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The Jaguars Are Maybe Really Good?

In games when they allow 10 or more points, the Jaguars are 0-3 so far this year.

In games when they score fewer than 27 points, the Jaguars are 0-3 so far this year.

If those stats sounds like those of a really bad team one month into an NFL season, well, you’re right. The thing is, Jacksonville has played 7 games this year. Which means maybe they’re a really good team? Because in Jacksonville’s 4 non-losses — things commonly referred to in most parts of the country as wins — the average score has been Jacksonville 32.5, Opponent 5.75. The Jaguars four wins have come by 21+ points, the first team to record four such wins through seven games since 2007.

Entering the 2017 season, the Jaguars had allowed fewer than 10 points in four out of their last 100 games. In 2017, the Jaguars have allowed fewer than 10 points in four out of seven games. The Jaguars had scored 27 or more points in just 13 of their last 100 games entering 2017; so far this year, they’ve scored 27 points in four out of seven games. So yeah, Jacksonville is suddenly a lot better than they used to be.

Jacksonville ranks 2nd in the NFL in points differential at +73. So… are the Jaguars actually good? Well, through seven weeks (but before Monday Night Football), Jacksonville also leads the NFL in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt differential, which would have sounded impossible two months ago (especially if you knew Allen Robinson would tear his ACL one catch into the season):

So why are the Jaguars just 4-3 despite leading the NFL in ANY/A differential and ranking 2nd in points differential? Well, Jacksonville has not done a good job of being efficient with their scoring. In their four wins, the Jaguars won by 21, 22, 27, and 37 points. To win a game, of course, you only need to outscore your opponent by 1 point. That means Jacksonville scored 20, 21, 26, and 36 more points than they needed to in their four wins, or an average of 25.75 excess points per game.

In three losses, Jacksonville lost by 3, 10, and 21 points. So Jaguars opponents have scored 2, 9, and 20 excess points, or an average of 10.33 excess points per game.

If you compare those two numbers, it means Jacksonville is scoring 15.4 more excess points in wins than Jaguars opponents are in Jaguars losses. That’s the largest differential in the NFL through seven weeks (and, again, excluding Monday Night Football):

So… even though Jacksonville is only 4-3, I think the Jaguars are maybe really good?

On the other side, you see the Dolphins (4-2), Cardinals (3-4), and Colts (2-5), three teams whose records far exceed their points differential. And, of course, the Browns and 49ers are off of this list by virtue of having zero wins.

What do you think?

  • Greg FC

    Funny that the Niners would be 28th on this list (-9.00), and Cleveland would be 29th (-9.43).

    Chase, would you consider Excess Point Differential more or less telling than straight point differential?

    • I think it’s best telling as an exercise in which teams are better/worse than their records. In that sense, it’s pretty similar to Pythagorean records, but maybe this is easier to understand? Not sure.

      But the teams at the bottom of the chart are “not as good as their record” while Jacksonville, LA, and the Texas teams — at least based on points differential — are better than their records.

      • Greg FC

        I did a quick comparison of the two metrics (EPD and PD) against Football Outsiders’ DVOA and Pro Football Reference’s SRS, and it looks like PD is a bit closer to both (the comparisons are in green for DVOA, blue for SRS). Not too much can be learned here, since I basically just compared rankings – a more thorough analysis would take into account the actual metrics, rather than simply the team rankings. Also, to make a real determination (if one had a yearning to), a single week isn’t an adequate sample size. But I felt the need to do this for some reason. I guess I was hoping to find something interesting – maybe I’ll dig into it a bit more. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/128f933fca6d0144206d45219d1cd00d745b67d9f79ece39850aebf40fc2fdb2.png

  • Tom

    This is great stuff and it reminds me of something a reader had created about 6 years ago on Brian Burke’s old ANS site:


    The reader’s name is Jim Glass, and the “metric” is called the “Big Win Index”. The idea is that most playoff winners in the NFL aren’t the teams that win close games (“clutch” teams) but instead teams that dominate and don’t get dominated. So, instead of looking at straight wins and losses, we look at a team’s “big” wins and “big” losses…those games that are either won or lost by 10 or more points. Any scores closer than that are treated as ties.

    Anyway, I’ve always love the idea, and I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of the Big Win Index…home field advantage can be included, and of course, it can be adjusted for SOS.

    Not trying to hijack this post or anything, but I thought this was closely related, so if readers find this interesting they may want to check out Glass’ article.

    And also – while the rankings don’t match up exactly with Chase’s list, the #1 team in the BWI right now is indeed the Jaguars (BWI 0.714) and at the bottom is the Colts (BWI 0.214).

    We’re barely at the half-way point and the Jags can still flame out, but so far this is good news.

    • Tom

      We’ve all moved on I’m sure, but I need to edit this. My spreadsheet had games of *over* 10 points as a Big Win (and under 10 as a BL). Jim’s breaking point is 9, meaning a Big Win is 10 and over as I note in my comments. So, the Jaguars are not at the top of the Big Win Index, as they now have a second Big Loss, to Rams in Week 6. Speaking of which, the Rams are at the top of the list:

      1. LAR: 3 Big Wins, 0 Big Losses, 0.714
      2. PHI: same, 0.714
      3. SEA: 2 BW, 0 BL, 0.667
      4. DAL: 3 BW, 1 BL, 0.667
      5. JAX: 4 BW, 2 BL, 0.643