Stat Nerd Alert: A Rankings Snapshot At The Bye


Warning: This entire post revolves around looking at stats and rankings, so if numbers aren’t your thing just keep scrolling to the next insightful post.

As regular readers of AA already know, this site does a good job of bringing you the best statistical data out there on the Kansas City Chiefs. Between Double D’s DVOA Analysis and Patrick’s Inside The Numbers posts, AA brings you the latest in stat analysis from the best sources on the web (Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders).

I happen to be one of those fans that is always curious about where the Chiefs stack up against the rest of the league and when I’m not looking at the numbers in the posts I mentioned above I’m often digging through numbers on my own in an effort to see exactly where the Chiefs rank. During the bye week I did a little digging around at where the Chiefs rank in some basic categories and how both their previous and future opponents rank in the same areas.

I figured that since I took the time to look the information up and crunch the numbers I might as well post it for anyone else who might be interested.

My findings after the break…..

Alright, let me start off by saying that the chart below is just a snapshot of how things have gone thus far in the 2011 season. I think it is safe to assume that the final rankings will look quite a bit different after week 17 than they do now. For instance, if a team had faced the Packers, Patriots, and Saints in the first 6 weeks of the season their defensive stats are going to look much worse then they may by season’s end. You get the idea.

That having been said, I do think that this data is a nice reference to look at when assessing both how things have gone thus far and what we should expect in the future.

Here’s what I did. I looked up each team on our schedule and found their current NFL ranking in the following areas:

Offensive Points Per Game (O – PPG)
Offensive Yards Per Game (O – YPG)
Offensive Passing Yards Per Game (O – PYPG)
Offensive Rushing Yards Per Game (O – RYPG)
Defensive Points Allowed Per Game (D – PPG)
Defensive Yards Allowed Per Game (D – YPG)
Defensive Passing Yards Allowed Per Game (D – PYPG)
Defensive Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game (D – RYPG)

Now, we could debate all day about the validity of these categories, but basically I just wanted to see how well the teams on our schedule ran the ball, passed the ball, stopped the rush, and stopped the pass. This may not be the most accurate picture, but it does give a nice basic snapshot.

The chart below breaks down the rankings in these areas of each opponent on the Chiefs schedule. It also averages out the rankings of the opponents they’ve faced so far and the opponents still to come. Then at the bottom I showed the Chiefs’ current rankings, but reversed the order so you could compare how the Chiefs did against what the opponent allowed. For example, the Chiefs’ offensive points per game are below the opponents defensive points allowed per game. Finally, I wanted to compare how the Chiefs did in the first two games compared to their last three, so the final two rows show where the Chiefs would rank currently in the NFL if you only averaged those games.

Confused yet? How about I just let you look for yourself.

Here are my results:

Some things to keep in mind:
An average ranking of 16.5 would be smack dab in the middle or “average.” Anything less than 16.5 would mean they were “above average” and a number bigger then 16.5 would be “below average”.

When assessing how the Chiefs fared against their opponents one would expect to see an inverse of the opponent ranking average. In other words, if the teams KC faced had an average points allowed ranking of 10, then one would expect to see the KC points scored average be around 23rd (or 10 from the bottom). This allows you to get some perspective on KC’s rankings based on how good their opponents are in that area. I’ll give you an actual example.

KC’s worst ranking of these eight is their points allowed where they were dead last at 32. However, at least the rankings show that KC faced above average scoring offenses (average ranking being 13.6). On the other hand, KC faced below average defenses in terms of yards allowed (shown by the 17.8 average under D – YPG). That makes their 26th ranking in offensive yards per game look that much worse.

Some Armchair Analysis:
Alright, so what, if anything, can we take from this? I for one think the biggest question is which Chiefs stats tell the true story? Are they as bad as their overall numbers say or are the numbers from the last three weeks a better representation of what we will see the rest of the year? Clearly we can’t just pretend weeks one and two didn’t happen. However, we also are clearly not as bad as the numbers from those two weeks make us look. Nowhere is the contrast greater than in our defensive points allowed. In the last three weeks the Chiefs defense’s points allowed would rank it in the top 10 in the NFL, but their overall ranking is still dead last because of how terrible those first two games were. The entire team seems to be playing better now, the question is how much better?

Now let’s take a look at our opponents’ rankings and see if they can give us any perspective. The first thing that I noticed when looking at the average rankings of the opponents that we’ve already played is that there does seem to be a correlation between their strengths and weaknesses and the Chiefs’ rankings. For example, the highest rated category from the teams they’ve faced is their offensive points per game, which correlates with the Chiefs’ worst ranking area, points allowed. On the flip side, the Chiefs best ranking is in rushing yards per game while the lowest ranked area of the opponents they’ve faced is rushing yards allowed.

So how do our future opponents compare to the teams we have already faced? The general belief is that the schedule is going to be much harder as the team goes forward. Certainly they have to face some very good teams, but the stat averages thus far don’t actually show it. When looking at the averages in all eight categories it’s a four-to-four split on which is higher.

Our future opponents have a better average ranking in O-PPG, O-YPG, O-PYPG, and D-RYPG. The averages are actually lower in O-RYPG, D-PPG, D-YPG, and D-PYPG.

There are two main things I take away from that. First, we had better hope that the defense from the last three games shows up for the rest of the season because if we truly are the worst team in the NFL in points allowed and the opponents on our future schedule average MORE points than the teams that gave us that 32 ranking, we’re in trouble. We simply do not have the offense to contend if we give up more points than any other team in football. On the flip side, if our defense the rest of the way is closer to that #9 ranking that they’ve averaged over the past three games, then that gives the Chiefs a chance.

The second thing that sticks out to me is the importance of our passing attack. Eight of the 11 remaining games on KC’s schedule are against defenses that are ranked 22nd or lower against the pass right now. The average ranking of 20.5 for passing yards allowed is the lowest area of our future opponents and is 4.5 slots worse then the average in that area of our first five games. On the other hand, the average ranking of the run defenses we’ll face is 4.5 slots higher then those of our opponents thus far.

I’ve already been beating the drum for KC to open up the passing game more, especially in the first half. If these averages hold, it seems to indicate that the Chiefs would benefit from following that advice.

Using these numbers to back up my Cassel theory:

I’ve been speculating for a couple of weeks now that a major reason for the failure of the offense during the first two weeks (along with Haley’s failed preseason plan) was that Matt Cassel was hurt a LOT more than what KC let on. Against the Bills, he put up a pathetic 119 yards with 3.31 yards per attempt. That was against the 30th rated pass defense in the NFL so far this season. Stop and imagine what the Bills’ ranking would be if Cassel hadn’t put up such a horrific number. Just two weeks later Cassel went on the road and put up 176 yards and 7.33 yards per attempt against the #2 passing defense in football. Now those may not be great numbers, but if he can do that on the road against one of the best pass defenses it would lead one to believe that something else might have been wrong early on in the season. That gives me hope that Cassel should not look THAT bad going forward and, when combined with the lower ranked pass defenses and getting Jon Baldwin on the field, makes me believe those passing numbers should continue to go up.

So KC fans, what do you think? Anything in these numbers jump out at you? Anything give you hope? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!