The Dude Abides: The Stats That Don’t Lie, Week 5

"You like the freaky stuff, huh? That's cool. The Stats that Don´t Lie can be naughty, too. Real, freaky naughty."

                                                                                                                                             ----White Goodman

Now that week 5 is over, we can be sure of three things:

  • The Broncos can play with any team in the NFL.
  • Gloves are made to be removed.
  • Mustard and brown can never look as ugly as silver and black.

Once again welcome to the Stats That Don't Lie, in which we take a look at the Week 5 games from the perspective of Turnovers, Field Position, Time of Possession, and 3rd Down Efficiency.  In other words, the stuff that the Raiders aren't very good at.

As always, for those that need a primer, just click on this link.

A few words before the numbers.  The Denver-New England game was classic case of one team dominating the first half statistically.  New England was mauling Denver in all 4 of the categories.  But by the end of the game, however, Denver had reversed course, specifically in time of possession and 3rd down efficiency.    And even though New England technically won the turnover battle and the field position battle, realistically, the two teams were tied in both categories (Orton's Hail Mary).

I wrote last week that Denver needed to really focus on working on its special teams and 3rd down efficiency, because the trends were not positive.  I would still make this case, although they have improved with respect to 3rd downs.   Josh McDaniels essentially said as much this week when said the team played as poorly as they could have on special teams and somehow were still able to come out with a win against New England.

The stats confirm this.  Here is where Denver ranks in the 4 categories through week five:

  • Average Turnovers/Game:  Tied for 5th
  • Average Starting Field Position: 23rd
  • Average Time of Possession: 8th
  • Average 3rd Down Efficiency: 19th

It will be interesting how McDaniels addresses the field position issue.  In week 5, McKinley was back returning kicks.  Will this continue?  

To me the most interesting game of the week statistically was the Kansas City/Dallas game.   Dallas turned the ball over more, got pounded in time of possession,  and lastly, the Chiefs (on average) had much better starting field position.  This clearly pointed to a Chiefs victory  (in fact, I picked the Chiefs based on how well they were doing with turnovers and field position).  However, it didn't happen.  Why not?  The answer is 3rd down conversions.  The Chiefs are last in the league in converting third downs (averaging 19.22% per game) and in the Dallas game they were 5/17.   Simply atrocious.

Another lesson is clear from this game:  turnovers and field position are the two great equalizers.  Kansas City had no business being in this game with Dallas.  But when you lose the battle of field position and turnovers, and you lose it badly, you are in for a long day no matter who you are facing (the Raiders notwithstanding).

A quick note before getting into the stats.  Last week, it was pointed out correctly that I have been calling a "win" in the turnover category if the team that won the game tied in the turnover category.   This is true.  I have been taking a tie goes to the runner approach.  Next week, I am going begin separating this out so that everyone can see both the frequency with which both teams tie in turnovers, but also so that it will give a more clear picture.

Here is the week 5 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 8 of the 14 games played (57%).
  • The team that had better third down efficiency won 10 of the 14 games played (71%).
  • The team that had better average starting field position won 8 of the 14 games played (57%).
  • There were  5 games this week in which a team won all four categories.  In 4 of the 5, the same team won on the scoreboard (80%).  For the season, this stat is 24 out of 25 games.
  • The winning teams this week averaged 1.21 turnovers, 31:42 in time of possession, 44.01% on 3rd downs, and their average starting field position was the 29.14 yard line.
  • Top 5 in giveaways: KC, PHI, SEA, NYJ, MIA (all tied with 0 giveaways)
  • Top 5 in time of possession: 1.DEN! (OT)  2.ATL  3. NYG  4.SEA   5. KC  6. TB 
  • Top 5 in 3rd downs: 1.DET  2.MIA  3.MIN  4.IND   5.ATL
  • Top 5 in avg. starting field position: 1.NYG  2.ATL  3.CLE  4. KC  5.CAR
  • Of the 76 games that have been played this season, 85.53% were won by the team with less turnovers, 65.79% with a better time of possession, 64.47% by the team who won on 3rd down, and 71.05% by the team that won the field position battle.

Also, here are the 5-week averages that you can use as a benchmark for this week's stats:



  • 5-week running average, turnovers (all teams): 1.59


  • 5-week running average, time of possession (all teams): 30:11 (thanks to the TEN/PIT, CLE/CIN, DEN/NE, and DAL/KC overtime games)


  • 5-week running average, 3rd down efficiency (all teams): 36.81%


  • 5-week running average, starting field position (all teams) 29.11 yard line
  • Score                     TOs                     TOP                Third Down             Field Pos    Comment
    CIN 17                   2                           34:19              38.46%                    21.64           Cincy can run...and run clock.
    BAL 14                   2                          25:41              27.27%                    26.80

    CLE 6                    1                           28:26               25.00%                   34.85           Shouldn't have been even close.
    BUF 3                    3                           31:34               35.29%                   21.42

    WAS 17                 1                           28:48                22.22%                 33.00            Car. wins 3 of the 4.
    CAR 20                  2                           31:12                33.33%                 34.25

    PIT 28                  1                            27:25                37.50%                  28.18            Detroit impressive on 3rd downs.
    DET 20                 1                            32:35                68.75%                  26.00

    DAL 26                2                            32:00                 41.67%                  22.33            KC & 3rd down = putrid.
    KC 20                  0                            34:38                 29.41%                  34.46
    OAK 7                 3                            23:56                 9.09%                    24.85            The Hutt is bad on 3rd down.        
    NYG 44               1                            36:04                 50.00%                  37.55

    TB 14                 3                             34:33                 50.00%                  28.33             TB a turnover machine.
    PHI 33                0                             25:27                 40.00%                  31.91

    MIN 38               1                             27:21                  63.64%                  21.00             STL a worse TO machine.
    STL 10               4                             32:39                  41.67%                  25.30

    ATL 45              2                             36:29                   57.14%                  36.31              Matt Ryan?  No, field position.
    SF 10               3                              23:31                  28.57%                  26.50

    HOU 21            1                              33:25                   30.77%                  28.77              Houston, explain yourself.           
    ARI 28             1                              26:35                   22.22%                  26.25

    NE 17             1                               28:22                    35.71%                 25.82              5-0!  Suck it down, Clayton.
    DEN 20          2                               36:29                     42.86%                 25.67

    JAX 0             2                              25:16                    15.38%                  20.09              Win all 4 and you win.
    SEA 41           0                              34:44                    42.86%                  33.55

    IND 31           2                               33:38                     57.14%                 31.30              Manning deadly on 3rd down.
    TEN 9            2                               26:22                     35.71%                 27.00

    NYJ 27          0                               26:25                     36.36%                  26.90              Miami is better than you think.
    MIA 31          0                               33:35                     64.29%                  23.22

    If you're wondering how the Broncos and Chargers match up with respect to the 4 categories, here you go (these are averages per game):

    TEAM           Turnovers          TOP          3rd Down           Field Position

    Den              1                       31:46          36.19%                 27.38

    SD                1.67                  30:50           50.30%                 28.97

    Given that Denver has an overtime game, the TOP for each team is about even.  San Diego has been a monster on 3rd downs, and slightly better in field position.  Denver has bested SD in the most important categories, turnovers.  It appears as if this game could hinge again on Denver's defense and whether or not it can get SD off the field on 3rd downs.

    Go Broncos!  

    Last Stat: Percentage Change Orton has a complete neckbeard in Week 6: 26.74%

    Originally posted at MHR

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

    Agree, disagree, just like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so I can quit my day job.

    Mark it ZeroStats That Don't Lie