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Ranking NFL Teams by Success Ratings

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Most readers are familiar with the weekly efficiency rankings, but that's not the only way to get a sense of team success.

 

Another way is by looking at Success Rate (SR). SR is only counting up successes and failures, so it excludes the magnitude of play results. The more random types of outcomes, such as turnovers and very long plays are counted only as a single success or failure, no different than a 6 yard gain on first down or a stop on 3rd down. It also considers a successful red zone play no differently than one at midfield.

As I've been playing around with SR, I've noticed a few things. First, it correlates well with winning. And second, it correlates well with itself, meaning it is relatively stable throughout the season. These are the two attributes we want in a stat for it to be predictive of future outcomes. I'll have a future article that goes into this in more depth.

SR has been a feature on the individual player pages and on the advanced team stat page all season. I thought it would be interesting to sum up offensive and defensive SR and then rank each team by total SR. We'll see how well these rankings agree with team records at the end of the year.

A few notes about SR. In my implementation of SR, any play that produces positive Expected Points Added (EPA) is a success for the offense and any play that results in negative EPA is a success for the defense. I include run and pass plays on all 4 downs. One of my current projects is to automatically calculate opponent-adjusted SR for each team.

Your SR Rankings heading into week 6 are listed below. Click on the table headers to sort.

Team Off SR(%) Def SR(%) Total SR(%)
NYG 47.0 61.5 108.5
DAL 49.8 57.6 107.4
NYJ 49.2 56.5 105.7
GB 48.3 57.3 105.6
SD 45.1 59.4 104.5
NO 48.3 55.0 103.3
BAL 43.6 59.4 103.0
PHI 46.2 56.2 102.4
CIN 46.1 56.0 102.1
IND 50.4 51.6 102.0
KC 41.0 60.9 101.9
OAK 44.6 55.8 100.4
NE 53.5 46.8 100.3
ATL 43.9 55.6 99.5
TEN 42.2 56.3 98.5
SEA 41.0 57.4 98.4
MIA 44.7 53.7 98.4
DET 47.2 51.1 98.3
SF 42.5 55.2 97.7
CLE 40.9 56.4 97.3
DEN 41.9 55.0 96.9
JAX 44.6 51.2 95.8
CHI 38.7 56.7 95.4
TB 39.5 55.6 95.1
MIN 41.1 53.4 94.5
WAS 43.0 51.5 94.5
STL 38.9 54.3 93.2
ARI 38.2 54.8 93.0
PIT 39.3 53.6 92.9
HOU 47.5 44.1 91.6
BUF 41.3 48.4 89.7
CAR 32.1 56.6 88.7

 

Right away, I notice that teams like BAL, CIN, and NO are much higher in terms of SR than they are in the efficiency rankings. PIT, HOU, and CHI are much lower. I'm betting these teams are the ones that tend to rely on the big play, either offensively or defensively, for their success.