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The 5 O'Clock Club: Redskins, an ‘efficient’ franchise?

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

I have always had a fascination with OverTheCap, a website dedicated to the NFL salary cap. It is a wonderful resource on individual player contracts, and it provides lots of off season distraction when there is really no actual football being played.

The site is run by guys who love football, but they also love math. They often get very focused on things like the value of quarterbacks as a function of their on-field statistics (they figure Kirk is worth $20m at the moment), the amount of salary stuck in injured reserve (Dolphins $26m, Giants $9m, Redskins $3m), or discussion of the worst contract for every team (Vernon Davis 3yrs/$15m).

One metric that they have developed is the NFL Efficiency Rating. It’s a dynamic model that changes throughout the season, as it is based on points scored and points allowed.

The efficiency ratings are a simple metric that measure the percentage above or below the average a team is scoring and preventing from scoring against their specific schedule. So for example the Chiefs this year are scoring 51.6% more points than expected while holding teams to 17% below their expectations for a total efficiency of 68.6%.

Here is a plot of every teams current efficiency ranking plotted against their team’s annual contract value. The worst place to be is the upper left quadrant which means you are spending a lot and getting poor results. The best place is the lower right quadrant which means you are spending below the NFL average and still putting forth a good effort. The other two quadrants more or less mean teams are living somewhat up to their expectations.

These data are from the first four weeks of the season, so they are lagging a little behind the actual schedule, but these types of data points don’t move a lot week-to-week; more like month-by-month.

You’ll see that the Redskins are located almost right on the horizontal line that says that they spend the average amount on their roster -- so, neither very high nor very low salaries.

But they are located well to the right of the mid-point line that measures scoring differential (efficiency). This is good.

What we see is that the Redskins have a roster that costs just about the league average, but an offense that is slightly more efficient than the competition, and a defense that is much more efficient.

The OverTheCap boys then use this data to project wins by extrapolating the efficiency over the first four games to the remainder of the schedule. This may offend some fans who prefer to actually watch the play on the field, but we have to embrace a wide range of views in an open society.

Here is the top part of the table that results from this extrapolation:

Basically, the math nerds at OTC, who happen to know a lot about football in addition to math, are using this model to project an 11-win season for the Redskins; something they haven’t accomplished since their 14-win effort in 1991.

For what it’s worth, the model also projects 11 wins for the Eagles and 7 wins for the Cowboys.


How many regular season games will the Redskins win this year?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    (23 votes)
  • 26%
    (59 votes)
  • 39%
    (87 votes)
  • 17%
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
221 votes total Vote Now