Rate of Moving the Chains – Wild Card Round

What is this? This is rate of moving the chains, which is my primary statistic for handicapping games. It holds the assumption that the goal of any team on any given 1st and 10 (or 1st and goal) is to move the chains (or score). In order to figure out how often teams meet that goal, I take first downs plus touchdowns and divide it by first downs plus touchdowns plus failures to move the chains (successes divided by attempts). Failures to move the chains include punts, turnovers, failed 4th downs, and field goal attempts (being forced to kick a field goal is a failure). I have this sorted by percent for (to evaluate offenses), percent against (to evaluate defenses), and differentials (to evaluate teams). Below that, I use this to calculate spreads for this week’s games (by taking the differences between the differentials of the two teams and adding 3 points either way for homefield). It’s not a perfect formula, but it does a good job of lessening the value of inconsistent things like turnovers and return touchdowns.

Offense

Team First downs Touchdowns Punts Turnovers Failed 4th downs Field goal attempts
1 Denver 435 71 65 26 1 26 81.09%
2 San Diego 373 41 56 21 1 37 78.26%
3 New Orleans 359 49 61 19 10 32 76.98%
4 Chicago 344 45 68 23 5 29 75.68%
5 Green Bay 351 42 64 25 4 37 75.14%
6 Carolina 319 38 70 19 3 27 75.00%
7 Philadelphia 355 51 82 19 7 28 74.91%
8 New England 378 44 77 20 8 41 74.30%
9 Dallas 325 45 77 20 2 30 74.15%
10 Detroit 350 44 72 34 9 24 73.92%
11 Atlanta 330 37 68 28 8 27 73.69%
12 Cincinnati 330 47 75 30 9 22 73.49%
13 Seattle 307 41 74 19 5 35 72.35%
14 Indianapolis 318 38 76 14 7 40 72.21%
15 Kansas City 323 41 88 18 7 28 72.08%
16 Pittsburgh 312 37 75 24 6 32 71.81%
17 Tennessee 311 38 78 25 6 29 71.66%
18 Arizona 329 36 78 31 4 36 71.01%
19 Minnesota 309 41 75 32 9 30 70.56%
20 San Francisco 286 39 79 18 4 36 70.35%
21 Washington 329 34 84 34 14 26 69.67%
22 St. Louis 282 32 78 29 12 28 68.11%
23 Cleveland 301 30 85 29 17 26 67.83%
24 Oakland 275 33 84 31 5 30 67.25%
25 Houston 307 26 88 31 11 35 66.87%
26 Miami 278 32 85 26 9 34 66.81%
27 Tampa Bay 269 28 87 21 14 29 66.29%
28 Buffalo 301 31 96 27 10 36 66.27%
29 NY Jets 280 25 88 29 7 36 65.59%
30 Baltimore 295 26 90 29 10 41 65.38%
31 NY Giants 280 29 91 44 6 26 64.92%
32 Jacksonville 271 23 95 27 17 25 64.19%

 

Defense

Team First Downs Touchdowns Punts Turnovers Failed 4th downs Field goal attempts
1 Cincinnati 282 28 89 31 11 31 65.68%
2 Baltimore 284 32 98 24 6 35 65.97%
3 Seattle 282 20 81 39 7 27 66.23%
4 San Francisco 284 30 85 30 13 25 67.24%
5 Carolina 278 21 72 30 8 34 67.49%
6 Buffalo 308 38 94 30 6 36 67.58%
7 Kansas City 303 34 87 36 9 28 67.81%
8 Arizona 309 34 88 30 10 32 68.19%
9 Detroit 290 34 84 22 3 40 68.50%
10 New Orleans 274 31 83 19 8 28 68.85%
11 Houston 282 40 91 11 5 35 69.40%
12 NY Jets 293 35 80 15 11 37 69.64%
13 NY Giants 327 33 86 29 11 30 69.77%
14 Miami 327 31 77 24 7 40 70.75%
15 Pittsburgh 303 39 79 20 11 31 70.81%
16 New England 338 36 80 29 17 27 70.97%
17 Indianapolis 319 35 75 27 9 30 71.52%
18 Cleveland 328 42 88 21 5 32 71.71%
19 Tennessee 329 36 76 25 4 39 71.71%
20 Denver 339 44 87 26 11 26 71.86%
21 Tampa Bay 324 40 66 31 6 32 72.95%
22 Philadelphia 368 37 74 31 12 32 73.10%
23 St. Louis 337 39 74 29 7 26 73.44%
24 Washington 329 52 74 26 5 25 74.56%
25 Green Bay 330 46 69 22 7 30 74.60%
26 Oakland 330 48 74 22 4 28 74.70%
27 Atlanta 326 45 62 21 4 35 75.25%
28 San Diego 327 37 65 17 7 30 75.36%
29 Jacksonville 353 49 75 21 3 29 75.85%
30 Minnesota 368 51 77 20 7 29 75.91%
31 Chicago 353 47 58 28 4 30 76.92%
32 Dallas 388 50 61 27 9 29 77.66%

 

Differential

Team
1 Denver 9.23%
2 New Orleans 8.13%
3 Cincinnati 7.81%
4 Carolina 7.51%
5 Seattle 6.12%
6 Detroit 5.42%
7 Kansas City 4.27%
8 New England 3.33%
9 San Francisco 3.11%
10 San Diego 2.90%
11 Arizona 2.82%
12 Philadelphia 1.80%
13 Pittsburgh 1.00%
14 Indianapolis 0.70%
15 Green Bay 0.54%
16 Tennessee -0.05%
17 Baltimore -0.59%
18 Chicago -1.24%
19 Buffalo -1.31%
20 Atlanta -1.56%
21 Houston -2.53%
22 Dallas -3.51%
23 Cleveland -3.88%
24 Miami -3.94%
25 NY Jets -4.05%
26 NY Giants -4.85%
27 Washington -4.89%
28 St. Louis -5.32%
29 Minnesota -5.34%
30 Tampa Bay -6.65%
31 Oakland -7.45%
32 Jacksonville -11.66%

 

Projected Wild Card Lines

CIN/SD 7.91
GB/SF 0.43
NO/PHI 3.33
KC/IND 0.58

 

Two playoff teams, Green Bay and Philadelphia, haven’t had their current starting quarterback for all 16 games, for different reasons. For handicapping purposes, I’ve calculated their offensive rate of moving the chains in games in which Aaron Rodgers and Nick Foles respectively started and finished the game. The results are, unsurprisingly, a significant difference. In fact, those rate of moving the chains would be 4th (Green Bay) and 2nd (Philadelphia) over the course of a full season. I could have done the same thing for Kansas City, subtracting out their week 17 results, but they actually played so well even with their backups that it didn’t change much. Before week 17, they are at 4.37% in terms of rate of moving the chains differential. Now they are at 4.27%.

Green Bay 186 24 26 11 2 21 77.78%
Philadelphia 203 37 44 6 4 11 78.69%

 

If we subtract their rate of moving the chains allowed from those, Green Bay would be at 3.17%, which would be good for 10th in the NFL, and Philadelphia would be at 5.58%, good for 6th in the NFL. If we have these adjusted differentials, all 12 playoff teams would be in the top-15 with positive differential, which is great because it means there aren’t any truly undeserving playoff teams (Chicago, Dallas, and Miami all had a chance to be). Below are the 2013 playoff teams in order of rate of moving the chains differential, with Green Bay’s, Philadelphia’s, and Kansas City’s adjusted differentials.

Team
1 Denver 9.23%
2 New Orleans 8.13%
3 Cincinnati 7.81%
4 Carolina 7.51%
5 Seattle 6.12%
6 Philadelphia 5.58%
7 Kansas City 4.37%
8 New England 3.33%
9 Green Bay 3.17%
10 San Francisco 3.11%
11 San Diego 2.90%
12 Indianapolis 0.70%

 

The other 3 non-playoff teams in the top-15 are Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Detroit, who all have a good chance to make the playoffs in 2014. Below are the projected wild card round line adjusted for these new adjusted rate of moving the chains differentials. I’ve also adjusted it for Kansas City’s pre-week 17 differential, but it didn’t make much of a difference.

CIN/SD 7.91
GB/SF 3.07
PHI/NO 0.45
KC/IND 0.67

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