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Feb 07

NFL 2014 Recap: The Five Factors

With the regular season now over, we can take a look back to see how we fared in the TABMathletics 2014 NFL Preview. For this preview, a big part of our analysis focused on the “five factors” of regression for each team. Over the span of eight days, these posts exposed numerous themes for what makes a team get better or worse in each season by means of mathematical application. This helped to paint the picture for our season predictions.

Note that the statistical factors discussed below involved the REGULAR SEASON ONLY unless otherwise noted.

Editor’s Note: The remaining results for the Five Factors were added on March 7 to account for the regression factors that address published material by Football Outsiders in regards to the Adjusted Games Lost metric. Now, results for all 160 factors are available.

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Baltimore Ravens (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. More rush yards per attempt and better Rush DVOA: The 2013 Ravens ran for 3.14 yards per attempt with a -27.2% Rush DVOA. The 2014 Ravens ran for 4.51 yards per attempt with a -6.0% Rush DVOA.
2. Better YPA, TD%, INT% and passer rating for Joe Flacco: Flacco threw for 6.37 yards per attempt, a 3.09 touchdown percentage, a 3.58 interception percentage and a 73.15 passer rating in 2013. He threw for 7.19 yards per attempt, a 4.87 touchdown percentage, a 2.17 interception percentage and a 91.03 passer rating in 2014.
3. More yards per play and more games with a positive Offense DVOA: The 2013 Ravens averaged 4.51 yards per play and totaled one positive game in Offense DVOA. The 2014 Ravens averaged 5.72 yards per play and totaled 12 positive games in Offense DVOA.
4. Fewer field goals made: The Ravens declined from 38 field goals made to 29.
5. Fewer penalties as a beneficiary: The Ravens benefited from 126 penalties in 2013 and 125 in 2014.

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Cincinnati Bengals (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Worse home record and fewer points scored: The 2013 Bengals went 8-0 at home with 275 points scored. The 2014 Bengals went 5-2-1 at home with 215 points scored.
2. Fewer touchdowns scored: The Bengals declined from 47 offensive touchdowns scored to 39.
3. Fewer Green receiving yards: Green declined from 1426 receiving yards to 1041.
4. Better penalty differential: The Bengals improved from a negative-32 penalty differential to plus-6.
5. More Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt: The Bengals declined from 5.09 DRPYPA to 6.19.

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Cleveland Browns (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. More yards allowed per play, but fewer points allowed: The 2013 Browns allowed 4.80 yards per play and 406 total points. The 2014 Browns allowed 5.24 yards per play and 337 total points.
2. Better subset stats in DVOA and Defensive Passer Rating: The 2013 Browns ranked 24th in Defense DVOA, but 31st on third down, 31st in “late and close” situations and 32nd in the red zone. They also had a 84.06 DPR overall, but 96.18 on third down and 105.39 in the fourth quarter. The 2014 Browns ranked 11th in Defense DVOA, but seventh on third down, eighth in the red zone and 13th in “late and close” situations. They also had a 74.08 DPR overall, but 57.07 on third down and 77.35 in the fourth quarter.
3. More rushing yards and more rushing touchdowns: The Browns improved from 1383 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns to 1728 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
4. More missed games by starters: The 2013 Browns featured three positions with fewer than 12 starts made by the top player on the depth chart. The 2014 Browns featured 10 positions with fewer than 12 starts made by the top player on the depth chart.
5. Better W-L record: The Browns improved from a 4-12 record to 7-9.

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Pittsburgh Steelers (4 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer Brown receptions and receiving yards: Brown improved from 110 receptions for 1499 yards to 129 receptions for 1698 yards.
2. More takeaways: The Steelers improved from 20 takeaways to 21 takeaways.
3. More rushing yards per carry: The Steelers improved from 3.51 rushing yards per attempt to 4.14.
4. Better stuff percentage: The Steelers improved from 15 percent stuffed to 18 percent.
5. Better record in one-possession games: The Steelers improved from 2-5 to 6-3 in one-possession games.

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Chicago Bears (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer yards per play: The Bears declined from 6.03 yards per play to 5.21.
2. Fewer points allowed: The Bears improved from 478 points allowed to 442.
3. Fewer rushing yards, YPA and TD allowed: The 2013 Bears allowed 2583 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 483 attempts, which led to a 5.35 yards allowed per attempt average. The 2014 Bears allowed 1803 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 421 attempts, which led to a 4.28 yards allowed per attempt average.
4. More penalties forced: The Bears improved from 30 penalties forced to 64.
5. Fewer return touchdowns for Chicago and its opponents: The 2013 Bears scored seven and allowed nine return touchdowns. The 2014 Bears scored two and allowed three return touchdowns.

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Detroit Lions (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer blown fourth-quarter leads: The Lions improved from seven fourth-quarter comebacks allowed to two (including postseason).
2. Worse red zone defense in touchdown percentage: The Lions declined from a 38.10 red zone TD percentage allowed to 52.83.
3. Better net field goal percentage: The Lions improved from a negative-13.33 net field goal percentage to negative-12.47.
4. Worse net third down percentage: The Lions declined from a 12.65 third down percentage differential to 1.37.
5. Lower Expected Win Differential: The Lions improved from a plus-2.45 EWD to negative-2.34.

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Green Bay Packers (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Better Defense DVOA: The Packers improved from a 14.4% Defense DVOA to negative-1.0%.
2. Fewer touchdown passes allowed and better Defensive Passer Rating: In 2013, the Packers allowed 30 pass touchdowns and held a 94.04 Defensive Passer Rating. In 2014, the Packers allowed 26 pass touchdowns and held an 82.05 Defensive Passer Rating.
3. Fewer opponent drops and worse defensive fumble recovery rate: In 2013, the Packers benefited from 37 opponent dropped passes and recovered 11 of their opponents’ 18 fumbles. In the 2014, the Packers benefited from 21 opponent dropped passes and recovered seven of their opponents’ 19 fumbles.
4. Better red zone offense in touchdown percentage and more points scored: In 2013, the Packers owned a 50.72 red zone TD percentage and scored 417 points. In 2014, the Packers owned a 57.14 red zone TD percentage and scored 486 points.
5. Fewer yards per rushing attempt: The Packers declined from 4.65 rush yards per attempt to 4.41.

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Minnesota Vikings (4.5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Better Defensive Passer Rating: The Vikings improved from a 98.61 Defensive Passer Rating to 92.82.
2. Fewer points allowed: The Vikings improved from 480 points allowed to 343.
3. Worse team punt return average and lower Cordarrelle Patterson kick return average: The Vikings declined from a 15.23-yard punt return average to an 11-yard average. Patterson declined from a 32.40-yard kick return average to a 25.62-yard average.
4. More Brian Robison sacks, but fewer hurries: In 2013, Robison tallied 9.0 sacks and 27 hurries (per Sporting Charts). In 2014, Robison tallied 4.5 sacks and 11 hurries (per Sporting Charts).
5. Better W-L record: The Vikings improved from 5-10-1 to 7-9.

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Buffalo Bills (3.67 of 5 factors correct)
1. Lower NPP% and worse Defensive DVOA: In 2013, the Bills held a 12.94 Negative Pass Play Percentage with a negative-13.8% Defense DVOA. In 2014, the Bills held a 11.62 Negative Pass Play Percentage with a negative-15.5% Defense DVOA.
2. Better opponents line of scrimmage drive start, but more yards allowed per drive: In 2013, the Buffalo defense had an average 31.5-yard LOS drive start and allowed 24.93 yards per drive. In 2014, the Buffalo defense had an average 26.9-yard LOS drive start and allowed 25.23 yards per drive.
3. Better C.J. Spiller rushing DVOA, but fewer team rushing yards: Spiller declined from a negative-17.8% DVOA to an unqualified negative-33.2% DVOA. The Bills declined from 2307 rushing yards to 1482.
4. Worse Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt, Defensive Passer Rating and Defensive Real Quarterback Rating: The 2013 Buffalo pass defense finished with a 5.29 DRPYPA, a 74.91 DPR and a 65.53 DQBR. The 2014 Buffalo pass defense finished with a 5.37 DRPYPA, a 74.53 DPR and 68.21 DQBR.
5. More yards per punt return: The Bills improved from 6.23 yards per punt return to 9.57.

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Miami Dolphins (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer sacks allowed: The Dolphins improved from 58 sacks allowed to 46.
2. Fewer Tannehill “dropped” interceptions: Tannehill improved from 11 “dropped” interceptions to six.
3. Better turnover margin: The Dolphins improved from a negative-2 turnover margin to plus-2.
4. Better subset Offensive Passer Rating, worse subset Defensive Passer Rating: On offense, the 2013 Dolphins finished with an 80.13 OPR overall, but also a 63.12 OPR on third and fourth downs and a 56.15 OPR in the fourth quarter and overtime. The 2014 Dolphins finished with a 92.46 OPR overall, but also a 72.27 OPR on third and fourth downs and a 76.41 OPR in the fourth quarter and overtime. On defense, the 2013 Dolphins finished with a 77.26 DPR overall, but also a 63.12 DPR on third and fourth downs and a 63.81 DPR in the fourth quarter and overtime. The 2014 Dolphins finished with a 89.67 DPR overall, but also a 91.15 DPR on third and fourth downs and a 90.69 DPR in the fourth quarter and overtime.
5. Worse Defensive Passer Rating: As already mentioned, the Dolphins declined from a 77.26 DPR to 89.67.

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New England Patriots (4 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer fourth-quarter comebacks: The Patriots regressed from five fourth-quarter comebacks to four (including postseason).
2. Better Tom Brady passer rating: Brady improved from a 87.29 passer rating to 97.37.
3. Better third down Offense DVOA and better third down conversion rate: In 2013, the Patriots owned a negative-11.7% Offense DVOA on third down with a 39.84 percent conversion rate. In 2014, the Patriots owned a 14.7% Offense DVOA on third down with a 44.34 percent conversion rate.
4. Fewer field goals made: The Patriots regressed from 38 field goals made to 35.
5. Worse W-L record: The Patriots owned a 12-4 record in both seasons.

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New York Jets (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Better turnover margin: The Jets improved from a negative-14 turnover margin to negative-11.
2. More than 550 yards for the leading receiver: New York’s leading receiver totaled 523 yards in 2013 and 962 yards in 2014.
3. More yards allowed per rushing attempt: The Jets regressed from 3.35 rushing yards allowed per attempt to 3.79.
4. Worse third down Offense DVOA, but better defensive third down big play percentage: The Jets offense regressed from a 6.4% DVOA on third down to 1.7%. The Jets defense improved from 6.03 percent on third down plays allowing 25+ yards to 5.42.
5. Worse W-L record: The Jets declined from 8-8 to 4-12.

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Dallas Cowboys (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer yards allowed per play: The Dallas defense improved from 6.07 yards allowed per play to 5.81.
2. Worse red zone touchdown percentage: The Cowboys regressed from a 68.63 red zone touchdown percentage to 64.91.
3. Better third down conversion rate and better third down Offensive Passer Rating: In 2013, the Cowboys converted 35 percent of third down opportunities while posting a 76.05 OPR. In 2014, the Cowboys converted 47.26 percent of third down opportunities while posting a 112.64 Offensive Passer Rating.
4. Worse fumble recovery percentage: The Cowboys regressed from recovering 67.6 percent of fumbles to 50 percent.
5. Worse Dwayne Harris kick return average or punt return average; worse team field goal percentage from 40+ yards: Harris declined from a 30.61-yard per kick return average and a 12.8-yard per return average to 24.73 and 9.17, respectively. The Cowboys declined from converting 16-of-17 attempts from 40+ yards to converting 13-of-16.

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New York Giants (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Better turnover margin: The Giants improved from a negative-15 turnover margin to negative-2.
2. More points per offensive drive and better Yards per Point Differential: In 2013, the New York offense averaged 1.33 points per drive and owned a negative-2.85 Yards per Point Differential. In 2014, the New York offense averaged 1.93 points per drive and owned a negative-0.43 Yards per Point Differential.
3. Fewer Adjusted Games Lost: The Giants improved from 144.6 AGL to 137.1.
4. Better third down Defense DVOA, but more yards allowed per play: In 2013, the New York defense allowed 4.88 yards per play and owned a negative-0.9% DVOA on third down. In 2014, the New York defense allowed 5.97 yards per play and owned a negative-7.2% DVOA on third down.
5. Pythagorean Win Differential closer to zero: The Giants regressed from a negative-1.46 Pythagorean Win Differential to plus-1.51.

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Philadelphia Eagles (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Total dip in production for Nick Foles: In 2013, Foles completed 64.04 percent of his passes for 9.12 yards per attempt and a 119.21 passer rating. In 2014, Foles completed 59.81 percent of his passes for 6.95 yards per attempt and a 81.44 passer rating.
2. Fewer yards per play: The Philadelphia offense declined from 6.33 yards per play to 5.63.
3. Fewer yards per rush attempt: The Eagles declined from 5.13 rushing yards per attempt to 4.20.
4. Closer rank differential between red zone and overall Offense DVOA: In 2013, the Eagles ranked third in Offense DVOA, but 18th in the red zone. In 2014, the Eagles ranked 13th in Offense DVOA, but 17th in the red zone.
5. Expected Win Differential closer to zero: The Eagles regressed from a negative-1.59 EWD to 0.26.

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Washington Redskins (4 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer points allowed: The Washington defense improved from allowing 478 points to 438.
2. Better return averages and better special teams DVOA: In 2013, Washington allowed 16.79 yards per punt return and totaled 19.96 yards per kick return en route to a negative-12.0% Special Teams DVOA. In 2014, Washington allowed 9.45 yards per punt return and totaled 21.75 yards per kick return en route to a negative-5.4% Special Teams DVOA.
3. Fewer Pierre Garcon receptions: Garcon declined from 113 receptions to 68.
4. Better Net Yards per Point Scored: Washington declined from negative-5.86 Net Yards per Point Scored to negative-6.02.
5. Better W-L record: Washington improved from 3-13 to 4-12.

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Houston Texans (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Improved Net Yards per Point Scored by at least 80 percent: The Texans improved from negative-8.26 Net Yards per Point Scored to plus-3.33. This indicates more than a 140 percent increase.
2. Better turnover margin and better record with positive turnover margin: The 2013 Texans owned a negative-20 turnover margin while finishing with an 0-2 record with a positive turnover margin. The 2014 Texans owned a plus-12 turnover margin while finishing with a 7-2 record with a positive turnover margin.
3. Fewer Andre Johnson receptions for fewer yards: In 2013, Johnson caught 109 passes for 1407 yards. In 2014, Johnson caught 85 passes for 936 yards.
4. Better J.J. Watt sack-to-hit and sack-to-knockdown ratios: In 2013, Watt tallied 10.5 sacks, 36 hits and 47 knockdowns (under 3:10 and 1:4, respectively). In 2014, Watt tallied 20.5 sacks, 44 hits and 56 knockdowns (over 2:5 and 1:3, respectively).
5. Better W-L record by multiple games: The Texans improved from 2-14 to 9-7.

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Indianapolis Colts (4 of 5 factors correct)
1. More giveaways: The Colts declined from 14 giveaways to 31.
2. Worse penalty differential: The Colts declined from a plus-44 penalty differential to negative-12.
3. Fewer Adjusted Games Lost: The Colts improved from 110.3 AGL to 104.7.
4. Fewer Robert Mathis sacks per game: Mathis declined from about 1.22 sacks per game to zero (due to injury).
5. Worse W-L record: The Colts remained even going from 11-5 to 11-5.

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Jacksonville Jaguars (3.67 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer sacks allowed: The Jaguars declined from 50 sacks allowed to 71.
2. Better yards per rush attempt average: The Jaguars improved from 3.33 yards per rush attempt to 4.54.
3. More punt return yards per attempt: The Jaguars improved from 4.73 yards per punt return to 7.14.
4. Better net yards, points or first downs per drive: The 2013 Jaguars averaged negative-6.7 net yards, negative-0.96 net points and negative-0.40 net first downs per drive. The 2014 Jaguars averaged negative-7.0 net yards, negative-0.73 net points and negative-0.32 net first downs per drive.
5. Worse record in one-possession games: The Jaguars decline from 4-2 to 2-4 in one-possession games.

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Tennessee Titans (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. More passing touchdowns allowed and worse Defensive Passer Rating: The 2013 Titans allowed 15 passing touchdowns en route to a 83.27 DPR. The 2014 Titans allowed 28 passing touchdowns en route to a 93.64 DPR.
2. Better red zone touchdown percentage allowed, but more “big-play” touchdowns allowed: In 2013, the Titans allowed a 64 red zone touchdown percentage, but also allowed two touchdowns of greater than 20 yards. In 2014, the Titans allowed a 58.73 red zone touchdown percentage, but also allowed eight touchdowns of greater than 20 yards.
3. Better Kendall Wright touchdown-to-reception ratio: In 2013, Wright caught two of 94 passes for touchdowns. In 2014, Wright caught six of 57 passes for touchdowns.
4. Worse Offense DVOA and fewer points scored: The 2013 Titans scored 362 points with a 1.4% DVOA. The 2014 Titans scored 254 points with a negative-16.4% DVOA.
5. Fewer Jurrell Casey sacks: Casey declined from 10.5 sacks to five.

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Atlanta Falcons (4 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer yards allowed per play: The Falcons declined from 6.05 yards allowed per play to 6.14.
2. More rushing yards per game: The Falcons improved from 77.94 rushing yards per game to 93.63.
3. Worse Matt Ryan completion percentage: Ryan declined from a 67.43 completion percentage to 66.08.
4. Worse opponents field goal percentage: Atlanta’s opponents declined from a 97.14 field goal percentage to 81.58.
5. Better W-L record and more points scored: The 2013 Falcons finished 4-12 while scoring 353 points. The 2014 Falcons finished 6-10 while scoring 381 points.

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Carolina Panthers (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer sacks: The Panthers declined from 60 sacks to 40.
2. Worse Defensive Rusher Rating: The Panthers decline from a 69.79 DRR to 94.06.
3. Better completion percentage allowed, but more yards allowed per play: The 2013 Panthers allowed 4.94 yards per play with a 66.61 completion percentage allowed. The 2014 Panthers allowed 5.44 yards per play with a 64.77 completion percentage allowed.
4. More pass completions of 20+ yards and more net yards per dropback: The 2013 Panthers totaled 5.90 net yards per dropback and completed 33 passes of 20+ yards. The 2014 Panthers totaled 5.98 net yards per dropback and completed 43 passes of 20+ yards.
5. Worse Net Yards per Point Scored: The Panthers declined from plus-6.15 Net Yards per Point Scored to negative-1.83.

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New Orleans Saints (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. More points allowed: The Saints declined from 304 points allowed to 424.
2. More yards allowed per play and worse Defense DVOA: The 2013 Saints allowed 5.19 yards per play and owned a negative-5.8% Defense DVOA. The 2014 Saints allowed 6.01 yards per play and owned a 13.1% Defense DVOA.
3. Worse Relative Offensive Passer Rating: The Saints declined from a plus-20.45 ROPR to plus-9.90.
4. Better kick and punt return averages: The 2013 Saints averaged 23 yards per kick return and 6.06 yards per punt return. The 2014 Saints averaged 25.86 yards per kick return and 7.05 yards per punt return.
5. Fewer Jimmy Graham receiving touchdowns: Graham declined from 16 receiving touchdowns to 10.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. More yards per play, non-penalty first down and net yards per dropback: The 2013 Buccaneers averaged 4.52 yards per play and 5.03 net yards per dropback, as well as totaled 232 non-penalty first downs. The 2014 Buccaneers averaged 4.99 yards per play and 5.66 net yards per dropback, as well as totaled 234 non-penalty first downs.
2. Worse Josh McCown passer rating by at least 20 percent: McCown declined from a 109.02 passer rating to 70.46, which marks more than a 35 percent decline in the statistic.
3. More yards allowed per kick return: The Buccaneers declined from 18.83 yards allowed per kick return to 23.46.
4. Worse opponent field goal percentage: Tampa Bay’s opponents declined from a 96.88 field goal percentage to 74.36.
5. Fewer Adjusted Games Lost on offense, but more on defense: The 2013 Buccaneers totaled 76.6 AGL on offense and 9.9 on defense. The 2014 Buccaneers totaled 31.1 AGL on offense and 56.1 on defense.

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Denver Broncos (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer yards per play and points per drive: The 2013 Broncos averaged 6.33 yards per play and 2.83 points per drive. The 2014 Broncos averaged 6.04 yards per play and 2.31 points per drive.
2. Worse Relative Offensive Passer Rating and Negative Big Pass Play Percentage: The 2013 Broncos finished with a plus-30.33 ROPR and a 4.32 NBPP%. The 2014 Broncos finished with a plus-14.24 ROPR and a 5.01 NBPP%.
3. Better Defense DVOA on third down and in the red zone: The 2013 Broncos defense finished with a 25.5% DVOA on third down and a 15.2% DVOA in the red zone. The 2014 Broncos defense finished with a negative-15.0% DVOA on third down and a 4.8% DVOA in the red zone.
4. Worse field goal percentage: The Broncos declined from a 96.15 field goal percentage to 82.76.
5. Fewer yards allowed per kick return: The Broncos improved from 29.25 yards allowed per kick return to 25.86.

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Kansas City Chiefs (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Worse turnover margin, worse return touchdown margin, worse net field position average and fewer points scored: The 2013 Chiefs finished with a plus-18 turnover margin, a plus-11 return touchdown margin, a plus-10.2 net field position average and 430 points scored. The 2014 Chiefs finished with a negative-3 turnover margin, a plus-4 return touchdown margin, a plus-1.6 net field position average and 353 points scored.
2. Fewer takeaways: The Chiefs declined from 36 takeaways to 14.
3. Fewer return touchdowns: The Chiefs declined from 11 return touchdowns to four.
4. Fewer pass completions of 25+ yards allowed: The Chiefs improved from 43 pass completions of 25+ yards allowed to 25.
5. Worse W-L record: The Chiefs declined from 11-5 to 9-7.

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Oakland Raiders (4.5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Better Relative Defensive Passer Rating: The Raiders improved from a negative-21.04 RDPR to negative-9.83
2. Fewer rushing yards: The Raiders declined from 2000 rushing yards to 1240.
3. Lower rank in red zone touchdown percentage and fewer rushing touchdowns: In 2013, the Raiders ranked sixth in red zone touchdown percentage and scored 16 rushing touchdowns. In 2014, the Raiders ranked first in red zone touchdown percentage and scored four rushing touchdowns.
4. Lower sack percentage allowed, but capped at four percent: The Raiders improved from a 7.82 sack percentage allowed to 4.26
5. Better field goal percentage: The Raiders improved from a 70 field goal percentage to 86.36.

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San Diego Chargers (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Worse Relative Offensive Passer Rating: The Chargers declined from a plus-21.42 ROPR to plus-6.27.
2. Fewer plays, yards and points per drive: In 2013, the Chargers averaged 37.68 yards and 2.33 points on 6.57 plays per drive. In 2014, the Chargers averaged 31.41 yards and 1.87 points on 5.95 plays per drive.
3. Better red zone touchdown percentage: The Chargers improved from a 51.52 red zone touchdown percentage to 54.17.
4. Fewer yards allowed per play: The Chargers improved from 6.11 yards per play to 5.48.
5. Better non-quality record and worse quality record: In 2013, San Diego went 6-3 against quality opponents and 3-4 against non-quality opponents. In 2014, San Diego went 4-7 against quality opponents and 5-0 against non-quality opponents.

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Arizona Cardinals (4.5 of 5 factors correct)
1. More rushing yards and touchdowns allowed: The 2013 Cardinals allowed 1351 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. The 2014 Cardinals allowed 1739 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
2. Fewer pass touchdowns allowed: The Cardinals improved from 29 pass touchdowns allowed to 22.
3. More kick and punt return yards per attempt: In 2013, the Cardinals averaged 20 yards per kick return and 5.82 yards per punt return. In 2014, the Cardinals averaged 18.95 yards per kick return and 10.65 yards per punt return.
4. Fewer Andre Ellington yards per rush attempt: Ellington declined from 5.53 yards per rush attempt to 3.28.
5. Better turnover margin: The Cardinals improved from a negative-1 turnover margin to plus-8.

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San Francisco 49ers (4 of 5 factors correct)
1. More interceptions thrown: The 49ers declined from eight interceptions thrown to 10.
2. At least three receivers with 20 receptions, 300 yards and two touchdowns: The 2013 49ers had two receivers with 20 receptions, 300 yards and two touchdowns. The 2014 49ers had three receiver with 20 receptions, 300 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Better rank in Defensive Adjusted Games Lost: The 49ers declined from being ranked 26th in Defensive AGL to being ranked 31st.
4. More rush yards allowed per attempt: The 49ers declined from 3.87 rush yards allowed per attempt to 4.01.
5. Either making a Super Bowl appearance or missing the playoffs altogether: The 49ers missed the playoffs together.

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Seattle Seahawks (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Worse Relative Defensive Passer Rating and more yards allowed per play: In 2013, the Seahawks owned a plus-20.66 RDPR and allowed 4.42 yards per play. In 2014, the Seahawks owned a plus-6.75 RDPR and allowed 4.63 yards per play.
2. Better sack percentage allowed: The Seahawks improved from a 9.48 sack percentage allowed to 8.47.
3. Fewer offensive penalties for fewer yards: The 2013 Seahawks committed 75 offensive penalties for 609 yards. The 2014 Seahawks committed 72 offensive penalties for 509 yards.
4. More yards allowed per punt return: The Seahawks declined from 3.90 yards allowed per punt return to 11.47 (thanks to the Rams).
5. Worse W-L record: The Seahawks declined from 13-3 to 12-4.

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St. Louis Rams (5 of 5 factors correct)
1. Fewer sacks: The Rams declined from 53 sacks to 40.
2. Better Defensive Passer Rating: The Rams improved from a 94.69 DPR to 91.79.
3. Fewer yards allowed per punt return and worse net punt average: In 2013, the Rams allowed 2.63 yards per punt return and held a 44.23-yard net punt average. In 2014, the Rams allowed 6.86 yards per punt return and held a 42.86-yard net punt average.
4. Worse field goal percentage differential: The Rams declined from a plus-23.63 field goal percentage differential to negative-6.21.
5. Better opponent interception return touchdown percentage: The Rams improved from a 45.45 opponent interception return touchdown percentage (5 of 11 interceptions) to 31.25 (5 of 16 interceptions).

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Overall score: 149.83 of 160 factors correct (93.65 percent success rate)
It looks like year two was a continued success for the Five Factors. We improved on last year’s 90.78 percent success rate after we made the necessary adjustments that we first indicated in last year’s Five Factors recap. With those adjustments made, there are virtually no trends left to address for 2015. We graded less than a “4” for only two teams, and that was for the Bills and Jaguars. In the first case, we put a few too many into one basket, losing 0.83 factors in our two defensive-minded regression-based predictions. It also didn’t that C.J. Spiller failed to bounce back from an awful 2013, but injury limited the back to an unqualified DVOA anyways. In the second case, we underestimated the extent of the offensive line issues in Jacksonville, and that hurt us in more than one way.

In total we had two factors lost on players, two factors lost on failed W-L regression (with equal records for the Patriots and Colts) and 6.16 factors lost on simple team-based failed statistical regression. No trend can cut down limit those failed factors. If anything, we would need to do a better job of interpreting what regression is made possible for each team’s Five Factors.

So what should be fixed for the 2015 NFL Preview? We say “nothing.” That doesn’t mean we can’t do better. Rather, we mean that we need to follow the “practice makes perfect” philosophy. We’re going to stick with our current philosophy, and we’ll keeping honing the necessary skills in hopes of improving our already sterling success rate.

Last year, we aimed to reach the “mid-90’s” in success rate, and we achieved just that. This is grade-A work, as evidenced by the success rate. Through two years of developing these Five Factors, we have a 92.21 percent success rate. Where else will you see this in an NFL season preview? Stay tuned for 2015, as we hope to maintain our standard of excellence.

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