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NFL Team Efficiency

2019 Week 13 aEPA

Baltimore’s rushing offense is now more efficient than every team’s passing offense except … it’s own. Couple that offense with the third best pass defense (a mile behind New England and San Francisco), and you have real separation between the top team and everyone else through 12 games. Analytics twitter (aka, Ravens twitter) has dubbed the Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker “The Only Kicker That Matters.” Truly, after three quarters of the season, Baltimore’s only weakness is run defense, where they are just barely below average. Unfortunately for the rest of the NFL, we’re unlikely to see an offense good enough at running to take advantage of it. The best opportunity is the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, who operate the league’s fourth best rushing attack (including scrambles, for now). If the Bills can stay on schedule, they might have a shot at making this a game. Otherwise, their sub-average passing and average defense will be no match for the juggernaut.

One of the two matchups of the week will be the Chiefs against the Patriots. Mahomes & co. are operating a top-4 offense and an above-average defense, while the Pats’ defense is still fantastic, and Houston’s performance doesn’t actually affect that much, they’ll need to be perfect unless the offense finds its feet. Brady is going through his worst slump in sixteen years right now, and there isn’t much positive to take from it. I pointed out on twitter this Sunday that we can compare Sanu’s performance with the Patriots with his performance in the Falcons offense. When we do, we find that his catch percentage is down from 78.5% to 60.7%. Part of that is being thrown to in tighter windows (his average separation is down), part is variance, but part of that is Brady just not putting it on him the way Ryan did. Brady’s accuracy is below average: 2.7% completion percentage below expectation (Ryan is tenth, at +2.1%, just in front of Lamar Jackson). Despite that, most analytics models, including mine, are going to pick New England to win, but the path to victory for the Chiefs is very similar to the one the Texans rode Sunday, and Mahomes at his best is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL capable of causing the Patriots problems.

Last week, we had the 49ers (then-ranked 3rd) against the top-ranked Ravens, and this week, the now-2nd-ranked 49ers are traveling to the 4th-ranked Saints. Brees is no longer the deep threat he once was, with average intended air yards at 6.5, third lowest in the NFL this season (ahead of only Oakland’s Derek Carr at 6.4 and teammate Teddy Bridgewater at 6.2), and he’s not throwing into tight windows (his 10% aggressiveness is lowest in the NFL). He’s 4/17 with 2 interceptions on throws 20 yards or more downfield this season. Now he goes into the teeth of the defense that kept the Ravens in check last week. Offense is generally less variable than defense, but the Saints offense was recently held to a field goal by the 29th-ranked Falcons defense at home, coming off a bye week. Can’t wait to see this one.

2019 NFL aEPA: Week 13

 aEPARkOff. aEPA/PRkPass OffRkRun OffRkDef. aEPA/PRkPass DefRkRun DefRk
BAL260.6610.260210.308710.228310.064240.12233-0.026920
SF217.4120.0389120.13936-0.0556230.25820.387910.08998
NE198.730.0098170.023316-0.0143150.260110.343320.1117
NO117.9540.087460.111100.043860.061150.0178100.14823
KC85.9850.11340.18754-0.0298180.0122110.09085-0.087528
DAL81.5660.14320.185450.09543-0.047720-0.077421-0.020919
SEA79.3370.071980.131570.018590.03280.017110.084610
MIN71.1980.100250.208920.007712-0.001516-0.0241150.036214
HOU57.5790.120330.190130.02368-0.054222-0.1131250.055911
LA57.27100.0269130.089512-0.077260.03427-0.023140.11176
PIT42.4811-0.094127-0.041823-0.1638310.138930.114640.18021
TB28.17120.0049190.016318-0.009140.029310-0.0309160.17062
TEN23.25130.001200.059615-0.0724240.02959-0.0397180.14735
GB21.54140.08670.126490.014210-0.051621-0.012113-0.104230
BUF10.9150.0214-0.0188200.07544-0.0004150.05587-0.102829
CLE3.9116-0.001621-0.0274210.034170.0068140.03689-0.034624
IND-13.44170.011315-0.0413220.06725-0.036219-0.039317-0.032122
ATL-33.6180.057590.084313-0.025117-0.107729-0.2237310.024515
LAC-35.93190.0079180.076914-0.1127-0.061123-0.066120-0.0627
PHI-41.3420-0.017722-0.014519-0.048221-0.029118-0.1041240.08579
CHI-41.7821-0.108329-0.082726-0.1669320.05260.049380.045713
OAK-44.68220.0553100.13088-0.031820-0.107628-0.171427-0.027421
CAR-46.7923-0.047123-0.079250.012811-0.0106170.0726-0.142132
DET-53.14240.01160.096311-0.125128-0.066724-0.090623-0.041325
DEN-58.7325-0.084425-0.119828-0.0317190.0074130.0068120.017516
ARI-68.35260.0485110.0212170.10682-0.126231-0.2093300.014217
JAX-93.4727-0.050724-0.075124-0.00413-0.069425-0.050319-0.106731
NYJ-108.6528-0.164632-0.194731-0.1326300.012112-0.0776220.1484
NYG-150.929-0.104828-0.15530-0.021416-0.089727-0.2019290.048112
CIN-158.4430-0.092526-0.114627-0.051422-0.111930-0.176228-0.046526
WAS-170.8631-0.143931-0.21232-0.073625-0.088926-0.162926-0.008818
MIA-237.7632-0.129730-0.132729-0.128429-0.17232-0.298732-0.033723
Statistics are through Week 13. Computed with data pulled from official NFL play-by-play with nflscrapR, and adjusted for strength of schedule using a method similar to Massey (1997).

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