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...
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. As we all know, passing the football is the most reliable way to win games in the NFL. ANY/A has the highest correlation to winning of any metric out there. ANY/A Differential is merely one team's ANY/A minus the ANY/A they've allowed on defense. In other words, how well Denver passes the ball minus how well they defense the pass.
- 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.
- 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).
Thankfully, the difference between these two teams' numbers is nothing like when the Broncos faced the Packers, but it still points to some serious problems. For one, the Lions are much better at both passing and stopping the pass, which adds up to a whole lot of trouble. If this is confusing, go back and re-read item #1.
Denver's lone advantage is with run differential, as the Broncos have fared better both running it on offense and stopping the run on defense as compared to Detroit. Obviously, this aligns with Ted's assertion that Denver must run the ball effectively if they're to have any hope of winning tomorrow.
The Broncos and Lions are polar opposites when it comes to ball security on offense and taking it away on defense, and no - this is not a good thing. Denver gives it up (13) almost as much as Detroit takes it (15), and a giveaway by the Lions (5) is even rarer than a Denver takeaway (8). Hopefully this is simply a matter of the normally surehanded Kyle Orton having created a slew of turnovers while he was starting; the Broncos have only coughed it up once in the three halves of play since Tebow took over (Willis McGahee's fumble last week).
Field position and strength of schedule don't serve to make this matchup appear to be any more even, so we may be stuck hoping for another Tebow-led miracle tomorrow on Orange Sunday.