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Archive for November, 2007

The history (and future) of pro-football-reference.com

Posted by Doug on November 29, 2007

It's about time I fully explain what's been going on with pro-football-reference.com: why the "I" has become a "we" when I discuss the site, who's responsible for all these new stats, and so forth.

Nothing bores me more than when some company merges with or acquires some other company and they create an entire ad campaign around it even though it has zero effect on the life of me, the consumer. AT&T now owns Bellsouth? MegaBank #1 just bought out MegaBank #2? Gripping. Does my phone still work? Can I still use my ATM card at the same places? If so, that's all I need to know. You may view the p-f-r changes similarly. From my perspective, the changes are fairly major. From yours, they shouldn't mean much, and they should all be for the better. Scroll down to "The Future" for a synopsis.

On the other hand, I certainly hope that this site has a bit more sense of community than AT&T does. So it's possible that some of you may be interested in what's going on behind the scenes. And as long as I'm documenting that, this seems like a good time to document the site's history as well. Whether or not anyone reads it, I think that five years from now I'll be glad I wrote it.

I'll start at the beginning.

The very beginning.

In August 1982, my parents gave the 1982 Bill James Baseball Abstract for my 11th birthday. I feel I'm being horribly uncreative when I tell you that this site wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Bill James, but I don't see any way around it. He was a huge influence on the way I think about all things, not just baseball. My parents were not sports fans, but they were tolerant of the obsession with sports that was for some reason in me since the day I was born. Meanwhile, my dad was a computer jock before being a computer jock was cool, and he passed that along to my brothers and I at a young age. I went to Computer Camp (yeah, that's right, Computer Camp) in sixth grade. A few years later, I found a book called Basic Betting (I'm not sure, but I think this must be it) which contained computer programs designed to predict basketball, baseball, and football games. My dad and I patiently typed in the programs on our 48K Apple II+, and we entered lots of data. We both enjoyed it, but for different reasons.

I knew I loved sports. I didn't realize at the time that I also loved data, but I clearly did. [This is totally irrelevant to the story, but just so you can adjust your mental image if necessary, I feel compelled to mention that all of this computer and data stuff was strictly an after-dark and rainy-day activity. I assure you that every minute of my childhood that could have been spent playing sports was indeed spent that way.]

In 1988, Bill James wrote his final Baseball Abstract. I'm not sure on the specifics of this, but my understanding is that he gave the rights to the Abstract name to a group of people. That group had some creative differences and split into (at least) two groups. One of those groups, led by a man named Don Malcolm, continued to publish a baseball annual in the spirit of the Abstract. For whatever reason, I quit reading it after 1989.

Sometime in 1996, I stumbled back upon a copy of the same annual, which was then called The Big Bad Baseball Annual. I wrote some stuff, submitted it to Malcolm, and got a gig writing for the BBBA. Another of BBBA's writers at the time was a guy named Sean Forman. Sean and I had a lot in common: in addition to the interests in sports and data, both of us were working on PhDs in math at the time. Over the next few years, Sean and I met whenever we could, usually at math conferences. He'd tell me about some big ideas he was having. I'd tell him not to quit his day job.

Seven years later, Sean quit his day job.

In case you don't know, Sean is the creator of the most complete, best organized, and most creative sports data website in this or any other universe: baseball-reference.com. According to this article, baseball-ref launched on February 1st, 2000. I actually saw it about a month before that, at a math conference in early January of 2000. I was underwhelmed. In true computers-in-every-doorknob fashion, I asked Sean something like , "why would anyone who owns a copy of Total Baseball need this? And why anyone who doesn't own one care?" As is typical of his style, his answer was something like, "I don't know, I think it might catch on."

It did catch on.

Meanwhile, fantasy football was catching on across the nation. I started playing it in 1994 and have been obsessed ever since. In the late 90s, I got frustrated that there wasn't nearly as much readily-available data or as much statistical analysis of football as there was of baseball. Purely because I wanted to dominate my own leagues, I started collecting and analyzing old NFL data wherever I could find it. And because I like to write, I started using this data to write fantasy football articles. The first one I wrote was this one, which I sent to the man whom I perceived to be the internet's top fantasy football guru: Joe Bryant.

Sean Forman knew I had been collecting data, so he started harassing me to webify it and create football-reference.com. I figured he'd stop harassing me at some point, but he never did. He even created and sent me, unsolicited, this boss logo, which would still be atop the site today were it not for an unfortunate incident that I suppose I'll have to mention at some point in this story:

Eventually, it became clear to even me that the baseball-reference concept was catching on. So I decided to take Sean's advice and create football-reference.com. I think it launched in December of 2000. At the time, I wrote the following words, which are no less true now, and which still appear on this site's about page.

Isn't this just a cheap knock-off of baseball-reference.com?

I'm proud to say that it is. For those of you not in the know, baseball-reference.com delivers a truly staggering amount of baseball information in a very clean and efficient way. The key is the way that it links. George Brett's page is linked to the team page for the 1980 Royals (as well as every other team he played on), which links to the 1980 standings and league stats and also to a list of gold-glove winners in 1980 and to the Royals' franchise history, and so on. This allows you to easily go wherever your mind takes you. I've attempted to copy this format as much as possible. Every bit of text that can be a link is a link, so you can jump around easily.

But this isn't as good as baseball-reference.com, is it?

No, it's not. There are two reasons for this.

1. Baseball-reference.com's creator Sean Forman is a much much more talented web designer and programmer than I am.

2. The database that powers baseball-reference was already there and freely available at baseball1.com. For football statistics there is no such database. So what Sean did was to organize existing data while I'm trying to pull the data together and then organize it.

As a meaningless aside, it's interesting that I used George Brett as an example. This is what George Brett himself now says about baseball-reference.com:

"I was going to go to the gym. Now I can't stop looking at this site. It's amazing!"

Seriously.

Earlier, I told you that my parents were not sports fans but were tolerant --- even supportive --- of my sports mania. The same has always been true of my wife. As near as I can tell, she thought the whole thing was cute in a being-an-over-the-top-dork-is-part-of-his-charm sort of way. But websites cost money to run, and we did not at the time have money to throw away in the name of a bunch of like-minded weirdos being appreciative of the work I had done. I needed a benefactor.

So I emailed Joe Bryant, who had just launched his own fantasy football information site, then called cheatsheets.net, now co-owned with David Dodds and called footballguys.com. I had written several articles for cheatsheets.net at that point, so I asked him if he'd pony up my hosting fees, which were probably a couple hundred dollars a year at the time, in exchange for a link on every page of the site. He agreed. Those links are still there, not because p-f-r still needs subsidization, but because of my continued affiliation with footballguys.com and my continued belief that it is the best source of fantasy football information anywhere.

Except for a few odds and ends, that's the history. That's how p-f-r came to be, and why it has always been unofficially affiliated --- very proudly so --- with both baseball-reference.com and footballguys.com. The odds and ends are:

In 2003, a choice bit of dopery by me resulted in the loss of the domain name football-reference.com. That's when the site became pro-football-reference.com.

In March of 2006, I started this blog. Much in the same way Forman kept badgering me to create the site itself, my good buddy J.C. Bradbury (of sabernomics and Baseball Economist fame) continually pestered me to start a blog. Just as I now appreciate Forman's persistence, I appreciate J.C.'s. Blogging is writing, and writing is Good For You in ways that, somewhat ironically, aren't easy to articulate. Possibly more importantly, the blog has kept Chase off the street.

Before I get to the future, I should also mention that at some point (I think 2004), Justin Kubatko created basketball-reference.com, which has turned into an absolutely terrific site in the same spirit as baseball- and pro-football-reference. I've never met Justin, but we've corresponded often and I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work. In addition to his own site, he has had a lot of influence, direct and indirect, on baseball-ref and p-f-r during the last few years.

It's worth noting, for the sake of trivia, that Sean, Justin, and I all have graduate degrees in mathematics. More specifically, mine is in math, Sean's is in applied math, and Justin's is in statistics. The fact that the sports-reference sites are run by a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician has been a source of far more glee to me than it should be. I have suggested that we should be called The Three Musketeers, and if you got that reference, you are as big a nerd as I am. But don't worry. As far as I know, no one ever has ever gotten the reference. (If you're curious, scroll about a third of the way down on this page.)

The future of pro-football-reference.com

The web has changed a lot since December 2000, but pro-football-reference.com really hasn't. The fact that its general philosophy and its look have remained essentially the same is part of its charm to many, including me. But the business model --- one guy with a demanding real-life job and a family, working on it whenever he can carve out some spare time --- isn't tenable. Since my family and my job aren't going to be changing (nor do I want them to), something else must.

I used to joke that the great thing about p-f-r was that I could drop dead and users of the site wouldn't even notice. I used to tell myself that I didn't care if someone came along and created a much better historical football stat site. After all, my initial goal was to get the data out there; if someone else did it, the goal still would have been accomplished. But I have to admit now that I don't want that. I want p-f-r to be the place where everyone goes for football data new and old. I want it to be the first result in all search engines whether you type in Barry Sanders or Bobby Riley. And I wasn't making progress toward those goals. And, more importantly, I didn't have the resources --- time being the most crucial resource --- necessary to make progress toward those goals at any point in the foreseeable future.

So, when Sean approached Justin and I about merging baseball-reference, pro-football-reference, and basketball-reference into a single entity, it was an easy decision for me. So pro-football-reference is no longer owned by me. Rather than being its own thing, it's now a branch of sports-reference. Rather than being one man's hobby, which it always has been, it's now a part of an honest-to-goodness business. But here's the important part: it's not part of SuperGlobalHyperMegaNet Corp. It's part of a business that is owned, managed, and run by a very small number of people who love sports data just as much as you do. And that's who the "we" is: besides me, it's Sean Forman and Justin Kubatko, both of whom work full time for sports-reference. Although I did a lot of the preliminary prep work to get the data organized, it's Sean and Justin who have actually been creating the new p-f-r pages you've been enjoying.

So what does all this mean for you? It means that p-f-r can start leveraging the economies of scale and scope that come from being part of a bigger entity. I hope that you can already see some big benefits coming from this merger. And I hope you'll believe that there are many more to come.

From my standpoint, the best part is that p-f-r can still, for the most part, be "my site." I'll still blog right here. I'll still answer emails from people whose uncles lied to them about having been NFL players. And if I am moved to add a bit of data, or to create a new set of pages, I'll still be able to do that, just as I always have. But if I don't have time to get it done, I'll have someone who can help me do it.

In other words, the site will be just like it always has been, but better. And that's because its ownership will be just like it always has been, but better.

16 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn?

Posted by Jason Lisk on November 28, 2007

The Cleveland Browns are going to face some decisions in the off-season at quarterback. They traded their 2008 first round pick to move up and draft Brady Quinn at #22 overall last year. Derek Anderson, who lost a coin flip with Charlie Frye in the pre-season, came in and started, presumably to just warm the spot until Quinn was ready, when Frye predictably faltered.

But then something happened--Anderson has been very good. And he is only 24 years old. But the other thing is that he is a restricted free agent. This means that the Browns can make a tender offer at different levels--presumably they would make the highest tender offer of 2.35 million, which is still very cheap for a starting quarterback. But then Anderson would be free to try to negotiate a deal with another team, and if another team signed him to an offer sheet, the Browns would have to either match, or let him go in exchange for a first and third round pick in next year's draft. So before you read further, play along at home, and see what your gut reaction is to the following two questions:

1. Who is more likely to have the better NFL career from this point forward, Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn?

2. If you were an NFL franchise in need of a starting quarterback, would you trade a first and third round pick for Derek Anderson?

The Cleveland front office and coaching staff will have to consider these questions entering next season. Who to go with, the hot young local kid, drafted in the first round, for whom you gave up a first rounder in 2008? Or the guy who you didn't start over Charlie Frye in the season opener? How they choose to answer this question may decide the course of the franchise for the next five years, or more.

As I see it, the Browns have four options to consider:

1. Be proactive and sign Anderson to a longer term deal, thus keeping him from becoming a restricted free agent in the first place. The risk is obvious--if he is a one hit wonder, you pay for years. The benefit is that the deal is probably a lot smaller than it would be a year later, and he is guaranteed to stay. Obviously, this move would insure Anderson as the starter in the next few years.

2. Tender the highest offer (1st and 3rd), and hope no one else signs him to an offer sheet for that compensation, in which case you have a cheap starter for the next season to compete with Quinn. If someone does sign the offer sheet, let him go, take the draft picks, and go with Brady Quinn as the starter.

3. Make the tender offer, but match any offer sheet, and let the league set the market price. The problem here, as we have seen in recent deals, is that teams can sign restricted free agents to deals that skirt the lines, with poison pill clauses, and make it difficult to match.

4. Franchise Anderson. This means you are going to pay a lot of money for one season, but not have a long term commitment. The downside is the large cap charge for next season, the benefit is that you are not committed to Anderson, can go into next season with him at starter, but evaluating both, and can push off the decision long term, until after the 2008 season. At that point, you can either sign Anderson to a long term deal, or let him go and start Quinn.

Now, I'll try to answer these questions looking at history. The answer is not as simple as saying that a first rounder is likely to be more successful than a late round pick (which is certainly true, as a general statement). Brady Quinn has not played any significant minutes, so his relevant comparables are all similarly drafted quarterbacks, before they played a snap in the NFL.

That is not true of Derek Anderson. His comparables, in light of his performance as a starter, even in less than a full season, no longer include the multitude of later round quarterbacks who never played any significant amount of time in the league. His comparables also do not include guys like Kyle Orton or Billy Joe Hobert.

So, here's what I did for each. For Quinn, I used all quarterbacks drafted in the first 30 picks, except for the first overall picks, since 1978. This also includes the supplemental first round picks. That is a total of fifty-one players drafted before this season. If you think Quinn is not the typical 22nd overall pick, because he should have gone top ten, and the Browns paid a premium for him--fine. Turns out, it doesn't really matter that much between being an early first and later first round pick, so long as we exclude the first overalls. And I don't think we can reasonably argue that Quinn should be viewed as a first overall pick prospect.

For Anderson, it was a little more difficult. If you define his breakout narrowly, then you get very few comparables. For example, here is the exclusive list of all non-first round picks who had a "passing value added" (I discussed my methodology for computing that here) of +500 or more in the first season they threw 150 or more pass attempts, at age 25 or younger:

Boomer Esiason
Marc Bulger
Dave Krieg
Charlie Batch
Brett Favre
Tom Brady

Right now, Anderson is easily on pace to finish second on this list behind Esiason. When I wrote about finding the next Brady or Bulger, I didn't even have the foresight to evaluate Derek Anderson, as he was seemingly buried behind the incumbent, Charlie Frye, and the future, Brady Quinn. Yet here they both turn up as two of his best comparables.

But with only six comparables, I loosened up the requirements. I settled on a "breakout" season of +400 passing value added. I moved the age requirement to age 26, and I didn't require that the "breakout" occur in the first season in which the player got 150+ pass attempts, just some time by age 26. Even with this, the list of comparables is only 26 players. But I felt going any lower than this on my definition of a breakout would bring in guys who never really had a good season, and not be fair comparables for what we are trying to answer, and going with older players, which would bring in Warner, Green, and Moon, among others, wasn't fair either.

As it turns out, in looking at my list of comparables and dissecting it any number of ways, the "Derek Andersons" dominate the "Brady Quinns" in virtually every measure, except for number of opportunities to continue to fail. Here is the complete list of Derek Anderson comparables, sorted by value added in their breakout season, age, and number of prior 150+ attempt seasons before the breakout:

player              value          age          prev.150+
===============================================
Drew Brees          +1194           25            2  
Boomer Esiason      +1104           24            0  
Brian Griese        +1085           25            1  
Mark Brunell         +983           26            1  
Tony Romo            +890           26            0  
Joe Montana          +872           25            1  
Gus Frerotte         +822           25            1  
Don Majkowski        +813           25            1  
Jay Schroeder        +742           25            1  
Craig Erickson       +713           25            1  
Neil Lomax           +682           26            2  
Marc Bulger          +669           25            0   
Dave Krieg           +658           25            0  
Charlie Batch        +564           24            0  
Brett Favre          +561           23            0  
Randall Cunningham   +527           24            1  
Neil O'Donnell       +506           26            1  
Tom Brady            +501           24            0  
Eric Hipple          +484           24            0  
Tony Banks           +471           24            1  
Elvis Grbac          +446           25            0  
Rodney Peete         +443           24            1  
Jeff Blake           +420           24            0  
Scott Mitchell       +415           25            0  
Aaron Brooks         +403           24            0  
=====================================================

[NOTE: Through week 11, Anderson is on pace for approximately +1010 passing value added, which would place him between Griese and Brunell. Matt Schaub would also qualify for this list, at age 26, on pace for +728 passing value added through week 11].

The primary reason that the "Derek Andersons" dominate the "Brady Quinns" is because there are far fewer complete flukes from the former, compared to complete busts from the latter. Excluding Romo, whose breakout was last year, only 8% (2/25) of the "Andersons" started (i.e., threw 150+ pass attempts) in two or fewer seasons after their breakout--Craig Erickson and Jeff Kemp. Excluding the first rounders still playing who have yet to get to 3 starting seasons, 37% (17/46) of the "Quinns" started 2 or fewer seasons in their careers.

Of the players who reached at least three starting seasons, slightly over half (12 of 23) of the "Andersons" would post at least three more seasons of at least 400+ passing value added. The "Quinns" posted a similar rate, at 14 of 29. So, after the complete busts were removed, the "Quinns" and "Andersons" were about even in terms of number of consistent starters.

But what about the stars, and the really big seasons? 57% of the "Andersons" who started three or more seasons after their breakout posted at least one 1000+ passing value season. 45% of the "Quinns" who started three or more seasons posted at least one 1000+ passing value added season.

Even excluding the busts who were not given more than a couple of opportunities, the "Quinns" also had alot more poor starting seasons than the "Andersons". Of those that started three or more seasons, 13 (45%) of the "Quinns" were above +400 passing value added in 25% or fewer of their starting seasons. In other words, alot of the "Quinns" have lingered around to put up alot of mediocre to bad seasons, with the poster boys being the likes of Harrington, Mirer, and Dilfer. 6 (26%) of the "Andersons" were above +400 passing value added in 25% or fewer of their starting seasons.

I'll modify an old saying here. A quarterback in hand is worth two in the draft. Knowing that a lesser regarded quarterback has had a successful season early in his career (which rarely happens) swings the odds in favor of the quarterback who has actually shown something on the field, rather than the higher end prospect with potential.

As to my first question, who is more likely to have the better career, the answer is Anderson based on history. At this point, there is still a good chance Quinn simply does not have what it takes to be a starter, in which case Anderson is the correct answer by default. Even if Quinn does end up starting, the first rounders are no more likely to put up big seasons, or be a long term starter. Anderson is only 24 years old, so his upside is about the same as Quinn's right now, if not a little higher, with far less downside.

As for my second question, which may have seemed laughable, I think for much the same reason, Anderson would be worth a first and third round pick based on history. I guess this depends on how you view the value of the first round pick. If you are confident that you will nail the first round pick and draft like Bill Polian or Belichek/Pioli, then you wouldn't trade it. But then again, you wouldn't be looking for a quarterback in the first place. History would suggest that Anderson is worth far more than a non-first overall first round draft pick, if you were going to use that draft pick on a quarterback. Sure, he might be the next Scott Mitchell, Elvis Grbac or Gus Frerotte, but if you keep the pick, you have an even better chance of getting the next Mirer, Marinovich, McNown, Malone, McGwire or Maddox. If I were a team in need of a quarterback for next season, I would at least have to have my director of pro scouting reviewing every pass Anderson threw this year, to see if he was worth the first and third round picks, if the Browns did not franchise or sign him to a longer deal.

Conversely, the Browns know far more than others about the progress of Quinn versus Anderson in practice. If they are confident that Quinn can duplicate the success of Anderson, then they can accept a first and a third and let him go. But if they are not, it would be a huge error to make a 24 year old quarterback available.

33 Comments | Posted in General

Defining Moment of the Weekend: Broncos @ Bears

Posted by Chase Stuart on November 27, 2007

If you missed Doug's earlier post today, please be sure to check out the new Franchise index pages for PFR.

Here’s my vote for the Samsung HDTV Defining Moment of the Weekend. If you like it, please vote here saying you do:

With a 4-6 record, Chicago knew that a home loss on Sunday would all but eliminate the Bears from the 2007 post-season. Chicago was down by seven at halftime, before Devin Hester returned a punt 75 yards to tie the game. Later in the third quarter, Hester broke another tie with an 88 yard kick return to the house. Two more Denver scores left Chicago down 14 with just over five minutes remaining. The Bears would close the gap to seven, before getting the ball back with 2:58 to go, on the Chicago 35 yard-line. With just 32 seconds remaining, the Bears had reached the Denver three yard-line.

On 4th and goal, Rex Grossman came to the line of scrimmage in a single back set with two receivers to his left, and Bernard Berrian split to the right. Denver showed blitz with eight in the box, and sent all eight off the snap of the ball. Grossman took a one step drop, pump faked, and then lobbed a pass into the end zone where All Pro cornerback Champ Bailey was covering Berrian.

The throw was near the right sideline, causing Berrian to turn around just before the ball arrived. Grossman’s pass was short, but Berrian came back to the ball, dragged his left knee, extended both hands, and caught it just before it hit the ground. He cradled his left hand under the ball, while dragging his right sneaker, maintaining possession throughout. The booth reviewed the catch, and it was clear that Berrian’s reception was as legal as it was exceptional. It may turn out to be the defining moment of the season for the Bears, who would win in overtime on a 39-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

4 Comments | Posted in General

Franchise index pages

Posted by Doug on November 27, 2007

4 Comments | Posted in General

Random Trivia: touchdown scoring

Posted by Doug on November 26, 2007

As I was perusing Deion Sanders' page at the new p-f-r, I noticed that he had scored touchdowns on kick returns, punt returns, fumble returns, and interception returns. How many players have done that? In addition to Sanders, five: Woodley Lewis, Lemar Parrish, Goldie Sellers, Rod Woodson, and the guy who will be the answer to the following trivia question.

Sanders also has receiving touchdowns, making him one of 13 players in NFL history to score in five of the six categories (rush, receive, kick return, punt return, fumble return, interception return). The other 12 were all finished playing by 1971.

But Deion never got a rushing touchdown. Who is the only player in NFL history to score a TD in all six categories?

ANSWER UPDATE: As was quickly guessed in the comments, Bill Dudley is the guy. As was also pointed out in the comments, Dudley also had passing TDs and one "other TD." Finally, if you count postseason games, then Deion did indeed score in all six categories. Thanks to all commenters for their contributions.

9 Comments | Posted in Trivia

The 2007 Vikings

Posted by Chase Stuart on November 23, 2007

Football commentators like to say that running and stopping the run are the keys to success. By that measure, no team has been as successful this year as Minnesota. The Vikings lead the NFL in yards per rush, averaging an incredible 5.95 yards per carry. Since the merger, the 1997 Detroit Lions have the highest yards per rush average in a season, at 5.51. Last year's Falcons ranked second at 5.47, and no other team was even close to averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Further, the 2007 Vikings are allowing just 2.88 yards per carry. Last season, the Vikings allowed 2.83 yards per rush, which was the third lowest mark since the merger. The 2000 Ravens (2.69) and 1998 Chargers (2.70) have the lowest two averages since 1970. That Ravens team won the Super Bowl, while San Diego rostered two QBs that would throw 15 INTs or more that season.

It probably goes without saying that the 2007 Vikings differential (5.95 offensive yards per carry, 2.88 yards defensive yards per carry allowed) is the highest of any team since the merger. But that 3.07 margin isn't just the highest -- it's not even close. No team has even come close to a difference of two yards per carry between their offensive and defensive numbers. Take a look at the biggest differences since the merger:


tm yr OYPC DYPC Diff Record
ram 1984 5.29 3.56 1.73 10-6-0
atl 2006 5.47 3.75 1.72 7-9-0
det 1997 5.51 3.89 1.62 9-7-0
rav 2000 4.30 2.69 1.61 12-4-0
det 1989 4.88 3.35 1.53 7-9-0
det 1994 5.12 3.63 1.49 9-7-0
jax 2006 4.95 3.48 1.47 8-8-0
rav 2003 4.83 3.43 1.40 10-6-0
dal 1974 4.53 3.22 1.31 8-6-0
pit 1976 4.55 3.25 1.30 10-4-0

What's interesting about that list is the lack of great teams. The '76 Steelers were excellent, as were the 2000 Ravens. But there are lots of seemingly mediocre teams, surprising given the success of their offensive and defensive running games. And, of course, this year's Vikings are just 4-6.

The 2006 Super Bowl Champion Colts allowed the most rushing yards per carry since the merger. Here are the bottom teams since 1970, sorted by differential:


tm yr OYPC DYPC Diff Record
nwe 1973 3.55 5.09 -1.54 5-9-0
clt 1992 2.91 4.39 -1.48 9-7-0
nwe 1986 2.93 4.32 -1.39 11-5-0
nwe 1994 2.79 4.17 -1.38 10-6-0
det 1985 3.40 4.76 -1.36 7-9-0
clt 2006 4.01 5.33 -1.32 12-4-0
kan 1976 3.76 5.06 -1.30 5-9-0

Believe it or not, three of the worst seven teams in rushing differential ended up making the playoffs. One of them won the Super Bowl.

4 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

Miami Dolphins: the best winless team ever

Posted by Doug on November 21, 2007

Since the merger, there have been 12 teams, including the 2007 Dolphins, that were winless through the first 11 weeks of the season.

According to the simple rating system, this year's Dolphins are easily the best of the bunch. Here they are chronologically:

          Rating   SOS
================================
sdg 1975  -10.3    2.6    0-11-0
tam 1976  -18.6   -0.9    0-11-0
tam 1977  -16.0   -3.4    0-11-0
nor 1980  -14.0    0.6    0-11-0
bal 1982   -9.1    4.6    0- 8-1
buf 1984  -10.5    4.0    0-11-0
ind 1986  -11.8    3.1    0-11-0
cin 1993  -13.8   -0.1    0- 9-0
ind 1997  -10.4    0.0    0-10-0
sdg 2000   -7.1    3.0    0-10-0
det 2001   -8.4    1.5    0-10-0
mia 2007   -5.4    3.7    0-10-0

By the simple rating system's calculations, they have had the 4th-hardest schedule in the league so far (behind only the Redskins, Bills, and Chargers), and have a point margin of "only" about -9.

In fact, not only are the Dolphins the best of the winless teams through 11 weeks, they're better than all but one of the 34 teams with one-win teams since the merger.

8 Comments | Posted in General

More new features

Posted by Doug on November 20, 2007

1. There is now a makeshift front page where you can keep track of the progress.

2. The non-NFL leagues (i.e. the APFA, AAFC, and AFL) have been added. Here is the 1947 AAFC, for instance.

3. From each league page, you can click on "Week-by-Week Games" at the top to get a week-by-week log of the season. Here is the 1998 NFL.

4. Near the top of each league page is a drop-down box that allows you to select a stat category and get a list of all the players' numbers in that category in that year. This, along with the sortable columns, allows you to easily discover facts like: Willie Belton was 21st in the league in kick return yards in 1972.

We're actually not too far from the grand opening of New P-F-R. Exciting stuff.

Feedback still welcome. Post it in the comments.

3 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Year page prototypes

Posted by Doug on November 20, 2007

Right now, it's just NFL. No AFL or AAFC yet. But they'll be here soon. The Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams need to be added, as do postseason results and a few other odds and ends, but this will give you a pretty good feel for how they'll look.

Index of year pages

This is where the sortability of the tables really comes in handy.

4 Comments | Posted in General, P-F-R News

Defining Moment of the Weekend: Browns @ Ravens

Posted by Chase Stuart on November 19, 2007

You guys know the drill by now. Here's the Samsung HDTV Defining Moment of the Weekend

It's probably no surprise what I thought was the defining moment this week. Please vote for that one, or submit your own.

The new Kardiac Kids in Cleveland pushed the envelope just a bit further this week. The Browns won a game on Sunday when they were losing with triple zeroes on the clock. Two weeks ago, Cleveland overcame an 18 point deficit against Seattle and won in overtime. Last week, kicker Phil Dawson fell short on a 52-yard attempt that would have tied the game in Pittsburgh. But on Sunday, Cleveland fans saw the Browns’ most exciting finish yet.

Brodney Pool’s 100-yard interception return for a score gave Cleveland a 27-14 lead in Baltimore, and a season sweep of the Ravens seemed inevitable. But four fourth quarter scores gave the Ravens a 30-27 lead with just 26 seconds remaining. Joshua Cribbs returned the ensuing kick to the Cleveland 43, and then two Derek Anderson completions put Cleveland on the Baltimore 33-yard line. Phil Dawson lined up for yet another game-tying, 50+ yard kick.

Dawson lined up on the left has hmark, and booted the ball high and to the right. As it reached the end zone, it began curving back towards the left, clanked off the left upright…and then bounced off the crossbar, before falling back towards the kicker into the end zone. The kick was ruled no good, the clock read 0:00, and the Ravens left the field and went to the locker room. But a closer view, perhaps on HD, would tell the viewer that the ball hit the curved center support behind the crossbar, meaning it went over the crossbar and through the uprights. By NFL rules, once the ball meets those criteria, the field goal is good, regardless of where the ball lands. The referees changed the call on the field after a discussion, and the Browns wound up winning in overtime on another Dawson kick. But his penultimate kick of the day was the defining moment of week 11 in the NFL.

For those not familiar with the Kardiac Kids (like one of my buddies in an earlier attempt to stuff the ballot box), here's a cool Wikipedia entry on them.

1 Comment | Posted in General

Left and right

Posted by Doug on November 19, 2007

Moneyball author Michael Lewis's recent book, The Blind Side, was about, among many other things, the rise in status and importance of the left tackle position in NFL football. I haven't read The Blind Side yet, so what I'm going to say here might have been covered in detail in the book. If so, please let me know about it in the comments.

I was browsing the new p-f-r player pages last week and landed on Jackie Slater's, which informed me that Slater, one of the best tackles in NFL history, was a right tackle for his entire career. Here's the timeline:

Slater's rookie year was 1976, at which time the incumbent left tackle was Doug France, a good young prospect himself who would be named all-pro in 1977, 1978, and 1980. Slater was a backup for his first three years, then took over as the starting right tackle in his fourth season, 1979. So it makes sense that he wouldn't play the left side at this point. France was older, more experienced, and more decorated. In 1981, France lost his starting job (probably due to injury, I'm not sure) and the LT slot was shared by Slater and second-year man Irv Pankey. The next season it was Pankey, not Slater, who would stay on the left side. Surely in today's NFL, Slater would have moved to left tackle and Pankey would have played the right side.

This got me thinking about how recent a phenomenon the left/right tackle split is. So I looked at all Pro Bowl tackles during each decade, and noted which side they played on. Here is the summary:

Pro Bowl Tackles

         Left       Right
=========================
2000s     45         10
1990s     57         10
1980s     42         21
1970s     23         42
1960s     56         49
1950s     35         20

Something else I was unaware of is that there is a left/right distinction at guard too, though not as pronounced as at tackle:

Pro Bowl Guards

         Left       Right
=========================
2000s     28         17
1990s     51         16
1980s     39         24
1970s     30         31
1960s     57         46
1950s     23         18

Finally, here are all players who have made at least three Pro Bowls in seasons where they started primarily at right tackle:

+-------------------+-------+------+----------+
| name              | first | last | how_many |
+-------------------+-------+------+----------+
| Forrest Gregg     |  1959 | 1968 |        9 |
| George Kunz       |  1969 | 1977 |        8 |
| Jackie Slater     |  1983 | 1990 |        7 |
| Ron Mix           |  1961 | 1968 |        7 |
| Ron Yary          |  1971 | 1977 |        7 |
| Dan Dierdorf      |  1974 | 1980 |        6 |
| Rayfield Wright   |  1971 | 1976 |        6 |
| Mike McCormack    |  1951 | 1962 |        6 |
| Bob Brown         |  1965 | 1971 |        6 |
| Marvin Powell     |  1979 | 1983 |        5 |
| Russ Washington   |  1974 | 1979 |        5 |
| Frank Varrichione |  1955 | 1962 |        5 |
| Bob St. Clair     |  1956 | 1961 |        5 |
| Willie Anderson   |  2003 | 2006 |        4 |
| Erik Williams     |  1993 | 1999 |        4 |
| Ernie McMillan    |  1965 | 1970 |        4 |
| Lincoln Kennedy   |  2000 | 2002 |        3 |
| Harry Schuh       |  1967 | 1970 |        3 |
| Lee Artoe         |  1940 | 1942 |        3 |
| Winston Hill      |  1971 | 1973 |        3 |
+-------------------+-------+------+----------+

Bengal fans: why does Willie Anderson play the right side?

11 Comments | Posted in General, History

Team page prototypes

Posted by Doug on November 15, 2007

There is still some work to be done here, and not all of the links work, but it should be enough to give you an idea of what the team pages are going to look like:

Some team pages

Please report bugs and/or give general suggestions in the comments to this post.

5 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Simple ratings through ten weeks

Posted by Doug on November 15, 2007

The system is described in detail here and here.

               OFFENSE          DEFENSE          OVERALL
           rating    SOS    rating    SOS    rating    SOS
===========================================================
nwe 2007   +17.5    -0.7     +8.0    +3.1    +25.5    +2.4
ind 2007    +8.5    +0.3     +6.1    +1.4    +14.6    +1.7
dal 2007   +13.1    +1.4     +0.1    +0.5    +13.1    +1.9
gnb 2007    +5.9    +1.7     +4.8    -0.7    +10.6    +1.1
pit 2007    +4.0    -2.9     +6.1    -1.2    +10.1    -4.1
sdg 2007    +4.2    +1.9     +2.6    +1.9     +6.8    +3.8
nyg 2007    +2.9    -0.3     +1.3    +1.2     +4.2    +0.9
phi 2007    +0.7    +0.9     +3.3    +2.0     +4.0    +3.0
was 2007    -1.2    +0.4     +2.9    +3.2     +1.8    +3.6
ten 2007    -1.4    +0.1     +3.1    -1.2     +1.7    -1.2
jax 2007    -0.7    +0.2     +2.0    -1.0     +1.3    -0.8
min 2007    -1.1    +1.7     +2.3    +2.0     +1.2    +3.6
tam 2007    -4.0    -1.0     +4.7    -0.5     +0.7    -1.5
sea 2007    -3.6    -3.6     +4.1    -1.5     +0.4    -5.1
chi 2007    -2.6    +0.7     +2.6    +2.2     +0.0    +2.9
cle 2007    +7.8    +0.7     -7.8    +0.3     -0.0    +1.0
det 2007    +4.5    +1.1     -4.8    -2.0     -0.3    -0.8
buf 2007    -6.3    -1.0     +5.4    +2.6     -0.9    +1.6
cin 2007    +4.9    +1.8     -7.5    -0.9     -2.6    +0.9
hou 2007    +2.6    +1.2     -5.7    -1.8     -3.1    -0.6
kan 2007    -6.6    -0.3     +2.7    +0.7     -3.9    +0.4
ari 2007    -0.2    +0.1     -4.2    -3.7     -4.4    -3.6
oak 2007    -5.4    -1.7     +0.3    +0.6     -5.1    -1.1
nor 2007    +1.9    +0.7     -7.1    -3.6     -5.2    -2.9
mia 2007    -1.6    +0.0     -4.1    +3.2     -5.7    +3.3
den 2007    -1.4    +2.8     -4.3    +0.9     -5.8    +3.7
nyj 2007    -1.8    +1.7     -4.0    +0.1     -5.8    +1.9
car 2007    -5.9    -1.4     -0.5    -1.7     -6.5    -3.0
atl 2007    -7.3    -1.1     -1.0    -2.0     -8.3    -3.1
bal 2007    -9.4    -3.5     +1.0    -0.5     -8.5    -4.0
sfo 2007   -10.0    -0.4     -4.7    -2.6    -14.7    -2.9
stl 2007    -7.7    -1.6     -7.5    -1.2    -15.2    -2.8

Comments Off | Posted in General

Defining Moment of the Weekend – Colts @ Chargers

Posted by Chase Stuart on November 14, 2007

Samsung HDTV Defining Moment of the Weekend

Here's my entry. I hope you'll vote for that one or submit your own.

Despite throwing five interceptions in the first 58 minutes of the game, Peyton Manning had his Colts ready to steal a win against the host Chargers. As Adam Vinatieri lined up for a 29-yard field goal to give Indianapolis the lead, no one could have guessed that the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history would push the ball wide right. A careful viewer, perhaps one with HD, might also have noticed that the field goal attempt likely would have been good had Vinatieri kicked from five yards closer–the same five yards the Colts lost when they were whistled for illegal procedure trying to draw the Chargers offsides.

Despite missing a ton of key players, the Colts almost beat one of the best teams in the league on the road, even after allowing two special teams return scores. But Vinatieri’s missed shot left an indelible mark on the remainder of the season.

The Colts all but lost their chance at the #1 seed in the AFC, as New England won’t lose three games off its pace during the remaining seven weeks. Indianapolis also fell into a tie with Pittsburgh for the all important #2 seed and the bye, and is only one game up on division rivals Jacksonville and Tennessee. Pittsburgh and New England breathed huge sighs of relief following the kick, as their road to Arizona just got a lot less bumpy. San Diego is now alone atop the AFC West, and is poised to win it with a softer second half schedule.

Fantasy players can rejoice, too. The Colts — historically known for resting Manning, Harrison and Wayne — should need all of them down the stretch, fighting for potentially the #2 seed and maybe even the AFC South. Vinatieri’s kick just might end up being the defining moment of the fantasy season.

1 Comment | Posted in General

Random Browns trivia

Posted by Doug on November 14, 2007

Only 11 times since 1950 has a team scored more points (28) on fewer total offensive yards (163) than the Browns had last weekend against Pittsburgh.

Ten of those 11 times, the team won. Of course, most teams scoring more than 28 points win, but still....

8 Comments | Posted in General, History, Trivia

Home Field Advantage and Team Efficiency Stats

Posted by Jason Lisk on November 13, 2007

I'm going to take a look at home field advantage, and whether a team's offensive and defensive passing or rushing efficiency stats have any relationship. When I use the term "home field advantage", or "HFA" here, what I really mean is "the difference between the advantage of playing at home, and the disadvantage of playing on the road." But that does not exactly flow off the tongue, so just know that not every thing that creates the difference has to do with the home field or characteristics of the home team.

Also, while the team efficiency stats (which you can find on each team's page as well as the yearly team stats pages) are not perfect, but they are much better than looking at raw yardage numbers. For example, if a team is averaging 4.0 yards a carry, does this mean the team is consistently gaining 4 to 5 yards on a lot of attempts, or that the team is more like a 3.5 yards per carry team, but one with a few big runs boosting the numbers? We cannot answer that as to any particular team, but it is better than nothing. With that in mind, let's look at what team characteristics might be tied to increasing or decreasing home field advantage.

I looked at all teams that finished between 6-10 and 10-6 since Jacksonville and Carolina joined the league (1995-2006). My choice of those records is partially arbitrary-- I could have just as easily narrowed it to 9-7/7-9, or expanded it to 11-5/5-11. But my goal was to look at the middle class of the NFL, teams that generally have some strengths but also some flaws. I felt this dividing line would accomplish that.

For each team, I then looked at the home/road splits in record, and compared it to the team's offensive yards per rush attempt, offensive yards per pass attempt, defensive yards allowed per rush attempt, and defensive yards allowed per pass attempt.

210 total teams finished between 6-10 and 10-6 during the 12 seasons reviewed, an average of over 17 per season--so slightly more than half the teams in the league on average. The entire population averaged 0.586 win percentage at home and 0.417 win percentage on the road, for a +0.169 difference. This would equate to +1.36 more home wins than road wins over the course of a 16 game schedule for the average team.

Two of the categories showed no correlation with changes in home field advantage. These were offensive yards per rush attempt, and defensive yards allowed per pass attempt. Within this population, as both team offensive yards per rush attempt and defensive yards allowed per pass attempt improved, the team's winning percentage, both home and road, improved. However, the differences between home and road stayed fairly constant.

Which leads to the other two categories. Let's start with the stronger of the two, defensive rush yards allowed per attempt. I divided the 210 teams into five roughly equal tiers based on rush defense: excellent (3.6 ypa or lower), above average (3.7 to 3.9), average (4.0 to 4.1), below average (4.2 to 4.4), and poor (4.5 or higher). Here are the home/road splits in winning percentage:

category    no.     home          road          difference
===============================================
excellent   43      .606          .395          +.211
above avg   50      .614          .403          +.211
average     37      .622          .416          +.206
below avg   41      .537          .419          +.117
poor        39      .548          .460          +.088
===============================================

It looks like a direct relationship between rush defense and home field advantage, as the better run defenses show an above average home/road difference, while the below average defenses have small splits.

Here are the pass offense numbers, sorted by excellent (7.5 or more ypa), above average (7.1 to 7.4), average (6.7 to 7.0), below average (6.3 to 6.6) and poor (6.2 or lower).

category    no.     home          road          difference
===============================================
excellent   34      .614          .471          +.143
above avg   36      .608          .429          +.179
average     45      .574          .424          +.150
below avg   50      .578          .396          +.182
poor        35      .568          .382          +.186
===============================================

These numbers are not nearly as pronounced as the rush defense. There is some tendency for pass offense to be inversely related to home field advantage, as the excellent group is a little below average in home/road difference, and the below average and poor groups perform above average in that respect. However, when we cross-reference rush defense and pass offense, two types of teams emerge that show significant differences in home field advantage.

Fifty-two teams had both an above average or excellent rush defense (3.9 or fewer yards allowed per rush attempt) and a below average or poor pass offense (6.6 or fewer yards per pass attempt). These run stopping, poor passing teams combined to win .604 at home and only .363 on the road, for a difference of +.241. That equates to almost two more home wins than road wins per season on average.

17 of the 52 (32.7%) had at least 3 more home wins than road wins. Only three of these teams finished a season with more road wins than home wins (and all finished with exactly one more road win).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there were thirty-five teams that finished with a below average or poor rush defense (4.2 or more yards allowed per rush) and an above average or excellent pass offense (7.1 or more yards per pass attempt). These "good passing, can't stop the run" teams won .561 at home and .473 on the road, for a difference of +.088. That is an average of +0.70 more wins at home a season.

Only 6 of the 35 (17.1%) "good passing, can't stop the run" teams won at least 3 more home games than road games. Of these six, three came from Kansas City and Denver, two of the strongest home field advantages in the league. The other three were from dome teams (Detroit 1995, Minnesota 2003, Saint Louis 2004), two of which play in a division with outdoor cold weather rivals.

Almost half of these teams (17 of 35) finished with at least as many road wins as home wins. The 1997 Bengals and 2000 Saints both finished with 4 more road wins than home wins.

If the strength of rush defense does increase home field advantage, there is a potential explanation. If a team is better at stopping the run, it is conceivable that such a team would be somewhat more likely to place its opponent into more 3rd and long situations. This might translate to a bigger advantage at home, where the offense is subject to crowd noise, than on the road, where the home crowd would presumably be quiet to aid the offense. On the other hand, relatively poor passing offense could increase the road disadvantage, for much the same reasons.

5 Comments | Posted in Home Field Advantage

Keeping track of the changes

Posted by Doug on November 12, 2007

As I mentioned last week, p-f-r is about to undergo a radical change for the better. Prototypes of new pages are going to start coming quickly, so I'm going to be posting here, probably several times a week, to point you to the rough drafts of the new pages and point out new features. The main goal is to get your feedback. If you see something amiss, we obviously need to know about that so we can get it cleaned up. If you have an idea for a feature to add, there is no better time than now to throw it out there. Even if I don't respond to every suggestion, rest assured that we are reading and considering them all. (At some point in the near future, I'll even explain this mysterious "we" that I keep using).

For today, here is the master list of coaches, with links to a page for each coach in NFL history.

Note that the master table is sortable. Click on a header and watch the table sort itself according to that column. Also note that you can click on CSV at the bottom of the page to convert the table to raw comma-delimited text for easy importing into whatever you want to easily import it into. These two table features, by the way, are now in place at the player pages as well.

7 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Sneak peek at the new p-f-r

Posted by Doug on November 9, 2007

I've made vague allusions to this before, but the time has finally come to tell all (or at least tell most).

P-f-r has recently acquired a lot of new data. In particular, we will soon have a page for every player and coach in NFL/AFL/AAFC/APFA history, including old-timers who barely played at all, including defensive players and offensive linemen, and even punters. Those pages will also include some additional stats that we don't currently have, like games started, specific position played (e.g. RDT as opposed to just DL), times sacked, fumbles, fumble recoveries, interceptions, sacks, defensive TDs, kick and punt return data, and more. Also, all stats will be complete for all players, so some of the annoying gaps at p-f-r will be filled. Kordell Stewart's receiving stats, Walter Payton's passing stats, Tom Tupa's punting numbers, Williams Perry's rushing, all a player's stats will appear on his page.

We'll also have some additional biographical information, such as height, weight, birthdate, birthplace, full name, draft round, draft year, and all colleges attended for all players. We'll have all-pro designations in addition to the pro bowl information we already have. We'll have Hall of Fame information.

We'll have much more detailed team stats, including team game logs. Here, for example, is a summary of the 1972 Dolphins' 12th win:

Miami Dolphins 37, New England Patriots 21, at New England
                      mia        nwe
First downs            29         14
Rushes                 51         15
Rush yards            304        110
Passes                 21         29
Completed              11         15
Pass yards            201        155
Had intercepted         2          2
Sacked                  1          4
Yards lost              4         48
Tot net yards         501        217
Fumbles - lost       1- 1       0- 0
Pen - yards        11-115      6- 63

And it will all be hyper-connected in the natural way that has been the hallmark of the sports-reference sites since the beginning.

It's finally time to pull back the curtain on a very preliminary set of player pages. I'm doing this because I'm excited about the future of the site, and I can't hold it in any longer, and also to get feedback from you. So here you are:

An incomplete index of player pages

Season, career, and active leaderboards

UPDATE: here is a link to a temporary front page where you can track all the progress of the new site.

In order to contrast the difference between the current and future player pages, check out Deion Sanders (new old), Mike Singletary (new old), Brian Mitchell (new old), Jackie Slater (new old), Ray Guy (new (there is no old)).

The team pages and everything else at the site will be revamped to a similar degree in the coming weeks. For now, let me know what you think of the player pages and leaderboards. A few things to keep in mind:

  • The links to team pages, year pages, game logs, etc. aren't working yet.
  • I know many will be disappointed to see the old-school p-f-r pre-formatted text tables replaced by html tables. I am too, a little, and I do understand that the tables will take a little getting used to. But there are lots of good reasons to use html tables rather than pre-formatted text, and the main reason I went with pre-formatted text when the site was new --- to keep the page sizes smaller --- isn't much of an issue anymore.
  • The pieces of the current pages that you don't see on these new pages, like college stats, college awards, and fantasy stats, will be added back in soon.

38 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Defining Moment of the Weekend – Eagles vs. Cowboys

Posted by Sean on November 6, 2007

Samsung HDTV Defining Moment of the Weekend

Living in Philly, I felt the need to submit one of Donovan McNabb's (many) mistakes on Sunday night as the game's defining moment. I hope you'll vote, argue, and submit your own.

Comments Off | Posted in General, Word from our Sponsors

Super Bowl Teams and Division Domination

Posted by Jason Lisk on November 6, 2007

This season, the Indianapolis Colts have already won all three games on the road against their divisional opponents. Last year, the Colts lost at Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee. This, of course, did not prevent the Colts from finishing 12-4, discovering a new defense in the playoffs, and winning the Super Bowl.

Ah-ha! You say. If a Super Bowl team, like the Colts last year, is going to lose, it is most likely going to be to a divisional opponent—a team that knows them inside and out.

As it turns out, this year's Colts already have more of a pedigree in line with prior Super Bowl teams than last year's team. The 2006 Colts were not only an aberration because they won a Super Bowl while finishing 32nd in total rushing yards and yards per carry in the regular season. Here are some facts regarding the Colts versus other Super Bowl and Conference Championship teams, and their performance against division opponents:

--The 2006 Colts were the first team to even appear in a Super Bowl since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 who had a non-winning record against division opponents. Even the 1979 Los Angeles Rams, the team with the worst record to appear in a Superbowl (9-7), were 5-1 in division play.

--The only other Super Bowl champion to have three division losses was 1995 Dallas, who was swept by Washington and went 5-3 in the NFC East.

--24 of 37 Super Bowl winners won at least 80% of their divisional games.

--Only four teams who lost a Super Bowl had three divisional losses: 1992 Buffalo, 1986 Denver, 1971 Miami, and 1970 Dallas.

--If we expand it to Conference Championship Game participants, the last team, prior to the 2006 Colts, to even advance to a Championship Game in the same season it lost at least half of its division games was 1989 Cleveland (3-3). Others on this short list include 1987 Minnesota (3-5; but 3 losses were by replacement players), 1985 Los Angeles Rams (3-3), 1984 Pittsburgh (3-3), 1982 New York Jets (2-2 in strike-shortened season), and 1971 San Fransisco (2-4).

Here is the breakdown of winning percentage in divisional, inter-conference, and intra-conference games, by Super Bowl Winners, Super Bowl Runners Up, and Conference Championship Game Teams, since 1970:

Category     Divisional		Inter-Conference	Intra-Conference
============================================================================	
SB Winners      222-45-1 (0.830)     133-34-1 (0.795)     104-28-0 (0.788)
SB Runners Up   222-52-0 (0.810)     112-44-2 (0.715)     96-39-1 (0.710)
Champ Game      379-133-4 (0.733)    245-102-2 (0.705)    188-83-0 (0.694)
============================================================================

Not only was the 2006 Colts performance against their division out of line with past Super Bowl teams, their road performance was as well. The 2006 Colts were the first team to appear in a Super Bowl who failed to win a road game against a division opponent. The only other Super Bowl winner to even have a losing record in divisional road games was 1979 Pittsburgh (1-2 on the road). 1988 Cincinnati (1-2) was the only Super Bowl loser to have a losing record in divisional road games. 15 of the 37 Super Bowl Winners (40.5%), and 13 of 37 Runners Up (35.1%), won all of their divisional road games.

Extending it out to all road games, the 2006 Colts (4-4 on the road) joined the 1997 Denver Broncos, and the aforementioned 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers, as the only Super Bowl Champions with a non-winning road record. 29 of the 37 Super Bowl Winners won at least 75% of their road games.

Here are the home/road splits for all teams appearing in the Super Bowl since 1970:

Category     Divisional		Inter-Conference	Intra-Conference
======================================================================	
HOME        234-36-1 (0.865)     137-23-1 (0.854)     107-27-0 (0.799)	
ROAD        210-61-0 (0.775)     108-55-0 (0.663)      93-40-0 (0.699)
======================================================================

It goes without saying that Super Bowl teams dominate pretty much everyone on their schedule. They just dominate their division a little more.

10 Comments | Posted in History

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