Today, we begin our 2015 previews of each NFL division with a look at the AFC East Division. This year, we are going to concentrate mostly on stats and analytics.
You will see the following information in each preview.
- A current starting lineup based on multiple sources. This will include players that are questionable for Week 1, and players suspended in the first four weeks.
- Team Information–Head Coach, Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, Last Year’s W-L Record and Average Offensive and Defensive Points Per Game
- 2015 Preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings with an Average of the Three.
- Our PiRate Grades on Running Game, Passing Game, Defense Against the Run, Defense Against the Pass, Special Teams, and Coaching + Intangibles. Note that these grades use advanced metrics and do not rely on regular statistics. More about that in the footnote at the end of this entry.
- The PiRate Ratings won-loss predictions for 2015 and whether the team is picked to make the playoffs. These predictions are based on a unique set of data and do not strictly correlate to our preseason ratings. We actually have pre-adjustments in our ratings based on factors such as depth, age, schedule, travel, etc.
New England has won this division six consecutive seasons, and the last time they didn’t win, they lost in a tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins. With Tom Brady sidelined for four games, a lot of pundits are picking the Patriots to begin the season trailing one or more contenders. We remind them that Matt Cassel took over a Patriot team in 2008 and went 10-5 as a starter. Jimmy Garoppolo should be able to at least split those four games, which should allow the Pats to seven-peat in the AFC East.
Rex Ryan takes over at Buffalo, and the Bills have enough talent on hand to make a playoff run, something Bills’ fans have not experienced since the fateful “Music City Miracle” in 1999. With the addition of Matt Cassel, LeSean McCoy and to a lesser extent, Percy Harvin and Richie Incognito, Ryan’s Bills could take on the persona of the Oakland Raiders of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Miami added Ndamukong Suh and Greg Jennings to a roster that was 7-5 before fading fast last year. The Dolphins will make the Playoffs this year, or Joe Philbin will be history.
The New York Jets start over with a new coach, a new quarterback they did not expect to have, two new cornerbacks, and a commitment to open up the offense. However, in order for the Jets to get off the ground in 2015, unexpected new starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick must find a way to avoid the interception bug for at least 4 or 5 games, or else rookie Bryce Petty will be in the Big Apple microscope.
|Head Coach||Rex Ryan|
|Off. Coordinator||Greg Roman|
|Def. Coordinator||Dennis Thurman|
|Coaching + Intangibles||C+|
|RT||Ja’ Wuan James|
|Head Coach||Joe Philbin|
|Off. Coordinator||Bill Lazor|
|Def. Coordinator||Kevin Coyle|
|Coaching + Intangibles||C|
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
|New England Patriots|
|Head Coach||Bill Belichick|
|Off. Coordinator||Josh McDaniels|
|Def. Coordinator||Matt Patricia|
|Coaching + Intangibles||A+|
NEW YORK JETS
|New York Jets|
|Head Coach||Todd Bowles|
|Off. Coordinator||Chan Gailey|
|Def. Coordinator||Kacy Rodgers|
|Coaching + Intangibles||D|
Grade Constituents & Data
Running Game: Offensive Line & Running Backs
Mere average yards per carry or total yards gained matters little here. We grade based on how effective the running game is. So, if a player gained 1,200 yards and averaged 4.0 yards per carry last year, there is no guarantee that he is better than a player that gains 800 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per attempt. Gaining three yards on third and two is a lot more important than gaining four yards on third and eight. A player that gets a lot of attempts inside the two yard line will see his average yards per carry drop but will be more effective due to getting the job done.
Passing Game: Quarterback, Receivers, Backs, Offensive Line
We use a combination of average yards per attempt, air yards per attempt, yards after catch, sacks per attempt, and avoidance of turnovers. A team with a better quarterback may have a lower grade than a team with less talented quarterback, if he has a better pass blocking offensive line and/or better receivers.
Defense: All 11 defensive players factor into both run and pass defense. The defensive ends and cornerbacks count more against the pass than any other position, while the front seven counts more against the run than the secondary.
Special Teams: Punt and Kick Coverage count for a little more than punt and kick return, but with a little extra given weight to returners that have a proven history of becoming game-changers. Actual punting and kicking have gotten to the point where there is not much difference between the best and worst. If the top punter averages 46 yards per punt, and a replacement punter averages just 40 yards per punt, that six yards is not that much of a factor. Coverage is much more important. Not allowing the opponent to get a long return counts more than the six yards difference in the punters.
Coaching + Intangibles: The head coach is not the only coach that matters, but he counts more than the strength and conditioning coach. We look at the entire coaching staff, with the coordinators receiving more consideration than all but the head coach. Intangibles include a host of factors, including things like having a player break a teammate’s jaw, penalties from deflating balls, having a team that missed out of the playoffs by a tiebreaker last year, and many other little things.