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Average margins in Wins and Losses

Okay, some fun trivia to kick off the week. Do you know which team last year had the worst points differential in games they lost? I’ll put the answer in spoiler tags.

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Where does that rank historically? I thought it would be fun to look at the teams since 1950 with the worst average margin of defeat looking exclusively at performance in losses. This was a bit of a tricky one, but Scott Kacsmar was able to guess it on twitter. The answer?

Show' for the Answer Show


The table below shows the 100 teams with the worst average points differential in losses since 1950. As always, the tables in this post are fully sortable and searchable. For viewing purposes, I’m displaying only the top 20, but you can change that in the dropdown box on the left.

Rk
Year
Tm
# Losses
Avg Mar in Losses
11976OAK1-31
21961SDG2-30.5
31954WAS9-27.6
41960CHI6-27.2
51965CLE3-27
61989PIT7-24.7
71950BAL11-24.5
81991DET4-24
91967BAL1-24
101972NWE11-23.9
111970DAL4-23.8
121997SFO3-23.7
131963NYJ8-23.6
141966PHI5-23.4
151966ATL11-23.4
161976NYJ11-23.3
171975CHI10-23.2
181967MIA10-23.1
191960LAC4-22.8
201986NYJ6-22.7
211969CLE3-22.7
221958SFO6-22.7
231952DTX11-22.6
241968BOS10-22.5
251950NYY5-22.4
262000CLE13-22
271962NYT9-22
281976CLE5-21.8
291973NOR9-21.8
301982ATL4-21.8
311972CLE4-21.8
322004PHI3-21.7
331961NYT7-21.6
341989HOU7-21.4
351951WAS7-21.3
361967PHI7-21.1
371968DEN9-21.1
381961DAL9-21.1
391950GNB9-21.1
402010SEA9-21
411983STL7-21
421965NYG7-21
431962PIT5-21
441981STL9-20.9
451985WAS6-20.8
461970MIA4-20.8
471973SDG11-20.7
481966DEN10-20.7
491967ATL12-20.7
501987ATL12-20.6
511976TAM14-20.5
522007DET9-20.4
531953BAL9-20.4
541971PHI7-20.4
552012TEN10-20.4
561961OAK12-20.3
571959WAS9-20.3
582011KAN9-20.2
591992IND7-20.1
602003ARI12-20.1
611966NYG12-20.1
621965SDG2-20
631971NWE8-19.9
641981BAL14-19.8
651968MIA8-19.6
662012IND5-19.6
671956CHI2-19.5
681962CHI5-19.4
691973HOU13-19.4
701961DEN11-19.4
711975NYJ11-19.3
721967SDG5-19.2
731958GNB10-19.2
741950CRD7-19.1
751953GNB9-19.1
761978BAL11-19.1
771970BOS12-19.1
781990CLE13-19.1
792004ATL5-19
801993RAM11-19
811985RAI4-19
821972PHI11-19
831967SFO7-19
841961WAS12-19
852011TAM12-18.9
861964DEN11-18.9
871954CRD10-18.9
882005MIN7-18.9
892013NYJ8-18.8
902012HOU4-18.8
911968ATL12-18.8
922000ARI13-18.7
932009TEN8-18.6
941996STL10-18.6
951973ATL5-18.6
962009SEA11-18.5
972013JAX12-18.5
982009IND2-18.5
992009NYG8-18.5
1001970BAL2-18.5

What about the reverse — the teams with the best points differential in losses (the ’72 Dolphins and ’07 Patriots exempted)? You might be surprised to learn that for 2013, the answer is the Patriots. Despite a sometimes rocky season, New England lost only four games, and those came by a 3, 4, 4, and 7 points. The Seahawks, with losses of 2, 6, and 7 points, come in just behind New England. What about the team with the best average margin in losses? Well, Scott got this one, too, and it’s another team that made it to the Super Bowl.

Rk
Year
Tm
# Losses
Avg Mar in Losses
11983WAS2-1
21973RAM2-1.5
31974OAK2-2
41966GNB2-2
52000TEN3-2.3
61991WAS2-2.5
71989SFO2-2.5
81976MIN2-2.5
91962DET3-2.7
101953RAM3-2.7
112012NWE4-2.8
121987WAS4-2.8
132006SDG2-3
141998MIN1-3
151995SFO5-3
161984SFO1-3
171967RAM1-3
181953SFO3-3
191992NOR4-3.3
202010GNB6-3.3
211985NYG6-3.3
221960CLE3-3.3
231980ATL4-3.5
241999MIN6-3.7
251972PIT3-3.7
261971BAL4-3.8
272010BAL4-4
282009PIT7-4
292007IND3-4
302001OAK6-4
312000OAK4-4
321989DEN5-4
331986NYG2-4
341977RAM4-4
351975MIN2-4
361969MIN2-4
371969KAN3-4
381967GNB4-4
392008SDG8-4.3
401999OAK8-4.3
411993DEN7-4.3
421991SFO6-4.3
431990PHI6-4.3
441966DAL3-4.3
452013NWE4-4.5
461992HOU6-4.5
471982MIA2-4.5
481982SFO6-4.5
491974DAL6-4.5
501999STL3-4.7
511958BAL3-4.7
521976PIT4-4.8
532012SEA5-4.8
541982NYG5-4.8
551981ATL9-4.9
562013SEA3-5
572011GNB1-5
582011SFO3-5
592011NWE3-5
602004SDG4-5
612002NOR7-5
622001STL2-5
631997GNB3-5
641994DAL4-5
651978PIT2-5
661964GNB5-5
671961NYG3-5
681959BAL3-5
691954DET2-5
701950CLE2-5
711993SFO6-5.2
721984RAI5-5.2
731995IND7-5.3
741984STL7-5.3
752013DEN3-5.3
761996OAK9-5.3
771982DAL3-5.3
781982PHI6-5.3
791974MIA3-5.3
802012PIT8-5.4
811995GNB5-5.4
822002CLE7-5.4
832000IND6-5.5
841988PHI6-5.5
851980PHI4-5.5
861974MIN4-5.5
871974WAS4-5.5
881964BUF2-5.5
891951NYG2-5.5
902001SDG11-5.5
912009BAL7-5.6
921999DAL8-5.6
932000TAM6-5.7
941994MIA6-5.7
951987NOR3-5.7
961976BAL3-5.7
971993PHO9-5.8
982013CIN5-5.8
992009DAL5-5.8
1002002JAX10-5.8

You might notice #20 on the list. The 2010 Packers had six losses but still cracked the top 20: of course, Green Bay wound up winning the Super Bowl that year. That 2010 team was a very good one, which is why it irks me when analysts lump the ’10 Packers in with say, the ’07 Giants, ’11 Giants, and ’12 Ravens as a sign that anything can happen in the playoffs. Sure, all four of those teams lost six or seven games, but Green Bay may have been the greatest 10-6 team in regular season history. The table above augments that argument.

Okay, what about the teams with the biggest margin of victory in wins? This one tripped up a lot of folks on twitter. The 2007 Patriots were a very common answer, but New England doesn’t even crack the top 60 of this list. In fact, a ton of the top teams come from the ’50s and ’60s, which is somewhat of a surprise (at least, to me). The 1963 Chiefs had an insane +36.3 average margin of victory in their five wins… and went 5-7.

Rk
Year
Tm
# Wins
Avg Mar in Wins
11963KAN536.8
21969CHI131
31966HOU331
41961HOU1029.6
51953PHI727.1
61950PHI626
71963DET525.6
81954CLE924.9
91959CRD224.5
101989CIN824.4
111956RAM424
121951RAM823.1
131959RAM223
141950RAM923
151999STL1322.9
161967DET522.8
171976PIT1022.3
181981NWE222
191967KAN922
201958CRD222
211966DAL1021.9
221968DAL1221.8
231962PHI321.7
241952DET921.7
251967BOS321.7
261961SFO721.6
271973DET621.5
281962GNB1321.5
291954NYG721.4
301958BAL921.3
311996GNB1321.3
321973DAL1021.3
331969MIN1221.2
341990SDG621.2
351964KAN721
362002CIN221
371993SFO1020.9
381970STL820.9
391960BAL620.8
401973ATL920.8
411971CIN420.8
421988GNB420.8
431968DET420.8
441988MIN1120.7
451968BAL1320.6
461966CLE920.6
471965CHI920.6
481968OAK1220.3
492008PHI920.2
501982NYJ620.2
512003SFO720.1
521968HOU720.1
531972SFO820.1
541962OAK120
551950DET620
561967BAL1120
571950BAL120
581986MIN919.9
591961SDG1219.8
601962DAL519.8
612012NWE1219.8
621963NYG1119.7
632007NWE1619.7
641976DEN919.7
651960DTX819.6
661994SFO1319.6
672010SDG919.6
681978CIN419.5
691955CRD419.5
701969STL419.5
711995SFO1119.5
722004BUF919.4
731960CLE819.4
741960GNB819.4
751960BUF519.2
761964BAL1219.2
772000JAX719.1
781980CHI719.1
791967OAK1319.1
801991WAS1419
811976BUF219
821975PIT1218.9
831966KAN1118.9
842012NYG918.9
852006JAX818.9
861952SFO718.9
871971BAL1018.8
881981PHI1018.8
891987RAI518.8
902009SEA518.8
912009BAL918.8
921990PIT918.8
931976RAM1018.7
941967RAM1118.6
951966RAM818.6
961957WAS518.6
971985IND518.6
981955PHI418.5
991970DET1018.5
1001960STL618.5

If you limit things to post-merger teams, the top three teams are he ’89 Bengals (nice job, Arif Hasan!), the ’99 Rams, and the ’76 Steelers. All three teams have come up in old PFR/Football Perspective posts. The ’89 Bengals were coached by Sam Wyche at a time when the coaches in the AFC Central hated each other. The Bengals won a game against the Steelers 41-10 and a game aginst the Oilers 61-7. Cincinnati also beat the Bucs 56-23 and the Lions 42-7. But the team went just 8-8, and missed the playoffs.

The ’99 Rams were the first edition of the Greatest Show on Turf, of course. St. Louis had an average points differential of 17.8 PPG in all games, so removing losses unsurprisingly brings the team up to #2 on this list among seasons since the merger. And the ’76 Steelers, who came up just a week ago, come in at #3. The top team from last year was the Broncos, but they don’t even crack the top 150.

Finally, let’s close with a look at the teams with the lowest average margin in wins (the ’60 Cowboys, ’76 Bucs, ’82 Colts, and ’08 Lions, excluded, of course). This is, I think, the most boring of our four lists. But hey, we need to be complete. The top of the list is populated by teams with 1 or 2 wins, although the 2012 Eagles sneak in there. That team was awfully close to going 0-16.

Rk
Year
Tm
# Wins
Avg Mar in Wins
12000SDG11
21980NOR11
31991IND11
41972PHI21
51967ATL11
62012PHI41.5
71981BAL21.5
81982HOU12
91968BUF12
101990NWE12
111998SDG52.6
122009OAK52.8
131982TAM53
141994CIN33
151982DEN23
162001BUF33
172003HOU53
181989ATL33
192004SFO23
201969PIT13
211998PHI33
221951NYY13
231999CLE23
241970NOR23
252009DET23
261968ATL23
271958GNB13
281966NYG13
291972NWE33
301953CHI33.3
312002DET33.3
322000ARI33.3
331982RAM23.5
341984DET43.5
351992SEA23.5
362003ARI43.5
371977NYJ33.7
381984MIN33.7
391954BAL33.7
402002CHI43.8
412005SFO43.8
422000CHI53.8
432007SFO53.8
442010WAS63.8
452011CLE44
461997PHI64
471983PHI54
482001DET24
491995JAX44
501995ARI44
511998CIN34
521973HOU14
531952DTX14
541989TAM54.2
552002DAL54.2
561988KAN44.3
572011ARI84.3
582006CLE44.3
591994NYG94.3
602004OAK54.4
611963RAM54.4
621983BAL74.4
631987CIN44.5
641978HOU104.5
652013HOU24.5
662012KAN24.5
671973PHI54.6
681991NWE64.7
691991RAM34.7
701990CLE34.7
711979MIN74.7
722013ATL44.8
731997ARI44.8
742011DEN84.9
751980NYJ45
761988TAM55
771977GNB45
781993RAI105
791998ARI95
802012JAX25
811972STL45
821967DEN35
832010CAR25
841970GNB65
851984HOU35
861986TAM25
872013JAX45
881964DEN25
892011TAM45
902008WAS85.1
911999CHI65.2
921982STL55.2
932006TAM45.3
941980NYG45.3
951974DET75.3
961989GNB105.3
971988DAL35.3
981953BAL35.3
991987ATL35.3
1001980TAM55.4

The team in 2013 with the lowest average margin of victory in wins was the Texans. Not only did Houston win just two games, but they came by just three and six points, with the latter victory coming in overtime.

{ 5 comments }
  • C Bolton June 30, 2014, 12:31 am

    The 1997 49ers used backup players for the final game of the regular season, and lost by 29. That is presumably because the 1997 49ers had the highest seed in the playoffs even without winning the final game of the regular season.

    Reply
    • Ty June 30, 2014, 1:11 pm

      I remember that game, I believe it was on ESPN Sunday Night.

      Also, I think Kansas City had the “best record” in the regular season. the 49ers and Chiefs had the same record, but the Chiefs thrashed the 49ers that year. It didn’t matter though, since they played in different conferences.

      Reply
  • Chase Stuart June 30, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Those mid’-50s Washington teams tend to come up pretty frequently. That ’54 team was UGLY.

    Reply
    • Bryan Frye June 30, 2014, 8:34 pm

      My numbers have that as the worst Skins team in history, right above the 1961 version. I actually have the 54 Skins as the third worst team ever, behind the 42 Lions and 43 Card-Pitt. Seems like back then teams were either really good or really terrible.

      I bet if I used z scores to era-adjust, those 81 Colts would look pretty bad too. I’ve gone off topic.

      Reply
  • Richie July 8, 2014, 3:24 pm

    I thought the 1994 49ers might make the list for worst average margin in defeat. I remember they got hammered (at home) by the Eagles that year (40-8). But their other two losses were by only 7 points apiece.

    Reply

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