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The 2012-2015 Broncos: What Can We Learn?

Here was something I tweeted a few days before Super Bowl 50:

The 2012 Broncos were awesome. Peyton Manning, while not having the scorched-earth campaign he would enjoy a year later, still led the NFL in ANY/A and Total QBR, and received 19.5 of 50 votes for Most Valuable Player (Adrian Peterson picked up the other 30.5). The Broncos finished 2nd in points and 4th in yards, while on defense, the team ranked 4th in points and 2nd in yards. Perhaps more impressively, the Broncos defense ranked 1st in Net Yards per Attempt, and in the top three in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry.

The Broncos did have an easy schedule, but they were one of four teams that stood head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL, along with the Patriots, Seahawks, and 49ers. Of course, a Joe Flacco pass to Jacoby Jones, combined with a Rahim Moore blunder, wound up ruining the dream season. [click to continue…]

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Thoughts on Tony Dungy and the Hall of Fame

In the Hall of Very Good Mustaches

In the Hall of Very Good Mustaches

Tony Dungy was selected for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Dungy is the 23rd head coach selected to the Hall of Fame: among that group, who ranks 12th in wins with 139, 9th in winning percentage at .668, and 7th in wins over .500. Those are all impressive numbers, given the sample; the “worst” mark on his resume would be the lone championship, which places him in the bottom six among Hall of Fame coaches (John Madden and Sid Gillman each won one; George Allen, Marv Levy, and Bud Grant won zero titles).

Dungy entered the league in 1996. Excluding Bill Belichick, who is clearly the best coach of this era, where does Dungy rank among the other Super Bowl-winning head coaches? Is he the best choice for the Hall of Fame among this group?

Statistically speaking…. yes. Dungy ranks 5th in wins among this group, but first in winning percentage (in fact, his winning percentage is even higher than Belichick’s!). Perhaps most importantly, he ranks first in wins over .500, which blends raw wins and winning percentage. Coughlin and Shanahan have two rings, but both have combined to win just 52 games more than they have lost; Dungy himself is at +70. [click to continue…]

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Super Bowl 50: The Best Defensive Super Bowl Ever?

Where does Super Bowl 50 rank among the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history?

Von Miller captures the Super Bowl MVP

Von Miller captures the Super Bowl MVP

Super Bowl 50 will go down as one of the bigger upsets in Super Bowl history, but it’s clearly not one of the biggest ever. Even given the recency of the game, it still falls far behind Super Bowl III (Jets/Colts), Super Bowl IV (Chiefs/Vikings), Super Bowl XXXII (Broncos/Packers), Super Bowl XXXVI (Patriots/Rams), or Super Bowl XLII (Giants/Patriots, 2007).  All five of those games had double-digit point spreads, but went to the underdogs.

Super Bowl XXV (Giants/Bills) featured a 6.5-point spread and was one of the more memorable upsets. And two recent underdogs won with 4.5-point spreads — Ravens over 49ers, Saints over Colts.  From a purely point spread look, Super Bowl 50 would slot in right there, at tied for #7, as the line closed at 4.5 points.  From a purely subjective standpoint, I’d probably put this game in the middle of those two:  the Saints game looked like a big upset, but the stats guys were on New Orleans, and the line may have only been in the Colts favor because of the team’s experience edge.  I picked the 49ers to win by six points, which is what I had Carolina winning by yesterday, too.  But with Denver a 12-4 team and the #1 seed, I think this game feels like less of an upset than Ravens/49ers. [click to continue…]

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Super Bowl 50: Post Your Thoughts Here

This year, I will be live-blogging the Super Bowl at 538: Here’s a link:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/live-blog/super-bowl-50-panthers-vs-broncos/?#livepress-update

But I wanted to make a place for everyone who wants to write about the Super Bowl, so please leave your previews/in-game reactions/post-game thoughts here. Enjoy!

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This may be my favorite project of the 2015 season. Of course, that may be because it has nothing to do with the 2015 season, but it was a football historian’s dream project: a look at the best plays from each of the 50 yard lines, beginning at the 50 and moving to the opponent’s one-yard line (you can probably guess that one).

With 49 Super Bowls in the history books, the NFL’s biggest game has seen some of football’s biggest plays. To celebrate Super Bowl 50, the following recounts the most exciting, most impactful and most memorable play from each hash mark from midfield to the 1-yard line.

The plays were selected based on a combination of memorable moments, big plays in the biggest game that led to the biggest changes in win probability. Note that only plays from 50 yards and in are included, so plays such as David Tyree’s helmet catch (which started at the Giants 44-yard line) and Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen running with the night from 74 yards out against the Redskins, are not included. Still, there’s no shortage of sterling Super Bowl moments, including one memorable play with the snap right at midfield.

The graphics team at the Washington Post did a fantastic job, so please take a look. And much credit goes to Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Mike Kania (@zempf) in particular, for helping me narrow down the list of candidates at each yard line.

The toughest choice to make? Three of the most memorable plays happened at the ten yard line: The Tackle, by Mike Jones, Joe Montana to John Taylor to beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, and the Sickest Man in America, when Jackie Smith dropped a sure touchdown.

Anyway, please take a look: I am sure any historian will enjoy this trip down memory lane.

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Today’s guest post/trivia question comes from Adam Harstad, a co-writer of mine at Footballguys.com. You can follow Adam on twitter at @AdamHarstad.


On Saturday, the Hall of Fame selection committee will meet, lock themselves in a room, and debate the relative merits of the 15 modern-era finalists for induction. After an intense discussion, the results will be announced nationally as the final event in the festivities leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

While the list of 15 finalists includes several names who have been waiting longer than they should for their call, the one that stands out the most to me is Terrell Davis, who has been a semi-finalist more than anyone else in this year’s class, reaching the top 25 ten times in his ten years of eligibility.

Hopefully the Hall of Fame committee can manage to make room for him in what could easily be a stacked class. Whatever they do this Saturday, however, will not change one simple fact: Terrell Davis should have long ago been elected to the Hall of Fame. [click to continue…]

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538: 2013/2015 Broncos and the 1982/1984 Dolphins

The 2013 Broncos had one of the greatest offenses of all time and made it to the Super Bowl.  Two years later, Denver is again in the Super Bowl, on the strength of a superb defense.  How rare is that?  Well, the only team that really fits that profile is the Miami Dolphins, who made the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1984, and had a similar swing (albeit in the other direction).

Over at 538, I look at the  similarities between those two teams, and other teams that have swung from an extreme offensive/defensive identity to an extreme defensive/offensive identity just two years later.  A special thanks to Adam Harstad, who was the one who gave me the simple but creative methodology to display these results.

In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Miami Dolphins made it to the Super Bowl on the strength of an incredible defense that allowed the NFL’s fewest yards, first downs, passing yards and net yards per pass attempt. The offense wasn’t very good, but the defense — known as the Killer Bees because the last names of six starters began with the letter B — guided the team to the Super Bowl, as Miami ranked second in points allowed and third in takeaways.

Just two years later, the Dolphins were back in the Super Bowl, and once again, the team was one-dimensional. But, remarkably, it was the offense that was the dominant unit, as Miami led the NFL in points, yards, first downs and net yards per pass attempt, while a second-year quarterback named Dan Marino set single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.

You can read the full article here.

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Guest Post: Brady vs. Manning and Playoff Support

Adam Steele is back, this time throwing his hat into the never-ending Brady/Manning debate. Fortunately, this isn’t your typical Brady/Manning post, as Adam brings some new stats to the table. You can view all of Adam’s posts here.


By any statistical measure, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have performed at a nearly identical level in the postseason. Of course, many observers don’t care about passing statistics, and prefer to judge quarterback based on playoff W/L record alone. And as we all know, Brady has a significant edge over Manning in this regard. But if we’re going to judge quarterbacks by the performance of their entire team, it’s only fair to also evaluate the parts of the team the QB has no control over – defense and special teams.

Using PFR’s expected points estimations, I recorded the defensive and special teams EPA for Brady’s and Manning’s teams in each of their playoff games. The “Support” column is the total EPA contributed by defense and special teams. Brady first: [click to continue…]

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This week at the Washington Post, an ironclad, inarguable ranking all 106 players on the Broncos and Panthers. The list is a combination of best players, most valuable players, and also most important ones. For example, two players who maybe aren’t quite as good as these rankings imply have a pretty critical role on Sunday:

11. Michael Oher, T, CAR
Oher, who started for the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, joins Harry Swayne (San Diego, Denver, Baltimore), Jon Runyan (Tennessee, Philadelphia), and Fred Miller (St. Louis, Chicago) as the only offensive tackles to start in Super Bowls for different teams.

12. Mike Remmers, T, CAR
Given the Broncos’ league-best pass rush, the pressure will be on Oher and Remmers to contain Denver’s terrifying edge-rushers. Remmers, an undrafted free agent in 2012 who has been with six franchises in four seasons, could be the key to the game — for both teams.

You can read the full article here.

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Friend of the program Bryan Frye is back for another guest post. As regular readers know, Bryan operates his own fantastic site, http://www.thegridfe.com. You can view all of Bryan’s guest posts here, and follow him on twitter @LaverneusDingle.


Despite a fourth trip to the Super Bowl, 2015 has been the worst year of Peyton Manning’s storied career. Statistically speaking, he has never been worse, even as a 22 year old rookie starting all sixteen games for a 3-13 team.1 Relative to league average, Manning produced the worst completion rate, yards per attempt, touchdown rate, interception rate, passer rating, and adjusted net yards per attempt of his career.2 Manning ranked last among the 36 qualifying passers in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. And his normally stellar sack rate also took a hit, with the second worst output of his career (behind only 2001).3

If we look to advanced metrics to try to uncover some hidden gem about his performance that may be overlooked by standard box score stats, we don’t have much luck. ESPN’s QBR (which only goes back to 2006, mind you) takes into account far more than any other popular metric, and it normally adores Manning. From 2006-2014 (excluding 2011, obviously), Manning ranked 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Total QBR.4 This year, he ranked 30th with a subpar 45.0 rating.

Football Outsiders’ DVOA and DYAR don’t do Manning any favors either. Not only was 2015 by far the worst season of his career by both metrics, it was also the only below average season of his career. From 1998-2014, his average season was 32.47% better than average by passing DVOA. His worst season by the metric was a 7.70% effort as a doe-eyed rookie. Over that same period, he averaged 1,664 passing DYAR per season, and his average season was worth 2.89 DYAR per pass.5 This year, Manning was 26.00% below average, as measured by DVOA, and he lost 328 DYAR from his career total. His -0.95 DYAR per play was easily worse than his previous low of 1.18 in his inaugural season.

If the stats aren’t enough, the infamous “eye test” also backs up the belief that this was Manning’s worst-ever season. He struggled to jive with Gary Kubiak’s offense, especially when asked to run bootlegs and throw on the run. His limited power to make pre-snap adjustments, in concert with his decreased mobility, resulted in him taking more abuse in the pocket than he ever had before.6 He threw errant passes and made uncharacteristically poor decisions, causing him to lead the league in interceptions until week 17, despite missing six games. He struggled with nagging injuries, had the worst game of his entire career, and was benched for an inexperienced and marginally talented fourth-year backup. [click to continue…]

  1. A team that also went 3-13 the prior year and earned the right to draft him first overall. []
  2. Using Pro Football Reference’s Advanced Passing Index Scores as my measurement of choice. []
  3. Of course, being Peyton Manning, he was still better than average; his Sack%+ score was 110 in the regular season. []
  4. Among all quarterbacks with at least 224 action plays. His second place rank in 2013 becomes a first place rank if you finagle the threshold to exclude Josh McCown’s 269 play, 85.2 QBR bout. []
  5. Using the average of his averages rather than a weighted average of all DYAR on all pass plays. The point here is to show his average season, not his average performance over the course of his career. []
  6. I covered this in more detail after his poor week 2 performance. You don’t have to call me a prophet, but I won’t stop you. []
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Carolina Led The NFL In Points Scored In A Unique Way

Carolina led the league in points scored this season with an even 500. That is nothing to be ashamed: over the previous 15 seasons, the average points scored leader has put up 517 points, but six of those teams failed to hit the 500-points barrier. That is not an overwhelmingly high total, but it’s not really an outlier, either.

What is an outlier is just about everything else on the Panthers offense, at least among teams that led the league in scoring since 1970. Let’s start with the traditional metric used to rank offenses: total yards. Here, Carolina ranked just 11th overall. How unusual is it for a team to lead the NFL in points scored but rank outside of the top 10 in yards? Well, it’s never happened before, so I guess that qualifies as pretty unusual. The 1980 Dallas Cowboys, led by Danny White in his first season as a starter, ranked 9th, representing the previous low: [click to continue…]

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Davis switched teams, but not (yet) sports

Davis switched teams, but not (yet) sports

Joe Campbell and Vernon Davis have a lot in common. Campbell went to Maryland, and was the 7th overall pick in the 1977 NFL draft. Davis went to Maryland, and was the 6th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Campbell was 6’6, 254 pounds in his playing days; Davis measures in at 6’3, 250 pounds. And both wound up unexpectedly playing in a Super Bowl.

Campbell was drafted by the Saints, and had three and a half nondescript seasons with the team. Then, on October 15, 1980, the Saints traded him to Oakland for a 1981 sixth round draft pick. New Orleans was 0-5 at the time, while the Raiders were just 2-3. But after trading for Campbell — and also inserting Jim Plunkett into the starting lineup — Oakland got hot. The Raiders finished the regular season 11-5, and then won three playoff games to become the first Wild Card team to reach the Super Bowl.

That Super Bowl was held at the Superdome, where Campbell played his home games earlier in the year (and during the prior three years). That, of course, is exactly what Davis is doing. On November 2nd, 2015, the 49ers sent Davis and a 2016 7th round pick to Denver for 6th round picks in 2016 and 2017. Now, three months later, Davis will return to Levi’s Stadium to play in the biggest game of them all. [click to continue…]

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Manning/Brady 18 will use Manning's uniform number instead of Roman Numerals

Manning/Brady 18 will use Manning’s uniform number instead of Roman Numerals

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have now played seventeen games against each other. Brady has posted an 11-6 record against Manning, which tends to fuel some of the Brady/Manning narrative. The beginning of their “rivalry” was dominated by Brady and the Patriots: from 2001 to 2004, New England went 6-0 against Indianapolis, including two playoff wins in the snow in Foxboro.

Those four seasons anchored the narrative for the 15-year rivalry of the two players. Since then, Manning has a 6-5 record against Brady, including a 3-0 mark in the playoffs. Each player has also won “only” one Super Bowl despite the two quarterbacks dominating the AFC for most of the last decade (Manning, of course, could win another next week).

The table below shows the statistics from both players for each of the 17 head-to-head games: [click to continue…]

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James White had 16(!) Targets in AFCCG

It wasn’t shocking that Patriots running back James White played a big role in the AFC Championship Game. In my preview article at the Washington Post, I wrote that the Broncos were well-equipped to pressure Brady, which could lead to a lot of passes to his safety valve. Of course, I was thinking of a different safety valve:

But the difference-maker may wind up being Julian Edelman, who is Brady’s security blanket against the pressure. Without a pass-catching running back like a Shane Vereen (now with the Giants) or Dion Lewis (36 receptions in six games before tearing his ACL), Brady looks to Edelman as his hot receiver to understand how to get open quickly against the blitz.

As it turns out, White was only able to convert 5 of his 16 targets into receptions, for a paltry 45 yards. It’s fair to wonder if a Vereen or Lewis would have been more productive, including on deep throws (where Tom Brady went 0/5 on passes intended for White). To be fair, some of those “targets” were Targets In Name Only: they were throwaways as Brady was under pressure. But still, it turned out to be a wildly inefficient game. Pro-Football-Reference.com has target data going back to 1992, and White gained the fewest receiving yards in playoff history among the 51 players with 15+ targets in a game. [click to continue…]

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This pass probably wasn't completed.

This pass probably wasn’t completed.

In the NFC Championship Game, Carson Palmer was really bad.  He completed 23 of 40 passes for 235 yards, with three sacks that lost 8 yards.  That by itself is not very good — it translates to a 5.3 net yards per attempt average — but the real damage came when it comes to turnovers.  Palmer threw one touchdown againt four interceptions, giving him an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt average of just 1.56.  And even that inflates things a bit, as Palmer also fumbled twice, with both fumbles being recovered by Carolina. On the season, Carolina allowed 4.46 ANY/A to opposing passers, the best in the NFL, so that does mitigate things a bit.  As a result, Palmer’s game is considered -125 ANY below expectation, because he was 2.9 ANY/A below expectation over 43 dropbacks.

That’s bad, but nowhere near as bad as the worst performance from even this year’s playoffs (Brian Hoyer) or the last Cardinals playoff loss (thank you, Ryan Lindley).  But the reason Palmer’s performance appeared so bad was precisely because it came from someone like Carson Palmer, and not a Hoyer or a Lindley.  Palmer, after all, was arguably the best passer in the NFL this season.  He led the NFL in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, at 8.11, which was 2.14 ANY/A better than league average. [click to continue…]

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Matt, a Patriots fan and friend of mine, sent me an email after the AFC Championship Game, asking me to analyze New England’s decision to go for it in the following situation:

At the Denver 16-yard line, 4th-and-1, 6:03 remaining in game, trailing by 8 points

Play: Tom Brady pass complete short left to Julian Edelman for -1 yards (tackle by Chris Harris and Aqib Talib)

In real time, I thought this was a no-brainer. You have to go for it. That’s because, in general, 4th-and-1 is a “go for it” down. But after some deep review, I’m not so sure. [click to continue…]

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2015 Team Efficiency Ratings

Let me begin with the ratings; then we’ll get to the explanation.

RkTeamOff RushOff PassOff AvgDef RushDef PassDef AvgTeam Avg
1Arizona Cardinals6.5211.129.515.47.76.92.61
2Carolina Panthers6.949.928.885.486.756.312.57
3Seattle Seahawks7.0810.319.185.227.636.792.39
4Cincinnati Bengals6.0310.398.866.37.346.971.89
5Kansas City Chiefs7.558.788.355.987.226.791.56
6New York Jets6.38.938.014.837.656.661.35
7New England Patriots6.3510.098.785.698.397.441.34
8Pittsburgh Steelers7.19.328.545.068.897.551
9Denver Broncos6.247.687.185.36.776.260.92
10Buffalo Bills7.189.058.396.88.527.920.47
11Houston Texans5.588.47.416.187.627.120.3
12Tampa Bay Buccaneers6.719.38.395.549.628.190.2
13Minnesota Vikings6.988.127.726.358.517.75-0.03
14Green Bay Packers6.298.137.496.518.067.52-0.03
15Oakland Raiders5.768.47.486.578.37.7-0.22
16Atlanta Falcons5.99.067.956.768.958.18-0.23
17Washington Redskins5.139.978.286.689.578.56-0.28
18Chicago Bears6.188.887.936.79.538.54-0.61
19St. Louis Rams6.447.266.975.918.537.61-0.64
20Detroit Lions5.538.987.776.69.458.45-0.68
21New York Giants5.759.27.996.479.948.73-0.73
22Miami Dolphins6.518.347.76.429.748.58-0.88
23San Diego Chargers5.039.067.657.259.348.61-0.96
24Jacksonville Jaguars5.558.547.496.149.728.47-0.98
25Philadelphia Eagles6.197.987.356.799.178.34-0.98
26Baltimore Ravens5.837.797.115.749.458.15-1.04
27New Orleans Saints6.5410.028.86.7211.559.86-1.06
28Indianapolis Colts5.497.456.776.18.967.96-1.2
29Dallas Cowboys6.647.547.237.029.368.55-1.32
30Tennessee Titans5.397.887.016.319.778.56-1.55
31Cleveland Browns5.877.847.156.710.319.04-1.9
32San Francisco 49ers5.757.496.886.9410.058.96-2.08

[click to continue…]

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As always, the AP All-Pro selections need to come with a few disclaimers.

  • The way the AP selects its second team is dumb. Well, that’s being kind, because it assumes the AP actually selects a second team. It doesn’t.
  • The way the AP selects its first team is kind of dumb, too. Voters can vote for the same player at different positions! That can lead to odd “splitting the ballot” scenarios, and also to the crazy result that happened in Oakland this year. Kudos to Jason Lisk for shining some light on this topic every year.

With that said, let’s get to the results.

Quarterback

Cam Newton, Carolina, 40; Carson Palmer, Arizona, 6; Tom Brady, New England, 3; Russell Wilson, Seattle, 1. [click to continue…]

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In 1974, Terry Bradshaw was not very good. He threw for just 785 yards on 148 pass attempts, while throwing only 7 touchdowns against 8 interceptions. That translates to a 2.92 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt average, which is terrible even for 1974. He ranked 25th in ANY/A among the 32 quarterbacks with at least 120 pass attempts. Given the league average of 3.91, that means Bradshaw finished the year with a Relative ANY/A of -0.99.

That’s the worst of any quarterback who wound up winning the Super Bowl. But that doesn’t mean Bradshaw wasn’t a big part of why Pittsburgh won its first title. He was excellent in the team’s three playoff games, particularly in Pittsburgh’s first win. [click to continue…]

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Thanks to the tireless work of Mike Kania and his team on the P-F-R staff, PFR has now generated the Approximate Values for every player in the NFL this year. For the uninitiated, you can review how AV is calculated here. And if you’re so inclined, you can thank Mike or PFR on twitter. [click to continue…]

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This week at the Washington Post, an old topic is relevant again: why pressuring Tom Brady is the key to success against New England.

Completion percentage is often overrated, and it isn’t a critically important stat generally, but the Patriots are a unique offense. As a general rule, completion percentage is highly correlated with winning, but a large reason for that is leading teams tend to throw conservative passes and trailing teams tend to throw aggressive ones. Thus the stat is a result of success even more than a cause of it. (In other words, completion percentage is a lot like rushing attempts, where the best teams tend to fare well in this metric, but in a misleading way.) This season, teams won 58.4 percent of games when completing at least 60 percent of passes, and just 33.3 percent of games when completing fewer than that. But the Patriots were more extreme, winning 11 of 12 when completing at least 60 percent of passes, with the one loss coming in overtime against the Jets. On the other hand, New England lost three of the four games this season when Brady completed fewer than 60 percent of passes, and the one victory came when New England held Buffalo to just 13 points.

The reason completion percentage matters for New England is because the Patriots don’t really have a running game, at least not in any traditional sense. Against Kansas City on Saturday, the Patriots threw on 24 of the team’s first 26 plays. All game, Patriots running backs had just seven carries, with Steven Jackson — signed in December — taking six of those carries and gaining just 16 yards. In the regular season game against Denver, the Patriots began the game by calling 18 passes to just two runs on the team’s first six drives.

You can read the full article here.

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Courtesy of Bryan Frye, let’s look at some graphs of the four quarterbacks in the conference championship games. The stat we will be using today is Total Adjusted Yards per Play, which is like ANY/A on steroids.

First, let’s start with Cam Newton. His Total Adjusted Yards per Play is in blue; the average TAY/P allowed by his opponent each week is in black. As you can see, in 6 of 17 games, he was below-expectation, but he’s been above-expectation in five of his last six games. (Note that for each quarterback, the bye week is included, and the division round matchup is plotted below as Week 18.) [click to continue…]

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You may recall that two years ago — after the 2013 season — there were eight head coaching vacancies, and all eight were filled by white coaches.  One explanation given was that all but Gus Bradley (Jacksonville) were offensive coaches, and black head coaches were more prominent on the defensive side of the ball.

Last year, the pendulum swung: all but one of the seven vacancies were filled by defensive coaches. The lone offensive-minded hire was Gary Kubiak in Denver, which has worked out precisely because Denver has the best defense in the NFL (though Kubiak deserves full credit for hiring Wade Phillips). [click to continue…]

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Are NFL Playoff Outcomes Getting Less Random? Part II

Before the start of the 2012 season, Neil Paine wrote an article here titled, Are NFL Playoff Outcomes Getting More Random? And that was before Joe Flacco turned into Joe Montana one postseason.

But since then? Man, things have been pretty chalky. The 2013 playoffs had two notable features: very low point spreads and the favorites going 5-1 in games with spreads of more than three points. [click to continue…]

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Janis outplays Patrick Peterson for the touchdown... somehow

Janis outplays Patrick Peterson for the touchdown… somehow

Jeff Janis had the game of his life last night. Janis, who dominated the 2014 combine despite coming out of tiny Saginaw Valley State, has not been a factor as a wide receiver for most of his Packers career (he has made an impact as a returner). As a rookie, he caught two passes for 16 yards; this past season, he caught two passes for 79 yards, both in a game against the Chargers.

Then, with Randall Cobb injured early in Green Bay’s playoff game against Arizona, Janis had the game of his life, catching 7 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. More incredibly, he had two catches for 101 yards on the Packers final drive of the game! Here’s a vine of those two plays, courtesy of Ryan Hester’s twitter account. [click to continue…]

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Super Bowl Champs By DVOA

After yesterday’s post, I thought it would be fun to look at the DVOA ratings of each Super Bowl champion, using actual numbers from since 1989 and estimated from prior to that.

Here is a graph showing the DVOA of each Super Bowl champion. The Y-Axis shows Defensive DVOA, from negative at the top to positive at the bottom. Remember, for DVOA, negative ratings are better for defenses. The X-Axis shows offensive DVOA from left to right. As expected, most teams are clustered in the upper right corner of the chart.

sb winner dvoa

Here is the same chart but including the remaining eight teams in the 2015 playoffs (DVOA ratings available here). As you can see, the only real outlier would be the 2015 Broncos.

sb winner dvoa den

Thoughts?

Finally, per request, here is a table containing the DVOA (estimated or actual) for each Super Bowl winner:

YearTmOff DVOADef DVOAOff RkDef Rk
2014NWE13.5%-3%2437
2013SEA9.4%-25.8%335
2012BAL3%2.2%3943
2011NYG10.5%2.4%30.544
2010GNB11.5%-13.9%2818
2009NOR24.3%-0.4%939
2008PIT-1.5%-29%452
2007NYG-1.1%-3.8%4336
2006IND28.5%8.5%448
2005PIT12%-13.5%2719.5
2004NWE23.3%-10.7%1225
2003NWE1.2%-18.7%4111
2002TAM-3.8%-31.8%471
2001NWE3.4%-1.5%3838
2000BAL-8.1%-23.8%497
1999STL17.7%-13.5%1919.5
1998DEN34.5%4.3%147
1997DEN19.4%-5.9%1634
1996GNB15.2%-19.3%2110
1995DAL29.6%0.9%242
1994SFO18.9%-7.5%1732
1993DAL21.8%0.8%1341
1992DAL23.6%-9.5%1028
1991WAS27.2%-21.1%58
1990NYG10.5%-14.4%30.517
1989SFO26.2%-11.5%623
1988SFO14.2%-10.6%2226
1987WAS10.1%2.9%3245
1986NYG3.9%-7.9%3730
1985CHI12.5%-26.8%264
1984SFO28.6%0.5%340
1983RAI0.1%-9%4229
1982WAS5.7%-7.3%3633
1981SFO11%-5.8%2935
1980OAK-7.7%-7.6%4831
1979PIT13.9%-20.2%239
1978PIT2.7%-12.4%4022
1977DAL24.8%-9.6%827
1976OAK24.8%9.4%749
1975PIT13.5%-14.4%2516
1974PIT-3.4%-28.9%463
1973MIA19.5%-15.6%1513
1972MIA18.5%-14.8%1815
1971DAL23.3%-11.3%1124
1970BAL-1.1%3.9%4446
1969KAN7.3%-25.6%356
1968NYJ16.8%-15.6%2014
1967GNB8.8%-12.9%3421
1966GNB20.1%-16.2%1412
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Pre-Week 19: How Good Does The Broncos D Need To Be?

This week at the Washington Post, a look at how good the Broncos defense needs to be to win the Super Bowl.

This year’s Denver offense posts a minus-8.8 percent DVOA rating, which would make it the worst offense to make the Super Bowl since 1989.  If we useestimated DVOA ratings, only the ’79 Rams (-13.1 percent) were worse.  The worst offense by any Super Bowl champion prior to 1989, using estimated DVOA, was the 1980 Raiders, at -7.7 percent.  Therefore, by either measure, the Broncos would be an incredible outlier to even make the Super Bowl, much less win it.

The 2000 Ravens’ profile looks remarkably similar to this year’s Broncos teams.  That Baltimore squad had an offensive DVOA of minus-8.1 percent, and a defensive DVOA of minus-23.8 percent; the 2015 Broncos have an offensive DVOA of minus-8.8 percent, and a defensive DVOA of minus-25.8 percent.  That makes this Broncos team look like a carbon copy of the ’00 Ravens, despite Baltimore having a journeyman Trent Dilfer at quarterback, with the Broncos having arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.

You can read the full article here.

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Guest Post: Marginal YAC, 2015 in Review

Adam Steele is back to discuss Marginal YAC, this time in the context of the 2015 season. You can view all of Adam’s posts here.


Marginal Air Yards: 2015 Year In Review

Today I will be updating my Marginal Air Yards metric for the now completed 2015 season. New readers who aren’t familiar with Marginal Air Yards can get up to speed by reading my three part intro-series and 2014’s year in review.

There were 44 quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes in 2015, and they are ranked by mAir below: [click to continue…]

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The Rams Return to Los Angeles: How Will They Do?

It’s now official: the Rams are heading back to Los Angeles, home of the team from 1946 to 1994. The Rams played in Cleveland during the team’s first decade of existence before heading the league’s westward expansion after World Warr II. The Rams played in Memorial Coliseum from ’46 to ’79, before moving to Anaheim Stadium from 1980 to 1994. It is still unclear where the team will play in the short term, although a return to the Coliseum seems likely. But beginning in 2019, the team will play in Inglewood, California.

A three-year period at an interim stadium is an interesting phenomenom to analyze, and will probably be worthwhile to examine in say, three years. In general, teams have only a minimal home field advantage during year one in a new home, so a three-year window at the Coliseum could hurt the Rams on-field product a little bit (and the same goes for the 2019 season at the new stadium). But for now, let’s look at the bigger move across the country. [click to continue…]

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Before you can get good at projecting fantasy points, you need to understand how fantasy points are scored.  And there’s probably no better place to start than in the passing game.

I used the following scoring system to determine passing fantasy points: 1 point per 25 yards passing (this is gross passing, so if you look at team passing data, you need to add back in sack yards), 4 points per touchdown pass, and -1 point per interception.  That’s it.

The average team in 2015 scored 16.1 fantasy points per game; to make life a bit more intuitive, I am going to convert fantasy point numbers into a plus/minus average number. So the Patriots passing attack, which scored 329.5 fantasy points in 16 games, and averaged 20.6 FP/G, gets credited as +4.5. That was the best average in football. On defense, the Patriots were slightly better than average, at +0.3 points per game (here, positive is good for defense; if you forget, just check the Saints line). Using New Orleans as an example, the Saints get a +4.2 offensive grade (ranked 2nd) and a -6.5 defensive grade (32nd). I put all 32 teams into the table below with their respective offensive and defensive grades and ranks: [click to continue…]

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