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Archive for the 'Checkdowns' Category

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-4

6th October 2011

Here's this week's article, comparing the equally brilliant but totally different wide receivers, Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker. Together, they have a chance to take down each of the main receiving records in football history. My take: Welker has a legitimate chance to break the receptions record, Johnson has a small but not impossibly small chance of breaking the touchdowns mark, and it would take a miracle for Welker to challenge the receiving yards mark.

Also: the Patriots offense is the best offense through four weeks in league history, with the second best offense being whoever is playing the Patriots. Mark Sanchez and the Jets test this logic on Sunday.

Posted in Checkdowns | 3 Comments »

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-3

28th September 2011

The Patriots, Jets, Eagles and Falcons entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but all struggled on Sunday. The failures of those teams ranged from unusual (the Jets rush defense had its worst game ever under Ryan) to scary (the Falcons just aren't that good, Mike Vick can't seem to stay healthy) to both (the Pats D is really bad, and New England lost its first game ever when leading by 21 points under Belichick). Pittsburgh and San Diego get dishonorable mentions here, for squeaking by the Little Disters of the Poor, Midwest edition.

Read the full article here.

Posted in Checkdowns | 2 Comments »

Checkdowns: Seattle reaches a whole new level of ineptitude

22nd September 2011

Hat tip to my buddy Joe Bryant for this tidbit in his weekly Random Shot column (you can get this in your inbox by signing up here):

Here's what it's like to be a Seahawks fan these days. Seattle's possessions at Pittsburgh: punt, punt, punt, end of the half, punt, punt, punt, punt, surrendered on downs, punt.

We all know the Seahawks were shut out on Sunday, but that drive chart looked a little odd. Isn't it unusual to get shut out without committing a single turnover? That's a whole new level of ineptitude, I assumed. I was right: only 12 teams since the merger have gone double goose-egg in the points and turnovers column in the same game.


Rk Tm Year Date Opp W G Day Result PF PA PD Yrd TO
1 SEA 2011 2011-09-18 PIT 2 2 Sun L 0-24 0 24 -24 164
2 KAN 2010 2010-12-12 SDG 14 13 Sun L 0-31 0 31 -31 67
3 TEN 2008 2008-12-28 IND 17 16 Sun L 0-23 0 23 -23 125
4 BUF 2007 2007-12-16 CLE 15 14 Sun L 0-8 0 8 -8 232
5 OAK 2006 2006-11-06 SEA 9 8 Mon L 0-16 0 16 -16 185
6 PIT 2003 2003-12-14 NYJ 15 14 Sun L 0-6 0 6 -6 231
7 NWE 1992 1992-12-06 IND 14 13 Sun L 0-6 0 6 -6 94
8 CIN 1979 1979-09-02 DEN 1 1 Sun L 0-10 0 10 -10 232
9 SDG 1977 1977-11-06 DET 8 8 Sun L 0-20 0 20 -20 229
10 NYG 1976 1976-10-31 PHI 8 8 Sun L 0-10 0 10 -10 291
11 ATL 1974 1974-11-10 RAM 9 9 Sun L 0-21 0 21 -21 164
12 NYJ 1971 1971-09-19 BAL 1 1 Sun L 0-22 0 22 -22 118

And even that is probably misleading. The '08 Titans game was the last game of the season, when the 13-2 Titans benched most of their starters (of course, so did the Colts). The Cleveland-Buffalo game from '07 took place during a snowstorm, as was the Steelers-Jets game in '03. That makes it just the fourth game in the last 30 years where a team didn't commit a turnover and still was shutout, and couldn't even come up with a good excuse.

Posted in Checkdowns | 10 Comments »

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-2

21st September 2011

This week's post reads like a quick hits column. A few notes:

  • Cam Newton and Tom Brady put up ridiculous numbers in week one and then did it again in week two.
  • The Lions had the biggest win in franchise history since.... well, the last big win in franchise history.
  • Teams are adding insult to injury when facing the Chiefs
  • Profiles in futility: the Andrew Luck sweepstakes began in earnest in week two. One team has been outscored by 79 points; another has lost double-digit halftime leads twice this season; a third has lost 16 of its last 19 road games, with every single loss coming by double digits. A fourth team has now lost 11 of 12 home games, while a fifth team gave the Cleveland Browns their second double-digit victory in their last 62 road games.

Posted in Checkdowns | 4 Comments »

Four 1,000 yard rushers on the roster?

19th September 2011

File this in the "everything is bigger in Texas, including the optimism" department. From a reader:

With what looks like a "in and out" type of year for Arian Foster, Ben Tate looks poised to be the 4th 1000 yard rusher on the Texans roster (joining Foster, Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton). How many teams have had 4 1000 yard rushers on their team?

213 players in NFL history have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. Where would the 2011 Texans rank if Tate breaks the millenium mark?

Houston would become the tenth team (and eighth unique team) to boast four such runners; no team has ever had five:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Checkdowns | 18 Comments »

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-1

14th September 2011

Once again, will be teaming up with the New York Times and the New York Times' Fifth Down Blog. Every Tuesday on the Fifth Down blog and every Wednesday in print, we'll be running a weekly article discussing trends and statistical in the NFL.

Today's article looks at how we should predict the rest of the season for the Bills and Chiefs. I wrote a similar article this time last year here on the blog, when I wondered if the Seattle Seahawks were in for a huge year after throttling the 49ers. My conclusion?

As good as Seattle looked on Sunday, the evidence isn't very compelling that they're going to look more like they did in week 1 than they did for most of 2009. It's tempting to think that this is the sign of a new era in Seattle, but it's more likely a sign of the same old era in San Francisco.

But I'm slightly more optimistic about the Bills, in part because they really weren't that bad last season. As I wrote for the Fifth Down:

Buffalo had the hardest schedule in the A.F.C. last season, while the Chiefs had the conference’s most forgiving slate of opponents. According to Pro-Football-Reference, the difference between the Bills’ and the Chiefs’ schedules was worth, on average, 7.5 points per week. Consider this: both franchises went winless in 2010 against teams with 10 or more wins (Buffalo, 0-9; K.C. 0-2, including playoffs). Each team won 75 percent of its games against teams with six or fewer wins (Buffalo 3-1; K.C. 6-2). Against teams with seven to nine wins, the Bills went 1-1 with Fitzpatrick at quarterback (1-2 over all), while the Chiefs went 4-3.

You can read the full article here.

Posted in Checkdowns | 1 Comment »

Checkdowns: Tecmo Super Bowl 2012

6th September 2011

Continuing a tradition of mine that stretches back to 2006, it's time to link this year's updated version of Tecmo Super Bowl at

For the uninitiated, this is a ROM of the original NES Tecmo Super Bowl, featuring the game's original graphics/sounds but with 32 teams and updated 2011 rosters. And, as always, you'll need an NES emulator to run the game. Have fun!

Posted in Checkdowns, Tecmo Super Bowl | 1 Comment »

Checkdowns: Seniors Committee nominates Dick Stanfel and Jack Butler for HOF

26th August 2011

Dick Stanfel

Jack Butler

From Fifth Down friend Andy Barall:

The Hall of Fame seniors committee named Dick Stanfel and Jack Butler on Wednesday as finalists for election in the class of 2012. To be elected, they need the same 80 percent support as the modern era finalists when the full selection committee meets in Indianapolis on Feb. 4, the day before Super Bowl 46. A few thoughts about the nominees:

Although his playing career lasted only seven seasons, Dick Stanfel left his mark as one of the finest and most consistent offensive linemen of his time. In an era that valued technique over brute strength, Stanfel was fundamentally sound enough to be elected first team All-Pro five times and to be named to the N.F.L.’s all-decade team of the 1950s....
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Checkdowns, HOF | 34 Comments »

Checkdowns: Jason Lisk adds to the Sam Bradford discussion

20th August 2011

Jason Lisk has started a series titled "A Thought about the ..." for each of the 32 teams in the league, as part of his NFL preview for the Big Lead. Today, he takes his thoughts to St. Louis, and cites my somewhat controversial article on Bradford from earlier this week.

Jason Lisk takes a different look at the Rams' success.

So, what I looked at for this is other teams where the defensive points allowed improved dramatically from one year to the next. The Rams last year went from next to last in 2009, 31st in points allowed, to 12th in the league. I found all teams since 1978 who improved at least 15 spots in their points allowed ranking in the league. I then went deeper into those teams, and isolated two different types. The first, we’ll call the “Bradford effects”, which found all teams that had a different QB (who had never been the main starter for that franchise prior) during the dramatic improvement season, and that same new QB was also the starter a year later. The second, we’ll call the “Manning effects”, since he shows up 3 times on the list, and this is for all teams that had a dramatic improvement from one year to the next, and the same QB was the starter before, during, and after the points allowed improvement.

Obviously, we don’t think Peyton Manning has an impact on his defenses–he’s played with good ones and bad ones and everything in between during his career. Same with Marino and Elway and Brady and Montana and all the other guys that show up on this list. If a team dramatically improves during the middle of a QB’s career, we are less likely to attribute that to the quarterback.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Checkdowns | 12 Comments »

Football StatHead: May 6, 2011

6th May 2011

Football StatHead: May 6, 2011

Today at Stathead, more draft grades from CHFF, and an ongoing discussion about Markov models and football.

Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, StatHead | 11 Comments »

Football StatHead: May 4, 2011

4th May 2011

Football StatHead: May 4, 2011

Today's Stathead entries include links to Smart Football, The Sports Economist, and a Cold Hard Football Facts draft study that used PFR data.

Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, StatHead | 4 Comments »

Football StatHead: May 3, 2011

3rd May 2011

Football StatHead: May 3, 2011

Today's Stathead entries feature research from Jason Lisk and a new edition of JQAS.

Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, StatHead | 2 Comments »

YouTube Finds: Watch Drew Bledsoe Throw a Record 70 Passes vs. Minnesota

28th April 2011

On November 13, 1994, New England's Drew Bledsoe set an NFL record with 70 pass attempts in a single game:

Rk Player Age Date Tm Opp Result Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
1 Drew Bledsoe 22-272 1994-11-13 NWE MIN W 26-20 45 70 64.3% 426 3 0 95.3 6.09 6.94
2 Vinny Testaverde 37-041 2000-12-24 NYJ @ BAL L 20-34 36 69 52.2% 481 2 3 66.2 6.97 5.59
3 Jon Kitna 29-100 2001-12-30 CIN PIT W 26-23 35 68 51.5% 411 2 1 73.8 6.04 5.97
4 Brian Griese 33-187 2008-09-21 TAM @ CHI W 27-24 38 67 56.7% 407 2 3 66.0 6.07 4.66
5 Chris Miller 24-137 1989-12-24 ATL DET L 24-31 37 66 56.1% 334 2 1 73.7 5.06 4.98
6 Steve Young* 34-087 1996-01-06 SFO GNB L 17-27 32 65 49.2% 328 0 2 51.3 5.05 3.66
7 Rich Gannon 36-269 2002-09-15 OAK @ PIT W 30-17 43 64 67.2% 403 1 2 76.5 6.30 5.20
8 Bernie Kosar 23-039 1987-01-03 CLE NYJ W 23-20 33 64 51.6% 489 1 2 69.1 7.64 6.55
9 Dan Marino* 34-106 1995-12-30 MIA @ BUF L 22-37 33 64 51.6% 422 2 3 63.4 6.59 5.11
10 Rich Gannon 25-304 1991-10-20 MIN @ NWE L 23-26 35 63 55.6% 317 1 0 74.6 5.03 5.35
11 Elvis Grbac 31-041 2001-09-23 BAL @ CIN L 10-21 33 63 52.4% 326 1 3 52.7 5.17 3.35
12 Vinny Testaverde 35-023 1998-12-06 NYJ SEA W 32-31 42 63 66.7% 418 2 1 89.3 6.63 6.56
13 Chris Weinke 29-152 2001-12-30 CAR ARI L 7-30 36 63 57.1% 223 1 1 63.1 3.54 3.14
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/28/2011.

And for some reason, somebody uploaded a video of all 70 attempts at YouTube:

Posted in Checkdowns, History, Quarterbacks, Totally Useless, YouTube Finds | 6 Comments »

Checkdowns: No “passing leader” has won the Super Bowl

27th April 2011

No quarterback has led the league in passing yards and won the Super Bowl in the same season. Here's a full list of passing leaders, defined as the player with the most passing yards, in the Super Bowl era:

Read the rest of this entry »

Year Team pyd Player
2010 SDG 4710 Philip Rivers No postseason
2009 HOU 4770 Matt Schaub No postseason
2008 NOR 5069 Drew Brees No postseason
2007 NWE 4806 Tom Brady L - Super Bowl
2006 NOR 4418 Drew Brees L - Conference
2005 NWE 4110 Tom Brady L - Division
2004 MIN 4717 Daunte Culpepper L - Division
2003 IND 4267 Peyton Manning L - Conference
2002 OAK 4689 Rich Gannon L - Super Bowl
2001 STL 4830 Kurt Warner L - Super Bowl
2000 IND 4413 Peyton Manning L - Wildcard
1999 CAR 4436 Steve Beuerlein No postseason
1998 GNB 4212 Brett Favre L - Wildcard
1997 OAK 3917 Jeff George No postseason
1996 JAX 4367 Mark Brunell L - Conference
1995 GNB 4413 Brett Favre L - Conference
1994 NWE 4555 Drew Bledsoe L - Wildcard
1993 DEN 4030 John Elway L - Wildcard
1992 MIA 4116 Dan Marino L - Conference
1991 HOU 4690 Warren Moon L - Division
1990 HOU 4689 Warren Moon L - Wildcard
1989 GNB 4318 Don Majkowski No postseason
1988 MIA 4434 Dan Marino No postseason
1987 STL 3387 Neil Lomax No postseason
1986 MIA 4746 Dan Marino No postseason
1985 MIA 4137 Dan Marino L - Conference
1984 MIA 5084 Dan Marino L - Super Bowl
1983 GNB 4458 Lynn Dickey No postseason
1982 SDG 2883 Dan Fouts L - Division
1981 SDG 4802 Dan Fouts L - Conference
1980 SDG 4715 Dan Fouts L - Conference

Posted in Checkdowns | 13 Comments »

2011 NCAA Tournament Game Previews

17th March 2011

To get you prepared for the matchups in this year's NCAA Tournament, we now have printable game previews at SR/College Basketball:

Game Previews | College Basketball at

Each preview contains key information about both teams, including SRS ratings; offensive and defensive ratings; and player statistics from the 2010-11 season. Check them out, and increase your knowledge when watching the games this month!

Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, Non-football | Comments Off on 2011 NCAA Tournament Game Previews

Repost: The 1987 strike and what could have been

4th March 2011

As the NFL owners and players' association negotiate the future of professional football, the 2011 season hangs in the balance. Hopefully we won't need to one day write a post titled "The 2011 lockout and what could have been."

But we did for the 1987 season. If you missed them the first time around, here's a link to Part I and Part II.

Posted in Checkdowns, General | 8 Comments »

Checkdowns: Packers Win Super Bowl, in Tecmo Form

7th February 2011

A fitting way to cap off the 2010 campaign, here's Jordan Slocum's recreation of the Steelers' last play in SB XLV and Green Bay's celebration:

Thanks for a great season of Tecmo highlights, Jordan!

Posted in Checkdowns, Tecmo Super Bowl, YouTube Finds | 2 Comments »

Checkdowns: How likely to be a close game?

6th February 2011

Good post by Nate Silver over at the NYT Fifth Down Blog. I thought I'd build on some of Nate's work.

As of game day, the Packers are 3-point favorites over the Steelers and the game has an over/under of 44.5 points. Over the 20-year period from '88 to '07 (we're a little behind at entering point spread data into our database), there were 425 games that featured a point spread of between 2 and 4 points with an over/under ranging from 42.5 to 46.5. Some notes on those games:

  • Based on the above numbers, the favorite has won 63.5% of the games, with an average margin of victory of 11.4 points.
  • The biggest blowout came against the Steelers in a season opening game against the Browns. Cleveland opened the 1989 season as 2-point road favorites: they covered the spread with ease, winning 51-0.
  • On average, when the underdog wins, they win by 8.7 points. Atlanta started the 1996 season 0-8, but after squeaking past Carolina 20-17, they were 2 point favorites in St. Louis, who had just lost 42-6 in Pittsburgh. The 2-7 Rams pulled the upset, winning 59-16.
  • On average, the favorite has scored 24.3 points while the underdog has scored 20.2 points. Favorites, against the spread, have a 209-197-19 record. The "over" was hit less frequently, with 195 games going over, 11 games "pushing" and 219 games finishing "under" the line.
  • 121 of the games, 28.5% of the data-set, had final margins of victory of within three points. If you're hoping for a close game, there's a better than even chance you'll get one: 53% of the games were decided by one touchdown or less. Only 16 games had final margins of 30 points or greater, but just over one in every four games were decided by at least 15 points.
  • Hoping for the first Super Bowl to go to overtime and the first playoff game to feature the new overtime rules? 5.8% of the games in this data set went into a fifth quarter.

Posted in Checkdowns | 10 Comments »

2011 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

5th February 2011

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the results of the 2011 voting tonight; here were those who made and missed the cut, along with the readers' opinions from our recent Hall of Fame polls:

"Does This Player deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?"
Player Votes "Yes, and he will get in" "Yes, but he won't get in" "No, and he won't get in" "No, but he will get in"
Deion Sanders 279 90.7% 0.7% 1.1% 7.5%
Marshall Faulk 345 96.8% 1.2% 0.6% 1.5%
Shannon Sharpe 139 77.7% 10.1% 2.2% 10.1%
Richard Dent 225 44.9% 30.2% 11.1% 13.8%
Ed Sabol 216 69.0% 23.6% 2.3% 5.1%
Les Richter 91 27.5% 14.3% 28.6% 29.7%
Chris Hanburger 110 74.6% 18.2% 3.6% 3.6%
Missed Final Cut:
Curtis Martin 191 68.1% 15.2% 5.2% 11.5%
Dermontti Dawson 154 68.8% 22.7% 4.6% 3.9%
Cortez Kennedy 250 43.6% 41.6% 11.6% 3.2%
Andre Reed 289 25.6% 29.1% 32.2% 13.2%
Willie Roaf 220 82.3% 14.6% 2.7% 0.5%
Missed 1st Cut:
Tim Brown 285 70.2% 17.9% 4.6% 7.4%
Charles Haley 135 20.0% 13.3% 31.9% 34.8%
Jerome Bettis 543 56.2% 7.0% 6.1% 30.8%
Cris Carter 280 79.3% 7.1% 3.6% 10.0%
Chris Doleman 137 47.5% 24.8% 19.7% 8.0%

Based on the voting, if PFR readers could pick seven players from this year's class to induct, they would be (in order from most deserving to least):

Richter was deemed the second-most undeserving of all finalists by the readership, ahead of only Charles Haley. Dent was also voted 6th-most undeserving, but Sharpe was narrowly behind Brown in terms of the % of readers who felt he did deserve the HoF.

PFR readers would probably consider the biggest snub to be Roaf, whom 96.8% of the voters felt was deserving; also, 91.6% felt Dawson deserved HoF honors, and both failed to survive the final cut. Brown over Sharpe, though, was so close in the voting that it's hard to call it a snub.

Posted in Checkdowns, HOF | 43 Comments »

Checkdowns: Football, concussions and the future

27th January 2011

it's hard to have anything besides a nuanced view regarding the subject of football, concussions and the future of the sport. Most hardcore fans want to preserve the status quo in almost every manner, while it's difficult to be comfortable with exposing your 15-year-old son to the possibility of repeatedly suffering serious concussions and potentially life-threatening injuries in high school athletics.

Instead of spending the time to formula my own thoughts, I'm going to check down to an article written by Ben McGrath in the New Yorker this week, titled: Does Football Have a Future? The N.F.L. and the concussion crisis. McGrath's lengthy work is worth the read. P-F-R friend Chris Brown has some thoughts on McGrath's piece, in his recent blog post about the future of football and the wave of brain issues:

I’ve written about this subject before, and I am still sure that the brain-injury/concussion problem remains the most serious threat to football, and it will not be resolved by tweets from Greg Aiello, the NFL’s spokesman. Yet — and this may sound harsh — I don’t really care about the risks to current NFL players. Like professional boxing, no one can, with a straight face, say that they don’t understand the risk of playing such a dangerous, high speed collision sport, and they are all compensated handsomely for it. (I have more sympathy for older NFL players who played before high salaries and before these risks were well understood.) Indeed, I think the NFL as spectator sport will continue to survive through more “Black and Blue Sundays” or even serious injuries like paralysis, potentially even a live-on-the-field death. Some quick cuts to show Roger Goodell solemnly addressing “the problem” with fines and rule changes will be enough to placate the masses and change the narrative on ESPN back to who will rally for the postseason.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Checkdowns | 2 Comments »