Correction--There was a bug in the ointment the first time around posting the rankings this week. These numbers have been updated with the correct
There are a few sore thumbs every year in the rankings. A few weeks ago I wrote about how the then 2-8 Panthers were much better than their record indicated. Since then, they went 5-1 to finish 7-9. Do I think CAR is really the 4th best team in the league? No. But they were the 4th most efficient on offense and defense in 2012.
The following week I wrote about how the Ravens were a mystery. They were ranked 19th in the rankings but held a 9-2 record. I was grasping to explain their good fortune. Maybe no explanation was needed, as BAL went 1-4 since then. (1-3 if we throw out week 17's loss in fairness.)
It might seem like I'm cherry picking the model's 'hits' and ignoring its 'misses.' I'm obviously not pointing out how the model ranked PHI 2nd in its first iteration after week 3. Oops, I guess I just did. But it's not week 3 anymore, and we have a lot more information now.
There is one more sore thumb to be addressed. That's the 11-5 Colts, who are ranked 24th in efficiency. Their Generic Winning Probability (GWP) is 0.44, which if correct would make an 11-win record highly unlikely. It's very possibly they're better than 24th, but notice that their opponent average GWP is 0.46, so despite a low efficiency ranking, we should not be too surprised to see IND end up its winning record.
[Edit: 0.46 Opp GWP might not seem like much, but that's not far from the equivalent of having an additional home field advantage effect for every game, ...if that makes any sense.]
In the second table below, we can see where IND ranks in the core efficiencies. Despite Andrew Luck's promise, his net passing efficiency and interception rates are both slightly worse than average. IND's defensive passing numbers are also worse than average. They've been somewhat successful in the running game, but not nearly enough to make them a top team. These numbers have come against the easiest schedule in the league this season.
IND has been able to outperform their efficiency because of clutch play--good performance in high leverage situations. On offense, their EPA is ranked 11th while their WPA is 3rd. On defense, their EPA ranks 28th while their WPA ranks 21st. On both sides of the ball, IND has happened to save its best performance for when it matters most.
I had intended this next paragraph to be the case for IND to be a true 11-win team. I expected to illustrate how Andrew Luck was a rookie and that the offense's mediocre passing numbers was merely due to early season shakiness. But I was surprised to see he performed better in the first half of the season than in the second in terms of AYPA, WPA per Game, and EPA per play. Normally we'd expect rookie quarterbacks to improve over the course of season, but Luck has played consistently well in his first year.
So are the Colts really just the 24th best team? Probably not. But like everything else, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, somewhere between their 11-5 record and their 0.44 GWP.
MIN might be the bigger curiosity with 0.45 GWP and a 0.51 Opponent GWP, but that's a topic for another day. Here are the final efficiency rankings for the season. Raw stats are in the second table below. Click on the table headers to sort.
|RANK||TEAM||LAST WK||GWP||Opp GWP||O RANK||D RANK|