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Stat-based power rankings: Closing off on the 2016 regular season and analysis of the final numbers.

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The final edition of the 2016 spreadsheet is finished and you pretty much know who comes in at #1.

With the 2016 regular season finally over, the final numbers for the 2016 season. I have finally completed the spreadsheet that takes the team stats into account and comparing it towards the league average. One thing I’ve noticed is only 9 teams scored a 55 or better, which suggests the quality of league play in general is declining. However, the overall score distribution closely resembled a normal distribution curve, which tells me the formulas don’t need much tweaking. 23 of 32 teams where within 1 standard deviation and 30 of 32 within 2.

In terms of the final rankings, the Patriots finished with the #1 schedule (83), #3 offense (68), #4 defense (60), and #12 special teams (52) units. The Patriots top schedule grade makes sense since they finished alone with the NFL’s top record despite a weak strength of schedule and victory relative to league average. When your schedule includes the Browns, 49ers, and Jets (twice), the schedule doesn’t look as good in terms of W-L numbers. The high defensive ranking is due to the strong way the defense closed out the season, they were ranked 13th in Week 9. The Patriots finish the 2016 as the league’s top-ranked team with an overall score of 67.

Usually my gauge for teams capable of winning in the playoffs comes down to if they could score 50 or better in all phases. The Patriots and the Raiders were the only two teams that were able to pass that threshold. However, the Raiders will be missing their starting QB for the postseason, which really means the Patriots are the only team that pass that threshold and can repeat it in the playoffs. No team was able to pass the 70/60/50 threshold that I use for determining a clear Super Bowl favorite, the Patriots being the closest with an offense of 68 and a defense of 60. The Patriots are still considered huge favorites because without a clear-cut elite team, the Patriots are not a team anyone wants to bet against come postseason time.

The top 5 teams in the final tally were the Patriots, Cowboys, Chiefs, Falcons, and Raiders. With Derek Carr out indefinitely, the Steelers are probably the 5th best team in the postseason. The Lions, Texans, and Dolphins wound up finishing 16th, 17th, and 19th while Titans, Vikings, and Buccaneers where the three Top 12 teams that missed the playoffs. Each team was one win away from the playoffs in 2016, considering a couple razor thin losses by each team that wound up being the difference. The Titans lost a late lead to the Colts twice, the Vikings couldn’t hold a 3 point lead against the Lions plus choking on Thanksgiving, and the Buccaneers couldn’t mount a comeback drive against the Cowboys or Saints.

In the NFC, the top threat to the Patriots in terms of a potential Super Bowl match-up is the Dallas Cowboys. They have a strong OL and running game to go along with a very mobile pocket passer that can extend drives with his feet. Those QBs tend to give the Patriots more fits as they dial back the rush to prevent the QB from scrambling, but also allows more time for the receivers to uncover. The Cowboys defense has been bend but don’t break most of the season, although they’ve been clicking of late. There will be plays for the Patriots to get on offense, especially in the middle of the field or against linebackers and safeties in man coverage.

The final numbers of the 2016 season relating score to win % came out well, as the data showed a linear behavior. The square of the correlation coefficient (R-squared) value came out to 91.9%, suggesting the data had a strong correlation altogether. Taking the linear model for a team’s win % based off their team score, there were 12 teams that over-performed and 8 teams that under-performed. The over-performing teams were the Steelers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Raiders, Seahawks, Giants, Lions, Texans, Dolphins, Jets, 49ers, and Browns. The teams that under-performed were the Titans, Vikings, Eagles, Saints, Bills, Chargers, Rams, and Jaguars.