The Dude Abides: The Stats That Don’t Lie, Week 4

Nobody Puts The Stats That Don't Lie in A Corner

-Patrick Swayze

Week 4 is officially in the bag.  The Broncos picked up another big win,  Kyle Orton taught us all not to go out and get dirty without some form of protection (on the hand, the kids are still up), and Josh McDaniels and Brandon Marshall doled out a very important moral lesson:

Welcome to the Week 4 addition of the Stats That Don't Lie, your guilty little escape from the Jay Cutler vs. Kyle Orton debate, in which we explore the four stats that really do matter when it comes to winning football games (in order of importance): Turnovers, Field Position, Time of Possession, and Converting on 3rd downs.

As I've said before, if you win these four categories, you win.  Period.  And yes, I don't care whether your QB is Johnny Unitas or Johnny Utah.  

For those that need a primer, just click on this link.

Before we get to this week´s numbers, a few words about the games.  First, for as much publicity as the Broncos are receiving lately for being the "real deal," they've got some real work to do with respect to 3rd down efficiency, time of possession, and field position. Dallas won all three of these categories.   Luckily, the Broncos won the most important stat (and the one that correlates most to winning), which is turnovers.  However, I am sure that inside Dove Valley, McDaniels knows the Broncos absolutely must do a better job on kickoff and punt returns, a better job of controlling clock, and a much better job on 3rd down.  Let's hope Denver can improve in these three areas.

Another game that is worth studying is the San Diego-Pittsburgh game, in which the Steelers actually lost the turnover battle.  It's worth studying because notice what Pittsburgh did in the other three categories.  They simply worked San Diego over with 40 minutes of clock, 67% on 3rd downs, and 6 yards more in average starting field position.  It's rare to see this, but it can be done.  And one should note, the turnover battle was  only lost 2 to 1.

Lastly, Jay Cutler played well last week.  It's okay to admit this.  However, Chicago fans should also be lauding how well they are doing on special teams.  Their average starting field position against Detroit last week was Detroit's 46-yard line.  Viva la special teams!

Here is the week 4 Summary:

  • The team that won the turnover battle won 11 of 14 games played (79%).
  • The team that won the time of possession battle won 9 of the 14 games played (64%).
  • The team that had better third down efficiency won 9 of the 14 games played (64%).
  • The team that had better average starting field position won 10 of the 14 games played (71%).
  • There were 5 games this week in which a team won all four categories.  They also won all 5 of these games (100%).  For the season, this stat is 20 out of 20 games.
  • The winning teams this week averaged 1.29 turnovers, 32:10 in time of possession, 38.65% on 3rd downs, and their average starting field position was the 33.54 yard line.
  • Top 5 in giveaways: 1. CHI  2.SF  3.MIA  4. 8 Teams tied with 1
  • Top 5 in time of possession: 1.PIT  2.CLE (OT)  3.MIA  4.DET   5.CIN (OT)
  • Top 5 in 3rd downs: 1.PIT  2.BAL  3.IND  4.MIN  5.GB
  • Top 5 in avg. starting field position: 1.CHI  2.JAX  3.CLE  4.TB   5.NYG
  • Of the 62 games that have been played this season, 87.10% were won by the team with less turnovers, 67.74% with a better time of possession, 62.90% by the team who won on 3rd down, and 74.19% by the team that won the field position battle.

Also, here are the 4-week averages that you can use as a benchmark for this week's stats: 

  • 4-week running average, turnovers (all teams): 1.60
  • 4-week running average, time of possession (all teams): 30:08 (thanks to the TEN/PIT and CLE/CIN Overtime games)
  • 4-week running average, 3rd down efficiency (all teams): 36.39%
  • 4-week running average, starting field position (all teams) 29.36 yard line
Score            TOs             TOP             Third Down           Field Pos            Comment
DET 24           2                 36:30            41.18%                  18.15                  JC likes throwing hard...and field position.
CHI 48            0                  23:30            20.00%                  53.92
CIN 23            2                 36:01             27.78%                   20.07                 Close in all categories except Field Pos.
CLE 20           2                 38:55             31.58%                   39.06
OAK 6           3                  25:47             13.33%                   24.93                 Hutt can't convert on 3rd down.             
HOU 29         2                  34:13             18.75%                   37.47
SEA 17         2                  31:06              40.00%                   30.64                 Manning w/ turnover battle...deadly.
IND 34          1                  28:54              61.54%                   32.60
NYG 27        2                  30:47              40.00%                   37.46                 KC vomits on 3rd down..again                
KC 16          1                   29:13             13.33%                   28.17
TB 13          2                  31:04              15.38%                   37.58                  My perfect record almost falls. 
WAS 16       4                  28:56              28.57%                   34.83
BAL 21       2                   25:04              64.29%                    21.88                 Pats win from TO and Field Position.
NE 27         1                   34:56              40.00%                    28.82
TEN 17      3                   25:53              50.00%                    18.83                  Collins for help see...Orton, Kyle.
JAX 37       1                   34:07              46.15%                    44.31
BUF 10      3                   22:51              9.09%                       29.00                  Owens?  No...3rd downs and turnovers
MIA 38       0                   37:09              52.94%                     36.18
NYJ 10      4                   27:21               25.00%                     25.85                 Turnovers...what more can you say?
NO 24       1                   32:39               30.77%                     29.45
DAL 10     2                   33:07               21.43%                      26.83                 Neckbeard's 4th game with no INTs!
DEN 17    1                    26:53               20.00%                      23.83
STL 0      3                     29:48               31.25%                      20.15                 STL likes to give the ball up...every week
SF 35      0                     30:12               30.77%                      35.09
SD 28     1                     19:40                33.33%                      28.90                 Pit dominates time of possession
PIT 38    2                     40:20                66.67%                      22.80
GB 23    2                      28:16               53.85%                       20.40                 Min wins all 4....but it's Favre, right?
MIN 30   1                      31:44               57.14%                       32.73

As an interesting side note, this was the first week in which I used the above 4 stats to predict week 4 winners.  And for the 1st time in my pitiful existence, I picked all the week's games correctly.  Perhaps hell is getting cooler and pigs are sprouting wings.

I am not yet ready to believe that this was not a complete fluke (sort of like a Raider fan with a college degree), so I am certainly not going to try and pimp my method to the MHR members.  I will simply say that because of the high correlation to winning that I've noticed with the above 4 stats, I came up with a power number for each team (using a 3 week weighted average, with the highest weight to Turnovers and the lowest to 3rd downs) and then added a 5% bonus for home field advantage.  The team with the highest number I picked.  

But this is a topic for another post.  Denver needs to do a better job on 3rd downs and with field position...along with winning the turnover battle in week 5.

Look forward to your comments!  Go Broncos!

Originally posted at MHR

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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