Week 12 Efficiency Rankings

The Eagles were exposed against the Ravens defense. Miami was shredded by a surging Patriots offense. The Steelers offense got healthy against Cincinnati. Drew Brees' near-perfect game pushes New Orleans up 5 spots.

By far, the biggest puzzle right now is 4-7 San Diego who top the efficiency rankings despite another loss. How is it that the league's most efficient team is so far below .500? A total of about 2 minutes of football separate them from their current record and being 8-3, in the thick of the battle for a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Chargers have lost four games within the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter.

  • Week 1 vs. the Panthers--Carolina TE Dante Rosario catches a desperation touchdown pass as time expires to steal a win.
  • Week 2 vs. the Broncos--A blown call by referee Ed Hochuli robs San Diego of a game clinching turnover and allows Denver to score the go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the game.
  • Week 11 vs. the Steelers--Jeff Reed kicks a 32-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining to take an 11-10 lead.
  • Week 12 vs. the Colts--The Chargers defense forces fourth down in the final seconds only to be burned by an unexpected deep pass. Adam Vinatieri subquently kicks a 51-yard field goal as time expires.
The Colts game is a good example of what is happening to the Chargers. San Diego out-threw the Colts by 8.3 net yards per attempt to 5.6 net yards per attempt. They outran Indy 4.7 yards per rush to 4.0. Each team had one turnover, SD a fumble lost, and IND an interception. Both teams had identical kick and punt return averages. SD totaled more total yards, more first downs, better efficiency and fewer negative plays, yet somehow lost the game.

Throw in two more games that hinged on single plays, although not final-second ones.
  • Week 7 vs. the Bills--Down by 6 with 6:16 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Chargers were poised to take the lead with a 1st and 10 on the Bills 9 yard line. An untimely interception thrown by the otherwise effective Phillip Rivers sealed their fate. The Bills went on to kick a FG, winning 23-14.
  • Week 5 vs. the Dolphins--LaDanian Tomlinson is stuffed at the goalline on 4th down early in the 4th quarter. Miami holds on to its 7-point lead to win.
I'm not claiming that the Chargers would have or should have won any of those games. My point is that this is probably the best 4-7 team the NFL has ever seen. A few plays either way might have completely changed their record. And despite their losing record, the Chargers only trail the Broncos by two games with five left to play. Don't count them out just yet. The week 17 game between the two teams might determine the winner of the AFC West depending on how the tie breakers sort out.

1 SD40.770.55215
2 WAS20.750.4977
3 CAR70.750.55112
4 ATL50.750.53122
5 PIT80.730.50211
6 NYG60.720.46510
7 PHI10.720.51105
8 NO130.710.54317
9 MIA30.690.50423
10 ARI100.680.54616
11 TEN90.670.43123
12 CHI110.640.48148
13 TB120.610.50194
14 DAL140.580.51139
15 IND160.570.54819
16 NYJ180.560.472414
17 NE200.530.491824
18 BAL210.530.50226
19 DEN170.500.50927
20 GB150.490.521613
21 MIN190.450.522511
22 BUF220.440.432620
23 HOU230.410.461528
24 JAX240.320.451726
25 SEA260.310.492821
26 OAK280.310.583112
27 SF270.260.532725
28 CLE250.250.522029
29 KC290.240.572330
30 CIN300.210.563218
31 STL310.110.562931
32 DET320.110.553032

To-date efficiency stats below. As always, click on the headers to sort.


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13 Responses to “Week 12 Efficiency Rankings”

  1. Anonymous says:

    brian..can you get your week 13 probabilities out earlier this week? by wed. afternoon?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think that part of the 4-7 record for SD has to be attributed to the coaching. It's easy to understand how a couple of bad coaching moves can undermine great stats.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Carolina game doesn't strike me as bad luck at all -- SD was outgained 388-316, each offense received a short field once b/c of a fumble (CAR scored on theirs, SD drove 30 yds for a TD on theirs) and there were no massive kick returns.

  4. Anonymous says:

    i agree with the bad coaching..same thing can apply to the eagles...both SD and Eagles' records are worse than their stats bc of egregious coaching/time management mistakes.

  5. Brian Burke says:

    I definitely agree bad game day coaching is part of it.

  6. Brian Burke says:

    And I don't disagree about the CAR game either. But almost every team gets a couple games where they're outplayed but luck out or squeak by. SD doesn't seem to get any breaks.

  7. Brian Burke says:

    Sorry. Yes. Game probabilities will be out Wednesday AM.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The problem with San Diego is that their vaunted offense isn't on the field enough. They're 30th in offensive plays per game, just above Seattle and Detroit. This is a boon to efficiency but doesn't help them win games. Teams with so few offensive plays are flawed in many ways and will continually confound rate-based projections. BTW, NE is first and this helps explain their improvement in spite of obvious failings.

  9. Brian Burke says:

    That's an interesting point. A couple thoughts. I wouldn't say that fewer plays is always a boon to efficiency. That's only true if a team truly is getting lots of yards on each play. DET, KC and CIN probably aren't getting lots of plays either, and their efficiencies are awful.

    If SD is so efficient on offense, why aren't they getting more snaps? I think that's a really interesting question. There could be 2 reasons that wouldn't be hurting them-- 1-short fields, and 2-very long scoring plays. What else is going on?

    You say that teams with so few plays are flawed in many ways. I'm curious what you mean. Not trying to argue here, just want to understand.

    If we factor in number of plays, we're just back to total yards. And it's clear how misleading total yard stats can be.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't say fewer plays is ALWAYS a boon to efficiency either, but it is in SD's case this year.

    Short fields? Yes, mostly due to Sproles. Big plays? Yes. Most importantly, they are a considerably worse defensive unit than the rates would suggest, topping the league in defensive snaps. A -5 TO differential doesn't help, either.

    You're quite correct that total yard stats are usually misleading but in this case, the extreme disparity between offensive and defensive plays skews the rate stats and masks what is really going on in San Diego's games.

    Love your site, Brian, and especially your civil tone.

    They have also become utterly dependent on passing yardage

  11. Brian Burke says:

    True about the turnovers. They're not generating interceptions like they did last year.

  12. mark says:

    The Chargers are struggling because of their poor time of possession numbers.That's related to their poor first down production,they've got the 8th worst first down differential in the NFL. Only SL,Oakland,Detroit,Seattle,Cleveland,KC and Cinci have worse figures.

    The poor first down differential's down to an inability to defend pass completions.Even though they're about average on pass defense from a yards per play perspective they're allowing about 69% of passes to be completed.Only Denver and Indy are poorer and it's SD's worse defensive showing in this category this decade.Hence teams are piling up the pass attempts,predominantly short ones.360 odd pass attempts against SD described as short on the play by play have gained an average of about 6.4 yards per attempt and teams are attempting about 20% more passes against SD compared to when they pass against other sides.

    Rivers is making a bold attempt to compensate for the poor effort from the defense,but he's 'only' completing 65% of his passes,albeit for more yards per attempt than SD's opponents,but sadly the real killer is the ground attack that's gaining about 4 tenths of a yard per carry less than SD's opponents are allowing to other running backs.

    They've been unlucky,but I'd make them a 9-7 side at best.

  13. mark says:

    Atlanta 22 SD 16

    Atlanta completed 73% of their passes and SD could only run for a full yard per carry less than Atlanta had been allowing to their opponents in the season thus far.Chargers lost the time of possession by almost 10 minutes.

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