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For more from Chase and Jason, check out their work at Football Perspective and The Big Lead.

Rushing, passing, and sacking simplicity

Posted by Doug on December 17, 2007

As regular readers know, I frequently refer to a scheme that I call the "simple rating system." There are lots of rating systems out there, and I'm not saying the SRS is necessarily better than any of them in any particular sense. I just think it's, for lack of a better word, neat. It creates a set of rankings that are easily interpreted, that "add up," and that just generally make sense.

Here is the post where I explained all the nuts and bolts of the system. Since then, I (and Chase) have used it many times for various things. In this post I talked about decomposing a team's overall rating into an offensive and defensive component. To be more precise, I should probably say a "points scored" component and a "points allowed" component. As was pointed out in the comments, points scored is not a measure of just offense, and points allowed in not a measure of just defense.

Anyway, the point of this post is to apply that same thinking to other stats. Mathematically, there's no difference between points scored and, say, rushing yards. Or passing yards, or sacks, or turnovers. All you have to do is tell the machine that the "score" of the game was the rushing yards for and against and you've got schedule-adjusted rushing ratings. So I finally got around to doing the programming, and I now have Simple Ratings for rushing yards, passing yards, total yards, turnovers, sacks, and sack yards. (If you want to do Simple Ratings for rate stats, like yards-per-rush or sack percentage, it gets a little more complicated, but it can be done. I'm still working on the programming for that, and I'll show it to you when it's done. For now, we'll limit ourselves to counting stats).

So this post will be mostly a data dump with just a bit of commentary thrown in, but I'll follow up on it tomorrow with some (possibly) more interesting analysis that I'll preview after the dump.

All these rankings are for the period 1970--2006.

Points for

best

MIN  1998    13.2    15-1-0
STL  2000    12.6    10-6-0
WAS  1983    11.7    14-2-0
WAS  1991    11.7    14-2-0
IND  2004    11.7    12-4-0
SDG  1982    10.5     6-3-0
BUF  1975    10.4     8-6-0
STL  2001    10.4    14-2-0
KAN  2004    10.0     7-9-0
SDG  2006    10.0    14-2-0


Remember that the units on SRS (in this case) are points per game. The 1998 Vikings were, after taking into account their schedule, 13.2 points per game better than an average team.

You might be sensing some era bias here. I'll address that in the next post.

And yes, to answer the inevitable question, the 2007 Pats will almost certainly rank first in many of the offensive (and margin) categories when the season is over.

worst

PHI  1998   -12.3    3-13-0
IND  1991   -11.5    1-15-0
TAM  1977   -11.1    2-12-0
TAM  1976   -10.8    0-14-0
OAK  2006   -10.3    2-14-0
SEA  1992    -9.8    2-14-0
ATL  1974    -9.7    3-11-0
BUF  1985    -9.5    2-14-0
PHI  1972    -9.2    2-11-1
BOS  1970    -9.1    2-12-0

Points against

best

MIN  1971     9.9    11-3-0
TAM  2002     9.8    12-4-0
PIT  1976     9.6    10-4-0
DEN  1977     9.4    12-2-0
CHI  1985     9.4    15-1-0
MIN  1970     9.2    12-2-0
PIT  1975     8.8    12-2-0
RAM  1975     8.7    12-2-0
BAL  1971     8.5    10-4-0

MIA  1973     8.2    12-2-0

worst

SEA  1976   -12.9    2-12-0
HOU  1973   -12.3    1-13-0
BAL  1981   -12.0    2-14-0
NWE  1972   -11.1    3-11-0
TAM  1986   -10.8    2-14-0
IND  2001    -9.8    6-10-0
STL  2000    -9.5    10-6-0
NOR  1977    -9.4    3-11-0
NOR  1980    -9.4    1-15-0
BUF  1971    -8.9    1-13-0

Points margin

best

WAS  1991    16.6    14-2-0
CHI  1985    15.9    15-1-0
PIT  1976    15.3    10-4-0
GNB  1996    15.3    13-3-0
MIN  1970    15.1    12-2-0
MIN  1998    14.9    15-1-0
PIT  1975    14.2    12-2-0
DET  1970    14.0    10-4-0
WAS  1983    13.9    14-2-0
RAM  1973    13.4    12-2-0

worst

TAM  1976   -19.7    0-14-0
NWE  1972   -17.4    3-11-0
IND  1991   -17.3    1-15-0
HOU  1973   -16.7    1-13-0
BOS  1970   -15.9    2-12-0
BAL  1981   -15.8    2-14-0
TAM  1986   -15.4    2-14-0
ARI  2000   -15.2    3-13-0
SEA  1976   -15.1    2-12-0
PHI  1972   -14.6    2-11-1

Rushing yards for

best

BUF  1975    72.9     8-6-0
ATL  2006    72.0     7-9-0
PIT  1976    66.9    10-4-0
BUF  1973    65.4     9-5-0
PIT  2001    63.8    13-3-0
NWE  1976    62.2    11-3-0
MIA  1972    62.1    14-0-0
CHI  1984    61.8    10-6-0
RAM  1973    61.4    12-2-0
DEN  2005    57.4    13-3-0

In 1975, Buffalo averaged 67 rushing yards per game more than an average 1975 team. They played teams that, after taking into account the teams they played against, were 5.9 rush yards per game better than average, on average. So Buffalo's rating is 67 + 5.9 = 72.9, meaning that, after considering their schedule, they were 73 yards per game better than an average 1975 team.

worst

HOU  1971   -58.0     4-9-1
NOR  1972   -56.2    2-11-1
SEA  1976   -53.6    2-12-0
TAM  1983   -52.5    2-14-0
GNB  1977   -51.0    4-10-0
TAM  1977   -50.3    2-12-0
STL  1972   -49.5     4-9-1
SDG  2000   -48.3    1-15-0
WAS  1973   -47.9    10-4-0
CAR  2000   -47.0     7-9-0

Rushing yards against

best


BAL  2000    60.2    12-4-0
BAL  1971    53.0    10-4-0
PIT  1976    47.3    10-4-0
RAM  1973    46.1    12-2-0
WAS  1983    46.0    14-2-0
BAL  2006    45.8    13-3-0
MIN  2006    45.4    6-10-0
SDG  1998    42.7    5-11-0
DEN  1977    42.6    12-2-0
SDG  2004    42.0    12-4-0

worst

SEA  1976   -62.9    2-12-0
KAN  1977   -62.0    2-12-0
NOR  1980   -60.8    1-15-0
SEA  1982   -59.6     4-5-0
NOR  1977   -59.2    3-11-0
CLE  1999   -58.2    2-14-0
NWE  1973   -54.7     5-9-0
NWE  1990   -53.5    1-15-0
HOU  1983   -53.2    2-14-0
IND  2006   -51.6    12-4-0

Rushing yards margin

best

PIT  1976   114.2    10-4-0
RAM  1973   107.4    12-2-0
CHI  1984   102.4    10-6-0
PIT  2001   100.2    13-3-0
DEN  2005    92.7    13-3-0
BAL  2000    88.0    12-4-0
NWE  1976    87.7    11-3-0
RAM  1984    87.4    10-6-0
WAS  1983    84.2    14-2-0
BUF  1975    83.5     8-6-0

worst

SEA  1976  -116.5    2-12-0
NOR  1980   -99.7    1-15-0
SEA  1982   -89.6     4-5-0
NWE  1973   -89.2     5-9-0
IND  1991   -85.6    1-15-0
NWE  1990   -83.8    1-15-0
CLE  1999   -82.8    2-14-0
ATL  1989   -79.6    3-13-0
IND  1993   -79.2    4-12-0
MIA  1988   -78.7    6-10-0

Passing yards for

best

SDG  1982   117.6     6-3-0
STL  2000   115.4    10-6-0
SDG  1985   111.4     8-8-0
HOU  1990   108.5     9-7-0
MIA  1984   108.2    14-2-0
SDG  1980    96.7    11-5-0
SDG  1981    94.0    10-6-0
MIA  1988    89.5    6-10-0
SDG  1983    86.0    6-10-0
STL  2001    85.9    14-2-0

worst

SFO  2005   -82.4    4-12-0
CHI  2004   -81.8    5-11-0
PHI  1999   -81.7    5-11-0
CIN  2000   -81.0    4-12-0
KAN  1979   -80.6     7-9-0
CHI  1993   -78.6     7-9-0
SEA  1992   -76.5    2-14-0
PIT  1989   -75.1     9-7-0
CHI  2005   -75.1    11-5-0
IND  1984   -74.2    4-12-0

Passing yards against

best

MIA  1982    91.3     7-2-0
WAS  1980    65.4    6-10-0
BUF  1980    59.6    11-5-0
PHI  1991    57.0    10-6-0
PIT  1990    55.5     9-7-0
CHI  1984    54.1    10-6-0
KAN  1989    53.4     8-7-1
NOR  1984    52.9     7-9-0
TAM  2002    51.8    12-4-0
NWE  1988    50.8     9-7-0

worst

NYJ  1979   -71.0     8-8-0
SDG  1985   -67.7     8-8-0
SDG  1981   -66.5    10-6-0
NYJ  1986   -63.4    10-6-0
SFO  2005   -63.1    4-12-0
BUF  1975   -58.3     8-6-0
NOR  1970   -58.2    2-11-1
SDG  1984   -56.2     7-9-0
ATL  1995   -55.8     9-7-0
DET  2002   -55.8    3-13-0

Passing yards margin

best

HOU  1990   109.4     9-7-0
MIA  1984   102.1    14-2-0
STL  2001   101.0    14-2-0
SDG  1980   100.8    11-5-0
IND  2006    99.8    12-4-0
CIN  1975    99.2    11-3-0
NOR  2006    97.8    10-6-0
STL  2000    92.6    10-6-0
IND  2003    90.1    12-4-0
MIN  1976    89.6    11-2-1

worst

SFO  2005  -145.5    4-12-0
CIN  2000  -113.9    4-12-0
ATL  1985   -91.0    4-12-0
IND  1994   -88.7     8-8-0
CIN  1992   -88.6    5-11-0
BAL  1983   -85.9     7-9-0
PIT  1989   -84.3     9-7-0
BUF  1973   -82.3     9-5-0
KAN  1979   -81.2     7-9-0
DET  2002   -81.0    3-13-0

Total yards for

best

SDG  1982   131.0     6-3-0
STL  2000   112.4    10-6-0
MIA  1984   111.6    14-2-0
SFO  1998   110.9    12-4-0
BUF  1975   100.9     8-6-0
KAN  2004    99.7     7-9-0
SFO  1993    96.8    10-6-0
SDG  1981    95.7    10-6-0
STL  2001    94.5    14-2-0
CIN  1986    94.3    10-6-0

worst

HOU  2002  -114.9    4-12-0
CHI  2004  -114.4    5-11-0
TAM  1977  -114.2    2-12-0
IND  1991  -108.7    1-15-0
TAM  1976  -106.4    0-14-0
DET  1988  -104.2    4-12-0
BOS  1970  -103.0    2-12-0
SEA  1992   -99.3    2-14-0
OAK  2006   -97.6    2-14-0
CLE  2000   -91.0    3-13-0

Total yards against

best


CHI  1984   109.0    10-6-0
PHI  1991   105.2    10-6-0
MIA  1982    97.6     7-2-0
CHI  1985    79.4    15-1-0
MIN  1989    78.9    10-6-0
TEN  2000    77.3    13-3-0
BUF  1980    75.5    11-5-0
NOR  1991    75.1    11-5-0
CHI  1986    73.7    14-2-0
PIT  1976    73.1    10-4-0

worst

SEA  1976   -99.6    2-12-0
TAM  1986   -93.9    2-14-0
BAL  1981   -87.3    2-14-0
NWE  1972   -85.5    3-11-0
KAN  1976   -83.4     5-9-0
PHI  1973   -80.1     5-8-1
SDG  1985   -79.8     8-8-0
NOR  1970   -77.1    2-11-1
GNB  1983   -77.0     8-8-0
KAN  1975   -76.2     5-9-0

Total yards margin

best

RAM  1973   141.5    12-2-0
PIT  1979   135.8    12-4-0
DEN  2004   135.0    10-6-0
SFO  1987   131.9    13-2-0
DAL  1978   129.0    12-4-0
STL  2001   127.8    14-2-0
WAS  1991   120.1    14-2-0
CHI  1984   119.6    10-6-0
PIT  2001   116.6    13-3-0
SDG  1980   113.8    11-5-0

worst

SFO  2005  -158.5    4-12-0
HOU  1982  -149.9     1-8-0
TAM  1976  -143.1    0-14-0
CLE  1999  -138.1    2-14-0
IND  1991  -137.2    1-15-0
TAM  1986  -133.7    2-14-0
BOS  1970  -130.9    2-12-0
PHI  1972  -127.0    2-11-1
NWE  1972  -124.5    3-11-0
TAM  1977  -123.7    2-12-0

Sack yards for

This means sack yards by your defense.

best

SFO  1976    21.1     8-6-0
BAL  1975    16.3    10-4-0
NYJ  1981    16.0    10-5-1
NWE  1977    15.0     9-5-0
MIA  1982    14.2     7-2-0
CHI  1984    14.2    10-6-0
RAM  1980    13.7    11-5-0
RAI  1982    13.5     8-1-0
RAM  1979    13.4     9-7-0
SFO  1972    13.3     8-5-1

worst

MIA  1970   -12.0    10-4-0
DEN  1982   -11.9     2-7-0
SFO  1982   -11.6     3-6-0
NWE  1972   -11.0    3-11-0
NYJ  1976   -10.9    3-11-0
SDG  1982   -10.9     6-3-0
TAM  1981   -10.7     9-7-0
MIN  1984   -10.7    3-13-0
NYJ  1979   -10.6     8-8-0
BUF  1984   -10.4    2-14-0

Sack yards against

best

Sack yards against your offense. The 1970 49ers didn't get sacked very often (only 8 times, to be exact). The 1986 Eagles got sacked a ton.

SFO  1970    16.6    10-3-1
TAM  1979    15.1    10-6-0
MIA  1988    14.9    6-10-0
MIA  1984    14.5    14-2-0
STL  1975    13.7    11-3-0
STL  1976    13.6    10-4-0
STL  1977    13.2     7-7-0
SFO  1979    13.0    2-14-0
NYG  1972    12.9     8-6-0
BUF  1982    12.7     4-5-0

worst

PHI  1986   -22.3    5-10-1
IND  1991   -17.1    1-15-0
KAN  1982   -16.4     3-6-0
SEA  1992   -16.1    2-14-0
BUF  1970   -15.9    3-10-1
NWE  1972   -15.6    3-11-0
PHI  1972   -15.5    2-11-1
ATL  1974   -15.0    3-11-0
NWE  1991   -14.5    6-10-0
BUF  1972   -14.1     4-9-1

Sack yards margin

best

MIA  1982    24.5     7-2-0
NWE  1977    23.3     9-5-0
CHI  1984    20.2    10-6-0
RAM  1970    19.4     9-4-1
SFO  1972    19.1     8-5-1
SFO  1976    19.1     8-6-0
NYJ  1981    19.1    10-5-1
CHI  1986    18.6    14-2-0
TAM  1982    18.2     5-4-0
BAL  2006    18.0    13-3-0

worst

NWE  1972   -26.5    3-11-0
KAN  1982   -23.3     3-6-0
IND  1991   -23.0    1-15-0
NWE  1991   -22.3    6-10-0
BUF  1984   -21.8    2-14-0
BUF  1970   -20.8    3-10-1
DEN  1982   -19.8     2-7-0
CIN  1979   -19.2    4-12-0
PHI  1972   -19.1    2-11-1
NWE  1992   -19.1    2-14-0

Turnovers for

best

This means turnovers forced.

SEA  1984     1.7    12-4-0
PIT  1973     1.3    10-4-0
PHI  1989     1.3    11-5-0
NWE  1976     1.2    11-3-0
WAS  1983     1.2    14-2-0
DEN  1984     1.2    13-3-0
KAN  1974     1.1     5-9-0
HOU  1977     1.1     8-6-0
GNB  1981     1.1     8-8-0
PHI  1991     1.1    10-6-0

worst

CLE  1973    -1.2     7-5-2
SFO  1977    -1.2     5-9-0
SFO  1982    -1.2     3-6-0
BUF  1986    -1.2    4-12-0
SFO  1976    -1.1     8-6-0
PHI  1976    -1.1    4-10-0
BAL  1982    -1.1     0-8-1
DAL  1989    -1.1    1-15-0
CIN  1974    -1.0     7-7-0
NYG  1975    -1.0     5-9-0

Turnovers against

best

Turnovers committed.


STL  1974     1.4    10-4-0
WAS  1983     1.4    14-2-0
MIA  1976     1.3     6-8-0
BAL  1975     1.2    10-4-0
NOR  1971     1.1     4-8-2
KAN  1982     1.1     3-6-0
NYG  1990     1.1    13-3-0
CIN  1971     1.0    4-10-0
GNB  1972     1.0    10-4-0
RAM  1973     1.0    12-2-0

worst

DEN  1982    -1.8     2-7-0
ATL  1974    -1.7    3-11-0
NOR  1997    -1.6    6-10-0
BUF  1970    -1.5    3-10-1
SFO  1978    -1.5    2-14-0
SDG  1998    -1.4    5-11-0
HOU  1973    -1.3    1-13-0
SDG  1973    -1.3    2-11-1
PIT  1970    -1.2     5-9-0
HOU  1971    -1.2     4-9-1

Turnovers margin

best

WAS  1983     2.6    14-2-0
DET  1970     1.7    10-4-0
NOR  1971     1.6     4-8-2
SEA  1984     1.6    12-4-0
PIT  1972     1.5    11-3-0
WAS  1974     1.5    10-4-0
BAL  1975     1.5    10-4-0
CHI  1985     1.5    15-1-0
NOR  1987     1.5    12-3-0
CIN  2005     1.5    11-5-0

worst

BUF  1970    -2.3    3-10-1
DEN  1982    -2.2     2-7-0
ATL  1974    -2.1    3-11-0
BUF  1971    -1.9    1-13-0
HOU  1973    -1.9    1-13-0
SEA  1976    -1.8    2-12-0
ARI  2000    -1.7    3-13-0
STL  2004    -1.7     8-8-0
WAS  1988    -1.6     7-9-0
CLE  1990    -1.6    3-13-0

Preview of tomorrow's post:

As I alluded to above, there is some era bias in some of these lists. If, for example, the NFL had declared before this season that TDs are worth 600 points, PATs are worth 100, and field goals 300, it wouldn't really make any difference in the way the games are played or the strengths of this year's offenses and defenses compared to those of year's past. But it certainly would make all of this year's teams appear at the top and bottom of these rankings. To remove any potential bias arising from inflation or deflation, I'm going to divide each team's ranking by the standard deviation of the league's rankings in that category for that year. So a +10 rating in a year where the standard deviation was 4 will rightly be viewed as a more impressive achievement than a +10 rating in a year where the standard deviation was 6.

Another benefit of this extra step is that it will allow us to compare across categories. Was Baltimore's 2000 rushing defense more impressive than the 1976 49ers' ability to sack the opposing quarterback? Was the 2002 Texans' ineptness in the total yardage category more dismal than the 1982 Broncos' propensity for turning the ball over? Find out next time.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007 at 5:01 am and is filed under General, History, Statgeekery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.