Super Bowl Champions and Top-Heavy Divisions

August 10, 2014 Theory

The NFL realigned its divisions in 2002, placing four divisions of four teams each in each conference. Some divisions have been top-heavy, with the most obvious example being the 2007 AFC East. The Patriots won 16 games, while the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills combined to win just twelve games (with six of those twelve wins […]

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Does Rookie Performance Help Explain the Traditional Draft Value Chart?

May 30, 2014 Draft

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: the traditional draft value chart is outdated, and it never made much sense in the first place. Trying to use logic to explain why teams operate in an illogical manner is a tall task, and probably a waste of time. So, let’s try anyway. First, I recreated […]

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Would A “Mandatory Go For Two” Rule Lead to More Upsets?

March 9, 2014 Theory

The NFL’s Competition Committee is currently considering rules changes to eliminate the boredom associated with the extra point. As you can see from the graph above, extra points are practically automatic now, to the tune of a 99.6% conversion rate in 2013. In fact, extra points have been close to automatic for awhile; the success […]

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When will a team go an entire game without running?

February 22, 2014 Theory

The record for fewest rush attempts in a game is 6, set by the 2004 Patriots and tied by the ’06 Cardinals. The circumstances there are as you would expect. The Patriots fell behind 21-3 in the first quarter to the Steelers in 2004, and Pittsburgh owned the league’s top rush defense. In 2006, the […]

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Insane Ideas: Rules Changes

February 8, 2014 Theory

Should the depth of the NFL end zone be extended from 10 to 20 yards? Practically, this is probably impossible, as adding 20 yards to certain fields would be an issue in many NFL stadiums. But let’s ignore that issue for today. I recently had lunch with a baseball friend of mine who suggested this […]

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Insane Idea: Spotting Points in the Playoffs

January 4, 2014 Insane Ideas

One of my favorite sabermetric baseball articles of all time was written by Sky Andrecheck in 2010 — part as a meditation on the purpose/meaning of playoffs, and part as a solution for some of the thorny logical concerns that arise from said mediation. The basic conundrum for Andrecheck revolved around the very existence of […]

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How Likely Is Peyton Manning To Break The Single-Season TD Record? Part II

October 19, 2013 Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning is not a 51 touchdown per-season quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he won’t average the necessary 2.9 touchdowns per game over his final ten games this season to break Tom Brady’s touchdown record. Before the season, projected Manning as a 2.38 passing touchdown per game player.  And while he has looked unstoppable […]

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Chip Kelly, Two Point Conversions, and Failing Unconventionally

September 28, 2013 Strategy

“Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for the reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.” – John M. Keynes. Last Thursday night, Chip Kelly was widely criticized for an unconventional decision that turned out to be unsuccessful. Trailing 10-0 in the first quarter against the Chiefs, Michael Vick threw a 22-yard touchdown pass […]

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How to Project the Number of Passing Yards in a Game

September 8, 2013 Statgeekery

In May, I wrote that the scoring team is responsible for roughly 60% of the points it scores, while the opponent is responsible for 40% of those points. In other words, offense and defense both matter, but offense tends to matter more. I was wondering the same thing about passing yards. When Team A plays […]

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Chip Kelly, Michael Vick, and the Eagles Tempo

September 2, 2013 Coaches

The number one storyline in the NFL in week one isn’t the health of Robert Griffin III, but the presence of two other men occupying FedEx Field that night. The football world is anxiously awaiting to see how Chip Kelly’s offense, piloted by Michael Vick, will work in the NFL. We don’t know much, but […]

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Breaking Down David Wilson’s 84-yard Touchdown Run Against the Jets

August 25, 2013 Current Events

Last night, David Wilson ran 84 yards for a touchdown on the Giants first play from scrimmage. Without being touched. How does that happen? Let’s start with a look from the end zone right at the snap: The Jets are lined up with four down linemen: from left to right, you can see DE Muhammad […]

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Yards per Carry, Net Yards per Attempt, and Regression to the Mean

July 20, 2013 Passing

Last week, I wrote about why I was not concerned with Trent Richardson’s yards per carry average last season. I like using rushing yards because rush attempts themselves are indicators of quality, although it’s not like I think yards per carry is useless — just overrated. One problem with YPC is that it’s not very […]

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Data Snooping

June 30, 2013 Theory

Over the last few years, the football analytics movement has made tremendous progress.  There are many really smart people with access to a large amount of useful information who have helped pioneer the use of statistics and analytics in football.  Major news organizations and NFL teams seem to be embracing this movement, too.  Unfortunately, there […]

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Vernon Davis as Art Monk

June 26, 2013 Random Perspective On

After the voters did not select Shannon Sharpe as part of the 2009 Hall of Fame Class, I wrote this post comparing Sharpe to Art Monk. While many viewed Sharpe as a receiver playing tight end, I noted that the Redskins used Monk not just as a wide receiver, but as an H-Back and as […]

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Rookie Passing, Rushing, and Receiving

June 22, 2013 Data Dump

In the graph below, the blue line shows the number of passing yards by rookies in each year since 1970, while the red line shows the number of passing yards by non-rookies in the same season. Both are measured against the left Y-Axis; the green line shows the percentage of rookie passing yards to veteran […]

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Yards per Attempt: Where Does it Go Wrong?

June 18, 2013 Passing

Yards per Attempt is the basic statistic around which the passing game should be measured. It forms the base of my favorite predictive statistic (Net Yards per Attempt) and my favorite explanatory statistic (Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt). But it’s not perfect. In theory, Yards per Attempt is a system-neutral metric. If you play in […]

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What can we learn from Game Scripts splits?

June 9, 2013 Statgeekery

When I ask a question in the title of a post, I usually have an answer. But not this time. From 2000 to 2012, 163 different quarterbacks started 16 games. I thought it might be interesting to check out their splits based on the Game Script of each game. I grouped each quarterback’s statistics in […]

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Another Note on the Relative Impact of Offense vs. Defense on Scoring

May 8, 2013 History

Last week, Chase had a great post where he looked at what percentage of the points scored by a team in any given game is a function of the team, and what percentage is a function of the opponent. The answer, according to Chase’s method, was 58 percent for the offense and 42 percent for […]

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Scoring is 60% of the Game

May 2, 2013 Statgeekery

When the New England Patriots score 34 points in a game, that is the result of a couple of things: how good the Patriots are at scoring points and how good the Patriots’ opponent is at preventing points. As great as Tom Brady is, he’s not going to lead New England to the same number […]

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How to determine the appropriate salary cap values for veterans: Part II

April 15, 2013 Statgeekery

In Part I, I derived a formula to translate the number of marginal wins a veteran player was worth into marginal salary cap dollars (my answer was $14.6M, but the Salary Cap Calculator lets you answer that question on your own terms). We can also translate Approximate Value into wins using a similar method. Each […]

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D’Brickashaw Ferguson and how tackles age

April 10, 2013 Theory

A few weeks ago, I discussed why I selected D’Brickashaw Ferguson as my left tackle in the RSP Writer’s Project. In the comments to that post, mrh argued that tackles generally don’t age that well, a proposition I never really considered before. I have previously discussed quarterback age curves and examined running back aging patterns […]

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Which positions are most consistent from year to year?

April 9, 2013 Strategy

Here’s the introduction to an old fantasy football article by my fellow Footballguys staffer Maurile Tremblay: In most fantasy football leagues, eligible players are divided into 6 different positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, placekicker, and special teams/defense. Imagine a league that includes a seventh position, team captain, which earns points each week […]

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More thoughts on how many games a team of replacements would win

March 30, 2013 Statgeekery

Yesterday, I asked how many wins a team full of recent draft picks and replacement-level NFL players would fare. I don’t think there’s a right answer to the question, but it might be a more important question than you think (and you’ll see why on Monday). But I have at least one way we can […]

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Thought Experiment: How many wins would this team average?

March 29, 2013 Theory

It’s been awhile, but time for another post in the Thought Experiments category. Assume the following: On May 1st, 2013, an average owner, average general manager and average coach are assigned an expansion team. They are randomly assigned 24 players: one from each of the seven rounds of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 drafts. So […]

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The Time Value of Draft Picks

March 25, 2013 Draft

How do you compare the value of a draft pick this year compared to a draft pick next year? NFL teams have often used a “one round a year” formula, meaning a team would trade a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round pick this year for a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd rounder next year. But to […]

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How can teams best take advantage of the rookie salary cap?

March 18, 2013 Draft

[Special thanks goes out to my co-writer Maurile Tremblay for his help in co-authoring this piece with me. Any points with which you may disagree are almost certainly due to my error, and not Maurile's.] The new NFL collective bargaining agreement that ended the 2011 lockout instituted some pretty big changes to the salary […]

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Is good luck driving the low interception rates of Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick?

January 28, 2013 History

In September, I started a post by asking you to make this assumption: Assume that it is within a quarterback’s control as to whether or not he throws a completed pass on any given pass attempt. However, if he throws an incomplete pass, then he has no control over whether or not that pass is […]

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Open thread: Will John Harbaugh’s success influence future head coach hires?

January 24, 2013 Coaches

When you think about the Ravens under John Harbaugh — or just about any time in their existence — you think of a defensive team. Under Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata, Baltimore has fielded dominant defenses for much of the last decade. Marvin Lewis, Baltimore’s defensive coordinator from 1996 to 2001, […]

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Ray Rice is the newest star in What are the Odds of That?

January 11, 2013 Rushing

Regular readers surely recall my “What are the Odds of That” post from this summer. In that article, I referenced an obscured Jacoby Jones stat: in 2011, he gained three times as many receiving yards against teams at the back end of the alphabet as he did against the teams he faced in the front […]

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Seattle’s HFA

December 27, 2012 Statistics

As usual, Aaron Schatz provided some interesting information in his weekly DVOA recap. He was looking into Seattle’s home/road splits, and found that the data support what you already know: [W]hen you look closer at home-field advantage over a period of several years, almost every team generally has the same home-field advantage, which in DVOA […]

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