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:
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).
A quick note before we examine the numbers: Chase Stuart pointed out the other day that ANY/A is more effective as a retrodictive stat rather than a predictive one, due to the randomness of touchdowns and interceptions, and he writes that NY/A is a better metric for predicting outcomes. I'm going to consider switching the STDL passing metric to NY/A from ANY/A because of this, and of course I'll make it clear if/when I do so.
As for what the numbers say about these two rivals, a couple of things have changed since their last meeting: Denver has become very efficient at running the ball and stopping the run, while the Chargers have declined significantly in all facets aside from net field position.
With the Chargers having major trouble protecting Philip Rivers due to an injury-riddled offensive line, it would appear the Broncos have a pretty good chance to pull off the rare divisional road sweep. The game probably comes down to turnovers, although it's worth noting that the Broncos run defense had its worst performance of the year against San Diego the first time around, as the Chargers pounded out 206 yards and a touchdown on the ground.