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2015 Team Efficiency Ratings

Let me begin with the ratings; then we’ll get to the explanation.

RkTeamOff RushOff PassOff AvgDef RushDef PassDef AvgTeam Avg
1Arizona Cardinals6.5211.129.515.47.76.92.61
2Carolina Panthers6.949.928.885.486.756.312.57
3Seattle Seahawks7.0810.319.185.227.636.792.39
4Cincinnati Bengals6.0310.398.866.37.346.971.89
5Kansas City Chiefs7.558.788.355.987.226.791.56
6New York Jets6.38.938.014.837.656.661.35
7New England Patriots6.3510.098.785.698.397.441.34
8Pittsburgh Steelers7.19.328.545.068.897.551
9Denver Broncos6.247.687.185.36.776.260.92
10Buffalo Bills7.189.058.396.88.527.920.47
11Houston Texans5.588.47.416.187.627.120.3
12Tampa Bay Buccaneers6.719.38.395.549.628.190.2
13Minnesota Vikings6.988.127.726.358.517.75-0.03
14Green Bay Packers6.298.137.496.518.067.52-0.03
15Oakland Raiders5.768.47.486.578.37.7-0.22
16Atlanta Falcons5.99.067.956.768.958.18-0.23
17Washington Redskins5.139.978.286.689.578.56-0.28
18Chicago Bears6.188.887.936.79.538.54-0.61
19St. Louis Rams6.447.266.975.918.537.61-0.64
20Detroit Lions5.538.987.776.69.458.45-0.68
21New York Giants5.759.27.996.479.948.73-0.73
22Miami Dolphins6.518.347.76.429.748.58-0.88
23San Diego Chargers5.039.067.657.259.348.61-0.96
24Jacksonville Jaguars5.558.547.496.149.728.47-0.98
25Philadelphia Eagles6.197.987.356.799.178.34-0.98
26Baltimore Ravens5.837.797.115.749.458.15-1.04
27New Orleans Saints6.5410.028.86.7211.559.86-1.06
28Indianapolis Colts5.497.456.776.18.967.96-1.2
29Dallas Cowboys6.647.547.237.029.368.55-1.32
30Tennessee Titans5.397.887.016.319.778.56-1.55
31Cleveland Browns5.877.847.156.710.319.04-1.9
32San Francisco 49ers5.757.496.886.9410.058.96-2.08

Let’s begin with a look at the rushing data. The Chiefs grade out as the number one offense in rushing efficiency in 2015. Kansas City rushed for 2,044 yards and 116 first downs; giving 9 yards for each first down gives the Chiefs 3,088 adjusted rushing yards. Kansas City also had 19 rushing touchdowns, and since a touchdown is always a first down, we add another 11 yards per rushing touchdown to bring the total to 3,297. The Chiefs also had 14 kneels that cost the team 14 rushing yards last year; add those back in, and Kansas City is now up to 3,311 yards. On rushing plays, Kansas City fumbled 5 times; subtract 25 yards for each fumble (these are fumbles, not fumbles lost), and the Chiefs finished with 3,186 yards.

Kansas City recorded 436 rushing attempts last year, but we need to discard those 14 kneels. Take 3,186, divide it by 422, and you get an average of 7.55 adjusted yards per play.

RkTeamAttYds1stTDKnKnydFumEff
1Kansas City Chiefs43620441161914-1457.55
2Buffalo Bills50924321221917-2097.18
3Pittsburgh Steelers3881724911620-2057.1
4Seattle Seahawks50022681281023-2477.08
5Minnesota Vikings47422111131813-1896.98
6Carolina Panthers52622821361917-1786.94
7Tampa Bay Buccaneers4552162991211-1896.71
8Dallas Cowboys40818909488-876.64
9New Orleans Saints3971491981616-1636.54
10Arizona Cardinals4521917921630-2986.52
11Miami Dolphins3441496721110-1046.51
12St. Louis Rams4291956921614-14126.44
13New England Patriots3831404871419-2126.35
14New York Jets4481868991113-1166.3
15Green Bay Packers4361850100814-1586.29
16Denver Broncos411171885139-956.24
17Philadelphia Eagles44217431101512-12106.19
18Chicago Bears4681854108137-656.18
19Cincinnati Bengals4671805991817-1886.03
20Atlanta Falcons4201606951314-1595.9
21Cleveland Browns38015298156-655.87
22Baltimore Ravens38314788982-365.83
23Oakland Raiders370145774712-1265.76
24New York Giants40316097759-945.75
25San Francisco 49ers390154483711-1085.75
26Houston Texans472173190721-2455.58
27Jacksonville Jaguars35414736956-695.55
28Detroit Lions354133571712-1675.53
29Indianapolis Colts396143877619-2165.49
30Tennessee Titans371148566105-795.39
31Washington Redskins429156681914-12115.13
32San Diego Chargers39313587946-975.03

Now, let’s do the same with passing. We will be essentially using ANY/A, but with a 9-yard bonus for first downs as well. To no surprise, the Cardinals take the top spot by a decent margin, while the Rams bring up the rear. Note that sack yards are already “included” in this table, as the passing yards displayed shows team passing yards, or net passing yards.

RkTeamAttYdsTDInt1stSckEff
1Arizona Cardinals562461635132372711.12
2Cincinnati Bengals50539233191913210.39
3Seattle Seahawks48937903481904610.31
4New England Patriots62945873672293810.09
5New Orleans Saints667497032122473210.02
6Washington Redskins55540953011208279.97
7Carolina Panthers50135893510197339.92
8Pittsburgh Steelers59046032621207339.32
9Tampa Bay Buccaneers53538522215201279.30
10New York Giants62343433614208279.20
11San Diego Chargers66745913013230409.06
12Atlanta Falcons62143792117230329.06
13Buffalo Bills4653343239155429.05
14Detroit Lions63242123314236448.98
15New York Jets60440573316210228.93
16Chicago Bears52336602112177348.88
17Kansas City Chiefs4733255207155468.78
18Jacksonville Jaguars60741083518215518.54
19Oakland Raiders60538793414193338.40
20Houston Texans61938332912210368.40
21Miami Dolphins58838112412194458.34
22Green Bay Packers5733503318173478.13
23Minnesota Vikings4542928149153458.12
24Philadelphia Eagles62340872318193377.98
25Tennessee Titans55135032517195547.88
26Cleveland Browns60937822012192537.84
27Baltimore Ravens67642712121211247.79
28Denver Broncos60639701923201397.68
29Dallas Cowboys52834711622175337.54
30San Francisco 49ers52633161612154537.49
31Indianapolis Colts61937042619195377.45
32St. Louis Rams47328051111126187.26

Next up, rush defense. The Jets allowed 1,335 rushing yards, 62 first downs (bringing the total to 1,893 yards), 4 touchdowns (1,937). The Jets also faced 11 kneels for -12 yards (1,949) and caused 8 fumbles (1,749). The Jets faced 373 carries, or 362 net carries, for an average of 4.83 adjusted yards allowed per run. That was the best in the NFL in 2015.

RkTeamAttYds1stTDFUMKnKnydEff
1New York Jets3731335624811-124.83
2Pittsburgh Steelers38214597161211-125.06
3Seattle Seahawks36213047110910-105.22
4Denver Broncos40813378110414-145.30
5Arizona Cardinals3731460799127-75.40
6Carolina Panthers3641415741193-35.48
7Tampa Bay Buccaneers466160610412920-225.54
8New England Patriots397158077867-75.69
9Baltimore Ravens41816618010712-135.74
10St. Louis Rams4531820987918-175.91
11Kansas City Chiefs383157186776-95.98
12Indianapolis Colts452195289141014-166.10
13Jacksonville Jaguars464170910215422-246.14
14Houston Texans38815977910515-146.18
15Cincinnati Bengals344147774845-46.30
16Tennessee Titans462179710111322-246.31
17Minnesota Vikings4111748947612-126.35
18Miami Dolphins502201911213317-196.42
19New York Giants4441942104151114-156.47
20Green Bay Packers4201905961383-36.51
21Oakland Raiders4061678941228-86.57
22Detroit Lions42818089618717-196.60
23Washington Redskins406196210310135-56.68
24Cleveland Browns458205510411614-146.70
25Chicago Bears43319341039612-126.70
26New Orleans Saints421207110312159-126.72
27Atlanta Falcons416168010720715-246.76
28Philadelphia Eagles478215310010320-206.79
29Buffalo Bills39417308710420-216.80
30San Francisco 49ers504202012820426-266.94
31Dallas Cowboys461193411316220-217.02
32San Diego Chargers417200510117712-117.25

Of note: the San Francisco 49ers ranked 12th in yards per carry allowed, which might make you think the rush defense was pretty good. But that is really misleading. San Francisco allowed a first down on 27% of rushing attempts faced, the worst rate in the NFL. And the team allowed touchdowns on over 4% of all carries, the 4th worst rate. And the defense only forced a fumble on 0.8% of rushing attempts, the 27th-best rate.1 Add it all up, and the 49ers actually had one of the worst run defenses in the league, that got a huge boost in raw numbers because San Francisco faced a league-high 26 kneels.2

Finally, let’s look at pass defense. Again, these mirror ANY/A, with a first down bonus. And, as you would expect, Carolina and Denver top the ratings, with the Saints at the very bottom.

RkTeamAttYdsTDInt1stSckEff
1Carolina Panthers65037522124198446.75
2Denver Broncos57331931914162526.77
3Kansas City Chiefs60736982522193477.22
4Cincinnati Bengals64639761821202427.34
5Houston Texans55333662414173457.62
6Seattle Seahawks54833641414175377.63
7New York Jets60137632518185397.65
8Arizona Cardinals57336872419177367.70
9Green Bay Packers55136422016183438.06
10Oakland Raiders64141402514206388.30
11New England Patriots59638512412204498.39
12Minnesota Vikings56137592413189438.51
13Buffalo Bills60239723017197218.52
14St. Louis Rams59740652113192418.53
15Pittsburgh Steelers62543502917231488.89
16Atlanta Falcons56138821915197198.95
17Indianapolis Colts58541142917210358.96
18Philadelphia Eagles63342733615239379.17
19San Diego Chargers51037862211170329.34
20Dallas Cowboys5063632198172319.36
21Baltimore Ravens5453737306189379.45
22Detroit Lions5283786279191439.45
23Chicago Bears5123593318182359.53
24Washington Redskins56641283011202389.57
25Tampa Bay Buccaneers54038403111208389.62
26Jacksonville Jaguars6024291299222369.72
27Miami Dolphins54240003113203319.74
28Tennessee Titans50236783411192399.77
29New York Giants63847833115236239.94
30San Francisco 49ers54941792191992810.05
31Cleveland Browns511401234111862910.31
32New Orleans Saints54445444592233111.55

One of the problems with yards per play is that it is subject to Simpson’s paradox: teams that pass often (or face teams that pass often) will generally allow more yards per play just because passing gains more yards per play than rushing. So when I came up with my offensive and defensive ratings, I took 65 parts of the team’s passing rating and 35 parts of the team’s rushing rating, which eliminates the problem entirely. You may disagree with those weights — I spent about 10 seconds deciding on them, but they felt right to me — and you have all the information you need to re-run the numbers with your own weights.

Anyway, as always, please leave your thoughts in the comments. What do you think of this method of rating teams?

  1. I’m not sure how predictive or indicative of talent this stat is — the Saints were #1 at 3.6% — but in the interest of mirroring the offensive numbers, I think it makes sense to include. Perhaps a subject worthy of further study. []
  2. Note that those kneels were excluded in calculating the stats explained in this paragraph. []
  • Carolina and Seattle were the only teams to rank in the top 8 in all four metrics. Seattle actually beat Carolina in 3 of the 4, with pass defense (!) being the one area where Carolina had the edge.

  • I do something similar, but I also weigh offense more heavily than defense when trying to use it as a predictive stat.

    • That’s probably a good idea. 60/40?

      • If I recall correctly, the split I landed on was 57/43, so….yea basically 60/40.

  • Tom

    Man…hard to reconcile Arizona being at the top of this list after what happened last night. But, as they say, that’s why they play the games…

  • Trepur

    The most interesting part is the least efficient passing unit (St Louis Rams) is more efficient then the 2nd most efficient rushing unit. Which would certainly suggest that for pretty much every, passing more and rushing less would increase their per play efficiency, meaning none are near the nash equilibrium.

    However that said a large chunk of the efficiency gap may be influenced by context. Teams run a lot in short yardage situations and in to run out the clock near the end of the game, these rushing plays are inefficient (in terms of yards per play) but highly beneficial.

    I wonder what neutral situation (1st/2nd down in first half [outside 2 minute warning] or a close 3rd quarter game) efficiency difference is. Would be nice seeing how suboptimal every team is in terms of how much they rush.