Advanced Stats Notebook: Saints At Cowboys

With a daunting opponent on its way to challenge the Cowboys, we begin our 2014 Advanced Stats Notebook with a closer look into how powerful the Saints offense has been despite their sub-.500 record.

Looking at the standings, one might think that, with home field advantage, the (2-1) Dallas Cowboys should be a better team than the (1-2) New Orleans Saints. Of course, no one that has spent much time following the NFL believes that the record, especially this early in the season, is the end all be all for evaluating teams.

We all know the infamous take originally attributed to Henry Du Pré Labouchère, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." In sports, though, statistics are how we measure performance beyond just the wins and losses. In football, where sample sizes are so small, and the mean so cluttered, it behooves us to try to analyze things that have a higher correlation to winning than previous wins.

Fortunately, over the past several years, many statisticians a million times smarter than the author of this piece have spent countless hours devising formulas that they use to judge the quality of teams beyond the normal statistical measures. These advanced metrics allow us a glimpse into which teams are winning based on quality play, which ones are winning because of inept opponents and which ones have a horseshoe crammed up their chimneys.

So, let’s take a look at some of the statistical explanations for what kinds of team the 2014 Dallas Cowboys and 2014 New Orleans Saints have proven to be.

Standard Statistics

Dallas Cowboys


Off Yds / G Off. Pts / G Def Yds / Gm Def Pts / Gm
Total 363.3 25.7 360.3 23.0
Rank 12th 8th 21st 18th

 

New Orleans Saints


Off Yds / G Off. Pts / G Def Yds / Gm Def Pts / Gm
Total 421.7 26.0 379.7 24.0
Rank 4th 7th 24th (t)20th

 

Differential Rankings

We all know that it is a passing league, while running the football undoubtedly has an effect on the passing game, and more importantly how the opposition defends it. In the end, though, passing success is what leads to team success.

There are generally two stats that are easily calculated that seem to have a high correlation to predicting future success; Passer Rating differential and Adjusted Net Yards Per Passing Attempt differential. Both are calculated by simply finding the difference between what your offense achieves in each category and taking away what your defense gives up. Teams with the larger differentials are more likely to have future success (read: wins) than those teams with smaller, or negative differentials.

As my good friend One.Cool.Customer over at Blogging The Boys can attest to right here, these stats have shown to be the most closely correlated stat to winning and losing outside of scoring differential. (I think we all know why that one ranks so highly.)

Here’s his take, but I implore you to follow the link and read the entire article. It’s from 2012 but should still rings very true today:

The graph illustrates a fairly simple truth: the higher your passer rating differential, the higher the number of wins a team had last year. Conversely, the teams with the lowest number of wins had some of the worst passer rating differentials (PRD).

In statistics this relationship between wins and PRD is called a correlation. The strength of the correlation is measured by the "correlation coefficient". The correlation coefficient measures the relationship between two variables. This coefficient is often referred to as "r²" and is expressed as a number between 1 and -1. The closer the r² number is to 1 or -1, the stronger the relationship between the two variables. The closer it is to zero, the weaker the relationship.

R² between PRD and wins in 2011 was 0.80, an astonishingly high correlation. It is almost as good as scoring differential (0.85) at predicting the W/L record of an NFL team.

Rk TmGOff Passer RatingDef Passer RatingDifferential
1Cincinnati Bengals3100.956.944
2Chicago Bears398.27127.2
3New England Patriots382.957.425.5
4Carolina Panthers3106.982.824.1
5Denver Broncos3108.586.721.8
6Green Bay Packers395.177.118
7Seattle Seahawks3109.596.513
8Atlanta Falcons3102.491.710.7
9Indianapolis Colts3101.892.59.3
10San Diego Chargers3108.3101.17.2
11Arizona Cardinals393.187.65.5
12Cleveland Browns396.591.15.4
13Washington Redskins3103.499.34.1
14Detroit Lions384.180.43.7
15New Orleans Saints399.197.71.4
16Philadelphia Eagles395.594.90.6
17New York Giants384.384.20.1
 Avg Team 89890
18San Francisco 49ers392.292.20
19Buffalo Bills389.890.4-0.6
20Tennessee Titans370.871.6-0.8
21Houston Texans392.293.4-1.2
22Dallas Cowboys386.191.4-5.3
23Baltimore Ravens382.393.2-10.9
24Pittsburgh Steelers392.1105.3-13.2
25St. Louis Rams387.6105.1-17.5
26Miami Dolphins374.192.3-18.2
27Kansas City Chiefs381.5103.1-21.6
28New York Jets376.3100.4-24.1
29Minnesota Vikings369.695.2-25.6
30Oakland Raiders374.9101.8-26.9
31Jacksonville Jaguars381.1110.3-29.2
32Tampa Bay Buccaneers373.7117.2-43.5

Despite some of the other metrics which we will look at a little later, the passer rating differential shows that the Saints (ranked 15th) are barely an above average team, and the Cowboys (22nd) are a little more below average than the Saints are above in this metric.

Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt, or ANY/A, comes in third with an R2 of 0.62. What exactly is ANY/A?

ANY/A: Adjusted net passing yards per attempt = (Passing Yards + (Passing TDs)*20 - (INTs thrown)*45 - Sack Yards) / (Passing Attempts + Sacks)

It’s basically a formula that takes into account sacks and interceptions in qualifying how efficient a team is in the passing game. Here’s how the team’s square up in this metric.

Rk TmGANY/A AllowedANY/A AllowedDifferential
1Cincinnati Bengals39.13.85.3
2Carolina Panthers38.65.63
3New England Patriots36.13.42.7
4Denver Broncos38.46.51.9
5Arizona Cardinals38.16.31.8
6Green Bay Packers37.45.71.7
7Seattle Seahawks38.46.81.6
8Chicago Bears36.85.31.5
9Detroit Lions37.16.11
10Atlanta Falcons38.67.70.9
11Houston Texans37.86.90.9
12Cleveland Browns38.17.40.7
13Philadelphia Eagles38.27.50.7
14Tennessee Titans35.64.90.7
15Buffalo Bills37.16.60.5
16San Diego Chargers38.78.30.4
 Avg Team 770
17San Francisco 49ers36.86.80
18Washington Redskins38.68.60
19Indianapolis Colts37.58.1-0.6
20Pittsburgh Steelers37.68.2-0.6
21Dallas Cowboys36.47.1-0.7
22New Orleans Saints37.58.2-0.7
23St. Louis Rams36.78.1-1.4
24New York Giants35.97.7-1.8
25Miami Dolphins356.9-1.9
26New York Jets35.77.7-2
27Baltimore Ravens35.98-2.1
28Jacksonville Jaguars36.79-2.3
29Kansas City Chiefs35.88.2-2.4
30Minnesota Vikings357.4-2.4
31Oakland Raiders34.87.4-2.6
32Tampa Bay Buccaneers34.69.6-5

Whoa now, there’s hope! Dallas and New Orleans share the same below average ranking when it comes to ANY/A differential. It looks like when it comes to bad defense, New Orleans is doing much worse than Dallas is. Of course, neither of these metrics is adjusted for the opponent’s faced, so there is a little caveat. At this point, though, we’ll take it.

Week 3 DVOA Ratings

DVOA (or VOA at this juncture of the season) is a metric that measures success on each play as compared to league average based on "a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality." Due to it being so early in the season, FO can't truly define opponent quality, so for now they are excluding that from their calculations.

COWBOYSOffense DVOADefense DVOAST DVOATotal DVOA
Value3.30%8.50%3.10%-2.10%
Team Rank1424819
SAINTSOffense DVOADefense DVOAST DVOATotal DVOA
Value24.60%15.40%1.60%10.80%
Team Rank1311013

Dallas Total VOA (Offense, Defense and ST) is -2.1% after Week 3. It's basically saying that if a team that played exactly at the league average was put in the exact situations Dallas has for two weeks, they would have performed at a 2.1% better clip than the Cowboys. That value ranks them 19th out of 32 NFL teams.

The interesting thing here is that despite the Saints 1-2 record, FO sees them as being the best offensive team in the league; better than both their scoring and yardage rankings would indicate. More importantly, Dallas and New Orleans are only separated by two total points on the season, but DVOA clearly thinks that the Saints are the more potent offense and by a wide margin, with almost half of the league (12 teams) ranked between them.

Team EPA Per Game, Defense By Offense

Expected Points Added (EPA)

The value of a football play has traditionally been measured in yards gained. Unfortunately, yards is a flawed measure because not all yards are equal. For example, a 4-yard gain on 3rd down and 3 is much more valuable than a 4-yard gain on 3rd and 8. Any measure of success must consider the down and distance situation.

Suppose the offense has a 1st and 10 at midfield. This situation is worth +2.0 EP. A 5-yard gain would set up a 2nd and 5 from the 45, which corresponds to a +2.1 EP. Therefore, that 5-yard gain in that particular situation represents a +0.1 gain in EP. This gain is called Expected Points Added (EPA). Likewise, a 5-yard loss on 1st down at midfield would create a 2nd and 15 from the offense’s own 45. That situation is worth +1.2 EP, representing a net difference of -0.8 EPA.

Basically what your looking at in the above interactive chart is that teams with Good Offenses and Good Defenses exist in the upper right quadrant. The further to the right, the better your offense, and the further “north” the better your defense.

One can clearly see how much better the Saints have performed on offense than the rest of the league and specifically Dallas. They are also hideously low on the defensive scale. Hover over each team in the interactive table above from AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com. For more information on this metric and it’s friend, Win Probability Added (WPA), I strongly recommend heading over to their website and checking out the glossary.

EPA Breakdowns

Success Rate simply determines the percentage of plays that lead to a positive EPA. In other words, the Cowboys “averageness” isn’t a result of being average play by play, it’s that they make crushing mistakes, also known as turnovers.

COWBOYSOffense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value14.550-3.217.6
Team Rank16th6th17th16th
SAINTSOffense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value47.157.31136.1
Team Rank1st1st3rd2nd

What you are seeing here is how well each team is doing on a play by play basis by increasing their chances to score. One thing that jumps out immediately is that despite having the leagues leading rusher, and by a large margin, Dallas is in the middle of the pack of Run EPA. The explanation is simple. Standard yardage stats don’t take into effect DeMarco Murray’s fumbling habits, but Run EPA clearly does. That’s how detrimental turning the ball over can be.

COWBOYSDefense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value18.647.81.916.6
Team Rank23rd31st21st16th
SAINTSDefense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value33.155.76.626.5
Team Rank30th7th27th28th

Basically what we’re looking at is that the Saints advantage on offense over the Cowboys is twice as large as the Cowboys sizeable advantage over the Saints when comparing their defenses.

Summary

To summarize, it appears that the game should live up to it’s billing; a shootout where a bad defense faces off against an elite and efficient offense, and where a putrid defense squares up against an above average offense that turns the ball over way too much.

One metric that is gaining steam amongst NFL Teams is the Aikman Efficiency Rating. My pal OCC looked into this metric earlier today and it would behoove those interested in statistical measure to check it out there.

The advanced analytics say that the Saints should come out on top, but with all things… that’s why they play the game.


CowboysHQ Top Stories

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Rk TmGOff Passer RatingDef Passer RatingDifferential
1Cincinnati Bengals3100.956.944
2Chicago Bears398.27127.2
3New England Patriots382.957.425.5
4Carolina Panthers3106.982.824.1
5Denver Broncos3108.586.721.8
6Green Bay Packers395.177.118
7Seattle Seahawks3109.596.513
8Atlanta Falcons3102.491.710.7
9Indianapolis Colts3101.892.59.3
10San Diego Chargers3108.3101.17.2
11Arizona Cardinals393.187.65.5
12Cleveland Browns396.591.15.4
13Washington Redskins3103.499.34.1
14Detroit Lions384.180.43.7
15New Orleans Saints399.197.71.4
16Philadelphia Eagles395.594.90.6
17New York Giants384.384.20.1
 Avg Team 89890
18San Francisco 49ers392.292.20
19Buffalo Bills389.890.4-0.6
20Tennessee Titans370.871.6-0.8
21Houston Texans392.293.4-1.2
22Dallas Cowboys386.191.4-5.3
23Baltimore Ravens382.393.2-10.9
24Pittsburgh Steelers392.1105.3-13.2
25St. Louis Rams387.6105.1-17.5
26Miami Dolphins374.192.3-18.2
27Kansas City Chiefs381.5103.1-21.6
28New York Jets376.3100.4-24.1
29Minnesota Vikings369.695.2-25.6
30Oakland Raiders374.9101.8-26.9
31Jacksonville Jaguars381.1110.3-29.2
32Tampa Bay Buccaneers373.7117.2-43.5
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Despite some of the other metrics which we will look at a little later, the passer rating differential shows that the Saints (ranked 15th) are barely an above average team, and the Cowboys (22nd) are a little more below average than the Saints are above in this metric.

Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt, or ANY/A, comes in third with an R2 of 0.62. What exactly is ANY/A?

\r\nANY/A: Adjusted net passing yards per attempt = (Passing Yards + (Passing TDs)*20 - (INTs thrown)*45 - Sack Yards) / (Passing Attempts + Sacks)

\r\nIt’s basically a formula that takes into account sacks and interceptions in qualifying how efficient a team is in the passing game. Here’s how the team’s square up in this metric.

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\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
Rk TmGANY/A AllowedANY/A AllowedDifferential
1Cincinnati Bengals39.13.85.3
2Carolina Panthers38.65.63
3New England Patriots36.13.42.7
4Denver Broncos38.46.51.9
5Arizona Cardinals38.16.31.8
6Green Bay Packers37.45.71.7
7Seattle Seahawks38.46.81.6
8Chicago Bears36.85.31.5
9Detroit Lions37.16.11
10Atlanta Falcons38.67.70.9
11Houston Texans37.86.90.9
12Cleveland Browns38.17.40.7
13Philadelphia Eagles38.27.50.7
14Tennessee Titans35.64.90.7
15Buffalo Bills37.16.60.5
16San Diego Chargers38.78.30.4
 Avg Team 770
17San Francisco 49ers36.86.80
18Washington Redskins38.68.60
19Indianapolis Colts37.58.1-0.6
20Pittsburgh Steelers37.68.2-0.6
21Dallas Cowboys36.47.1-0.7
22New Orleans Saints37.58.2-0.7
23St. Louis Rams36.78.1-1.4
24New York Giants35.97.7-1.8
25Miami Dolphins356.9-1.9
26New York Jets35.77.7-2
27Baltimore Ravens35.98-2.1
28Jacksonville Jaguars36.79-2.3
29Kansas City Chiefs35.88.2-2.4
30Minnesota Vikings357.4-2.4
31Oakland Raiders34.87.4-2.6
32Tampa Bay Buccaneers34.69.6-5
\r\n

Whoa now, there’s hope! Dallas and New Orleans share the same below average ranking when it comes to ANY/A differential. It looks like when it comes to bad defense, New Orleans is doing much worse than Dallas is. Of course, neither of these metrics is adjusted for the opponent’s faced, so there is a little caveat. At this point, though, we’ll take it.\r\n

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Week 3 DVOA Ratings

\r\n

\r\n

\r\nDVOA (or VOA at this juncture of the season) is a metric that measures success on each play as compared to league average based on \"a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality.\" Due to it being so early in the season, FO can't truly define opponent quality, so for now they are excluding that from their calculations.

\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n
COWBOYSOffense DVOADefense DVOAST DVOATotal DVOA
Value3.30%8.50%3.10%-2.10%
Team Rank1424819
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n
SAINTSOffense DVOADefense DVOAST DVOATotal DVOA
Value24.60%15.40%1.60%10.80%
Team Rank1311013
\r\n

Dallas Total VOA (Offense, Defense and ST) is -2.1% after Week 3. It's basically saying that if a team that played exactly at the league average was put in the exact situations Dallas has for two weeks, they would have performed at a 2.1% better clip than the Cowboys. That value ranks them 19th out of 32 NFL teams.

\r\nThe interesting thing here is that despite the Saints 1-2 record, FO sees them as being the best offensive team in the league; better than both their scoring and yardage rankings would indicate. More importantly, Dallas and New Orleans are only separated by two total points on the season, but DVOA clearly thinks that the Saints are the more potent offense and by a wide margin, with almost half of the league (12 teams) ranked between them.

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Team EPA Per Game, Defense By Offense

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Learn About Tableau
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Expected Points Added (EPA)

\r\n

The value of a football play has traditionally been measured in yards gained. Unfortunately, yards is a flawed measure because not all yards are equal. For example, a 4-yard gain on 3rd down and 3 is much more valuable than a 4-yard gain on 3rd and 8. Any measure of success must consider the down and distance situation.

\r\nSuppose the offense has a 1st and 10 at midfield. This situation is worth +2.0 EP. A 5-yard gain would set up a 2nd and 5 from the 45, which corresponds to a +2.1 EP. Therefore, that 5-yard gain in that particular situation represents a +0.1 gain in EP. This gain is called Expected Points Added (EPA). Likewise, a 5-yard loss on 1st down at midfield would create a 2nd and 15 from the offense’s own 45. That situation is worth +1.2 EP, representing a net difference of -0.8 EPA.

\r\n

Basically what your looking at in the above interactive chart is that teams with Good Offenses and Good Defenses exist in the upper right quadrant. The further to the right, the better your offense, and the further “north” the better your defense.

One can clearly see how much better the Saints have performed on offense than the rest of the league and specifically Dallas. They are also hideously low on the defensive scale. Hover over each team in the interactive table above from AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com. For more information on this metric and it’s friend, Win Probability Added (WPA), I strongly recommend heading over to their website and checking out the glossary.

\r\n\r\n

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EPA Breakdowns

\r\n

\r\n

Success Rate simply determines the percentage of plays that lead to a positive EPA. In other words, the Cowboys “averageness” isn’t a result of being average play by play, it’s that they make crushing mistakes, also known as turnovers.

\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n
COWBOYSOffense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value14.550-3.217.6
Team Rank16th6th17th16th
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n
SAINTSOffense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value47.157.31136.1
Team Rank1st1st3rd2nd
\r\n

What you are seeing here is how well each team is doing on a play by play basis by increasing their chances to score. One thing that jumps out immediately is that despite having the leagues leading rusher, and by a large margin, Dallas is in the middle of the pack of Run EPA. The explanation is simple. Standard yardage stats don’t take into effect DeMarco Murray’s fumbling habits, but Run EPA clearly does. That’s how detrimental turning the ball over can be.

\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n
COWBOYSDefense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value18.647.81.916.6
Team Rank23rd31st21st16th
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n
SAINTSDefense EPASuccess RateRun EPAPass EPA
Value33.155.76.626.5
Team Rank30th7th27th28th
\r\n

Basically what we’re looking at is that the Saints advantage on offense over the Cowboys is twice as large as the Cowboys sizeable advantage over the Saints when comparing their defenses.

\r\n\r\n

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Summary

\r\n

\r\n

To summarize, it appears that the game should live up to it’s billing; a shootout where a bad defense faces off against an elite and efficient offense, and where a putrid defense squares up against an above average offense that turns the ball over way too much.

\r\n

One metric that is gaining steam amongst NFL Teams is the Aikman Efficiency Rating. My pal OCC looked into this metric earlier today and it would behoove those interested in statistical measure to check it out there.

\r\n

The advanced analytics say that the Saints should come out on top, but with all things… that’s why they play the game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"

Looking at the standings, one might think that, with home field advantage, the (2-1) Dallas Cowboys should be a better team than the (1-2) New Orleans Saints. Of course, no one that has spent much time following the NFL believes that the record, especially this early in the season, is the end all be all for evaluating teams.

We all know the infamous take originally attributed to Henry Du Pré Labouchère, \"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.\" In sports, though, statistics are how we measure performance beyond just the wins and losses. In football, where sample sizes are so small, and the mean so cluttered, it behooves us to try to analyze things that have a higher correlation to winning than previous wins.

Fortunately, over the past several years, many statisticians a million times smarter than the author of this piece have spent countless hours devising formulas that they use to judge the quality of teams beyond the normal statistical measures. These advanced metrics allow us a glimpse into which teams are winning based on quality play, which ones are winning because of inept opponents and which ones have a horseshoe crammed up their chimneys.

So, let’s take a look at some of the statistical explanations for what kinds of team the 2014 Dallas Cowboys and 2014 New Orleans Saints have proven to be.

 

 

We all know that it is a passing league, while running the football undoubtedly has an effect on the passing game, and more importantly how the opposition defends it. In the end, though, passing success is what leads to team success.

There are generally two stats that are easily calculated that seem to have a high correlation to predicting future success; Passer Rating differential and Adjusted Net Yards Per Passing Attempt differential. Both are calculated by simply finding the difference between what your offense achieves in each category and taking away what your defense gives up. Teams with the larger differentials are more likely to have future success (read: wins) than those teams with smaller, or negative differentials.

As my good friend One.Cool.Customer over at Blogging The Boys can attest to right here, these stats have shown to be the most closely correlated stat to winning and losing outside of scoring differential. (I think we all know why that one ranks so highly.)

Here’s his take, but I implore you to follow the link and read the entire article. It’s from 2012 but should still rings very true today:

Despite some of the other metrics which we will look at a little later, the passer rating differential shows that the Saints (ranked 15th) are barely an above average team, and the Cowboys (22nd) are a little more below average than the Saints are above in this metric.

Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt, or ANY/A, comes in third with an R2 of 0.62. What exactly is ANY/A?

It’s basically a formula that takes into account sacks and interceptions in qualifying how efficient a team is in the passing game. Here’s how the team’s square up in this metric.

Whoa now, there’s hope! Dallas and New Orleans share the same below average ranking when it comes to ANY/A differential. It looks like when it comes to bad defense, New Orleans is doing much worse than Dallas is. Of course, neither of these metrics is adjusted for the opponent’s faced, so there is a little caveat. At this point, though, we’ll take it.

DVOA (or VOA at this juncture of the season) is a metric that measures success on each play as compared to league average based on \"a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality.\" Due to it being so early in the season, FO can't truly define opponent quality, so for now they are excluding that from their calculations.

Dallas Total VOA (Offense, Defense and ST) is -2.1% after Week 3. It's basically saying that if a team that played exactly at the league average was put in the exact situations Dallas has for two weeks, they would have performed at a 2.1% better clip than the Cowboys. That value ranks them 19th out of 32 NFL teams.

The interesting thing here is that despite the Saints 1-2 record, FO sees them as being the best offensive team in the league; better than both their scoring and yardage rankings would indicate. More importantly, Dallas and New Orleans are only separated by two total points on the season, but DVOA clearly thinks that the Saints are the more potent offense and by a wide margin, with almost half of the league (12 teams) ranked between them.

Expected Points Added (EPA)

Basically what your looking at in the above interactive chart is that teams with Good Offenses and Good Defenses exist in the upper right quadrant. The further to the right, the better your offense, and the further “north” the better your defense.

One can clearly see how much better the Saints have performed on offense than the rest of the league and specifically Dallas. They are also hideously low on the defensive scale. Hover over each team in the interactive table above from AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com. For more information on this metric and it’s friend, Win Probability Added (WPA), I strongly recommend heading over to their website and checking out the glossary.

Success Rate simply determines the percentage of plays that lead to a positive EPA. In other words, the Cowboys “averageness” isn’t a result of being average play by play, it’s that they make crushing mistakes, also known as turnovers.

What you are seeing here is how well each team is doing on a play by play basis by increasing their chances to score. One thing that jumps out immediately is that despite having the leagues leading rusher, and by a large margin, Dallas is in the middle of the pack of Run EPA. The explanation is simple. Standard yardage stats don’t take into effect DeMarco Murray’s fumbling habits, but Run EPA clearly does. That’s how detrimental turning the ball over can be.

Basically what we’re looking at is that the Saints advantage on offense over the Cowboys is twice as large as the Cowboys sizeable advantage over the Saints when comparing their defenses.

To summarize, it appears that the game should live up to it’s billing; a shootout where a bad defense faces off against an elite and efficient offense, and where a putrid defense squares up against an above average offense that turns the ball over way too much.

One metric that is gaining steam amongst NFL Teams is the Aikman Efficiency Rating. My pal OCC looked into this metric earlier today and it would behoove those interested in statistical measure to check it out there.

The advanced analytics say that the Saints should come out on top, but with all things… that’s why they play the game.

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