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Archive for the 'Best/Worst Ever' Category

The Greatest Drive in NFL History

Posted by Scott Kacsmar on February 9, 2011

Eighty-seven yards away from the end zone. 119 seconds on the clock. One timeout remaining. Down by six. The Super Bowl is on the line. This is the stuff football fans dream of watching, and players dream of performing on the biggest stage. This is the stuff legends are made of.

This is what the Steelers had staring them down at the end of Super Bowl XLV against the Packers. If they were successful, there would be only one way of describing it. The Steelers may not have known it when they took the field, but they were looking at the greatest drive in NFL history.

What is currently the greatest drive in NFL history? There are many great moments that stand out in NFL lore, but this is not a question that has had a definitive answer to it. I will go back now and review the candidates.

34 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Curtis Martin

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 4, 2011

I won't pretend to be objective here: Curtis Martin is my favorite player of all-time. To maintain credibility as a football writer, one must be objective. Still, I feel comfortable avoiding such responsibility this time as long as I announce it. I've sponsored his P-F-R page since we rolled out the sponsorship option several years ago, and have no plans of ending my sponsorship. The quote I use to sponsor him was uttered by Martin late in the 2005 season, when he finally had to shut it down for good:

But early last week, the pain prompted a visit to the coach's office.

''Herm said: 'Curtis, just for us to be having this conversation, it must be a very bad situation. There is no way you'd be sitting in Herman Edwards's office if this wasn't drastic,' '' Martin said Sunday afternoon. ''It was. Yesterday, I felt like there was probably no way we're going to be able to do it. We got up this morning and said no.

''If the Raiders had said, 'Curtis, we're not going to tackle you' and gave me the ball on the 1-yard line and let me run 99 yards, I don't even think I'd have been able to get it.''

In each off-season, Martin submits himself to savage workouts, to prepare his body for the inevitable punishment. Martin once played through a season with two severely sprained ankles. He played through another even though a ligament was tearing away from the bone in his buttocks. He played two consecutive seasons with torn knee ligaments that did not slow him.

31 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Les Richter

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2011

Moving on with our 2011 Hall of Fame finalist polls, here's Les Richter, a linebacker from the 1950s/60s who was nominated as a senior candidate in this year's class. The rundown on Richter's career:

What do you think? Is Les Richter worthy of HoF induction?

9 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Deion Sanders

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2011

I've been looking forward to this Hall of Fame finalist poll... Let's run down the fact list for Mr. Deion Sanders:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Bill Simpson, Joe Scudero, Shawn Springs, Ken Konz, Milt Davis, Herb Rich, Jerry Gray, Billy Stacy, DeAngelo Hall, Leon Hall
4 Jerry Gray, Bobby Dillon, Darren Woodson, Jim Marsalis, Ray Rhodes, Roger Wehrli*, Everson Walls, Mark A. Carrier, Abe Woodson, Darrell Green*
5 Darren Woodson, Jerry Gray, Charles Woodson, Everson Walls, George Saimes, Abe Woodson, Bobby Dillon, Frank Minnifield, Troy Polamalu, Lindon Crow
6 Kenny Easley, Darren Woodson, Charles Woodson, Bobby Dillon, Mike Haynes*, George Saimes, Eric Allen, Everson Walls, Abe Woodson, Frank Minnifield
7 Kenny Easley, Nolan Cromwell, Charles Woodson, Joey Browner, Roger Wehrli*, Merton Hanks, Asante Samuel, Bobby Dillon, George Saimes, Willie Brown*
8 Erich Barnes, Mike Haynes*, Eric Allen, Cornell Green, Roger Wehrli*, Aeneas Williams, Lem Barney*, Chris McAlister, Joey Browner, Mel Blount*
9 Roger Wehrli*, Mike Haynes*, Eric Allen, Lem Barney*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount*, Darrell Green*, Ed Reed, Erich Barnes, Cornell Green
10 Mike Haynes*, Paul Krause*, Lem Barney*, Mel Blount*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Ronnie Lott*, Willie Wood*, Roger Wehrli*, Herb Adderley*
11 Mike Haynes*, Paul Krause*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronnie Lott*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount*
12 Mike Haynes*, Mel Blount*, Willie Brown*, Paul Krause*, Ronde Barber, Night Train Lane*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Willie Wood*, Lem Barney*
13 Mike Haynes*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Night Train Lane*, Mel Blount*, Willie Wood*, Lem Barney*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Renfro*
14 Mike Haynes*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Willie Wood*, Night Train Lane*, Lem Barney*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*, Aeneas Williams
Career Mike Haynes*, Champ Bailey, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronde Barber, Yale Lary*, Night Train Lane*, Willie Brown*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/3/2011.

So, does Canton make room for Prime Time?

15 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF

Quarterbacks: Career Playoff Drive Stats

Posted by Scott Kacsmar on February 3, 2011

Robert Duvall once said "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" in Apocalypse Now. I have never smelled napalm before, but there is something I enjoy. I love the smell of freshly produced spreadsheets on quarterbacks that will provide the data to expose myths and spit in the face of conventional wisdoms. I want to know why certain teams succeed and others fail, especially in the postseason. Well after my latest research efforts, I feel much more knowledgeable about certain quarterbacks and why their playoff record is what it is.

Just in time for a big quarterback match-up in Super Bowl XLV between Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, I compiled playoff drive stats for two dozen quarterbacks that have played in the last thirty years. It was my goal to get every quarterback with at least 8 playoff starts since 1980, and I almost succeeded. Only Phil Simms, Joe Theismann, Jim Plunkett and Danny White were left out due to lack of complete career data. I also included a few active quarterbacks with 4-7 playoff starts to their credit. I used official NFL gamebooks to get this data. While many of these gamebooks offer drive summaries, I actually went through the play-by-play for each drive (over 3400 of them) to get a better understanding of how the game progressed and for more accurate statistics.

Here is a table of stats that you may be familiar with for the quarterbacks involved:

Player GP W L Att. Comp. Pct. Yards YPA TDs INTs Rating
Aaron Rodgers 4 3 1 135 94 69.63 1212 8.98 10 3 112.9
Kurt Warner 13 9 4 462 307 66.45 3952 8.55 31 14 102.8
Drew Brees 7 4 3 285 189 66.32 2052 7.20 15 2 102.0
Joe Montana 23 16 7 734 460 62.67 5772 7.86 45 21 95.6
Peyton Manning 19 9 10 718 453 63.09 5389 7.51 29 19 88.4
Troy Aikman 16 11 5 502 320 63.75 3849 7.67 23 17 88.3
Brett Favre 24 13 11 791 481 60.81 5855 7.40 44 30 86.3
Steve Young 20 12 8 471 292 62.00 3326 7.06 20 13 85.8
Tom Brady 18 14 4 637 395 62.01 4108 6.45 28 15 85.5
Ben Roethlisberger 12 10 2 329 201 61.09 2598 7.90 17 14 85.4
Warren Moon 10 3 7 403 259 64.27 2870 7.12 17 14 84.9
Jake Delhomme 8 5 3 226 130 57.52 1847 8.17 12 10 83.3
Matt Hasselbeck 10 5 5 360 211 58.61 2483 6.90 15 9 83.1
Tony Romo 4 1 3 135 80 59.26 832 6.16 4 2 80.8
Donovan McNabb 16 9 7 577 341 59.10 3752 6.50 24 17 80.0
John Elway 22 14 8 651 355 54.53 4964 7.63 27 21 79.7
Philip Rivers 7 3 4 229 134 58.52 1820 7.95 8 9 79.2
Eli Manning 7 4 3 193 113 58.55 1297 6.72 8 7 77.6
Dan Marino 18 8 10 687 385 56.04 4510 6.56 32 24 77.1
Randall Cunningham 12 5 7 365 192 52.60 2426 6.65 12 9 74.3
Dave Krieg 12 5 7 282 144 51.06 1895 6.72 11 9 72.3
Jim Kelly 17 9 8 545 322 59.08 3863 7.09 21 28 72.3
Steve McNair 10 5 5 311 184 59.16 1764 5.67 6 11 66.7
Mark Brunell 11 5 6 307 156 50.81 1833 5.97 11 11 66.3

Those are your conventional passing stats. Drive stats are something I have taken much interest in the last few years. I guess it started with my work on fourth quarter drives, and has since carried over to the full game. They offer more measures of efficiency and give better insight into how productive a team's offense or defense is and what style or tempo they may play at. Think about basketball and how the stats for a run and gun/fast break offense are going to be different than the numbers of a half-court offense.

The number of possessions a team gets in a game or season is one of the most overlooked parts of football. Every offense and defense is held to the same standard of points and yards scored/allowed, but did the defense that allows 20 points on 8 drives really play better than the defense that allowed 24 points on 13 drives? Some teams get the ball less than others year after year, meaning their offense has to play at a higher level on fewer opportunities. This would make the offense's stats look better, and the defense's look worse since they are not on the field as much as other teams. The Colts have often been a team in recent seasons that are at the bottom or close to it in offensive possessions every season. Jon Gruden, on a Monday Night Football telecast in Miami in 2009, is probably the only analyst I have heard reference this fact in the media.

If you are not familiar with drive stats, I would highly recommend a visit to that section on the FootballOutsiders site, where Jim Armstrong does a great job of putting out the drive stats on a weekly basis each season. They are listed for 1997-2010. You can familiarize yourself with the kind of numbers you can expect from an offense that is ranked at the top of the league, the average, and at the bottom, to use as a reference when you look over these playoff drive stats.

Disclaimer: the stats presented here are in the quarterback's name, but even more than usual this is really about the team's offensive performance as a whole rather than the individual quarterback. There are certain parts, like the breakdown on interceptions, that are mostly all about the quarterback, but overall drive stats are something you have to keep the team in mind first for. There are of course drives where a quarterback does nothing but hand the ball off every play. The entry "Joe Montana" is another way of saying "1981-90 49ers, 1993-94 Chiefs". Also I will note that I tried to include every drive a QB played in during the playoffs, whether or not they started the game did not matter. I will point out several things, but I will also leave the reader to make their own observations on all the various data presented below. Kneel down drives at the end of either half are excluded.

With that cleared up, on to the data.

25 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Willie Roaf

Posted by Neil Paine on February 2, 2011

After covering Dermontti Dawson yesterday, we now come to the other offensive lineman in this year's group of Hall of Fame finalists: Willie Roaf. The facts on Roaf's career:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Stan Jones*, Gary Zimmerman*, Lou Creekmur*, Jim Parker*, Jonathan Ogden, Ralph Neely, Bob Brown*, Dick Stanfel, Tony Boselli, Gene Upshaw*
4 Tony Boselli, Gary Zimmerman*, Lou Creekmur*, Jonathan Ogden, Bob Brown*, Richmond Webb, Gene Upshaw*, Jim Parker*, Tom Newberry, Ralph Neely
5 Jonathan Ogden, Lou Creekmur*, Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Brown*, Tony Boselli, Marvin Powell, Larry Allen, Logan Mankins, Ralph Neely, Jim Parker*
6 Jonathan Ogden, Lou Creekmur*, Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Lachey, Bob Brown*, Marvin Powell, Mike Kenn, Gene Upshaw*, Kent Hull, Bob Vogel
7 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Dick Stanfel, Marvin Powell, Mike Kenn, Jonathan Ogden, Bob St. Clair*, Rosey Brown*, Lou Creekmur*, George Kunz
8 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Gene Upshaw*, Bob Brown*, Rosey Brown*, Randall McDaniel*, Stan Jones*, Marvin Powell, Jonathan Ogden, Ron Mix*
9 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Marvin Powell, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Gene Upshaw*, Bob St. Clair*, Tom Mack*, Walt Sweeney, Alan Faneca
10 Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, Alan Faneca, Bob Brown*, Lou Creekmur*, Tarik Glenn, Gene Upshaw*, Bob Vogel
11 Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, John Hannah*, Jonathan Ogden, Mike Webster*, Richmond Webb, Bob Brown*, Alan Faneca
12 Gary Zimmerman*, John Hannah*, Gene Upshaw*, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, Richmond Webb, Jonathan Ogden, Randall McDaniel*, Jim Tyrer, Jim Ringo*
13 John Hannah*, Gary Zimmerman*, Gene Upshaw*, Jonathan Ogden, Rosey Brown*, Randall McDaniel*, Jim Ringo*, Walter Jones, Jim Tyrer, Art Shell*
Career Gary Zimmerman*, Jonathan Ogden, John Hannah*, Forrest Gregg*, Walter Jones, Rosey Brown*, Gene Upshaw*, Art Shell*, Jim Tyrer, Jim Ringo*
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/2/2011.

What's the verdict on Roaf?

12 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, HOF, PI Finds, Play Index, Player articles

Which Super Bowl Starting QBs Had the Biggest Hot Streaks Going Into the Game?

Posted by Neil Paine on January 25, 2011

While the Conference Championships put a damper on any hot streaks Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger may have had going into the Super Bowl, where does their recent play stand relative to all SB signal-callers prior to the game? And does a string of successful games before the Super Bowl actually correlate with playing well on Super Sunday?

To answer these questions, let's bust out the single-game opponent- & era-adjusted QB performance metric I introduced here. To make a long explanation short, eYAR is an estimate of the QB's Yards Above Replacement against an average opponent in the modern era. We can use it to rank games, seasons, careers, etc., and we can also use it to gauge how well a QB was playing in the games leading up to a Super Bowl start.

For instance, here are the hottest QBs over the 2 games prior to the Super Bowl:

Player Year Tm Prev2G Player Year Tm Prev2G
Roger Staubach 1975 DAL 252.8 Donovan McNabb 2004 PHI 88.3
Jim Kelly 1990 BUF 247.0 Joe Namath 1968 NYJ 87.9
Peyton Manning 2009 IND 241.6 Joe Theismann 1982 WAS 86.9
Dan Marino 1984 MIA 211.1 Fran Tarkenton 1973 MIN 85.9
John Elway 1989 DEN 207.5 Vince Ferragamo 1979 RAM 85.9
Joe Montana 1988 SFO 204.6 Terry Bradshaw 1975 PIT 83.8
Joe Montana 1989 SFO 188.9 Mark Rypien 1991 WAS 82.5
Bart Starr 1966 GNB 163.8 Jeff Hostetler 1990 NYG 82.1
John Elway 1987 DEN 162.4 Eli Manning 2007 NYG 81.9
Troy Aikman 1992 DAL 161.9 Fran Tarkenton 1976 MIN 77.2
Bob Griese 1971 MIA 157.8 John Elway 1998 DEN 77.2
Earl Morrall 1968 BAL 154.5 Roger Staubach 1971 DAL 76.9
Troy Aikman 1993 DAL 151.1 Jim Plunkett 1980 OAK 72.3
Kurt Warner 2008 ARI 151.0 Len Dawson 1969 KAN 71.6
Joe Montana 1981 SFO 149.4 Joe Montana 1984 SFO 69.1
Joe Theismann 1983 WAS 148.9 Bob Griese 1973 MIA 67.4
Terry Bradshaw 1978 PIT 148.6 John Elway 1997 DEN 66.3
Aaron Rodgers 2010 GNB 148.3 Phil Simms 1986 NYG 61.1
Matt Hasselbeck 2005 SEA 146.3 Jim Plunkett 1983 RAI 59.9
Troy Aikman 1995 DAL 145.7 Tom Brady 2001 NWE 57.0
Bart Starr 1967 GNB 142.9 John Elway 1986 DEN 54.8
Billy Kilmer 1972 WAS 139.8 Peyton Manning 2006 IND 54.4
Rich Gannon 2002 OAK 136.8 Tony Eason 1985 NWE 52.8
Craig Morton 1977 DEN 136.1 Kerry Collins 2000 NYG 51.6
Terry Bradshaw 1974 PIT 133.0 Brett Favre 1997 GNB 50.5
Ken Stabler 1976 OAK 130.7 Brad Johnson 2002 TAM 49.6
Terry Bradshaw 1979 PIT 129.0 Stan Humphries 1994 SDG 45.5
Jim McMahon 1985 CHI 128.1 Daryle Lamonica 1967 OAK 41.6
Kurt Warner 1999 STL 126.4 Trent Dilfer 2000 BAL 41.5
Ben Roethlisberger 2005 PIT 123.0 Steve McNair 1999 TEN 36.4
Joe Kapp 1969 MIN 120.7 Bob Griese 1972 MIA 35.4
Chris Chandler 1998 ATL 119.7 Fran Tarkenton 1974 MIN 35.3
Len Dawson 1966 KAN 118.2 Rex Grossman 2006 CHI 33.8
Roger Staubach 1977 DAL 108.1 Roger Staubach 1978 DAL 28.3
Johnny Unitas 1970 BAL 107.7 Doug Williams 1987 WAS 11.8
Jim Kelly 1993 BUF 106.9 Ben Roethlisberger 2010 PIT 10.4
Tom Brady 2007 NWE 105.5 Tom Brady 2003 NWE 9.3
Jake Delhomme 2003 CAR 101.3 David Woodley 1982 MIA 6.5
Kurt Warner 2001 STL 100.8 Neil O'Donnell 1995 PIT 0.7
Ben Roethlisberger 2008 PIT 100.4 Jim Kelly 1992 BUF -0.8
Brett Favre 1996 GNB 98.6 Drew Bledsoe 1996 NWE -3.3
Ken Anderson 1981 CIN 98.6 Jim Kelly 1991 BUF -20.8
Drew Brees 2009 NOR 95.4 Boomer Esiason 1988 CIN -40.0
Tom Brady 2004 NWE 95.2 Craig Morton 1970 DAL -53.8
Steve Young 1994 SFO 91.4 Ron Jaworski 1980 PHI -96.4

Prior to Super Bowl X, Staubach ripped the Vikings and Rams for a combined unadjusted 33-55-466-5-1 line (plus 78 rushing yds) that is pretty impressive when seen in the light of the era and opposition. Likewise, Kelly torched Miami and L.A. for 320 YPG in the 1990 playoffs, and Manning was nearly flawless against one of the best pass defenses ever in last year's AFC Championship Game. (All three of those QBs went on to lose the Super Bowl, though.)

6 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

The Most Storied Super Bowl Matchups of All Time

Posted by Neil Paine on January 24, 2011

Is Super Bowl XLV going to feature the most prestigious franchise matchup in the Big Game's history?

Here are the most storied matchups by total franchise regular-season wins (in all leagues; ties count as half a win):

Year SB Team A rsW Team B rsW Combined
2010 XLV Green Bay Packers 682.0 Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 1233.0
2006 XLI Indianapolis Colts 454.5 Chicago Bears 725.0 1179.5
1985 XX Chicago Bears 725.0 New England Patriots 405.5 1130.5
1967 II Green Bay Packers 682.0 Oakland Raiders 423.5 1105.5
1996 XXXI Green Bay Packers 682.0 New England Patriots 405.5 1087.5
1997 XXXII Denver Broncos 403.0 Green Bay Packers 682.0 1085.0
1966 I Green Bay Packers 682.0 Kansas City Chiefs 401.0 1083.0
1979 XIV Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Los Angeles Rams 521.0 1072.0
2008 XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Arizona Cardinals 507.5 1058.5
2007 XLII New York Giants 652.5 New England Patriots 405.5 1058.0
1986 XXI New York Giants 652.5 Denver Broncos 403.0 1055.5
1990 XXV New York Giants 652.5 Buffalo Bills 362.0 1014.5
1995 XXX Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 994.0
1978 XIII Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Dallas Cowboys 443.0 994.0
1975 X Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Dallas Cowboys 443.0 994.0
1983 XVIII Los Angeles Raiders 423.5 Washington Redskins 560.5 984.0
1974 IX Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 968.5
1987 XXII Washington Redskins 560.5 Denver Broncos 403.0 963.5
1982 XVII Washington Redskins 560.5 Miami Dolphins 396.0 956.5
1972 VII Miami Dolphins 396.0 Washington Redskins 560.5 956.5
1980 XV Oakland Raiders 423.5 Philadelphia Eagles 522.0 945.5
2004 XXXIX New England Patriots 405.5 Philadelphia Eagles 522.0 927.5
2001 XXXVI New England Patriots 405.5 St. Louis Rams 521.0 926.5
1991 XXVI Washington Redskins 560.5 Buffalo Bills 362.0 922.5
1989 XXIV San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Denver Broncos 403.0 919.5
1984 XIX San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Miami Dolphins 396.0 912.5
1994 XXIX San Francisco 49ers 516.5 San Diego Chargers 389.5 906.0
1999 XXXIV St. Louis Rams 521.0 Tennessee Titans 380.0 901.0
1970 V Baltimore Colts 454.5 Dallas Cowboys 443.0 897.5
1977 XII Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Denver Broncos 403.0 846.0
1976 XI Oakland Raiders 423.5 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 841.0
1971 VI Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Miami Dolphins 396.0 839.0
1969 IV Kansas City Chiefs 401.0 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 818.5
1973 VIII Miami Dolphins 396.0 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 813.5
2005 XL Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Seattle Seahawks 262.0 813.0
1968 III New York Jets 355.0 Baltimore Colts 454.5 809.5
1993 XXVIII Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Buffalo Bills 362.0 805.0
1992 XXVII Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Buffalo Bills 362.0 805.0
1988 XXIII San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Cincinnati Bengals 287.0 803.5
1981 XVI San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Cincinnati Bengals 287.0 803.5
2000 XXXV Baltimore Ravens 128.5 New York Giants 652.5 781.0
2009 XLIV New Orleans Saints 288.5 Indianapolis Colts 454.5 743.0
1998 XXXIII Denver Broncos 403.0 Atlanta Falcons 292.0 695.0
2002 XXXVII Tampa Bay Buccaneers 218.5 Oakland Raiders 423.5 642.0
2003 XXXVIII New England Patriots 405.5 Carolina Panthers 119.0 524.5

10 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History

CFB: Auburn’s Place Among BCS Champions

Posted by Neil Paine on January 13, 2011

Note: This post was originally published at CFB at Sports-Reference, S-R's new College Football site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

Whenever a team wins a championship, the temptation is always to compare them to other champions from the past, and the 2010 Auburn Tigers are no exception. Using the Simple Rating System (SRS), let's take a look at where the newest title-holders stand among BCS champs...

On Monday, ESPN asked its users to rank the BCS Champions from #1-13, coming up with this list:

Team Total Pts #1 Votes
2005 Texas 147,259 3,238
2004 USC 141,467 2,710
2009 Alabama 138,222 2,104
2001 Miami-FL 130,473 2,474
2008 Florida 119,697 1,071
2006 Florida 102,270 478
2010 Auburn 92,789 1,042
1999 Florida State 87,367 446
2002 Ohio State 82,755 629
2003 LSU 79,905 404
2000 Oklahoma 78,115 388
1998 Tennessee 74,067 525
2007 LSU 73,156 200

The SRS, though, comes up with a different ranking:

Year School Conf W L T SRS SOS
2001 Miami-FL Big East 12 0 0 26.169 5.741
2004 Southern California Pac 10 13 0 0 26.062 8.788
2008 Florida SEC 13 1 0 25.370 6.701
2005 Texas Big 12 13 0 0 24.977 5.686
2009 Alabama SEC 14 0 0 23.693 7.747
1999 Florida State ACC 12 0 0 23.495 6.208
2000 Oklahoma Big 12 13 0 0 21.555 5.812
2003 Louisiana State SEC 13 1 0 20.847 4.033
2010 Auburn SEC 14 0 0 20.648 7.031
1998 Tennessee SEC 13 0 0 19.955 4.955
2006 Florida SEC 13 1 0 19.661 7.886
2007 Louisiana State SEC 12 2 0 18.414 6.659
2002 Ohio State Big Ten 14 0 0 18.134 4.739

7 Comments | Posted in BCS, Best/Worst Ever, College, Simple Rating System, Statgeekery

Which Quarterbacks’ Offenses Exceed Expectations in the Playoffs?

Posted by Neil Paine on January 10, 2011

Curious after Peyton Manning & the Colts scored 16 points at home against the Jets on Saturday, I wanted to calculate how many points we should have expected them to put on the board, knowing the opponent and game location.

According to the Simple Rating System (SRS), the Jets' defense was +4.2 this season -- meaning they allowed 4.2 fewer PPG than an average team after accounting for strength of schedule. The average NFL team scored 22.0 PPG during the regular-season, so at a neutral site we'd expect an average team to score 17.8 PPG against the New York defense. And since the Colts were at home, 0.95 PPG (half the overall home-field advantage in 2010) should be added in as well, giving a final expectation of 18.8 PPG for a league-average team against the Jets at home. Since the Colts actually scored 16, we can score this performance as -2.8 points relative to average.

Additionally, we wouldn't have expected the Colts' offense to be average based on the regular season. Their offensive SRS was +3.7, which means Indianapolis "should have" scored 22.0 + 0.95 + 3.7 - 4.2 = 22.5 pts against the Jets at home. This yields a score of -6.5 pts relative to regular-season expectations.

Here's Peyton Manning's entire playoff career according to this methodology:

20 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks, Simple Rating System, Statgeekery

What John Elway Really did Forty-Seven Times in His Career

Posted by Scott Kacsmar on November 30, 2010

This is a guest post by Scott Kacsmar. Thanks to Scott for sharing his comeback data with us on the site. A complete list of comebacks for quarterbacks is available on their player pages linked just above their passing stats. (Sean Forman)

When Brett Favre produces a comeback victory, the sports world is a flutter with excitement. Highlight reels of the winning drive are shown ad nauseam. Mariucci cries. Madden sweats. The sales of Crocs go up. Nothing says "Brett Favre's just having fun out there" more than a signature comeback win.

62 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, General

R.I.P. George Blanda

Posted by Neil Paine on September 28, 2010

I'm sure everyone has seen the news already, but in case you didn't, Hall of Famer George Blanda passed away yesterday at age 83.

Just one look at Blanda's PFR page tells you why this is a significant loss for the game -- Blanda played more seasons (26) than anyone in pro football history, set a scoring record (2002 points) that wouldn't be broken until 25 years after his retirement (he still ranks 5th on the all-time list), played 340 career games (still 4th all-time), tossed 236 TDs (still the 19th-most ever), was the 1st player ever to throw 35 TD passes in a season, led Houston to 2 AFL crowns, won the 1961 AFL and 1970 NFL Player of the Year Awards, was 69th in Chase's pre-2009 QBGOAT rankings despite spending half his career as a kicker... I could go on for days listing Blanda's accolades, or the ways his stat lines caused future generations to do double-takes.

25 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Checkdowns, Great Historical Players, History, Obituaries, Player articles, Quarterbacks

Best Single-Game, Super Bowl, & Single-Season Quarterback Performances – Adjusted for Opponent/Era

Posted by Neil Paine on September 10, 2010

As a follow-up to last week's post about the 100 Greatest Single-Game Quarterback Performances since the merger, today I'm going to re-post the list after adjusting every QB game for the strength of the opposing defense (as you can imagine, this changes the rankings quite a bit). Commenter/PFR contributor Scott Kacsmar had a great idea about adjusting for era and opponent in one step, so instead of translating from the per-game rates of the season in question to the 1993-2009 period average, I simply translated from the regular-season per-game rates allowed by the defense faced. In other words, if a 1975 defense happened to allow numbers that would be average in 1993-2009, I wouldn't translate the raw stats of the QBs that faced them at all, even though the general offensive environment of 1975 was far different from that of 1993-2009.

Anyway, after that change here are the best QB games since 1970, adjusted for opponent:

74 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

Best Single-Game Quarterback Performances, 1970-2009

Posted by Neil Paine on September 3, 2010

Last year, I wrote a post explaining a method of translating quarterback stats across different eras based on the league's average numbers. I followed that up with a pair of posts that looked at peak QB performance using the translation method and an estimate of Football Outsiders' YAR (Yards Above Replacement) metric. Today, I want to apply that same methodology to all single-game QB performances (regular-season and playoffs) since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970...

39 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

Checkdowns: ESPN’s Top Regular-Season Passing/Rushing/Receiving Performances

Posted by Neil Paine on July 16, 2010

Today, ESPN broke out their lists of the top 5 regular-season single-game Passing, Rushing, and Receiving performances in NFL history, based on production, game importance, strength of schedule, and other factors. The best in each category? Warren Moon vs. Kansas City, December 16, 1990; Walter Payton vs. Minnesota, November 20, 1977; and Jim Benton vs. Detroit, November 22, 1945 (box score unavailable, but he had 10 catches for 303 yards and a TD).

So what say you, PFR readers? What are your picks for the best regular-season performances ever?

37 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Checkdowns

2009 RB rankings and Chris Johnson

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 23, 2010

Last off-season, I started grading the most dominant running back seasons in NFL history. I ended up writing five posts, which are available here:

Methodology
Most Dominant single seasons
Most Dominant careers
Most Dominant post-seasons
Most Dominant overall

While I'll certainly tweak the formula later this off-season or next year, I was curious to see how Chris Johnson's incredible 2009 performance would rate. Johnson not only rushed for 2,000 yards last season, but he also set the single season record for yards from scrimmage. So how great did Johnson's season end up being? And which RB was #2 in 2009?

Here's a review of the formula, at least for seasons since 2002. We break each player's stats down into three categories: rushing, receiving and scoring.

Step 1: Calculate the player's rushing score by taking his total rushing yards, subtracting 25 yards for all fumbles and adding 25 yards for all fumbles recovered. Divide that result -- the player's adjusted rushing yards -- by his number of games played.

Step 2: Start with the player's total receiving yards, add 1.5 adjusted receiving yards for each reception, and divide by games played.

Step 3: Add up the player's rushing and receiving touchdowns and divide by his number of games played.

17 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Running Backs

All-decade team of the ’00s announced

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 2, 2010

Before the season began, I explained my choices for 90% of the decade's all-pro rosters. You can see them at the link below:

Offense
Defense, Special teams and coaches

Through nine of the ten years in the '00, he was the roster I had selected:

	First Team		Second Team
QB	Peyton Manning		Tom Brady
RB	LaDainian Tomlinson	Marshall Faulk
RB	Priest Holmes		Tiki Barber
WR	Terrell Owens		Marvin Harrison
WR	Randy Moss		Torry Holt
TE	Tony Gonzalez		Antonio Gates
OT	Walter Jones		Orlando Pace
OT	Jonathan Ogden		Willie Anderson
OG	Alan Faneca		Will Shields
OG	Steve Hutchinson	Brian Waters
OC	Jeff Saturday		Kevin Mawae
DE	Jason Taylor		Richard Seymour 
DE	Michael Strahan		Julius Peppers	
DT	La'Roi Glover		Kevin Williams
NT	Jamal Williams		Kris Jenkins		
LB	Ray Lewis		Joey Porter
LB	Derrick Brooks		Zach Thomas
LB	Brian Urlacher		Mike Vrabel
CB	Champ Bailey		Chris McAlister
CB	Ronde Barber		Ty Law
S	Ed Reed			Troy Polamalu
S	Brian Dawkins		Darren Sharper
PK	Matt Stover		Jeff Wilkins
P	Shane Lechler		Todd Sauerbrun
KR	Terrence McGee		Josh Cribbs
PR	Devin Hester		Dante Hall
HC	Bill Belichick		Tony Dungy

The actual team, as chosen by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, made some structural changes before announcing this decade's roster:

24 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever

Worst Pro Bowl Selections of All-Time

Posted by Jason Lisk on February 1, 2010

In honor of the Pro Bowl, where we saw numerous dropouts due to injuries, as well as "injuries" and players from the Super Bowl teams not participating, and were treated to three quarters of Vince Young and David Garrard at quarterback, I thought I would look back at the worst pro bowl picks of all-time. This is a completely subjective list, and has several problems. Mainly, I am limited by statistics, and it's harder to tell who the bad picks were at positions like Offensive Guard or Middle Linebacker. When a running back or quarterback gets in on reputation, well, the numbers are there to see. I have no doubt that a fair percentage of offensive line picks were reputation picks that may not have merited. Some defensive players may have gotten in when they shouldn't have thirty years ago. So really, this is primarily a list of the worst pro bowl selections at the offensive skill positions.

18 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever

PI Finds: Derek Anderson Among Worst Ever

Posted by Neil Paine on November 3, 2009

Yikes, what can you say about the Browns? Things are getting pretty ugly in Cleveland, following a 30-6 loss to the Bears that left the team having been outscored 61-9 over the past 2 weeks. QB Derek Anderson was brutal again, tossing 2 picks and turning the ball over another time on a botched snap. Amidst Cleveland's myriad woes, it might be easy to write off Anderson's performance so far in 2009 as merely one of many breakdowns, but that's understating just how awful Anderson has been... Through 8 games, here are the worst passer-rating performances by a QB in a season since 1960:

Rk Player Age Year Lg Tm G W L T Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate
1 Joe Kapp 32 1970 NFL NWE 5 0 5 0 49 112 43.8% 509 1 10 23.3
2 Bob Lee 29 1974 NFL ATL 7 2 5 0 56 129 43.4% 621 3 13 26.5
3 Mike Taliaferro 27 1968 AFL NWE 7 3 4 0 67 176 38.1% 889 4 15 26.9
4 Mike Phipps 27 1975 NFL CLE 6 0 6 0 56 119 47.1% 611 0 10 27.7
5 Rick Norton 23 1967 AFL MIA 6 1 5 0 53 133 39.8% 596 1 9 28.3
6 John McCormick 29 1966 AFL DEN 7 1 6 0 54 149 36.2% 659 3 10 29.5
7 Cotton Davidson 30 1962 AFL TOT 8 1 7 0 69 180 38.3% 993 2 13 30.6
8 Terry Bradshaw 22 1970 NFL PIT 7 3 4 0 57 139 41.0% 898 2 12 32.0
9 Dan Pastorini 22 1971 NFL OTI 8 1 6 1 66 147 44.9% 902 3 15 32.3
10 Cotton Davidson 34 1966 AFL RAI 5 1 4 0 59 139 42.4% 770 2 11 32.4
11 Babe Parilli 35 1965 AFL NWE 8 1 6 1 88 235 37.4% 1269 7 18 33.8
12 Pete Liske 29 1971 NFL PHI 8 2 5 1 60 130 46.2% 814 3 12 35.9
13 Jerry Tagge 24 1974 NFL GNB 6 3 3 0 70 146 47.9% 709 1 10 36.0
14 Derek Anderson 26 2009 NFL CLE 6 1 5 0 66 154 42.9% 681 2 9 36.2
15 Mike Taliaferro 29 1970 NFL NWE 7 1 6 0 61 135 45.2% 727 2 10 36.2
16 Dan Darragh 21 1968 AFL BUF 8 1 6 1 73 168 43.5% 797 3 11 36.7
17 Norm Snead 29 1968 NFL PHI 5 0 5 0 65 130 50.0% 685 4 12 37.5
18 Heath Shuler 22 1994 NFL WAS 5 0 5 0 45 113 39.8% 547 4 8 37.7
19 Dan Fouts 22 1973 NFL SDG 5 0 4 1 55 132 41.7% 719 4 10 38.0
20 Steve DeBerg 24 1978 NFL SFO 8 1 7 0 98 231 42.4% 1094 7 16 38.4
21 Mike Phipps 32 1980 NFL CHI 6 2 4 0 59 120 49.2% 610 2 9 38.5
22 Matt Robinson 25 1980 NFL DEN 8 4 4 0 60 125 48.0% 712 1 9 38.5
23 Randy Johnson 22 1966 NFL ATL 8 0 8 0 63 144 43.8% 899 4 12 39.1
24 Joe Pisarcik 25 1977 NFL NYG 7 2 5 0 53 134 39.6% 796 3 9 39.3
25 Steve Bartkowski 23 1976 NFL ATL 5 1 4 0 57 120 47.5% 677 2 9 39.5

That's right, Eric Mangini benched Brady Quinn in Week 3 so he could receive the 14th-worst 1st-half quarterbacking performance in almost 50 years (!) from Anderson. And keep in mind that passer ratings in the modern game are almost always significantly higher than they were in the sixties and early seventies, since today's defenses are greatly restricted in what they can do when trying to stop receivers from getting open and/or catching the ball. Not since another Cleveland quarterback, Mike Phipps, posted a 27.7 rating in 1975 has a QB opened the season as badly as Anderson this year, and among the bottom 25 half-seasons listed above, Anderson's '09 and Heath Shuler's 1994 are the only ones to come after 1980. You can be sure that this is not the kind of history the Browns wanted to make in 2009.

24 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, PI Finds

Peak Quarterbacks, Part II

Posted by Neil Paine on October 16, 2009

Two weeks ago, I compiled a list of the top peak regular-season quarterbacks of all-time by averaging together their best 6 seasons (or all of their seasons if they didn't have 6 seasons) in a metric that attempts to estimate Football Outsiders' YAR (yards above replacement) via linear regression. The results were somewhat surprising -- underrated Cincinnati signal-caller Ken Anderson was ranked #1! -- but the concept was a hit, and many readers made suggestions to make the rankings better, so I figured I'd revisit our Peak QB list today and make some changes to the method.

20 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Statgeekery

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