With the first five weeks of the 2016 NFL season now in the books, we can now turn our attention to the ANY/A (adjusted net yards per passing attempt) differential stats as we prepare for Week 6 to get underway later on this evening. However, before we look at the stats through the first five weeks of this season, let’s look back at the numbers of the 12 teams that made the playoffs over the course of the last two years after the first five weeks of those respective seasons to see if we can start drawing any conclusions.
I would like to point out, however, that over the course of the last two years, of the 12 teams that ultimately made the playoffs, the top five lowest defensive ANY/A teams after five weeks produced 7 teams that would ultimately play in the conference championship games. The highest ANY/A of any of those 7 teams was 5.71 and that belonged to the 2014 Denver Broncos.
|2014 Playoff Teams After Week 5|
|TM||O ANY/A||D ANY/A||DIFF|
|2015 Playoff Teams After Week 5|
|TM||O ANY/A||D ANY/A||DIFF|
As you can see, the four teams that played in the conference championship games in each of the last two years all had positive differential numbers through the first five weeks of the season. Additionally, only twice did teams who exited Week 5 with a differential of less than -1.0 after 5 weeks make the playoffs and those two teams were the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. Even so, that’s just a small group of data and because of that we cant draw any hard conclusions based on what we see so far through the first five weeks of the season. Additionally, the data is really flawed due to all teams not having played 5 games due to bye week scheduling.
As more weeks roll by, we will look at more trends associated with offensive and defensive ANY/A stats in addition to differential numbers. In other words, we need more games played until the numbers start settling down and we stop seeing huge weekly swings.
On to this week’s numbers.
When you look at the offensive and defensive ANY/A numbers of the Minnesota Vikings so far through five weeks, it’s easy to see why their the lone undefeated team in the NFL. Not only is their defense playing extremely well, their offense has matched it. As a result, Mike Zimmer has to be the leading candidate right now for the annual Coach of the Year award. To think that he is getting all of this done with Sam Bradford playing quarterback in addition to the team losing several starters to injuries is amazing. While only five weeks into the regular season, it will be a shock if the Vikings don’t make the playoffs. Five more wins should do it.
The 2016 Atlanta Falcons are an interesting team and right now they are being carried by their offense as evidenced by that lofty 10.15 ANY/A number. Trust me when I tell you that that will drop in the coming weeks and likely as soon as Sunday when they play the Seattle Seahawks (4.20 defensive ANY/A). While the Falcons are on track to win their division this season, they need to start playing better pass defense if they want to go deep into the playoffs.
As for the Pittsburgh Steelers through the first five weeks of the regular season, it’s business as usual when it comes to concern about their defense as we all know their offensive ANY/A number will remain over 7.0 for the rest of the year as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy.
Of the 16 teams that currently have a positive differential number after 5 weeks, the Steelers have the third-highest defensive ANY/A stat and that’s concerning when it comes to wondering if they can make a deep playoff run. With that said, one would think the Steelers defensive ANY/A should lower some in Week 6 due to them playing the Miami Dolphins. They need more sacks and interceptions.
The big test for the Steelers, of course, will come in Week 7 when the play the New England Patriots, who know have quarterback Tom Brady back from his four-game suspension.
Come Week 8, we will look back at a lot of historical data related to these stats and start drawing some hard conclusions as to how 2016 might ultimately play out.