Breakdowns

Introducing the Havoc Rate

What is Havoc Rate? Havoc is a popular college football statistic that attempts to capture negative plays as a percentage of total plays. For example, Defensive Havoc Created measures a defense’s ability to cause negative plays for an opposing offense. Conversely, Offensive Havoc Allowed measures the percentage of negative plays an offense commits. Each can be easily calculated using team statistics from Pro-Football-Reference and NFL.com. The formulas are as follows:

Here’s what the NFL’s Havoc leaderboard looked like heading into Week 10:

Week 10 Matchups

Using Havoc, what were the projected Week 10 mismatches? Is there an offense that should have dominated its counterpart? Is there a defense we expected to stifle its opponent?

Let’s look at Thursday’s Colts-Titans game as an example:

While the Colts field a top 3 offense in Havoc Allowed, the Titans defense checks in at number 19 in Havoc Created. With a differential of 1.68 (ranking eighth for Week 10 and in the 72nd percentile), Havoc would expect the Colts offense to not be bothered by Tennessee’s defense. This projection played out as the Colts smashed their previous season average of 26 points per game, scoring 34.

On the other side of the ball, the strong Titans offense (second) faced a stout Colts defense (fourth). Havoc would expect the Titans offense to have a small advantage, but with a differential of .34 (23rd for Week 10 and in the 21st percentile), it is not a large mismatch.

The Titans offense never hit top speed, scoring only 17 points, 12 below their season average of 29.

Among the remaining Week 10 games, the Havoc projected the following mismatches:

It is no surprise Havoc agreed with some of Week 10’s largest spreads, with the Packers (13.5-point favorites) and Steelers (7.5) projected to have significant advantages.

One game I want to focus on is the Buccaneers-Panthers contest:

Coming off a blowout loss in Week 9, pundits were beginning to question Tampa Bay. However, there was good reason to expect a bounce back. Last week, Tampa faced a New Orleans team that ranks fourth in Offensive Havoc Allowed (-29.05% or 1.25) and 10th in Defensive Havoc Created (44.10% or 0.51). Carolina, their Week 10 opponent, ranked 16th in Offensive Havoc Allowed and 31st in Defensive Havoc Created. A particularly strong matchup existed with the Tampa Offense facing the Carolina Defense. With a differential of 1.99, Havoc expected Tampa’s offense to dominate the Panthers defense, and that’s exactly what happened in a 46-23 win.

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