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Measuring San Jose’s success this season (and the KISS’ lack thereof)

Brian Beaudry
Tuesday May 19, 2015

One is 8-0. One is 0-8. One, fittingly, wears the color green, as in good to go. The other has red as part of its raiment, indicating an innate nature of incompetence (though typically financially).

The San Jose SaberCats have both the best offense and the best defense in the AFL, a true testament to that “green means go get ‘em” spirit. The Los Angeles KISS have both the worst offense and worst defense in the AFL, as though the impending California drought has already hit them*.

I’m simplifying the stats this year. No need to adjust for strength of schedule. Let’s just rock these drive stats based purely on percentages. The team with the better percentage in that game has won 43 of 46 games with one game where the teams had the same TD/drive ratio.

Oddly, the Orlando Predators have been involved all three games that didn’t involve the team with the better drive stats winning – they lost to Philadelphia when they had the advantage, they beat New Orleans when they had worse drive stats, and they won last week’s War on I-4, when both teams were equally prolific at finding the end zone; the Preds just finally got that overtime two-point conversion.

I’m not going to go back and do this on a by-week basis, but here are the records of teams based on their current success rate on drives (defensive success=no offensive score, offensive success = touchdown, half points for each = field goal):

Better Offense

Better Defense

Better at Both













Jacksonville accounts for three of the five losses in the “better at both” category;  their recent wins over Cleveland and Philadelphia show what people believed this team would be at the beginning of the year, while their loss to New Orleans in Week 1 shows how poorly the “dream team” season started.**

It’s sad that after 46 games, only 10 of them have been between teams that each have an advantage on one side of the ball. In those games, the better offense has beaten the better defense six times.

That shading is so much nicer and more even on the left graph, isn’t it? The KISS may have a bad offense, but after the last couple weeks, they’re narrowing the gap on New Orleans and may get to the point where they’re no longer the worst! 

Their defense, however…wow. They’re only stopping opposing offenses on 14.7 percent of drives. The KISS defense has come up with nine stops in eight games. The Sabercats average 6.25 stops per game.

On a per-game basis, a few things stand out:

1. It’s pretty obvious where Nick Davila goes down. Arizona’s offense goes from about a 79 percent success rate to a 36.4 against San Jose. 

2. Las Vegas’s offense hasn’t been very good against anyone except Los Angeles – Since the Week 2 upset over the Rattlers, they’ve converted 16 of 17 drives against the KISS, but haven’t converted on more than half their drives against anyone else. 

3. Jacksonville’s upwards move is motivated by their defense stepping up, not their offense. Their three wins have been their three best defensive performances of the season. Offensively, they were more successful in the first three weeks of the season.

4. Teams with their best Offensive Success Rate last week: San Jose, Portland. Worst Offensive Success Rate? Spokane.

5. Teams with their best Defensive Success Rate last week: San Jose (tied), Orlando (tied). Worst Defensive Success Rate: Las Vegas, Spokane.

While the three teams that share Florida couldn’t be much closer (just one game separates the three teams in the standings), the California teams couldn’t possibly be further apart.

This week’s picks based on rankings or writer’s discretion: Shock over Outlaws***, Predators over Thunder, Soul over Storm, Sharks over Voodoo, Sabercats over Gladiators.

*And terrible special teams! Don’t forget how awful they are at those, too!
**The other two to buck the trend: Vegas’ upset over Arizona and New Orleans’ defeat of the Shock.
***Upset pick

Brian Beaudry has been both an intern and a Director of Communications within the AFL and occasionally provides analysis of the league and the Portland Thunder as an Oregon resident. He maintains a blog, Wrong Way Sports, and you can reach him with research or graphic design suggestions on Twitter at @BeaudryPDX.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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