Relativity Index: San Diego super Chargers

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 19, 2007



(Ed. Note: Cold, Hard Football Facts reader Brian Sheppard is back with his look at the Relativity Index, which measures how each team performs relative to the average game of their opponents. For example, a team that's +3.0 on the Relativity Index has outscored its opponents by +3.0 PPG relative to the performance of those opponents in their other games. For a fuller explanation of the Relativity Index, see Sheppard's original contribution on the topic.)
 
By Brian Sheppard
Cold, Hard Football Facts relative statmaker
 
The Relativity Index easily identifies teams that are on the move. And nobody's moving up faster than San Diego.
 
This season has widely been regarded as a disappointment for the Chargers. After all, they went 14-2 last season, and were struggling early this year with what seemed like devastating losses to New England and Green Bay in consecutive weeks. It was easy to identify the culprit: must be the new head coach, Norv Turner. After all, what else has changed?
 
But maybe Turner's critics, including the Cold, Hard Football Facts, rushed to judgement faster than LT rushes past hapless defenders. After all, the Relativity Index seems to indicate that San Diego is peaking at just the right time: here in December.
 
Let's look at how the Charger's standing in the Relativity Index has varied over this season:
 
Game
Result
Relativity Score
Relativity Rank
1
Beat Bears 14-3
-
-
2
Lost to Patriots 38-14
-
-
3
Lost to Packers 31-24
+4.3
10
4
Mysteriously lost to Chiefs 30-16
-3.5
18
5
Smacked Broncos 41-3
+3.0
12
6
Beat Raiders 28-14
+5.3
10
7
Whipped Texans 35-10
+8.7
5
8
Lost to Vikings 35-17
+4.3
7
9
Beat Colts 23-21
+5.9
6
10
Lost to Jaguars 24-17
+5.4
6
11
Crushed Ravens 32-14
+6.5
6
12
Revenge on Chiefs 24-10
+6.4
6
13
Beat Titans 23-14
+6.4
6
14
Tamed Lions 51-14
+8.3
5
 
We start charting San Diego's place in the Relativity Index in Week 3 because before that we don't have enough games to understand the "who beat whom" data very well.
 
Check out how well the Relativity Index understood San Diego's 1-2 start: turns out that losing to the Patriots (by 24!) was no big deal. After all, that's pretty much been New England's margin of victory all seasoon. And losing to the Packers by 7 seems fairly normal in retrospect. Plus, beating the Bears by 11, if not exactly awe-inspiring, was a good way to start. On balance: the season was off to a promising start considering the competition.
 
The Relativity Index for the Chargers took a big dive when they lost to the Chiefs, a team that has performed badly from the start of the season. That game is really the only inexplicable loss for San Diego this year. Everything else has pretty much gone according to expectatins.
 
Had the Chargers continued to perform at the lowly level they displayed against Kansas City, there is little chance that they would be AFC West champs. Instead they rebounded with impressive wins over the Broncos and Raiders by an average 26-point differential.
 
With the sole exception of the week after losing to the Chiefs, the Relativity Index has rated the Chargers as a solidly positive team. Readers of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, then, would not be surprised at their "resurgence."
 
San Diego has games remaining against the Broncos at home and the Raiders on the road. Both opponents are seriously outclassed. Teams rated 9 or more points higher than opponents in the Relativity Index have won 84 percent of those games this year.
 
The Chargers have a lot of incentive to win both games. If they win out and finish with the No. 3 seed in the AFC  their wild card game would be home, mostly likely, against Cleveland (+0.2 in the Relativity Index) rather than home against Jacksonville (+7.2).
 
Should the No. 3-seed Chargers win the wild card game, they would travel to Indianapolis (+13.8) in the divisional round, rather than to New England (+22.7). The Patriots not only top the Relativity Index by a wide margin, our carefully analyzed proprietary data reveals that the Patriots are 220-0 when playing at home in the cold.
 
It's a tough schedule for San Diego either way, but a lot easier if they win out. And a lot more promising than most people would have expected after Week 3.
 
2007 RELATIVITY INDEX (through Week 15)
 
Team
PPGF
PPGA
Opp-PF
Opp-PA
Relativity
1
New England
37.4
16.6
21.9
20.0
+22.7
2
Indianapolis
28.7
16.5
21.7
20.2
+13.8
3
Dallas
30.6
20.4
21.4
20.4
+11.3
4
Green Bay
28.1
17.4
21.2
21.0
+10.9
5
San Diego
25.6
18.9
22.3
20.8
+8.3
6
Pittsburgh
23.6
15.6
22.8
22.9
+8.0
7
Jacksonville
23.9
17.9
21.3
20.0
+7.2
8
Tampa Bay
20.9
15.6
21.2
21.9
+4.6
9
Minnesota
23.2
18.4
21.4
21.8
+4.4
10
Seattle
23.2
17.2
20.3
22.3
+4.0
11
Philadelphia
20.1
19.1
24.1
21.2
+3.8
12
Washington
19.6
20.2
22.7
21.3
+0.8
13
Cleveland
26.3
25.4
20.7
21.3
+0.2
14
N.Y. Giants
21.4
20.9
21.1
21.7
0.0
15
Tennessee
19.6
20.1
21.4
21.2
-0.2
16
New Orleans
23.6
22.6
19.1
20.5
-0.4
17
Houston
23.0
22.7
20.2
21.2
-0.7
18
Cincinnati
23.1
24.7
20.3
21.2
-2.5
19
Chicago
19.0
22.6
22.2
21.4
-2.8
20
Arizona
23.3
25.2
19.4
21.5
-4.0
21
Detroit
22.0
27.9
21.9
20.5
-4.4
22
Buffalo
15.9
21.4
23.7
22.7
-4.5
23
N.Y. Jets
17.8
23.9
23.0
21.8
-4.9
24
Denver
21.1
26.2
20.5
20.4
-5.0
25
Oakland
18.2
22.8
21.5
22.6
-5.7
26
Kansas City
14.0
21.2
22.8
22.0
-6.4
27
Carolina
15.9
21.7
20.9
21.7
-6.6
28
Baltimore
17.3
24.0
22.5
22.9
-7.2
29
Miami
16.8
26.5
21.1
21.8
-10.4
30
St. Louis
15.7
24.9
20.8
22.2
-10.6
31
Atlanta
13.4
24.5
20.2
21.1
-12.0
32
San Francisco
13.6
23.2
20.2
22.9
-12.2
 
PG - The average PPG scored
PPFA - The average PPG allowed
OppPPG - The average PPG scored by that team's opponents in their other games
OppPA - The average PPG allowed by that team's opponents in their other games
Relativity - The average difference in scoring margin  It's is obtained by taking the difference between PPG-OppPA and adding it to the difference between OppPPG-PPGA.

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