Much like baseball 20 years ago, the National Football League has begun to evolve into a more analytics driven industry. One such innovation that has become more widely accepted is the use of Expected Points Added (EPA) to place value on players, units, and teams.
At its root core, EPA intends to estimate how many more points are expected from a given drive after each play based on yards gained and the down and distance. Through compiling this play-to-play data, scores can be summed to provide estimates of the quality of various aspects of a team. For those interested in greater detail on the calculation and uses of this statistic, a useful resource can be found here
One common use of EPA is to calculate it by offensive and defensive units. By doing so, we can see how teams compare and which aspect of a team (offense or defense) is stronger or weaker relative to one another. Additionally, through plotting multiple teams together, we can see how units perform relative to one another, which is done below.
NFL tiers through 17 weeks— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) January 4, 2023
I really hope we get to see the Jaguars/Dolphins in the playoffs pic.twitter.com/Vv6h8EsWOJ
From an interpretation perspective, teams that are further right have better offenses than teams that are further left, while teams that are vertically higher have better defenses than teams that are vertically lower.
Regarding the New York Jets, I want to note a few takeaways of mine from this plot:
- This plot provides some support for what we already knew through the first 17 weeks: the New York Jets offense is rather bad while the Jets defense is rather good.
- The Jets performed at a similar level across both offensive and defensive units to that of the Denver Broncos and Washington Commanders.
- The majority of teams whose scores place them in a similar location to that of the Jets also missed the playoffs. This may provide some insight into where the Jets stand relative to this season’s playoff teams and how much improvement is needed if they are to close the gap between their performance and that of the playoff teams.
- If we want to look for a cause for optimism, we can see the Minnesota Vikings have performed at approximately a similar level to the Jets. Whether this says more about the Jets or the Vikings is up to your own interpretation.
But these are only my takeaways. What stands out to you within this figure? Any notable causes for optimism or pessimism?