceptions into the mix to provide a clearer picture of a passing game's impact. ANY/A has the highest correlation to winning of any NFL stat or metric. ANY/A Differential is simply a team's ANY/A minus the ANY/A they've allowed on defense. In other words, how well Denver passes the ball (not well) minus how well they defense the pass (not well).
- ARY/A Differential: The younger sibling of ANY/A Differential (by a week), this is a team's efficiency rushing the football minus the efficiency of their defense in stopping the run, and it factors touchdowns in to provide a better measure than a simple Yards Per Attempt stat.
- TO Differential: Takeaways minus giveaways. If you need help with this one, you must be a Raiders fan and probably refer to this as a ratio.
- Net Field Position: This is a team's average starting field position in terms of yards, minus the average starting field position they allow their opponents.
- Strength of Schedule: This is each team's strength of schedule as viewed through the prism of PFR's SRS (Simple Rating System).
Unfortunately for the Broncos, today's graph most closely resembles that of the Week 8 matchup against the Lions, and we all know how that turned out. As was Detroit, the Jets are clearly the better team, albeit to a much lesser magnitude. Since Tebow has taken over, only the Lions had a better pass defense than the Jets, and only the Dolphins had been better at defending the run than are the Jets.
Surprisingly, the Jets are also the best passing offense Denver will have faced aside from the Lions since Tebow has been the starter, but that is more a function of the Dolphins, Raiders and Chiefs' ineptitude through the air.
Of course, the running game is where it gets interesting, since it's suddenly the Broncos' calling card. They're excelling at both running the ball and stopping the run, just like the Jets of 2009 and 2010, while the Jets themselves aren't running the ball as well anymore.
As usual, Denver is worse in the turnover department and the Jets are far better in terms of field position, and they've also played a tougher schedule than the Broncos have. No, this isn't about taking away from Denver's three wins with Tebow behind center. It's the simple truth.
Here's what it comes down to: as is usually the case when playing better teams, the Broncos will probably need big takeaways and/or ST plays to win tonight. Fortunately, they'll have the altitude, the Jets schedule and having to travel westward and up in altitude on their side. So you're saying there's a chance...