Analyzing the Cowboys’ 2013 Schedule
At DallasCowboys.com, I looked at the difficulty of the Cowboys’ 2013 schedule:
Adjusted Net YPA (ANYPA)
ANYPA is a unique stat that has proven again and again to accurately predict team success. It’s the best individual stat that us geeks have, and we use it all the time. The formula to calculate ANYPA is as follows:
(Passing Yards – Sack Yards 20 * Passing Yards – 45 * Interceptions)/(Attempts Times Sacked)
So it’s basically an individual stat that penalizes quarterbacks for taking sacks and throwing interceptions. You might argue that neither of those acts fall solely at the feet of quarterbacks; the offensive line helps determine sacks, for example. While that’s true, both sacks and interceptions have proven to be far more dependent on the quarterback than the offensive line. Just take a look at Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. There’s a reason their offensive lines always seems to be the best in the NFL. Last year, those two both got the ball out in 2.5 seconds or less on their average throw, the two lowest marks in the league.
On top of that, for the purposes of projecting the strength of a schedule, it doesn’t really matter who’s at fault on a particular play. We just want to use numbers to predict something in the future. If the numbers can do that accurately and consistently, then they have pragmatic value.
ANYPA for Cowboys’ Opponents
Below, I listed the opposing quarterbacks for the Cowboys this year, along with their 2012 ANYPA.
Week Opponent QB Adjusted Net YPA 1 Giants Eli Manning 6.59 2 at Chiefs Alex Smith 6.76 3 Rams Sam Bradford 5.64 4 at Chargers Philip Rivers 5.45 5 Broncos Peyton Manning 7.89 6 Redskins Robert Griffin III 7.47 7 at Eagles Michael Vick 5.27 8 at Lions Matthew Stafford 5.81 9 Vikings Christian Ponder 4.99 10 at Saints Drew Brees 7.17 11 BYE 12 at Giants Eli Manning 6.59 13 Raiders Matt Flynn 7.56 14 at Bears Jay Cutler 5.37 15 Packers Aaron Rodgers 7.33 16 at Redskins Robert Griffin III 7.47 17 Eagles Michael Vick 5.27 Average 6.41
You can see that the Cowboys’ opponents averaged 6.41 ANYPA in 2012. That’s actually significantly more than the league average of 5.89. Even if we take the top 32 quarterbacks in 2012, the mean is still only 6.15. So in regards to the most predictive stat in football, the one that can best predict overall team success, the Cowboys’ schedule is much harder than average.
On top of that, don’t forget that ANYPA actually doesn’t account for quarterback rushing. With one-quarter of their games against RGIII and Vick, the Cowboys’ road to the playoffs might be even more difficult than the numbers suggest.