The following is a table of the previous Superbowl winners and how they ranked in 4 categories: points scored, yards gained, points allowed, and yards allowed.  The SUM of RANKINGS column is merely the sum of all 4 rankings, and is intended to give a measure of that team’s overall dominance on both sides of the ball (lower this number the better).  Note the 1972 Dolphins were only team ranked #1 in all 4 statistics.  The DEF – OFF column attempts to assign a number to show which side of the ball led that team, i.e. was it a defensive team (low negative value, such as -23 for the 2013 Seahawks) or was it an offensive team (high positive value, such as +43 of the 2009 Saints).  For this column a value close to zero (0) suggests the team was well-balanced.

How many of these 49 Superbowl winners finished as both top 10 defenses and top 10 offenses? Answer is 28. Here’s the interesting part: from 1966 through 1999 (34 seasons) 26 / 34 = 76.5% of them managed this feat. From 2000-2014 (15 seasons) it has only happened 2 / 15 = 13.33% of the time. What changed? Free agency and the salary cap began in 1994, and it took a few years for the top teams to start losing players.

Source for stats: Pro-Football-Reference

YEAR SB Winner OFF RANK Points OFF RANK Yards DEF RANK Points DEF RANK Yards SUM of RANKINGS DEF – OFF
2014 NE 4 11 8 13 36 6
2013 SEA 8 17 1 1 27 -23
2012 BAL 10 16 12 17 55 3
2011 NYG 9 8 25 27 69 35
2010 GB 10 9 2 5 26 -12
2009 NO 1 1 20 25 47 43
2008 PIT 20 22 1 1 44 -40
2007 NYG 14 16 17 7 54 -6
2006 IND 2 3 23 21 49 39
2005 PIT 9 15 3 4 31 -17
2004 NE 4 7 2 9 22 0
2003 NE 12 17 1 7 37 -21
2002 TB 18 24 1 1 44 -40
2001 NE 6 19 6 24 55 5
2000 BAL 14 16 1 2 33 -27
1999 SL 1 1 4 6 12 8
1998 DEN 2 3 8 11 24 14
1997 DEN 1 1 6 5 13 9
1996 GB 1 5 1 1 8 -4
1995 DAL 3 5 3 9 20 4
1994 SF 1 2 6 8 17 11
1993 DAL 2 4 2 10 18 6
1992 DAL 2 4 5 1 12 0
1991 WAS 1 4 2 3 10 0
1990 NYG 15 17 1 2 35 -29
1989 SF 1 1 3 4 9 5
1988 SF 7 2 8 3 20 2
1987 WAS 4 3 6 18 31 17
1986 NYG 8 10 2 2 22 -14
1985 CHI 2 7 1 1 11 -7
1984 SF 2 2 1 10 15 7
1983 LAR 3 7 13 4 27 7
1982 WAS 12 7 1 4 24 -14
1981 SF 7 13 2 2 24 -16
1980 OAK 7 16 10 11 44 -2
1979 PIT 1 1 5 2 9 5
1978 PIT 5 8 1 3 17 -9
1977 DAL 2 1 8 1 12 6
1976 OAK 4 2 12 18 36 24
1975 PIT 5 7 2 4 18 -6
1974 PIT 6 8 2 1 17 -11
1973 MIA 5 9 1 3 18 -10
1972 MIA 1 1 1 1 4 0
1971 DAL 1 1 7 3 12 8
1970 BAL 6 8 7 9 30 2
1969 KC 2 3 1 1 7 -3
1968 NYJ 2 3 4 1 10 0
1967 GB 9 9 3 1 22 -14
1966 GB 4 8 1 3 16 -8

In this study I will be looking at the New Orleans Saints drafted players between 2007 and 2011, which will be 5 years worth of draft picks. The most recent picks will have had 5 years in the league with which we might fairly evaluate their careers. I counted back from there to give us 5 years of draft data, intentionally leaving out 2006, since that was an excellent draft for the Saints that year. I was curious to see just how good or bad the drafting has been since that first great draft.

This study is based on data from pfref.com. I’ll only be looking at the top 300 players and how many the Saints were able to put into that top 300 for each set of selective criteria. Since 300 / 32 = 9.375, if the Saints get 9 players in a set of 300 I’ll call that average, 10+ above average, and 8 or fewer to be below average.

Games Started = 7 (below average)
Games Played = 7 (below average)
*Career AV = 8 (below average)

*Career AV is a stat provided by pfref.com. This is a number assigned to each player that gives his approximate value, providing a way to compare careers at different positions. For example, did Player A (a guard) have a better career than Player B (a receiver)? The Career AV stat is an attempt to make such a comparison.

Pro Bowlers = 6 (above average)

I had to treat this stat differently since fewer than 300 drafted players between 2007 and 2011 made the pro bowl at least once. Only 133 of them made at least one pro bowl. Since 133 / 32 = 4.15, 3 or fewer would be below average, 4 would be average, and 5+ would be above average. Saints had 6 pro bowlers drafted between 2007 and 2011, which is well above average. These were Jimmy Graham, Jermon Bushrod, Carl Nicks, Mark Ingram, Cam Jordan, and Thomas Morstead.

All Pros = 2 (above average)

Similar to the pro bowlers stat, there weren’t 300 players that made the all pro 1st team in these 5 years of drafts. In fact, only 50 of these players made first team all pro, and the Saints had 2 of those 50. Since 50 / 32 = 1.5625, 1 or fewer would be below average, and 2+ would be above average. Saints had 2 all pros (Carl Nicks and Jimmy Graham), putting them above average.

Conclusion

Saints were below average in their drafts when it comes games started, games played, and career AV numbers, but were above average in pro bowlers and all pros. There were 1275 players drafted in those 5 years, but the Saints only had 29 of them whereas the average team had 1275 / 32 = 39.8438 of them. That’s 10 fewer draft picks than what the average team had over this 5 year span, coming out to about 2 fewer picks on the average year. With that kind of handicap it’s not hard to see why the Saints were below average in some of those categories. The good news is the Saints did relatively well in getting pro bowlers and all pros with those picks they did actually use.

Why would the Saints be 2 draft picks below the *average* team per year? Keep in mind this was prior to the 2 picks taken away due to bounty gate. There are 2 reasons. Firstly, the Saints don’t get many compensatory draft picks, if any, due to their heavy usage of free agency. Secondly, the Saints like to wheel and deal on draft day, typically moving up in the draft at the expense of draft picks or trading draft picks for veterans.

I’ve been researching penalties called against home teams versus penalties called against road teams. In a perfectly fair system these 2 would generally be equal, but game officials are human, too. They respond (even if subconsciously) to peer pressure of the crowd.

I used the database a pro-football-reference.com for this study. The first search was to find how many games in the 2014 season did the home team get 10+ penalties called against it, and then try the same search, but this time for road teams.

2014 season – home teams getting 10+ penalties = 32
2014 season – road teams getting 10+ penalties = 43

So, 75 times it happened in the 2014 season (including playoffs), but 43 of the 75 (57.33%) were to road teams. Might not seem like much, but it really is. Home teams were 153-112 (ignoring ties) in 2014, which comes out to 57.74% home winning percentage. Coincidence?

Let’s look at penalty yardage now. The query this time is how many times the home/road team is penalized for 125+ yards in penalties.

2014 season – home teams getting 125+ yards penalties = 1
2014 season – road teams getting 125+ yards penalties = 6

A team getting 125+ yards in penalties only happened 7 times in 2014 (including playoffs), but 6/7 were road teams.

But, as we lower the threshold for penalty yardage, the gap closes (but is still in favor of home team).

Penalty yardage = 100+ yards
home teams = 15 (45.45%)
road teams = 18 (54.55%)

What does it mean? There is no question home teams have an advantage, as evidenced by the superior home team records, but I think most people assume the advantage is from familiarity with the arena (playing surface, facilities, etc.) and the extra motivation to do well in front of a boisterous home crowd, and all of this might well play a positive role, but I think a big part of the home advantage (and one that is often overlooked) is simply the penalty advantage.

Welcome to Mean Mark’s NFL Statistical, uh, blog.   That’s it.  I like to do “studies” involving stats, usually gotten from pro-football-reference.com, a great site for stat nerds like me.

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