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Archive for the 'Checkdowns' Category

Checkdowns: The players boycott the AFL All-Star Game

Posted by Jason Lisk on February 19, 2010

At the pro football hall of fame website, they have a story in honor of Black History Month detailing the AFL All-Star game in January of 1965. For those who were interested in the series on the AFL and NFL in the 1960's (particularly where I talked about the influx of talent from historical black colleges in the decade), or just want to learn a little more history about the game, check it out.

The story details how the African-American players who were in the All-Star game were treated in New Orleans, how they decided to handle it, and what the white AFL players did to support them. AFL Commissioner Joe Foss decided to move the game to Houston in response to the events in New Orleans leading up to the game.

2 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, History

Checkdowns: FO Adds 1993 Stats

Posted by Neil Paine on February 17, 2010

Over at Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz and Co. have finished putting the play-by-play from 1993 into their database, and today they share the results. Dallas was on the back end of their consecutive titles, but you may be surprised at who the best regular-season team was... Plus, a QB whose stats were rarely in sync with his reputation is the best passer in football, Emmitt and The Bus tie for rushing supremacy, The Playmaker makes more plays than The GOAT, and the Oilers finish the season on a roll (for all the good it did them).

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, Statgeekery

Checkdowns: Big Game Cows

Posted by Neil Paine on February 7, 2010

Let's say you're a random American cow. Well, The Book of Odds asks: What are the odds that you'll eventually be used for a Super Bowl game ball?

(Before you click, do you think the odds are higher or lower than what Albert Breer thought the Saints' odds of winning the Super Bowl were before the game?)

1 Comment | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Super Bowl Venues, I to XLIV

Posted by Neil Paine on February 5, 2010

Time Magazine has a cool slideshow in honor of the Big Game, featuring a photo of every Super Bowl stadium. And it even includes whatever the heck they're calling Super Bowl XLIV's venue this week.

7 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Super Bowl Squares

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 4, 2010

See also: PFR Super Bowl Squares mobile app

This is a re-run of Doug's post from two years ago.

Three Super Bowls ago, I wrote this post over at Sabernomics. In it, I looked at your probability of winning a squares pool with any given square. For example, I found that in a one-unit-per-square pool, either of the '0/7' squares would have an expected value of about 3.8 units. Compare that with, say, a '5/6' square, which has an expected value of 0.22, or the lowly `2/2' square and its expected value of .04. Because it was all the data I had at the time, I only considered the last digits of the final scores of games, but someone correctly pointed out in the comments that most pools also give prizes for (the last digits of) the cumulative scores at the end of each quarter.

Well, now I have score-by-quarter data for the entirety of the NFL's 2-point-conversion era (1994--present), so it's time for an update.

8 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: How Much Action Is There In a Typical NFL Telecast?

Posted by Neil Paine on February 2, 2010

How much actual game action takes place during an NFL game on TV? David Biderman of the Wall Street Journal recently counducted a study which found the answer: 11 minutes. That's right, strip away all of the replays, commercials, shots of players standing around, and images of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and that 3-hour telecast consists of just 11 minutes of gameplay.

14 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Warner to Retire

Posted by Neil Paine on January 29, 2010

ESPN is reporting that Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is retiring from the NFL after 12 seasons. Everyone knows he's one of the all-time great human beings in the league, but this also closes the book on one of the most bizarre, roller-coaster careers any quarterback has ever had...

All that's left now is to fire up the Hall of Fame discussion... Are 3 great years and 3 good ones (sandwiched around 5 injury-plagued ones) enough to punch his ticket to Canton?

55 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Colts-Saints common players

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 24, 2010

The Colts and Saints do not have an illustrious history of players who played for both franchises. The complete list, with the player's career Approximate Value and the list of seasons during which he played for each team, below:

name av pos Colts Saints
Dave Rowe 52 DT-NT 1978 1967-1970
Ashley Ambrose 52 DB 1992-1995 1999; 2003-2004
Joe Federspiel 48 LB 1981 1972-1980
Sean Dawkins 48 WR 1993-1997 1998
Billy Newsome 46 DE-DT 1970-1972 1973-1974
Don Morrison 38 T-C 1978 1971-1977
Craig Heyward 38 RB 1998 1988-1992
Qadry Ismail 38 WR 2002 1998

8 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Colts offense uniquely successful

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 24, 2010

With the AFC Championship game just an hour away from starting, here's a stat I bet you haven't heard all week: the Colts set the NFL record this season for most passing first downs gained minus rushing first downs gained. Below are all the teams in league history to average eight more passing first downs than rushing first downs per game, along with their regular and post-season records:

tm year             fdp             fdrsh           diff/g win             loss             tie             pw pl
IND 2009 241 69 10.75 14 2 0 1 0
SDG 1985 259 92 10.44 8 8 0 0 0
ARI 2005 224 58 10.38 5 11 0 0 0
MIA 1986 250 84 10.38 8 8 0 0 0
NWE 1994 243 83 10.00 10 6 0 0 1
ARI 2008 231 72 9.94 9 7 0 3 1
DET 2006 208 53 9.69 3 13 0 0 0
ATL 1994 218 63 9.69 7 9 0 0 0
HOU 1990 251 97 9.63 9 7 0 0 1
GNB 1995 235 84 9.44 11 5 0 2 1
IND 2004 238 94 9.00 12 4 0 1 1
ARI 1996 214 70 9.00 7 9 0 0 0
STL 2002 219 76 8.94 7 9 0 0 0
SDG 2009 222 80 8.88 13 3 0 0 1
GNB 2007 210 69 8.81 13 3 0 1 1
MIA 1988 218 77 8.81 6 10 0 0 0
OAK 1964 186 63 8.79 5 7 2 0 0
IND 2008 220 80 8.75 12 4 0 0 1
ARI 2007 210 70 8.75 8 8 0 0 0
DET 1995 230 91 8.69 10 6 0 0 1
HOU 2009 231 93 8.63 9 7 0 0 0
ARI 2009 215 77 8.63 10 6 0 1 1
NOR 2007 232 94 8.63 7 9 0 0 0
CAR 2000 201 63 8.63 7 9 0 0 0
SDG 1980 244 106 8.63 11 5 0 1 1
HOU 1991 236 99 8.56 11 5 0 1 1
STL 2000 247 112 8.44 10 6 0 0 1
ATL 1996 202 67 8.44 3 13 0 0 0
DAL 2007 217 83 8.38 13 3 0 0 1
SDG 1984 240 106 8.38 7 9 0 0 0
CIN 2007 213 81 8.25 7 9 0 0 0
STL 2001 236 104 8.25 14 2 0 2 1
MIN 1995 223 91 8.25 8 8 0 0 0
ATL 1995 216 85 8.19 9 7 0 0 1
DET 2007 203 73 8.13 7 9 0 0 0
GNB 2005 206 76 8.13 4 12 0 0 0
GNB 2004 228 98 8.13 10 6 0 0 1
CAR 1999 208 78 8.13 8 8 0 0 0
SDG 1982 145 72 8.11 6 3 0 1 1
NOR 2008 232 103 8.06 8 8 0 0 0
IND 2006 241 112 8.06 12 4 0 4 0
STL 2007 193 65 8.00 3 13 0 0 0
BUF 2002 218 90 8.00 8 8 0 0 0
MIA 1984 243 115 8.00 14 2 0 2 1
SFO 1982 121 49 8.00 3 6 0 0 0

Few teams have ever used the passing game to move the chains like the Colts under Manning's reign. This year, the Colts took things to a new extreme, becoming the first team to ever gain 170 more first downs through the air than on the ground.

Their opponent in the AFC championship game? The only team in the NFL this season with more rushing first downs than passing first downs.

tm year             fdp             fdrsh           diff/g
IND 2009 241 69 172
SDG 2009 222 80 142
HOU 2009 231 93 138
ARI 2009 215 77 138
MIN 2009 220 99 121
WAS 2009 191 72 119
PIT 2009 210 96 114
NWE 2009 222 114 108
SEA 2009 184 80 104
NOR 2009 215 115 100
CHI 2009 170 71 99
GNB 2009 201 102 99
PHI 2009 182 87 95
DAL 2009 203 110 93
NYG 2009 194 103 91
DEN 2009 186 95 91
ATL 2009 192 105 87
DET 2009 168 82 86
STL 2009 159 79 80
BAL 2009 187 115 72
TAM 2009 148 80 68
SFO 2009 137 77 60
MIA 2009 188 129 59
JAX 2009 170 114 56
CIN 2009 159 109 50
OAK 2009 131 81 50
KAN 2009 139 91 48
BUF 2009 126 81 45
TEN 2009 154 115 39
CAR 2009 152 123 29
CLE 2009 118 102 16
NYJ 2009 131 132 -1

The 2009 Jets are pretty unusual in their own right; in modern times, nearly every team gains more passing first downs than rushing first downs. The table below shows the percentage of teams in the NFL each season that gained more first downs via the pass than via the run:

year perc
2009 97
2008 100
2007 100
2006 97
2005 100
2004 97
2003 100
2002 100
2001 97
2000 97
1999 100
1998 100
1997 100
1996 100
1995 100
1994 100
1993 100
1992 95
1991 100
1990 96
1989 100
1988 89
1987 100
1986 89
1985 89
1984 93
1983 89
1982 89
1981 80
1980 88
1979 75
1978 57
1977 57
1976 54
1975 56
1974 58
1973 42
1972 50
1971 77
1970 77
1969 85
1968 77
1967 76
1966 92
1965 82
1964 82
1963 93
1962 84
1961 95
1960 76
1959 50
1958 67
1957 58
1956 38
1955 25
1954 75
1953 42
1952 58
1951 42
1950 38

15 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: 2009 All-Pro selections by the Associated Press

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 14, 2010

Today, the AP announced its selections for the All-Pro roster of 2009. All-Pro selections are a big component of the Approximate Value system here at P-F-R, and always play a role in Hall of Fame debates. You can see the voting breakdown here, but the results are:

21 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Everyone At Hospital Already Hates Wes Welker (NSFW)

Posted by Neil Paine on January 13, 2010

Courtesy of The Onion, who checked in on Welker's progress at Mass General:

"Though injured New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has only been in the hospital for five days, doctors, nurses, support staff, and fellow patients told reporters Thursday that the extremely passionate and determined Welker has already annoyed the hell out of everyone.

'That guy is just the worst,' Welker's orthopedic surgeon Dr. Henry Myles said after a diagnostic checkup Tuesday. 'He suffers a torn MCL and ACL in his left knee, he can barely walk, and he just keeps saying things like, "When am I going to get back in there, doc?" and "Just tape it up, I'll be fine." This whole obsession with showing us how intense and driven he is 24 hours a day really has to stop.'

'I get it, okay? The guy has a lot of heart,' Myles added. 'But yesterday we had to put him in restraints because he wouldn't stop trying to do jumping jacks. And before we could sedate him, his screams of "I'm a competitor!" woke up the entire wing.'"

And that was before the Pats lost to Baltimore.

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Fewest rush attempts

Posted by Chase Stuart on December 31, 2009

As part of his reaction to the bizarre situation unfolding in Lubbock, Dr. Saturday noted:

Some day, when a major team does go an entire game without handing the ball off, there's a good chance it will come from the Big 12, which endured two or three rounds from Leach's attack and began converting Option Central into the most pass-happy conference in the nation as quickly as it could.

That made me wonder how close to going a full game without a rush attempt has an NFL team ever come? Here's a close-to-complete (but not necessarily exhaustive) list of all games where a team had fewer than ten carries:

tm opp year gm pf pa rsh rshyd sacked att netpyd turno
ARI MIN 2006 11 26 31 6 17 1 51 395 5
NWE PIT 2004 7 20 34 6 5 4 43 243 4
ARI MIN 2008 14 14 35 7 43 4 50 273 2
DET MIN 2007 12 10 42 7 23 4 35 230 1
GNB MIA 1994 2 14 24 7 38 4 51 345 2
SEA RAI 1991 11 7 31 7 23 7 38 162 1
HOU NYG 1985 14 14 35 7 22 3 48 298 3
OAK BUF 1963 5 0 12 7 24 7 37 119 3
DET ARI 2007 9 21 31 8 -18 4 45 265 5
STL CAR 2006 10 0 15 8 31 7 34 80 2
NYJ DEN 2005 10 0 27 8 19 3 32 176 5
STL SFO 2003 8 10 30 8 9 5 42 331 3
ATL DET 1993 1 13 30 8 21 6 50 216 3
DET SFO 1991 7 3 35 8 24 0 27 183 2
BUF STL 1984 2 7 37 8 54 4 32 117 3
DEN OAK 1960 14 10 48 8 33 4 42 173 5
NWE PIT 2007 13 34 13 9 22 0 46 399 0
DET SDG 2007 14 14 51 9 26 0 47 302 6
PHI DAL 2005 5 10 33 9 19 4 30 110 0
PHI PIT 2004 8 3 27 9 23 4 24 90 1
OAK KAN 2004 12 27 34 9 31 3 41 333 0
NYJ NWE 2002 2 7 44 9 32 5 33 168 2
KAN OAK 2000 9 31 49 9 39 4 53 474 3
NOR DEN 2000 13 23 38 9 21 3 48 425 3
CLE DEN 2000 7 10 44 9 38 5 45 240 3
CLE PIT 1999 1 0 43 9 9 3 16 31 4
NWE DEN 1996 11 8 34 9 17 2 42 201 1
ATL WAS 1989 15 30 31 9 28 3 44 346 2
SEA WAS 1989 16 0 29 9 25 4 29 176 4
TAM MIN 1987 9 17 23 9 15 4 37 244 4
MIA SDG 1986 1 28 50 9 45 4 42 294 4
PHI NYG 1983 12 0 23 9 10 4 27 69 1
NOR STL 1980 5 7 40 9 15 0 22 65 3
HOU CIN 1976 7 7 27 9 28 6 42 148 4
NYJ BUF 1966 8 23 33 9 5 2 53 323 6

18 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: If the 2009 NFL Was a High School

Posted by Neil Paine on December 19, 2009

This is a fun premise, courtesy of ArmchairGM's "JTStally": If you went to high school with the 2009 NFL, what kind of kid would each team be?

4 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Colts cutting it close

Posted by Chase Stuart on December 19, 2009

Note: Be sure to enter the P-F-R's College Bowl Pool; the deadline to submit your picks is Tuesday.

I was reading The Count over at the Wall Street Journal, and this article caught my eye. Carl Bialik noted that Indianapolis has won eight of its 14 games by eight points or fewer. This made wonder which team set the record for most wins by eight or fewer points? What records did they have and how did they fare in the post-season?

The table below shows the number of wins of eight or fewer points, the overall wins, losses and ties, and how many wins and losses in the playoffs each team had. While the Colts are cutting it close, three teams won all of their games by such a small margin.

<8 w tm yr w l t pw pl
10 HOU 1978 10 6 0 2 1
9 CAR 2003 11 5 0 3 1
9 IND 1999 13 3 0 0 1
9 NYG 1994 9 7 0 0 0
9 RAI 1993 10 6 0 1 1

8 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

PI Finds: Brandon Marshall does it again

Posted by Chase Stuart on December 13, 2009

Before today, only two players had grabbed 18 or more passes in a game since 1960: Brandon Marshall and Terrell Owens. Owens set the NFL record when he caught 20 passes against the Bears, in Jerry Rice's final home game as a San Francisco 49er. Owens stole the show that day from the future Hall of Fame receiver. Today, Brandon Marshall broke Owens' record, but didn't manage to steal the show from another future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning.

Below are the games with the most individual receptions in the NFL since 1960. Brandon Marshall now owns two of the top three slots.

8 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Smart Football Retrospective on 4th-and-2-gate

Posted by Neil Paine on November 19, 2009

One of my favorite football blogs is Chris Brown's Smart Football, and yesterday he had a very thoughtful post about Bill Belichick's controversial decision:

"It’s not really fair to pick on Tony Dungy, who was an excellent football coach, because his excellence had nothing to do with any training in statistics or probability. But his comment that 'you have to play the percentages and punt' is symptomatic of a wider issue, which is that when something 'feels horribly wrong' we inherently want the evidence to comport with that feeling and we convince ourselves that it does. Dungy is a conservative guy, he likely would say that punting gives him plenty of chances to win, he’s a defensive coach so he has no qualms about showing faith in his defense, and, bottom line, the idea of putting that much significance on one play just didn’t sit well with him. That’s all fine, but it has nothing to do with the percentages. Yet his brain and experience had told him that somehow the percentages supported it too, and thus Belichick’s move was the 'risky gamble.'"

You already know how us stat geeks feel about Belichick's call, but it's nice to see someone with a great deal of expertise in the X's and O's also think critically about the decision to go for it.

18 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, Coaches

Checkdowns: Belichick Was Right

Posted by Neil Paine on November 16, 2009

I had a feeling about this at the time, and Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats only confirms my initial belief: if you crunch the numbers, Bill Belichick made the correct decision when he decided to go for it on 4th-and-2 at his own 28 with 2:08 to go in the game vs. Indy last night...

"With 2:08 left and the Colts with only one timeout, a successful 4th-and-2 conversion wins the game for all practical purposes. A conversion on 4th-and-2 would be successful 60 percent of the time. Historically, in a situation with 2:00 left and needing a TD to either win or tie, teams get the TD 53 percent of the time from that field position. The total win probability for the 4th-down conversion attempt would therefore be:

(0.60 * 1) + (0.40 * (1-0.53)) = 0.79 WP (WP stands for win probability)

A punt from the 28 typically nets 38 yards, starting the Colts at their 34. Teams historically get the TD 30 percent of the time in that situation. So the punt gives the Pats about a 0.70 WP."

And if you consider that Manning is an assassin from anywhere on the field, it will actually make it look like a better decision by Belichick. As Brian says, "you can play with the numbers any way you like, but it's pretty hard to come up with a realistic combination of numbers that make punting the better option. At best, you could make it a wash."

Now, I know Rodney Harrison and Trent Dilfer were ripping Belichick pretty hard on TV, but that's only because hindsight is 20/20. Had the conversion succeeded, they would have praised the coach for his "guts" and "decisive leadership". It's the great thing about being able to analyze decisions like this after the fact -- you can tailor your analysis to fit the result, rather than what the right choice was at the time. Unfortunately for Belichick, he didn't have that privilege. But maybe he can take some solace in knowing that, statistically, he made the right call, talking heads be damned.

EDIT: Here's an Excel sheet where you can enter the probabilities you think were correct last night, and see how often the Patriots would win. "1stDprob" is the probability of getting the 1st down on 4th-and-2; "1stdwp" is the Pats' win probability if they convert on 4th-and-2; "failed1stdcltwp" is the Colts' win probability if the Pats' 4th-and-2 fails; "puntprob" is the probability of the Pats getting off a punt; and "coltsdrvwp" is the Colts' win probability if Belichick punts and asks them to drive down the field. As you can see, even if you believed that Indy would win 70% of the time if you failed on 4th-and-2 and only 30% if you punted, it still comes out a wash... There's no doubt Belichick made the right decision.

32 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: All You Ever Wanted to Know About the TTU “Air Raid Offense”

Posted by Neil Paine on November 11, 2009

92894908_Tx_Tech_v_MinnI'm a big fan of Mike Leach and Texas Tech's offensive scheme, especially the way he's been able to plug in seemingly random guys at QB and consistently produce video-game numbers no matter who's under center. This year, obviously, they've had some trouble settling on a QB to run the Air Raid offense, but if you add up the composite stats for Taylor Potts, Steven Sheffield, and Seth Doege, you get a quarterbacking group on pace for these stats when it's all said and done (bowl game included): 446-for-657, 5206 yds, 41 TD, 16 Int. Compare that to some other numbers in the Leach era:

YEAR CMP ATT YDS CMP% YDS/A TD INT Primary QB
2009 (Pace) 446 657 5206 67.9 7.92 42 16 Taylor Potts
2008 465 662 5371 70.2 8.11 48 10 Graham Harrell
2007 544 763 6114 71.3 8.01 51 15 Graham Harrell
2006 438 655 4803 66.9 7.33 39 11 Graham Harrell
2005 391 588 4666 66.5 7.94 34 12 Cody Hodges
2004 426 651 4796 65.4 7.37 34 18 Sonny Cumbie
2003 506 777 6179 65.1 7.95 53 23 B.J. Symons
2002 515 767 5444 67.1 7.10 50 15 Kliff Kingsbury
2001 419 617 4019 67.9 6.51 27 14 Kliff Kingsbury
2000 403 661 3855 61.0 5.83 25 19 Kliff Kingsbury

So this year doesn't really represent as drastic a drop-off as you might think for Leach's passing attack, it's just that he's using 3 QBs instead of having one rack up all the eye-popping numbers. Anyway, all of this is an excuse to direct you towards Chris Brown's terrific archive of Air Raid-related reading material at Smart Football. Kinda makes me want to go out and throw 60 passes right now, you know?

4 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, Coaches, College

Checkdowns: The Jags Have An Existential Crisis

Posted by Neil Paine on October 31, 2009

This is an older video from The Onion, but still funny, especially since here at PFR we tend to recognize the presence of randomness in the game more than the average fan...

(Of course, it bears mentioning that nowadays the Jags are having a different kind of existential crisis -- as in, will the team be based in Jacksonville much longer, given flagging ticket sales and the lure of Los Angeles as a relocation destination?)

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

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