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Ravens Advanced Stat Roundup

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The Baltimore Ravens enter Week 7 very strong in advanced football metrics with the offense breaking the top five

Cliff McBride

Baltimore is trending in the direction you'd expect after a World War I style shelling of Tampa Bay. Many of these stats I've written about before and their respective websites have plenty of explanation so we'll focus on providing the essentials with minimal upfront explanation.

Football Outsiders DVOA

DVOA has Baltimore the 2nd overall in the NFL. DVOA is a preferred measure due to the breadth of factors it considers. Even the deposed CEO of the Cleveland Browns, Joe Banner, indicated that many in the industry used it or something similar instead of yards:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>.<a href="https://twitter.com/HDGymRat">@HDGymRat</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/caplannfl">@caplannfl</a> u are using yardage rankings. Many people I know use DVOA or some analytic version. went from 30-18. He is respected</p>&mdash; Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBanner13/status/516986410382159872">September 30, 2014</a></blockquote>

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As the editor notes, stomping out bad opponents (as we suspect Tampa is at this early juncture) is a sign of a strong team. The Ravens have three blowouts to date which is a big reason why they have gone high up the DVOA ranks.

Baltimore trails Denver comfortably and possesses a narrow lead over Seattle and Green Bay who are close behind. When we break down BAL's components, we see a 4th ranked offense and 9th ranked offense.

That would probably surprise some. The defense feels like the unit that has been there each week except maybe the Cleveland game whereas the offense has left something to be desired in two of them. But this can also be due to the teams around them simply playing better defensively. DVOA is relative in that sense.

Said another way, the defense is probably the strength of the Ravens; however, the offense is playing better relative to the other 31 teams than the defense.

On offense, the only teams DVOA likes better is Denver, Cleveland, and Green Bay. On defense the eight higher teams are led by Detroit who you may recall is now coached by Teryl Austin on defense. He's getting it done there.

The second table shows the estimated opponent strength to date. As we get to week 10 the "Past Sched" and "Future Sched" will fluctuate to reflect how good or bad their opponents turned out to be. This is largely why preseason strength of schedule is meaningless — we just don't know how good any team really is until midseason at least.

Cold Hard Football Facts Quality Stats

CHFF does things a bit differently. Over there, they worship things like wins over quality opponents (i.e. strong teams who will likely make the playoffs) rather than stomps over lesser teams as DVOA tends to favor. In addition, CHFF treats passer rating, and its varied spinoffs for offense and defense, as king. Like DVOA, their numbers are often pretty compelling, too, even if they are a different approach.

Baltimore leads all teams when their stats are aggregated. The categories Baltimore ranks particularly high on are: Bendability (i.e. red zone performance), Offensive Hog Index (offensive line) and Relativity (opponent strength).

As they also note, Baltimore is second in point differential. Point differential has been proven to be a better predictor of future team success than a team's record itself.

Win Probability Added

WPA is another stat I'm fond of given its correlation to winning.

After the Panthers game, Steve Smith and Joe Flacco were leading the NFL in WPA. Now, Flacco is 5th after a few other quarterbacks had to make repeated plays to bring their team while the Ravens cruised out to a big lead and never gave it up. Steve Smith continues to lead all NFL receivers in WPA.

Defensively, C.J. Mosley is dominating. He has 0.87 WPA, which is nearly double that of the next defender, Jimmy Smith. This places him 3rd among NFL Linebackers behind Lavonte David and Deandre Levy.

Sometimes a low WPA is a sign that teams are avoiding you, which mostly affects defensive backs. So it is plausible that Jimmy Smith actually is playing at Mosley's level but hasn't had as many opportunities to make plays that directly impact our win probability.

Playoff Odds Report

Another Football Outsiders feature, the Playoff Odds Report is a fun exercise more than anything. At this early juncture obviously much can and will change so these numbers are hardly worth getting too excited about but they are presented here as an interesting "FYI".

The report runs the season thousands of times from the current week onward to get a sense of how often each team is making the playoffs and where. For instance, through Week 6, Baltimore, Green Bay, and Dallas all demonstrated an ~77% chance of making the playoffs. When all simulations were run, they all showed an average win tally of about 10.5 wins.

This report is often a bit more interesting than the "Playoff Picture" features that you see where it is entirely based on current standings. This playoff report considers team performance to date to estimate the probability for each team's future.

One of the more fun takeaways:  the Super Bowl matchup currently most likely to happen featuring the Ravens would be against the Philadelphia Eagles at 2.8%. Make of that what you will.