How will the Broncos do without Peyton Manning? There are certainly reasons to think Denver will be fine, and Von Miller is one of the biggest reasons. Last year, the Broncos ranked in the bottom 3 in offensive ANY/A and 2nd in defensive ANY/A. According to Football Outsiders, the Broncos ranked 25th in passing DVOA and 1st in DVOA on pass defense. Sure, Mark Sanchez is not great, but he’s pretty familiar with taking a team with a bad offense and a great defense to the playoffs.
Among the 50 Super Bowl winners, Denver had arguably the worst passing offense during the regular season of those teams. The table below displays each team’s Relative ANY/A — i.e., each team’s ANY/A relative to league average. The Broncos offense averaged 5.14 ANY/A, which was just over a full ANY/A below average. On the X-Axis, I have plotted how each Super Bowl winner fared in offensive RANY/A; on the Y-Axis, I have shown defensive ANY/A. So the 2015 Broncos will be (relatively) high and to the left; the 2002 Bucs/2013 Seahawks will be very high and in the middle, and the ’98 Broncos/’06 Colts will be down and to the right. Teams like 1966 Green Bay and 1991 Washington were really, really good and balanced, so they are up and to the right.
After running these numbers, the most interesting thing to me was the placement of the 1976 Raiders. There have been some teams with mediocre pass defenses — the ’07 Giants, ’11 Giants, ’98 Broncos, ’12 Ravens — but only one that boasted a negative RANY/A. And Oakland’s RANY/A wasn’t just bad, but pretty far from average: the Raiders pass defense was about half a yard worse than average, thanks to an ugly yards per completion rate and a below-average interception rate.
What’s fascinating about that Raiders team is that not only did they win the Super Bowl, but Oakland went 13-1 during the regular season. That’s, in part, because guys like Ken Stabler and Mark van Eeghen, Cliff Branch, and Dave Casper had great years (not to mention an offensive line featuring Art Shell and Gene Upshaw), but also in part because of a league-best 6-0 record in one-score games.
Given the Raiders 13-1 record and the team’s below-average pass defense, I was wondering how big of an outlier Oakland was with respect to those two variables. As it turns out, that team is the biggest outlier since the merger in terms of wins above expectation based on defensive RANY/A. I ran a simple regression analysis on all teams from 1966 to 2015, using winning percentage as my output and defensive RANY/A as my input. I then calculated each team’s differential in expected wins and actual wins (which is simply winning percentage multiplied by 16). Two teams really stand out: the ’76 Raiders and the ’11 Packers.
Here’s how to read the table below. In 1976, Oakland had an offensive RANY/A of +3.02, which is why the team was still able to win the Super Bowl. But it had a defensive RANY/A of -0.57, giving it an expected win percentage of 0.436. In reality, the Raiders had a win percentage of .929. The team’s exceeded expectations, therefore, by 7.9 wins per 16 games.
|Rk||Team||Year||Off RANY/A||Def RANY/A||Exp Win %||Win %||Diff|
|2||Green Bay Packers||2011||3.52||-0.08||0.493||0.938||7.1|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||1992||3.04||-0.19||0.48||0.875||6.3|
|5||New England Patriots||2007||3.26||0.90||0.608||1||6.3|
|7||St. Louis Cardinals||1968||-0.52||-1.72||0.301||0.679||6|
|9||New Orleans Saints||2011||2.32||-0.52||0.441||0.813||5.9|
|10||San Diego Chargers||1967||2.05||-2.27||0.236||0.607||5.9|
|12||New England Patriots||2011||2.37||-0.46||0.449||0.813||5.8|
|16||San Francisco 49ers||1984||2.82||0.76||0.591||0.938||5.5|
|18||New England Patriots||2010||2.47||0.31||0.538||0.875||5.4|
|21||New York Jets||1986||0.61||-1.68||0.305||0.625||5.1|
|26||Los Angeles Raiders||1982||0.35||0.65||0.578||0.889||5|
|27||St. Louis Cardinals||1975||1.62||-0.22||0.477||0.786||4.9|
|30||San Diego Chargers||2006||1.38||0.59||0.571||0.875||4.9|
|32||San Diego Chargers||2009||2.55||0.06||0.51||0.813||4.8|
|33||Green Bay Packers||2004||1.42||-1.47||0.33||0.625||4.7|
|36||New England Patriots||2012||1.46||-0.38||0.458||0.75||4.7|
|37||San Francisco 49ers||1990||1.19||0.71||0.586||0.875||4.6|
|39||New England Patriots||2004||1.29||0.73||0.588||0.875||4.6|
|40||New England Patriots||2005||1.42||-1.36||0.343||0.625||4.5|
|43||New York Giants||1986||0.03||0.79||0.595||0.875||4.5|
|48||Green Bay Packers||2007||1.62||0.30||0.538||0.813||4.4|
As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments. And I will have more to say about the ’68 Cardinals in a future post.