The Dude Abides: The Stats That Don’t Lie, Week 6

That's what I love about these Stats That Don't Lie, man. I get older, they stay the same age. 

 ---Matthew McConaughey

Week 6.  Another Broncos win.  Another way for Eddie Royal to electrify Denver fans (outside of Taco Bell).  And one to grow on for the kids:

                    If you want  to beat this year's Broncos, you better bring a lunch pail...and a whole lot of hope.

Welcome once again to the Stats That Don't Lie, your weekly shot of statistical Human Growth Hormone.  These are the Elvis Dumervil of stats.  You simply can't get away from them. They are the Mike Tyson of stats.  They will eat your children.  They are Turnovers, Field Position, Time of Possession, and 3rd Down Efficiency.

A few words before the numbers.  The Denver-San Diego game was strangely similar to last week's game.  In the first half, Denver was dominated statistically (and I was devolving from primate status as usual in the game threads).  But by the end of the game, Denver had reversed course once again, taking over the lead in all 4 of the statistically categories, including time of possession, which, at first, glance, one would have thought impossible in the first half.  In all fairness, part of the first half statistics were skewed because of Royal's 2 TD returns, which meant that Denver wasn't working clock.

I again wrote last week that Denver needed to make strides in both 3rd down efficiency and field position, and they did just that.  Let's quickly look at where Denver ranked after week 5 and where they rank after week six in the 4 categories:


Average Turnovers/Game:  Tied for 5th 

Average Starting Field Position: 23rd

Average Time of Possession: 8th 

Average 3rd Down Efficiency: 19th


Average Turnovers/Game:  2nd (3 teams tied for 1st) 

Average Starting Field Position: 20th

Average Time of Possession: 7th 

Average 3rd Down Efficiency: 11th

As you can see, they improved in all 4 categories, but made significant strides in 3rd down efficiency.  If Denver continues these trends, they are going to be extremely hard to beat.   I will let others deal with what is probably Denver's primary weakness at this point, short yardage.

One of the most interesting statistical games of week 6 (and one that proves my points, which I'm always down for) was the New England-Tennessee game.  Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if a team turned the ball over 5 times, converted virtually zero 3rd downs,  had the ball half as long as its opponent, and it's opponent starting on average near mid field?  No?  That's good. First, it shows you have a life outside of football.  But more importantly, it's not something that ever happens.  But this game was a nice little lab experiment nonetheless.  The result was a 59-0 beating.

And it could have been worse.  Several MSM writers have rightly noted that Bellichick, had he really wanted to run up the score, could have gone for the record books, attempting to eclipse the 73-0 beat down the Redskins took from the Bears in 1940 (no, there is no truth to the rumor that the Redskins were coached that day by someone related to Jim Zorn).  

I am also painfully compelled to speak about the Chiefs again.  They had another game in which they committed zero turnovers.  This time they finally won, but only because their opponent finally had a week in which they were worse than the Chiefs on 3rd down.   Leave it to the Redskins (almost sounds like Raiders if you say it fast).

The Chiefs are ranked 1st in average turnovers/game, 6th in Time of Possession,  and 12th in Field Position.   Now, if they could only get their 3rd down conversion percentage above 20%, they would be downright dangerous.   I am very serious about this.  The Broncos would do well not to sleep on these guys.  They might be 1-5, but they've played Dallas, New York, and Baltimore tough.  They are not even as close to as bad as everyone thinks.  Do not sleep on these guys.

Week 6 Summaries:

  • The team that won the turnover battle (including ties) won 11 of 14 games played (79%).
  • In the previous category, remove the ties (not my preference) and this sinks to 63%
  • The team that won the time of possession battle won 13 of the 14 games played (93%).
  • The team that had better third down efficiency won 11 of the 14 games played (79%).
  • The team that had better average starting field position won 11 of the 14 games played (79%).
  • There were  8 games this week in which a team won all four categories.  In 8 of the 8, the same team won on the scoreboard (100%).  For the season, this stat is 32 out of 33 games.
  • The winning teams this week averaged 1.57 turnovers, 36:13 in time of possession, 44.90% on 3rd downs, and their average starting field position was the 33.22 yard line.

Top 5 in Week 6:

  • Top 5 in giveaways: 6 tied with 0 (including Denver)
  • Top 5 in time of possession: 1.ARZ  2.JAX  3.GB   4.BUF  5.NE  
  • Top 5 in 3rd downs: 1.JAX  2.CAR  3.DEN!  4.CHI   5.TB
  • Top 5 in avg. starting field position: 1.NE  2.ARZ  3.CAR  4.GB  5.NO

Running Totals, Season:

  • 90 games have been played this season
  • 84.44% were won by the team with less turnovers (counting ties as wins)
  • 70% with a better time of possession
  • 66.67% by the team who won on 3rd down
  • 72.22% by the team that won the field position battle.

6-week Averages for Benchmarking This Week's Games:

  • 6-week running average, turnovers (all teams): 1.66
  • 6-week running average, time of possession (all teams): 30:16 (thanks to numerous OT games)
  • 6-week running average, 3rd down efficiency (all teams): 36.61%
  • 6-week running average, starting field position (all teams) 29.33 yard line


Score           TOs           TOP           Third Down           Field Pos      Comment
BAL 31          0                25:17         38.46%                  26.15             Just a battle and even game.  Score is reflective.
MIN 33          0                34:43         35.71%                  28.92

NYG 27        2                23:53          30.00%                   30.69             Like Manning, give Brees the turnovers, it's over.
NO 48          0                36:07           53.85%                  36.58

CLE 14       4                 23:14           38.46%                  34.82              Penchant for TOs will cost Pit eventually.
PIT 27         4                 36:46           36.36%                  27.08

HOU 28      2                 36:15           50.00%                  34.38               Hou wins all 4 categories, this is the result.
CIN 17        3                 23:45           41.67%                  25.62

DET 0         3                19:12            0.00%                     27.90              Detroit can't convert a 3rd down.
GB 26         2                40:48            50.00%                   37.27

CAR 28       3                 32:21            57.14%                   39.00             Carolina dominates field position.
TB 21          2                  27:39           54.55%                    23.90

KC 14         0                  37:10           23.53%                    36.54             KC finds a team worse on 3rd down.
WAS 6        2                  22:50           14.29%                    31.91

STL 20       1                  24:48            33.33%                   26.20              Even STL stays in the game when you turn it over
JAX 23        3                 42:12             68.75%                   26.54

PHI 9          0                  26:58            12.50%                    29.21             Oak wins perplexes, except 3rd down stat      
OAK13       2                  33:02             28.57%                   26.60

ARI 27        2                 42:50             50.00%                    41.46              Seattle and 3rd downs...grease fire.
SEA 3         2                 17:10             0.00%                      20.25

TEN 0        5                  21:00            10.00%                     27.00              Utter destruction.
NE 59        0                  39:00            45.45%                     42.46

BUF 16      2                 39:03             31.25%                     33.29              It's not TO, it's the Turnovers, Buffalo!
NYJ 13       6                 33:13             20.00%                     25.07

CHI 14       3                 33:54               56.25%                    31.50             Chi #1 in Field Pos. or things could be worse
ATL 21       2                 26:06              41.67%                     23.92

DEN 34     0                 30:43                56.25%                   31.00             Denver back in the saddle on 3rd downs.
SD 23        1                 29:17                18.18%                   23.30

Since it's the bye week, I'm going to wait until next week to compare Baltimore and Denver on the 4 category of stats, so we will see where they match up.  Also during the bye week I hope to come up with some statistics showing winning percentages by number of turnovers.  So we'll get to see how the number of turnovers a team commits during a game correlates with winning.

Lastly, two weeks ago, I developed a formula that I described that takes these four categories, weights them, and then tries to predict the week's winners. The first week I tried this I was 14-0.  I had thought I had discovered some secret formula.

As you can imagine, I have come back to earth with this method, going 8 for 14 in week 5 and 8 out of 14 in week 6. I still think there is a lot of merit in this formula, so like Wile E. Coyote, I'm heading back to the drawing board for some more tweaking.

Go Broncos!!!

Last Stat:  Percentage chance Kyle Orton sports A neck beard during his bye week: 92.36%

Originally posted at MHR

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

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