The Chiefs & Raiders Are Examples For Overachieving Teams

As a guy who works a lot with numbers, I can tell you that both the Chiefs and Raiders are overachieving this year in terms of their W/L record. This is not hating, this is pure math. Sometimes these teams keep overachieving, but at some point the downfall comes, mostly in the playoffs against an overall sound team.

There is one simple statement that sums it up: Good teams win big and lose small. You can go back to the conference championship teams of the last 10 years, set limits and will find out that this applies to the majority of the teams. Good teams have good scoring differentials. The Pythagorean win expectation is a formula that describes how many games a team should have won based on simple ‘points for’ and ‘points against’:

(Points For ^2.37 / (Points For ^2.37 + Points Against ^2.37)) * Games Played

Chiefs (9-3): 7.1 wins

Raiders (10-2): 7.0 wins

The only mathematical problem with the pythagorean expectation is that it doesn’t account for defensive or special teams TDs. The Chiefs have scored 15.7% of their points via defense and special teams, so that number is still flawed. I took Offensive Points Scored and Opponent Offensive Points Scored from teamrankings.com which reduces ‘Points For’ & ‘Points Against’ by defensive and special teams TDs, this gives us a better number for the pure points for each side. I ran the pythagorean expectation again:

Chiefs (9-3): 5.8 wins

Raiders (10-2): 6.7 wins

So both teams’ records are atleast 3 games above what they are supposed to be at. It makes sense when you go back and see how they won their games. The Raiders don’t have a defense, the offense keeps baiting them out. Usually doesn’t work well in the playoffs.

Over the last five games, the Chiefs have had the following offensive output:

Jaguars: 19 points (longest scoring drive was 38 yards)
Panthers: 13 points (no TD)
Bucs: 17 points (1 TD in garbage time, KC had 10/3 pass/run)
Broncos: 14 points (last second TD with 14/0 pass/run)
Falcons: 13 points

So the Chiefs went 4-1 straight up but scored an average of 15.2 PPG by themselves. Would be interesting if there ever was a team going 4-1 over 5 games while scoring just 15.2 PPG by themselves.

Last year the Broncos won their games in equal fashion, but there was one big difference: their defense was leading the league in almost every important efficiency metric. The Chiefs defense?

21st in yards per play (5.7)
13th in total DVOA (-3.4%)
11th in pass DVOA (1.3%)
17th in rush DVOA (-9.7%)
23rd in NYPPA (6.7)
25th in yards per rush (4.6)
11th in PPG scoring defense (20.2)

So the offense and defense of the Chiefs havn’t been better than average, but they are 9-3. How is this possible? Two reasons: 1) soft schedule 2) ‘lucky circumstances’. Creating turnovers is a quality, but the result (field position / return TDs) of turnovers is completely random. The Chiefs are getting 15.7% of their total points via defense and special teams – it’s gonna be tough to sustain that.

The Falcons are a good offense with a good OL and passing game. They scored 28 offensive points on the Chiefs but the Chiefs won and covered due to 16 points by defense and special teams.

The Chiefs and Raiders are playing a good season and they will make the playoffs, but they will have a tough road to win more than 1 playoff game. We will find out in January.

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