Is This the Worst Baltimore Ravens Team Since the Turn of the Century?
Success in the NFL can often be misleading.
Yes, wins can tell us a lot, but everybody knows that a good team can catch bad breaks and wind up with more losses than they deserve. Playoff berths as a measuring stick? Sure, but who's to say that an 8-8 division winner is better than an 11-5 team that got squeezed out of a wild card spot?
The point is that subjectivity can play a big factor in how teams are valued -- how good or bad they are.
At numberFire, though, we try to eradicate subjectivity and see what's happening in terms of sheer numbers. That's why our power rankings are derived from our nERD metric, which indicates the expected point differential for a certain team if it were to play an average opponent on a neutral field.
For example, the Baltimore Ravens entered Week 6 with a nERD score of -0.69, which suggests they're a below-average team. That score ranked them 17th in our power rankings. So no, they're not even close to the worst team in the league (the Chicago Bears owned a nice, round nERD of -10.00 entering Week 6).
But after a Week 6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and with Baltimore's success since 2000, is this the worst they've been in a long time?
No, But It's Close
I know that kills the suspense, but this Ravens team isn't significantly below league average this year. Their nERD through Week 6 is -2.98.
Yes, they're 1-5 and have a 0.4 percent chance to clinch a playoff berth (we see them finishing roughly 5-11), but the franchise has had worse teams in the recent past. Well, at least one.
How much worse (or better)? Here are the team's nERD scores and Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play scores on offense and defense, which compare a team's performance to expectation-level, since 2000. The higher the Adjusted NEP score, the more points their offense performed relative to expectation on a per-play basis. The lower (or more negative) a defensive score, the more points they kept off the board.
|Year||nERD||Adj NEP/P||Adj D NEP/P|
Right now, this Ravens team owns the second worst nERD in franchise history since 2000, so hypothetically, every Ravens squad since 2000 except the 2007 version should be able to beat this current iteration, though the 2002 (-2.88) and 2013 (-2.90) teams weren't exactly world-beaters based on efficiency.
Baltimore's Adjusted NEP is -2.12, meaning their offense has performed below expectation level -- something true for only six NFL teams through Week 6. Three of those six teams, though, can lay claim to a top-five defense in terms of Adjusted Defensive NEP.
Their Adjusted Defensive NEP is 31.24, ranking 17th in the league. On a per-play basis (0.07), they rank 15th. Unlike the other weak Ravens squads in recent years, this team's problem is as much on defense as it is on offense.
With a 24th-ranked nERD score, they aren't quite as bad as their 1-5 record might indicate, but as far as franchise standards go, things aren't looking good. And with that record and two division foes inside the top four in our power ranks (Cincinnati is third and Pittsburgh is fourth), this season is shaping up to be nothing but a lost cause.