San Diego – What the Numbers Say!

R in CT has already given us a terrific look into the Chargers for tonight’s game.  I thought it might be interesting to do a little statistical analysis to see if a few more fruits might be encouraged to fall off the tree.

TREFF (Teams Ranked by Efficiency) provides some interesting team numbers for San Diego going into tonight’s game.  Let’s break it down beginning with game one, against Carolina:

In game 1, SD’s offensive production was rated ‘above average.’  That is, they produced more impact drives (drives that are time consuming, obtain first downs and cover significant yardage) than the average for NFL teams that week.  The rating was ‘above average’ (not ‘significantly above average’ or ‘very significantly above average’) because the difference was not that large.  That is, they didn’t produce offense significantly more than average (they actually produced about half a standard deviation more for those statistically minded).  In addition, while they scored more points than average on offense (does not include fumble/interception returns, etc.), they did not produce as efficiently as some other clubs.  Their offensive efficiency would be rated ‘average.’

Defensively, in the Carolina game, SD rated ‘significantly below average.’  They allowed considerably more impact drives than average (more than a standard deviation below the mean).

Game two, against Denver is a fascinating study in the misrepresentation of scores.  While the Chargers scored 38 points, they had only three impact (offensive) drives in the entire game!  They produced virtually no offense in the second and fourth quarters (at least in terms of dominating time of possession and the field).  As a rating, their offense performed ‘below average,’ exactly the opposite of the popular perception.  On the other hand, their scoring efficiency was off the charts.  While these numbers ignore special teams plays (which are unpredictable and have nothing to do with offensive and defensive efficiency), the Chargers still scored a lot of points but much of the scoring came as a result of big plays, for example, long completions.  Thus, their overall rating on offense for the week would be hard to estimate.  If you believe they can continue to produce big plays, it would be significantly above average.  If not, average.

On defense in week two, San Diego got pushed all over the field.  They allowed Denver to totally dominate the game producing many, long, time-consuming drives.  SD’s rating on defense for this game was ‘very significantly below average.’

So, that’s the breakdown.  The Jets are lining up against an offensively inconsistent club with a very poor defense (at least judging by the first two games) that has, nevertheless, shown evidence of big play ability.  The message for the Jets would seem to be obvious.  Stop the big plays.  If they can do this, they’ll have a good chance to win.